From the age of four, I had one passion. I wanted to be a world-champion surfer. I was so single-minded, and when my dad kept telling me not to put all my eggs in one basket, I didn’t understand what he meant.
When I finished school I didn’t have a clue what to do, so I completed a marketing diploma and then jumped on a plane to Hawaii. I got a job in construction, and it was there that I found my other passion, woodworking. I fell in love with timber and 20 years later I’m still building.

In Hawaii, we worked with the most beautiful woods – mango, cherry and the various forms of maple. The more I learned about timber, the more I fell in love with it. I will never know everything about wood, and I think that’s the greatest thing about it. Life is always exciting when you’re learning.

I lived between Hawaii and South Africa for 12 years, chasing big waves – so I experienced 24 winters in a row.

These days I live in Kommetjie, which has the best, most consistent waves.

Like everything in life, my experience with surfing has been a progression and a metamorphosis. When I was younger I put a lot of pressure on myself to keep getting better. It’s incredible to be older now and just to experience the energy of the sea. It’s become really therapeutic for me.

I’ve had lots of scary moments surfing, that’s the nature of big waves. I’m from the era prior to flotation, so if things went wrong, there was a good chance of dying. You had to make sure you were really fit and could hold your breath, or it could get scary.

But I never let that stop me. I’ve surfed lots of the world’s greatest waves over many many years. I’ve surfed Maverick in San Francisco, Todos Santos in Mexico, Jaws in Maui, and of course, Dungeons and Sunset back home.

When I was 20 I had a huge car crash, and I was lucky to get out of it alive. The doctor told me I may be able to walk again, but that I would never surf again. I realised back then that you don’t have to cave to other people’s expectations and pressure. You can live life your own way. And you should, as you don’t always get a second chance.

Carpenter & Big Wave Surfer