di Erika Scafuro
It was his passion for surfing that drove Matia Zulberti to the Spanish cantabrian coast since 1998, and then he decided to move, to Santander, in 2004. From that moment he became part of surfboard manufacturing working in a big factory that made between 4.000 and 5.000 surfboards a year.
While since August 2021 he has been running, together with his business partner Ximo, Happybay, a crafted surfboard company in Somo where the watchwords are passion and quality. Located at a waypoint to the playa, Matia invites those come in Somo to stop by and visit them at Happybay.
When and why did you start making surfboards?
«I studied at the Art Institute, I liked painting, and I had the idea of coming here to work in some surfing factory painting surfboards. But at that time I had never seen a surfboard factory, I didn’t know anything, I was doing some repairs. So the first impact with the factory led me to close myself up a little bit because I didn’t know anything about this scene and I told myself that I couldn’t introduce myself as a surfboard painter. However, I was lucky that some friends who were working in this big factory and knowing that I was looking for work, they mentioned my name and I started working there just taking care of the CNC machine. My luck was that I started working in the surfboard world from the lowest step, let’s say, because with the CNC machine you only touch the foams and see the shapes. So I started first by knowing the foams, looking at the shapes and then, little by little because I liked it, I started to resin some surfboards. That’s how I then became a painter. As a first trade I was a painter for ten years and in the process I was making my own surfboards. I don’t consider myself 100 percent shaper because pure shapers are those who make the surfboards by hand, from scratch; I am a surfboard maker. I make surfboards by hand because I like it, however, I work with numerical control because it helps me so much, I manage the production entirely so I use the technology that, in the surfing world, only concerns what is the shape of the surfboard: I have masters that I work on thanks to which it is easier to make surfboards, while by hand reproducing identical boards is a bit impossible».
With Happybay, your crafted surfboard company in Somo, you make also surfboards for Bear Surfboards. Tell us about the process of making a surfboard and what does it mean to you to work with this iconic brand?
«I opened Happybay together with Ximo, my business partner. Together we decided to open this workshop and we are dedicated to making surfboards that we like, namely longboards and classic surfboards, like fish. We use only resin tint, we don’t paint anything, we follow the traditional Californian method which involves only pigments. During the making of the surfboard we give the color directly with the resin. For Bear Surfboards we carry out the production of surfboards with resin tint. It is a mythical brand and the first day we put the Bear Surfboards sticker on a surfboard was very exciting. I like that customers came to meet us, to see what we do, and that they rely on us because of the quality we give with our work and our products».
The greatest satisfaction you have gained from this work?
«The greatest satisfaction is really the one I feel every day when I deliver a surfboard, when I get the first feedback from a customer and they liked the surfboard; every time a customer says ‘magic surfboard’ or otherwise gives me super positive feedback of what I created. And then also the fact that I set up my own business, being able to manage my own work».
What is your favorite board?
«Right now I’m surfing mainly with longboards. I surf a 9’8”, I like to do noseriding. So yes, longboard is my favorite surfboard».
What has been the most special request in making a surfboard?
«I can tell you that over the years I have had all kinds of things happen to me. The craziest requests have been mostly about colors and graphics. For shapes, too. Sometimes there have been, and are, very strange requests that I often don’t realize because I can redirect the customer, since they are often such absurd requests that they wouldn’t work on the water. One time I collaborated in making a surfboard in the shape of a beer and another for one in the shape of flip-flops».