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Michael Hall: Portland’s Backyard Surfboard Shaper

In 2008, Michael Hall moved to Portland, Oregon, and was promptly laid off. A geologist by training, the 28-year-old Washington native had spent the past five years zipping around the Alaskan tundra and other equally remote locales in a helicopter, looking for mineral deposits. But the Great Recession clobbered the mining industry and left Hall out of work, in a new town, with substantial free time to burn. He enrolled in graduate school, at Lewis & Clark College, hoping to pivot into education. But he still had ample opportunities to surf, a hobby he’d taken up two years earlier. The problem was that “at the time,” Hall says, “surfboard designs were not very well geared for our waves, which tend to be flatter than, like, big barreling Hawaiian-reef waves.”

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5 Min