Sunday, September 14, 2014

Craft Feature: Shelter Handboards of Santa Cruz, California

Aloha! This weeks Craft Feature comes from Santa Cruz, California! Please check out Matt's story of the Stoke and how the name of his company reflects the reason we do what we do! The more and more I share these stories, the more I realize we are all truly Different Folk in pursuit of that indescribable feeling of Freedom and Serenity. Enjoy! 

Matt, congratulations on your little one!!  

Craft Feature No. 5 
Shelter Handboards 
Santa Cruz, California 

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

My name is Matt Evarts and I live in Santa Cruz, Ca, but have called many places in California home.  I grew up in the small mountain community of Oakhurst, Ca., but was so lucky to have a set of grandparents in La Jolla and another with house near Carmel Beach.   I am married with a 3yr old daughter and son about to be born on Aug 20th!  My main job is working for the City of Salinas Fire Department, currently Fire Captain on Engine 3.

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

My little project is called Shelter Handboards ( and Surf Co. specializing in hand shaped, custom Santa Cruz mountain redwood body surfing handplanes.  I strive to make unique, eco friendly, recycled custom hand shaped alternative surf craft that is responsibly built.  We believe in the concept of finding shelter from our busy lives, that quiet place where we can re-connect with the stoke.  Its more than handplanes and bodysurfing, but that is where Shelter came from.

DSDF: When and How did you get into Surfing?

I started on a surf mat at La Jolla Shores in 1975 with my grandfather, Hal.  He would also take me body whomping and swimming at Marine St and Windansea.  I first rode a surfboard in 1982 at 11 yrs old and have never stopped.  I have spent many years away from the ocean, climbing, skiing snow boarding, back packing, whitewater kayaking and mountain biking, but surfing was never far away.  Finally I had opportunity to live and work on the Monterey Bay everyday and I chose the ocean life permanently.

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

Well, when its time to surf, it's time to surf.  I love traditional surfing and prefer to be on my short board.  However, I have SUP surf boards, long boards, boogie boards, race SUPS, downwinders and of course, hand planes and fins. I love them all, because each gives you a new approach to riding swells and a different kind of stoke.  But, unless you live in Indo or some other barreling wave destination, most surfers don't get barreled every time out.  That's why body surfing is so kick ass.  Almost every wave is opportunity get the view.  Every wave is overhead.

DSDF: Do you have any specials projects or events you'd like to share or start? 

Shelter has no special projects right now.  I have only been doing this for about 8 months and trying to dial in the product itself, however one of the missions of Shelter is to give back.  We donate a portion of sales to local charities here in Santa Cruz that support kids and the Ocean.  We also like to donate hand planes for charity events as prizes, raffles, auctions to raise money, etc.

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

Not sure.  What we do know is, more and more humans are entering the ocean and caring for it has become more important.  Keep it simple, leave no trace, leave it better than you found it and share it with a kid.  Vote with your wallet if you want to see change in the world.

Any shout out, Thank you's, or comments? 

My shoutout is to my Grandfather and Father who dumped me in the Ocean so many years ago and drove me back and forth everyday, every summer to the beach as a kid,a  kid from the mountains who was lucky enough to have family close the water.

Finally a HUGE MAHALO to my amazing wife, Morgan, the love of my life!



Thaank You Matt for Supporting the Different Stoke!!! Again, Congratulations on your new addition to the Family. I look forward to meeting up with you and the rest of the NorCal folk someday! 
Good Vibes!

EVENT: The Handplane Hoedown! San Clemente State Beach

Surf Event! 
The Handplane Hoedown 
San Clemente State Beach 
Hosted by Brownfish Handplanes ( ) 

This gathering was awesome! The location is a Great idea, you will have to pay a day use fee, but there is a reward for this. The fact that it's a "controlled" beach means that the parking is there, the beach is a lot less crowded and well maintained. I'll be paying for a year permit myself just for those perks. Anyhow, we arrived around 8:30 (The Hoedown starts around 7am and goes till whenever) and made our way down the trail (below the camp ground) to the beach. Walking under the train tracks and on to the sand...we were graced with the view of 40 or more Folk getting Stoked in the waves!! Bodysurfers, Handplanes, Paipo, Surfmat, and even an Ice Cream Sammich! The waves were decent with a set of nuggets here and there that caused the crowd to start Yeeeeeoooowwww!!! out loud, bringing attention to the line-up. Folk young and old walking around, admiring each other's craft and taking them out for a ride! My wife and I set up our spot, displayed a few surf craft from my personal quiver and just took it all in. Right away I had a young kid walk up and ask if he could ride my Dutch Paipo, with a smile and a "Go for it little dude!", he grabbed it and off he went!

