The decision to leave Maine is always a tough one, because weâ€™re always doing so much there. Our friends are there, folks come by the shop all day long, the beautiful fall weather is on now and of course thereâ€™s all the boards weâ€™re working on. But flying out west to the Sacred Craft show was worth the trip â€“ worth the risk of schlepping hundreds of pounds of boards and booth dressings and miscellaneous schwag through homeland security, worth getting lost in the no-manâ€™s land of malls and desert south of Ventura, even worth the time away from the shop.
Sacred Craft is about the boards and the board builders, shapers, glassers and fin foilers. It celebrates the tradition of hand-made surfboards and we were lucky to have a chance to meet many of the legends of the craft there.
One thing that surprised us was all the wood boards at the show. There were standout craftsmen like Tom Wegener and John Cherry who have been working in wood just about forever. Their work is masterful and it was great to meet them and look at their boards first-hand. But there were also some new explorers in the world of sustainable board building which was great to see. They’re thinking about all sorts of ways to make surfboards impact the environment less. Overall, signs at Sacred Craft point to more wood boards in every line-up. Awesome.
As usual kit-builders aplenty stopped by the booth to talk about their projects, ask questions and groove on the finished boards that we brought with us. We also had on hand two Grain boards loaned by the Wetsand shop in Ventura . The curious or those in the market for great looking Grain boards â€“ a 6-0 Wherry by John or a tricked-out Root by Randy – should stop by this terrific shop for a look. The place is first-rate, with plenty of really great boards to check out.
The fabled Santa Ana winds that were ruining the surf all week had pushed one of the infamous SoCal wildfires across the highway to close it down as we were rolling south to Moonlight Glassing late in the trip. We regretted that the fire helped keep us from making it down to visit our instant friends there, Peter and Sally St. Pierre. Moonlight is the ultimate glassing shop, with years of experience at putting on some of the best glass in the biz. Theyâ€™re super-nice too and will do polyester resin glassing on home-built boards as well.
We did have time to visit the welcoming crew at Channel Islands Surfboards though â€“ just a few minutes too late to be part of a surprise party they threw for Kelly Slater to congratulate him on his ninth(!) world title. Having a chance to talk with uber-shaper Al Merrick about their hi-tech production facility and his personal pet project, an agave/redwood gun, was a standout treat. It was almost funny to be in their small warehouse surrounded by foam that was hanging or racked pretty much everywhere and to see five guys all clustered around the only wood board in the place. Pure coincidence had Rob Machado there at the same time, and briefly meeting him reminded us of our admiration for his pure, easy vibe and his dedication to environmental responsibility.
Honestly, this post could go on and on with all the great people we met, friends we were able to reconnect with, and great stuff we were able to put together that should keep firing people up about the possibilities of surfing wood. But this needs to be wrapped up, so weâ€™ll post some more news from the trip later.