Can I Still Order A Custom Surfboard?
by Justin Cote
“It’s the end of the world!”
“You’ll never be able to get another custom board again!”
“Board’s will cost $1,000!”
These were just a few of the reactionary quotes that arose from the surf industry on December 5, 2005–also known as “Black Monday”–when Clark Foam closed it’s doors. It’s been estimated that Clark Foam supplied 90 percent of domestic and 60 percent of international polyurethane foam blanks. .
But what about today? Several months after the closure of the world’s major blank supplier, can you order a custom board in California? And if so, how much will it cost? With hard-hitting journalism in mind, I hit the streets (and the phone), looking for answers from three highly reputable shapers in Southern California…
Steve Boysen from Boysen Surfboards: “I’ve got blanks and I’m shaping everyday. If someone were to walk in off the street, I would make them a board without a problem. I’ve got enough Clark Foam blanks to last until I find other blanks that are high enough quality. Right now, a lot of bad boards are coming out because of low quality blanks. Prices have gone up, but not too much, we’re not price gouging. We want everyone to keep surfing and having fun!”
Go to www.sbsurfboards.com for more info.
Pat Mulhern from Wave Riding Vehicles: “I don’t see myself running out of foam anytime soon–W.R.V. wouldn’t let that happen. Prices have gone up though, I’ve heard of some labels charging up to $200 more for a board. In March we’re supposed to be looking good with all kinds of foam coming in–but I can’t say where it’s coming from! When Clark Foam first closed I was bummed, but now there’s all kinds of cool new xxxx coming out. I’ll bet that in six months, there will be plenty of unreal foam around, I’m pretty excited!”
Go to www.waveridingvehicles.com for more info.
Todd Proctor from Proctor Surfboards: “I always kept at least a month’s supply of blanks at my shop, but the day Clark Foam shut down, I ordered a container of blanks from Australia. So for me, polyurethane (foam blank) isn’t a problem and I was able to keep my board prices the same. I think the closure made people think, “What’s the alternative to foam blanks?” That worked out great for me because I’ve been doing these flexible, custom-shaped epoxy boards that are stronger and lighter than foam but still have flex, which is unlike other epoxy boards. Lately, even though I have plenty of foam blanks, I’ve been doing 90% flexible epoxy boards. There’re all kinds of containers coming in from all over the world; Argentina, Brazil, France, China, and more. I think by May, there will be more blanks than Clark ever made.”
Go to www.proctorsurf.com for more info.
So there you have it, while prices may have risen a bit, the custom surfboard is still available to you, Joe Schmoe. In fact, the overall sentiment I got was that the closure of Clark Foam may have seemed devastating at first, but the void left has created a new feeling of discovery and experimentation. Now go order yourself a new stick, I just did…