The Coast News Group
Finn Madsen of Finn Surfboards, creator of the FlexPlane. Photo by Chris Ahrens

The Finn of surfboards

For many years, I have wondered where the next Tom Morey, the man who put the world on waves with his invention of the Morey Boogie Board, would come from. Over the years, a few young surfers approached the throne, but none have yet worn the crown.

Like most board makers in North County, they were all excellent at their craft, but few ever came up with anything new. Ryan Burch stands as one exception as his collaborations with the brilliant Carl Ekstrom have opened eyes and doors to new possibilities in applying design ideas like side cuts and asymmetry to a surfboard’s outline.

Originally hailing from Solana Beach, the Willis Brothers made a big splash in Hawaii years ago with their Phazer Bottom. There have been other attempts over the years as well, but most, like Gary Goodrum’s G wing, Mike Hynson’s counterweight and Randy Lane’s shadow fin never caught on with the public.

Little did I realize that something new was brewing in my backyard, where a kid named Finn Madsen quietly built custom surfboards for a few clients in his garage. Also on Finn’s menu were outrigger canoes and twin-hulled boats, all functionally designed and beautifully finished.

While quiet and unassuming by nature, Finn nonetheless gathered a small following among Cardiff locals. Wherever he went, they followed.

One day at Glenn Park, Finn and a few friends were flying little RC planes up over the trees. Noting that the planes tended to wobble or crash on landing, Finn’s idea was to tape a dime onto the fuselage in just the right spot. This solved the landing problem and from then on, the little planes drifted smoothly onto the grass.

I soon began visiting Finn’s garage to see what he was building, which was always something unique. His boards increased in quality and quantity until the word went through Cardiff that there was a new shaper in town. Next, Finn began shaping paddle boards and foilboards for Dave and Rhonda Daum at King’s Paddle Sports. He had arrived at the party, but his full potential was yet to be realized.

While interviewing the Daums for a recent article, Dave mentioned that Finn had a new bodysurfing accessory, a flexible handplane tagged the FlexPlane. It was not a rigid piece of wood or imported plastic, but a locally handcrafted wave weapon of highly durable closed-cell EPE foam.

On a recent visit to Cardiff Surf Co. on San Elijo Ave in Cardiff, the store’s co-owner, Jay Grygera, explained the use of the FlexPlanes he has in stock. Grygera summed up the FlexPlane’s function, saying they made catching waves easier while adding control and lift when bodysurfing.

As we spoke a customer came in and revealed the resurgence of stoke he experienced since riding FlexPlanes at Seaside Reef.

On a recent, frigid morning, Finn loaned me one of his FlexPlanes. The board offered a whole new experience in wave riding, opening areas on waves I had never before explored. After an hour, I left the water stoked and satisfied, which is the only measure of having had a great surf.

The FlexPlane does not prove that Finn will be the next Tom Morey. It does, however, provide new ways of enjoying waves that were previously considered unsurfable. To learn more about Finn Surfboards in general and FlexPlanes in particular, please visit:

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