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Outer Sunset Ding Repair Duo Restores Beauty to Your Surfboard

Photos courtesy of Fred Pompermayer

Surfers tend to have an inflated infatuation with their surfboards. Probably more than car people love their cars, or gadget people love their gadgets, the love story between surfer and surfboard is profound and deep. Just check out a new board and you’ll understand—the crisp lines, the perfect smoothness, the immaculate curves…surfboards are beautiful.

Problem is, surfboards get banged up all the time. It’s the unfair paradox of surfing: you want to love your board, but you also want to ride it, and riding it puts your beloved board in harm’s way. It can collide with other boards. It can collide with you. It can buckle under the weight of a crushing wave. But it’s not an art display, it’s a surfboard, so you take the risk.

That’s where Alex Martins comes into play. His surfboard repair shop in the Outer Sunset is the only dedicated ding repair outfit in the city. Before Alex opened his shop, surfers brought broken boards to surf shops, where ding repair is a minor, neglected priority, or else they found guys through the grapevine who fixed boards in their garage. Alex himself started doing ding repairs in his garage, then moved to a warehouse in South San Francisco, and ultimately opened his storefront in September 2010. 

“The storefront makes me look good,” Alex said with a smile. Originally from Brazil, he is a well-known big wave surfer at Mavericks, and the walls of the storefront are decorated with pictures of some of his jaw-dropping rides on 50 ft waves. 

Alex shapes in the backroom, which is spartan in appearance, and equipped with massive fans and vacuums for all the resin dust involved with fixing surfboards. His wife Sarah works in the front, which is full of surfboard racks and artwork, and runs the book-keeping side of things. Apparently the couple that fixes surfboards together, and surfs together, and does yoga together, stays together, because the pair emits a warm and welcoming vibe at the shop.

It’s weird to call their “shop” a “shop,” because they don’t really sell anything. It’s not like foot traffic comes by and stops in to buy things.  All they do is repair surfboards. In fact, they almost never turn around the “Closed” sign, and prefer to meet with customers through appointment. 

Since they opened the shop, Sarah has herself become accomplished at board repair, and uses her experience as an artist to work with their new airbrush and match repairs with the color of the board. 

Because that’s kind of the point. If you crack your board, you don’t only want it to be functional again, but you want it to retain its beauty. And with Alex’s expert hand in the backroom, and Sarah’s artistic eye in the front room, it’s no wonder they have earned the respect of all the surfs shops in the community, who encourage their customers to bring their boards to Alex and Sarah.

Alex Martins Surfboard Repair is located at 3653 Lawton Street, between 42nd and 43rd Aves. To arrange a board drop-off, call Sarah at 415-828-4600. Typical drop-off hours are between 10 and 7. Prices can be found on their website.