BETHEL — Two cousins in Maine – both marine engineers – have teamed up to design and manufacture recreational skis.

The Lewiston Sun Journal reports that 30-year-old Toby Winkler and 24-year-old Jake Bracy started by running their own skis through a table saw to see how they were constructed.

Winkler says he read an article about five years ago about a process to manufacture skis and plunged in when friends scoffed at his notion that he could do it.

Bracy and Winkler – both graduates of Maine Maritime Academy – are calling their cottage industry YOPP Clandestine Skis. YOPP is an acronym for “Ye Olde Perkins Place” – a family property in Cape Neddick where their great-grandfather built wood products. As for the “clandestine” in the name?

“When we first started building them, we were keeping quiet about it,” Winkler said. “People thought it was a clandestine operation, so we made it part of the name.”

Both men are avid skiers who grew up skiing at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry. They designed and built their own ski press to join the ski layers together. The skis differ from most mainstream ones in that they have a very high-pressure laminated wood core, which is made in-house from locally sourced cabinet-grade wood.

“Most skis have lower grade wooden cores and more resin and glue, to keep costs down,” Bracy said.

They work on their craft during breaks from Merchant Marine duty and hope to put their skis into commercial production sometime next year. But the skis won’t be mass-produced.

“Due to our low volume, almost every ski we build is a custom ski on some level,” Winkler said. “We take into account the type of skiing, (Alpine-touring, park, all-mountain), the type and size of the skier. Then we modify the ski characteristics based on that information and or the skier’s wishes.”

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