Bill Frierson keeps good company these days, after joining the likes of Duke Kahanamoku, Hobie Alter, Gerry Lopez and a number of other notable shapers as a member of the International Surfboard Builders Hall of Fame. “A lot of heavy cats,” remarked Frierson at the time of his induction in October 2019. “It’s pretty humbling, actually. There’s a lot more to the award than just doing it for so long. The beauty of the whole thing was the journey.”
That journey started in 1965 when Frierson was a young surfer coming up in Virginia Beach. He befriended Pete Smith and Bob Holland, who had recently opened the area’s first surf shop. Two years later, Frierson started shaping boards for Bob White at Wave Riding Vehicles (WRV). “I was helping to repair dings back then, and he asked me if I wanted to shape,” he said. “It was pretty much a Cadillac Dream.”
Frierson surfed for the Hobie team from 1965 through 1967, won the Men’s division of the East Coast Surfing Championship (ECSC) in 1969, and is a member of the ECSC Legends Hall of Fame. In 1970, he moved to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where he shaped boards for WRV. He wintered in Indialantic, Florida, doing piece work for the newly formed Sunshine Surfboards.
He teamed up with Les Shaw in 1974 to buy WRV, and together they built the business into what it is today — two showrooms and a factory capable of producing 3,000 boards a year. He sold his half of the business in 1997 to open Frierson Designs, where he shapes every board by hand. Owning a Frierson board is considered a badge of honor in the surfing community.
Frierson says his newfangled status as a hall-of-fame shaper will not impact the price of a Frierson stick. “It’s never been about the money for me,” he said. “I’m a man of the people and I make a good board for an honest price. It’s about the art.”