Friday, 6 December 2013

Shaping The Future

An article I wrote for approaching lines about the surfboard industry in the uk.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Mentawai Dreaming


I visited the Mentawai Islands last March and scored small but perfect waves, but the journey out there did not turn out as simple as we thought. I have written an article about the trip which also looks at some of challenges facing the Islands - as they become more popular and the modern world slowly creeps in.

Monday, 10 June 2013

The Surf Wagon

Photo by Alexa Poppe

Yesterday, I interviewed the owner of this vintage beast of a pick-up truck for Wavelength magazine. It is a 1946 Ford Pick-up and has growling 4.2 litre engine. The owner is Stuart Blake and he was an absolute legend to give up his time and be patent, whilst Alexa did the photo and I asked him a bunch of questions.

Stuart turned out to be a classic. He rebuilt this truck, including the engine, himself. He also owns a hot rod and a classic Cadillac, refurbishes jukeboxes and has a vintage surfboard collection.

Collecting and owning stylish classics like this can sometimes seem like an image choice but talking to Stuart you quickly realise that it is something he loves to do and he really lives it. The story about the Stuart and his truck will be in the next issue of Wavelength.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Single Fin Shooters 2013

The Revolver Surf Shop Single Fin Shootout 2013 report on approaching lines - words by me and image by Alexa Poppe:

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Sunday Sliding

Last Sunday a weak swell trickled its way onto the Kernow coastline, where a northerly wind slashed chop across the faces of the small weak waves this sorry swell produced. Despite the poor looking conditions and since the sun was out, Alexa and I decided to go for a surf as we both had new boards to try. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find some fun waves. They were small and weak but had good shaped peeled nicely across a sandbar for a good distance. Alexa rode her latest board from, a modern 9ft 2” log. It was perfect for the conditions. She caught lots of long waves and had some great nose rides. Alexa was totally stoked on the little waves, the logging feeling, and the performance of the new board. For me it was the second session on the Albacore Alaia, It is not as easy as it looked when I watched Alan Stokes ride one in the Slyder Cup, but a lot easier than a thin wooden alaia! It paddles well and picks up waves like a really fat fish, yet it has so much more glide and instant speed. So, catching waves and standing up is quite straight forward but it is adapting your surfing to a finless board takes a bit of practice. After sliding around and falling off lots of time I started to learn how keep the rail engaged to control the board effectively, and had some good rides. It's a really fun little board and seems to work in even the sloppiest of waves. I am really looking forward to experimenting with it more over the summer.

Mixing up what I ride keeps me motivated when the conditions are marginal and it was good to catch a few waves in the sun. Especially, since the surf and weather is so bad now.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Enjoy Handplanes

Enjoy* "The Beginning of Something Big" from Doug Walker on Vimeo.

It is refreshing to see a business like Enjoy Handplanes doing so well. They use as much recycled materials as possible and the least toxic resin available. Not only is the business model about sustainability but also about fun. When you watch the video, you can tell these guys are really stoked on what they are doing and love passing that stoke onto other people.

I only make handplanes for myself and I have made them from recycled materials. The couple of wooden ones I have created are made from timber off cuts. Trade timber yards always have odds and ends that they sell off cheap. These are end pieces that are less than a metre or timber with imperfections which can be cut up and glued together to make a recycled timber handplane.

I have seen quite a few plywood handplanes around and as a carpenter; I don’t really understand this, unless it is recycled ply. Plywood is made with glue that contains highly toxic formaldehyde and the whole production process of ply is not that green. Basically, plywood is the chicken nugget of the timber world. You are also limited to how thick you can have the handplane and you can’t put much vee or concaves in it. It just seems the easiest way to make the most handplanes for the least cost, irrespective of quality.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Punta Huanchaco

Punta Huanchaco became a World Surfing Reserve in October last year due to the two thousand year old wave riding and seafaring history. The wave riding reed boats of Huanchaco, called Caballito de totora, have been used here for fishing since around 100AD. The coast receives so much swell that it was necessary for the early fisherman to create a surf craft that allowed them launch from the beach then ride the waves back to shore with the catch. Today, local fisherman still paddle out daily on there reed boats and there is a thriving local surf community.

