Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Crappy Anniversary

It was 20 years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play…. 

Sorry, wrong anniversary.  It was six years ago today (OK, technically yesterday as it's just after midnight) that Gordon Clark flipped the bird to regulators and bureacrats via fax, sending shockwaves through the surfing world.  I remember all the questions and concerns about the end of the surfboard as we knew it.  It doesn’t take a Harvard-trained economist to understand that when supply of anything is interrupted (or in Clark’s case, voluntarily shut down ahead of mounting EPA and other bureaucratic fines and charges), demand will sky rocket, and a variety of substitutions ranging from comparable to deplorable will rush into to try and fill the void. 
Well, that happened but six years later, I think we’re in a pretty good spot.  While Clark was an innovator, by removing himself – a virtual monopoly – from the equation, it enabled lots of other entrepreneurs and innovators to enter the fray and provide a wide spectrum of materials.  Today, there are lots of different blanks to choose from.  Some are produced here, some produced overseas.  And eco-friendly blanks have generated some good traction too as an alternative to traditional polyurethane and epoxy blanks and foam cores.  Then there's Dan Mann of InCide, a blank producer from San Diego, who I've had the pleasure of getting to know at the last two Sacred Craft shows.  Dan is making blanks with a carbon core (I'll explore his revolutionary technology in a future post).  The end result is that many of the blanks being produced today are head and shoulders above Clark’s. 

So, while “Blank Monday” was abrupt and there was an adjustment period that sadly put a lot of small business owners like sanders and glassers out of business, it’s proven to be a real advancement for the industry.  Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy.