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Shaping the Future One Surfboard at a Time

As sure as water flows, it was serendipity when Lukas Sickler set out on the Bend Whitewater Park wave one day in April 2020. The 17-year-old Summit High School senior was already an accomplished tennis player and ski racer, and surfing was new to him. So was the sight of a fiberglass shortboard at the wave, ridden by a visitor from Hawaii. Predictably, impact on the rocks beneath the wave’s shallow depth quickly wrecked the fragile fin boxes. Lukas intercepted the parts and brought them back to a home shop where his older brother Thomas already kept a few tools of a board shaper’s trade.

“We ripped off the glass and I started shaping the foam,” Sickler describes. He hasn’t stopped. Since then, Lukas has found his place as a maker: he shapes surfboards, selling them under the moniker, LS Surfboards. “My first board was for me, and I still love that little thing,” he says. But it was what he could do with that first board that opened doors to making boards for others. The athlete could rip up a wave on its asymmetrical shape—bringing it to life. Soon, local surfers said, “I want what he’s got.”

Sickler brings a larger world perspective to his work, having been born in Santiago, Chile and residing in Bend since 2009. He was an early entrepreneur. Childhood days often consisted of questions he and his brother asked to start the day: “What can we make?”; “Should we set up another lemonade stand?”; “Can we build a go cart?”.  His approach to shaping has a sense of curiosity more in line to that of a sculptor than a kit shaper using a template. “I go with a flow more than follow pencil lines,” he says. He starts with an EPS or poly-foam surfboard blank, slowly building the form, then imagining its function: rail, contours and volume follow as he intuits the final product. He glasses boards in his home-based shop, or sends them to partners for custom orders.

Future plans include continuing to learn and enjoy the process, sell boards and be an ambassador for the LS Surfboards brand. He has surfed waves in South America, with Chilean family members as some of his biggest fans. It’s not always the equipment that makes an athlete, but in the case of Lukas Sickler, the line is blurred between rider and board. When a product is made with soul, it’s no wonder human energy responds when it meets a wave—board and rider combine in a perfect flow.

  • PHOTOS: Cheryl Parton