Matthew Pearson, of Find The Glide Surfboards on building hollow wooden boards, surfing the waves of Wales, and how his boards have that hard-to-find “TWANGY” ride to them. Twangy, I’m guessing it’s a Wales colloquialism for “balls-out-awesome.”
– matthew pearson
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in a small rural town about 15 mins from the beach in the beautiful west of Wales, UK. This setting has nurtured a love of the outdoors, which I feel goes hand in hand with my appreciation of surfing. Have been surfing for around 15 years and after training as a carpenter and also making the odd acoustic guitar, thought I’d try my hand at a hollow wooden surfboard. Not expecting much out of the first one, not only did it work, but worked well and had a different, lively feeling to it. That’s when the obsession began…
Tell me about where you surf, and how that informs you about the building of your boards?
I mainly surf the points and beach breaks of south wales which can be good, but can lack a bit of power. Taking this into account I first set out to build boards with a more relaxed rocker and more volume overall to compensate. However after much trial and error and developments in design of which flex has played a key role, my boards now allow a progressive rocker whilst remaining fast to say the least. A surprised guy said the other day after dropping in on me “sorry mate, thought that section looked impossible, didn’t think you’d make it,” I just flashed him a smug smile pretending to be a good surfer, all the while it was actually just the flexing wood helping me out.
What kind of ride are your boards known for?
Light, fast and responsive. However I think my favourite, and from the feedback I’ve received is that the ride is smooth and the projection out of turns is a joy. Both of these characteristics are due to a fairly recent development in my designs. Before, loofah was placed throughout the entire inside of the structure, which was strong and light, but made the boards feel a bit stiff and lost their lively feeling. Now loofah is placed only in the tail area for strength and the rest I leave hollow, using a flexing rib method. This allows both the top and bottom decks to flex freely acting a bit like shock absorbers, and creating projection.
What’s the biggest challenge in creating your boards?
The mother of pearl inlays are pretty fiddley but I’d say harder than that is having to make boards for other people ha ha! I could quite easily just keep shaping boards for myself , experimenting with different designs forever but , gotta pay the bills!
How long have you been creating boards and why decide to build your boards out of wood?
I first started while on a joinery training course as a class project and then just as a hobby and shaping for friends for a while before starting up the business. Overall around 4 years. I think working with wood lies deep in our psyche somewhere and gives us such satisfaction to work with. Initially I wanted to use it for it’s low impact on the environment but now also think it performs so much better than foam. I definitely wouldn’t wanna go back to that now.
Do you have plans to manufacture a longboard? Paddle board?
I have been shaping the odd custom longboard, but because I’m a selfish shortboarder, have been concentrating mainly on those type of designs. I find it best to test them myself to help fine tune the shapes. I’m a rubbish longboarder so can’t give them the testing they deserve.
Do you ship to U.S., or do you have a dealer here?
No dealers yet but do ship to the U.S.
Best place to surf in your parts?
There’s a few long point breaks on the west coast of Wales that can be amazing. They’re pretty sheltered though so only break a handful of times a year, mostly in winter. It’s still relatively uncrowded up there and at some spots there’s a certain camaraderie in the water that I’d imagine only existed in the early days of surfing. It’s a special place to surf.. when there is surf!
Best compliment you ever heard about one of your boards from a customer?
“the board’s kinda … TWANGY!”
Most memorable wave you ever rode?
I think It’d have to be when I figured out how to make my boards flex properly. My first test run on the new board, first wave. I took off on what I thought was probably a close out, did one pump and was sent flying with a ‘twang’, gaining more and more speed with each pump making the section with ease. I looked at my trusty board proudly and gave him a little pat for his good work, then paddled back out giggling like a little kid. I had finally ‘found the glide’ !
How do your friends describe you?
If you could surf anywhere, it would be…
Coney Beach, porthcawl !!!
Anything you’d like to add?
Wood = Good
What’s ahead for Find The Glide?
I really enjoy the process of shaping from start to finish so wouldn’t want to change too much in the way of expanding the business and mass production or anything like that. I just want to continue to create a quality product and convert people to the joys of wood!