 It was awesome to be able to share the Stoke! Throughout the day every one of my boards got to get wet by either myself or someone else! Quit often, while getting ready to go out at my usual spot, I get a lot of people asking about what ever it is I'm about to ride that day. After explaining what it is and how you ride it, we part ways and I paddle out. Then I think to myself, should I have asked them if they'd like to take it out? Well, the Hoedown quenched that curiosity. After my boards came back in, I was able to meet some Folk and put a face to the name as we made our way around. The sun was beating down, so a dip in the drink was in order. I paddled out and met even more awesome Folk in the Line-up! We talked about each other's craft, where we reside, and everyone did an amazing job calling out Left or Right, or respecting each other's space. You don't see that everyday in the Line-up.

 After getting my fill from hours in and out of the water, we were ready to pack it up. I made one last round and introduced myself to a few more shapers, swapped info and left with a "See ya at the next one!". All in all it was an amazing day, and I look forward to next Hoedown next April! I know some folk up in NorCal are talking about putting together a Hoedown of their own! If so, I'll do my best to make it up there too! It was a pleasure to meet all of those Folk I was able to talk to, and I look forward to meeting more of you next time! Special Thanks to Ryan and Raquel of Dutch handplanes and Surfboards for the Coffee and donuts, and to Brownfish Handplanes for setting up this event and the infamous cookies!!! 

Folk getting Stoked!!! 
Westside Boards
Dutch Handplanes 
Killawava Handplanes 
Seaglass Handplanes
Flyboards Handplanes
Folk shoot'n the Stoke!

Stay Stoked Everyone!!! 
Good Vibes!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Craft Feature: Superbiscuit of Santa Cruz, California

This weeks Craft Feature comes from Santa Cruz, California! Jason, a Purist at heart, has been surfing and bodysurfing since the 80's! He's the one man operation behind an EcoFriendly, Purpose shaped, Innovating company. So feed that hunger for getting pitted with the awesome story of Superbiscuit!!! 

Craft Feature No. 4
Santa Cruz, California 

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

My name is Jason Hackforth, and I'm the creator of the Superbiscuit.  I've lived in Santa Cruz since 1979, and have been making handplanes since 1996.  I take broken or otherwise unusable surfboards, cut them up and shape them into handplanes.  I do all the glassing myself, and also hand make the straps and strap plugs.  I'm a one person operation at this point. 

I specifically make handplanes designed to deliver high performance in really hollow waves.  Any flat bottomed handplane will work in little almond shaped barrels, mine are built for holding a high line in square, hollow barrels and not sliding out.  The techniques I use are the result of almost 20 years of testing what works in these conditions, and (more importantly) what doesn't.

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

I really only just make handplanes, that's my specialty.  Currently I offer three models- the standard Superbiscuit, a slightly larger plane that I've decided to call the Ultrabiscuit (I'm still considering whether I like that name or not...) and my new experimental model, the Picklefork.  The Picklefork works so well though that I'm making it a production model.  It's really the best handplane that I make.

DSDF: When and How did you get into Surfing?

I've been surfing since around 1986, and started bodysurfing around 1989.  Originally it was just about something to do at the beach to avoid boredom and cool off, if we didn't bring our boards or it was too small... but once we started getting barreled it became an addiction.  My friends and I started gravitating to other beaches in town, looking for better barrels and more sophisticated and powerful setups.  Santa Cruz has a lot to offer in that department.

I remember meeting a friend at a place north of town around 1995, a cold and slabby beachbreak.  He had a weird handplane; it looked like a rainbow flipflop and had blue 1/2" straps for the thumb, index finger and two middle fingers.  I scoffed (I was a purist at the time), but still was curious to try it.  I was absolutely blown away at the difference in lift and speed that it provided, I was able to do turns and moves that I never would have been able to with just my hand alone.  I was immediately hooked.

Shortly after that (this would be early 1996, in the winter), I found a broken surfboard in a garbage can at 26th Ave and took it home.  I stripped it, trimmed it down and created my first handplane- which I now call the Protobiscuit.  I had no glassing skills, I was soaking strips of fiberglass in resin and glassing it papier mache style.  Nor did I have any idea how to attach a strap, I just took some velcro and laid fiberglass strips right over it.  It looked terrible, but it worked.

It took me a while to figure out a better way to attach the straps.  I was suiting up for a session at It's Beach around 1997 and I saw a wind surfboard, and took a close look at how its straps were attached.  That was the inspiration I needed to figure out the Strap Dilemma, and shortly after that, I began making my own straps and strap plugs.

