Sunday, August 31, 2014

Craft Feature: California Surfcraft of San Francisco, California

Aloha Folk of the Stoke! This weeks Craft Feature comes from San Francisco, California. Dave Hahn from California Surfcraft shares with us an awesome story that is truly...Different Folk! Like my Friend Ryan from Craft Feature No. 1, Dave started out life in the Midwest and eventually found the Stoke in Northern California! Enjoy!

Craft Feature No. 3
California Surfcraft 
San Francisco, California 

DSDF: Tell me a little bit about yourself? Where you are from and what company/organization are you with?

My name is Dave Hahn, and I'm with California Surfcraft ( and @californiasurfcraft on IG).

DSDF: What Surf Craft(s) do you make/offer?

I make cork and fiberglass composite handplanes. They're being tested right now in California, Hawaii and Brazil, and I expect then to be ready for sale online and in Northern California surf shops before the end of the summer.

I'm concentrating right now on a 17x10", deep concave board that cruises through waves with tons of speed and stability. This is a board that you'd take to the outside line-up to pick off the same waves that you'd make with a full-size surfboard. You can see a photo of this board here:

These cork handplanes are make with fiberglass, SuperSap epoxy and composite cork in a vacuum-bagged sandwich construction. They are incredibly light and rigid, as well as ding resistant and rot-proof. My testers are really stoked on the boards, and I'm really excited to get them released.

DSDF: When and How did you get into Surfing?

I grew up in Illinois and started my working life as a jazz pianist in Chicago. I toured a lot and worked overseas before ending up in New York City as a keyboard player for Broadway shows. Not a common story for a surfer, I know, but we all have our own path.

Looking for a change, my wife and I left New York and came to San Francisco, where she's from, and took over the family business. We rented an apartment next to Ocean Beach and I bought my first surfboard. I was 31. Again, not a common story for a surfer.

From day one I was hooked. I rarely missed a day. I was terrible at first - it took me weeks of daily sessions before I even stood up once - but I kept at it. After a year or so I was in much better shape, surfing better, and making drops consistently.

I wish I'd been lucky enough to grow up near the ocean, but the opportunity to surf didn't present itself until later in my life. It just makes me that much more grateful for the chance to be here now, and to be a surfer. What a gift. I really love it and it's become a major part of my life.

I became interested in surfboard construction right from the start. However, I was mostly interested in alternative surfcraft. Alaia, paipo, handplanes, surf mats, surfskis - that kind of thing. And I was focused on new kinds of construction techniques - sandwich composites, nanotech - futurist stuff. I'm really interested in how new technologies and manufacturing techniques could make environmentally-friendly surfcraft that perform as well or better than their non-sustainable versions.

I stumbled on cork while I was researching new kinds of boat construction. I'm certainly not the first to look to cork for surfboard design, and I hope I'm not the last. It's an amazing material. It's resistant to water, rot and dings, and it's LEED certified as a rapidly renewable resource. It can be made very rigid with sandwich composite techniques, and yet it will also - one day many years from now - biodegrade in a way that EPS or PU foam never will.

DSDF: What is your favorite form of Stoke (SurfCraft)? Why?

I take a handplane out every day. I think San Francisco's Ocean Beach is an underrated bodysurfing beach - especially when you have the right handboard. The waves by us are steep and fast, which can by technical and tricky on a surfboard, but fit just right on a handplane. I'm hooked!

DSDF: Any specials projects or events you'd like to share or start?

I'm looking for more testers in California, Florida, NY & New Jersey. Connect with me on Instagram and let me know where you surf. If it's an area I'm still looking to get some feedback from, I'll send you a free board.

DSDF: Where do you see the Culture heading in the near Future?

I think the traditional fiberglass + foam surfboard construction has been mastered so well by so many talented shapers that we'll only make small, incremental improvements on it in the future. Big improvements in surf gear could still be made, though, with new construction techniques and next-generation materials. I think we're all working on the beginning of this transition right now and it's really exciting.

As we move through this time of innovation, though, I hope that the surfing industry continues to move toward sustainability in construction, materials and durability. Paulownia and bio-epoxy are a great start to this shift, and companies like Firewire are bravely leading the way, but more needs to be done. We need to take a long look at our use, and waste, of foam (even the recycled kind) and decide if that material should have such a central place in our nature-loving sport.

DSDF: Any shout outs, Thanks or comments?

Yes! I'm very grateful to my testers - @emsteenis, @dabestellis, @tbad22, @oceanellis, @bodysurfbrazil, @tobin1142 - for helping me refine my boards. Thanks to everyone on Instagram for being so stoked and supportive of the prototypes, and thanks to SF's Aqua Surfshop, and Marin's Proof Lab for being early supporters of California Surfcraft.

Thank You Dave for sharing your Stoke and Story!!!

Good Vibes!!!

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