At journo school they teach you to stay impartial and level-headed, never to be in awe of the people you interview so as to stay neutral in your portrayal. Okay, sure…maybe that works for the news media.
For someone who grew up in the area, July and the annual influx of the pros was always a highlight. Sheesh, we looked forward to it more than summer holidays. With the vibes around the 2014 J-Bay Winterfest and the J-Bay Open, it’s difficult not to feel even just a bit like a grom again. However, instead of being star-struck with the best surfers in the world, I kind of got a bit giddy when at a signing at the Billabong shop I got to meet Matt Biolos.
The man who builds contest sleds for the likes of Kolohe Andino, Taj Burrow and Carissa Moore was halfway through his ‘…Lost in Africa’ safari and had been up to Durban, down to Cape Town and just that day surfed cooking Vic Bay (which he couldn’t stop raving about). Mr Mayhem was mobbed almost as much as Taj and Parko at the signing, but managed to escape outside for a quiet lager. This is what he told me:
Matt Biolos is always thinking design.
ON THE SA STANDARD:
I came here (to SA) last in ’98 and scored some classic waves. I also got to surf with some very good surfers. I think surfing (as an industry and sport) is kind of off the bubble in South Africa, but there is so much talent. There was back then and there is now.
ON TEAM FEEDBACK:
Athlete feedback is everything. Especially for places like Tahiti and Fiji. I know as a designer that Restaurants is a wave that likes a lot of rocker and the inside ledge at Cloudbreak as well. I can study the footage, but in the end I need the feedback from the athletes.
ON BOARDS FOR J-BAY:
We dropped the rockers a bit for the J-Bay quivers. Open them up to longer arcs and more down-the-line surfing, but on the same outlines and bottoms. For Kolohe the boards are similar to what he took to Fiji. Both places require boards a touch more heavy than the typical beach break board. It’s not like he will be doing much above the lip surfing either and there is the strong winds we have to combat.
ON THE THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD TELL YOUR SHAPER:
1. How good (or not good) you actually surf.
Many surfers tell me how they’re blowing fins out the back and working on airs, but then you see them in real life and woah! Be honest and realistic…
2. How much you actually weigh
This happens a lot on both ends of the spectrum. Young kids grow so fast they often don’t know their actual weight. Then in midlife crisis mode, many surfers are not honest with their lack of fitness and the two to ten kilograms they’re carrying.
3. Waves you are surfing regularly
Sure, we all want a quiver of refined and beautiful blades but lets be realistic here. Most surfing is done in typical junky beach breaks, when you find time to get in the water.