Nov 012016
 
wooden surfboards

Matthew Kramer styles the light fantastic on his wooden surfboard. Photo: Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox

Matthew Kramer was a participant of the first wooden surfboards course that I ran in 2013. Earlier this year I caught up with him for a surf – he subsequently wrote a very articulate account of what his wooden surfboard had meant to him over the years. It was published on Wavescape and I’m re-publishing it below. Thanks to Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox from Capture the Moment for the stunning pictures.

“When I paddled out at Llandudno for one of the first sessions on my freshly built wood surfboard I threw the board down onto the water in the shallows, slid onto it and started paddling, half expecting it to sink. It didn’t. In fact, it paddled nicely, the extra weight of the board making it glide swiftly and smoothly through the water.

I spotted Robby McDonald from Vudu Surf in the lineup and as I paddled over he turned to me and with his usual effortless wit called out, “What’s that you’re riding boetie, the old front door?” We had a good chuckle and pretty soon after that our attention was pulled back to the ocean and the task of catching some waves.

Since that day the “old front door” has had a remarkable impact on my world. I am constantly amazed and inspired by what this wood board can handle and what it can do. I’ve ridden this one board in a variety of conditions from mushy one foot Muizenberg to pumping Llands barrels and I have yet to find the limits of where it can work and bring me joy.

wooden surfboards

“What I have learned from this wood board, apart from a better bottom turn, is that although there are limits to what we can do in this life there are options and sometimes the smallest decision can have a powerful effect.” Photo: Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox

I built the board on a course with Patrick from Burnett Wood Surfboards and the experience of building my own board and then riding it is a huge component of the profound effect I have felt. I cannot recommend building your own surf craft highly enough and I feel it is something every surfer should do at least once.

Riding this board makes me feel I have earned my place in the sea. I feel initiated. I know the cost and the impact of getting to ride the wave. I know what’s inside this thing, just how much effort, love and attention to detail is engrained in its make up, and I’m going to take a great deal of care to ensure that it stays with me as long as possible. I also know that am going to make another one.

Like most surfers, I’ve ridden commercially produced surfboards most of my life and I’ve loved it. Surfing is a gift no matter how it comes to you. I think if everybody surfed there’d be a lot less road rage and nasty business out there. Who would want to be dropping bombs or delivering hurt when there’s a crisp offshore wind and the waves are perfect and you just know there’s a few with your name on them? Well I know what I would choose. I’ve ridden foam and fibreglass boards most of my life.

In fact in recent years I’ve been going through them at a rate. I ride them until they are finished, they reach a point where they will snap repeatedly and at that point it becomes cheaper to buy a new board and not have to keep paying for repairs. But every time I send another board to landfill I feel regret, not for the loss of a board but because I know that I am contributing to the mountain of toxic crap that is bleeding into the earth, poisoning and degrading our biosphere.

As wave riders we are ocean lovers by default. I have a love for the ocean that goes way deeper than just appreciating what it offers me as a surfer. That is something that most water men and women will understand.

The ocean offers us a very tangible and visible example of an ecosystem as a singular entity. The ocean lives, breathes, shifts and changes constantly just like any other organism. It’s easy to see it as a living being and I want to treat it as I would any other living creature, with the respect that it deserves. For me that means being mindful of my relationship with the ocean – what impact it is having and how I can work to better that relationship.

I understand that my actions alone will change very little in this world and any way, I’m over wanting to change it. I’m reminded of a classic line from Detective Velcoro, “My strong suspicion is that we get the world we deserve.”

I believe that Mother Nature will balance the scales one way or another with or without our help. For my part the question is, “what am I going to do to make it all OK for myself today?” And today the answer to that question is to engage in what I love with honor, respect and dignity. I’m putting that toxic shit behind me. I’ll use it where I have to, where I have no choice, but I’ll always be looking for an alternative.

And for now that’s good enough for me, knowing that the blind and unconscious use of disposable, poisonous crap for the sake of convenience is in the past.

I’m not a professional surfer. As far as my value system is concerned I now see that it is more important for me to ride a board that is made from materials that are biodegradable and non toxic than it is to shave five hundred grams from the final weight of my board. In the choice of saving five hundred Rands today versus five hundred years of leaching toxic chemicals into land and sea there is no choice. Besides, I’ve seen more improvement in my surfing while riding my wood board than any performance board I’ve ever had.

