Rusty Preisendorfer has given true meaning to the phrase, "You can be whatever you want when you grow up." With a talent for art and design too impressive to deny, Rusty has taken his passion of shaping surfboards and made a life out of it.
Early in 2007 Rusty started to stand-up paddle primarily to cross train for his surfing; “beats going to the gym!”. Soon after he started building SUP’s. Several factors made the transition into the bigger boards quite easy and natural. Rusty has a long history of building bigger boards, including sailboards in the early 80’s. He has been using CAD programs to design boards for nearly a decade. This allows for strong control over design and experimentation but with complete repeatability. Since the closure of Clark Foam in late 2005, he has focused on EPS/Epoxy construction. In addition, Rusty has been working on his own vacuum bagged custom composites for several years.
“Stand up paddling gets me in the water virtually every day. I love the tranquility of open water touring. And, after having surfed for 40 plus years, I also enjoy the challenge of a new approach to riding waves. Sharing the experience is equally rewarding.”
- Rusty Dec. 2009
For nearly 25 years Rusty Surfboards has been known for exploring new designs and technologies.
Growing up in a developing San Diego, Rusty was drawn to the ocean and the sport of surfing at a young age. At the age of 13 Rusty's father, a research mathematician, was working at the Scripps Institute so his family moved to La Jolla and Rusty began his ongoing relationship with the wave rich region. By the time Rusty was a senior in high school, he and his friends began shaping their own boards.
After graduating from high school, Rusty went to UCSD, where he started out as a physiological psychology major, but eventually switched to a visual arts major. While a world-class surf spot, Blacks, was a stone’s throw from the campus, he managed to graduate despite the distraction. Rusty says, with a chuckle, that combination of studies, psychology and art have proven to be quite useful in his career path.
In 1971 Rusty's parents moved to Hawaii, so he took frequent trips to the islands to surf and absorb front line design breakthroughs. He also frequented Baja and Australia. His travels not only catapulted his own surfing ability to the next level but he gained influential insight on his surfboard designs from many shapers including legendary Hawaiian shaper, Dick Brewer, Mike Hynson, and San Diego's own Skip Frye.
Rusty’s first label was “Starlight Surfboards”. He gained a lot of experience shaping for G&S in the early 70’s. In 1974 he created another new label called “Music! Surfboards”. In 1977 he started shaping for Canyon Surfboards and over the following 8 years helped build Canyon into an internationally recognized brand with many top pros riding his shapes.
He also began judging pro surf contests in 1979: Stubbies Trials at Blacks and Trestles; the Pipe Masters and The Duke Kahanamoku Memorial in Hawaii, Stubbies in Australia, and the first few years of the OP Pro in California As a judge, Rusty watched the best surfers in the world and carefully studied the equipment they were riding. He established more and more relationships with the top pros including legendary surfers like Mark “Occy” Occhilupo, Dave Parmenter, Mike Parsons, and many world champions such as Peter Townend (‘76), Shaun Tomson (‘77), Rabbit Bartholomew (‘78), Tom Carroll ( ‘83,‘84), Barton Lynch (‘88). By 1984 Rusty had as many as half the top 16 surfers in the world riding his boards at any given time. He stepped away from judging and focused 100% on shaping.
By the summer of 1985, Rusty decided to create his own brand and Rusty Surfboards was born. With a commitment to quality and versatility, the brand rapidly grew into one of the most popular and respected surfboard companies in the world. In 2001, the brand celebrated it’s first grom-to-champ; CJ Hobgood who had signed on 12 years earlier as an amateur grom, won a world title riding for Rusty.