JACQUES BERIAU: Sea Love Surfboards and Farm
Sea Love Surfboards | Jacques Beriau
Classic surfboard shapes that bring you back to the groove and slide of classic California, coupled with the feel and vibrations of the northern most state on the east coast of the United States, Jacques Beriau brings us surfboards made from a pure love for the sea.
Sea Love Surfboards and Sea Love Farm are based in North Berwick, Maine. Along with a career as a teacher, coupled with a steady diet of snowboarding and surfing; Jacques Beriau also creates some cool surfcraft, while tending to a small home-based farm.
I recently touched base with Jacques to find out more about his love for the sea and all things connected.
Start off by introducing yourself, give us some of the basic details that you feel are important descriptives of who you are?
My name is Jacques Beriau, I am 31 years old, and live on a small farm with my wife Elisa here in North Berwick, Maine. I teach middle school science and hand shape surfboards.
When did you start surfing and what is one of your first memories
of riding waves?
I didn’t really start surfing full time until I was 19 or 20. I had always been a skateboarder and snowboarder because up until that point in my life those things were pretty easily accessible to me. I had surfed a few times as a kid, but it wasn’t until I moved into a house on Nantucket one summer with my best friends that I had access to waves long enough to surf consistently. We were such a circus, it was awesome. We would drive to the beach in this horrible old Honda hatch-back that one of our bosses had given us because he got sick of picking us up for work. We would have like 6 trashed boards piled up on the car, sticking out of the sides, and all just dump out of this thing into the beach parking lot, total kook show. We were so loud and had no idea what was going on, people probably hated us, but we were having so much fun it was just pure stoke. You’d be sitting in the line up, and watch your buddy paddle into the wave of the day and then he would just drop his trunks and blow the wave trying to moon all of us the whole way down the line. My other buddy would always barf as soon as he got to the line up, like clock-work. It was gross, and so insanely funny how miserable he would be. Then we’d go out all night and do it again the next day, all summer.
From that point on surfing just kind of took over. After awhile it became more fun to stay in at night and score perfect offshore dawn patrol surf, then miss it after a good night of partying. I started making decisions based on surfing, figuring out where I could live to maximize time in the water.
I moved to San Diego after college with those same guys, chasing California. I met my wife, a 4th generation San Diegan, just about as soon as we got to San Diego and after awhile we moved into a tiny studio in La Jolla where a lot of the old Windansea guys lived. Our life was simple there, it was just surfing and good people, family, friends, good food. We were happy and content but knew we needed a way to keep that life going. We both had science backgrounds and actually met while working at a marine science summer camp. That got us thinking about teaching as a career, which would also give us ample time in the water.
We moved back to New England in 2010 to finish our degrees and once our Master’s were completed, we were lucky enough to be offered great teaching jobs close to the water. And so we’ve been here in our little farmhouse in Maine since 2013, and we spend summers traveling and visiting Elisa’s family in San Diego.
Surfing in Maine is a unique undertaking. Tell us about us about it?
Maine surfing is definitely unique and I’ve really only explored a fraction of what is out there. Here in southern Maine we’ll get anything from great loggin’ waves, to critical point surf. The area really calls for a variety of surf craft, which has led to a culture of open-minded surfers. There are a few shapers building unique boards for the conditions here, including our good friends at the Grain shop who make beautiful handcrafted hollow wooden surfboards.
The winters get pretty brutal for sure. Wetsuit technology has come such a long way that as long as you have the right equipment, you can be comfortable on even the coldest of days. Those days can be the best ones of the year. Its 2 degrees, there are chest high snowdrifts on the beach, and your mustache freezes before you get to the line up, but its all smiles once you’re out there with good friends on a day like that.
When did you start shaping and what inspired you to take up the craft? Has anyone personally mentored you or is it something that you just went for on your own?
Living in San Diego you can’t help but soak up it’s surf history. That area is so rich with surf culture and board design, the list is so long, guys like Steve Lis, Skip Frye, Simmons, and Ekstrom-the list just goes on. While we were living in La Jolla I really started paying attention to classic board design. I’ve always been drawn to simple surfboard lines, the fish, wide-point forward single fins, logs, all these styles that were everywhere in that area. The style of surfing required to make these shapes perform was what became the most intriguing aspect for me. I was watching guys like Ryan Burch, Lucas Dirkse, and shaper Josh Hall surf these classic shapes, and Ryan and Lucas were shaping boards in Lucas’ shed at that point. Those guys sort of inspired me to shape a board more than anyone.
The first one I shaped was in the backyard of my brother Reid’s house up in San Clemente. It was a 5’8” Lis fish for my wife actually. It’s so crude, I don’t think the rails match at all, and it’s definitely not symmetrical, but it was made with love, and she still rides it all the time.
