Quality Custom Surfboard Shaper in Cape Town, South Africa

WORKING HOLIDAY

After a ankle injury earlier the year and a very demanding work schedule the urge to go get some good waves was growing inside me and if I did not attend to this urge I was going to explode. The type of waves your local break simply cannot provide, I’m talking about the type of waves that inspire the true stoke in surfing. I recently got a new vehicle and decided it was the perfect opportunity to test it out on a road trip up the coast. I justified leaving work for a couple of days with the idea of doing some research and testing and documenting it and hopefully it would be a interesting and informative read. So my car is packed with boards, gear, skateboards and golf clubs covering myself for any surfing conditions and downtime activities the area could provide, so please enjoy the diary of my working holiday.

stuff

Equipment inventory: for 90kg surfer – 6’1″ tall.

– 5’10” x 20 1/2″ x 2 5/8″ – 34 litres volume – Fish with 5fin Future fin boxes

(Intended for small waves) – Creatures of Leisure 5′ litre hybrid leash

– 6’0″ x 20″ x 2 1/2″ – 31 litres volume – Step down short board with 3fin Future fin boxes (Intended for medium size waves) – Creatures of Leisure 6′ Lite leash

– 6’2″ x 19 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ – 31 litres volume – Performance short board with 3fin Future fin boxes (Intended for medium large waves) – Creatures of Leisure 6′ Pro leash

– 6’3″ x 19 1/8″ x 2 1/2″ – ? Litres volume – JS short board, inherited from Jordy Smith, with 3 fin (AM shape) glass on fins (A board that has been proven to be good at J-bay) – Creatures of Leisure 6′ Backdoor leash

– 9’4″ x 22 1/4″ x 3 1/8″ – ? Litres volume – Classic single fin long board with 10″ single box (Intended for hanging ten at small Point or Seals) – Creatures of Leisure 9′ long board knee leash

 

– AM2 Techflex Future fins

– Jordy Smith Large Future fins

– MB1 Matt Biolos Future fins

– V2 Rasta Quad Future fins

– Stealth SC01 Shapers fins – single tab

– Stealth QUAD-E Shapers fins – single tab

– FCS vs Knubster – that little red fin Kelly Slater uses.

– prototype 10″ diamond shape single fin Future fins

 

– Billabong Solution XERO 404 wetsuit

– Billabong Solution SGX 403 wetsuit

– Billabong Revolution 3mm booties

fins

fish

SD

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js

Day 1:

Woke up a bit later than anticipated and after a big hug and kiss for my wife I still managed to slip thru the morning traffic and got on the road at around 7:45am and was finally heading up the coast on my long anticipated surf trip. My timing could not have been any better as all the school and varsity holidays were finished and more importantly there was a very promising swell forecast for the Southern and Eastern Cape. My goal was always to get to Mosselbay first were my parents have a house and get my feet wet at a familiar point break. My good friend Joske was waiting for me the and was regularly sending text messages telling me the waves are pretty fun so it will come as no surprise if I receive some speed traffic violations from that morning (*after a week back home I did in fact receive a fine from just outside Swellendam). I rolled into town at around 12am but first stopped by friend and fellow board builder Rod Davey to pick up some fresh fins for my trip as he is the agent for Shapers fins from Australia. I chose the Shaun Cansdell pro model suited for fast and powerful surf as I was going to be surfing plenty of point break surf. I made my way down to the point and was met with some good clean 3-4ft conditions and scurried to get fins and wax on my board. I chose to ride my new 6’0 thruster short board that I’ve surfed twice earlier in the week as I have been working on getting it dialled and the waves looked perfect for that board. My usual go to fins for beach breaks (Jordy large Futures) have felt a bit big on my first surf and the more upright shaped Honeycomb Matt Biolos MB1 fins felt looser but lacked drive thru turns on my second surf.  I decided to use my all time favourite AM2 techflex future fins as they are really the same shape as the Jordy’s but has a slightly smaller base and less splay. The result was positive and my board felt alive and responsive, I surfed till dark and had a couple of turns were the timing and drive felt great. A good first surfed was capped off by a braai with some friends and fell asleep watching golf on TV….. Day one complete, holiday in full affect.

