Riding the Wave

Lake-area residents cater to Minnesota’s growing surf culture.

In the rented corner of a St. Paul warehouse, Stefan Ronchetti and Alex Brost are doing what, at first glance, makes little sense to a lot of landlocked Midwesterners: building and shaping custom surfboards. In reality, they’re part of a growing surfing culture in Minnesota.

Their company, iDol Surfboards, builds custom paddle boards, wakesurf boards and kite boards for a variety of local clients.

Both enjoy surfing the near-freezing water on Lake Superior, and they began building their own boards in a garage in 2008. Two years later, iDol Surfboards officially launched at the World Wake Surfing Championships in Minneapolis.

What truly sets iDol apart is their dedication to quality and customization. Each board’s design and size is completely customized to the rider. “It’s really fun to do custom boards because you know they’re going to love it when they get it,” says Brost.

For the novice, Brost and Ronchetti recommend starting with wakesurfing. It’s similar to wakeboarding, except the surfer rides the boat’s wake without being attached to the boat by a rope. “It’s a really low-impact sport,” says Brost. “I’ve seen 3-year-olds to 80-year-olds doing it.”