Friday, April 11, 2014

Voyage 2014 | Beginnings

One week into Shapetastic Voyage 2014 and 32 boards down over the last 10 days - 12 more boards to go before I leave the East Coast - I thought it may be a good time to give a little breakdown of how the Voyage works and how it started.  There have been some radically hilarious rumors about me and how this all works; the best being that I come from a wealthy family and have a trust fund - which would be a great conclusion to jump to, and is completely untrue, so I'll break it down; 5 years ago I was lucky enough to be invited to shape in Portugal by Rui Ribeiro at Magic Quiver Surf Shop.  He ordered a handful of boards, enough for me to pay for my plane ticket to and from, Nico (Wavegliders Surfboards), the shaper I would be staying and working alongside offered me a bed to crash on, so I jumped at the chance - that ended up growing into a visit to work in France the next year, and then a stop to work on the East Coast in New Jersey on the way home - this is the blueprint for every year since, and it keeps growing.  Enough work for a plane ticket, enough time, and whatever floor or couch or *fingers crossed* bed, is available, and I'm there.

Magic Quiver as well as other shops all over the world do the same with many other shapers.  Rich Pavel and Malcolm Campbell have been on similar travels yearly now for a long time and have opened huge doors for other shapers to do the same.  Fortunate is a word that comes to mind, and I do my best to put my head down and work for my opportunities; to build good surfboards so that I'm asked to come back and do it again.  Its rare that I get to surf great waves along the way, though I have gotten lucky here and there!  I'm normally shaping 13 or 14 days on end, and on the 15th I'm gone and extremely grateful, hands raw, totally exhausted and exhilarated - Last year I shaped nearly 200 boards on the road in 4 months - To say that I love my work is an understatement, and to be able to do it on the road is a great privilege.  This year is the first year I've been given a hand for the Voyage, and its offering me to opportunity to travel to a few more out of the way spots and make some more experimental boards on the road - Stetson has been an extremely nice partner to develop a relationship with and I'm humbled by their support and faith.

The generosity and openness of people I've met makes me excited to start again every summer.  It never ceases to amaze me how welcome people make me feel and what they so easily share - stories, experiences, wisdom, and new opportunities seem endless.
So if you want, and you try, and you aren't afraid to work, you don't need a magical bank account or a grand scheme - build lots of human relationships and keep surfers happy, they are always hungry for new boards.  I grew up a very shy and quiet kid, and one thing life so far has proven is that if you open yourself, others will open to you.

Vision from NJ | Photo Tim Leopold