Between 9-14 December 2013, Burnett Wood Surfboards hosted five people, who all built their own hollow wood surfboards in the space of six days. One of these people was Liezel Gous, the first woman to sign up for a Burnett Wood Surfboards course and possibly the only woman in the country to have built a wood surfboard (please let us know, ladies, if you’d like to challenge this claim). After the course Liezel answered some questions about her experience..
BURNETT WOOD SURFBOARDS: What got you interested in building your own hollow wood surfboard?
LIEZEL GOUS: I have always liked doing things with my hands from a very young age. For many years I have been saying that I regret not taking woodwork as subject in school and that I would like to someday do a woodwork course of some sort. So the year before last year, after watching many surf movies, I decided to give surfing a try and loved it. Then last year one day, browsing the internet, I noticed a link for building your own wooden surfboard on FB, with a picture of a gorgeous wooden board. I thought this was the perfect thing to do, combining my new hobby with learning some woodwork skills, so I signed up.
BURNETT WOOD SURFBOARDS: Many women might think building a wood surfboard is a ‘guy thing’. What do you reckon, having done the course?
LIEZEL GOUS: Not at all! Anyone that likes working with their hands can do this. To be honest, some of the guys were at times a bit heavy handed, like with the glue….
BURNETT WOOD SURFBOARDS: Ha! What do you feel that you learnt from building your own surfboard from start to finish?
LIEZEL GOUS: I thought woodwork was something really complicated and it was something I was always a bit scared of trying, but now I reckon I can attempt other woodwork projects as well, it is not the rocket science I once perceived it. The most informative part for me about building a surfboard was the shaping of the rails. I feel that I know a little more about surfboards now and would be able to make a more informed choice when I buy another board.
BURNETT WOOD SURFBOARDS: What was the hardest part? Best part?
LIEZEL GOUS: I don’t think anything was really hard to do. I did struggle with using the plane at first, but as experience grew that also got easier and even fun. The best part for me was putting the top on and it started to look like a surfboard, but the vibe of working with the others, all of us being excited about our boards in the making, made the whole experience really great.
BURNETT WOOD SURFBOARDS: You picked up your board on Saturday after it had been glassed. On Sunday you were in the water for the first surf on it. How did it feel to surf on a board that you knew you had made yourself?
LIEZEL GOUS: I was not fortunate enough to have the best conditions to surf in on Sunday and it was more of a kite surfing day, but I was determined to give it a go, even if I only got one wave. I had more than one wave and the first one was the best, because I did not really expect to be able to get up on the first one that I caught! When I finally got home, I was tired but so stoked and totally in love with my board. This is going to sound really cheesy now, but on my way home the song “Flying without wings” played on the radio and I thought, yep that is what I feel like now.
BURNETT WOOD SURFBOARDS: The board you made was a classic 5′.8″ fish shape. How did it go?
LIEZEL GOUS: I expected it to be very buoyant, but was still surprised with how much, and it was not heavy at all to handle in the waves. I almost did not put wax far enough to the front as I did not expect to have to be that much to the front on the board (and not nosedive!). This board gave me longer rides than I had with my other board, I can’t wait to gain enough skill to really do it justice.
BURNETT WOOD SURFBOARDS: Thanks so much Liezel – it was a pleasure having you on the course. Stoked!