It's safe to say the North Shore is not the only place in the world to find your fair share of barrels. At Naturebarrels, we believe the tube is in the eye of the beholder -if you look close enough you’ll start seeing barrels all around. Once you find an abstract green room deep in a dense jungle, or at the edge of your mom’s garden underneath the sunflower patch, the world around you is suddenly firing. Tree shacks, snow drift caverns, hollow flower pits, last week my kitchen bar top was all I needed for a little shade. No one’s better than finding a soul arch in the wild than Samson. A wizard of waves and protector of Mother Nature who’s always looking for the next swell and little shade along the way. A true Barrel Seeker. Which is why we started the Barrel Seeker Series to highlight the innovators and peace keepers Samson meets along the way. The true advocates for innovation and imagination in the surf realm. Our first stop takes us to the Ocean State, in a small backyard ding shack on the coastline of Rhode Island.
Patrick: Josh! Sorry to have Samson bust in on ya, but he’s been looking for you ever since he dinged his Red Wood Bonzer last hurricane swell.
Josh: Haha no worries man, just watch your head on the way in.
Patrick: Thanks man! While we're here, mind if we ask you about The Ding Shack and 401 Board Co?
Samson: BARREL BARREL!
Patrick: Totally agree Samson, Tell us about yourself and the roots of where we are?
Josh: My name is Josh Feld, I’m 24 years old and I’m from Tiverton, Rhode Island. We’re here in the home of 401 Board Co in Wakefield, RI. I moved over here for college and stayed for the endless points and beach breaks. Just a little bit more variety.
Patrick: That sounds fair to me. I’ve really enjoyed what you have been doing with 401 Board Co. I first went to see some of your work at The Social gallery in tiverton. A pop up of all up-cycled and hand shaped surfboards by yourself. From the colors to the innovative styles, It was really cool to see you find new life in what might end up in the trash can. How did that start?
Josh: I made my first board with Neil Toracinta with Tora Surfboards for a high school senior project and the passion kinda came alive from that. Neil was a great teacher. I was always doing ding repair before that because my dad was a boat builder and learned from him.
Patrick: We all need a friend who starts doing Ding Repair.
Josh: Haha exactly. I even did a couple in my door room at URI.
Samson: BARREL BARREL!
Patrick: Higher education indeed Samson. So then where did the upcycling come in? Lack of fresh blanks or pure innovation?
Josh: First one started with a long board that came in for ding repair that had a foot off the tail broken in half. Wasn’t much of a chance for it to go back to normal so instead we talked about it and came up with a cool 8ft single fin design. Then it kinda just snowballed from there. Photographer and friend Jack Sipperly came in with a similar situation and we created a new life. The boards just started getting donated or people were coming looking to upcycle.
Patrick: Epic. Do you have an idea beforehand or does the board you get kind of dictate where you will take it?
Josh: Yeah, you don’t really want to plan too much and just work with what you got. More just work with some small ideas and work yourself around it. It's definitely Ideal to start with longboards and work it down to something new.
Patrick: It must be a challenge to work with what you have. In a sport where we rely on the health of our ocean, it's pretty ironic we ride some unsustainable surf crafts. That's why Samson rides fallen trees only. How does that sustainability motivate your work?
Josh: Every board we save is one less board in the dump. You use these old boards from the 70s and 80s, they are so solid and glassed heavy which just makes them last for years to come. Giving boards new life and being able to help construct stronger and more durable boards, we want them to last as long as possible.
Samson: BARREL BARREL!
Patrick: Great question Samson, What's your favorite board you’ve shaped?
Josh: Probably my 7’8 Knee board. I’ve really gotten into kneeboarding after experimenting with weird sharp rails and different weight distribution. I’ve even snuck a couple barrels on that thing *laughs*
Patrick: For those that don’t know, and those who do, can you explain the feeling of getting barreled?
Josh: It feels like...you're right in the spot, right where you're supposed to be, in that spot in the wave, but also in life. You're just in the tube, but also in the tube of life.
Patrick: Word Samson…Word. You nailed that. So what’s next for you, what do you want from 401 Board Co?
Josh: Would love to just keep shaping customs and up-cycling boards and become a little bit more sustainable. Preferably for up-cycles, longer and thicker boards have more opportunity. A lot of boards you might throw away still have a lot of life left and that's what we're trying to put out there.
Patrick: Epic, look for some 15ft pines coming through from Samson, he’s the king of dings. One last question from the Naturbarrels team. Describe your dream surfscape?
Josh: A right, 20 ft point break, california style at sunset with glass. Palm trees but still some colder water. On the Knee board.
You can find more info about Josh and 401 Board Co on Instagram here. You can also check out his latest film, Ocean Motion, below: