Build Your Own Surfboard!

Classes will include the materials, supplies, and instruction to build a board, as well as two meals per day
Brian Schopfer of Grain-NY will lead workshops for building wooden surfboards in Amagansett this summer. Durell Godfrey

With throngs of summer visitors soon to descend on the town and its ocean beaches, a New England manufacturer of surfboards has expanded to Amagansett, where experienced and aspiring surfers alike can build their own wooden surfboards in three or four-day classes starting on May 12. 

Grain Surfboards of York, Me., has established Grain-NY, a workshop that has taken occupancy of the lower level of the red barn at 11 Indian Wells Highway. Classes will include the materials, supplies, and instruction to build a board, as well as two meals per day. Students will leave with a completed surfboard and the materials and supplies needed for glassing, which can also be done by Grain-NY staff for an additional fee. 

The company was founded in 2005, the same year that Clark Foam, the California company that for decades had provided the majority of foam slabs from which surfboards are shaped, abruptly ceased operation. Mike LaVecchia, Grain Surfboards’ founder, was an early snowboarding enthusiast, later obtaining a captain’s license and operating a commercial sailing vessel as well as building boats. His passions clearly merged with Grain Surfboards. 

Brian Schopfer and Patrick Fleury, brothers-in-law who live in East Hampton and Amagansett respectively, lead the staff that will conduct classes in Amagansett. “I actually went up to Maine and did one of the classes that we’ll be offering with my brother-in-law,” Mr. Schopfer said last week. “We were really taken by the experience, and the more we looked into it, the more we thought it would be something we’d like to share with people.” 

Mr. Fleury, who is from Maine, was the surfer, said Mr. Schopfer, a Colorado native who snowboarded. “I got into it from the woodworking perspective,” he said. “I really got into surfing after I built the board. When you build something yourself like this, you can’t help but want to put it in the water and try it out.” 

Workshops typically last four days, Mr. Schopfer said, but Grain-NY staffers will perform some of the preparation work for those choosing the three-day option. Classes will be limited to eight students. 

The wood used in Grain surfboards are sourced from mills and forestlands in Maine that practice sustainable harvesting, and students will use only hand tools. For the finishing work, “We use a bio-based epoxy that has zero VOCs” (volatile organic compounds), Mr. Schopfer said. “It’s as healthy and environmentally responsible an epoxy as you can get.” Coupled with the surfboard’s wood construction, “It’s a more sustainable, environmentally friendly way to do it.”

Classes cost $2,675, and those interested can enroll at the company’s website, grainsurfboards.com/ny, or by calling 267-9283. 

In addition to its Indian Wells Highway location, workshops will be offered across the street at the Amagansett Historical Association on Father’s Day weekend, June 16 to 19, and again July 7 to 10. Two-hour workshops for building hand planes, used for body surfing, will also take place there on July 4. Workshops are scheduled into December: “We’re trying to figure a way that in the off-season locals can find something a little more manageable as far as price and timing,” Mr. Schopfer said.