Meet the Man Behind Ian Walsh's Rhino Chasers

Chris Christenson shapes some of the world's finest big-wave boards. Step into his bay!
By Theo Lewitt

Riding big waves isn't simply a product of having guts of steel and a hard head. Yes, those certainly help, but when it comes to paddling yourself over the ledge at proper Jaws with nothing in the way of motorized assist, equipment plays as large a role as any. The boards that Walsh and his squad of XXL wave enthusiasts ride are a breed all their own. 

If you follow the big-wave game close enough, you've likely caught a glimpse of guys like Walsh and Greg Long rocking rhino chasers with large racing number airbrushes and a certain skull logo. These beasts of big-wave boards are born at the hands of none other than Chris Christenson, a San Diego-based craftsman that's become the go-to shaper for the world's best big-wave hellmen in the world looking for an increasingly uncommon dose of hand-shaped magic. 

Ian Walsh testing the limits on his Christenson Shape
Ian Walsh testing the limits on his Christenson © Zak Noyle

Christenson and Walsh have developed a trust in one another, fostered over a roughly eight-year relationship, that allows both to push what they do to new heights. For Walsh that means bigger and heavier waves around the world. For Christenson, it's a matter of pushing the craft of board building to allow the sport to continue its rapid progression in performance.

As Christenson puts it, "Building big-wave surfboards is a lot like building a parachute — they have to work. I have to be just as confident as they [the surfers] are with what I do."

Building big-wave surfboards is a lot like building a parachute — they have to work.

Chris Christenson

For Walsh, the relationship with his shaper couldn't be more important. "Every time I surf Jaws, Chris is the first person I'm talking to. He can round up all these sporadic and wild thoughts I'm having after a surf and condense them into a product."

So, dive into the edit above to join Christenson in the shaping bay for a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to build the boards that conquer giants. If you haven't yet, check out the full film now!

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