The Surfboard Story

The Sol Vae Surfboard Story

Read time: 2 minutes, 30 seconds
Author: Bridget Thorpe

We've had a lot of people already ask about the surfboard picture on Our Approach page.  Here is the story...

13-year-old me was sitting in an eighth grade classroom.  I had an assignment in front of me to write down my hopes and dreams, and my answer was going to go beneath my picture in the yearbook.  Junior high pressure! 

Fast-forward about fifteen years later, I came across that yearbook and saw what I wrote: "My dream is to go to Australia".  After all those years, it was still something I deeply wanted to do. 

So for my 30th birthday, I saved up, booked a ticket, and ventured out on a solo trip to drive the Great Ocean Road.

I was really excited about the whole trip.  I booked the best budget Air BnBs (well, one turned out to be pretty weird!).  And I had some fun hikes and activities planned.  But, I slipped into panic mode when I hopped in my rental car.  The steering wheel was on the other side.  I mean, I knew this going into the trip.  But when I actually sat in the car, and enough awkward moments had passed that I actually had to start the thing, it felt scary.    

White-knuckled, I fired up the GPS and immediately drove to Bells Beach.  Growing up in Kauai, I would see Bells Beach on TV while watching the surf channel with my dad.  It felt familiar to me.  

I made it there, found a little spot against the cliff at Bells, and sat down and realized... "whoah, I'm here".  

About an hour later, I found myself at the International Surfing Museum.  The museum had a small collection of milestone pieces that defined surfing culture in Australiaand all over the world.  One piece in particular caught my heart...

An incredible artist had painted a series of stories on various surfboards.  The stories were an exchange of personal letters between a son and his father.  I must have spent an hour or more reading them.  Some were sentimental; most were hilarious!  This is the one that grabbed me:

 Believe in You

"If your mind can think it, and your heart can believe it, you can do it....there is always a 6'-8' swell just around the corner". 

If you're unfamiliar with surfing, a 6'-8' swell is a very good thing!  I remember the moment standing there reading this passage for the first time so clearly still. 

I have a black and white printout of this photo behind my desk as a consistent reminder.  And the background of my work desktop looks like this:

Believe in YOU

Three months after this trip, I met my husband Elliott.  And one day, I came to him teary-eyed and filled with all sorts of doubts and fears about launching this company.  He gave me a small card with these words on it.  

It takes a village to get to where you want to go—no matter what side of the road you're used to driving on to get there.  Support, family, friends, resources, money, time, and the list goes on.  I love this piece of art and this card, as they remind me that it all fundamentally begins with (and is propelled by) a strong sense of conviction and the courage to bet on yourself.   

That is the story!  If you happen to know who the surfboard artist is, please send me a note (bridget@solvae.co).  I've looked far and wide for the mystery name and would love to credit and share it more broadly.

~Bridget

P.S. - I took this video in 2017 at the end of my trip.  It was a few hours after getting lost on some detoured roads.  Anyway, it's never before seen footage I haven't shared with anyone yet haha!  But I love it because the joy of extending a comfort zone is palpable.