Two More Electric Acid Shaper Pairings Revealed
Are we sure these guys will get along?
There were hard boiled eggs and freshly baked scones waiting for us at Donald Brink’s shaping bay.
The scones were moist and the eggs peeled easily.
As we ate our breakfast, Donald showed us around his shaping bay, a converted storage unit on the south end of San Juan Capistrano, CA. “Sorry I didn’t get back to you yesterday,” he said to me. “Sundays are art days at our house. No phones.”
If Tony Stark were a bohemian shaper, this is what his workshop would look like. The walls littered with various templates, molds, 12-foot gliders, 4-foot disks, hydrofoils and a surprising amount of wood.
As we prepared the cameras and audio to learn more about the 40-year-old South African, I noticed a post-it note to his left. Just seven words on it.
I love you.
At this point I’d known Donald Brink all of five minutes, and I could not imagine that this man doesn’t have a rich, full, and balanced life.
Matt Biolos’ factory is just 10 minutes from Donny’s, and a world apart. Matt calls it “mom and pop corporate manufacturing,” though it’s still got that …Lost edge.
There’s the OSHA mandated literature on the walls…and there’s scribbles making fun of it. There’s a dozen boards ready to be shipped to elite female athletes…and there’s girly photos on the wall.
Along with the scones and eggs, Donny showed up with a wooden briefcase that Matt couldn’t resist calling his “Jumanji Box.” I got a bit nervous, thinking these two shapers were setting up for a crude, bully-vs-nerd Karate Kid remake.
But when they walked away from the day — one filled with discussions, designs, disagreements, compromises and a whole lot of shaping — Matt seemed legitimately moved by the experience. Introspective, even.
“I’m just so cut and dry,” he said at day’s end, futzing with a few of Donny’s design tools, “but he has so much room in his life, and his mind, to play…to wander…to have fun. It reminds me of what we did when we started.”
If Matt and Donny nearly found their roles in the Karate Kid, Greg Webber and Josh Keogh auditioned for theirs, too. Greg as Mr. Miyagi, and Josh as…whoever that teenager was.
When we assigned these two as shaping pairs, we were unaware that Greg Webber, the 62-year-old-shaping legend based in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, was already well acquainted with 31-year-old Josh Keogh.
Their relationship began as most modern ones do — on Instagram. A follow for a follow. A few strategic likes. Some witty banter in the DM’s until an IRL connection at Rhino Laminating in Sydney sparked a very real friendship.
Speaking to Josh, a quiet and thoughtful shaper that lives in the small town of Windham, near the border of NSW and Victoria, you get the feeling that if he were inexplicably transported back to the 1960s in some Midnight In Pipeline situation, he wouldn’t try and return.
“We’re so used to performance being the benchmark for how we measure a surfboard, rather than the quality of the craftsmanship,” he said. “Back in the day, people would buy a board and they’d get used to how it went and they’d just ride it, and it’d last for years. But in today’s modern world, we’re so performance driven and it comes at the expense of board quality.”
It makes sense that Josh has sought mentorships in guys like Maurice Cole and Greg Webber, shapers that were actually born “back in the day.”
But no matter how much you admire and respect someone, you never know how they’ll react through the lens of a documented collaboration — one with specific constraints and a chance for Mick Fanning to show the potential of your design genius. Especially when we’re dealing with personalities as big as Webber’s.
Take this quote, for instance, as a measure of Greg’s “personality.”
“He is the greatest surfer of all time,” Webber said of his relationship with Kelly Slater. “And I say to him ‘ya, so what? I’m the greatest surfboard shaper of all time.’ Got it?…And he doesn’t say no when I say that.”
Think what you will about the division of the modern world, but I love the fact that two people as different as Greg and Josh, or Donald and Matt, can come together and make something special in the name of surfboards, surfing, and Mick Fanning. It’s something special.
The first episode of the Electric Acid Surfboard Test with Mick Fanning goes live on September 1 on Stab Premium.
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