Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Vince Balsa Surfboards Bali

"Jean Marie Vincent Tierny, riding a « sculptural » and imposing board entirely made of balsa wood. After the session, while drinking a coffee, I was able to learn more about the hectic life of this extraordinary character and I had the opportunity to try his « cult object », a very successful trial. Indeed, the board, despite its appearance, is not heavier than a classic surfboard of foam and fiber, and competes without complexes with the best longboards that I had the opportunity to ride.

While surfing in a remote corner of the island of Java (Indonesia) the chance was given to me to meet, on the water,
Having already plans to climb of Ijen volcano on the following days, we logically added a visit to his shape workshop, Vince Surf Boards, located in the city of Banyuwangi, at the foot of this mountain.
 On this planet, there are less than a dozen official manufacturers of wooden boards, most of which are far from producing as many as Vince Surf Boards. Few people can claim this level of inventiveness and finishes. This visit was therefore a real privilege.
 I therefore suggest the interview with Vincent, who, among other skills, is an engineer specialized in marine construction and former lifeguard. 
– Blaise: who are you, where are you from?
– Vincent: My name is Vincent Tierny, I’m 55 and coming from the North of France.

– BR: Since when do you live in Indonesia and why did you settle down in Banyuwangi / Java?
– VT: I came for the first time in Indonesia in 1978 as part of a student exchange, staying one year in a family, and then, concerning my settlement in Banyuwangi, it was because it reminded me my good old days in Bali ! (laughs).

– BR: What led you to making surfboards and when did you start ?
– VT: About twenty years ago I left the Thompson company and began to manufacture boats in Indonesia. Following the Asian crisis I unfortunately got bankrupt and switched to eco-tourism in a natural reserve in this country. I finally had to decide whether to stay there for a lifetime or leave to look for a new challenge. I eventually decided to go to Bali where I began to surf as there were no more fishes to catch in spearfishing (laughs), having sworn that I’d never make boats for customers anymore. But I thought I could build wooden surfboards, this I could allow it to myself (laughs), and I started in my garage. The Rip Curl brand saw them and expressed the wish to buy some for their shops. This is how I started in this market about ten years ago.

– BR: Do you only build surfboards?
– VT: Yes, essentially, as well as Stand Up Paddles (SUP). Currently I am busy building my own catamaran boat to organize future boat trips for surfers.

– BR: What types of wood are you using and where do you source it?
– VT: I mainly use balsa that we grow ourselves in the area, on the slopes of the Bromo volcano. A tree is usable after 4 or 5 years. It’s very fast and convenient.

– BR: How many people do you employ?
– VT: It fluctuates between 8 and 20 people depending on orders. Several of our employees work under toll manufacturing contracts.

– BR: Do you consider that you are playing a social role in the area with your business ?
– VT: This is not my first goal, I stopped playing Don Quixote a long time ago (laughs) but I’m happy to offer my staff a better quality of life than the Indonesian standard, which also greatly motivates them.

– BR: How many surfboards do you produce per year?
– VT: We’re at about 150 but should be able to produce more because demand is high; it is also the reason for our move in Banyuwangi. We aim to stabilize around 300 pieces a year.

– BR: Are you only working on model series or do you also make « customs » upon request ?
– VT: First we offer them the models in our range, but we can respond to specific requests by manufacturing customized products.

– BR: In what way can you say that your boards are more ecological than others? Are they 100% « natural »?
– VT: Not 100%, the « fundamentalists » will say that there is still glue and resin, but we believe to have solved the problem at 98%. So please leave us a little time for the remaining 2% (laughs). They are environmentally friendly because the material is biodegradable. We do not use plastic or foam and, above all, they are sustainable. It is not a disposable product, they are supposed to be transmitted to children and grandchildren. I even happened to repair balsa boards that where older than 50 years !

– BR: Where do you export your products?
– VT: Almost everywhere, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden, Europe in general. We are currently working particularly on the development of Australian and Japanese markets.

– BR: Tell me a little about the Japanese market, which is usually very specific when it comes to skiing and snowboarding.
– VT: The Japanese are tough but love beautiful things and know how to recognize them. They are very sensitive to products made of wood and to details and finishes.

– BR: What’s your favorite model in your range?
– VT: Personally I surf a replica of a shape from Donald Takayama. A longboard 11.2 ! (laughs)
– BR: Thank you Vincent, for having answered my questions during this very informative visit.

