Category Archives: People

Endoskeletal.

Grain Shop

What if surfboards had souls? Surfboards. They do have souls. They’ve got personalities, just like we do. Quirks, habits, and even shortcomings, which we tend to overlook in favor of their more positive attributes. Like a girlfriend who is, actually, pretty high-maintenance, but she’s so ludicrously good at making up, that you’re willing to fight with her. Constantly if need be. Yeah, it’s hard to break up with a board that has the perfect amount of pop or turns on a dime.

But some surfboards are more well-rounded than others. Naturally, some are stronger. Some of them have backbones. Literally. They’re composed of sinews and ribs, and right in the middle of it all: heart. They’re take-home-to-mom caliber. The boards made by Grain Surfboards in York, Maine are that kind of boards. Custom-built, hollow wood beauties. And of course, they exist in a very limited number.

Grain’s rate of production is “very slow.” Founder and principle owner Mike LaVecchia says this unapologetically. “We build maybe two dozen boards a year.”

“But,” he continues, “it’s a small part of the business. April through October, classes are kind of our main thing.”

Grain generally offers three types of surfboard building classes, which allow students to do 90 percent of the building themselves: A seven-day course, a four-day “blitz,” and a two-day finless craft class with alaia master Jon Wegener. Grain also sells kits that include all of the necessary ingredients for about half the price; their buyers do 100 percent of the work. Most people opt for the classes.

Grain Founder and Co-owner Mike LaVecchia

Grain Founder and Co-owner Mike LaVecchia

“It’s really fun to get people working with their hands who don’t typically have an opportunity to do things like this,” LaVecchia says, as he waves his own sturdy hands toward boards in various stages of completion, racked and propped throughout the workshop. “We’re always by their sides to help troubleshoot or fix anything, so we give them the freedom to mess up, knowing that we can make it right.”

East Coast surfing elicits eyebrow raising in many parts of the world. Yes, still. And due to the cold water and perceived lack of waves, Maine may as well be the Moon to most surfers. But Maine technically has more miles of coastline than California (3,478, thanks to its bevy of nooks and crannies) and much of it is surfable. York juts out into the North Atlantic and picks up loads of swell. Its surf scene is burgeoning. Nonetheless it’s hard to get anyone, let alone surfers, to call on coastal Maine and its sub-zero sea breezes in the dead of winter.

“We were kind of twiddling our thumbs,” LaVecchia says. “People are surfing all over the place, but when it’s cold and snowy here, nobody wants to come visit, even though it’s a great time of year to be here. So, we actually had some people ask us about doing classes out West.”

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Open Book

Tyler Wright after winning the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, the first stop on the 2013 ASP Women's World Championship Tour.

Tyler Wright after winning the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, the first stop on the 2013 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour.

TYLER WRIGHT
rose to the top with nary a trace of ambition.
Her trick?
No tricks. 

The sun is yet to rise. Tyler Wright is in good spirits, carefully studying invisible waves on a barely discernible horizon. Nearby, Carissa Moore also stares seaward as Praia do Guincho in Portugal comes to life before them. They are locked in a quietly blazing battle. It’s only the top of the world that’s at stake.

Thirty hours later, Tyler’s second in the world with no hopes of climbing higher, at least not this year. She congratulates, hugs, and laughs with the woman who took the title from her hands. But you see, she never, actually, saw it as hers. She never expected to be in contention for a world championship. She found herself here. And instead of succumbing to the pressure that accompanies such a situation, Tyler simply ignored it.

At the 2013 Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, the third of a then-indeterminate number of events, Tyler and Carissa faced each other in a final for the second time that year. It was Tyler’s third in three contests. It was the start of the title race that wasn’t. Partly because the race was all but deadlocked until its conclusion, and partly because one of the top contenders wasn’t acknowledging its existence. It was early to start sniffing around for a title battle, but with a slew of head-to-heads, it was hard not to. By the time Tyler won in Rio, at the fifth event of the year, she was still saying that a world championship cup was the last thing on her mind. It seemed unfathomable that Tyler was truly indifferent to the title race. How could she be?

But her story remained consistent and her smooth exterior never once betrayed a glory-hungry monster within. So, I started to believe that there wasn’t one.  Continue reading

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Five Questions with Colin Boyd and Jackie Paaso

the first chair

You might think that something with “free” in the name seems out of place in our Competition Issue, but in the case of the Freeride World Tour, you’d be sorely mistaken. The FWT is one of the most intense competition circuits—and competitors ride some of the most extreme faces—on the planet: Chamonix, Revelstoke, Verbier… the list goes on.

Jackie Paaso, 31, who finished third overall last year and just won her favorite event at Chamonix, started skiing at age 4. At Sunday River. Colin Boyd, 27, managed to qualify for the FWT this year with no sponsors to speak of and banked a solid eighth-place finish at his first event. Both are graduates of Gould Academy and the Sunday River School of Awesome, which totally exists, so we asked them to tell us a bit about life on Tour and, well, life in general. They happily obliged (as…

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Simon Dumont. Go Bigger: Go Home.

the first chair

What does a guy whose nickname is the “Godfather” of freestyle skiing aspire to? Bigger and better, of course. Simon Dumont has arguably done more for halfpipe skiing than any other, and he’s got 10 X Games medals and an AFP world title to prove it. While Dumont mostly splits his time between Colorado and Florida, home will always be Maine. Six years ago, Dumont created The Dumont Cup at his home mountain, Sunday River, which also happens to be where he set the world quarterpipe height record—just sayin’. After a knee injury in late January, he’s on the mend at Olympic facilities in Park City, Utah. Come March, though, he’s returning to Sunday River for his annual event, and he’s bringing grand designs of designing the grandest terrain park in the East and, just maybe, in North America.

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Bugbee Surf Adventures

IMG_5337If you happen to…

  • be in New Jersey and in the market for some surf lessons
  • have a hankering for an expertly guided excursion into the wilds of Costa Rica
  • find yourself in search of quality Mexican foodstuffs, Dark and Stormies, or sunglasses
  • prefer embarking on adventures (such as those listed above) in the company of knowledgeable, entertaining, and gorgeous ladies

Dot Bugbee is your girl. Check out her newly updated site: Bugbeesurfadventures.com.

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