Channel Islands … Sold

Snowboard super company Burton purchases Al Merrick’s Channel Islands surfboards.

Since Gordon “Grubby” Clark’s December 5, 2005 announcement that he was shutting the doors of his Clark Foam business for good (a day known in the surf industry as “Black Monday”), creating a near panic in the world of surfboard manufacturing, the business of surfboard building has been by far the most dynamic story in all of “boardsports.” In little more than six months, the surfboard industry has seen dozens of new technologies, materials, and players embraced by a world that had for the most part remained unchanged for almost half a century. Then, in a surprising June 29 e-mail, Burton (the snowboard manufacturing giant whose sales make up more than 60 percent of the total snowboard market) announced it had entered into an agreement with legendary Santa Barbara shaper Al Merrick to purchase his company Channel Islands Surfboards-the world’s number-one manufacturer of surfboards.
In the e-mail, Burton Founder and Chairman Jake Burton Carpenter, who spent time getting to know Merrick before the deal was decided upon, commented on the spirit of the acquisition: “Spending time with Al was cool, but you learn a lot more about someone when you go for a surf together. That’s when I started to understand the soul of Channel Islands. I look forward to providing a home for Channel Islands for many years to come.”
As is often the case in the protective world of surf, skate, and snow, insiders were left wondering how Burton’s stewardship would impact Channel Island’s highly touted product.
“Burton’s international network is phenomenal,” responds Merrick, who will stay in control of the brand he founded in 1969 and built to be the board of choice for such surf stars as Tom Curren, Lisa Andersen, and Kelly Slater. “They’ll be able to work with our current distributors and help our company grow overseas. Nationally, we are going to get more vertical in what we do with new technologies and new facilities coming on board. I think the sale will be a win/win situation and new doors will open. Both Jake and I have a passion for new technology and moving forward in that area as well as improving upon existing technologies to make the best boards that we can make. It’s a real positive move.”

Check out Channel Islands’ full range of boards (and there are many) at