Today I would like to tell you a bit about Paula, not only a friend of mine on the island, but also a becoming shaper-girl, who by the way just shaped a new board for me. Shaping Surfboards is not only an art but also a personal experience. In a largely male-dominated industry, there is only a handful of women who are taking on the profession as a Shaper. So here comes a little interview, that I did with Paula, to tell you a bit more about her and her story of how she started shaping surfboards on Fuerteventura.
I know you are surfing since quite some time now – where was your first time surfing, and when did you realize, that surfing has become your passion?
The very first time I ever stood on a surfboard was in Tarifa and then once on Fuerteventura – but the first time that I would call it „surfing“ was later in Costa Rica & Panama. After managing my first take-off on the board in the „Eisbach-Welle“ in Munich, where I lived at that time, I was so hyped that I decided to go to Panama for surfing. So I guess, that’s when my passion for surfing really started.
How did you end up on Fuertventura, after staying in Panama & Costa Rica?
Well after coming back to Munich, I wanted to go back to the ocean for a longer period of time. So I was searching for jobs and ended up finding one on Fuertventura at FreshSurf. Since I have already been once on Fuertventura before, and I already knew the island and some people there, I thought – why not?? And that’s how I kind of started to really live here.
When did you first think about shaping, or how was your encounter with that?
Actually pretty much at the same time that I started surfing. Since I was surfing in the Eisbach-Welle I frequently „dinged“ my board or even broke it in half once, so I thought „How can I fix that myself?“ So what I did was literally sanding my board by hand on my balcony with a headlamp. Back then I was convinced that I could shape (laughs) … now of course I know that that was far away from any real shaping or how to fix a board. But I guess that was the beginning of it.
So when did you know you actually really wanted to learn how to shape a Board and not just repair it?
Working at a Surf school means of course a lot of broken boards. We always took the boards to a Shaper called Magma for repairing them – and this is how I met Helmut, my boss. Since I got along with him so well, I always asked him some questions about how to repair boards or how to build a board. So you see, I was already starting to think outside the box of only repairing a surfboard ;D
After nicely bribing Helmut with coffee & cake, I told him, that I would start working for him after I finished my job at the surf school. And what maybe started out as a joke, became reality. I started an internship at his workshop and after some time, I think he realized I was serious with that & started to work for him and step by step learned (…and still learning) how to shape a surfboard.
What was your very first Board you did?
It is called the „Mausi-Surfboard“ dedicated to my “Mausi” number one – Helmut. :’D Little Side note: …if you get to know Paula & her friends better, you will understand the whole Mausi-thing…
Looking back, I probably shaped like 1% of that board and Helmut took over the other 99% – haha. No, all jokes aside, that was the very first time I get to know the whole process, and he showed me more or less every single step. I can remember being so stoked about the process and then taking it out to the water the very first time – I was beyond happy. Lucky me, I got to try it out just before the lockdown started – so that was something to look forward to during that time. I still love that board, though of course now with some more experience I would sure change some things.
What do you like about Shaping Boards?
I think the biggest reason for me is being part of other people’s joy. Meaning, I can create something, that will help them to have more fun in the water. Every time a person will catch a wave with a board I made and experience that amazing feeling and that crazy happiness – I will kind of feel it too. Especially when friends are coming to me after having a nice session and hugging me & sharing their joy of how the board & the wave felt, it just makes me so happy and proud and this job even better. I mean, there is so much heart & soul in every board that I make, every custom board is an individual process – and part of that process, is this happiness coming back to me.
What are your new projects?
Right now I am working on a Longboard for a friend with a special in layer of fabric. It’s kind of a collab with wiemeer – their design will be on the fabric & I will create a board with it. So this is my to-do for the next days. And then I have 1,2 more surfboards that I want to finish until Christmas. Another future project will be laminating dried flowers in a surf board. Janine, my friend, is already collecting and drying flowers so for sure next year, there will be a flower board in the making. Hopefully more wiemeer Surf Boards and maybe also working with wood.
What are your wishes and dreams?
Of course, I want to get better in shaping, learn more, build more boards. I think at the moment my first goal is being able to shape a board without any help from Helmut. Of course also getting faster in the process. But I know that this comes with time and shaping more and more boards. In general, I want to be the best shaper in Europe – like come on – you need to set your dreams high, right? (haha) probably even worldwide as Helmut suggests… jokes aside – I mean one day having my own workshop & my own brand would be a dream come true, and I think I am on the best way of achieving that.
So if you happen to be on Fuerteventura and you are looking for somebody to shape a board for you – get in touch with Paula – (insta: @paolashapes)!
I will grab my new surfboard now and have some fun in the waves.