Sunday, 27 December 2009

Surfing Baler, Philippines

We have been hanging out at the Little Girls Surfers Lodge in Baler for a week now. We have had some fun little waves on the beach and even a few barrels on the reef at the end of the bay. We are planning though to do an outer island trip, where there should be more swell and a great left point. Been spending a lot of time working on a story about the local surf scene here for Huck Magazine and have met some great people. The swell is going to pick up in a couple of days and should be pretty epic.

The proprietor of the Little Girls Surfers Lodge is Donnie, an expat American surfer who has moved out here to escape the crowds and commercialism of California. Naming his lodge after his cute Little girls, this really is a great place to stay and Donnie can hook you up with the info to get good waves. If you head this way check him out on Sabang Beach, just after the Bays Inn.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Travelling Through Time and Space

At times travelling can feel like moving though space and time which in reality you are when crossing multiple time zones. Travelling at night can be particularly surreal to the senses as well.

We travelled four hours by van to Heathrow, twenty hours by plane to Manila, then one hour local flight to the coast and finally arrived in our first destination of Pagudpud, where we found it to be flat, Do!

The area we explored was remote, secluded and beautiful. It had great potential for surf but only during typhoons in the summer. So we headed south and found an amazing point setup but far too windy. Eventually we ended up at the winter surf capital of San Juan and scored some fun beach and point waves. Unusual weather patterns has left the normally consistent west coast of Luzon, with a distinct lack of waves.

So we have headed over to Baler where Apocalypse Now was filmed. The surf here is a mixture of fun beaches and heavy, hollow reef breaks. The surf is starting to look good and the story we are looking for is coming together.

The people of the Philippines are the most friendly we have ever encountered and really laid back. It is really amazing scenery and Baler is a tropical paradise. Its a lot like Hawaii but with out the development.

More stories to come...

Monday, 7 December 2009


Colors of Coincidence is a monograph of Wolfgang Bloch's art, designed by David Carson and with text by Mike Stice. Expectations are always going to be high since David Carson and Wolfgang Bloch are two of the most influential creative's around.

Combining a simplistic approach and a sober palette Wolfgang Bloch has rose to be one of the most celebrated of surfing's artists. His imagination and uncanny eye for seeing waves in places most do has lead to him incorporating many media's into his paintings including wood, magazines or newspaper and even a cut in half surfboard. Bloch's artwork has captivated surfers and none surfers alike with his austere paintings that are imbued with the intensity of his Latin roots. The paintings are a culmination of his experiences as a surfer and artist combined with the unpretentious and rustic life of South America, which beget his life as an artist. Moving away from what typifies surf art; his raw and ethereal paintings can cause you to question, would I surf that?

The book contains personnel photographs by himself, some of his best paintings and his story as an artist brought to life in words by Mike Stice. From growing up in Ecuador to working as a graphic designer for some of the biggest surf companies the story follows Bloch's journey.

If you cannot afford your own collection of these paintings but would like to explore Bloch's life and works then this book will not disappoint and is much more that your average coffee table book.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


Why bodyboard when you can paipo gliiiiiiiide...

Monday, 30 November 2009


Whilst surfing at Watergate on a small but fun day, a guy on the longest, widest and thickest longboard I had ever seen proceeded to catch every wave he could and go straight. Each to their own, I thought. Then after the surf, whilst he stood on the beach checking someone out with a Mini Simmons he turns to me as I walk past and says, "That thing will never turn". Hmm, maybe he should watch this clip

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

A Winter Wonderland

Something I wrote for Drift last month.

September sessions here in Cornwall are normally the best of the year but this year the surf was dire. Just when it seemed like it was going to be one of the worst Autumns I can remember, October turned up with the goods. The last three weeks has seen some epic sessions go down. From tow-in barrel seeking sessions in giant waves at Fistral to shoulder high peelers perfect for longboarding- there has been something for everyone. Many classic spots that lie dormant for much of the year have been working but with the mandatory crowd, if you keep your eyes open quiet sessions are found.

After three weeks of great waves, usual transmission has resumed. Howling westerly gales are forecast for the next week, the balmy late autumn temps are fading away and the dark nights have drawn in. Therefore, it looks like its time to batten down the hatches for winter. The changing seasons are a facet of nature as it evolves throughout the year so embracing it can help you to bond with and enjoy the environment around you. Winter offers you the chance to surf spots you can't the rest of the year (many of which are quality waves), spend stormy days seeking out that elusive spot you always heard about followed with a pint by an open fire, enjoy the lower crowd pressure and open space on land as well as in the water, expand your quiver to surf winters more powerful swells plus the dark nights can give you more time to work on projects or other interests you have and most importantly time to plan those winter trips. Whilst there are many positives from wintering in Cornwall I'll still be jetting off to the Philippines but only for a month- don't want to miss too many of those winter swells.

