"Surfers are so connected to nature, but they're divorced from the impact foam boards have on the environment," says Brad Anderson, cofounder of Grain Surfboards. To build a better board, he and partner Mike LaVecchia have turned to wood, which was a surfer's material of choice until lightweight (and low-cost) foam lured manufacturers away in the mid-20th century. "Our wooden boards are sustainable and strong, but have all the benefits of modern design," Anderson says.
Using local cedar, the York, Maine, studio constructs its hollow models around an internal mahogany frame. The method uses just one-third of the wood required for traditional chambered construction, in which boards are cut from a plank and then hollowed out. "All that wood just becomes dust," says LaVecchia. "But when we're done, the waste is barely enough for kindling."
The retro shape and single fin of this 6-foot-5-inch, $1,900 model, dubbed the Seed, make for great surfing on small waves. Anderson calls it a "lifetime board." "Take a foam board out once, and it'll come back with dings and dents," he says. "Surf one of our boards for years, and it will look like it did the day you got it." grainsurfboards.com
A version of this article appeared in the June 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.