I saw them in a little corner store, just down the road in the centre of Lisbon. Perfectly white, no dimensions but a nicely designed little logo. Nothing, it says.
I picked one of them up, it felt good underneath my arm, a good sign. Then I remembered that I surfed a spot around Lisbon, like one or two months ago, where I ended up swapping Boards with a friend of mine. A little, kind of weird looking twinnie with the same logo. I had one wave with that Board which ended up being a tiny barrel with a classic German style exit. Yep, it was wonky. That was fun I thought.
For this round of “Local Brands”, I met up with Sesimbra local, obviously surfer and shaper José Raimundo, head of Nothing Surfcrafts. His shaping journey began 6 years ago, while today, he is delivering boards for a bunch of Lisbon locals, surfers around and now also internationally, to Germany.
You are shaping surfboards. Why?
I can't really tell you why I do boards because that fundamental question never popped on my mind. I always had a special relationship with the ocean and the beach itself, the smell of the sand in the early morning, the heat reflecting and burning your skin, spending the entire day there, I didn't even have to eat. It really fills my head with information and stimulus that overwhelms me. Bodysurfing all day (before I even had a surfboard).
I live close to my favourite wave (my home spot) even though it is a love/hate relationship. It needs a highly specific forecast/alignment of the sandbanks to work properly, but when it does ... It's perfection. Uncrowded blue warm water in the summer ... it has a special aura that many don't understand. That is why it is uncrowded. I mean ... It had some old school guys that surfed there, and I saw their routine, chasing tides and winds, always predicting conditions for the next low to high tide. They lived for that chase, from the vans with their boards inside, to the jobs they had just to be able to surf every day ... And I also think that is why I fell in love with surfing and looking back now I think building boards was my own way to be able to continue the chase they started.
So, I dropped college and dove in without any expectations ... Just building surfboards for me to surf. Then the word spread, and things happened naturally.
What was the first Board you owned yourself?
My very first surfboard ... I can't remember from which brand it was, but it was shaped by Rabbit (very known Portuguese shaper). A 6'4 thruster (blue deck spray with black pin line around. I never had a soft top or something longer to help learning. It simply didn't exist back than in Sesimbra, 17 years ago ...
Do you still have it?
Lost track of the board, but I think it is stacked between garbage in my aunt's garage. It is a fact that I do not give too much importance to boards themselves. It is just an object that helps you ride waves. but if you don't have surf inside your head, no board will help you. Boards come from an idea, a feeling and that for me is way more important. That I keep in my mind, stashed.
Also, I surf one design to exhaustion, so I get sick of it and sell the board or simply don't surf it anymore. But the idea, the feelings they stuck to my mind, and I design new boards from there, always trying to get a new way to approach the wave.
What type of Board are you really excited about? Do you want to achieve a perfect performance Board?
Now I am testing and really enjoying to surf on a personal asymmetrical twinzer that probably is the best result from a year of riding twinzers with different shapes and different fin placements. Twins are beautiful but I wanted to be more aggressive in critical timings and twinzers are the perfect balance, but fin placement is key, and they work a bit differently than what you would expect.
Achieving perfection is pointless ... It does not exist. Perfection is subjective and therefore impossible. I rather work towards imagination making sure that I turn an object into a message to the person who is riding the board. That communication only happens if the surfer is willing to pay attention and be precise enough to change with every board. That is why you have surfers that can really perform at a high level but within a range of conditions / material and then you have great geniuses / artists that know how to read the board and the waves in a whole other level.
I’ve seen your Boards around Lisbon, of course, but they recently also popped up in Munich, Germany, at the Eisbach river wave. Are you interested in rapid surfing or what’s happening?
Yes! It is funny how different ocean and rapid surfing are ... Almost two different sports ... But if we look closer it is just a variation of the water flow, it is a game between dynamic lift and static lift. I was asked by Jaro (WAVEPATROL) to design a board for the Eisbach specifically. I didn't have a minimum idea about how water runs there, the shape of the wave, what shapes are those guys using, measurements etc. so Jaro played a key role, giving me all that info (I never went there even until now) and my imagination did the rest. I can't dissociate the romantism from surfing, so I want it to be more of a graceful board that can still really perform at high levels.
