WSM: Let’s start with our typical interview questions. Who are you, where are you located, how long have you been around, and what got you into shaping boards?
Jackpine: First, thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our story. We are Andrew & Jenny Aslesen out of Madison, Wisconsin. Jackpine Wakesurf has officially been in business for about a year, but our process began a few years ago while we were brainstorming ways to help people in need. We figured that since we love building things and love wakesurfing, we may as well combine those passions to grow the sport locally and raise money for clean water projects.
WSM: Tell us more about that, what kind of water projects do you support?
Jackpine: I (Andrew) am a Hydrogeologist by training and work with small rural drinking water utilities in my day job, but there are a lot of people in the world who don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. If we can do what we love to do while helping a few of those people get access to clean drinking water that’s a win, so we donate 10% of our profits to clean drinking water projects through charities like Waves for Water and charity: water.
WSM: That’s an excellent cause and such a cool way to give back! For the folks at home, what in the world is an actual “Jackpine”? Is that a thing?
Jackpine: Haha, yes Jackpines are pine trees native to the northeastern United States and Eastern Canada. It’s a unique tree because as it grows, it adapts to its environment. I was born on the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota. I have two brothers and when we were little our great uncle Bob called us “little Jackpine Savages”. That’s a Northern Minnesota’s term for someone who is of all things wild. So the name says something about where we’re from in more ways than one.
WSM: Oh, gotcha, makes sense! Are your boards here in the US?
Jackpine: Yes they are. One of the greatest things about surfboards is that people have been building them in garages and small shops for years. Our boards are hand shaped and glassed from start to finish right here in Wisconsin.
WSM: Awesome. What are some special characteristics of Jackpine boards?
Jackpine: My favorite part about our boards is that they are hand built from start to finish in Wisconsin and our graphics are Northwoods influenced through and through. We don’t use gimmicks or chase trends. We just use the best materials and proven construction methods to make high quality boards.
WSM: So since you’re making them all here, what type of boards are y’all shaping? Surf , skim, hybrid? Do you have a favorite?
Jackpine: We have Surf, Skim and Hybrid boards in our line. My (Andrew) favorite board is the Ripsaw hybrid board. The crisp hard edge gives it a lively feel and I can easily spin a 360 like a skim board, but the higher volume and bigger fins let me boost it like a surf-style board. The Whistle Punk is our biggest crowd pleaser. It’s got a mid volume and easy going tucked rails.
WSM: Being up north, we imagine it gets super cold early into fall. What’s a typical riding season for you? Do you shape when you’re not riding?
Jackpine: It gets chilly fast so we surf the snow in the winter. Our typical season starts sometime in May using wet-suites and ends around the end of October when the lakes turn over. That’s where all the cold water from the bottom of the lake switches places with the warmer water at the top of the lake. The short season is definitely the biggest bummer about living up north. Last winter we did a lot of R&D, this winter we’ll be pretty busy building boards for people.
WSM: How many prototypes and foam blanks did you go through before you found just the right shape for your lineup? I imagine it had to be quite a process?
Jackpine: Funny story, my favorite board, the Ripsaw that I ride is the first board that I ever shaped. That might sound ridiculous, but before we cut any foam we spent over a year doing research, learning how each design characteristic affects how the board rides. Then I drew it up in a 3D surfboard design software so I could visualize the entire board from every angle. Glassing and finishing is the real trick, it took a while to get that right.
WSM: The graphics on your boards are great, especially the Savage! Who came up with it and who makes the graphics?
Jackpine: Jenny came up with the logo and we have each come up with several of the board design ideas. Each of our stock board graphics are hand painted by Jen, with some of the more complicated graphics printed and laminated under the glass. With her background in design, Jen handles the looks, I just build stuff.
WSM: Going into the 2018 season, are you going to be putting together a team?
Jackpine: We’re not to that point yet, but it’s something we would like to do eventually. For now we are working with a couple ambassadors. The crews at Boji Surf Co. and SurfSconsin have both put a good amount of time in on our boards and are helping us get the word out on their local lakes.
WSM: The Ripsaw, BadAxe, and Hatchet all seem to follow a woodworking theme. Is there a little more to that story?
Jackpine: That’s all part of our Northwoods theme. It’s our way of separating ourselves from the Florida/Texas/California board companies. All of those places are amazing, but we’re sticking close to our roots. We also love pineapples and palm trees, but they don’t grow in Wisconsin so you probably won’t ever see one on any of our boards anytime soon. Unless of course someone wants a custom board with a pineapple on it, then we’d be jacked to get tropical.
WSM: Tell everyone a little about the accessories, what type of fins and traction do you use?
Jackpine: We are using Futures fins. They’re hands down the strongest fins on the market. For traction, we use EVA on the tail, but we really like the traditional look and feel of wax. We also offer Viskus was alternative which gives you the traditional look of wax in a lower maintenance package.
WSM: Once it starts warming up this year do you plan on being a fixture at any of the competitions next season? Or, is social media and an online presence what you’d like to focus on most?
Jackpine: With us being a small operation, we are mainly focusing on our online presence and social media game right now. We would like to make it to a couple local events, possibly the 10,000 Lakes Open. We’re not sure if we can make it, but going to Southern Surfest would be the number one event we would like to attend this year.
WSM: Where would you like to see wakesurfing go in the future?
Jackpine: Contests have their place, but we would like to see more laid back fun events where people can connect with other surfers, get new ideas and ride behind different boats. Events like Southern Surfest or the Malibu Rider Experience.
WSM: Do you have any new shapes or projects going on that we can look forward to?
Jackpine: We are currently working on our first women’s specific model which will be available this year. There are a couple other things were playing with in the shop, but I can’t say anything yet.
WSM: Would you like to give anyone a shout out?
Jackpine: We have to thank all of our family members for being so supportive and encouraging us to pursue our dream. Thank you to our friends getting out and riding with us. Thank you to the guys at SurfSconsin for being stoked and spreading the word in Northern Wisconsin. Thanks to Boji Surf Co. for being our Iowa connection. Finally, thank you to Redline Watersports in Madison for helping us connect with the local crowd.
WSM: Would you like to plug any social media?
We want to thank Jackpine for giving WSM their time and we look forward to seeing more from them ASAP!