To most Santa Cruz residents, a pile of old wood on the side of the road is just trash. To Martijn Stiphout, founder of Ventana Surfboards and Supplies, it represents endless possibilities.
Reclaimed wood is readily available, and in Santa Cruz where redwood and old wood is so prolific, people throw it away every day.
“It breaks my heart that a tree once living can just be thrown away after a couple of years,” Stiphout says.
The idea for Ventana came about when Stiphout was out catching some waves on his foam surfboard and it snapped in half. It was then that he realized how often it must happen, and he wondered what he could do to prevent that.
“When my foam board broke, I figured I could make one out of wood for cheaper,” Stiphout says.
According to Stiphout, wooden boards aren’t just more durable; they are much better for the environment. Foam boards are made of polyurethane, which creates a carbon impact and is full of toxins.
Ventana Surfboards and Supplies became an online surf shop and wholesaler with occasional “pop up shops” around California in December 2014 with the help of David Dennis. Dennis manages the sales, marketing and surf supply for Ventana.
Stiphout takes about three to four weeks to make a board, and he can work on up to two in one month. Working on more than two boards at once is overwhelming, he says.
Each board is made with fiberglass cloth and bio resin, which is 75 percent tree sap based. While each board is visually different, Stiphout has used materials such as abalone pieces, stone, shells, jade, driftwood and historical metal on his boards to create a one-of-a-kind look.
“The most sustainable material I’ve found is redwood,” Stiphout said. “Most of my boards have redwood, but if not, it is always reclaimed wood.”
Stiphout prefers to work with redwood or cedar while making boards, but he will use anything he can get his hands on.
Ventana has various recycling partnerships set up around Santa Cruz; the Santa Cruz Guitar Company and Soquel Vineyards both give wood scraps to Stiphout.
Each board is a hollow, wooden, work of art and can be placed indoors for decoration or taken out for an environmentally friendly surf day.
Stiphout has made many boards over the years, but there’s one that is unforgettable to him. It had thick redwood bands, cork on the rails, and it could surf like nothing else.
“I took it out for one ride and then sold it,” Stiphout said “But I’ll always remember everything about that board.”