8 May, 2020 8 May, 2020

Magic in the Rafters

It is a tough subject to write about ‘dream surfboards’ as we wallow in the clutches of lockdown. A harsh reality is now the norm wherein catching a wave is prohibited. The thing is, just the other day a historic surfboard made its way out from the rafters in the garage roof and got into the right set of hands and under the right set of feet.

Surfboards can be unpredictable. The creation of the craft is part science, part art, part tech and a whole lot of love for the game. I don’t think I have ever met a shaper who said he hated his job. All shapers I have met sparkle when they talk about boards, their eyes light up and their hands are animated while they talk about curves, edges, volume, length, foil, midpoints, noses, tails and rockers. Then somewhere, somehow an extra little bit of magic creeps in and a board will come to life that just can’t be replicated. That magic stick that performs like a racehorse, turns on a dime, accelerates like a rocket, refuses to let go on the hardest turn and is full of flow. Surfboards are like snowflakes, all of a similar pattern but each as unique as a fingerprint.

Most pro’s will have their regular quiver that they practice on but there is that one special plank that stays in the cupboard and only comes out for the most critical heats. Tears are near shed when it dies. It shall never be replaced. 

Surfer: Jordan Dalbock/ Photographer: Pierre de Villiers

Somewhere in the 1990’s Lumpeace shaped a 6’10” unique thin, trim, swallow tail thruster gun for Kevin O Brian. This was during the early days of the strong international influence of Kelly Slater. Slater rode the most under buoyant boards on the world tour and everybody chased after him on too thin and too narrow. I recall a picture of Slater in “The Surfers Journal” of Kelly doing an insanely huge turn with a gigantic fan of spray off the tail, enough water to douse a village, on a really small and unassuming wave. The caption read “Kelly’s horses hear only his call” meaning he rode them so well, but nobody else could. Testimony to this Slater some years back wrote an open international letter of gentle apology for seducing most of the world to ride the wrong boards.

The 6’10” Lumpeace was extreme and Kevin O Brian was not seduced. He declined the board without taking it for a ride. Brian Heathcote snapped the board up and loved it but found the board was too much work as age crept in. Heatcote passed the board on to Chris van Vuuren who also loved it but after one or two many meat pies and not enough running routine, the board also became too much work (underboyancy). Van Vuuren passed the board on to me. What a rocket. I love the length of rail on the board and how you can hold a carve all day but still pivot like a propellor when you want to. The line and flow of the board is from another world but sadly I have also aged and become overnourished (read fat) and I am just not able to do on a wave what this board is built for.

I have passed this board on to Jordan Dalbock and I hope he shares it around a bit (and fixes all the dings in the swallow). I am looking forward to seeing the likes of Mitch Henderson, Bryce Du Preez, Keegan Mitchell and Tom Lindhorst riding this board that salutes Kelly Slater. These youngsters have energy in buckets and spades. They are light, trim, flexible and they surf with speed, flair, panache, and most importantly flow. The green-yellow 6’10” is a flow master and it gives me pleasure to see the right athletes on it. Man, I am looking forward to when this curfew is over.

On Saturday the weather does not matter. You can’t go surf anyway. Wash your wetsuits and hang them out to dry. Get some resin and fix all your dings. Refurb all your boards in the rafters. There may be a gem up there.




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