Transport yourself to Southern Sri Lanka with our latest ebook! Download it now for free.

Asymmetrical boards with Donald Brink

Part II of our interview with Donald

Read the first part of our interview with Donald, right here.

Donald Brink’s journey isn’t only about shaping boards but also about showing people the endless opportunities you can find within the surf industry, whether it’s to make surfing become a part of your career or just one of your hobbies. As he told us, “for me, surfing isn’t so much about an extended activity. I often just jump in the sea just to stay connected”. Read the part two of our interview with Donald just below.

How long is the process of shaping a board?  

You listen to a customer needs and you executed it. How long you spend making a board doesn’t mean it will be any better. I pace myself and I spent enough time on the board to get the look and the feel and how it rides. It’s no race, but it’s also not a numbers game for me.

What aspect of shaping do you like the best? 

I think seeing something change in front of your eyes while you’re working on it is probably my favourite part. I get excited for every board I start shaping and whether it’s a wooden board or foam board, just the fact of starting with something big and ending with something small that you’ve imagined in your head never gets old.

What’s your shaping philosophy?

My boards may look a little complicated, but I strive for simplicity and the concept in the shape. Good design and a simple flow; I feel this is what I design. They may look a little tricky, but when you are breaking them down, it’s all the elements that work together.

What makes your brands stand out compared to other shapers?

I mean to push the limit of asymmetrical designs, and to be honest, it was nothing I was really familiar with when I first started shaping. I grew up with a fascination for retro boards and all the twin fins and fishes that work pretty well on waves. I then embraced this part of the design. But the frustration of trying to ride something like that was very obvious. That’s why I’ve decided to do asymmetrical changes. That’s what I’ve been committed to: trying to make the right board for the right person to fit with the way they surf. The way you feel on a surfboard is more important than the way you’re going to ride it, it’s about the elements. Making a board flow is about different parts, what you can put in and out of a board.

Are you conscious about the environment while shaping your boards?

Yes, I am. I don’t make that many boards for big companies, so I am a little less concerned about the impact I have on the industry right now though. I design the most progressive and functional boards that I can, using whatever materials available, but I am and have been working for a long time on boards that I can design within available specifications, like more sustainable option. I try to make the best boards, so if I can work on something that is more beneficial to the environment, I am 100% behind that and I do feel it’s the way the industry is going. It ends up with what surfing is at the end of the day: appreciating the environment and the way we approach it and what we choose to ride and how we ride it. It’s a lot more about the attitude than just building a board.

We tend to believe that when it’s good for the Earth, it’s automatically more expensive. Is it true?

Mine no. One of the reasons I am creating a sustainable board, it’s because I think it’s going to last at least three to four times longer than a normal board. Which is, in my opinion, more sustainable. If you just built something with different materials, it wouldn’t last any longer. So, if you can minimize your customer resale value—they save you to work more often. You are creating fewer products, which is a way to benefit the industry rather than creating bad products more often. That’s quite difficult when it comes to surfboard because, well, they’re so fragile. I tried to design boards that when you get older and bigger it will still work just as good. It’s called the Fancy Free, it’s on my website. The look and the construction of the board only come in one specific way, and that’s how they come—I don’t custom that.

You recently did an exhibition at the Surfing Museum, how did it go? Do you think it’s important to share your passion for the sea and shaping with other people?

I had an exhibit at the Surfing Museum. It was an honour to be part of an expo like this. The conversation was great! The reality is that we are just blessed to be able to play in the ocean and all the other things we get to enjoy, and that we need to remember it more often. Sometimes it’s less about the boards than people might think, but that passion leads to really good boards and sustainable flow.

It seems like you’re always working on a few projects all at once. You were recently featured in a short film where you were given woods to shape a surfboard. What did you like the most about this experience?

I really enjoy building wooden boards, I think they are special and unique. Riding a piece of wood got an amazing sound and the feeling of riding a wave with it, unless you did it before, it would be quite difficult to explain. I really enjoy it, but it doesn’t make sense to buy woods to build a board. I’ve been working with VISSLA and the relationship is really good. They brought me a board, right in the beginning, and I could just see the birth of this brand, it was unfolding. I asked them for the pallets left for the first project of the board and they were kind of curious of why I needed the wood and I was just like ‘’give me the woods, give me the woods’’, I wanted to create something that carries the foundation of a brand. It was a board made of wooden pallets, which, to me, was a good story, but the biggest and most underlined story was there was a story in the wood. It was the birth of the brand.

What are your future plans and goals? 

I got a lot of things, without giving too much away. I’ve got some projects I’m busy working on, trying to get the right people involved. Like I said, I really enjoy what I get to do, but I’m also realizing that I’m not a pro in the industry and I take that seriously. Sharing what I do is really important to me, not to get an exposure, but to spray the thought. Just to be able to show these things to more people with hope that it’s going to inspire them. I’ve got some trips coming up that I look forward too, shaping in different countries. For me, it’s a dream to go to different places and see what they are shaping with and see different perspectives. This isn’t rocket science; you can go and build boards anywhere. 

Read the first part of our interview with Donald right here.
To find out more about him, visit his website.

More Stories
Into the mind of Jessica Williamson, Founder Ete Swimwear