| Get surf report

Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa
wooded-age2-620-th

Wed, 20 April 2016

When you invest sweat and blood in crafting the board you ride, there are unexpected benefits to your soul, your style and the glide itself. Matthew Kramer writes from his heart.


Matt-Kramer-llandudno-april-9-Lee-Ann-005

THE GLIDE: The volume and flow of wood turns slide into glide. Photo Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox


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.

Matt-Kramer-Patrick-Burnett-2

SMALL STEPS: Matt finds it uniquely fulfilling building his own board. Photo Patrick Burnett


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 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.

Matt-Kramer-llandudno-april-9-Lee-Ann-004

BETTER BOTTOM TURN: A wood board brings more style to your ride. Photo Lee-Anne Curtis-Cox


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.

Matt-Kramer-Patrick-Burnett-1

CRAFT BOARD: Nothing like investing time to create your craft. Photo Patrick Burnett


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.

Matt-Kramer-llandudno-april-9-Lee-Ann-006

EFFORTLESS: Flying through the sections on a hollow wooden board. Photo Lee-Ann Curtis-Cox


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.

Comments  

 
len ril
-7 #1 greenwasher-washerlen ril 2016-04-20 17:42
Sorry to burst your biodegradable/non toxic bubble. Your choice of wood surfboard is a drop in the ocean of your carbon footprint.

You are still using toxic chemicals to glass your board.

According to Burnett's own site, you are saving maybe 30kg CO2 which equates to about 200km in a little Nissan bakkie; less than 200km in an SUV etc. One mission to the reserve or up to Elands and you've already exceeded that saving.

Enjoy the stoke of riding something you have created.
 

Wavescape on Twitter

Wavescape
Jordy Smith's world title hope took a massive blow yesterday after another Round 3 exit, this time at the hands... https://t.co/dLoK3QQU46
Wavescape
Southern Cape -- A purple period of peopling eating pumpery starts Friday which is fresh W and feathered 6' sur... https://t.co/74AzULj6DN
Wavescape
Cape Peninsula -- // Mild bumpy west onshores blow Friday to mess with a 4-6' west swell. Would be super fun wi... https://t.co/oaAtnBGrIh
Wavescape
West Coast -- Nice clean early start Friday with 4-5' surf @ 13sec and a light SW onshore worsens a bit. Bumpy ... https://t.co/fotZOfT4GB

Wavescape friends and partners Isiqalo Foundation DIFF CSIR Isiqalo Foundation Surfing  South Africa Save Our Seas Shark Centre Isiqalo Foundation Red Bull Media House DIFF National Sea Rescue Institute Shark Spotters ASP Africa