Tyler & Martijn of Ventana Surf Co. on building hollow wooden boards, how they came to producing handplanes, and the best place to grab some grub in Santa Cruz after a session. Can’t wait to get down there and try one their boards. (See how I am? I just invited myself for a free ride).
– martijn stiphout
About Ventana Surf Co.:
Martijn: Ventana came about when Tyler and I put our heads together to try to create jobs for ourselves. We both graduated with degrees in Marine Biology, and were both unemployed. So, we figured we’d give this a shot.
Santa Cruz has a long rich surf history. How does that inspire who you are as a surf board company?
Martijn: I think it inspires us in the fact that we constantly see what’s being done by other shapers, as well as surfers. It’s an amazing thing to be in the middle of a town with such a rich history in surfing, and so many legendary folks around. It makes me want to make them proud of what Santa Cruz stands for, and has to offer.
Tyler: Santa Cruz has so much to draw from. The history, the shapers, the surfers and the waves themselves all play into what we do and why we do it. I can’t stress enough how amazing it is to have such great (hand) shapers all within a few blocks of each other. Legends both in the water and out.
How did you first get into surfboard making?
Martijn: I started building models when I was pretty young, and was exposed to wood working throughout my childhood. My father built many of our furniture around the house, and taught us to be resourceful and use our hands. My brother and I have always built things, usually we’d rather build something than buy it, which still holds true today. I started building wooden surfboards in my backyard about 4 years ago, after I broke my last foam board. I figured I could probably make something ride-able, and it turns out I was correct. From there on I built a few boards for myself, then for friends, and finally for random people that liked them. I was layed off from my previous job as sailboat captain, and teamed up with Tyler to start Ventana.
Tyler: I was shaping foam boards for myself, then friends, and then strangers. Martijn wanted to build a board, but didn’t want to use foam, so he built it out of wood. Once I saw what he made I was in awe, I was like, “I want one of those!” Foam became a thing of the past.
What was your decision behind using wood for your surfboards?
Martijn: I’ve never shaped a board out of foam, but have done enough ding repair to know I don’t want to work with it. Wood has always been my favourite material to use, and it made sense to build boards that way too. There is much more soul in a wood board than foam, it’s hard to describe, but the boards are just different.
Tyler: I followed Martijn into the wood board world. Working with wood is an art in itself and if you can combine that skill with shaping, the end result is incredible. Capturing the raw beauty of the wood grain and colour into something that acts as your vehicle to happiness is the goal.
Biggest misconception about hollow wood boards?
Martijn: Weight. Everyone thinks they weigh a hundred pounds.
Tyler: Yeah, the weight, and that they are slow. Both couldn’t be further from the truth.
What type of woods do you use and why?
Martijn: We use any plywood we can get from cabinet shops etc. for the interior structure ( it all gets coated in Epoxy), and the skins are a lot of soft woods such as redwood, cedar, and pine. We like using locally harvested wood, and try to use mostly reclaimed wood from around town. Besides being available, a lot of the wood species are naturally rot and insect resistant, and surprisingly light.
Seems like every surfboard company I know has been inspired by another surfboard. Does this hold true with you all?
Martijn: I can’t say it has for me.
Tyler: I am constantly inspired by other surfboards/shapers. Everything works, the trick is in making one that works for a certain person and with a certain purpose.
The other truism — most surfboard makers hardly get to surf as much as they want. How about you guys?
Martijn: Well, it can be tough, although we get our fair share. I like early AM sessions, and Tyler usually goes out at sunset. But there are those days where it just doesn’t happen.
Tyler: We surf more than most. It’s important to keep your priorities straight. Life is too short, as we all know.
Tell me about where you surf in Santa Cruz, and how that informs you about the building of your boards?
Martijn: I mainly surf the East side, Capitola, Sharks, Privates. I do like building boards for specific waves, racy, hollow sections, or buttery rolling shoulders. It’s fun to try new things and have a purpose in mind.
Tyler: I enjoy surfing everywhere and anywhere in the area. No boundaries.
What’s your process for creating your boards?
We design the boards in akushaper, create templates, build the interior structure by hand, skin the board, add cork rails, shape it, glass it, surf it!
What kind of ride are your boards known for?
Martijn: Fast. Every wooden board I’ve surfed has been fast. They float well, and surf even better.
Tyler: Fast, connected surfing. It is a whole new surfing experience that everyone should try at least once.
How long does it take to create one of your boards?
Just in wood working time it can take anywhere from 5 to 12 days to build the board. That does not include glassing time, which is pretty much the same as foam boards.
How did you get into manufacturing handplanes, and what’s been the response?
Martijn: Tyler, our friend Garrett, and I made a couple of them years ago out of a broken foam board, and I figured we could also make them out of our wood scraps. They are fun to make, use up our scraps, and are a blast to use.
Tools you can’t live without?
Martijn: Hand planes, tape measure, bandsaw, and table saw.
Tyler: Handplanes, Pleskuna square, bandsaw, tablesaw, and lots of sandpaper.
What designers out there do you keep your eyes on?
Tyler: I don’t know too much about many modern designers, but I have always loved the early Dada painters. I feel that surfing is dada. I am really into Tom Sachs Space Program as well. Anyone who shakes up the rhythm and dances to their own drum. Martijn’s Frankenstein board is a great example.
Best place to grab some grub in Santa Cruz after a session?
Tyler: De La Hacienda, hands down.
Anything you’d like to add about your boards or craft?
Tyler: If anyone would like to try one out, just contact us and we will go for a surf.
What’s next for Ventana Surf Co.?
Everyday is something new. We hope to spread the joy of riding wooden boards to as many people as we can. We are very privileged to live where we do and to meet new amazing people from all walks of life. Swing by some time and say hello.