YORK – With the remnants of Tropical Storm Leslie kicking up surf and the tide rising, it was near perfect conditions for the second annual Surf Re-Evolution festival at Long Sands Beach on Sunday.
By midafternoon, many of the nearly 300 surfers who attended the two-day event were trying out innovative, hand-crafted surfboards, chatting with friends and dominating the beach.
“The whole thing has been kismet,” said Mike LaVecchia, co-owner of Grain Surfboards in York, the event’s sponsor.
The festival was a chance for the surfing community in Maine and beyond to promote the benefits of environmentally friendly surfing and surfboard design. Attendees came from all over the East Coast, the Great Lakes region and California.
Saturday’s events included films, panel discussions, music and food at Grain Surfboards headquarters at 60 Brixham Road.
On Sunday, attendees were able to sample dozens of customized surfboards, such as hand planes, 8-foot long boards and body boards.
LaVecchia and Brad Anderson founded Grain Surfboards in 2005, as an alternative to the foam surfboards which make up the vast majority of the industry and involve the use of toxic chemicals.
Grain makes hollow wooden surfboards out of Maine-grown and milled cedar using biobased epoxies. Every bit of the wood is used, down to the shavings which are recycled as animal bedding.
“We don’t waste anything,” Anderson said.
Today, a staff of eight full- and part-time employees make and sell ready-made boards and kits and run do-it-yourself classes.
Maine is a destination point for surfing in New England, where surfing is riding a wave of popularity.
The festival featured a lineup of custom surfboard makers, including Jon Wegener of Encinitas, Calif., who makes wooden surfboards based on the design of boards used by Hawaiians when the first Europeans arrived in the late 1700s.
“They are one of the more exhilarating speed boards,” Wegener said.
Priscilla Ford, who grew up surfing in York, said the festival creates a feeling of community.
“It is so inclusive,” said Ford, who rides a long board.
Aimee Vlachos, who runs the Wahine Kai surf school in Kennebunk, said the festival was a rare chance to get together with other surfers.
“It is nice to be around 200 cars with surfboards on top in Maine in the middle of nowhere. It is like old home day,” Vlachos said.
Courtney Hayes of Gloucester, Mass., said the festival celebrates innovation.
“This crowd thinks outside the box,” said Hayes, who operates a website, cetosurf.com, dedicated to sustainable surfing.
Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: