Gordon “Grubby” Clark founded Clark Foam
in 1961, but his journey to becoming the leading producer of polyurethane foam surfboard blanks started years earlier. Clark learned to surf in around 1950 while going to school at Pomona College, where he eventually earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. He then spent two years in the army before going to work as a laminator for Hobie Surfboards. While he had been experimenting with polyurethane foam earlier, it was in about 1955 that Clark and Alter began looking in earnest for a lighter and more cost-effective core material to replace balsa. In 1958, Hobie switched all his boards from balsa to polyurethane.
Hobie Alter and Grubby Clark parted ways amicably in 1961, and Clark Foam
was born. An engineer by education and known to be relentless by personality, Grubby built his business through efficiency and by constantly seeking to improve and refine his products. The Clark Foam line consisted of dozens of different blank shapes and sizes, with a variety of foam density options and rocker characteristics. In the heyday of Clark Foam, several hundred thousand blanks were being produced each year, distributed out of warehouses in California, Florida, Hawaii and Europe. It is estimated that Clark Foam owned 90% of the surfboard blank market worldwide.
As quickly as the brand rose to prominence in the surfboard industry, it came to an end. Clark abruptly closed his doors in 2005 and retired. He was indeed a major force in surfboard manufacturing; so much so that Surfer
magazine named Grubby Clark the 10th
most influential surfer of the 20th
We are stoked to have a few Clark Foam t-shirts
back in the Last Wave lineup…check ‘em out!
Until next time,