Let’s go back a little way….
After spending my entire life kneeboarding, mostly at Kalk Bay Reef, I faded out of the surf scene a few years back for no particular
reason. Then last year (2013) I was walking through Kalk Bay with my wife and two daughters (now aged 9 and 11) and The Reef
was firing. The longing to get back in the water stirred and a few days later I was back in the water in Kalk Bay. I felt like a grom
all over again and just the walk along the beach, the familiar paddle out spot, the paddle to the peak all added to the stoke.
Since then I have pretty much been in the water every time there have been waves. Old (in both senses of the word 🙂 ) friendships
have been rekindled and new friendships are being formed.
Back in 1992 on a SA Kneeboard team tour to Australia I won a new board. This is the board I am still riding today – 22 years later!
It’s a great board and goes so well which is one of the reasons I have hung on to it for so long besides the fact that I have found it
difficult to find a match for this board back here in SA. The board though is now very, very old and I started mentioning to my family
it was time for a new one. And that’s all I did, just mention it and never really put any plan into action to buy a new one. I’m not
known as a procrastinator but I think that is what I was doing here for whatever reason – always finding somewhere else to spend the money. Then on
Father’s Day this year I received the following card from my 11 year old daughter, together with some of her pocket money. Gulp.
So last week, on
my birthday, I
placed an order
for a new board
from SurfLab in
Cape Town to be
shaped by Dave
Stubbs. Dave and
I go back many
years surfing The
Reef together so it
made sense to get someone who knows me and my style of surfing to shape my new board. And Dave is a master craftsman having
shaped more than 25 000 boards over many years.
So let the process begin. Walking through the shaping bays and glassing rooms at Surflab was a throw back to my childhood
– the smells and sights of the resin build up and foam shavings threw me back to when we used to muck about making fins and
fixing dings and sometimes thinking we were making world class boards.
So I feel like a grom again about to receive his first ever new board. Above is the background. From here on I’ll post pics of the process as it
unfolds through to my first surf on the new board. Hopefully I’ll get one of the local photogs to get a pic of my first wave. That would be cool.
Coming back to the piece above where I mention my daughters’ “incentivising” me to place the order for my new board. They were as excited as I was and I really wanted to have them represented some way on the board. Pink unicorns and loom bands did not quite sound right so I decided to go with their hand prints. We painted their hands, pressed them on to white paper which I then photographed.
In Photoshop Lucinda made the backgrounds transparent and then Dave Jenkins of SurfLab printed the results out on rice paper. These were then glassed into the board by Caution, the DSD glasser of many years.
And the end result delivered.
So far I have enjoyed one surf on the new board and am very happy. As with anything new there are a few nuances to get used to – after all I have been riding the same board for the last 22 years so I know that piece of foam and resin quite intimately – it is now sort of molded into my body shape. 🙂
The waves for my first surf were fairly small at Kalk Bay on a mid tide, nice and glassy. Glad to say I waited for a set and got a barrel on my first wave – nothing epic, however it was enough to give me confidence that the board would suit me. After that the board just felt better and better on each successive wave so I’m now even more keen to ride it in better surf. Thanks to Billy Ackerman who interrupted moving house to get a pic or two of the session.
So not only do I get a new board, i also get new fins and am able to chop and change fins with the easy to use fin system. I visited Ross Lindsay of Scarfini Fins and have tested a few fin designs from them. I recently used a smaller, wider fin as my centre fin in some biggish onshore surf at The Reef. Wow, it made a significant difference. So much drive and the board was even more responsive and blasted off sections with delight. I then used the same fins as a quad and rode the board at Dunes (heavy, hollow, fast wave). The drive down the line was brilliant.
Besides enjoying the new board and being back in the water at every opportunity I am also loving rejuvenating old connections and making lots of new connections along the way. And I’m not only making connections with fellow water users – being a pro photographer I’m connecting with loads of photographers as well. And it just so happens that Kalk Bay is one of the most photographed surf breaks in all of South Africa so I’ve pobably got more pics now from the last short while compared to all my 40 years of being in the water. The sequence below was captured by Billy Ackerman during a recent session at….The Reef.
What can I say? Loving my board, loving being in the water, every minute!