Glass Love, A Summer Surfboard Festival

Pleasant Beach looked a little like a beach in southern California recently, with crashing waves and surfers and surfboards everywhere.
The only thing missing was the sun, but that didn’t matter to members of Wyldewood Surf Club as they hosted Glass Love, A Summer Surfboard Festival, the first-ever event on the Great Lakes dedicated to the surfboard.
“We hold contests and competitions, but really nothing outside of that. This idea came about from events I’ve seen in California,” said Bob Sobering, Wyldewood Surf Club member.
Sobering said the surf expo featured a surf swap, live shaping demonstration by Geoff Johnson of Five Surfboards, an antique surfboard roadshow, a ding repair clinic, raffles, and fireworks.
It also featured surfing as waves had built up enough in Lake Erie on Saturday for the more than 50 people who came out to the festival to take to the water.
Sobering said there were a number of collectable and historical surfboards brought in by collectors to the one-day event held at the hall at the end of Pleasant Beach Rd. in Port Colborne.
One board was a Dave Sweet surfboard from California from 1959.
“Sweet started a revolution in surfboard making … he started foam boards covered in fibreglass,” said Sobering, adding the name of the festival is a play off of fibreglass boards.

Ryan White, centre, of New Jersey, looks over a collection of his surfboards and others at Wyldewood Surf Club’s Glass Love, A Summer Surfboard Festival.

The Dave Sweet surfboard was at the festival courtesy of New Jersey surfer Ryan White, who came up for the event.
White bought the surfboard at a garage sale and said many of the boards he’s collected have come to him that way.
With the Sweet surfboard and another surfboard he had lined up in the sand, White said he was able to trace their history because of serial numbers engraved on them by the board makers and learned who the boards were made for.
Sobering said surfboards are a very personal thing and surfers have their favourite boards, ones they can’t do without.
“The first board I bought I slept with,” he said, adding he slept with it in the back of a van when he was surfing in Florida.
With vintage and historical surfboards on display around them, surfers had a chance to make their mark on a modern board.

Geoff Johnson, of Five Surfboards, was at the festival to create a surfboard that will be raffled off at a future Wyldewood Surf Club event.
Sobering said Johnson would listen to surfers at the event to see what they wanted to board to look like. Surfers gathered around him as he spoke about how a board was created with foam and started to shape it.
“The board will fibreglassed later on,” said Sobering.

Another surfboard maker at the event was Rochester, N.Y.-based Trevor Cranmer.
“He’s the coolest guy,” said Sobering, who spent part of Friday night before the event talking with Cranmer.
Cranmer arrived at Pleasant Beach with a 1972 Volkswagen van he restored and a number of his hollow-wood surfboards.

Trevor Cranmer, centre, talks with other members of the Rochester Surf Club.

“We have Port Colborne-based businesses here, too,” said Sobering, adding the Smokin’ Buddha and E-Ride Niagara were at the day-long festival.
Sobering said surfing on the Great Lakes is growing and the club hopes to hold another event next year, in addition to the contests and beach clean-ups it does now.
Evidence of how big surfing is on the lakes, Sobering said in the early 1990s there may have been five or six surfers on the waters of Lake Erie in the Pleasant Beach area. On Saturday at one point there were 20 surfers waiting in the water for the perfect wave to surf.
“It’s really exploded.”
And there are so many spots left to surf that have yet to be discovered.

Wyldewood Surf Club
• Formed in 1964 by Darcy O’Hear, John O’Hear, Tom Christopher, Don Harrison and Magilla Schaus
• Organizes beach clean-ups on the shores of Lake Erie in the Port Colborne area
• Holds contests later in the year, depending on the wave conditions
• Members are both Canadian and American

A surfer rides a wave off of Pleasant Beach during Wyldewood Surf Club’s Glass Love, A Summer Surfboard Festival. It was the first-ever event on the Great Lakes dedicated to the surfboard.


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