Worn Well - Surfboard shaper Kurtis Woodin

PeterAmendKurtisWoodinSurfboards89-X4.jpg

Paddle out to a wave at Terramar in Carlsbad California and there’s a good chance you’ll join the lineup next to Kurtis Woodin. A fifth-generation local to this southern Californian community, he’s lived by the water his whole existence, and has made his life here shaping custom surfboards.

I’ve fallen in love with his boards, so I had to make the trek down to his shaping bay to get a peek at the magic behind WOODIN SURBOARDS. Kurtis and I cracked a beer on a warm afternoon, and I watched him transform a lifeless chunk of foam turn into a ride-able piece of art as we talked about his approach.

Tell me about how you got into surfing.

Growing up living at the beach, the ocean was just sitting there waiting for me. Before I could even surf, I was in the water on a body board. My dad eventually bought a used surfboard, and I pretty much learned in the ‘front yard.’ I quickly realized surfing was more than just a sport — it’s a culture, a lifestyle.

How would you describe your shaping style?

It started in 2006 when I ripped apart an old board out of curiosity. Becoming more curious, I started experimenting more and more with junk boards. I’ve always prided myself in a very personal approach with the whole process. From selecting blanks, to sanding down my own fins, I’m completely hands on. Hand-shaped boards are so different than production cutouts. Each board has subtle differences that makes it exclusive and special.

PeterAmendKurtisWoodinSurfboards79-X4.jpg

“I’M NOT REALLY TRYING TO USE SPACE-AGE CARBON FIBER; I LOVE TRADITIONAL SHAPES AND CLASSIC MATERIALS.”

Designing is always constant, but fluid and infinite. I’m always finding inspiration from the past, and putting twists on classic outlines with modern features. I’m not really about trying to use space-age carbon fiber; I love traditional shapes and classic materials. Long boarding is somewhat of a lost art, and a lot of guys my age don’t understand it, so I’m trying to change that.

PeterAmendKurtisWoodinSurfboards66-X4.jpg

The use of color in your boards is so fascinating.  What inspires your choice in color and patterns?

So much of it is a blend of local culture and my own personal sense of style. When I’m building a board, I’m thinking a lot about the color of the time of year and the mood of the season. Drawing from vintage styles and mixing that with modern ideas is really, really fun. Colorful, flavorful, psychedelic prints and fabrics — you’ve gotta draw from things from the past.

Describe how you feel and look at a board while you shape. 

When I’m shaping, it always starts visually, but this process is so multi-dimensional. I always have one hand on the board when I’m shaping, and constantly feeling with one hand while I’m planing. I’ll even close my eyes while feeling if the board is balanced, before perfecting and correcting with measuring tools. It’s a constant back and forth, touching and feeling, sanding out imperfections, using the light to check for imbalance. It’s half tactile, half visual. And, more importantly, after so much experience you just ‘know’ when you’re done.

PeterAmendKurtisWoodinSurfboards42-X4.jpg

 

I’ve heard you talk about the correlation between human touch, and shaping a board. It’s a really interesting connection considering your former career as a massage therapist. 

Yeah! Like massage therapy, it’s always a dance of connecting and feeling. I kind of built an understanding of displacement and surfboard design through the symmetry and geometry of the human body. 


Where do you get the most satisfaction in your craft?

The joy someone gets when they surf my boards, when they’re experiencing their own experience, sharing in the same passion. When I see them ripping at the beach, that’s what drives me to perfect my craft.

Where do you think the future is for your shaping?

I’m always constantly progressing in my own surfing, and always interested in working on new finless designs, for example. I try to take time out of the year to take long surf trips which helps with experimenting with things.  Living a block away from the beach helps — I’ll try something new and run out my front door to try it out.  When you’re receptive to new information, it changes your perspective.

It’s exciting to have boards being sold on the East Coast now, and Japan, but the local community is a huge support of what I’m doing, and wouldn’t be where I am without it.

I can only build so many boards in my life, so it’s kind of like a little time capsule. I don’t see myself in the future making a huge factory, and certainly don’t ever want to lose touch with why I started.


Zeal119-X4.jpg

How does Teva mesh with your lifestyle?

Here in Carlsbad you can wear sandals every day of the year — TEVA ORIGINAL UNIVERSAL PREMIER sandals are perfect for my lifestyle, both on the water and in the shaping bay.

There’s a kid out there like you, just getting interested in shaping his first board. Any advice?

Measure twice, cut once. You can always sand more off, but you can’t put it back. Keep surfing at the root of it.

PeterAmendKurtisWoodinSurfboards184-X4.jpg

Shop the sandals featured in this story at TEVA.COM and #STRAPINTOFREEDOM on INSTAGRAM @TEVA!

We need a new word for adventure

(written for the Teva ember blog: full post here)

“Are those the freakin Northern Lights!?,” Joe screamed into the windshield, pulling into Canada’s Banff National Park at midnight.

