The night I went to meet Donald Brink and did not, in fact meet Donald Brink, was an eye opener indeed. Fate chose a different direction for me that day and instead propelled me in the direction of two surfboard builders I might not have otherwise had the pleasure with which to parley.
Every now and again one of my local surf shops, Magic Quiver, hosts different shapers from all over the world. These masters of foam mowing come and shape a few boards for local people and also hang out in the shop for us mortals to meet and ask annoying questions.
This particular autumn Friday night, I had a call from Mario the owner of Magic Quiver to let me know that Donald Brink would be having some beers in the shop if I wanted to come and quiz him about all things asymmetric. Having long been at the top of my shapers ‘want to talk to list’ I packed the family into the car and raced into town, frothing at the opportunity to quench my asymmetric thirst. If you don’t know about Donald Brink, you should.
As I have alluded to above, I didn’t get to chat to this man, but instead got funnelled to a more unexpected and unconventional destiny. I found myself locked in deep conversation with two foam mowers from different sides of the world and age range.
Has been shaping boards since I was two years old (and I am no spring chicken) hails from Santa Cruz California and has a unique take on shaping, boards and what’s right for his customers.
One of his boards stood out as being very different from the norm, it was a twin fin fish but pulled in at the tail and with a lot less space inbetween the commanding fins. The whole thing looked not quite right but also screamed ‘fast’ and ‘control’ in big bold words. Upon talking to Ward, he said it was just a normal kind of model that he does and perhaps most people make. It just goes to show you how in different parts of the world different ideas take place. Different designs are the norm.
I don’t want to say too much now but we will be talking a fair bit to Ward in an upcoming interview so I might save the ‘beef’ of Ward’s insights and views until then.
The Weird Web of Inter-Connectedness
As I have said this night was a family affair. My wife and lad were walking up a beautiful Ericiera street to the shop in question, when my son suddenly ran out into the oncoming path of a push bike. The rider stopped and nearly flew over the handle bars. A youngish dude, maybe 23 years old, he turned to us and said “sorry” almost in reflex. Firstly, he said it in English (with an English accent) and secondly, it was clearly my little grom’s fault. We said, no worries and walked on, feeling weird to be talking in English (after all, we are in Portugal).
Arriving at Magic Quiver, the beers were flowing, a DJ was spinning some tunes and nice people where mingling politely. Conversations were had, boards were dribbled at, fondled and put in perspective ‘wish lists’, my wife, familiar with my wide eyed wonder and stoke when around nice pieces of foam and glass listened with a smile. There was, however, no Donald Brink yet.
Ashamed as I am of it, I love to smoke, especially when drinking some beers. It has led me to meet interesting people before and it turns out would do the same tonight. I headed outside the shop where some other ‘smoking outcasts’ were gathered and asked the nearest guy for a lighter for my fag (cigarette). It was the young lad on the bike and his name, as it turns out, was Jago Begg from Cornwall in England.
Jago is a shaper who had contacted Surf Bunker (believe it or not) a couple of months ago wondering if we knew any shapers that he could work with. The web of inter-connectedness thickened, it seemed on some level we were destined to meet. I like to think things happen for a reason.
Being twenty three years of age and hailing from the surf rich (perspectively) town of Bude in the United Kingdom, Jago shaped his first surfboard when he was thirteen years old, in his mum’s back garden. From there he gained experience working with pioneers of UK shaping Grahame Bunt (Bunty) and after, Roger Trout.
Never being one to settle on what he has learned and believing there is always more insight into mowing foam to be gained, Jago wrote to shaping guru Tim Bessell in La Jola, California, to ask for an apprenticeship. He got the job and spent three months shaping alongside the iconic shaper learning all he could.
Fast forward to today and Jago is working for Magic Quiver in Ericiera, which hosts the many guest shapers from all over the world, from Jeff ‘Doc’ Lausch to Travis Reynolds, to Garry McNeil and today was hosting Donald Brink and Ward Coffey. The twenty three year old travelling shaper is like a sponge, soaking up everything he can and being a student of the world of shaping.
I fired a few questions his way and just asked for the first few words that popped into his head.
SB: Opinion on CNC machines?
Jago: Always changing.
SB: Firewire Surfboards?
Jago: Asian, Bad blanks.
SB: Favourite shaper to date?
Jago: Donald Brink
SB: Which surfer do you most like to watch?
Jago: John John
SB: Most influential movie?
Jago: Dogtown and the Z boys.
SB: Your definition of success as a shaper?
Jago: Stoked customers, being busy, having time to surf.
So there we have a very quick insight into the mind of a shaper that I believe could be great one day. Jago is shaping his own boards under Jagoshapes and after working with the likes of Ward Coffey and Donald Brink, wants to explore the relatively untouched realm of asymetric surfboards.
Watch this space for more news on the young lad, we will be keeping a firm eye on what he produces. To be frank (and I like to be) my anticipation of what could possible for this lad is wetter than an otter’s pocket. Great things come to those who mow and mow well.
A further tip of the hat to fine establishments like Magic Quiver that provide a needed function of introducing masters and students of the art to us mortals, who want to ride their boards. What Mario has done is create a physical platform that transcends many location based issues facing you getting your dream custom-made surfboard by the shaper of your choice. It is a different solution and one that we subscribe to.