Tag Archives: surfboards


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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Limited Guts, Zero Glory. But My New Board Is A Babe.

I believe I last left you with heckling my shaper (Ian Wright) and “going for it.” Luckily, both of those things have to do with my yesterday.

After trying (and failing) to be the perfect, patient board commissioner, my shaper (yes, that’s right, Stuart) called me on Thursday and said, more or less, “Jesus, woman, you can come and get it tomorrow. Sheesh.” So the next day, I drove through LA county traffic in August heat to get my penguin. This is a rough facsimile of the conversation that ensued… edited for brevity. And stuff.

C: It has my name on it!

I: Well, yeah, it’s a custom board. If I ordered a custom board and it didn’t have my name on it, I’d be pissed.

C: I didn’t even think about it.

I: That is why your hair color is blonde.

C: I really am sorry if I was a pain in the ass, I didn’t mean to rush you…

I: [Straight-faced. Probably kidding. I think.] You were a real pain in the ass, actually. I was starting to get pissed. I called everyone at SURFER and told them so.

C: Well, anyway, it really is beautiful. [Gazing, starry-eyed at the gleaming white glass.]

I: You’re not gonna sleep with it, are ya?

C: Maybe. Here’s what was left in my bank account.

I: Thanks.

C: Hasta la vista, baby!

I: Ciao.

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Dane Reynolds’ Trashed Quiver on Marine Layer

This is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking… all of those beautiful boards rendered- well, let’s face it- repugnant.  Dane Reynolds must be the most forgiving guy in the world.

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