Three of the four guys on the Durban course with the boards that they built.
At 4am on a Saturday morning two weeks ago, my car jam-packed with everything needed to run a wooden surfboard course for four guys, I set out from Cape Town to make the 1,700km drive to Durban.
Plan A had been to take a slow drive up the East Coast over several days, stopping along the way to surf. Vic Bay. Seals. J-Bay. Plan A didn’t even get off the table due to work commitments, family and the like. Plan B kicked in: pack the hell up and brave the deep Karoo road to Durban via Bloemfontein. It’s not often that I venture away from the sea. Only in emergencies.
I was thrilled to be travelling to Durban, however, to share the stoke of wooden surfboard building. When I first started offering courses, there were a few guys from Durban who got in touch asking me to hold a course in South Africa’s surf capital. Why not? Surfing is so much about the crazy things; taking a chance on a surf trip, daring a late drop, not knowing what is going to happen and how things are going to work out. And this trip had the feel of a crazy surf trip, even through I was in the middle of the Karoo.
Durban was lush. Rolling green hills, thick green forests and sparkling ocean. For winter, it’s like a warm bath during the day, with a shot from the cold water tap in the morning and evening. Shorts and a t-shirt.
Meeting Sean, Pat, Jason and Sam on the Monday morning I knew we were going to have a great week. Everyone, including myself was wide-eyed keen as we began building the four boards for the week, a longboard and three fish. I love watching guys put their boards together and see their appreciation for the shape they’re making grow, and their sense of ownership over what they’re doing unfold. It’s a real privilege.
I hadn’t planned to surf, but the crew took pity on me and Sean took me down to the beach for a baggie session just before I began the long drive home. What a treat. Warm water, golden beaches, hills covered in greenery, clear water. The stoke from that surf got me all the way to land-locked Bethlehem on the drive home, 500km from Durban in the Free State. That only left 1200km to drive the next day.