Clos19 talks to Mike LaVecchia, founder and co-owner of Grain Surfboards. Grain Surfboards are hand-built using time honoured woodworking techniques and sustainable softwoods. The team at Grain Surfboards have teamed up with Glenmorangie to reinvent Glenmorangie casks in the shape of limited-edition surfboards. We discuss the collaboration, Mike LaVecchia’s passion for wood and what the art of hosting means to him.
YOU RECENTLY CREATED WOODEN SURFBOARDS OUT OF AMERICAN WHITE OAK CASKS WHICH HAVE BEEN USED ONLY TWICE TO AGE GLENMORANGIE ORIGINAL FOR THEIR LATEST “BEYOND THE CASK” CAMPAIGN. HOW DID THIS COLLABORATION COME ABOUT?
We were honored and thrilled when Glenmorangie first contacted us about building custom surfboards as part of this collaboration. We spent many months working with the team at Glenmorangie and experimenting with ideas and concepts around how to best incorporate barrel staves into our surfboards. We couldn’t be more proud of the results.
LIKE GLENMORANGIE ORIGINAL, GRAIN’S SURFBOARDS ARE A PRODUCT OF TIME, PATIENCE AND A TRUE AFFINITY FOR THE QUALITIES OF WOOD. WHAT DREW YOU TO WOOD AS THE PRIMARY MATERIAL FOR YOUR SURFBOARDS?
My own background is in traditional wooden boats, and many of the people here at Grain share a similar backgrounds either in boats, custom cabinetry or furniture. We’re woodworkers at the core. So when dreaming of our first surfboards, it was only natural to pick up a plank of wood over a block of foam. The more we dove into it, the greater our appreciation was for this material as a medium. Wood has a long history in the surf world and was the primary material used to build boards for thousands of years. We’re excited to working on bringing it back into the spotlight as a viable and environmentally-friendly option for surfers.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE GOOD TASTE?
A sense of awareness for those around you, and living by a set of values and standards that reflect compassion and respect.
IF YOUR CRAFT WAS A DRINK, WHICH ONE WOULD IT BE?
We pride ourselves on building beautiful surfboards, but more importantly, surfboards that perform as well or better than any other surfboard material. Hand-built using natural materials and time honored tools and methods and sharing that process with others. Those are the things we continually strive for. Depending on the surfers tastes, I suppose we could be anything from a dark craft beer, strong and full bodied, to a beautiful amber colored Scotch Whisky with a single cube of ice.
WHAT DOES THE ART OF HOSTING MEAN TO YOU?
Community has always been important to us and we’re continually finding ways to host people for events, workshops, movie nights and fundraisers. To us, it’s opening up your space in a way that makes others feel welcome and comfortable. It’s sharing what you do, what you’re interested in and what your passionate about and creating opportunities for people to meet and engage with each other.
WHEN DO YOU FEEL THE MOST COMFORTABLE WHILE BEING ENTERTAINED?
When the host is relaxed and can enjoy their company.
WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF A GREAT EVENING? IS THERE A MAGICAL INGREDIENT?
A great evening might be cool with clear, dark skies filled with stars. Good friends around a bonfire and some delicious snacks and drinks being shared, and lots of good laughs. Good humour might be the magical ingredient.
WHAT IS YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE WHEN IT COMES TO FOOD AND DRINK?
Chocolate, every time.
WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL WAY OF ENJOYING FINE DINING WITH THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE?
A favorite local restaurant in the off season, casual but delicious; a small group of friends who haven’t seen each other in a while; and a good reason to celebrate whether it be a birthday, anniversary or just a reunion of old friends.
WHEN ENTERTAINING AT HOME, WHAT IS YOUR SECRET WEAPON?
Location is my secret weapon. I live on a boat, so while my cooking may not be top notch, the scenery around us is always gorgeous and compelling with lights from the lift bridge close by; ships, tugboats and fishing boats going by on their way to and from the sea; and fish and seabirds of all kinds stopping by to say hello.