Aaron Jamison had a lot of surfing in his life before he started shaping boards.
“I’ve been surfing since diapers. My dad had a surfboard. My cousins had surfboards. I was always around it. I bought my own after I dinged my dad’s board. I was 10 or 12,” said Aaron, owner of Wildlife Surfboards. He didn’t make his own board until his own board broke.
“I made my first board in 2001. I had a longboard and I broke it on 9/11. My friend gave me a blank and said “Make one.” I shaved it in my dad’s driveway,” Aaron said. “I ripped the fin boxes out of the broken board. I tried to glass it all up and hand sand it. I rode it and it worked.”
In 2002, he started working at 7th Street Surf Shop.
“I was in a surf shop and became manager of the shop pretty quickly. I have a military background. I was business orientated and had my act together. I started ordering all of the boards for the shop. I started to talk to all of the shapers.”
Aaron had an issue – he couldn’t get the boards that he wanted to ride.
“It was always hard to order a board from California. (We) had to wait three to four months for them to come. It would take forever. They’d always be a little too thin or just wrong.”
When he rolls to the beach in his 1978 Kurbmaster (picture a Wonderbread truck full of surfboards), he usually carries about 20 boards. His home is surfboard central.
“It’s usually around 50-60 boards. I do try to ride them all. Some people are collectors and they keep them and hold onto them and don’t use them. I want to know how it works. It’s like driving an old car – the style and the feel. To try and reproduce something like that, you have to know how it works,” Aaron said.
For Aaron, it’s about carrying the tools for the right wave to the beach.
“I’m a plumber. I have a lot of tools. It’s all about the right tool for the right job. Ocean City has a large variety of different types of waves and conditions,” said Aaron.
Surf conditions vary; so do surfing spots.
“Different surf spots have different flavors. They break differently. They tend to have a different variety and spice or character. 8th Street is a mellow or longboard spot,” Aaron said. “Surfers don’t die; they go to 8th Street.”
For Aaron, surfing and the water is his home.
“It’s my exercise, it’s my art, it’s my spirituality, it’s my community. The people I see out there all the time, they’re my friends. I might only see them in the water. We love to share waves and catch up,” Aaron said.
If there’s waves, you can find Aaron in the water.
“If there’s waves, I’m going. I’m pretty obsessed with surfing. I’ve built my life and job around the ability to surf. You can go early before work or after work as long as there’s light. If the waves are cracking, I’m not going to work. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He uses this camaraderie when it comes to shaping boards.
“[Making boards is about] building a relationship and trust with people,” said Aaron. “I’ve usually surfed with the person. I know how they surf and I know how to take them to the next level of surfing. I usually ask them a million questions. Sometimes people are like ‘I love what you’re doing, make me one of those.’”
Aaron shapes the boards.
“Shaping a board (just sculpting the foam) can take two to four hours. A short board you can get done in almost about two hours. A longboard will take four hours.”
After he is done, the board gets glassed. Once it dries, it’s laminated, sanded, and gets two hot coats.
“On average in the off season, a board can take a month. In the summer, two months. For someone around here to get a board in a month is amazing,” Aaron said.
You can find Aaron’s boards locally.
“My boards are at Surfer Supplies and at 7th Street Surf Shop. This is just really a passion that I love. People find me on Instagram or they see me on the beach. They know that I’ve worked in the surf shop. For the majority of it, it’s custom order people.”
Surfing is what makes Aaron, Aaron.
“Surfing is just fun. It’s a passion. Ocean City has a long history of surfing,” he said. “In the ’60s, a lot of the world tour surfers and famous champions all came here and stayed. Ocean City is a pretty magical little spot when it comes to surfing.”
Find this story and more in our June magazine.