Former carpenter and ski patroller Andy Lambrecht knows a thing or two about making surfboards.
Last week he wrapped his final workshop for the year in Pemberton with six people travelling from as far as Canmore, Alta. to build their own custom wooden surfboard out of recycled and salvaged materials.
“The biggest enjoyment I get is the sense of accomplishment that people walk away with,” said Lambrecht, who has lived in Pemberton for the last 11 years. “I get all kinds of people taking this workshop, from high-end cabinet makers to yoga instructors that have zero (carpentry) skills or experience. When you leave, you leave with this great board.”
Lambrecht began making polyester resin/polyurethane foam surfboards around nine years ago as a hobby, but was turned off by the toxic and caustic chemicals needed for their construction. He turned to epoxy resin, which allows the surfboard to be made lighter, stronger and with considerably less volatile organic compounds in the materials. By researching methods on the Internet he soon came across other home surfboard makers that were using epoxy resin on wooden surfboards. With his strong background in carpentry, he decided to try it himself.
“It went really well,” Lambrecht recalled. “A friend of mine wanted me to make (a custom wooden board) for him, and it went from there.”
Word of mouth spread and commissions and orders for custom boards soon began to pour in. After making it work around his full-time jobs, three years ago Lambrecht started crafting surfboards full time. Around the same time he and his family decided to move to their holiday home in Sayulita, Mexico for the winters where he found there was an even greater appetite for his work.
“Sayulita is like Surf City in Mexico,” said Lambrecht. “There’s so many accommodations and amenities there so you get a tonne of nationals coming out there for their surf holiday. They want custom boards and they want to do the workshops down there as well.”
Last year Lambrecht produced 12 boards in Sayulita between commissions and his workshops, which kept him in the shop five days a week for his entire five-and-a-half month stay. He also started producing more ornamental “event boards,” — particularly for weddings and birthdays — which have custom art added before the final glassing.
As a surfer and a craftsman, Lambrecht appreciates the process of making one’s own surfboard from scratch, which is the reason he believes his workshops have become so popular. People can build anything from a 5’10” “egg” or shortboard all the way up to 10’10” flat water SUPs (prices vary due to materials) and by contributing all their own labour to the project, clients can take home a custom board for a similar price to having Lambrecht build it for them. But the satisfaction of crafting a board from reclaimed wood, together with the skills learned during the workshop, means some walk away with the confidence to build their own boards
“I’ve always liked working with wood and I love surfing, so combining the two is perfect,” said Scott Ballhon, who came to Pemberton from Campbell River to participate in the workshop.
“It’s really cool to see the board come together with all the tips and tricks and where you need to concentrate your time. It’s pretty hands on. It’s all handmade with a few power tools.”
At the end of the course, having a board ready to surf on is also an exciting finish to the week.
“I’m going surfing tomorrow morning,” added Ballhon with a smile.
For more information on Andy Lambrecht’s surfboards and workshops go to lambrechtsurfboards.com.