The production manager at an advertising agency said crafting the wooden boards began as a hobby 10 years ago.
He jokingly refers to the surfers of wooden boards as being part of a “splinter group” but now the boards have become a global phenomenon.
Thousands of boardriders have taken to the water on boards made with paulownia timber since Grant shared his technology TimberTEK with Currumbin-based Firewire surfboards three years ago.
Now the timber skinned boards are sold globally and the technology enticed 11-time world champion Kelly Slater to invest in the company.
“Wood has a tremendous allure, we have had people who build furniture and boats who start making boards – we get everything from frothing grommets to wood crafts people interested in the boards,” the 59-year-old surfer said.
Grant has made about 150 timber sleds and said while some people were attracted to the historical or environmental qualities of the boards, the main appeal for him was the craftsmanship.
“To stand up and surf something you made yourself is incredible,” he said.
“When you spend time and sleepless nights with a board you feel a strong connection to your craft and it is a great thrill to ride.”
Grant said he got a kick out of seeing local surfers, Kelly Slater and Tahitian Michel Bourez ride boards using his technology and hoped one day to see professional surfers ride them in competitions.
“I would love to see one of the pros riding Teahupo’o with one of those boards, I’m sure it will happen soon, and if it was Kelly (Slater) riding them it would be fantastic,” he said.
Firewire’s marketing manager Raz Mehlsen said the company kept an eye on Grant's work as it developed before using wooden skins on their boards as an alternative to resin and fibreglass.
“We are always looking to make our boards more sustainable but keep them viable with strength and performance,” Mr Mehlsen said.
“We were aware that he was always tinkering and what Grant has come up with is very refined.
“The boards were tested a number of times on the Gold Coast and in San Diego.”
The technology now makes up about 30 per cent of global sales and Mr Mehlsen said pros could even use the boards at the famously dangerous World Surfing League competition at Teahupo’o this month.
“I wouldn’t be surprised, Michel is frothing on them, but it is up to how the pros feel as to what they ride,” he said. “We can’t choose which boards they use in competition.
“It has a different feel and flex pattern and then timber is really appealing because it also looks organic.”