Hey Dutchie, welcome to Cape Town Surfers. Officially our first surfboard shaper. Authenticity, creativity, quality and self expression are the first words we saw when visiting your website. Tell us about how you came to be a surfboard shaper?
I have been surfing since I was very young and have also always been an artistic and creative person so it was inevitable that I would end up doing something creative within the surfing industry.
What did you do before you shaped boards?
I started out in the surfboard industry when I was studying design by spraying surfboards at Town and Country in order to get some money as a student. But I never really had a job before that, it was basically straight into a life of foam for me.
How old were you when you started surfing, and do you remember the feeling you had when you rode your first proper wave?
I started surfing at the age of six and I distinctly remember my first day of surfing, it was at Big Bay and I did not even have a wetsuit, I rode a bunch of foamies and thought I was hot shit until I fell, the leash recoiled and the board whacked me in the back of the head. I ran to my mommy, but I was hooked and back the very next day!
Tell us about your first shaping experience?
I sold the very first board I made, I was straight into business mode, haha. The second board I made was for myself, it was a round pin shortboard and went so sick!
What’s your personal favourite fin setup?
I don’t have a particular favourite as I like to surf different setups, so I would have to say a 5 fin configuration so I can jump between different setups for different surf conditions. Thruster for top to bottom performance surfing and quad for down the line surf and barrels.
What are some common misconceptions you here about surfboard shaping?
Your average customer/surfer does not understand volume. Just because Kelly Slater rides a specific board dimensions does not mean you can. You have to ride a board with volume for your height, weight and surfing ability. If you don’t follow and understand these rules your surfing will never progress. If you surf a board to thin you will push water and if you surf a board too thick you will be too corky and never sink the rail.
You have an amazing selection of surfboards on your website, shortboards, fishes, retro, longboards – featuring different models within those ranges. What’s your most popular model to date?
Different models feature differently in different areas, for instance in the Southern and Eastern Cape, at the point breaks, boards with clean lines and more rocker work better than at the softer beach breaks around Cape Town. The funky fishes and hybrid shortboards with flatter rocker are way more popular in Cape Town. My most popular model to date is a hybrid called “the Pigfish” which is a combination of a fish and a performance shortboard.
Coming from a graphic design background, you are really into making each board look like an individual piece of art. Do you have a favourite spray design and do you use any special techniques?
Yes, I am a custom surfboard shaper that makes sure every person gets an individual piece of art instead of mass manufactured bullshit! Surfboard manufacturing is a sacred craft and should be upheld instead of people trying to make cheap boards that are rubbish. I don’t have a favourite spray or technique, it really all depends on what the job requires.
You recently hooked up with Liam Wood at Cape Town Surf Adventures for a ‘kids learn to shape tour’ – tell us a bit about that?
Liam and I both feel it’s vital to educate the kids from a young age where their equipment comes from, the process and the individuals involved. The grom’s were so stoked and we are definitely going to do it again!
What is your favorite surf spot (locally and worldwide) and why?
J-bay because it’s the most spiritual place for surfing, also G-land (Java, Indonesia) and Burleigh heads (Gold Coast, Australia) because of the perfect powerful barrels.
Is West Side really the best side?
I think the waves are good all over Cape Town on their specific day, condition and tide. But the West Side has got a special character with some really good uncrowded waves up the West Coast. It’s home, it’s what I like!
Of all the places you’ve visited, which one falls 2nd best to Cape Town and why?
The Gold Coast in Australia is so good if you are a surfer, warm fun waves all day and crazy parties at night. The entire Gold Coast revolves around surfing and you feel like you belong when you there. That’s probably why it’s so damn crowded.
With regards to the current state of the surf industry in Cape Town and South Africa in general, what is your prediction for future marketing trends? Would you say it’s a booming industry?
The South African and worldwide surf Industry is not very healthy. In a struggling world economy leisure activities such as surfing and surfboards are taking a knock. People are looking after more important interests such as housing and food as opposed to a new quiver of shred sticks!
What challenges do you face as a surfboard shaper?
In order to produce a good board you need to run a successful and legal factory with a good standard of quality. In order to do so you need to have a good market share and maintain a good profit percentage. There will always be the more unskilled backyarders offering cheaper boards and basically buying market share and in doing so taking food out of my mouth and also preventing me from moving forward.
You have a great group of sponsored Dutchie teamriders. How do you decide who to sponsor?
I sponsor guy’s that people look up to for their surfing skill and will be a positive ambassador for my product. It is also very important that it is someone that I can work with and develop new board models. I like working with the younger kids in order to mould their surfing careers.
You’re also really involved with the West Coast Boardriders Club, tell us a bit about that and what your future plans are?
I am the president of the biggest and best surfing club arguably in SA and our goal is to develop and grow surfing through various surfing and social events. We also do a lot of community projects and give back to surfing that has given us such an amazing lifestyle. I am very proud of this club and all its members and we have a lot of fun. Future plans include bigger and better events with more incentive for members, so join up!
If you could change one thing about surfing in general, what would it be?
To keep people safe from sharks. It’s the one thing surfers have in common worldwide, we are on the menu. Not cool!
And lastly, if you could choose to shape a board for any famous surfer, who would it be and what sort of board would you shape them?
I would like to make boards for a future surfer by the name of Axel Andy Irons, he’s only 2 but I think he’s going to shred!