Banff338-X5.jpg

The flickering in the sky grew into eruptions of green and purple as we drove into the hills to get away from the glow of the city. This magnificent display of light in the heavens is something we’d hear about and seen photos of, but there’s no way to understand this multidimensional experience other than by experiencing it for yourself.

Banff387-X5.jpg

As we gazed up from the roof of our rental car, our eyes looking into the sky over Lake Minnewanka, we realized that we were lost for words altogether as we experienced the biggest magnetic storm in years. Sitting cozily with close friends, Aurora Borealis overhead, you could say that this was a great adventure, but what does that word even mean anymore?

The overwhelming lack of synonyms for important English words is astounding. Take the word “love” — it’s a word that describes one of the deepest and most powerful feelings imaginable, yet it has so few descriptive equivalents.

Banff576-X5.jpg

I have this love-hate relationship with the word “adventure” because of how overused, vague, and watered down it’s become, yet there aren’t many great synonyms. So, to satisfy my internal longing for better descriptors, I set out to learn a few new phrases to use that more accurately describe these kind of feelings you get while traveling.

Here are a few favorites that you can use to describe these ‘adventure feelings’ we all know so well, but can hardly describe. Enjoy this international word-smithing journey into a couple foreign dictionaries.

Banff274-X5-1.jpg

Yūgen

(Japanese origin)

An awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses too deep and mysterious for words.

Fernweh

(German origin)

A craving for travel; being homesick for a place you’ve never been and an ache for distant places. Literally “farsickness,” or “longing for far-off places,” as contrasted with heimweh: “homesickness,” longing for home.”

Banff690-X4.jpg

Trouvaille

(French origin)

Something lovely discovered by chance; a windfall.

Dérive

(Latin/French origin)

Lit. “drift”; a spontaneous journey where the traveler leaves their life behind for a time to let the spirit of the landscape and architecture attract and move them.

Banff223-X5.jpg

Numinous

(Latin origin)

Describing an experience that makes you fearful yet fascinated, awed yet attracted — the powerful, personal feeling of being overwhelmed and inspired.

Strikhedonia

(Greek origin)

The pleasure of being able to say “to hell with it.”

Banff052-X4.jpg

Resfeber

(Swedish origin)

The restless race of the traveler’s heart before the journey begins, when anxiety and anticipation are tangled together in “travel fever.”

Saudade (Portuguese origin)

A nostalgic longing to be near again to something or someone that is distant, or that has been loved and then lost; “the love that remains.”

Eudaimonia

(Greek origin)

Lit. “human flourishing”; a contented state of being happy, healthy and prosperous.

Novaturient

(Latin origin)

Desiring or seeking powerful change in one’s life, behavior, or situation.

Banff507-X5.jpg

Eleutheromania

 (Greek origin)

An intense and irresistible desire for freedom.

Livsnjutare (Swedish origin)

One who loves life deeply and lives it to the extreme.

Banff551-X4.jpg

Selcouth

(English)

Unfamiliar, rare, strange, and yet marvelous.

Commuovere

(Italian origin)

To stir, to touch, to move to tears.

Banff263-X5.jpg

When I think about the best “adventure” moments I’ve experienced, they all boil down to the same thing: it’s really not about the places, but the people I’m with. Whether it’s summiting a high-altitude peak or jumping off a dock into a glacial lake in your sandals,  these memories always flood back into my mind with the human connection at the forefront. Strap into freedom, friends #Fernweh.

A paddle doesn't make a good coffee spoon

(Written by Peter Amend for the Oru Blog)

'Desaaayuuuunooooo!', my buddy would loudly yell down the hallway for our morning wakeup call.

Breakfast is exciting no matter what language you're speaking, and though I'm not skilled in the art of early rising - you can't really argue with friends who are stoked on meeting you at daybreak for a meal and a paddle before heading off to work.

Most would agree that a 9-to-5 grind isn't so bad if you can add some microadventure in your midweek to keep your brain on straight.  This type of decision making is how we found ourselves groggily assembling our kayaks on the sand when the sun popped up over the Golden Gate bridge.

But first, coffee.

AS8A9622-X5.jpg

 

If you're unlucky enough to be awake at 6, there's at least consolation in the refreshing art of grinding beans, prepping the Chemex, and boiling water for the perfect cup of piping hot bean juice. There's always the option of instant coffee packets, but what type of morning solace is that? If you're gonna do it, might as well do it right.

 

The average life expectancy these days is currently about 79 years, so that means you only get about 28,835 breakfast opportunities while you're alive - and I'll be damned if I waste another one of them on microwaved oatmeal.  So if we're gonna be real, I don't mind at all hiking to the beach carrying  a two-burner stove if it means fresh bacon & egg breakfast tacos, muffins, fresh fruit and OJ.

 

I'm convinced humanity will be a little better off with just a couple better breakfasts. Maybe some sand in your teeth. And most definitely a paddle in the San Francisco Bay.

 

 

 

 

Field Notes: Mineral King, Sequoia National Park

Following is an excerpt of my story for the Teva Ember blog about my favorite local national park adventure,.

