22 October, 2015 22 October, 2015

Thank Thy Shaper – by Bismarck Meyer

When you’re stuck in a rut, a new surfboard can turn your life around. Bismarck Meyer touches on this in ‘Thank Thy Shaper’, which is his entry into Write To Surf – Zag’s surf journo competition with epic prizes by Billabong up for grabs (see details below).


THANK THY SHAPER – by Bismarck Meyer


Wolf sniffed the air knowingly. A swell was coming…he knew before his friends sent their ‘group chat’ messages in a flurry of excitement. He knew this because he read the weather with his eyes, his ears and the tell-tale signs so long in the making. The ways the clouds gathered over the Helderberg and the water grumbled. Rain would come, a stiff North Wester would blow in two days time and with it the front would push a ground swell so deliciously delectable for winter in the Cape. Wolf ate meat; he gave no care for lentils.

The year had been hard on everyone – people had gotten sick, others had had their financial woes and friends had gathered in ways friends do when people are ‘all in the same boat’. Throughout trying times Wolf dreamt – he dreamt in good times too – but his dreams during tempestuous weather were far more lucid, and often they contained more meaning. Just when he was at his most worried, a person would arrive to help or he would make a breakthrough in the things that bothered him most. Above all, and with his heart on his sleeve, Wolf surfed…because a good swell in a pelting ocean cleaned your nails, your sinuses and your soul!


A time had come for a new board. Something fun. As he rolled out of a Friday meeting toward his favourite Boland beach, he’d been caught in watching his buddy Timmy Slater carving into bowls that a little A-frame was throwing as it hit the perfect sand bank. Wolf had watched and seen the glint in Timmy’s eyes as he put in many luscious turns on his mini-simmons. Strange looking thing that, Wolf had thought – but he couldn’t deny that it worked well in a range of waves and his own ramblings began. Was it not high time to get a new board? Three full years had passed since his last board and his fish was well…a little fishy – it needed a complete overhaul or better still; some time to relax in the quiver rack. The excitement at the mere thought of speaking to a shaper, harvesting combined knowledge and then combining ideas was like an orgasm of mermaids on a condense milk drip.

After the session the two packed up the caddy with their sticks, marvelled at the beauty of the sunset over the grandiose False Bay and sucked a little tasty beer between them – didn’t this place just blow? Horrible life here in the Cape! The talk all the way along Clarence Drive was full of banter, laughs and recounts of the day’s score and the punchy break. What better way to live than in the water – as often as humanly possible. Surfers eat waves, breathe the weather and spend their waking hours planning life around this universe. The iCloud sucks in comparison. The xBox is for people bred on too much chicken! Wolf ate meat; he drank beer; he loved…both himself and those around him…and he loved getting slotted in crisp, green curtains of water!


On the Monday after a weekend of spoils and fun he called the local shaper. A guy relatively new to the shaping arena, but after Friday’s session and the talks around the boards they all rode, the two friends had confirmed that contacting the shaper was not a bad idea. His boards had been seen, many surfers were riding them, and above all he was local! Wolf made the call and a short while later arrived at the shaper’s den – a wooden wendy house erected in his back yard. A comfortable place without a hint of pretense; and stepping inside took him anywhere in the world he wanted to be. This small 3x3m wooden box filled with foam dust, a shaper’s block and boards was exactly where a surfer would want to be when visiting a discussion on dreams. Of course boards were dreams materialised and Wolf was beginning to realise this too. He knew that the man he spoke with, and shared his needs with, would then translate this into something that was designed to give hours of elation. Of course there was the risk of the dream turning sour and ending in a reality check, but as it stood the two newly acquainted surfers seemed to understand each other and after the initial ‘sniff’, both shared a glimpse into each other’s ‘shaping bay’. They were co-creating a barrel king, a nugget hunter, a rail slider…they were building from scratch.


In reflection after he departed, Wolf knew that if the dream played out correctly he’d share more with this co-creator. Why not? This was where he would allow someone to read him and not just a bunch of stats in sterile misunderstanding. Wolf had seen many other shapers in the past, but the ones who lent their hands to the job still held the power of dreams. An xBox is not a dream machine; a barrel is! The symbiotic relationships in nature require like-minded approaches or we as humans and surfers may as well close our hearts to every fibre of our being and stay home eating a dream that isn’t real. Furthermore he realised that in comparison to boards at shops or boards overseas – this man was reasonable in price. His living was built on his relationships with his riders – seeing surfers in the water when it was ‘picture puuuurfect’ and then applying his art to the foam he carved. This just made Wolf happy to be South African. Again!

Wolf drove home to Gordons Bay, checked the South Easter with slight disappointment, typed one message on his group chat for the next mission up the ‘kus’ and kissed his girlfriend; happy in the knowledge that he was getting a new custom dream machine – and for him that was the anti-serum he needed to break the hold of the daily grind. Thank thy Shaper…

Click here to check out all the published stories from our Write To Surf competition.


Send your stories to calvin@zigzag.co.za. One submission will be selected every six weeks to appear in Zigzag magazine. The selected submission will also receive a hamper from Billabong. At the end of the year, we will select and send one aspirant journalist from the competition on an all expenses paid assignment for a major feature in Zigzag. Zigzag retains the right to use any work submitted for the Zag Surf Journo competition on zigzag.co.za as outlined in the rules and terms of the competition. Zigzag reserves the right not to award a published winner in the magazine every six weeks, depending on the quality of entries. Zigzag is not obligated to run any and all entries submitted, either online or in print. Zigzag retains the right to edit all work submitted for brevity and / or clarity. Please note: Prize hampers will only be delivered within South Africa.

The Billabong prize hamper includes: 1 x Billabong Wetsuit; 1 x Billabong Hoodie; 1 x Billabong Cap; 1 x Von Zipper Sunnies; 2 x Da Kine traction pads.


1 Comment

  1. Bismarck Meyer
    22 October, 2015 at 10:54 am · Reply

    ‘MAT’ – he’s the shaper referred to (Stand Based)….Good ou.

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