LEARN FROM THE BEST
In addition to making custom boards to order, Burnett also runs regular courses where Average Joes like you and me can build our own boards from scratch. His three- and six-day courses cover all the theoretical and practical aspects of building a wooden surfboard including types of timber, environmental considerations and the design dynamics underpinning wood surfboards.
Students choose a board shape ahead of time and the components of the plywood frame are Cnc-cut in advance. The first morning starts with students selecting the timber for the exterior of their boards (“Every single piece of wood is unique and perfect in its own right,” says Burnett, “So it’s a very personal thing.”) before they move on to laminating, building and finally shaping their boards. “I limit my classes to a maximum of six students, so I’m able to give lots of hands-on attention,” says Burnett. “But I won’t make the board for you.”
There simply isn’t enough time to teach students how to glass their boards, so this is done by Burnett after the course. But to complete the woodworking component of the process in less than a week is “nothing less than heroic”, says Burnett. “I want students to experience the joy that comes from working and solving problems with your hands. Of course, it’s important that they take away a beautiful, one-of-a-kind surfboard at the end of it all, but the process can’t be separated from the product.”
The course isn’t designed for people who want to become professional wooden surfboard builders (the market simply isn’t big enough for this). It’s designed, rather, for people searching for a backto-basics crafting experience that is inextricably linked to Nature. Students come from diverse backgrounds and places, but they all share a love of the ocean and of surfing.
One such student is Nicola Verreyne, an industrial designer who’s originally from the Garden Route. “Patrick taught us about all the tools, materials and possible pitfalls while patiently guiding us through each step of the process. At the end of it all, I got to surf on a board that is utterly unique in every sense of the word. I love it that when I surf my board, it seems as though the wood changes colour as the sunbeams and salty water reflect off it.” Most of Burnett’s courses take place at his Scarborough workshop, but he also offers at least one course in Woodstock, Cape St Francis and Durban each year. Prices vary depending on your board’s shape and length, but you’re looking at somewhere between R9 000 and R12 000 (see burnettwoodsurfboards.co.za) PM
Patrick showing the author how it’s done
Students in action at Patrick’s Woodstock course