Words by Peter Amend. Photos by PETER AMEND.

If you make a clever east-bound turn off Highway 198, you’ll drive up one of the worst and windiest twenty-five mile sections of paved road in Central California.

It’s a good hazing, though—make it through and you’ll be rewarded with the most magnificent subalpine valley surrounded by snow-tipped peaks. And the best part? No crowds.

The glacial valley dubbed ‘Mineral King’ lies in a portion of national park buried deep in the south-east region of Sequoia National Park, and has its own entrance (one that often evades even the savviest of national park enthusiasts). With a rich history steeped in mining and exploration, it feels like you’ve stepped back in time among the ancient shingled cabins scattered around the valley. At one time, Disney had plans to put a full scale ski resort in this valley. Thankfully that fell through, and it became part of Sequoia National Park.

My friend Josh and I grabbed our boots and hit the trail, as it’s the last week before the park gates close for the season.  Feeling the need to stretch our legs, we decided to link up a couple of our favorite lake trails for a few nights under the stars. Here are a couple takeaways and suggestions for when you decide to head up this way for your own High Sierra alpine experience.

THE DRIVE

From CA Highway 99, take 198 east for about 38 miles. Turn right on Mineral King road, and follow the road for about 25 miles until you’re there! Careful, many parts of this road are narrow enough for only one car—drive slow, honk around blind corners, and watch for wildlife.

BASE CAMP

If you’re not keen on hiking your food & shelter up to a high-elevation peak, or if you want to spend a night or two acclimating to the elevation (Mineral King valley sits at 7,400 feet, nearly twice that of Yosemite valley!), consider camping out at COLD SPRINGS CAMPGROUND. If that’s full, ATWELL MILLS is just a couple miles away. Cold Springs sits alongside—you guessed it—a cold spring, one that is perfect for soaking your feet after a long hike, or rinsing your face in the morning for a quick wakeup! No reservations are accepted, so it’s a bit of a gamble whether or not you’ll get a spot. Definitely consider a weekday trip if you’re traveling in peak season. A 15-minute drive up the road will bring you to the valley floor, where you’ll find trailheads to the majority of available hikes. For $12 a night, all campsites include fire rings, picnic tables, and pit toilets.  If this isn’t as appealing as a real mattress, check out SILVER CITY RESORT for a cabin with a bed.

FOOTWEAR

The old proverb goes: “Invest in your shoes and your sheets because if you’re not in one, you’re in the other.” You have to be comfy in your boots if you’re hiking all day, so for this trip I chose the Teva Durban Boot, and Josh was in the Arrowood Lux. I get the most stoked about gear I can use on and off the trail, so the Durban boots have the right mix of trail utility and good looks for urban wear as well. As a photographer I often need shoes that’ll pull dual duty, whether hiking into the woods for a mountain elopement or shooting a full-day wedding.

WEATHER

You never know what you’re going to get in the High Sierra, so be prepared for anything! I’ve seen thunderstorms roll in while bagging peaks in July, and I’ve seen it snow early in August. No matter what the forecast says, be prepared for cold, wet, or warm. I always pack a light rain shell, down jacket, and a headlamp on any hike, no matter what length. Not fun to be stranded and wet in the dark.

Food

The small town of Silver City inside Mineral King hosts a small mountain lodge which has the best pie you’ll ever have. Grab a slice of nectarine and blueberry, with a French press full of SLOW TRAIN COFFEE, and you’ll be set. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are also available on most days. There’s a small store available for minor items, but plan on bringing everything you need up the road with you.

HIKING

We linked up EAGLE AND MONARCH together for a sub-20-mile trek. The first is 7.2 miles roundtrip, a burly hike to Eagle Lake that climbs 2,700 feet over 3.6 miles and delivers a steady climb with expanding views. Your destination puts you at a beautiful alpine lake where you can hang up your hammock for a nap or and jump in the water before heading back down the trail. Monarch Lake is 9.4 miles roundtrip. One of the most notable peaks in Mineral King is Sawtooth, and you’ll know it when you see it. Start at the Sawtooth trailhead, and climb four miles of switchbacks. Below the daunting peak you’ll arrive at Loweonarch Lake. Summit the scree field to the peak if you want to bag it, or take it easy at the lake. This an be done as a day trip, but it’s my favorite lake to camp out at after watching sunset from the ridge. Lake elevation is just under 11,000 feet, so bring your strong lungs (and your fly rod for some catch and release).

Shop all styles in this story at TEVA.COM and #LightenUp @TEVA ON INSTAGRAM!

Jolyn Swimwear | Diving with sharks

With my dive gear packed, I boarded for Hawaii to shoot some underwater images for Jolyn Swimsuits

Thanks to the dudes at Island View Hawaii for an experience we'll never forget! With their experience and understanding of shark behavior, it couldn't have been a more amazing experience.

Evin Rose & Savanah Landrum for Jolyn