Once I had made a few good ones, people started asking me- "What the hell is that?".  In the late 90's, the word 'handplane' only applied to a woodworking tool, there wasn't really a good term to describe this kind of bodysurfing device.  I had a lot of people say to me- "oh, that's a cool little hand gun", but I wasn't really a fan of that term as it applied to what I was doing.  I just started calling them Biscuits for lack of a better word.  The 11th handplane I made was an experimental model, and it performed immensely better that any handplane I had ever made before.  I nicknamed it the "Super Biscuit".  In 2012, my brother convinced me that I should start marketing and selling my handplanes, and I decided that Superbiscuit should be my brand name.

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

I'm a fan of all surf craft, but I really only participate in a few.  I've never ridden a paipo, or an alaia or a kneeboard, or a SUP.  Mostly just because I've never had access to any of those.  I came up riding shortboards; my current shortboard is a 6'6" M-10, and I have a Taylor 6'10" that I learned to surf on in the 80's.  To be honest, I mostly just bodysurf these days.  Santa Cruz is just too crowded, I have so much more fun and get much better quality waves bodysurfing.  I just want to get barreled, that's the most important thing for me.

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

I wouldn't mind seeing something like a Handplane Hoedown happen in NorCal, I don't know if the bodysurfing scene up here is robust enough for something like that to actually happen, though.

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

I'm noticing more and more people out bodysurfing with handplanes, which I think is good.  There for a while it seemed like I was the only one... I don't know if it's just a trend, or if people are really discovering that bodysurfing is just more fun, but I'm happy to see it either way.

One thing that I would like to say in regards to one element of the culture, I've noticed an explosion of people in the water with GoPros. At my favorite break on the West Side, there's at least a half dozen talented groms out there getting good photos.  But please- let's try to keep secret spots a secret.  If you get a great shot of somewhere unusual, let's try to refrain from blowing the name up all over Instagram. #letsnotnamenames

One other thing I'd like to add- I've noticed a tendency in the PU foam handplane community to create planes without stringers.  I personally think that stringers are extremely important; in my experience, without a stringer the holes drilled to accommodate strap plugs will create a 'weak point' where a handplane will crease or break if put under pressure.  I understand that you can get more handplanes per board if you don't include a stringer, but I've also heard from several people that they've had their handplanes break in precisely that spot without a stringer.  I'd strongly advise anyone who is serious about purchasing a handplane to consider this.

Any shout outs, Thank you's, or comments?

I'd like to say thank you to my brother, Issac Bonaker for inspiring me to move forward with this thing and to my wife and daughter for putting up with me and my tendency to disappear for long periods of time into my garage (AKA the Biscuit Lab).  I'd like to thank John Mel of Freeline Surf Shop, Braddah Timmy Hunt of Pono Hawaiian Grill and Lyndsey Cook of The Phat Shack in Hong Kong for being early supporters.  A shout out to Masakazu 'Mabo' Shichiri of Mabo Handplanes in Japan as well; he and I are doing very similar things on opposite ends of the planet, and we frequently bounce ideas and techniques off of each other.  Also I'd like to extend a shoutout to Hotline Wetsuits of Santa Cruz; I've used these wetsuits for many, many years and I believe there are none finer.  Hand made, locally produced, long lasting and comfortable- it's the only wetsuit I will buy.  And, of course- thank you to everyone who has ordered a Superbiscuit!

Jason Hackforth

Thank You Jason for Supporting Different Stoke!!! When we get a chance to meet up sometime, I'll be sure to bring my Paipos, so you can ride!!!

Good Vibes!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

EVENT: The Handplane Hoedown!!! Saturday, 9/13

Next Saturday, September 13th at 6am till ya wanna go home!
The Hoedown is described as a "Fish Fry", No Contest, No Competitions, No SWAG or Sales Please! Just a day for Folk of all Stoke to meet up and share the Love of assorted Surf Craft. For Beginners to Watermen and Waterwomen! From personal one off prototypes to production pieces, everyone is encouraged to come out and Have some FUN! Representatives from Brown Fish (Host), Whomp, Enjoy, and Surfcraft Co-Op will be on hand with demos. The organizers are asking for Folk to spread the Word and bring your friends and family! 

The event itself will be held at the base of San Clemente State Beach Day Use...details in the Facebook link here :

I will be there with my wife and my quiver of Surfcraft for everyone to use! Just look for the Dude in red board shorts and most likely a black SurfAid hat! Please feel free to stop me and say "What's Up!", and if you're interested in being featured in my Craft Feature just let me know!!! 

So grab your fins, wetsuit and some snacks and meet up for a day of Spreading the Stoke!!!

Good Vibes!!!