Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vancouver Island Craftsman Rides Wave of Popularity with Surfboard Design

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Vancouver Island Craftsman Rides Wave of Popularity with Surfboard Design

Article excerpt

B.C. craftsman rides wave of popularity

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NANAIMO, B.C. - Randy Weflen runs his palm over the curves of a wooden surfboard, feeling the rough edges that still need polishing.

"I have surfboards going all over the world now," says the Vancouver Island resident, as he eyes the board critically. "This one will be heading to Florida as soon as it's finished."

With mussed, sandy-blond hair and a laid-back attitude, the 30-year-old seems more like the stereotypical surfer than an up-and-coming businessman from Lantzville, B.C., a small community on the east coast of Vancouver Island, just north of Nanaimo.

Even his shop flies under the radar, with a "free beer tomorrow" sign hanging from his fridge and surfboard templates strung up along the wall.

To many area residents he's just another local kid who has returned home to live and work in the community.

He's captain of Lantzville's fire department and catches the odd wave during big storms at a local beach.

He likes keeping some of what he does under wraps, he says.

Many people have had no idea his shop is based in Lantzville. But this entrepreneur is fast becoming a recognized name in the surf industry, with his eco-friendly and custom-made wooden boards generating high demand.

The boards are made from cedar he pulls from the bush or local mills and are carefully handcrafted and designed by Weflen to last generations.

Already his shop has garnered interest from pro surfer Raph Bruhwiler, who now uses Weflen's Wefi boards, and the B.C. Ministry of Forests, which is using the wooden surfboards as an example of the benefits of logging in a new study.

Weflen, who was born and raised in Lantzville, never imagined he'd build a successful career in woodworking. At one time, he wanted nothing to do with the family carpentry tradition.

"Woodworking has always been in my family, and I just grew up around it," he said. …

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