Surfing is a source of inexhaustible reverence and joy. Humans privileged enough to make surfing a substantial part of their lives are truly blessed. I am blessed in this way. And when I figured out how to add the presence of trees and wood to water and waves, the experience became ecstatic.
I've been surfing my entire life, mostly in the frigid waters of my home-breaks in New England. In 2005 I decided to abandon plastic foam boards and build a wooden longboard. To do this, I had to invent a new method for creating modern surfboard shapes using traditional boatbuilding techniques. I called my method "strip and feather" because it used long strips of lightweight cedar fitted together using an innovative feathered lap-joint. After building several prototypes in the basement of my friends cottage on Cape Nubble, Maine, the story attracted the attention of a local NPR reporter. Then a journalist from the Associated Press ran a story. Overnight my boards had started a global, wooden surfboard revival. Today I'm mostly interested in experimenting with new techniques and perfecting the craft.
You can follow Rich's surfboard projects on the Tree to Sea Blog
My boards are built to ride but I've also collaborated with artists for a good cause. In this case I built four boards that were supposed to be auctioned off to benefit a school for at-risk boys. Unfortunately, the artist, Immogene Drummond, stole all four of the boards and disappeared. It's a sad story and I'd love to heal the wounds it created. Perhaps one day she'll make it right.
A story that ran on NPR's "Only a Game" series.