Good Boards

Glen D’Arcy lebt seine Leidenschaft mit kompromissloser Konsequenz – Und das seit 1968, als sich der gebürtige Südafrikaner mit 15 Jahren sein erstes Brett baute. Ein halbes Jahrhundert und über 50.000 Boards später, hat der Shaper aus Jeffrey’s Bay nichts von seinem ursprünglichen Stoke verloren. Glen ist menschgewordene Surfkultur und teilt sein Wissen großzügig, wenn man ihn mal außerhalb der Shaping-Bay erwischt.

Über das Gründer-Duo der Bretterschmiede Norden-Surfboards, Andy Wirtz und Angelo Schmitt, haben wir Zeit für ein Interview mit Glen bekommen. Es gibt nicht viele, die es schaffen den Bogen von irren Roadtrips mit Miki Dora, über die Nachhaltigkeit der Surfindustrie, bis zu einem Loblied auf die Deutsche Surfszene zu spannen. Es folgt ein Gespräch mit einer echten Legende – im Original.

Meet The Makers Shot By Mr Bookwood Kopie 1
"Good boards aren't cheap. Cheap boards aren't good."

Morning Glen. Thanks for taking the time. To kick this off, drop us a few lines about where you’re from and what you’re about.

Cheers bru. My name is Glen D’Arcy and I’m a shaper. I started surfing in 1968 at the small coastal town of Warner Beach, about 20 Kilometers south of Durban – on a board that I shaped myself. And I’ve never looked back. Shaping took me all over the world. I spent 6 months in brazil in 1977 for example. Brazil was a huge emerging market and they did not have many shapers, so I continued to shape there on and off for the better part of 10 years. In 1980 I moved to J-Bay and started Seaflight surfboards until the mid-Eighties before doing my own label GLEN D’ARCY SURF DESIGNS in the late Eighties. Since then I’ve shaped boards in Spain and France and recently Germany.

So, your origin-story goes way back then. What made you pick up the shaping tools?

I started shaping in 1968 with a friend from Warner Beach in his mother’s garage. We were still in high school at the time. We had friends that wanted us to make boards for them, so things progressed from there.

Yeah, you could say that. Before we get into the details about board building and your involvement with Norden Surfboards, can we talk about Miki Dora for a sec? I heard some rumors…

What can I say, Dora was a legend… and eccentric. I met him in Guéthary in 1977 on my way back from Brazil. The waves were huge and we knew that Mundaka would be going off. Dora had never been to Mundaka, as he refused to cross the border to Spain in his own van, so he asked if he could come with us. We were going for a few days as I had never been to Spain before… and I guess that was the beginning of the love-hate relationship.

Miki Dora
"Eventually Miki arrived in J-bay in the early Nineties…he came with peace offerings."

Keep going…

Ok, so Dora rocks up to giant Mundaka with his 7’6 Baland pingpong ball board in tow, which he lost after getting dusted on a 8ft wave. The board got washed up the river and Miki collapsed on the beach with an asthma attack. The board disappeared, we assume that a fisherman helped himself to it. Dora didn’t bounce back well from that and his shit mood bummed everyone out so bad, that we ended up packing up early and taking him back to France…
We had many other happenings with Dora in France in 1977 - too many to mention. Eventually he arrived in J-Bay in the early Nineties…he came with peace offerings. We became friends again - Until he tried to sue us, that is. We had mutual friends that got married at our house. Miki brought his dog with him and during the proceedings our bull terrier attacked his little Spaniel. Hence the relationship went sour.

Wow, ok. I don’t really know how to segue from that, but here’s something about relationships. How would you describe your approach to the relationship between shaper and surfer? Or what can people expect when they order a board from you?

I think every shaper has a something unique in the way they shape boards , everyone puts their own twist in what they want to achieve. As a shaper I try to interpret what style of board is suited for the surfer and the type of waves they want to surf.


Speaking about a wave that just about everyone wants to surf. How has Jeffrey’s Bay influenced your craft?

Jeffreys Bay is a unique wave. Most surfboards work here as it is a fast hotdog-wave. The style of board depends on the mood of the surfers on the day. Everyone has their personal preference.

Jbay Norden Surf Blue
"J-Bay is a special wave..."

Who are some of the surfers you worked closest with on boards?

After returning from Brazil, France and Spain in 1978 I worked for Shaun Tomson in Durban for two years. During that time, we made boards for a variety of labels from top surfers around the world. Larry Bertlemann, Town and Country, M.R. Mark Richards and Byrne to name a few. We had loads of hot up and coming surfers on our team - including ("1989 world champ") Martin Potter, so I had the opportunity to work together with all of them. Living in J-Bay in the early 80 also gave me the opportunity to shape boards for all the travelling surfers too. I think it has been a culmination of lots of different people over the past 52 years shaping.

And who are some of your biggest influences on your shaping and what do you feel goes into the creation of a great board?

Over the years we have had numerous shapers from around the world coming to J-Bay to spend time and sample the waves and shape boards while they were here. It has been interesting to see their interpretation over the years on what designs they thought would work here. It’s been quite inspirational working with Andy from Norden as he has a positive idea on what he wants for the surf market that he supplies around Europe.

Norden Surfboards Blue
"PU and polyester resins are definitely my choice of materials."

Talk us through that connection. How did you end up being the head shaper for Norden Surfboards and where did you meet Andy and Angelo?

If my memory serves me well, I met Andy through Angelo at my factory in J-Bay in the early Nineties when we were manufacturing quite a few boards a week.

What are the materials (blanks, glass, resin) you prefer to work with and why?

PU and polyester resins are definitely my choice of materials as they are easier to work with, but unfortunately all the materials we work with are petrochemical byproducts. I hope in the near future someone will come up with an eco-friendlier core for surfboards.

Meet The Makers Kiel
Glen taking his show on the road during the Norden Surfboards demo tour.

You got to show your skills in the shaping bay on a demo tour with Norden Surfboards through Germany and Denmark a while ago, what was your impression of the surf scene here?

The people in the industry are so stoked, considering they do not have the best quality waves. Everyone is super passionate about their sport and it shows in every aspect. And the stereotype is true: You guys are really organized. It’s very inspirational.

Let’s close out the interview on this positive note. Any last words?

Yeah. Tell your readers, if they ever plan on coming to J-Bay and want the very best accommodation, me and my wife Lauren are building an amazing guest house called “@ Supers” right at the supertubes car park. Huge roof top verandah, where you can chill with a cold beer and watch the barrels! Keep surfing. Stay stoked!

Meet The Makers Shot By Mr Bookwood Kopie 4

Thanks Glen.



Norden Surfboards

Mr. Bookwood