YORK, Maine — International recognition for surfing is nothing new; competitions happen all over the world. But those who work in the business of surfing and its products say the exposure the sport is receiving at the Olympics for the first time is great for its growth.
Mike Lavecchia is the owner and founder of Grain Surfboards in York, a shop that sells, builds, and shapes surfboards using Maine cedar.
Lavecchia, a New Jersey native, was originally a boatbuilder, and started getting into surfing with a bunch of friends who would take trips from Vermont to Maine regularly.
"Little by little it got a little consuming and took over my life," said Lavecchia.
He moved to Maine because of a coworker who lived in York, and started Grain in 2005.
"I was working as a boatbuilder and was working with a lot of woods that are similar to the woods you would build surfboards with back in the day," said Lavecchia. "As I got more into surfing, I started to see the similarities between boats and surfboards: their history, their design, the construction, the materials, and just started to wrap my head around how could I build my own surfboard using wood?"
They also hold classes to teach people how to build their own surfboards. He said sharing the process with others is important to him.
"We're not just a factory putting out surfboards. We want people to enjoy the process, get into it, understand it, and have a little bit of a connection with the board," said Lavecchia. "They're getting a board that means something to them that it's more than just a surfboard. It's the experience."
York surfboard shop highlights Maine's connection with the sport
The two main styles of surfing are shortboarding and longboarding. Shortboarding is the style we see in the Olympics: people carving down waves and flying through the air. Longboarding is more laid-back, but it can be competitive.
Grain's boards are not geared toward competitive surfing, but Lavecchia said the exposure the sport gets on the world stage is fantastic.
"We all benefit, everybody in the surf industry benefits from competitive surfing pushing the limits of what people can do and what boards can do and how they perform. Seeing it on that level is a huge thing," Lavecchia said.