If you go to Google, and type in the word surfboard, you’d be surprised at what you’ll find. The usual suspects won’t show up. Channel Islands? Lost? Rusty? No, the winner is Isle Surfboards, a company you may never have heard of, but your local beginner surfer will have. They’ve been pioneers in selling boards online and have been at it since 2004. Beginners surfer will find refuge in their product offerings; purists will call them out for putting more boards in the water.
The San Diego-based company has been very successful at serving the market they’ve targeted – surfers who want a decent quality board without blowing a ton of coin. They’ve got ten models, ranging from chip to tanker and a lot in between. Perhaps predictably, Isle Surfboards sells a lot to beginner surfers.
The boards are shaped and glassed in China. As any surfer knows, local shapers are fiercely critical of the practice. “I totally understand the concern, but at the quality and price point we’re trying to achieve, there’s just no choice.” What of putting more surfers in the water because of longboards that can be had for around $400? Doug is unfazed. “The truth is that there will be more people in the water anyways.” Hard to argue. On the lighter side, Doug has surfed China. “We got to this point break called Big Wave Bay in Hong Kong. The water was 80 degrees, and there were 30 not so great surfers in the water. And then the two white guys showed up,” he laughs.
“We’ve really focused on our online strategy,” says Doug. And while a few years ago, you might find dealers carrying Isle boards, a flood of entrants with a similar model has changed the game. “After that, we decided to really just focus on selling directly to our customers.”