Interview with the legend behind Farina Handcrafted formally Zion Surfboards; David Farina

Posted by Crew Member on

David is a surfer and shaper that has been working with us since the beginning of Shred Season.  Here's an amazing interview with David himself!

My name is David Farina, I live in St. Augustine Florida.  I’m fortunate to have an amazing, inspirational and beautiful wife, a 9 year old son who is way cooler than I’ll ever be, a beautiful stepdaughter and grandson with unique artistic abilities that I hope to pass some of the surfboard craft onto.

I grew up in Florida participating in all forms of water activities, but Surfing took the lead and has kept me out of trouble and given me an outlet for artistic creation. We all have things to be grateful for so don’t run from them, embrace them.


My parents were very cool people and would take me to the beach all the time while growing up. Around the age of 11 making sandcastles lost it’s luster and while watching guys surf I knew it was something I had to do. Not to sound corny but like all passions regardless of what they are, they scream out to you and learning how to ride waves made sense to me.

My good friend Jason Brannon gave me my first board, it was a Glory single fin relic that had been put through the ringer. My father and I fixed it up and I learned a hard but valuable lesson about resin, acetone and repair work…but that’s another story.

I don’t have a favorite everyday board, being an East Coaster you learn that the ocean dictates what you should ride. Paying attention to the conditions and being realistic about the waves allows me to choose the right equipment to have the most fun on during a session. I’ll ride anything from a 5’6 to a 9’ depending on all the variables we see on the East Coast. I think it’s important that every surfer have a variety of shapes that cater to the waves we have, after all you wouldn’t use a putter from the tee right?


Back in the 80’s Surfer Magazine had a 30 minute tv show that would come on ESPN during the summer months. I think every surfer was glued to it and I know it was a ritual among my friends. Anyway one episode showed a 5 second clip of Rusty Presindorfer screening a rail and my head absolutely fell off. I had to learn how to make boards, I’ve always been drawn to the arts and this just hit me like a ton of bricks. My father being as cool as he was, drove me from Cocoa beach up to Jacksonville one weekend stopping at every surfboard factory we could find, needless to say they wouldn’t let me past the door unless I was going to order a board. People didn’t share information like they do now, it was a secret, a closely guarded craft that nobody was going to share with a 13 year old kid. After that weekend I was pretty disappointed to say the least, but somehow my Dad managed to find “a how to book” on surfboards. It was very rudimentary and published back in the early 70’s but I studied that thing like the bible. I stripped old longboards and made a mess out of them but I eventually saved enough money to purchase 4 blanks ($38 each back then) and totally screw them up also! Then as fate would have it the same friend that gave me my first board moved to Jacksonville beach right next door to Mike Whisnant (Whisnant Surfboards and 3x Masters Shape off champion…yeah that guy!) Anyway over the years Mike was kind enough to take me in and show me so many things, I still look to him for guidance to this day and nothing I could ever do could repay what he did for me. I hold him at the same level of admiration as I do my Parents and family. During my college years another good friend, David Knapp was messing around with surfboard construction and he and I just hit it off and built boards together. The Knapps are amazing people and I wouldn’t have been able to experiment and become what I am without them. David’s parents let us utilize a really cool shop his father was building and we were fortunate to have had it all under one roof. If you really want to get inspired check out Radical Life Ministries in Jaco Costa Rica, David is the force for positive change in an area that needs it badly.

I moved to St. Augustine in 1994 and along with 3 other buddies we started Zion Surf Company, two of the guys got smart and went onto bigger and better things but Chuck Phillips and I made some really nice boards together over the years. We did glasswork for shapers such as Pat Madden and John Lucas, both of whom I greatly admire. In 2003 Chuck and I parted ways, the influx of Chinese boards began taking its toll on guys our size. We didn’t have the brand affiliation to demand higher prices and we couldn’t compete with the low wage china imports. That combined with being burned out on trying to do private label stuff that the shops were demanding was killing all drive and creative passion. I went underground just shaping occasionally for friends, working a “real” job and starting a family. After about a decade the call has beckoned again, I do far less boards than before but the Internet has really leveled the playing field with china, and I can sell factory direct. I’m excited about Shred Season because it’s a revolutionary way to get an honest, decent board without being ripped off. I make more money this way, have more control, and can focus on what is most important, family and building the best board I can. Social media has revolutionized board building, I’m getting advice from some of the greatest shapers in the world and I’m not ashamed to admit some of it is way over my head! It’s the learning and constant drive to do better that is making Shaping, Glassing, and Finishing exciting again. My goal is to have fun building boards, that fire I had when I was 13 is back but I’m wiser now and look at things differently. If I can’t do something I’ll refer the customer to someone that can, there is a lot of talent in this country it’s just knowing where to find it.


We don’t get where we are on our own, people, forces and random acts of goodwill help us along the way, a personal and humble thank you go out to the following: My Family, My Parents, Mike Whisnant, David and Joe Knapp, Bill Murray (Inland surfshop fame, rest in peace Bill we miss you) Matthew Braly, Tory Strange (owner of the best retail shop in Florida, The Surf Station) Pat Madden, John Lucas, Yancy Spencer, and so many good friends that believed in me, you know who you are, I love you all.