First prototype wasn't satisfactory, and I got frustrated (only I know how much) and therefore I accepted the challenge to make it work ... took my time to let all the info sink in my mind, trying to visualise it surfing there in such a different environment. Didn't want to convert its aura 100% to rapid surfing, almost like: "ok I am going to do a board for him, but it is going to be at my image, this is the only way for me to be motivated, imagining me surfing there". When I did the second prototype, it was working! Smooth, responsive, easy to ride, graceful. And then I could breathe. It's always like this with me, do it or break it within two tries. Third try, you're forcing it ... It was a win for me personally because I could do a board working in such a special place without ever surfing there. Mixing my own way of perceiving surfing at the Eisbach environment ... Thanks, Jaro!
An alien world for me that brought me so much information ... And I am here just for that information that can make up better craftsman and even a better person. Always learning.
What's your approach to surfing?
My approach to surfing I think it is pretty basic ... By that I mean that I don't think too much on what I want to be or what I want to reach with all of this. It's a mixture of all. But for sure that I continue surfing and making boards because it is always opening possibilities of growing, learning, as a Craftsman but more important as a person. So, I don't consider myself a shaper or a Glasser or a sander (cuz I do it all by myself) or even a surfer ... Honestly, I am a person who likes to learn. Just that.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Though question ... But for sure not from anybody specifically. I avoid scrolling Instagram or Stab or any other platform. Instead, I prefer to listen to my friends, some of them are really skilled surfers. Sure, I do my research, but I don't seek anything in particular. I tend to use my imagination when I am alone at the factory (which happens every day 🤣), listening to music, writing poems on the walls, painting some absurd drawings. Many days I spend more time drawing and writing than working ... But all of that creates an environment from which I can extract a felling, and from there I translate that into the boards. Most of the times are bi-polar, passive-aggressive, dark beautiful feelings. I prefer to create a process of mine rather than simply recreate someone else's boards. Some of them work, some don't (and then I get frustrated, cuz it's not just a board that does not work, it is an entire process of thinking) but at least I am true to myself.
Do you shape full time? And if yes, how does that work out? Is being a surfboard shaper the dream, or do you sometimes rather would be in an office?
Yes, I build boards full-time. I would not change what I do for anything else. It is one of the very few jobs that give you total freedom to do whatever you want. Like I said before, it is a job that fulfils all my needs as a person.
I saw some of your asymmetric boards and surfers ripping on them. I am really interested in these shapes. Of course, watching Ryan Burch shaping and surfing asymms, or Bryce Young ripping on these boards makes me feel I miss out on a lot of fun, style and probably a different feeling.
What’s up with the asymms? Do you think people should ride more boards like that, and if yes, why?
Most of the people do not have the profile to ride those type of boards ... Because they simply aren't precise enough, the communication between board and surfer doesn't exists.
Reasons for that: We were used to have almost just one type of board to surf (at least for the majority), the thruster. It brought many good things to surfing but the way it was used by the masses killed almost every other type of design. Simply there was no opportunity for other shapes. Over generations we got used to it, getting better at it but loosing so much more ... Another reason: practicing surf is not the same thing as being a surfer. There is a huge difference. A surfer must be open to experiment and to understand how it works, why it works etc. There is no other way. Good athletes exist around the entire world. Guys who can create, there are not many ... I think we turned ourselves in better athletes, not surfers.
In that sense, I also think that you have to be honest with yourself before surfing asymms or twins or whatever and ask if you have the preciseness to like the board, to change your surfing, the way you perceive surfing. Don't ride those boards simply because they are in fashion, you will not enjoy it ... Or at least not at its full potential. In fact, many surfers are trying to take that path, but I am not confident they are asking themselves the important question ... I know that this doesn't answer specifically to your question, but I can't say simply yes or no. It all depends, I don't want to live in a world where we turn everything into banality.
Not everyone must ride asymms, like not everyone must ride thrusters …
Thank you Zé for the chat. I still want to try an asymm, let's see about my preciseness😉. Até ja and see you in the water.