We camped right next to Otter surfboards in the Mount Pleasant Eco park so it was the first visit we got to walk too. The door was open to the double height workshop but ‘Buddy’ the black lab blocked our path, he barked to say hello and also alert the guys busy working that we’d arrived. Otter surfboards have been going since 2011 producing wooden surfboards from their workshop in Cornwall. James greeted us bare foot and invited us in, he has a background in Carpentry but after turning his attention to creating wooden surfboards he never looked back. The boards themselves are individual works of art, each one has it’s own personality and uniqueness brought about from the locally sourced wood, the hand crafted process and the passion put into the construction. The workshop itself has a great vibe, Matt who looks after Otter’s brand and content was busy preparing for the open day tomorrow, whilst Chris and James were cutting and sanding wood preparing for next weeks workshop, all carefully watched over by buddy the dog. James has spent years perfecting the process to make the classic wooden surfboard but rather than keeping his findings close to home he has opened up the process by delivering workshops which invite people to make surfboards with him and learn all the techniques he and the team uses. The wood seems to breathe life into the boards and offer a natural connection with its intended environment, combine that with something you can make yourself under the watchful eye of James an you have a truly unique offering.
Our second barefoot meeting of the day was with Tom from Finisterre, he descended the wooden stairs in the duplex office space and put the kettle on. Finisterre is a cold water surf brand based in Cornwall pushing innovation and product development in the surf industry. One part of their story that really interested us is their exclusive connection to Bowmont sheep. A number of years ago they won the Observer Ethical Business award and started to think how they could improve their supply chain and bring Merino manufacture back to the UK. After some detective work from the team at Finisterre Tom met Lesley Prior, the guardian of the last twenty nine Bowmont Merino sheep in the world. Obviously that amount of sheep isn’t enough to produce products for Finisterre so they set about stabilising the breed and stock piling the wool. The Bowmont Merino flock is now over 200 sheep strong so Lesley and Finisterre are now seeing the rewards from this brilliant long term project.