I first started paddling when I was in Junior Lifeguards and Alfred Laws was my instructor. He set an example for me, as he was a great ocean athlete and a great surfer. At age 16 I did my first Catalina channel crossing on borrowed boards with a couple of friends.
Who was your biggest influence in Paddleboarding (paddler) and why?
I really didn’t have an influence in paddleboarding. Because I grew up surfing it was a natural transition of something to do when there was no surf.
How did you first start making paddleboards and tell us about the board?
I first made a board out of necessity because there were very few boards available and I couldn’t afford them anyway.
Would you say you designed your boards after anyone designer that came before you?
I hadn’t seen an unlimited paddleboard when I shaped my first board. I kind of paid the price by not researching them further. The only boards I can remember were Dale Velzy’s beautiful boards that I saw after I had shaped my first couple of boards
Was there a void or a design flaw that you saw you could fill in paddleboards?
Basically, there were no boards available and the only race was the Catalina Classic at the time so unless you have the money to buy a Velzy board, you built your own.
SUP, where do you see the sport going and in design?
I see the sport going worldwide and eventually landing more on racing and touring than on surfing. In the way of design, stability and speed are the two factors that are most important for racing and touring.
Has the combination of paddleboarding and SUP helped you in your designs?
In the 30 years of building paddleboards has definitely eased the transition into sup boards.
What kind of impact has SUP had on the sport of paddling, participation or other?
Stand up is year round because all bodies of water can be paddling on no matter the water temperature. Whereas traditional paddling doesn’t start up until it warms up a bit in most areas.
What kind of impact has SUP had on your business?
Stand up has doubled our business and keeps the factory going 7 days a week.
Team Bark, who would that be on the manufacturing side?
We have a great team of talented individuals that work hard at putting out the best boards possible.
I think I’ll leave this one blank.
Our team covers a wide expanse of boat support, research and development, and loyal paddlers that purchase our boards.
How much are you able to train, working as a Fireman, board manufacture and a parent with 4 kids?
I always try to find a way to get in the water most days whether training or demoing new boards.
Does your family participate in paddling?
Yes. All four of my kids love paddling and stand up paddling and compete in several races each year. And my wife enjoys stand up paddling.
How much of your leisure or training time is spent between paddleboarding, Surfing, SUP Surfing and SUP?
Surfing always comes first and paddling or stand up paddling I mix up when the waves are flat.
How many events will you try to participate in 2010?
I will be at many event this year and participate when I can. One race I will never miss is the Catalina Classic.
When someone hears the name “Joe Bark”, what do you hope they will say?
“I’ve got three Bark boards in the garage and I want to buy another.”
You are a pretty humble person and well respected in the paddle community, what would you like people to know about you that we may not know?
I still get excited with every board I build knowing that a paddler is going to get as much enjoyment out of the ocean as I do.
In N Out Burger or Beer?
In N Out Burger
Not including yourself who do you feel has made the single biggest impact on the sport of paddling?
All the board builders ahead of us who worked very hard to learn about board design and spent years in research to build the perfect board. As I look at the boards from the 50s and 60s I see that these guys knew what they were doing
Getting on the fire department and winning the Catalina Classic.
Anything else that you would like to add or say, now is your chance?
Thanks to everyone who supports the BARK team from the escort boats in channel crossings to the team building the boards to the guys testing boards and the paddlers themselves. I appreciate all their support and feedback.
Photos courtesy of: Stand Up Paddle Magazine