Parrish, Tom


Surfing's most popular board shaper in the mid-1970s, and a virtual one-stop equipment source for the era's top pros; described by Surfing magazine as the "Man With the Red-Hot Planer."

Parrish was born (1951) and raised in Southern California, began surfing at age 12 while on vacation in Waikiki, and started making boards at 17. He moved to Hawaii in 1969 and over the next three years worked for Surfline Hawaii and Country Surfboards, before moving to Lightning Bolt. "Gerry Lopez taught me how to shape a board without measuring anything," Parrish told a reporter, "the idea was, you could get a good board just by look and feel."

In 1975, Parrish made full quivers for Jeff Hakman, Mark Richards, Ian Cairns, Shaun Tomson, Peter Townend, Wayne Bartholomew, and Margo Oberg, among others. He was best known for his elegant rounded-pintail big-wave guns and semi-guns; he also developed into an excellent surfer, and often shared the lineup with his patrons at breaks like Sunset Beach and Honolua Bay. Parrish mentored or influenced dozens of shapers, including Phil Byrne, Bill Barnfield, and Jim Banks. Unlike some of the other top-level shapers of the era, Parrish was neither a diva or a guru. "I was never the Messiah of design," he told SURFER Magazine. "I enjoy the interaction with good surfers, and I view my job as being an interpreter."

Parrish gave up shaping full time in the 1980s and became an attorney, specializing in family law and adoption.