OCEANSIDE — Surfboard shaper Gary Linden is inspired by agave.
He’s been working with the desert plant for decades after he was introduced to the concept by a friend’s dad who received an agave and redwood surfboard as payment for medical attention.
Linden said shapers have been using locally sourced agave for ages.
“Apparently, the story goes, all the boats came into LA so the surfers and shapers up in LA got the balsawood first,” said Linden. “By the time it got to San Diego, there wasn’t much left. They noticed all the agave down in Point Loma and the similarity to (balsa wood) and started using that for some of their boards.”
Linden has made surfboards out of agave before, but just finished his first 100 percent agave board.
“What I was really trying to do was replicate the modern surfboard process taking all the materials from one plant in a celebration of the versatility and abundance of resource that the agave plant provided,” Linden said.
Everything from the resin to the fiberglass alternative was pure agave.
He used agave pulp to form a mesh cloth and treated it with resin he made out of agave juice.
Jose Cuervo tapped Linden for the project to celebrate the launch of their 100 percent pure agave tequila, Tradicional.
The board is a work of art but Linden isn’t done yet.
When he took the board surfing in Oceanside, he realized it wasn’t watertight and the resin coating came off.
“I just have to figure out how to replicate how the plant applies the materials that it has to make it more waterproof. I’ve got a little more (research and development) to do,” Linden said.
He brought it back to shore and now wants to spend more time coming up with an agave resin that will be watertight.
“We just need to figure out the resin and we’ll be home free,” Linden said.
He sources the agave locally in Oceanside and Clairemont and has shaped boards in Ensenada from agave he finds there.
Once the agave plant sprouts, a stock shoots up 30 feet in the air. After eight months, the stock dies and the seed is disseminated through the wind.
Linden waits until the stock is completely dry to harvest it, which can take a year or two.
The agave surfboard has been a dream of his for a while.
He admits that it’s not likely to see lots of agave surfboards out at the beaches due in large part of the amount of labor it takes to make one board and because riding them too often damages the board.
The majority of agave boards he shapes are meant for art appreciation.
He wanted to inspire creativity with the project and open people’s eyes to the possibilities.
“I’m not trying to save the world but I want to have people take a look at what’s possible,” Linden said.
While he was down in Tequila, Mexico working on the 100 percent agave surfboard, he saw people making cloth, paper, shot glasses and soap out of agave.
What’s up next for the agave guru?
“I’m making an agave guitar,” Linden said.