Today I ran into Biarritz to do a fast surfboard-shaping course at The Shaper House.

It was me, a chap Tyler from Florida, and the tutor Severn. We got a good overview in the hour and a half – I am super keen to try and make a board now! … they do workshops over 3 days to make your own board so I will try and get back here to do it…thanks to Anne for setting this up for me 🙂

Shaping a board these days starts with the purchase of a blank…more or less a ‘starter’ shape that can be cut down to the exact dimensions you are after. Once you have the blank you work out the shape you want and how it ‘fits’ into the blank…its kind of like sculpture in that you whittle the source down to what you want.


Once you have drawn out your shape on the blank you cut it down to within a few millimeters with a common saw.


You then sand down the edges to remove the rough sides. You aren’t shaping as such yet, just preparing the blank.


Next you plane down the top and bottom of the board with an electric plane. Essentially making the blank thinner, getting it closer to its final shape.


..and you sand it down some more…now with a coarse sander, but you are more or less smoothing out the rough grooves left by the plane.


Next things start getting interesting… you start making the ‘rails’ (surfie speak for the sides of the board). This is interesting because you are starting from a ‘square’ blank and you are trying to produce beautiful rounded edges…you do this by first marking the side with two lines, these more or less provide guidelines for the shape of the rails…they can be even or hard rails and how you set these lines determines this…


You then sand down the edges at a 45 degree angle. This gives a sort of ‘triangle’ shape to the side with a ‘flat’ top.


After you have this rough cut ‘triangle’ (with a flat top) you mark the sides again with a line and do the same thing…its tricky to explain, but essentially you are getting closer to a curve, except that you are doing it by producing a series of flat surfaces which represent something like the curve you want. When you this you start sanding down the edges into a smooth curve using a number of sanding tricks.


Until you have a bueatiful curved edge… when we made this it felt quite magical and looked fantastic! Simple but the result is awesome.


You then plane down the ‘stringer’ (wooden spine of the board) so that it is nice and flush with the board.


We didn’t go through the rest ourselves but Severn walked us to fibreglass the board, how to set the fins etc… it was pretty interesting.


Highly recommended if you get down this way!

Hanging in Moz

I was on my way to South Africa and it seems they changed the visa requirements for NZers. I have been to South Africa plenty of times before and always got a visa at the airport. For some reason, this time, I check ‘just in case’ – and find I have to apply at an Embassy for a personal interview and the visa processing would take a minimun of  7 working days and the outcome is not guaranteed.

So, I miss out on the Decolonising the Internet conference my buddy Anasuya is putting, on also the Shuttleworth panel we were going to be on at Wikimania. Sucks. But, its one of the few times I have had visa hassles as NZers are seen as ‘mostly harmless’ – so I can’t really complain. Except I really wanted to be there… ah well…so, last moment reschedule lands me in Mozambique for a 2 week holiday. Now I certainly can’t complain about that and I’m not even going to try…

Rented a small apartment on the beach and a surfboard… if you want to find me I might not be so easy to find for the next wee while…

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A day in Northland

When in NZ, I often have meetings at 1am, 2am, 6am… since most of the team is ‘somewhere else’ 😉 That can be pretty tiring but a bonus is that if I can muster the energy I can sometimes slip away on a weekday, during the day, and enjoy Northland. Some photos from such an adventure today. I took my neighbor Mike out for a day’s surf’n at Ahipara.

The first two photos show a car we passed that had tried to get around the rocks (we drove around there today – it needs a good 4WD). The car broke an axle and then the tide came in and wrecked the car… it was a sad sight to see and a sober reminder of how treacherous the coast can be.


dsc05407 These photos of us returning to the Hokianga on the Rawene ferry. The end of a great day.

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