Boardshorts 2009

The evening of surf related short films by independent makers went off in style down at Falmouth's Tremough Campus Student Union, whilst a frigid northerly wind blew a hoolie outside.

Gladly inside out of the cold we received a warm welcome by compare, Christian Bailey who brought the evening to life introducing each film with enthusiasm and humour. The films on show were an array from all corners of the surfing sphere.

The first film was 5 by Fion Crow Howieson. It documents the Carve reader's poll top five surfers on a trip to the Mentawi Island. A high-energy film with fast high performance surfing cut to high tempo music in the worlds best waves. Following this was quite a contrast as Ollie Banks offered up his film, Board and Rider. Great surfing and great waves again but this time in a cold water climate, shot on 16mm film this was a slow paced artistic film that explores another path in surfing. Nightwaves by Mr B was a very slick ambient collage of waves set to very atmospheric soundtrack. Not happy to show just one film Mr B had another film on show called Rhythms were Sam Lamiroy talks about being in tune with the ocean. There were also two documentaries shown. One by Mark Roberts called Noises From The Shed; documenting the process, he follows to produce his finely crafted unique EPS and wood surfboards. The second was a very moving film by Izzy Charman, The Beach Boys. This follows three children on autistic spectrum as they learn to surf. Come Surf With Me by Rodney Sumpter brought us flashbacks of the halcyon days in the 1960's and 1970' with classic footage from around Cornwall and the rest of the world including Gerry Lopez at the Banzai Pipeline. The last film was Surf Hog a cartoon by Robbie McIntosh. This fun filled film was my favourite as it showed a surf loving Hog living the dream on a palm-fringed island surrounded by epic waves.

After much deliberation the panel of judges (including Finisterre's Tom Kay, Sarah Bently and James Parry) declared Board and Rider by Ollie Banks as best film of Board Shorts 2009 which was well deserved for a film that encapsulates the creativity and individuality evident in surfing today. It was a great evening showing the rich variety in British surf culture.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Over the last ten years, I have travelled to the Basque region of France many times and have dreamed of one day living there. I have written an article that is a culmination of the experience and joy I have had in this special place. Indian Summers can be read in the current issue number 10 of Corduroy Lines available online at

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Three Is The Magic Number

The Campbell Brothers are two of only a few original designer/shapers in the world and have stayed true to there philosophies throughout the ups and downs that the surf industry has dealt them over the last nearly fourty years. Yes thats right- the Bonzer design will be fourty years old next year. Having stuck with there design even through periods of relative obscurity the Bonzer has gained popularity with the recent interest in designs alternative to the thruster. Malcolm Campbell was in Cornwall for a week shaping boards. Steve Croft and I was fortunate to snag some of his time to interview him for Drfit Magazine.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

A Greener Wave

Surfboards and the environment have been a hot topic in surfing for a year or two now. With the demise of Clark Foam and the continued publicity of global warming there has been a big push on alternative materials to the petro chemical based polyurethane. With this in mind I did a bit of my own research on the subject and interviewed the enviromentally conscious managing director of Homeblown, Tris Cokes. We talked at lenght about eco boards and Homeblowns unique MDI foam. To find out more check out the article on Drfit @

Friday, 28 August 2009

The Search...

Let me take you back to early Spring 2002, if my memory serves me correctly. I had timed a day off work to coincide with a good swell, only when the day and the swell arrived, so did the inevitable wind screaming out of the south west.
With the sky overhead heavy with dark grey cloud, I headed over to Harlyn Bay in an effort to find shelter and ferret out some good waves. But an oversight on my part was, when I arrived it was a super high tide and the swell I had awaited, unloaded onto the sand dunes in one long line, stretching across the beach.
Then it struck me even if there was not much logic to it, go to St Agnes. I had not been out West for a while, so out to the Badlands I headed. Pulling into Trevuance Cove car park the first signs of surf looked good, then looking down from the vantage point I could see the wind and tide had receded and wedging right-handers were peeling across the bay. Also due to it being midweek, midday and outside of the holidays it was uncrowded. What followed was a session more than worthy of a day off. On my last wave, once it had closed out, I rode prone towards the beach and paddling out was no other than the evergreen, Tom Curren.
I was later to learn Tommy was here on a euro promo tour for Realm and that this day was the best waves of the trip. I hung around and watched as Curren provided a master class in style, power and all round mastery of surfing. He drew uncluttered lines with perfect body English all over the waves and dissecting each section with manoeuvres performed with surgical precision. Video does not capture the moment like seeing it for yourself.
Tom Curren needs no introduction and you could right several pages at least, on his influence on modern surfing including his tutoring of a young Kelly Slater. But less is appreciated of his influence on post modern surfboard design.
In 1993 Tom Curren reappeared at an ASP event in France after an hiatus from competition. With him he brought a 1969 5’4” Rick Twin Fin he had purchased second hand in New Jersey. The then ranked 8th in the world, Matt Hoy drew Curren in the 2nd round, which was held in onshore slop. Curren destroyed Hoy with a combination of blazing speed and power house tail slides on his fish and all Hoy could say was “why did he have to do that to me”. Curren then accidently brings the fish back to the attention of the masses, by appearing in the Rip Curl Search film “Beyond The Boundaries” riding various fishes. Going on the Fish Hunt he rides a Skip Frye fish at J Bay and the infamous Tommy Peterson shaped 5’7” hybrid “Fireball Fish”(which had three fins) in giant Indo waves, all around 1994.
He also had a period in the early nineties experimenting with single fin boards made with the same dimensions of a standard thrusters which he can be seen riding in Litmus. Also the back to front vee to concave bottom shape that Rich Pavel uses on his now famous “Speed Dialler” is a product of a Curren and Maurice Cole experimental period in France. Cole was shaping Curren a gun for Curren and in his confusion he shaped the bottom contours back to front by mixing the tail up with the nose due to the pintail making both ends look the same, so the board had vee in the nose and concave in the tail rather than vice versa. Since he had shaped it, Cole had it glassed up and Curren loved it, then later Pavel adopted the design for his own experiments.
Also known for bodysurfing to avoid the crowds and cameras, making music and being reticent to the point of reclusiveness. Curren's holistic approach to surfing is one of function and his feeling for surfing, so it’s no surprise his eclectic approach kick started a design revival.

