A Life of a Shaper – Interview with Carlos Sosa, CS Custom Boards

There are windsurfing legends and then there are windsurfing legends behind them. I am talking about gear developers and specifically about shapers.

There are windsurfing legends and then there are windsurfing legends behind them. I am talking about gear developers and specifically about shapers. 

Carlos Sosa  is certainly a legend. I mean 20 years shaping windsurfing boards for 5 best riders in the world does make you a legend.

I have done quite a few interviews with riders over the past few months and have come to realize there’s alot going on “behind the schenes”. Gear developers and again specifically windsurf board shapers have a gigantic role in the progress and success of an athlete.

So let’s dive into a Life of a Shaper Carlos Sosa and his CS Custom Boards brand.

Tell me how did windsurfing start for you?

Since I was little I lived near the sea. Everything related to the sea fascinates me. One day, on Aringa beach, I saw a boy sailing and decided to try it.

Photo courtesy: Carlos Sosa

When did you decide to become a shaper/maker of windsurfing boards?

It all started when I decided to build a windsurf board. All my life I had worked as a carpenter with my father. I was good working with my hands. I couldn’t buy a new board, and in order to windsurf I needed one. So, I took a broken board and made a new one for myself.

How did the windsurfing board business develop over the years?

Over the years I continued shaping boards for my friends. In 1990 I set up a windsurfing shop with a friend, where we repaired boards and sails. At that time I was riding Proof, which led us to work with many riders in different disciplines and thus gain a lot of experience. I spent 20 years shaping for the 5 best windsurfers in the world. Those were very beautiful years with many memories.

The engine of my life and what motivates me is having challenges and achieving them. With the boards there came a time when I felt that I had already achieved what I wanted. Other business opportunities arose and I bet on them. But I always kept in mind that board shaping was my passion. In fact, I never stopped making boards, I kept making some boards for myself, like the “Guarrilla”, a board known by my friends.

But in 2018 Josep Pons, after many family meals, convinced me to shape him a couple of boards to compete, and that’s where everything started again. So I owe it to him.

Photo courtesy: Carlos Sosa

How many boards does your Company used to made per year before, and how may now?

Uff I don’t know before, we did a lot. In the company I had 15 people working with me. We could do a 700 a year, maybe. There is a fact that people find very curious when I talk about the past, and it is the number of boards that we did per year to some of the riders (it is a number that I remember well). Only from waves we could made 48 boards , apart from the slalom, freestyle and speed boards.

Right now the company is very small, you could say that we are just starting. Two years ago we started making boards for the public. I don’t know, we do about 4 boards a month, about 60 boards a year.

Does a shaper have to work with riders to decide on the shape of the board?

Yes of course you have to work with them. You must spend some time with them. Apart from receiving their feedback, the most important thing is to analyze the rider and know what they need to reach a certain goal.

The Shaper is responsible for making a board that adapts as much as possible to the needs of the rider, and to get the rider to improve day by day. Each board is made with an intention and goal to improve the rider sailing. If rider evolves and this objective is achieved, you are on the right track and you can continue working to improve the next one. If this is not the case, you did something wrong and you must start over. Trial and error. It seems that I still remember shaping, because with Josep we haven’t thrown any to the trash. In fact many times I tell him that it is time to renew the tables, but he does not want to take them away. If it were up to him he would keep them all forever. Hehe.

Photo courtesy: Carlos Sosa

How long does it take to make a windsurfing board from start to finish?

Between 38 to 48 hours depending on the shape and construction. A board with standard shape is very easy and quick to build. Once you start adding wings or channels, things slow down a bit more with each process.

Do you test your boards?

Yes, of course, I always like to try them. But now that is more Josep’s job. The truth is that he has surprised me a lot with his ability to feel the different  board intentions and his learning capacity.

Who are the riders in the CS Team?

For now just Josep Pons. Apart from working hand in hand with me and absorbing all my knowledge, he is the CS Custom Boards Rider.

How is success measured in this business?

We value it as follows; If the rider improves his windsurfing we do a good job and we feel satisfied. If not, we are doing something wrong, and business is not going well.

Photo courtesy: Carlos Sosa

Any other “wild” Hobbies and Interests?

Spearfishing was always my hobby, but years ago, my eardrum was perforated, and it never recovered 100%. Now I have to fish from the outside. 

I also really like mountain biking.

What are your (windsurfing) plans for the future?

I am passionate about windsurfing, keep shaping until my body lets me. But I would like Josep to retain everything I learned over the years and  leave him my entire legacy. The truth is that he has surprised me a lot by his learning capacity in all facets. I’m sure he’ll do fine.

Do you have some favorite windsurfing board brands that you look up to? Why?

None in particular. I like to look at all the professional windsurfers and see how they evolve. But it could be Goya, because I’ve known Francisco Goya and Marcilio  since they were young.  

However, more than looking at the boards themselves, I look at how a rider’s sailing changes or evolves depending on the boards he is using. If you sit down to analyze the videos of Braw well, its easy to see when he changes the lines of tables. Each board offers different aspects. There are days when a riders performance is far better. And clearly it’s the equipment.

Photo courtesy: Carlos Sosa

What are your favorite windsurfing spots?

When I was working with Proof I was traveling to a many places around the world, but I only sailed at a few, because I was always on the shore analyzing the boards performance, the result of my work in the workshop was “the shape”.

Where I have sailed the most is in the Canary Islands. There are many spots and very good ones. So, Canary Islands in general.

Any last words for people that love the wind and wind sports or maybe for anyone who want's to become a shaper?

Windsurfing is an individual sport, so you don’t need anyone to practice it. Just you and the sea. Once you start practicing it becomes a way of life, wanting to sail every day. It is special and different. I fully recommend it.

And shaping boards is not difficult, all you need is to be patient, and you need time. Like everything.  Trial and error. Everything that is done with passion turns out well.

Photo courtesy: Carlos Sosa

Here you can check Carlos:

By Matjaž Hrovat

Hi, I’m Matjaž. I love windsurfing. I also love to design and make fun things. I wanted to do more windsurfing but I ran out of time for whole day trips to the sea. Every time it’s windy I get butterflies in my belly. I just had to figure out something. If I only have an hour an a half… how can I do some windsurfing? So the Urban Breez was born...

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