I’ve been into surfing for about 25 years or more, but until late 2013, I didn’t really know much about bodysurfing, let alone handplanes.
But how things have changed in the last 18 months.
And in the process of getting my head into a new sport, I lost my heart to a small, (similarly shaped), piece of foam, resin and neoprene combo. I’d discovered, and fell head over heels, (literally, as I took my first baby-steps in the surf), with an Enjoy Handplane.
As is often the case, this bodysurfing thing only came onto my radar via serendipity/happy accident/the-gods-of-joy.
Stage One: I happened to see the trailer for Keith Malloy’s seminal film: Come Hell or High Water: Exploring the history and progression of the sport of body surfing and the pureness that comes from riding in a wave, rather than standing on it via a surfboard.
Shot on 16mm, the film looks at the culture, beauty and simplicity of the sport along with the stories and locations important to the community of bodysurfing.
Have a quick look at this trailer now, I’ll wait:
Stage 2: I discovered ‘the hashtag that changed my life’ ;- #TorpedoPeople
Stage Three: I got me a pair of Da Fins, and started to leave my Longboard at home on a lot more trips to the beach.
Stage Four: (The most important one;) I got me a life-changing-life-enhancing @EnjoyHandplane, and my adventures in body-surfing took-off. Note: I don’t want to give the impression that I’m anything like an expert bodysurfer, I most definitely am not. I’m a lousy bodysurfer. But improving each session. Much more important, is that I aspire to the old surfy saying:
“Who’s the best surfer out there? The one who’s having most fun.”
Look at any bodysurfing documentary, any GoPro footage, any shot on Instagram and I guarantee, 9 waves out of 10 the riders with the widest grins, enjoying the biggest stoke are the bodysurfers.
Incidentally, I also got my plane to match the design of my Da Fins:
Based in Leucadia, California, Enjoy don’t only make beautiful boards, they also have beautiful company principles, (as well as beautiful principals ;-) Here, in their own words is the ethos to what they do:
Enjoy Handplanes was created by Ed Lewis and Kipp Denslow as a way to save broken surfboards, old wetsuits and production waste from going to landfill. The mission is to keep broken boards and manufacturing waste from the landfills while creating products that are fun to use and environmentally responsible. All Enjoy Handplanes are made with either old foam from broken boards or ruined blanks from manufacturing for the board, and neoprene from used wetsuits to make the handles. EHP use materials that do not currently have a means of recycling. Each handplane is shaped and custom glassed with Entropy Bio Epoxy, providing a second chance to a once loved board or wrecked blank doomed to the land fill.
So, how did I find out about Enjoy?
When Ed and Kipp shape a board they take a shot and post it.
I became obsessed by their feed.
Saving favourites to my hard-drive like a kid collects, saves and trades Panini football cards.
Dozens downloaded, turned into hundreds. I just felt that even the shots, never mind the actual boards, were things of great beauty, and also saw how the Instagram feed was a great product showcase, the most beautiful store front imaginable.
The boys absolutely nailed it though with a collaboaration with Patagonia, and their ‘Common-Threads’ policy. A way of recycling and reusing old, returned Patagonia fabrics back to the stores.
In a stroke of genius, Ed and Kipp started glassing some of the most strikingly designed fabrics actually into the decks of the boards they made, then these boards were sold through the Patagonia stores, so the fabrics kind of went full circle. This also meant the Instagram feed became, to my eyes at least, even more enchanting. Here’s short, exquisitely put-together film by director Doug Walker, explaining better than I ever could the Enjoy vibe:
As you can tell from this post, my enthusiasm for Enjoy knew/knows no bounds.
Then, one day, (must have been flat down the beach) I had the idea that maybe the collected Instagram shots would make a cool art exhibition?
(Luckily enough, my missus is a picture-framer, so that ticked that box. Also a good bodyboarding pal, David Ortiz, as well as being a fine-waterman, is a particularly fine art printer, with some awesome, gallery-quality, digital Repro kit.)
Which is where the current personal/part-time project of staging an EnjoyHandplanes touring art exhibition was born.
We’re currently exploring the best way to display hundreds of shots of Enjoy Hand Planes. Using ethically sourced materials where possible and even tracking down old barn, fence and floorboard woods we can recycle, restore and rout rebates into for the frames.
Getting into bodysurfing and handplaning has been a fun ride. To me, Enjoy are a wonderful example of a modern, progressive company, keeping traditional values, as they make their name through a potent synthesis of craftsmanship and skillful use of social media.
Discovering them, also pulled onto my radar all sorts of new delights, insights and friendships, from the expression Yew!, to the Wedge crew, bobbiewobie, johnpbrodie, Leucadia United, Said Space Gallery, SaltySliders, Patagonia Cardiff, @dafinhi, it goes on and on (Did somebody say ‘the Gift that keeps Giving?’)
So a big thank you to Ed and Kipp for both epic wave-riding tools and for being kind to the Ocean.
You can follow, and I urge you to do so, Enjoy Handplanes here: