Connect with us

Thai Life

Live simple, consume less

Published

 on 

PHUKET: Live simple, consume less. This philosophy is engrained in the business and life of custom surfboard maker David “Mousset” Sautebin.

Originally from Bienne, Switzerland, the wiry 36-year-old stood in the entrance of his Nai Harn workshop clad only in Thai fisherman’s pants. A quiver of surfboards lined the doorway which emitted a tinny soundtrack of Bob Marley from within.

“All of this story started with 1,500 dollars [US] to build the workshop, buy all of the materials and build two boards,” says David of his business Elleciel Surfboards. The name is derived from the pronunciation of the letters LSCL, which stand for “live simple, consume less”.
“The name came out of what I didn’t want, and what I didn’t want was a predator or raptor or any of these aggressive things. For me surfing is everything but aggressive. For me surfing is nature, it’s organic, it’s flowy.”

Thin sheets of wood are sandwiched between fiberglass to create visually striking structural shells. Photo: Jeremie Schatz

What inspired the Swiss watchmaker turned surfboard shaper to make the leap from the micro-precision engineering of time-pieces to the fluid design of surfboards was the direction he saw the surfboard industry going, “That’s the industry, they make disposal things, you use it a few times and you throw it away… It’s giant money for them.”

With guidance and advice from people with vast experience in the industry, David set off to create the distinctive designs found lining his walls today. The construction method of Elleciel boards consists of a type of sandwich composite. They are still made with a foam core – although it is EPS (expanded polystyrene) opposed to the polyurethane found in more traditional boards – but he sandwiches a thin layer of material such as wood or cloth between layers of fiberglass cloth to create a structural shell. “The idea is many layers put together to make structure out of something that is not necessarily strong by itself,” explains David.

The most tangible benefit of this construction method is the increased durability. A normally constructed fiberglass and polyurethane board dents and dings quite easily and may only survive a season or two. However, an Epoxy and EPS board of comparable size and weight can last for years.

It isn’t readily apparent as you look at and handle an Elleciel board just how strong they are. As David explains his construction technique, he picks one up and punches it very hard several times – strikes that would certainly dent a normal board. Of the more than 120 Ellecial boards in the water, David knows of only one that has succumbed under extreme conditions.

“I try to only work with Thai products… I try to source everything here, ” he says about the raw materials. The EPS he uses for the cores was manufactured right here in Phuket until recently, when they ran into problems, and now his source is in Hat Yai. He even incorporates materials such as Thai sarong cloth and other local textiles into his boards.

The less tangible but equally, if not more, impressive aspect of David’s boards is the high level of craftsmanship. Many of the boards scattered around his workshop look like works of art intended to be hung on the wall instead of gliding underfoot in the ocean. This has been a big selling point he says, describing the eye-catching reputation building up around his boards, “My friend in California said that every time [he goes surfing] it takes him 45 minutes to get in the water.”

So how does a Swiss watchmaker end up as a surfboard shaper in Phuket? Like many who have set up a home here, it is an interesting, and long, story. David had been plagued with knee problems for many years and has undergone dozens of surgeries. With the surgeries resulting in little success, he turned to Chinese medicine which, overtime, began to lessen his suffering. While on surf trips he also began to realize that his knee problems were less severe when he was in warmer climates.

David embarked on numerous surfing trips to far-flung destinations like Hawaii and Morocco and enjoying some of the best breaks that the world has to offer. Later on he began sea-hitchhiking and finding himself in places like Sri Lanka and Indonesia – living the lifestyle that many surfers only dream of.

With a simple stop-off in Phuket, David’s path in life led him in a different direction. Following a chance encounter and subsequent two month tour around Thailand with Thai reggae star Job 2 Do, David found himself back in Phuket where he stumbled upon his soul-mate and is still with her today. After being dropped off at the Ao Sane bungalows five years ago, David has literally set up shop in Nai Harn.

He has spent four of those years building up his business which blossomed out of humble beginnings where David struggled to find an adequate place for a workshop, dealt with the challenges of finding tools and materials, and patiently searched out resources and advice. He persisted and now maintains enough business to stay afloat.

David is realistic about the direction he is going and has no intention of sacrificing the high standards that he now adheres to. From the beginning he has known that in his business, one must start with, and maintain, a clean reputation, “I knew that I had no chance to do anything that was not perfect.” A flawed board floating around out there would bear his name and a product of sub-par quality would certainly come back to haunt him.

Currently, he is constrained to making only about two boards per week and with no grandiose dreams of dominating the world surfboard market, he has no complaints.

“Every board is a seed,” says David. He started with just a few boards around Nai Harn, but each board sparks new interest and the potential to build upon his reputation. Now, a small selection of his boards can be found all over the island and even in Khao Lak.

Custom boards are available from 18,000 baht.

Elleciel was a sponsor of the Khao Lak Surfing Competition, which was held at Pakarang Beach on April 26-28.

To get your hands on one of David’s custom creations, call him at 083-192 8161 or visit elleciel.com

— Jeremie Schatz

 

Get more from The Thaiger

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Visa4 mins ago

CCSA to consider extending Thailand tourist visa to 45 days

Bangkok10 mins ago

Man caught taking drugs inside a Bangkok police booth didn’t give a crap

Thailand13 mins ago

Thailand News Today | Thailand no longer considers Covid “dangerous infectious disease” 

Sponsored9 hours ago

Enjoy a splashing time and immerse yourself in Thai Mythology in Andamanda Phuket

Crime47 mins ago

Wife says boss of Mountain B in Pattaya is ‘not a villain’

Crime1 hour ago

Policeman poses as Buddhist monk to trick drug dealers in central Thailand

Travel1 hour ago

Stress-free travel with AXA Travel Insurance

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Guides2 hours ago

Mother’s Day in Thailand 2022: 5 fun ways to pamper your mom

Thailand2 hours ago

Thai minister insists minimum wage increase is not electioneering

Bangkok3 hours ago

Swedish Embassy hailed for giving 6-month parental leave to Thai staff

Travel3 hours ago

Everything you need to know about the Bangkok Skytrain (BTS)

Environment4 hours ago

PM warns Thailand to brace itself for potential flooding

Travel4 hours ago

Watch Koh Samui’s magical sunset from these sunset bars

Thailand4 hours ago

Local hero predicts building collapse, saves countless lives in eastern Thailand

Phuket4 hours ago

9 year old boy kills a 7 year old girl with a police pistol in Phuket

Press Room5 hours ago

Southeast Asia’s sauciest tech event, Techsauce Global Summit to return to Bangkok in physical form

Thailand11 months ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism1 year ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand1 year ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism1 year ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand2 years ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending