Magazine article The Fader

Thin Slice: The Elusive Search for Ancient Surf in New York City

Magazine article The Fader

Thin Slice: The Elusive Search for Ancient Surf in New York City

Article excerpt

* "We were there on Saturday and Sunday but did not have access to email. The guys at Mollusk were pretty stoked." That was Jon Wegener's message to me after a year of attempting to get one of his surfboards in the hands of a renowned New York City artist for a clever piece on the art and craft of surfing. Wegener had come all the way from California via Australia to demo for Northeastern American diehards, and I'd missed him not because of some epic breakdown on a Bali backroad or a confrontation with some gnarly locals but because of email. Email. Of course surfers don't email, but I don't surf.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

In the summer of 2008, while internet daydreaming of a decade-old trip to Hawaii (where I did surf), I stumbled upon the website of Tom Wegener, Jon's brother, an American in Australia who decided several years ago to teach himself the craft of shaping the finless, ultrathin, hardwood boards, known as alaias, that were common in the South Pacific prior to the 20th century but had all but disappeared over the last 100 years. The flat planks are made by hand from slices of various Hawaiian trees, shaped and sealed in a slick oil to keep them waterproof. When you stand up on one, the board flexes like a bow, and your positioned weighting of the sharp rail determines your carve of the wave. It looks sketchy as hell, even on YouTube, but some of the world's greatest surfers have taken to the Wegeners' boards, all-around watermen like Rob Machado and Dave Rastovich who find a little unsure footing a nice break from epic shredding. …

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