This lost art is not dead yet
I was talking to my pal Joel Saltzman the other day about the state of todays surfboard industry. Joel is a long-time avid surfer who is originally from Florida but has been living in the South Bay for many years and is my partner in Blue Mango Surf Company. I was visiting him and on a mission to buy a couple of center fins for some boards of mine that were at the moment without one. We went to a very cool little surf shop over a liquor store in Manhattan Beach called “El Porto Surf Shop” to find them. Great vibe in there with some stoked young dudes working and also some cool boards.
This got us talking about the days when a lot of people were more into ordering up a “custom” board and having it handmade especially for them. This is almost a lost art as the norm these days seems to be to buy them right off the rack. We live in the age of “instant gratification.” I want it and I want it now. I get that. I feel the same about donuts.
Yet, at the same time, it was a very cool thing to have a board built especially for you. There was a whole process that went with it. Most of the shops used to be actual “surfboard” shops. Some would have a small showroom in the front and make the boards in the back. You would go in and fill out an order form, many times with the guy who was going to make the board. Like you would go into the Velzy shop and order your board right from Velzy, or go into the Gordie shop and order your board right from Gordie. It was pretty cool.
Not all that many boards are even being handmade anymore, let alone done custom for somebody. Many are produced in Asia in molds and many are made using modern shaping machines that can reproduce certain shapes. But there are still some great surfboard shapers out there carving out boards. One is Jose Barahona, the guy who shapes my personal boards. This dude has shaped a zillion boards for many big-name surfboard companies over the years and is as good as they come. So, Joel and I went over to the board factory that Jose works out of and talked to him about this whole custom board thing. He said he was still doing a few along with all the stock orders. I am sure that there are a few others still doing them too, it’s just finding a shop that actually takes custom orders these days. I am investigating this as we speak (or read as the case may be).
So, if any of you would want a real handmade custom board done for you, I would be happy to hook you up for that. Just email me and I will put it together for you. CORKYSURF@AOL.COM
Watch Jose make a board in 3 minutes (Time Lapse)