Between the Glass
Matt and Joe Tatum have taken what they learned in the Navy and brought it to the waters off coastal Virginia, turning a passion for engineering and design into the business of surfboard shaping. That business has allowed them to give back, making their mission about more than just catching the perfect wave. See how their love of surfing is having a positive impact in this edition of Curate U.
- I realized in 2005
that I could probably do this for a living
and do something that I love and enjoy
and make a good product for other people.
I wanted to make great shapes for people.
Nothing excites me more
than someone coming back and saying,
"Hey, that's the best board I ever road."
Mainly it's because when they come back
and they're stoked and they're like, "Man, that was it.
That was the best board."
The feeling that you get from that and having somebody
with that type of excitement is just, it fuels me.
- My brother was a huge influence on my life.
He always been a hero of mine.
He's probably the main reason that I went to the Navy.
We've always done good together
and I enjoy being around my brother every day.
- I was in the Navy for 20 years.
I retired as a chief petty officer.
- I served for 21 years
and retired as a chief petty officer.
- As an air crewman, I flew in airplanes all the time.
I started taking all these principles that I learned
from 20 years of military aviation
and I started putting that into my surfboard.
And so, that led me to being able
to get a better finished product.
- The inspiration probably came
from 21 years of experience and composites
which are your epoxies, your fiberglass, your carbon fiber,
all of that different stuff on jets
it just rolled right over into this and was a real fit.
- I do either the shape itself and the cut.
I go upstairs and glass it
and then my little brother is the sander
and he puts in the leash plugs and the fin boxes.
If I started shaping, because I didn't necessarily
get what I wanted from the shapes that I had
and I didn't know how to express it
so I started doing the expression on foam.
- His passion for this industry
and for the art of surfboards in general is amazing.
Every day he lives surf boards.
- He understands me and how I glass
and that makes him a better sander.
People were telling me like,
"Hey man, you can't just make white boards.
You need to have a logo."
I went to my kids and I was like,
"Hey, we need a logo for the surf board."
My oldest daughter came up with the one, "40 Toes."
I was like, "What's "40 Toes," I don't get it?"
And she's like, "It's how many toes are in our family."
And I was like, "Oh, I get it, yes."
She made a logo out of sidewalk chalk and water.
And then me and my wife and my daughter stepped in that
and made the logo.
Continuing on with that logo
has really brought our family together
in the aspect that we designed this together
and it's still going
and it's something we've done as a family.
- Organization is Disabled Veteran Surf Club
and basically it's building a community of surfers
that help each other cope with different situations
and to spread ocean therapy to other veterans.
What we do is we take out a small group of veterans
and we go out and we introduce them to surfing.
It takes your mind off everything
and it brings you into community
of other like-minded individuals
who can help each other with their struggles.
The surf shop wanted me to come by and talk a little bit
about how they could help out with the organization.
He said, "You know, we wanna get together with you.
We wanna help you get some surfboards
to get more guys out in the water."
Well, shortly after that I meet Joe.
What he's doing now is he's gonna start a chapter
in Florida, in San Diego, Gulf Coast,
and also on the Texas Coast.
That's where I found my peace
and I wanted other veterans
to find that same peace that I found.
- The art comes in to what you take with that shape
and what you can do with it and how you can personalize it
to every individual that comes in.