Sports
Features

Altered Blade: Meet a South Island surfboard shaper

See how a “tailor for boards” sculpts the planks that locals rely on out on the water

By James MacDonald
February 25, 2023
Sports
Features

Altered Blade: Meet a South Island surfboard shaper

See how a “tailor for boards” sculpts the planks that locals rely on out on the water

By James MacDonald
Feb 25, 2023
Surfboard shaper Jorge Elias drills holes for fins in an almost completed long board in his Sooke workshop. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Surfboard shaper Jorge Elias drills holes for fins in an almost completed long board in his Sooke workshop. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
Sports
Features

Altered Blade: Meet a South Island surfboard shaper

See how a “tailor for boards” sculpts the planks that locals rely on out on the water

By James MacDonald
February 25, 2023
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Altered Blade: Meet a South Island surfboard shaper
Surfboard shaper Jorge Elias drills holes for fins in an almost completed long board in his Sooke workshop. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Dust swirls around his workshop as the loud whirr from Jorge Elias’s planer fills the small space.

Sidestepping slowly down the length of the raw surfboard plank, Elias moves almost like he’s surfing one of the South Island’s long slow waves crashing into the sea just minutes from his Sooke workshop.

Foot over foot; not a step out of place, he carefully planes down the blank to the desired thickness.

Originally from central Portugal, Elias has been surfing since he was in his 20s. He learned how to design and shape surfboards while living in California, and has been doing it on his own since moving to the Island a little over three years ago. Working under the name Altered Blade, all his boards are made to order and hand-shaped in his workshop.

“I’m more like a tailor for boards,” he says. “I don’t want to be a factory at any point. I do this to meet people”.

While shaping a board can be finished in a few hours, it’s not easy to get the dimensions, rails, and feel of the board right, Elias says. Having studied design and arts, he says “it is exactly like sculpture, anything in that rock [in the case of sculpture], or foam [in the case of the board], you won’t put back”.

After shaping comes the resin and painting process, which is typically the most detrimental in terms of health and environmental effects thanks to harsh resins, sealers, and chemicals. But Elias has made strides to move away from that, instead using plant-based resins on his boards.

“That is one of my goals when shaping, is to go as green as possible," he says.

Caked in dust as we chat at the workshop door, with warm February sunshine warming the backyard, he remarks, “I shape, because I love surfing.”

With the Olympic Mountains just behind the tree line and waves breaking in the waters of the Juan de Fuca only a few minutes away,  it’s not hard to see why.

Jorge Elias walks into his Sooke workshop to begin the process of shaping a new board.  Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Elias sands the nearly complete board. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Elias moves onto shaping. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Elias eyes the board as he works to shape it to perfection. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Dust footprints out the front of the workshop. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Elias squares up the sides of a surfboard blank. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Dust flies through the workshop as the board is being shaped. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Elias, covered in dust, poses for a portrait in his Sooke workshop. Photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
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