Accomodation

Day 2:

Woke up and had a look at the surf around 7:30. It was a beautiful glassy morning with about five whales frolicking in the bay but unfortunately the waves looked small and inconsistent and after raiding my mom’s pantry for supplies I decided to make my way up the coast instead were I would meet my friend Wesley  in J-bay, no word of waves so I drove slower this time and stopped at various spots on the way just to have a look….. You never know, sometimes you get lucky like that! I met Wesley at the Billabong head offices were I paid my respect and said my hello’s to all the great people who sponsor me. Afterwards I booked in at the always amazing Beach Music and got the studio downstairs all to myself. As Wes was only flying out much later we decided to go for a quick surf. We surfed 2-3ft lumpy onshore Boneyards and rode my go to small wave board a 5’10 Future fish with 5fin setup, I absolutely love this board and ride it with Shapers Australia large quad side fins, Medium Rasta quad rears and a little FCS Kelly Slater knubster at the back. The waves were completely uncrowded and were way more fun than I thought it would be and it was no surprise that the board was flying out there. I even managed a decent sized set wave that I surfed all the way down thru Supers and decided to call it a day after that wave which was clearly a fluke set wave. I then headed down to the Mexican as you do when in J bay to meet up with Dave Allen and Digby to catch up for a few beers and plenty of laughs. They headed home to their wives and cold dinner’s and left me at the mercy of local legend and wild man Warren Dean and wife Michelle who tried to drown me with tequila. It got very late but amongst the chaos we actually managed a very informative and in depth discussion regarding Firewire surfboards who he rides for. The bar finally shut down and I got a taxi home. I Once again fell asleep watching golf and day two was done.

food

Day 3: 

I was woken up by my regular stupid 5am alarm and couldn’t really fall asleep again after that which actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise as there was an unexpected pulse in the morning and Supers was looking as magical as ever with lines pouring down the point. I watched a couple of good sized sets come thru and decided to use my brand new 6’2 I shaped for the trip as it was a good time as any to try the board out as it would be the one Id want to surf if the swell came up. I chose to use the same AM2 techflex Futures that felt good in the 6’0. Although my hung-over ass fell on the rocks and my first wave was super sketchy, I managed to pull myself together and crack a couple of waves, board felt amazing instant love. There was hardly anybody surfing by Supers standard and the vibe was really good with everybody stoked and smiling, especially these two young girls I know from Cape Town who was bunking school to come surf J-bay for the first time. This was a particularly special morning for me as I got to watch Derek Hynd blow minds on his finless boards and had an incredible conversation about energy and surfboard design. Make no mistake this guy is one of the most iconic and influential people in the world of surfing since the 70’s and it was a true honour to meet him and felt very inspired, the dolphins pulled in and gave a true display of frictionless surfing and I decided to head in and go find some food. I hung out at the Billabong head office keeping some people out of work. I went and got some fresh gear at the shops and went looking for an afternoon wave. I ran into friends from Melkbos Steve Biggs and his wife and decided to have a desperation paddle at Supers, there were 2ft fast zippers along the rocks and it’s incredibly tricky to surf like that. I rode the 6’0 again with the Shaun Cansdell fins I got from Rod Davey just to try them out and was blown away over how good they felt and can’t wait to surf them in good surf. It’s a fin shape I’ve never used before and it had the perfect balance between hold and release, with speed and flow from deep bottom turns to explosive controlled moves. Some sunset beers went down a treat and we headed off to Nina’s for dinner and Wi-Fi in order to watch Beyrick de Vries surf his heat at the US Open in Huntington. I also ran into old friend Galen Hossack that flew in for the swell that was ironically on the same flight as Steve and his wife and we got a table together. Beyrick lost the heat but dinner was fantastic, I got to bed early in anticipation for the good waves expected in the morning. Day three done and dusted! I also just have to mention that today was Cheron Kraak’s birthday and the town of J-bay and surfing SA owe her a massive gratitude for what she has done for surfing, happy birthday Cheron I’m sure there is some big celebrations going down!

waves1

Day 4:

The swell has arrived and J-bay is looking like the posters on your wall at home, accompanied by the swell is the crowds and the line-up dynamics have changed and the mood is way different. When you see a Super’s set wave all you can froth on is to get one yet it does not mean you can get one! At the top of the pecking order is the locals, from young to old they are all tough and accomplished and do NOT fall or give up set waves, if you plan to visit J-bay know who they are and respect them for that is what they require otherwise your trip will be over. This applies to any surf spot you are visiting around the world, your attitude in the line-up is one of your greatest tools in order to get waves. If you are a inexperienced surfer or a out of Towner it is actually a good idea to not try compete for waves like they owed to you because you drove or flew there, instead watch and learn from people who are in tune with a very demanding wave and be humble, If you know your place in the line-up your waves will find you. Walking towards the keyhole this morning was super intimidating as every wave you see is getting lacerated by locals and good surfers, at least under my arm I’ve got a sick, fresh 6’2 with AM2 techflex futures and a slightly thicker leash that’s giving me confidence. A well timed jump off and quick paddle, when I reached the line-up I was so happy to run into my good old friend Bryan “Browney” Moulang, one of the nicest guy’s ever and a great Super tubes surfer himself. Our laughing and reminiscing of good times made me forget about the tense mood in the water and I had a great surf sharing waves with allot of familiar faces and friends. Plenty of standouts including the ever impressive Sean Holmes, I also have to mention that Dave Pfaff still lay’s a rail properly! Supers is such a perfect wave it exposes all your flaws and after a long day of surfing I feel, except for blowing a perfect double up, I handled myself to the best of my ability and can keep my head high. Thanks Alister Brown who called me into a bomb set wave when he was too deep, I rode the wave all the way to the bottom gully and I called it a day. I was invited to a braai by some of the locals I know and we had some great steak and watched a pathetic semi final Super rugby game with the Bulls losing in the last minute followed by some more live surfing on the internet. After a couple of drinks and good laughs I crawled into bed and had one of the best night’s sleep in ages.

waves2

Day 5:

The wave machine is still very much switched on and it feels like Groundhog Day with more lines pouring down the rocky point, a quick sun block, wax and couple bananas and I’m ready for another marathon session with the same board as the previous day. The wind has turned perfect and the barrels are showing themselves. The same faces as yesterday, plus some new ones, Warren Dean and Dan Thornton showing everybody how to ride the barrel. It is amazing how a slight change in wind angle changes the wave and the way you approach it, strong offshore winds mean you can easily get blown off the back through a high line and some serious leg work and muscle is required. Amongst a serious pack of frothing locals, pros and visiting surfers I managed to have a good rhythm and got some good waves. I got out late morning had some lunch and rehydration and got back out there as soon as possible. This unfortunately turned into my worst session of the trip ironically when some of the best waves were coming through. My good rhythm has left me and every time I was in position for a good one I would get called off, I know my place and humbly sat and watched perfect set waves being torn apart happily settling for some scraps. This afternoon at least my good friend Pietie arrived and moved into his regular spot in J-bay next to me in the flat and I had somebody to hang and surf with. Pietie regularly comes to J-bay and you can see that in his surfing as this big Rasta man come’s flying down the line doing powerful turns. When travelling its always nice to have somebody you know and trust with you to share grocery bills and have some company in the water and at night and Pietie fits this roll perfectly. Dinner and drinks was followed by another great night’s sleep.

 Day 6: 

Unexpectedly the wind did not blow the swell out to see and Monday morning was greeted with consistent sets still coming thru and the busy weekend crowd reduced to  only a dozen or so people with a slight morning devil wind up the face. I saw my friend Browney somehow did not make it to work that morning and shared some more great waves together, I also saw the Wolfman (Ant Wulf) in the water for the first time owning the set waves and riding them impressively for his age, don’t ever drop in on this guy! After about an hour in the water and that slight devil wind disappeared and the conditions were perfect with some really good barrels coming through on the bottom section. My terrible form the previous day was soon forgotten as this turned into one of my best sessions of the trip, my 6’2 felt amazing and repeatedly surfed waves from the top of the point down to the bottom until my arms were noodles and my stomach was eating itself. One of the standout moments of the morning had to be a deep barrel by Remi Petterson even more impressively as this is on his backhand and seemed to have unlocked the secret, It is a notoriously difficult backhand barrel as its very high and after years of surfing here I am yet to get a real good deep one, not just a fast cover up. After a plate of fuel and fresh application of sun block it seemed that the swell has finally started to drop a bit and Supers was looking a bit slower. I decided to surf the smaller 6’0 with the AM2 Future techflex that has been working with great success on the 6’2 over the last couple of days. I took the shorter board in order to maybe get a bit more critical and radical and as it felt a bit colder too it was a good time to try out my new booties. After a couple at Supers it seemed the waits were very long for the sets and it looked like more swell was actually down at Tubes and Point so me and Pietie decided to go down. I was keen to surf a different wave for a change and Tubes was just as fun as I always remembered it. Point is a bit soft for a short board but perfect for long boards and I’m actually bummed I never got to surf my 9’6 single fin out there during this trip. Point is also perfect for grom’s and after school it was crawling with little shredders and it was almost more difficult to get waves of these kids than a busy day at Supers so I decided to get out their way and headed home. After a long hot shower I grabbed some beers and went to go watch the sunset at Supers, when I arrived I noticed some really good sizable set waves in magical glassy purple and orange conditions. These were by far the best waves I’ve seen the entire trip hitting the reef at the perfect angle and tide and actually felt blessed to rather be watching it instead of surfing. Standouts include Derek Hynd going mach 10, Lyle Meek going upside down and Deon Lategan getting barrelled into the black of night. I went to dinner on a surfing stoke high and running into an Indian curry buffet at Nina’s ended of another perfect day!

