Healthy Rituals | Q&A with James Otter

“As long as I can remember I’ve always enjoyed making things and I’ve always been drawn to wood as a material.”

Filing, sanding, smoothing, sawing. The tranquil rhythm of finding flow in the art of crafting objects using nature’s raw materials; and the feeling of connection from using your hands to create.

Inspired by the natural environment, local boardsmith, craftsman and environmentalist, James Otter, has been pioneering the creation of handcrafted wooden surfboards since 2008. Channelling his two passions for surfing and craftsmanship, James makes a range of sustainable wooden surfboards, paddleboards, bellyboards and handplanes using locally grown timber from regenerative, sustainable woodlands with his hands.

In an age where most materials used to create surfing accessories contain varying forms of plastic (polyurethane foam, fibreglass, polyester resin and neoprene), James has flipped the industry standard on its head by using wood as a material for reasons beyond being a steward for protecting the planet. It turns out, there are a range of technical advantages to wooden boards including the way in which they lend themselves to twin fins, mid length single fins and longboards, where momentum and globe help surfers to find smooth, graceful lines. 

After spending a few days with James in his studio in Porthtowan, we came away with a renewed sense of wonder for the planet’s natural resources and the capabilities of the human hand. 

As part of our healthy rituals campaign, we asked James to talk to us about some of his own healthy rituals. The things he does to help keep his mind and body calm. This is what he told us. 

For my body, keeping it moving is crucial for me. I can’t remember the last time I got out of the Ocean without feeling better than when I got in. Our Monday morning surf club helps me to stay grounded and connected to the ocean. It reminds us to play and have fun together - and boosts my energy levels for the week ahead.” 

For my mind, I make a conscious effort to read and take time to slow down regularly, ensuring I have a chance to put energy back into myself.” 

“I also make a conscious effort to try to be at home with my wife and kids daily. Time is precious with two little ones and I wouldn’t change the time we spend together for anything.” 

We also asked how he felt about intention setting and whether he had any new intentions lined up for 2022 that he’d be happy to share with us. 

“I’m actually lining up a therapist for next year for some supervision to help deal with some of the heavier side of life.”

“Physically, I’m setting myself a couple of challenges. One is swim related and one is run related - but I haven’t quite ironed out the details for those just yet!”

Learning from the Pentire community about the rituals that matter to them is really important to us, James included. Drawing inspiration from others who share our values helps us to start the new year with our own healthy intentions, pushing ourselves to try new things, to take on new challenges and to perform at our best.

To learn more about the way in which James channels his love for the Ocean into his craft, you can watch the short film we created together here.