Indian Summers

Southwest France is famous for its late Indian Summers, with long hot days, surfing in boardies, morning offshores, early autumn swells and evenings spent sipping red wine, making it a perfect camping trip. For Alexa and I, it has been an annual habit, packing up the van in september and making the run down to Biarritz. Enjoying the sense of freedom from being on the open road.
Crossing the river Ardour from the Landes region to the north after the long drive down through France, the landscape begins to transform from a flat landscape dense with the famous pine tress to verdant hills, rolling inland across the hinterland towards the Pyrenees which rise steeply in the distance as if they are watching over this region. Cliffs, reefs, points and rocky headlands intersperse the coast creating a breathtaking coastline with a myriad of waves and offering options in a variety conditions. This variety suits us and we pack our quiver accordingly- fishes, single fins, shortboards and longboards all crammed in the van. Whether its mellow peeling Basque beach breaks and reefs, grinding Hossegor or Anglet barrels, big drops at Guethary or the reeling point of Lafetania, there is something for everyone - a smorgasboard of surfing delights.
Only a short drive inland the Pyrenees offer an alternative to surfing particulary if it is flat. Truly wild camping is possible up in the mountains among the rivers and forests. Epic mountain biking, scenic walks and a healthy dose of nature are all on offer.
Not forgetting the amazing des supermarche, le vin rouge, le fromage and other culinary delights. Where else in the world do bakery’s and supermarkets shut for lunch? You have to love a country with a two hour lunch break and a thirty five hour working week!
But alas there will be no euro road trip for us this summer as we have spent all our money buying a Cornish cottage and will be spending our September break renovating, so here we are dreaming of an Indian Summer...

Photo by Alexa Poppe

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Living The Dream, On Credit

This is my most recent contribution to Drift Magazine. It is Johnny Abegg's story of living his dream of becoming a pro surfer. He spent three years on the WQS with no financial backing, only four credit cards to support himself. He racked up a huge debt and made a film about his experience called 'On Credit'. In the process of making the film, he goes through a life changing experience. Today he has ditched the his previous single minded ambitions for a more creative approach to life. Making the film lead him to career in media whilst he works on other artistic projects through his blog. Check out the full story and interview at:

Thursday, 6 August 2009

2 FINS Interview

I recently interviewed Steve Croft, who is the shaper up at laminations.  Steve has been ghost shaping for Chops Lascelles for some time and producing some great shapes under his own label Empire Surfboards.  I had seen the Empire boards in a few magazines a couple of years ago but found more about Steve when my girlfriend, Alexa Poppe recently joined Empire Surfboards as a team rider.  I was impressed by the board he has made Alexa and was intrigued by his approach to surfboard design.  He is originally from North East Yorkshire and has an interest in alternative surfboard design, that pre-dates the retro fashion and is not realy influenced by fads, rather approaching design pragmatically.  The full article will be published by Drift, the online surf magazine.

Summer Fun

Summer is in full flow here in Cornwall, now the sun has finally come out.  Schools are finished and the county is full to the brim.

The Boardmasters also kicked off this week and there has been heaps of swell for the first part of this week and good waves to be had for all.  Except for me, who is languishing with a bad back.

Most beaches are now packed with tourists and locals making the most of the summer.  A flotilla of blue and yellow foamies can be found drifting up and down the coast, manned by people lay spread eagled across them adorned rash vests over there wetsuits.

Enjoy the summer and above is a reminder of what's to come.