Day 7:

Not expecting any surf like we’ve had over the last couple of days, sleeping in was welcomed. When we eventually surfaced and took a stroll down the boardwalk the morning revealed crisp sunny 3-4 ft set waves still running down the Supers point. Lyle said it best “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for this thing” and it was a no brainer that we simply had to go surf and take advantage of the beautiful conditions and thin crowd as the aim of this trip was to surf this spot as much as possible as a good wave here can be as much surfing on one wave as you would do a entire session at your local beach break. I grabbed the smaller 6’0 and Lyle and I paddled out at Boneyards as there was nobody out, and its good way to loosen up before reaching Supers. There was a handful of locals in the line-up including the notorious Koffie (unofficial mayor in town) and they had their pick of the sets, but it was surprisingly consistent and I managed some good ones. A slight onshore eventually picked up and actually made the waves incredibly rip able, and Steven Sawyer was giving a display on how to smack the crap out of it. After surfing another long one down to the gully with wobbling knees it symbolically suggested that my trip was coming to an end. I decided to call it a day in J-bay, and as Pietie had some stuff to do in Cape Town before the next swell he would accompany me on the drive back and share some petrol. The rest of the day was spent doing some shopping at the warehouse, stocking up on grips and leashes and other goodies for eager customers waiting for me back home. As the sun set we lit a fire and had a great braai to end it off. Pietie produced a bottle of tequila and after a long day’s surfing and a couple shots I was in bed early and it was lights out.

Day 8:

After waking up a bit fuzzy we quickly packed the car and after one last look at the surf, which was still looking good, we watched a friend of ours get a nice barrel and Pietie turned to me and said “It was barrelling until the day we left”. We decided to have breakfast and head to Mosselbay or Victoria bay were our chances for a surf would be better. Driving out of town with J-bay behind us the conversation in the car pretty much consisted of all the great waves and good times we had over the last couple of days. We stopped at the Wolf sanctuary just outside Knysna and were marvelled at these incredible creatures. After playing with some farm animals we continued with our journey and reached Mosselbay in the afternoon but unfortunately the waves were not up to standard and  we ended up at the skate park ripping up the concrete into the sunset followed by yet another great braai (possibly the best thing about living in Africa). I fell asleep on the couch writing this article and watching golf and things seemed familiar again and not as surreal as the perfect waves of the past week.

Day 9:

After catching up with Llewelyn Whitaker in the morning checking out the surf and a good breakfast we filled up with petrol and left town late morning. A couple of inquisitive stops along the way we arrived in Cape Town in the afternoon. I dropped of Pietie and was finally heading home to my eagerly anticipating loved ones. An incredible dinner by my wife was followed by a good night’s sleep that resembled a coma. My trip has officially come to an end!

Day 10:

Up early as usual to deal with a way too many e-mails and it was off to the factory. I felt like father Christmas spending the whole day handing out boards, grips and goodies to happy customers. Unpacking my blanks also made me super excited about shaping them, and my brain was already working overtime thinking of new designs inspired by my surf trip. I will be back in J-bay late September for the SA junior championships and can’t wait to make some new boards to test out at Africa’s wonder wave and arguably the best right point break in the world. Aloha

sunset

 

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