Pro surfer and Sierra Nevada ambassador Jojo Roper considers Hank Warner a San Diego Surfing Godfather. For his riding, sure, but more so Hank’s fame as a shaper — 30,000 boards and counting. Together they handcrafted a custom Torpedo IPA surfboard. Naturally, Jojo introduced it to the waves.
Watch them build, and read Jojo’s tribute to godfather Hank below.
Building a surfboard is no easy task. You’re creating a functional art piece with foam, dust, chemicals and heavy machinery. It’s demanding, and it’s highly respected — but it’s also fading. As more automated systems come into play, I think it’s important to honor the trade’s icons, the craftsmen who’ve shaped countless boards and no doubt shaped surf culture itself.
Hank Warner is a legend in my San Diego backyard. He also happens to be my godfather. Hank’s been shaping and surfing for over 60 years, and he’s just been there like an uncle as far back as I can remember. Hank built boards for my dad, Joe Roper, during his peak professional surfing years. (He still builds us boards today!) Hank is one of the most charismatic, fun-loving, kind-hearted people you’ll ever meet. We’re so lucky to have him in our lives and amongst the SD surf community!
Hank himself is a ripping surfer who has spent decades with the pioneers of the California and worldwide surf scene. I remember taking long road trips up and down the coast for contests over the years, many of which were accompanied by Hank and his stories. I have so many fond memories of Hank and am grateful for the experience, knowledge, and stories that he’s passed along to me.
The San Diego surf community is a tight-knit, yet large group of surfers who have devoted their lives to surf culture. Hank and my dad sit at the heart of that community and are always finding ways to give back. Their local businesses of shaping, glassing, and repairing surfboards have served riders for 50 plus years. People know they can trust their work and that they are genuinely great guys who are willing to roll up their sleeves and get a job done right, then have a ton of fun surfing alongside you afterwards!
Now I’m following in Hank’s footsteps by putting the finishing touches on his shapes and watching the boards spring to life. The future of surfboard building is in the hands of the younger generation like myself, and I’m honored to carry it on.
If you ever see Hank around town or in the water in San Diego, be sure to say hello and ask him about the StarFish. He’ll be stoked!