Making wooden surfboards since 2007
I was the guy who always loved surfing and got in the water whenever he could. But the pull of a job in the big city kept me away from the waves. It reached a point where I was one guy who went to work in the city and another guy who just wanted to be available to surf the best swells. These two guys were getting on each other’s nerves.
There was also something else. I’d had a vague calling to work with my hands. This was, of course, ridiculous, because I had never made anything in my life. I was a journalist, sitting behind a computer in a news room. One of our jobs was editing an environmental magazine, and this got me thinking about how it would be possible to make a surfboard that would be better for the environment than the mass produced foam and fibre glass variety.
I wanted to live what I loved. And so began a crazy wood surfboard making hobby. I knew from my first surfboard that this was what I wanted to do and slowly the hobby developed into a small business. I remember voicing a crazy thought to my partner Annabel while making my first surfboard. “What if I could make beautiful boards and sell them?” Her immediate response was, “Why don’t you?”
It was crazy. There was no apparent market, no financial incentive and I had no woodworking experience. There was a gap as wide as the Grand Canyon between the surfboards I could see in my mind, and what was actually coming out the end of my hands.
What I did have in the beginning, and still have in abundance, was a love of the ocean and surfing. We’re blessed with an enormous variety of surf spots in Cape Town and some majestic natural surf locations. I’m really inspired by this backdrop. Being able to build functional and beautiful surfboards that connect to this natural environment is the fuel that keeps me going.
What I have come to appreciate deeply is the craftsmanship behind making a wooden surfboard and the value of sharing that with people who attend my workshops. There is something very special and meaningful in making your own board and surfing it and since 2013 I am lucky to have been able to spend time with so many amazing people and watch their boards take shape.
I’ve been making hollow wood surfboards since 2007 and I still get goose bumps over every single one. Each board has something unique. It might be the magic of nature found in the grain of a special piece of wood, the pleasing curve of a beautiful surfboard shape or the satisfying feeling of riding a wave on a board that I’ve made. There’s magic in the process, in the journey, that I have come to greatly appreciate.