Nica Kneeboard

Making a new board for myself in Nicaragua has been like turning back time…

When I started to get serious about shaping in the early 70s we made them in dairies, farms, old houses in bushland by the coast. Ducks and chickens quacked and clucked their way in and out the door, dogs slept in foam dust, veggie garden was out the back. No mortgage, no bills, no problems, nothing but the next surf on the brain. Surf morning, noon and sundown.

We made our own fins; foiling was fun and… itchy! Single fins – lots of dropping and climbing and driving out onto the shoulder for the roundhouse cutback. It was a very creative time – we just made our boards go. We might have had to come back and put a bit more flex in the fin – nothing like a twangy tip – the story goes that we just kept surfing those boards till they went.

They call this period we live in ‘the digital age’, yet shaping a board in rural Central America brought back to me how it is supposed to be. Kids curiously watching my every move in the shaping bay, my friend’s wife kneading dough in the background, and ducks and chickens wandering in and out the door set the scene for memory lane of a simpler time. 

My friend (factory owner) watched the chine rail and concave bottom process, intrigued.  Next, the ‘hippy’ splurge resin art was another source of fascination. We shared ideas of shaping, glassing, sanding, polishing. That’s just how it was in the early days too – we loved it, we lived it. 

Someone recently made a comment that this Nicaraguan shaping experience was organic, and that’s so true. 

Along with a digital and commercial age comes a certain sterile environment. When clear board after clear board is popped out it can feel a little like a battery hen environment. Hey, I‘m not knocking anyone – I’ve been a production shaper/sander/polisher and I understand why it has gone this way.

But, when contrasting the two environments I can’t help but go into a bit of a dream-like reminisce. We played music and it co-related to the boards we made, the waves we rode and the life we lived. No crowds, mellow vibes, country living. 

The best things in life really are simple and they’re free. 

Just taking your time, thinking things through… and when you accomplish the thing, you’re so stoked it’s done! You move onto the next phase, the next process…

A good board takes time, so take your time… coz time is all we have.

6 thoughts on “Nica Kneeboard

  1. A great post Neil, you have a way with words. I too yearn for the simpler times. I still have my first boards from the ’70s and early ’80s. But when I get on my modern Neil Luke ‘freak’ I am very much living in the here and now! Cheers Chris McArdle

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