We write about other people all the time. This time we figured we would try something different and write an article about us, the Surf Bunker team. It's about what we stand for. It's about our dream and how we want you to be involved. We have a job for anyone who is keen to be part of the family. If you want to know more, be sure to send me an email and we'll work out what you can do to help.
SB: Without further ado, an interview with me. Hello James, thanks for sparing us the time, I know you are busy. And good looking.
James: It's no problem, things have been crazy busy here. For over four years now things have been getting steadily busier and now we have launched our Indiegogo crowdfunding to take our online 'Surfers Marketplace' to the next level. Whilst creating and tweaking that side of our website, we have been getting more readers and lots more interest in the magazine side of the website, which was an unexpected bonus. It has given us the chance to test and review some awesome surf equipment, with which I have an awesome team to help, we couldn't have made it without them. So a huge thanks to all our contributors.
SB: How does the website work? Can anyone get involved?
James: Let me be clear, there are presently two sides to Surf Bunker, which has been confusing and hard to make clear. We have the magazine side of things and the actual Surf Bunker platform, which is the online 'Surfers Marketplace'. The platform is our 'reason for being', it's the big idea and has been under development since April 2015. We have made various pivots and changes in what and how we are going to achieve our goal, but the end goal has remained set in stone. We want as many people to get involved as possible and make the project their own.
So what's the idea in a nutshell? Deep breath and go:
We want to give people the ability to buy and sell their surfboards and surf hardware, new or used (not clothes or fashion items), for free all over the world and on the same platform. It is our plan to have a fast, slick and hardware specific platform that is intelligent and learns as it goes.
We want small surfboard shapers, shops and surf accommodation owners to be able to compete with big brands by giving them a place to showcase their products on an even and fair playing field. We're not only talking about surfboards that they have for sale, but surfboards they could make to order.
The idea has grown a lot since the beginning, but that is where it started.
SB: That's a pretty big ask? How many of you are there involved in the project?
James: Yes, the project has grown immensely since its inception, that is why it is taking so long to get perfect. The basic platform is up and running. We are very proud of what we have achieved so far and we are fine-tuning and adding more functions as we learn what works and what is popular. We also encourage people to mail us and tell us what they would like to see more or less of on the platform.
At the very beginning, there was me and my brother, Jacques. We are both avid surfers and grew up on the 'wave starved' South coast of England. When we were old enough to leave home, we took off for places that had waves on offer. We spent a number of years living and working in different countries. After years of searching, we both now reside in Portugal. During our first meeting, we put a list together of people we thought would be interested in the project and started making phone calls.
We had about ten key guys interested right off the bat, from all over the world. Since then we have lost and gained members as the various roles have been defined and our idea has mutated and matured. Right now we have a solid team that have proven themselves worldwide, including an actual surf doctor with a beard, a clean-shaven tea boy from the north, a pilot from way south, a sleeping expert from Portugal, a poet from New York and a horticulturalist from exactly the other side of the world.
We are always looking for people that are obsessed with surfing and have the right skills or willing to join the team.
SB: Why the name Surf Bunker?
James: This is an interesting one and I am sure you saw the famous 'Bunkers' in the South West of France. The picture at the head of this article is one of 'said' bunkers. That is where we came from, it's where we cut our teeth surfing and is also home to some of the most perfect and amazing waves in the world (we think).
The name kind of fitted on many different levels. A 'bunker' is also somewhere to store stuff, somewhere safe and cozy to put your prized possessions. Jacques also made some pretty sweet logos that people loved. We made them into stickers and people went mad asking for them to be posted all over the world. If you want one, just drop me a line through the website or on social media. Check out these guys surfing the Bunkers, or as the French say, 'le blockhaus'.
SB: What has been the most difficult part of setting up Surf Bunker so far?
James: The most amazing part for me personally has been how much an idea can grow and take on a life of itself after the initial conception. We did not really realize the scope or complexity of what we were doing at the beginning, and while we have expanded on the initial idea a lot, it is still a huge task. There are only so many hours in the day.
The most difficult thing for me has been trying to find a way of explaining what it is that we do in a short sentence. What we are trying to achieve has not been done before and we tend to have a short attention span these days, especially if you are talking to them in person and not via social media or messaging application haha.
We are only human and we have made many mistakes along the way. We believe in doing things 'the right way'. It turns out keeping everyone happy and sticking to the moral road takes a little longer, but hey, that's cool.
SB: If you could have any shaper in the world make you a board what and who would it be?
James: Aaahhhh, that's an easy one I am afraid, I have ridden and owned many different surfboards, lusted after and touched many others, but one shaper and board remain on a pedestal. I would have Tyler Hatzikian make me one of his 'Joker' models. I think that he is one of the originals who is trying to put a modern touch on old designs, whilst still trying to take the classics and make them even better. Also, his finishing work is just spectacular. So if you are reading this Tyler, I would like a 9'2 " Joker please with all the bells and whistles.
SB: Can we have a glimpse into the future of what and where you see Surf Bunker going?
James: Well, I guess I could share with you some bits that are pretty exciting. At the moment, we are working on perfecting the Artificial Intelligence that is learning to extract surf hardware from all websites in the world and display them on Surf Bunker. That way you will be able to search the globe for exactly what you are after and choose the location nearest to you. You will be able to set up alerts for when someone is selling the exact board that you want, for the price range that you want.
We see the applications as being endless for this, to name a few :
Incorporated surf businesses that can sell hardware on the platform as themselves, which includes shapers, new and used boards.
It allows you to check out the price of boards or wetsuits in a potential holiday destination. This will help you decide if you should pay to transport your own board or buy one when you get there and sell it before you leave.
Helping to promote shapers who might have more orders to shape for non-locals, holiday pickups and further their enterprise to help them compete against the big brands.
There are a few things in the pipeline too, like improved specs search for all hardware, automatic postage calculation, designing your own board are just some of the exciting stuff we have in mind and of course some top secret stuff I can't talk about just yet, haha.
I could go on all day and therein lies the problem, there are so many things to do and so little time. So once again, if you feel like getting involved or have any constructive feedback, then just get in touch via social media or the website. Tech people, writers, enthusiasts, photographers, shapers or investors.
SB: How would you describe surfing to someone who had never tried it before?
I would say that you should think very carefully before you try it. Think about it in the same way you might think about trying Crystal Meth, as while not being as bad for your health, surfing has about the same addictive quality. Think about the sacrifices you will make and the lies you will tell to be able to feed the habit, because that is what will happen. This is a habit that needs to come first, it does not understand relationships, logic or timetables.
Now that you understand that, surfing is the most amazing thing you will ever do, it is unparalleled and difficult, it is fickle and brilliant. For me, it is the second for the love I have after my family and that's only just. There are no words to describe surfing, just warnings I wish that people had given me.
SB: Well thanks a lot James for your words on Surf Bunker, may I say how kind the years have been to you and also how skilled you are on a surfboard.
Keep up to date with what the boys are doing via Surf Bunker's social media. Great things are coming...