What I have learned from this wood board, apart from a better bottom turn, is that although there are limits to what we can do in this life there are options and sometimes the smallest decision can have a powerful effect. I am connected to the the ocean. I am a part of something greater than myself, and I now see that we can only truly care for something when we are a part of it.

It took building and riding a wooden surfboard for me to understand that.”

Jul 262016
 

IMG-20160623-WA0006This was probably my favourite board of all time. Ok, it’s hard to say that, so let’s put it in the top 3. It was an 11′ hollow wooden gun made out of South African grown redwood, from the Californian redwood species. The British apparently planted redwood in South Africa for ship building, back when they colonised the southern tip of Africa. I’m glad they did because it enabled me to make this board. It was bought by a German guy and has been shipped to Europe.

 

 

 

IMG-20160612-WA0001Burnett Wood Surfboards (and son) missioned down to Muizenberg where the Logjam invitational took place. As part of the event the organisers held a wooden surfboard heat, which wasn’t really a heat, but just a free surf. The waves weren’t great, but it was good to see all the wooden surfboards on display and see some of the folk that I’ve bumped into over the years.

 

 

 

Minimal_BantryBay

This was a 7′.6″ mini-mal that I made for a guy who walked into my workshop on a Sunday afternoon. I was just shutting up shop so we could easily have missed each other, and he was going back to the U.S. the next day. I like the tones of the wood and the shape is always a favourite of mine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG-20160604-WA0002This was a 9′.7″ hollow wooden longboard made out of redwood. The client wanted a really natural look, with lots of swirl and knots. I spent a few hours scratching around the wood pile to find the beautiful pieces on the bottom of this board. Pictured with me is my youngest son Noah, who often comes to the workshop with me, where he likes to saw and bang making bows and arrows and swords (no surfboards yet).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7036.And finally, a 5′.7″ fish in Western Red Cedar and Obeche, with mother-of-pearl inserts on the bottom. I don’t often do these decorative type boards, but quite enjoy doing something different every now and then.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR7037.

 

Sep 212014
 
IMG_1106

Picture: Dougal Paterson, www.dougalpaterson.com

All our hollow wood surfboards are now being glassed with Entropy Super Sap bioresin. This is a first for wood surfboards in South Africa and increases the already sound environmental credentials of the wood boards we produce.

Traditional epoxies mostly use petroleum based materials, but Entropy claims to use “biobased renewable materials sourced as co-products or from waste streams of other industrial processes, such as wood pulp and bio-fuels production”. They claim a 50% minimum reduction in CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions and say that the “green chemistry” eliminates harmful by-products and reduces power and water consumption. Continue reading »

Jun 082014
 
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Picture: Dougal Paterson, www.dougalpaterson.com

Out in a packed line-up recently and the only surfer on a wooden surfboard, I jokingly quipped that everyone else was destroying the planet. “Aren’t we all,” came a cynical reply. The answer to that comment is, yes we are.

News circulated last year about a green surfboard verification programme. The initiative comes from Southern California outfit Sustainable Surf, a non-profit start-up NGO. A report on the initiative notes that petroleum, polyurethane, polyester resin, polystyrene foam, PVC and many other substances are still being widely used to produce surf gear and equipment. Tell us something we don’t already know. Continue reading »

May 042014
 
IMG_6125

Picture: Dougal Paterson, http://www.dougalpaterson.com/

Between May and September, Burnett Wood Surfboards will be running Saturday building classes, where you can build your own hollow wood surfboard for the knock down rate of R6,500. This is a once-off deal and you’ll likely never get the opportunity at this price again. In other parts of the world you’ll pay double or even triple this price. Easy payment terms are also available.

A variety of boards are available at the R6,500 price: a 5′.8″ classic twin-keel fish, a 5′.8″ egg, a 6′.0″ classic twin keel fish, a 6′.4″ egg and a 6′.4″ classic single fin shape. For R7,000 you can build a 7′.6″ mini-malibu. Check out the gallery below to see some of the boards built on our courses.

Your board will take 5-6 Saturdays to build. You can choose to do this on consecutive Saturday’s or fill in the days at any time that suits you between May and September. For more details on our courses, visit our courses page.