From there, I shaped a few boards for myself specifically for the waves in San Diego County. Shaping boards with specific waves in mind became really interesting and it has just expanded from there.
What types of boards do you mainly shape and what are some of your favorite design elements that you implement into your boards?
I really love traditional surfboard shapes with modernized foils. We rarely get punchy, long period surf here and people get burnt out trying to make a 5’8” squash work in 6 second, waist-high beach break. There is definitely a place for those types of pro-tour style shapes here in New England, and guys like Keith Natti of Twin Lights Surf Co have really perfected the volume and rocker combinations that get em’ going on the everyday waves we get. But for me personally, I love the off-the-bottom-and-glide feeling you get from a flatter and wider, even mid-length style board, which is what I try to create.
So far how have the boards been working and what has the response been?
People have been really into the “Schoolie” model that I really only recently worked out. It’s a traditional Steve Lis inspired keel fin fish, yet thinned out with a bit of a pulled in tail. I keep some belly up front because I feel it really allows for that pump-and-glide style of surfing that I like the most. I’ve been super happy with how those have been coming out.
I want to offer the modernized traditional surfboards that are typically associated with California, to surfers here in New England. Those shapes work well in our area and they get you going as fast as possible, with the least amount of input from the rider. I’m stoked with the response I’ve gotten so far.
I’m still learning so much about shaping surfboards, how to use my tools efficiently, how subtle changes in bottom contours affect the ride of a board. I have a few choice models that I have been offering that I am proud of and I hope the public keeps sending their positive vibes to Sea Love Surfboards.
In addition to surfing you’re heavily involved in the snowboard scene, where do you like to ride most and how do you feel surfing and snowboarding compliment one another?
Snowboarding has been a large part of my life for a long time and I’ve been really fortunate to be a part of the community that surrounds it. Brian Norton of Loon Mountain and Luke Mathison of Waterville Valley in New Hampshire are both talented snowboard terrain designers and have been two of my closest friends for years. I spend most of my time on the snow here in New England at those places.
Now more than ever I feel like my snowboarding has been influenced by my surfing and just turning my snowboard well has become more appealing than it ever was. I grew up watching my father make perfect, race-track style turns on skis, and I’ve spent the last few winters trying to mimic that on a snowboard. Jesse Loomis of Powder Jet Snowboards and I designed and built a prototype wood core, sidewall, metal edge, and p-tex snowboard this winter that has taken my groomed run freeriding to a heavy level.
You also have a farm of sorts, basically I’ve seen you have some chickens but I don’t know much more. With where and how we get our food being such a hot topic these days, do you feel it’s important to have greater connection to our food and return to more small farm based lifestyle?
Here at Sea Love Farm we raise heritage breed pigs for meat and keep chickens for eggs. We have a little pot-bellied pig named Lunch Box, but he’s just a friend. We also have a dog, cat, and my wife’s classroom bunny, which lives with us on the weekends.
When we bought our house, there was a ton of overgrown land that we needed to clear. Elisa did a tremendous amount of research and we decided that keeping pigs and rotating them through the overgrowth was the best way to clear it. So she found a local pig breeder and we got some hogs. We rotated them onto fresh land every week, which kept them healthy and happy while they systematically ate and rooted up the over-grown plants. The pigs cleared almost all the land we needed and it was insane how much work they saved us. We did it again for a second year, this time with a different breed that was a bit more docile. We picked up those piglets from a farm in Pennsylvania on the way home from California last summer. We set up a little zone for ‘em in our van beside all our gear and a few blanks and drove ‘em up to Maine.
We raise our animals organically without using chemical dewormers, and they eat organic feed and pasture. They also get occasional scraps from my school cafeteria and raw milk from a local farm. It’s a pretty rewarding process, though it has its difficulties. Pigs get out and run around the neighborhood, that’s such a mess. Trying to get a 250lb pig back into a pen over a ¼ mile away is a difficult task. Bringing them to the market is always difficult emotionally as well. But being that connected to your food is a humbling experience. It takes you back to a time without the chemically enhanced and hyper efficient food system that we have created for ourselves here in the USA. Our hogs and chickens convert grass and cafeteria leftovers into pork, and beautiful eggs. It’s a closed loop of simple food, and we like that.
Describe your last surf session?
I had a great session with my friend Jose′ at one of our local point breaks last week. It was early afternoon, longer period, chest high or so. The water up here has been warming up, so I had a few hoodless waves for the first time all season. I rode this little 5’2” Schoolie that I made back in February, just so fast and fun. Then my wife met me down at the beach and we drove to a different spot and snagged some super fun loggin’ waves before dark. It was a great spring day.
Any final words of wisdom or thoughts for our readers?
Thanks for reading, and you can also check out sealovesurfboards.com for more information on specific models, custom ordering, and follow our farm adventures by searching #sealovefarm.