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John Birchim to Speak at Surfrider Foundation Mixer

The Goleta resident and surfer shapes wooden surfboards, including alaias

The Surfrider Foundation Santa Barbara Chapter will hold its bimonthly mixer at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Watershed Resource Center at Arroyo Burro County Park/Hendry’s Beach, 2981 Cliff Drive.

John Birchim, longtime Goleta surfer, resident and wooden surfboard “alaia” shaper, will be the guest speaker. Birchim was a featured shaper at the Sacred Craft Expo in Ventura in May, where he gave demonstrations on alaias.

He shapes and rides various wooden boards, including the alaia. Alaias are small, thin, finless wooden planks, believed to be first made and used by the ancient Polynesians. In recent years, the boards have re-emerged on the modern surfing scene, with the likes of Dave Rastovich, Tom Carroll, the Malloys and Rob Machado all riding and enjoying them.

Birchim will give a little bit of the history and dynamics of the alaia, and will bring some of his shapes to share.

The chapter’s general meetings are a place to hear from remarkable speakers on interesting or hot topics in a comfortable setting. Join the chapter to find out about the issues and challenges facing the coast and ocean, and what Surfrider is doing to help. Meet like-minded individuals, contribute to the discussion, or just listen and learn. Refreshments will be served.

The October mixer also will include the election of executive committee members.

— Scott Bull represents the Surfrider Foundation Santa Barbara Chapter.

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