What you get:

– Your own beautiful, surfable wood surfboard, handmade by yourself

– Access to all tools and provision of materials needed to make your surfboard

– Information on wood surfboards, history, design dynamics, environmental credentials

– Tuition and assistance

– Glassing and finishing of the board

– Fin boxes or handmade wood fins

– Tea/Coffee throughout the day

– Lunch on the days that you build

– Experience of working with wood and craft in a stunning rural environment

– The chance to meet other like-minded folk also building their own boards.

Contact Patrick through burnett.patrick@gmail.com or 073 232 3043 to sign up or for more information.

Course Pictures and Boards

[img src=http://burnettwoodsurfboards.co.za/wp-content/flagallery/course-pictures/thumbs/thumbs_danyalfish2.jpg]31790DCIM100GOPROGOPR3375.
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[img src=http://burnettwoodsurfboards.co.za/wp-content/flagallery/course-pictures/thumbs/thumbs_ross.jpg]25570DCIM100GOPROGOPR6687.
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[img src=http://burnettwoodsurfboards.co.za/wp-content/flagallery/course-pictures/thumbs/thumbs_durbancoursemay2016.jpg]22140
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[img src=http://burnettwoodsurfboards.co.za/wp-content/flagallery/course-pictures/thumbs/thumbs_daveearl.jpg]37950DCIM100GOPROGOPR0077.
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[img src=http://burnettwoodsurfboards.co.za/wp-content/flagallery/course-pictures/thumbs/thumbs_20131212_125322.jpg]96531
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Feb 132014
 

The end of 2013 and beginning of 2014 was busy, busy. I was fortunate to have some amazing custom board orders. These are pictures of hollow wood surfboards made by Burnett Wood Surfboards towards the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014. Thanks to the wonderful customers I had who put in their orders and waited patiently for delivery.

Latest Boards 2013/2014

Hollow wood surfboards made by Burnett Wood Surfboards around the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014.

Jul 152013
 

FarmshotSince the beginning of May, I’ve been lucky enough to rent  a farmhouse at Imhoff Farm village in Kommetjie, Cape Town.

It’s been a great venue that has enabled me to expand and given me the space to experiment, learn and be creative about wood and surfboards. Plus it has been perfect for running wood surfboard building courses, of which I have held two and have more scheduled for the rest of the year.

I’ve got an open door policy to my workshop. If you’re interested in wood surfboards and how they are built, feel free to drop in and see my boards and have a chat. Drive past the farm stall, take a right through the gate towards the Waldorff School, then your first left following the signs that say ‘Green Space’. To your right is the house that I work from.

Pictured here is the front room of the workshop and three recently produced boards – an 11′ longboard, an 11′ gun and a 6′.4″ fish built by a participant on the June course. Many thanks to Tony Butt for these pictures.

farmshot2

May 132013
 

Matthew Kramer, who built a 6′.4″ fish,and Lewin de Villiers, who built a 6′.3″ egg, showcase the beautiful boards they made.

Inspirational. That’s the best word I can think of to describe the experience of being part of  Burnett Wooden Surfboard’s first board building course. Five guys literally lived hollow wooden surfboards for a week at Imhoff Farm Village in Kommetjie, taking a pile of planks and shaping them into stunning wooden surfboards.

I’m totally inspired and humbled by the amazing group of guys who joined up for the first course: The two Patrick’s, Lewin and Matthew demonstrated buckets of enthusiasm, commitment, engagement, skill and craftsmanship. The result is four boards that are truly beautiful and a credit to the craft of wooden board building. Check out the gallery below for some great visuals of the location, how things unfolded and the boards produced.

What’s been great about this course is that it has shown how a group of guys with no experience in board building can craft their own wooden boards that are not only functional, but also highly individualized works of art. Continue reading »

Apr 242013
 

Resin on wood: I love seeing the grain stand out when the first brush of resin goes on a new hollow wood surfboard. Beautiful and a really rewarding part of building a wood surfboard.

Jan 072013
 

 

Wood is wood, right? Nope. Just take a look at the grain on this 9’7″ hollow wooden longboard and you’ll understand. Even looking at the rough timber it was possible to see there was going to be a beautiful grain in the piece of Western Red Cedar used for this board, but it wasn’t until glassing that it really started to shine. The lighter colour wood strips are poplar and the contrast works well. Sold at the The Corner Surf Shop, Cape Town’s oldest surf shop.