Peninsula life • our heritage
A flurry of sand-coloured curls drift to the floor as Adam clears the deck of the surfboard he’d been planing. They join the others littering the floor of his shaping bay, adding to the theme. Wood; the predominant material and Adam’s overall fengshui. It’s everywhere, the workshop is clad in it, the floors tiled with it, units, doors, and countless surfboards are made from it, even the resident cobwebs are coated in a fine layer of sawdust.
Master craftsman and owner of Williams Longboard Company, Adam specialises in creating beautiful wooden and echo alternative surfboards. Neighbour to Gower brewery on the Crofty Industrial Estate, his sun bleached workshop is nestled between the North Gower road and the expansive marshland that lines the northern coastline.
Having made his first board in 1982, Adam shaped alongside his father into the early 90s before transitioning to making furniture alongside the odd board. Over 11 years ago he picked up the shaping business full time and is regarded by many as a Sensei in the ways of wooden boards. He’s a regular face in the lineups around Gower and often seen in the Brewery Tap on a Friday afternoon, pint of Lighthouse Lager in hand. We caught up with him on a Sunday morning in late Spring to find out more about his affinity for wood.
“I start with the raw materials and build all elements of the wooden boards myself by hand. My favourite wood to work with is Balsa. It makes a brilliant board that surfs great and you can grow a new one in 3 to 4 years - so it’s got really good environmental credentials. There is also something about boards that are made with Balsa, I can’t really explain it, they surf very smoothly and they’ve got this unique ability to damp out chop in the water. It’s so bizarre and I’ve never found another board that does this in over 40 years of surfing.
Whether you admit it or not, we’re in a climate emergency. Everyone should be doing what they can, even if it’s just the small things, to improve the situation that we’re in. That’s why I do what I do. The wood especially as the Balsa is a byproduct of a reforestation programme so has excellent ecological credentials and i’s the traditional material that boards were made from. But I also use other materials like EPS (expanded polystyrene) which my Sister Series are made from; a collection of boards designed for women. All the resin I use is also better than the bog standard stuff you get on the market. It’s a hella lot more expensive, but so worth it.”
Adam has been living in the local area for over 28 years shaping his life rhythms around the tide times and swell movement on the Peninsula.
“I do what I do because I don’t want to work!” He laughs, “Working for other people is overrated. This gives me the ability to do what I want and when I want. A lot of the time, not always, but I get to surf pretty much most of the time. Gower just has so much here, in such a small space there are plenty of breaks for everyone. It’s cold in the winter, warm in the summer and plenty of surfing all year around! You just have to get out and enjoy it.”
“The best and most rewarding thing about what I do is actually seeing people enjoying the boards that I've made for them. When you’re down the beach and you can see the joy, the smiles, people having a great time- it’s so worth it and I get an absolute buzz out of it.
I’ve made boards for people of all ages from youngsters to grandmothers, and there really is nothing quite like watching people having great surfs on boards that you’ve created and made by hand. There’s just so much stoke! That’s what I like best about it, I think.”
One of the friendliest and most generous shapers around, Adam is also a fountain of knowledge. We asked Adam to describe his life on Gower in three words:
Beaches. Surfing. Freedom.
If you’re passing and his workshop door is open, be sure to pop in for a chat and to check out his selection of demo boards. No matter where you’re at in your longboard journey, he’s got something for everyone.