by Rachel Jorgensen
How did you get into building surfboards? Ten years ago I decided to not have any regrets, so I started surfing and it turned into an addiction. When I was offered a job in the surfboard manufacturing industry I jumped on it.
My job as a polisher is the last step of many. Each one must meet the highest standards. The step before I get the board, the rough sanding, is critical for a good polish. The rough sander gets the board flat and sands the rails accurately to the shape, so that the last layer of resin lies down smooth and even. I then sand down the gloss coat as flat as possible, and go over it with gradually finer grits of sandpaper. Then I buff the board with special compounds for a smooth and shiny finish.
What does quality mean to you? Handmade boards are like waves: each one is different so attention to each board’s unique shape is crucial.
I feel you can never be too good at what you do, so for the past ten years I have been soaking up as much experience as possible – sanding, glossing and polishing surfboards. A high-quality board is always the goal; each board has to be the best. It’s a physically demanding job but the end result of a highly crafted board is so rewarding. To see someone riding a wave on a board you have worked on feels great. That I love surfing and making surfboards helps me make a highly crafted product I’m proud of.
What’s the difference between a pop-out board and a handmade board? A pop-out board isn’t built unique to a surfer’s skills or performance requests. They’re usually made overseas by people who might not surf and wouldn’t understand the importance of the quality needed in the shape and construction. An average handmade board may have defects in construction which will make it deteriorate faster. A quality-conscious factory has high-quality control standards and uses the best materials making for a longer lasting board.
What concerns you most about the state of the industry today? I’m concerned about losing the lineage of surfboard craftsmen. Hopefully people will start to appreciate a quality handmade board made by a fellow surfer who wants your board to be the best board you have ever ridden.