Danny Hess – SHAPER

Danny Hess builds sustainably-minded surfboards from reclaimed wood and recycled foam in an impossibly hip workshop in the Outer Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. The space is called “The Woodshop,” for reasons that were immediately obvious when I peered through the windows looking for Hess: wooden surfboards, thick redwood tables, and stacks of timber were artfully arranged in a small showroom at the front of the shop. At the back of the showroom, just visible through the sawdust-caked porthole windows of two swinging doors, were bandsaws and jigsaws and dozens of planers hanging from racks.

I walked inside and, after a quick round of predictably firm, carpenter-y handshakes with Hess and his shop mates, proceeded directly to a snub-nosed 5’6” that had caught my eye through the window. Hess’ boards are sold in the local alternative-craft surf shop Mollusk and are relatively common in San Francisco lineups, but I’d yet to actually hold one. It was surprisingly light, with a deck and rails made of different colors of wood and a bottom of bright-white foam. Hess’ high-performance shortboards are recycled EPS cores wrapped in a wood shell, usually poplar. But he also makes guns, hybrids, and the occasional log. They’re not cheap, running nearly $1,300 per board, but in theory you could surf the more durable wooden designs for a decade or more.

There are enough people who consider the boards a worthy investment to keep Hess Surfboards backlogged with a six- to eight-month waitlist. “When Clark Foam shut down in 2005, it really sparked a better dialogue among surfers and shapers about what a surfboard could be,” says Hess. “People started thinking about a surfboard as a lifetime investment again.” Hess, with a background in sustainable home remodeling, was more than happy to oblige. He’d built his first foam board at 16, moved on to wood boards in 2000, and hung up his hammer for a planer in 2005 to make a career out of building these lifetime surfboard investments.

“I want to make sustainably-built boards as an option for people who care about where their products come from,” says Hess. “But a surfboard isn’t going to change the world.” Hess thinks of more eco-friendly boards as just one piece of a holistic approach to sustainable living. Boards built with reclaimed, sustainably harvested wood, recycled foam, and bio-resins are a start, but he wants to take it even further. Hess is working on a lightweight, lip-cracking shortboard made entirely out of wood and sealed with plant oils. No foam, no fiberglass, no resin. I grabbed one of his early prototypes and it felt unlike any other surfboard I’ve ever touched—strong, solid, and alive. Like an equal parts blend of surfing’s past and future.

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Kelly Slater’s U.S. Open Warm Up – A small forecast calls for a creative means of preparation

When the U.S. Open of Surfing forecast calls for no larger than 3-foot faces, warming up for the event can be difficult, especially when following up an all-time swell at Jeffreys Bay. Unless, of course, you’re Kelly Slater. In which case, you jump on an old board (notice the sticker?), head to a lake in […]

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In This Issue – Check out the September issue, on newsstands now

Building House Eight events that shaped modern competitive surfing. Edges of Africa With surfboard in tow, Gary Conley is halfway through circumnavigating the entire African continent by motorcyle. Misfits of Bull Bay Along Jamaica’s impoverished southern coast, surfing is more than a pastime. It’s the potential for a better life. Valhalla’s Coast On the icy […]

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Cloud 9 added to the ASP Qualifying Series

Cloud 9: Putra Hermawan at work | Photo: ASP/Hain

The 20th Annual Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup will deliver ASP Qualifying Series points for the first time, between September 24th-29th, in Siargao, Philippines.

The event will surely offer pristine barrels, in a wonderful scenario, and it will distribute points for both the QS and Asian Surfing Championship (ASC).

“That wave at Cloud 9 is really good. Surfing Cloud 9 is like surfing my home break, Lacerations in Nusa Lembongan. Last year was my first time to surf at Cloud 9 and I’m so stoked to win the event in really fun barrels. I’m so excited to go back there again,” says pro surfer Putra Hermawan.

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Madagascar joins the International Surfing Association

Madagascar: an African surfing jewel | Photo: ISA/Alan Van Gysen

Madagascar has become the 86th member of the International Surfing Association (ISA).

African countries keep joining the International Surfing Association. This time, it’s Madagascar, one of the best kept secrets in the continent.

Despite being the fourth largest island in the world with a wealth of great surf breaks, it has remained largely untouched by the surfing community. There are 3,000 miles of undiscovered coastline out there.

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Teen Arrested for Threatening US Open – HBPD made the arrest following comments the 16-year-old made on social media

Police seized a handgun, a shotgun and electronic devices from the boy’s home.

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Week in Review – Random happenings in surf for the week of July 21

Random happenings in surf for the Week of July 21.

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Guadeloupe surfers dominate the 2014 Sopela Pro Junior

Tim Bisso: a Guadeloupe star | Photo: ASP/Damien Poullenot

Tim Bisso and Kim Veteau conquered the 2014 Sopela Pro Junior, in small surf conditions, in Bizcaya, Basque Country.

The Men’s final saw two French surfers battling for victory. Timothee Bisso capitalized on his opponent’s mistakes and surfed a smart heat to take the win.

“I’m super happy. I managed to sneak-in in second place through all rounds and to take the win in the end is very special. I’m looking ahead at Lacanau already, and I hope I can make another final and who knows even win again,” says Bisso.

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Swiss surfers enjoy flood waves in the Thur River

Thur River: the ASP World Tour is coming to Switzerland

Two Swiss surfers have ridden one of the biggest river waves ever seen in the Thur River.

Static waves are special. They are rare; they don’t break all year round, and they often don’t deliver medium-sized faces. In other words, river waves do not offer that dynamic feeling found on ocean waves.

Nevertheless, river waves are better than nothing, especially if you live in a landlocked country. The river surfing scene is growing every year. And creativity too. Did you know that there are specially designed surfboards for this kind of spots?

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US Open of Surfing celebrates 20th anniversary

US Open of Surfing: we miss that pier | Photo: ASP/Rowland

The 2014 Vans US Open will celebrate its 20th anniversary, between 27th July and 3rd August, in Huntington Beach, Surf City USA.

The prestigious American title is up for grabs exactly when Huntington Beach commemorates 100 years of surfing in town. The event will attract Dream Tour, Qualification Series, and Pro Junior surfers from all over the world.

Kelly Slater, Julian Wilson, CJ Hobgood, Alejo Muniz, Carissa Moore, Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore, and many more will try to earn valuable points toward the overall rankings. A good result at the US Open of Surfing usually means success at the end of the season.

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