“I could probably shape a board blind,” Rich Luthringer says, as he feels for imperfections in the foam by rubbing his hands over its surface. Luthringer has been making surfboards for 40 years, and he is one of a breed that some might call dying, or at the very least, underappreciated. He still makes them the old-fashioned way; one at a time. If, like me, you find waiting three weeks for a custom board excruciating, Luthringer’s pace may drive you to SUP. However, if you’re willing to wait (and if he deems you worthy) you’ll be rewarded with a truly inimitable piece of usable art.
In a poorly ventilated garage–in the middle of a sticky summer–in Seaside Park, N.J., Luthringer pours a noxious resin mixture over what looks almost like a thick, plastic tablecloth (aka: fiberglass). The resin will saturate the fiberglass sheet and harden quickly, so he must work fast. He deftly smoothes it over nine feet of perfectly carved foam, dancing to and fro, as if he were actually riding one of these fine vehicles. He’s teaching people how to make a surfboard.