If you live near a beach with hollow shorepound, you’ve likely noticed a rise in the amount of handplane-wielding, fin-wearing bodysurfers in the last few years. The ride-anything ethos is in full swing, and that anything has recently come to include the humble handplane. They’re not a new toy though; bodysurfers have used hand held planing aids for decades, with varying swings in popularity.
Since 2010, Ed Lewis and Kipp Denslow of Enjoy Handplanes have been making and selling some of the best handplanes out there from their spot in Leucadia. They got their start after hanging out with surfing shaman John Peck who’d just begun using handplanes himself. “I kept thinking that if John (Peck) was that stoked on it, it must be fun,” said Lewis. Denslow and Lewis soon made their own handplane and fell in love instantly. “I took that first one out on a blown out day and had so much fun that I stopped stand-up surfing for three months and just bodysurfed,” Lewis remembered. “I was like a kid again.”
Enjoy handplanes come in a variety of lengths, from 12″ to 17″, and with a ton of tail shapes, including round tails, diamond tails, and swallow tails. Really though, the tail shapes don’t matter all that much. It’s the length and width of the handplane that actually dictate how fast the rider goes.
Their little boards are really just a cool form of recycling. They use the foam from old broken surfboards, offcuts from shapers, or messed-up blanks from the manufacturers. They’ll cut you a deal on a new handplane if you trade in an old busted-up board you don’t want anymore. Once shaped, their handplanes are glassed with bio-based resins from Bay Area-based Entropy Resins. The handstraps are recycled too, made from old wetsuits. Lately they’ve even been messing around with boards made with agricultural waste.
Lewis and Denslow didn’t really expect to start a full-blown handplane business. They just had so much fun on their tiny pieces of surf craft, people noticed and wanted in too. “All my friends took notice of all the fun I was having and they all started wanting one,” said Lewis. Then people from all over the world started asking us for them and the business grew—it was unreal.”