Looking Back on 2019, As We Drop In to 202005 . 01 . 20
As has now become tradition here at Otter, as we drop into a new year (nay, a new decade!) we like to take the opportunity to look back at the last year to learn lessons and celebrate our successes.
At the start of April, we packed our tools and a big stack of bodysurfing handplane blanks into the back of a van and set off on our 2019 “Workshop on Wheels” Tour, delivering our workshop sessions in Finisterre stores around the country. Taking in Bristol, London and Edinburgh, James and Ally left a trail of sawdust and happy bodysurfers-to-be in their wake.
At the start of spring James and his family took a short break in the beautiful Lake District. They took a pair of our wooden stand-up paddleboards with them and enjoyed some incredible flat-water paddling, including an encounter with some otters of the small furry variety!
We hosted a fifth sold out event at our workshop in mid-May, witnessing two awe inspiring and captivating talks from Sophie Hellyer and Dan Kieran, and enjoy a lovely evening in great company with beers and food in plentiful supply.
Between May 25th and June 8th, The Exchange Gallery in Penzance, showcased Surf School, a group exhibition of the craft behind surfing. We were delighted to be invited to be a part of the exhibition as Makers in Residence.
On the 2019 Summer Solstice, photographer and filmmaker Lewis Arnold released his short film solstice. The film followed surfers Sandy Kerr, Easkey Britton and Chris Noble on a midsummer mission to the far northern fringes to surf through the night on sustainable surfboards, including two of our hollow wooden models.
At the start of the summer, just as the days were starting to draw out but the evenings were still cold as the sun set, James was invited to speak at Talisker’s Wilderness Bar, set on a stunning cliff top on the coast of North Devon.
This year we launched our new web mini-series, The Boardrack Briefing. Each episode sees James talking the viewer through the features and design process of a different wooden surfboard in the Otter Surfboards range. You can view all episodes to date here.
Our Annual Gathering of Makers event has come, over the years, to feature an exhibition of artworks alongside all of the attendees’ wooden surfboards at the evening of food and music that rounds out the Saturday. Amongst the “alumni” of our make-you-own wooden surfboard courses are several professional artists. This year one of them, our friend Ben Cook, created one of his popular Surf Flower collages using all of the boards made on our workshops, and unveiled it in front of the makers of those surfboards at this year’s AGM.
In September we welcomed back a large cast of our “workshopper” family for our 2019 Annual Gathering of Makers when we gather together for a surf and then an evening of food, drink, music, art and sharing stories back at the farm where it all began for us.
A collaborative project that was a long time in the making, in December we were delighted to have our Full Circle cup project with ceramicist and former professional surfer Jake Boex featured in the winter issue of Wavelength magazine. We worked with Jake to create complementary wooden handles for a set of his amazing ceramic tumblers (featuring ground up reef sediment from his local reef at Porthleven), turned the offcuts of the custom plywood into surfboard fins, and got to watch Jake ride our 6’8” Riser over the reef that had provided the sediment on a stand-out day.
Through the autumn and winter we had the great pleasure of working with top British surfer Alan Stokes, recreating his favourite FORM ADPT surfboard in our hollow wooden construction and watching him put it through its paces for a short film titled Forest to Ocean. Supported by plant-based coffee company Minor Figures, who donated all of their December profits to Surfers Against Sewage, this was a fantastic project to be involved with on so many levels.
Our 2019 Workshops!
The highlight of every year for us is, hands down, the people that we meet and get to spend time with. To each of the wonderful individuals who joined us in 2019 to make a wooden surfboard, thank you for spending a week of your precious time with us, for becoming a friend, and for helping us to do this wooden surfboard thing for a job. We’ll see you at next year’s AGM ;-) If you're interested in making your own surfboard with us in 2020 then click here to check out the dates of our upcoming courses.