“Surfing is a young sport in Australia,” Bournda-based board shaper Jed Done says thoughtfully. “The first foam boards were being made in the early 60s. Before that, it was all timber.”
Jed has been catching up on surfboard technology since he first began building boards when he was 15 and is now one of a handful of hand-shapers in the world, known for his trademark negative rocker in the tail of the board, which increases drive and speed.
You can watch Jed shape his boards through a ‘fishbowl’ glass window which looks into a small workshop at the back of the Pambula surf shop, Switchfoot Boardstore, that he runs with his partner, Patricia Mills.
“People are craving the old-school surf shops, where you’d sit around and talk waves for hours and they are also wanting a relationship with the shaper,” Patricia comments. “When Jed is making a board for someone, it’s often months of emails back and forth about the finer details, a custom product made just for that person and the wave they ride.”
Switchfoot was born two years ago when the couple noticed empty shops around Merimbula and Pambula and contemplated having a pop-up store to spread the word about Jed’s boards.
“But when we realised that Jed could work out the back in quiet times, we went with it. It works for our family. It’s a friendly, homey place to be,” Patricia says.
There’s certainly a lot of family around the store, with a collection of Patricia’s siblings, nephews and in-laws drifting in and out, creating a bustling atmosphere.
“I come from a big surfing family. We’ve been in Pambula for generations,” she laughs, “but Jed is a first-generation surfer.”
He’s making up for lost time though and is just back from ticking an item off his bucket-list: surfing Jeffreys Bay in South Africa, the best point break in the world.
“I’ve always wanted to surf that spot,” Jed shares with a wide smile. “I took four boards in one board bag.”
Pambula river mouth once had a world-renowned break, too and in the background, perhaps every Pambula surfer is hoping that one day, the break will return to its former glory.
“Pambula has such a strong surf history,” Patricia explains.
“In the 70s and 80s, the river mouth was a world-famous wave and while it’s still renowned, since the river silted it hasn’t been the same. But every now and again there’s a big storm and it looks like it might wash out, so we all keep hoping.”
In the meantime, Jed is perfecting his design, looking to sacred geometry for inspiration.
“I’m still finding formulas and patterns. It’s all numbers. We know what works in surfing. We know the board needs a curve, it’s just a matter of how much,” explains Jed, who is self-taught, with a carpentry background, and uses a drafting program to design the curves of his boards.
Jed and Patricia have been developing their business model as part of the University of Wollongong’s Innovation Hub, which Patricia says has been “pretty perfect for us”.
Surfing may be young in Australia but the small coastal town of Pambula is not history yet. And with Jed Done boards and Switchfoot on the scene, it looks like it’s got a big future ahead.
For more information, visit Switchfoot Boardstore.
Review of a Jed Done board by Tracks magazine below.