Second Time Round: Steve’s Wooden Surfboard Workshop Experience

11 . 02 . 17

Our “Make Your Own Wooden Surfboard” workshop courses have become a core part of what we do here, and as with every thing somebody had to be the first person to go through the process. Steve Iliffe is the Neil Armstrong of Otter Surfboards, having enquired about ordering a surfboard back in 2011 and asking James if, actually, there might be a chance for him to have a hand in making his surfboard. Just over five years later, Steve’s been back in the workshop for a second surfboard. We wanted to get his perspective on how things have changed since he spent ten consecutive wintery Wednesday afternoons in our old workshop at the farm.

“The process has definitely been refined since I made my original surfboard with James. This time around has been more intense because it’s been over the course of five days, as opposed to me stopping by for an afternoon each week, but it’s been great being much more immersed in the process.”

“There are better clamps now, and more of them! That’s a great advancement! I recall James and I clamping the skins onto the framework using an a system of battens and nuts and bolts, which was really fiddly and a bit stressful when trying to get it all done before the glue kicked!”

“Being five years ago, my memories aren’t very specific. I just have really nice memories of going along and making. I was learning, watching, computing things. This time around I’m doing less of that, although I’m still learning, but it’s pleasantly familiar territory. Whilst it’s intense, it’s super enjoyable and the familiarity makes it much more relaxing.”

“It’s just so much fun, isn’t it? That hasn’t changed. Five years on though, and apart from us being a bit older there also seems to be a great progression in confidence in the process. There’s also been a new logo, and a change in workshop. This isn’t pretend – it’s a realisation of where James was talking about wanting to take Otter, and I really don’t think that where you guys are at today falls very far short of those dreams at all.”

“It’s about much more than just a surfboard. To have seen Otter grow and to have come back again, in fact to have been around for that growth and to have been able to stop by from time to time and keep in touch, it’s a real privilege. It’s so nice to have observed that. That’s what makes this so much more than just making a second surfboard.”


We really hope that we’ll be able to persuade Steve back again in another few years time, perhaps for a family workshop week. Third time’s a charm, hey Steve?

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