Board mas­ter

Keen surfer and fourth year physics stu­dent Dun­can Lys­ter started a be­spoke wooden surf­board com­pany with the help of an Ex­eter Univer­sity ini­tia­tive, LAURA DALE writes

Devon Life - - Lyster Surfcraft -

The son of a cabi­net maker, Dun­can Lys­ter was used to pot­ter­ing around with dif­fer­ent tools and machin­ery, but the mak­ing of a surf­board was a tech­ni­cal chal­lenge.

The first wooden pro­to­type was built in Dun­can’s Dad’s work­shop about four years ago. Dun­can, who started surf­ing when he was 14 years old, says: “I wanted to have my own board. When I started out I didn’t know a lot about surf­board con­struc­tion and I didn’t know what the dis­ad­van­tages would be.

“I wasn’t aware of the de­sign im­pli­ca­tions or just how heavy it would be made out of wood. The chal­lenge was mak­ing a board that is as light as a reg­u­lar surf­board, so un­der four ki­los. I did this by mak­ing them hol­low.”

Dun­can con­sid­ered ply­wood (de­signed for use on air­crafts), balsa wood and paulow­nia, a light, fine-grain and warp re­sis­tant wood, which is easy to work with. Dun­can re­calls: “I was try­ing to cre­at­ing a light­weight wooden surf­board that per­formed as well as the polyurethane equiv­a­lents; and I wanted it to be sus­tain­able al­ter­na­tive.”

With the help of Think Try Do, a grant giv­ing ini­tia­tive that helps un­der­grad­u­ates to make con­nec­tions to found their own start-ups, Dun­can founded Lys­ter Sur­fcraft ear­lier this year. He says: “I have had a lot of help from the univer­sity. I got a grant from them and I have had a lot of ad­vice, and made a lot of con­nec­tions through them.”

It takes Dun­can be­tween 25 and 30 hours to make each surf­board. He ex­plains: “I am try­ing to bring it down to make it as eco­nom­i­cal as pos­si­ble, but at the mo­ment ev­ery part of the board is made by hand.”

With a car­bon-fi­bre re­in­forced stringer and a thin, but strong and flex­i­ble layer of s-glass pro­tect­ing the wooden sur­face these boards can take a beat­ing in the waves with­out show­ing a mark. The woods used are se­lected for their high strength-to-weight ra­tio. Once the surf­boards are com­pleted, Dun­can coats them in fi­bre­glass. He says: “I try to build the surf­boards in a sus­tain­able way, so the ma­te­ri­als I use are ideal for the pur­pose rather than what­ever is avail­able.”

‘I would like to get to the stage where I feel like I am hav­ing a mean­ing­ful im­pact on surf­ing’

Dun­can, who is also a clas­si­cal singer, says: “I would like to get to the stage where I feel like I am hav­ing a mean­ing­ful im­pact on surf­ing; that I am mak­ing surf­boards that per­form as well as other boards.

“I have two surf­boards which I use as pro­to­types and they weigh in at four ki­los. Peo­ple who are in­ter­ested in buy­ing a board can try one out.” The cost of a surf­board is £1,595. To make an en­quiry or for more in­for­ma­tion visit lyster­sur­fcraft. co.uk or In­sta­gram.

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