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Paul Jensen Surfboards are complex visually and structurally. Wood and air define form and shape.
My boards are constructed out of sustainable woods and the best composite cloths and epoxy that result in engineered boards built strong and are made to be ridden everyday and last for years. The boards I build are designed with wood and air as the core materials, and then sealed for durability in non-toxic epoxy and fiberglass inner skin to create a light, extremely tough interior framework.
Using a palate of raw natural wood for the outer skins, opens up design possibilities that are endless. The fine grain wood skins are laid into structural patterns that are rich with visual interest. The skins are fiberglassed inside and out to create surfaces that are nearly impossible to dent. The outside rails are laminated strip by strip onto the board to give structural strength and offer flexibility when the rails are shaped according to the rider’s preferences.
Finally, after shaping and sanding the raw wood, the board is fiberglassed, again using the best fiberglass and epoxy resin. The epoxy I use also has superior adhesive properties that significantly reduce the chance of delamination and eliminate the surface cracking that is common on polyester foam boards. The graceful curves and linear patterns of the completed boards are enhanced with a gloss and polish finish that highlights the natural beauty of the wood.
The boards at this point beg to be touched with their taut wood skins, resonant touch and smoothness under hand.
Aesthetic beauty is great, but these boards are built to be ridden. They are not intended to be wall hangers, unless the wall is 6’ of moving water.
Surfing with either foam or wooden boards is a sustainable decision. As much as I can, I try to use woods that are either beach harvested or locally grown near my home in the Pacific Northwest. Building boards as I do, I choose to create surfboards that last a very long time using the Rolls Royce principle of building less but making them last, which ultimately uses fewer resources and reduces the need to build replacement boards. That is what ultimately makes a lower impact on our environment. We can all do better and I’m trying. If you also consider that foam and fiberglass surfboards are likely to have only a fraction of the lifespan of a hollow wooden board, and that wood boards can last truly a lifetime, then hollow wood surfboards are more than a good value and become great investments.
The true pleasure of having a hollow wood surfboard is the ride…
Imagine surfing waves on a board with a distinctive resonance in the water, similar to an acoustic guitar that has morphed into the perfect surfboard. The air core and tensioned wood skins of a hollow wood board allow for a unique energy transfer between the wave and the rider. The feeling of the wave is amplified on a hollow, it has a more alive feel. Once you’ve ridden a hollow wood board, foam boards feel dead…
A hollow wooden board feels a little heavier on land than that a foam board, but due to the board having an air core, feels lighter once it is in the water. The weight advantage of hollow board has the benefit of more momentum when paddling, catches waves easily and rides smoother. Hollow wood boards also allow you to ride further on a wave than a lighter foam board. If you are into “busting airs” you are better served with as light a board as you can find and that isn’t a wooden hollow, but if you prefer to ride smooth and flow on a wave, a Jensen Hollow Wood Surfboard is the ultimate surfing pleasure…
In the water, my hollow boards feel less flexy than foam. This is due to the carbon fiber that reinforces the stringer and holds the thin wood deck and bottom skins to the frame. Paddling on it has a tensioned skin feel to it. Like lying upon a super taught trampoline. There is a greater sensitivity to the water under the board, no foam to dampen and deaden the surface conditions that are transmitted through the board. Subtle, but its there.
The feeling while up and riding is a tough one to describe. You will be pleasantly surprised on your first wave with yours. It feels alive. The transmission of surface conditions through the board is heightened, like standing on a really firm drum. You feel the water texture in ways you have never felt before. These boards have the uncompromising ride characteristics of traditional shapes, with the added benefit of more drive and carry that the weight advantage gives you. Designed into the shapes are speed, looseness and responsiveness. You’ll kick out of your first wave with a smile on your face…
I’m really not trying to hype what I’m doing. I’m just sharing what I know and what others have confirmed to me about the ride and the feel…
Finally, I read the following on a surfboard forum and it summed things up nicely…
“All the words you can use to describe surfing a wood board end up sounding trite or clichéd. I think that’s why internet discussions about them devolve into photo essays. Almost anything I could contribute would be the same – it sounds stupid, but harmonic, resonant, and organic are really all I can say.
You obviously can’t actually feel the wood when it’s wrapped in a layer of glass & resin. But beyond the tactile, there’s definitely an emotional aspect to paddling, sitting, and standing on a piece of wood in the water.
You ever driven a Ford truck from the 50s? Slept on the dirt in wool blankets? Cleaned a big fish? Sipped 40-year old Scotch? Chopped down a tree with an axe? Like surfing a wood board, all of those kinds of things awaken something inside of us that the plasticine era has covered up in layers of shiny dross.
Of course, there’s also plenty of stimulation about driving a BMW, a reclining 1st class seat, expertly-prepared fresh sushi, a chainsaw, and a custom foam & glass board.
You may find the wood board isn’t for you, but I think its worth checking off the list one way or the other…”
Paul Jensen "...the consummate craftsman of the hollow wood board genre. Jensen's boards are quite literally 'works of art' and certainly the most gorgeous surfboards that are actually made to be ridden, anywhere…” The Surfers Path magazine (issue #67)
Click on a picture of a board for more information about the board.
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Custom one of a kind "ready to ride" surfboards and paddleboards are available...
For custom boards please visit the companion website: www.pauljensensurfboards.com
Boards • How To • Frame and Template Kits • Classes • Q & A • Links
Page updated: September 15, 2011
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