On the 29th March we will be holding our first Finisterre + Otter Surfboards Handplane Workshop. Where 6 lucky individuals will get the chance to have the guidance from James Otter to hand shape their own handplanes!
We caught up with James this week to sort out the details and ask a few questions on the art of handplaning and his own experiences...
Photo: Mat Arney
Bio - Otter Surfboards has evolved from James' desire to marry a passion for wood as a material with his passion for surfing in a search for a surfboard with a minimal environmental impact. With a background in designing and making award-winning furniture and traditional timber framing, James turned his skills to building a couple of wooden surfboards. The interest that they generated at beach car parks coupled with James' enthusiasm and thoughtfulness slowly developed into a fledgling business and building surfboards and running our workshops has now taken over from furniture making. James lives on the cliffs above the sea allowing him to check the waves on his way into the workshop each morning…sometimes arriving a little late with wet hair.
There is always three top things we love to know from the new people we connect with.
Your coldest hand plane session…
James - Probably through this winter at a few local breaks while testing out some new shapes to be added to our range this spring...though I do remember a session in february a few years back where is was such a clear crisp fresh winters morning down at the bottom of the hill here in Porthtowan, with a clean 4ft swell running and just me and a friend out on our handplanes, pulling into closeout barrels at low tide - such fun!
Your essential kit list...
James - Very much depends on where I'm going. If I need to travel light and it's to the tropics, it's a handplane, pair of fins, boardies and then essential travel kit. If it's somewhere a little closer to home, I'll usually take the van with one or two close friends and pack as many boards and wetsuits in as possible, trying to remember that we'll be sleeping in the van with them. Then it's a case of plenty of cooking and food supplies, essential warm layers and the kettle! It seems that when you don't have the comfort of home and the water is cold, almost all of the time out of the water is spent warming yourself up again. We'll always pack a grill too for impromptu barbeques on the beach the moment the sun comes out :)
Favourite break...(For handplaning)
James - For me nothing beats being at home and my handplane lives in the van, so one of my favourite places are the punchy banks of Porthtowan and Chapel, which I try and take advantage of any time I'm passing if it looks fun, even if it's just for 20 minutes.
Photo: Mat Arney
James Otter - 5 top tips for the handplaning beginner.
Nothing beats spending time in the water practicing, so get in there as much as you can and learn how to read the many moods of the ocean and the way different waves will break. A pair of swim fins help hugely with getting into waves when you're out of your depth and makes swimming safer too. When you wipe out, try to bring the handplane in towards your chest and hold on to it. This will reduce the chance of the turbulence causing you any damage and make sure the plane is safe. Have fun and one of the best things is that when there is a big wave looming down on you, it's just so easy to swim under and get out to catch the next one, unlike when you have a board with you.
Photo: Mat Arney
More info on winning a place to our Finisterre + Otter Surfboards Hanplane Workshop HERE.
Photo: Gary Moger