How A Shattered Foot Hobbled Caio Ibelli Into A Shaping Bay
“Right now, I have so much time, who knows, maybe I’ll have 15 boards done by the time I get back to surfing.”
“The day before the Margaret River event I went out to surf. Nobody else was out but Jordy. It was a little choppy, but I thought I should have a quick surf before everyone else paddled out,” explains Caio Ibelli of the moment his 2018 Championship Tour season took an unexpected turn.
“I did a big straight air, and coming down I thought I was going to have a soft, easy landing. But my board got caught up in the backwash a little. I felt my foot break right away. I had to paddle about a mile in. My dad carried me up the stairs with Chris Gallagher.
“I tried to walk on it and could feel the bone grinding together.”
Suffering two fractures of the metatarsal and a strained ligament in his left foot, his season ended then and there. Two months later, he was under the knife of surgeon to the surf stars Dr. Warren Kramer.
“He put one screw into the metatarsal bone, cleaned up the bone spurs in my ankle, and kind of fixed everything in my foot, so I won’t feel any pain when I come back,” describes Caio. “The recovery time he gave me was eight weeks before I can start therapy. I’m going to need to do that for a while before I can go surf. I think trust is a big part of the psychological healing process, and to go to Dr. Kramer, I don’t think there’s anybody I would have trusted more. And now when I come back I won’t be second guessing myself and wondering if I did the right thing. I know Dr. Kramer is doing the best he can.”
Stuck languishing at home in Dana Point, California, while his longtime girlfriend Alessa Quizon continued to live the surf life, Caio needed an outlet.
“I always wanted to shape a surfboard, but I never knew where to start or how to do it. After I got injured I had more time and one day I drove over to Basham’s in San Clemente [a surfboard builders’ supply house] and I was going to see if I could rent a shaping bay,” he explains. “In the parking lot out front I saw my good friend Rumaner Surfboards. He’s been building boards for a long time and was like, ‘Hey, what are you doing here?’”
“I told him I was going to shape my first surfboard and he was like, Dude, use my shaping room. It’s got all the tools and I can help you. It’s all good.“
It must be a punish shaping boards and not being able to surf them, but then again, that’s the life of a shaper.
And like that Caio made the swift transition from wounded pro surfer to surf/shaper a la the Wounded Gull.
“I made a 5’2” twin-fin,” proudly tells Caio. “Rumaner showed me the process because I had no idea where to start or anything. It was really hard, but I love how it came out. We didn’t really have templates for the nose, so I told him how I wanted it and we figured it out. It looks killer. It has a nice double concave through the back into a nice single concave through the nose. And I put a little wing on it. It’s insane. I was really worried that my wing would be really ugly looking, but it came out really nice.”
Unfortunately, there’s no concrete timetable set for Caio’s return to the water, but he’s dead set that the first board he rides is going to be that little 5’2”.
“I can’t wait to try and it and see if the board actually works. I’ve been staring at the board for almost two months now and that’s the hardest part,” he says.
Drawn to the lure of foam dust and hand-shaping, it didn’t take Caio long to tackle number two.
“The second one I did was kind of crazy. I went in to actually glass my first board, but the day was too cold,” he says. “I asked Rumaner if he had any spare blanks, and he dug one up out of the back. Sure enough, after a while I had a really nice looking 5’4” with a square tail. I’m going to put channels on it. It looks a little crooked right now, but I’m going to try to fix that.”
Still hobbled by his bum foot, “Once I can stand on my foot more I plan to spend all of my time shaping,” tells Caio. “I want to make a board for my dad and my friend next. I got a couple orders going on, it’s hilarious. It’s really helping me focus on something while I have all this down time. Right now, I have so much time, who knows, maybe I’ll have 15 boards done by the time I get back to surfing.”
Caio’s only caveat is that you probably won’t see him riding his own shapes next year when he returns to competition…if the WSL grants him the injury wildcard.
“I’m really scared to make a board bigger than 5’4”,” he admits. “I’m going to stick with twin-fins and fishes and try to get better doing that. My second board I’m going to give Alessa to try and see if it works. If it doesn’t work, I’ll stick to that 5’2” and 5’4” range. If it works, I’ll see about doing a more versatile 5’8”. But it’s scary, I don’t want to suck on my own boards.”
“If you’ve got time and you don’t have anything to do, why not learn how to shape? I mean, those boards aren’t going to go in the trash. They’re special. I love it. I can’t wait to shape my next one.”
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