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Surfboard Craftsmanship Artistry in Wood

Surfboards are meant to be surfed.

Or are they? That said, several surfboard shapers have produced wooden boards that are such fine examples of craftsmanship and artistic expression that they can considered true works of art.

“We sometimes struggle with the abundance of riches that we have at CSM. Surfboards, photographs, and other surfing memorabilia that thoughtful surfers have donated or loaned to us. The quandary we are often faced with is how to display our treasures in a limited space. One such type of treasures are beautifully crafted wood surfboards, some made to be ridden, others intended to be ‘wall hangers’ — works of art.”

—Rick Wilson
CSM volunteer and exhibit curator

Based on that concept, Wilson curated a tribute to the modern-day craftsmen, shapers of, simply put, beautiful wood boards. The exhibit begins with a slim, streamlined balsa shaped by Pete Peterson for his nephew, Matt Kivlin, and is capped by a sleek old-growth redwood tow-in board created by Bill Hamilton as a nod to the big-wave skills of his son, Laird.

Pictured on the right: Oceanside’s own big-wave surfer and master boardbuilder Gary Linden loaned us two of his agave boards for the display. He was especially impressed with the challenges he faced when shaping the Simmons-style spoon. “This board was difficult for me, as I never felt quite in control of the shape that Simmons was able to be so successful at.”

Also in the line-up: a rare, 7-stringer balsa shaped by Phil Edwards, a Simmons twin-fin produced by Donald Takayama, a Carl Ekström asymmetrical redwood built from aged wine barrel staves, and a blond balsa thruster by Al Nelson. Of special interest are two completely different agave boards shaped by the master himself, Gary Linden: one is a 9-foot Simmons “spoon,” and the other an 11- foot Dick Brewer-style Buzzy Trent elephant gun.

Thus was born our exhibit “Surfboard Craftsmanship: Artistry in Wood.” Hopefully by the time you read this we will soon be reopening and you will have a chance to enjoy these showcased works of art.

Pictured on the right: Here with Carl’s asymmetric redwood board, Robert Wald (left), publisher of The Ocean Magazine/OceanMag.Surf, and innovative shaper Carl Ekström stopped by CSM in June as we were putting the finishing touches on the Artistry in Wood exhibit. “It’s fantastic,” said Wald. “What a beautiful line-up of incredible boards!”