The point at Huanchco does not have the quality of the nearby points at Pacasmayo and Chicama, but it picks up more swell and always has some fun waves; even when they are too small. On the other hand, Pacasmayo and Chicama are quite bleak but Huanchaco is one of the most interesting and nicest places to stop on the the North coast of Peru. So, it is a good place to recharge and chill out when the other points are not quite doing their thing. There is a lot of history and culture to explore around here too, such as the Moche Sol Y Luna temples or the ruins from the ancient Chimu city of Chan_Chan. Huanchaco also has great places to eat and is home to Peru's national dish of Ceviche.

Whilst in Huanchaco we stayed at Casa Amelia. For about £12 a night we had a split level thatched roof room with our own private bathroom. The whole place is stylish, unique and charming. There is a garden, two sun terraces, a communal kitchen and a lounge. It is one of the best value places I have ever stayed. It is Peruvian owned and run by a Dutch couple, Paul and Renee. They work really hard to keep the place nice and do everything they can to help. Paul is a surfer too and can help arrange trips up the coast. He also loves to go for a surf with anyone staying there.

Here is a couple of videos shorts Paul made.

Monday, 22 April 2013

High Performance???

The surfing in these two videos really challenge what many people see as high-performance surfing. I like watching the ASP WCT events and have a fantasy surfer team, so I'm not against what you might call "mainstream surfing". I just find it really positive that their is so much variety in surfing, anything really does go these days. Riding waves in different ways is a good way to get into the surf more, surf different spots and keep your surfing fresh. It also would be boring if everybody surfed the same. When I watch guys like at Dane Reynolds, Alex Knost and other open minded free surfers, they not only have there own style but they also look like they are really enjoying surfing; no matter what kind of boards they ride.

Some stick in the mud kind of people will still think that surfing does and always should revolve around competitive shortboarding, and everyone one has their own perspective on what good surfing is. I just try not to take it too serious. I just like seeing impressive surfers doing impressive things.

The last few years I have become interested in body surfing because it is so simple and at the same time challenging. It's good way to get in the water in certain conditions or whenever I fancy a change. Due to this I am very much inspired by Mark Cunnigham and Mike Stewart. So,here is some "alternative" high performance surfing.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Monday, 28 January 2013

Sea Badgers

Friday, 18 January 2013

Southern Lines

I am really keen to get down to Chile one day but this years trip going to be Peru in March and hopefully will find myself scoring point breaks like this.

And I'm keen to check out the Andes too.

A Shoal of Fish

This is my current workable quiver. The genesis for all three of these boards is Steve's own Magic fish,  a MR style modern twinzer fish. The middle board came first, which was made as a good allrounder and last March I took it to Indonesia. The board goes amazing in all kinds of conditions, but I felt I wanted something extra for fat weak waves and something else for bigger more challenging waves but still retain the feel of the original board to ease transition between the boards. So, Steve recently shaped for me a shorter, flatter and fatter version for little waves and a longer, slimmer and drivier version for bigger waves. So, all three boards have similar characteristics, just tweaked for different conditions. 
Left: 5ft 8" x 20.75 x 2.75" small wave quad. The bottom shape is a subtle flat - single concave - double concave vee between the fins. I asked Steve to incorporate some of what he has learned from making his Lumus model. The rocker is very flat and rails boxy helping the board to get up and plane quickly. This lift seems to keeep the board loose and lively even in the smallest of waves. The fin setup is a Neal Purchase Junior style Quartet. Which seems to give the board lots of speed and drive, but still be loose. 

Middle: 6ft x 20" x 2.65" all round performance fish with five fcs fusion plugs. Single concave - double concave - vee quad concave through the fins. Works well as a quad, twin with trailer fin or in powerfull and hollow surf as a quad with a knubster fin. Thinner railed and curvy where it needs it to perform turns in the steeper part of a wave but straight enough to be fast down the line or generate speed in small waves.

Right: 6ft 4" x 19.75 x 2.65" Step up Bonzer fish. This is a stretched out version of the 6ft fish. So, when the surf is bigger and, or hollow, I have a board that will the familar feel  of a fish but with more control and extra paddle power. With the nose/tail pulled in and the curvier rocker this board is starting to look more like a conventional shortboard. The Bonzer bottom shape, thinner rails and Bonzer5 fin system make the board fast, drivey and responsive. 

All three boards function different but have a similar feel which allows me to swop between the boards smoothly. There is also an amount of overlap between the functionality of each board, which means if it turns out bigger, smaller or slower etc, it does not matter as much as if I was transitioning between widely different boards. Each to there own and this is just what works for me. Thanks for the great boards Steve.


Here is interview with local surfer/illustrator/botanist Chris Bisson,