JUNGLE FALL – Legendary by Association.
While still in Hawaii, and after finishing Pat Rawson’s The Wall, circumstances and good fortune allowed me to complete a second surfboard. This other surfboard would become the twelfth in the collection of the 15 Surfboards by 15 Shapers project. It would be no average surfboard, however.
In any field or profession there are those that with hard work, motivation, innovation, excellence and certainly through time and demand become legends. Whatever they produce, by sheer name association, becomes collectible if not legendary. Dick Brewer and Jack Reeves are two such legends and they are the names behind surfboard #12. Their association make Jungle Fall, the title of the print adorning the Brewer shaped, Reeves glassed surfboard, one, I am proud to say, with legendary ties.
The Jungle Fall image was born deep in a Sumatran jungle. A long, hard hike led to a magnificent tropical waterfall where, short of breath and ankles and feet ravished by blood sucking leeches, I set up a 36 megapixel camera atop a tripod and snapped the photograph. That image has sat in my archive, unseen and unpublished, waiting for the time it could be appropriately used. Upon securing the shaping of a nine foot gun by Mr. Brewer the opportunity to give life to the image arose—for several reasons.
I thought it would be best to display the board vertically. It’s sleek, long lines, striking yellow tint and the Brewer name command attention. This, however, limits picture selection to vertical images, an orientation I shoot maybe 20% of the time. In addition, the image, after cropping it to fit inside the shape of the board, would need to be enlarged to nine feet with out loosing too much detail and sharpness. This severely limited the possible selection of photographs in my archive. Fortunately, a few months earlier I made a vertical image with a digital camera that provides the high resolution necessary for the cropping and enlarging. A picture made under the duress of heat, exhaustion and leeches. The image was not only technically suitable but it was ideal! Dick Brewer’s shaping career began in California although it was in Hawaii that he reached legendary status. His logo is the lei of plumeria flowers, a flower found in abundance throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Thus the tropical, green flavor of the waterfall picture was a perfect compliment to Brewer’s Hawaiian ties and his logo.
I have no shaping experience and do not possess the eye to discern the nuance of a fine shaper. Nonetheless witnessing Dick Brewer shape is a lesson in effortless precision. He’s a quiet man who, with his wife, lives in Kauai on two acres that are filled with fruit trees and surround a small wooden shaping hut. Using minimal tools, his years of experience and knowledge made quick time of crafting the board. In a matter of a few hours the board was finished, packed and with it hanging out the rear of a rental hatch-back I drove it to the airport for shipping to Oahu. It is there were Jack Reeves has his glassing factory and where I would again observe the masterful work of another legendary figure.
There are a number of highly adept and skilled laminators that will glass a Dick Brewer shaped blank. However there is one man who, when his signature and logo are attached to a Brewer, sets the board apart and gives it its intrinsic value. That person is Jack Reeves. Jack, in his early sixties with thinning gray hair and a tall, strong frame, works out of an old, run down, patched-roof building that where it not for a small pack of cats would be over run by rats.
At work Jack is comparable to a mad scientist in a billowing, chaotic lab. His shop is in total disarray though he knows exactly where everything is to the point of being organized. There is no shortage of eye glasses strewn about ready for analyzing minute details and if he needs a closer inspection he’ll double up on them. Buckets are filled with countless pieces of hardened layers of colored resin waiting to be sculpted into fine art gems. Cats, all of which he’s christened with a double word name like “cat cat”, “smarty pants”, “baby girl” and “little man”, walk about freely. Despite the chaos and craziness Jack is in fact a perfectionist. Watching paint dry is more exciting than watching him tape off a perfect pin line—‘but Jack, no one will ever know’, he will! And that’s what matters.
Jungle Fall, in simple terms, is a stunning looking surfboard! In complex terms it’s a precision surfing vehicle, the hands of Dick Brewer having molded another masterpiece. The board is like a 3 year old thoroughbred waiting to explode from the gate except the track is a bowling, twelve foot west peak at Sunset Beach. The outward finish is equally impressive. Jack’s beautiful yellow tint, the exact cut line of the print, his meticulous pin line that was painstakingly laid down by hand, the gloss coat and the final polish all add elegance and beauty to this finely crafted surfboard. I don’t wish for my photograph to detract from these two artisan’s work. Rather I hope it will bring added attention to their skills and accentuate what is finely hand made by two legends.