Bill Johnson

Floridian Bill Johnson was a stellar competitor in the 1980s, before he made an even greater name for himself as a top-flight board shaper. Johnson’s stint in the pro surfing world was short but fruitful. He won the Eastern Surfing Association (ESA) Championships three years in a row (1984-1986) and took home top honors at the U.S. Championships in 1986. 

Johnson started his shaping career working for Rusty Preisendorfer in San Diego, serving as the lead shaper for his pro team. He went on to open Teqoph Surfboards and quickly became one of California’s most respectd shapers, creating top-notch equipment for a long list of star surfers that includes Ben Bourgeois, Dean Morrison, Taj Burrow, Alex and Koa Smith, Jamie O’Brien, Gavin Gillette, Malia Manuel, Claire Bevilaqua, Serena Brooke, Dylan Graves, Brian Toth, and CJ and Damien Hobgood. 

Building boards for the Hobgood twins ranks among Johnson’s most notable accomplishments. He was the brothers’ personal shaper, and in 2001, his designs propelled CJ on his successful campaign to win the ASP World Championship Tour.

It would be difficult to name another shaper who has a better board-to-win ratio than Bill Johnson. He’s known for his innovative designs that have taken surfboards to the next level and is not only the go-to shaper for many of the top pros on tour, but also for up-and-coming wave riders. 

Johnson’s revolutionary “Stealth Quad Tail” surfboard made its professional debut with CJ Hobgood at Lower Trestles in 2007. The four-finned board has extraordinary surfing characteristics, and Hobgood became the first person to win a major professional surfing tournament on four fins. The four-corner split tail also allows a surfer to hold turns in bigger waves — indeed, a similar design is now being pioneered in big wave surfing. The design generates more speed than a tri-fin in the same conditions, and the tail is able to flex with the wave allowing for tighter turns and maneuverability.

Photos by Michael Baytoff, Dick “Mez” Meseroll, Tom Dugan and courtesy Bill Johnson