MOUNTAIN LIFE - Coast Mountains | Fall Winter 2018

34 MLCM FALL/WINTER 2018 words :: Carmen Kuntz Waterman surfboards are born from where the forest meets the surf, but the real story starts far from any ocean, smack in the middle of the Canadian prairies. As a farm kid in rural Saskatchewan, Patrick Salamon dreamt of seeing the world, of seeing oceans. Fresh out of high school he booked a one-way ticket to Australia (with just $800 to survive on) and discovered not only oceans, but the world of surfing. In his tiny studio apartment in Australia, he began repairing surfboards to pay rent. Very quickly, an addiction to surfing melded with a passion for board shaping and Salamon saw his future. Upon returning to Canada, he set up shop onVancouver Island and started turning salt-sprayed cedar trees into surfboards. Mountain Life: Where did this ambition to build cedar surfboards come from? Patrick Salamon : Living on the Island I was struck by the landscape; it’s just so raw and beautiful. I wanted to make surfboards that would reflect this area better than a neon piece of foam. The locally-made cedar canoes here just seemed so perfect, I decided to try using the same material to make surfboards. I use local western red cedar and shape them in my garage in Campbell River. ML: As a Canadian surfer and board shaper, didn’t you end up on the wrong side of Vancouver Island? Salamon: Moving to Campbell River gave my wife and I the financial freedom to take board making to another level versus struggling financially on the other side where work is seasonal. I get about 50-60 days of surfing in a year. It’s never enough but we get a few days of winter surf in Campbell River. ML: Do wooden boards perform on the local waves? Salamon: I feel as though Vancouver Island waves are well suited for wooden boards as they feel extra buoyant. They sit a bit higher out of the water than a traditional foam board, which allows them catch a lot of waves, even if the waves lack power or size. ML: Talk about your process.What is involved when making a surfboard fromwood? Salamon: I design each board on my computer then make ribs and a spine for the board’s internal structure. To create the top and bottom of the board I like to use a variety of colours of western red cedar, which I laminate. After attaching the ribs and spine I put on the rails using a bead and cove style for strength and weight. After putting blocking inside the board for the fins, leash and vent I seal the inside with epoxy.Then I use a clamp jig to secure the top and bottom pieces. Roughing it out involves lots of hand tools and is my favourite part of the process—followed by my least favourite part, sanding. Next, I apply fibreglass and epoxy to each side, followed by a hot coat and gloss coat to seal and waterproof the board surface. I then install the leash cup and fin plugs making it watertight and finish with a quick polish. Then it’s ready to surf! ML: Essentially you replace a petroleum product—polyurethane foam—with wood. Is it challenging to work with wood and find materials? Salamon : I try to use as much reclaimed wood as I can; old cedar fence or chunks of driftwood. Clear (knot-free) western red cedar usually comes from a mill. The local mill will put aside clear sections of wood and this variety provides a range of colours. Every piece of wood is different– it looks different, planes different and sands different. One piece will sand down very slowly, and another might be very fast sanding which can create uneven surfaces making the lamination process a challenge. I use eco-friendly epoxy for my boards, specifically formulated for quality performance and low environmental impact. WATERMAN SURFBOARDS CEDAR SURFBOARDS MADE TO LAST DESIGN Salamon's monster.A local wood board for local big waves. PATRIC SALAMON