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This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

The Perfect Surfboard

Chris Gentile, owner of Pilgrim Surf + Supply, has always had a soft spot for small-batch surfboard shapers—not the big brands that cosponsor contests but the craftsmen who put out one hand-shaped board at a time. “The shapers we represent are part of a folk tradition,” Gentile explains. “It’s a craft that’s passed down from master to apprentice.” Choosing the right board is a complex calculus that involves your size, weight, experience, riding style, geographic location and aesthetic taste. Hence the need for this airy, fishbowl-like Williamsburg store, where you can peruse for hours over an espresso or a cold beer. If Pilgrim does not have exactly what you need, a custom order is one phone call away; Gentile has a direct line to some of the best surfboard shapers on both coasts. Looking for a long board to get you through the mushy East Coast summers? Try a classic single-fin Kookbox from long-board champion Joel Tudor. Eco-conscious? Go with Danny Hess, who uses cork and poplar instead of fiberglass and polystyrene. When a sport requires exactly one piece of equipment, every detail counts. Custom boards start at $700; 68 N. Third St.; pilgrimsurfsupply.com.

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