Having had subsequently the opportunity to go several times at Vincent’s, I have also learned that despite the modesty shown in the above interview, his company is one of the few in the area working on the introduction of a true social plan for its employees.
Concerning the wood, Vincent is able to control the production of balsa from A to Z and works in self-sufficiency: he brings small balsa plants in pots to the farmers in the region of the Bromo volcano for free and guarantees to buy them 4 or 5 years later when they reach the size needed to be transformed into surfboards.
Furthermore, the company also produces its own wax (anti slip to apply on top of surfboards) from a very ingenious and innovative system and also provides customers with « blanks », the equivalent of a raw foam block for surfboards of conventional construction, which can

allow them to shape by themselves their own balsa board. Vince Surf Boards is to my knowledge the only wooden manufacturer worldwide to offer this extraordinary possibility in various sizes (mini simon-fish-short board-mini malibu-longboard-etc).
It was a real pleasure to meet Vincent and his staff. What a good feeling to find such a purist craftsman of sliding!!!!"

 http://www.vince-surfboards.com/  and   https://www.facebook.com/woodensurf?fref=ts

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Recovering and recycling your old boards.

Seamus Miller just sent me the final update on his board building project to share with you. "It's balsa over EPS and was originally a FireWire Tomo Nano that I snapped. It's 5'10 by 19 1/2ish by 2 3/8 ish. I was inspired by a video you posted, from John Parnell back around April/May. "
"The board was originally snapped almost dead centre so I glued it back together with purbond, stripped off the glass, then vac bagged the balsa on. I got the balsa from Mark Riley. I set blocks of balsa into the blank for the fin boxes and leg rope plug. The cedar in the nose and tail is recovered from some mouldings that I pulled off a doorway in our house during some small scale renovations mid way through the board. I glassed it myself, which was a whole other learning experience and probably got a little carried away with the rail tape. There are 6mm cedar strips inlaid into the bottom along the edge of the rail, but the tape mostly covers them."
"It looks like there's swell this weekend so hopefully, I'll get to surf it and see how it goes.

This has truly been an essential outlet for me this year, with my wife diagnosed with cancer back in March and just now coming to the end of chemotherapy. I can honestly say that working on the board has helped me get through the treatment weeks more than I realised at the time. "
"Recovering a board from something that I snapped has made me pretty happy and assuming this one goes alright, I've got a few other recoverables in the shed. I'm very keen to try paulownia over the blank next and am working out how to put channels into it at the moment."

Monday, October 12, 2015

All you need to get the job done

 These are all you need to to get those rail bands on. No need to over think it and over engineer it.
A good steam iron, water spray bottle , damp cloth, good quality Polyurethane glue and good quality masking tape.
 This is 5mm thick Paulownia that is very dry, so I needed to moisten it up, stream it and it bends so much easier. You will be amazed at how much pressure you can pull with good quality masking tape.
Cheap, light weight and no restictions with angles and clamps.

Keep it simple , keep it cost effective and don't do you head in trying to over complicate things.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Grain Surfboards ReEvolution report

Donald Brink was part of this years gathering and this is his report on the weekends events ...

"The re-evolution festival in York Maine is a fixture on the local's surf calendar. I was invited to attend this years 5'th annual event and began my trip arriving in Boston. It's a fascinating city steeped with history and architecture from which the founding fathers of this country paved ways forward, from which we have thrived and can bring value to their legacy walking the granite paved side walks still there today. Quick visit to the Boston public library, a look at some point breaks up North along the way and some introductions to the crew setting things up at the Grain surfboard's headquarters.
The farm is beautiful and would house the hundreds of stoked folk the following day and night for the revolutionary date. Perhaps the name Re-evolution suits the concept well. We rode waves at the beach sharing craft of every kind. The waves were not large but there were opportunities for all to slide the long walls on belly or foot.
Back at the Farm Andy Davis shared his collection in the barn, it was an ideal setting as a gallery and with local food and craft beers being catered the gathering got real.
Live workshops for the kids, chit chat with friends from afar and a scheduled lecture series in the main workshop area on various topics concerning surf, boards and sustainable design.
It was an honor to be invited to share my thoughts and concepts on the asymmetric value of design and why it matters. With standing room only we began a conversation. Thanks to all those who engaged in the dialog and beyond boards and rocker the value of surfing and the fascination of its parts as an asset to our path is something we can explore any day and be better from its thought.
Jon Wegener conducted a workshop leading up to the event at the Grain farm. The students enjoyed their finished boards with us at the beach and I really enjoyed getting to share some thoughts and stories with Jon. He is a master craftsman and watching him work and riding his designs were great things on so many levels.
Thanks to the wonderful community of Maine the family of Grain and the welcome invitation you gave with open arms to see me return. I look forward to more North Eastern adventures.
Enjoy your Water"

Donald Brink