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.