Surfers Mondo Bummed over Clark Foam Cut Out

Clark Foam - NYTEditor Michelle Shinghale first gave word early this month that famed surfboard blank manufacturer Clark Foam was closing the doors of his business due to overzealous regulation, but it appears that the wipe out has finally crashed to shore as described in this New York Times piece that details a rise in thefts connected to the closing:

The thefts began shortly after the day surfers call Blank Monday, when the surfing community from San Diego to Santa Cruz and beyond felt caught in the undertow of what Grubby Clark had done.

[…]The sheriff’s office in Santa Cruz County cannot say for sure that it was the closing of Mr. Clark’s company, Clark Foam, that led to a rash of surfboard thefts in the charming but tattered bungalow neighborhoods near The Hook, one of roughly 65 famous surf breaks that have drawn free spirits here since the late 1930’s.

But Sgt. Fred Plagement, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said that the thefts “followed the publicity regarding the unavailability of polyurethane blanks.”

At roughly 1,000 blanks a day, Clark Foam had dominated the business of producing the buoyant foam innards of surfboards, some $175 million to $200 million worth a year.

All along the coast, board prices have gone up an average of $100, said Pete Johnson, the owner of Kane Garden Surfboards in San Diego.

Surfers and shapers have been hoarding their remaining blanks. “This is the last Mohican,” said Michel Junod, one of Santa Cruz’s most respected shapers, referring to his lone torpedo of white foam.

The thefts were an expression of the turmoil that has gripped many California surfing spots since Mr. Clark sent out a jarring, seven-page letter to his customers announcing that he was shutting down Clark Foam, his 44-year-old business, starting immediately.

A simple case of supply and demand among the seedier clientele:

David Balding, a 35-year-old glazer and surfer, was asleep when thieves sneaked into his carport and stole five of his prized boards, including an 11-foot $1,400 Lance Carson, named for a revered shaper.

“Maybe they thought, ‘Shoot, prices are going up, so I’m going to grab these,’ ” Mr. Balding said.

Sadly, the net effect on the economy is doubly negative. Not only has a proud businessman closed his doors after fears of government intrusion into his livelihood, but other businesses are getting pinched between a shortage of materials and outright theft.

All this because of overzealous government regulation. Makes me wanna just shake my head.

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