HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A Conway High graduate is making a name for himself when it comes to surfboards.
He’s one of a handful doing a specialty type of board in the world, and you’ll know it’s his with a signature on the bottom. These boards are “adapted” to whichever ability its rider has. Todd Sutz makes boards for everyone.
"This is where the magic happens. It gets dusty and dirty, and I get to get covered in head to toe with foam,” Sutz said with a smirk. He’s the owner of Island Inspired Board Co., located off Highway 544 in Horry County.
"There are seven steps to making a surfboard. Shaping, airbrushing, putting the fins on the board, laminating, sanding the surfboard and then making it shiny, which is the polish,” Sutz explained.
He does all those steps a lot, by hand, to at least 400 surfboards a year made in his shop.
Sutz’s surf shop began when his surfing passion sprouted in high school. He’s a Conway High School graduate.
“My mom is who got me into making surfboards. She bought me my first custom surfboard. She said, ‘You know that would be a great career for you,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, whatever,’” Sutz said with a laugh. “There was only one builder in Myrtle Beach at the time.”
Sutz worked a little on surfboards in the Myrtle Beach area after high school graduation and then moved to Hawaii’s North Shore at 21 years old. He would stay there 10 years, perfecting his craft at HIC Surfboards. He helped make boards for famous surfers while there.
Sutz saw a lot of the surfing world in those years, and he also met his wife in Hawaii. Twenty years ago he brought the family back to the Grand Strand and opened up shop. It wasn’t until the last few years he began shaping new types of surfboards.
“It was Luke Sharp who came into my shop and said, 'Look, I have this great idea. Do you want to make boards for Adaptive (Surf Project)?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, yes I’ll do it. What do you want?’” Sutz said.
Luke Sharp is the director for the Grand Strand’s Adaptive Surf Project. The two knew each other from surfing.
Everything from knee and elbow pads to handlebars, special shaping and even a chair to surf invention, a surfboard chair. Whatever the need, Sutz is shaping it for the Adaptive Surf Project’s surfers.
"The young man doing it for the first time and his mom crying on the beach, that she didn’t think he would ever be able to do this… that’s what makes it all worth while, and makes us want to do it more,” Sutz said, recalling a moment during May’s Wheel to Surf event in Surfside Beach.
Adaptive surfer Ernie Johnson won the East Coast Adaptive Surf Championship on one of Sutz’s boards, and he sends them across the country for surfers of all abilities. He also makes paddleboards. Sutz is married with two kids, who also surf.
The Adaptive Surf Project is spreading up and down the east coast, and also into South America. Sharp and an adaptive surfing team are helping open a chapter in Colombia, South America. Sutz said he’s going down there to teach surfboard builders how to build adaptive boards for their surfers, too.