Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Shite it's cold.

Down at Woolamai for a Sunday dash, nice little waves on a busy but happy bank that rapidly filled up, but not before I snagged a few very fun little zippers. Didn't make a complete fool of myself so all was good with the world. If only I could feel my toes.

Sitting out the back and having a chat, and this fella casually mentions he saw a 3 metre Great White out there the day before, everyone cleared the water quick smart, he said, as it cruised through the line up.


Just then a wave appears that's "mine, mine all mine!!!" and... as I paddle for it and am just about to pop up, I hear another casual voice saying, " Yeah .. a mate of mine got eaten last year...'

As I take off I go "oh really" in an off hand way, as you would if he'd said he just bought a bottle of milk.

At the end of the ride I'm thinking...did I hear that right?

Naturally when I paddled back out I followed up and indeed one of his best friends had been a boat skipper or something running charters off the Abrolhos Islands in Western Australia. Seems the guy had just jumped over the side to paddle over to join the crew in the surf when a Very Big White struck, cut him in half, he lolled back eyes open in shock for a moment before it came in and took the rest.

When was the last time you heard a golfer tell a story like that?

Friday, July 18, 2008

A long time ago, way back in 1990 I think, I made my last 'pilgrimage' to Hawaii.

I'd wanted to finally get that Big Wave, or that Tube Ride that would confirm to me I was truly a surfer, or remotely worthy of calling myself one. To me back then that meant riding something substantial, with Waimea being my Everest, as Pipeline is to some, Sunset to others, and the local beachbreak to others again.

I had some minor success, a lot of gurgling, but never managed a 20 foot wave, though I was out there when a couple came through and possibly rode something close. it's really neither here nor there. You try, you do, or not, and you move on.

While there though I took lots of snaps, back then I had my trusty F2 Nikon, and amongst the photographs I took was one of Robbie Page exiting the water at Waimea. Taken on a long lens, it was a simple clean shot that had some nice shapes going on, and it sat with the rest of my transparencies in a sleeve, in a drawer.

Years went by and in the mid nineties the troubles in the former Yugoslavia were in full swing. I'd looked in horror as we all did at what went on over there and one image in particular really got to me.

A baby in pink, killed with it's parents in the hills as they tried to flee across the mountains. Normal people living normal lives and then all hell breaks loose as old hatreds turn sane men and women in to lunatics.

I'd been toying with what to do with the Robbie image, and had pushed and pulled the colours until he became this sort of Golden Child, and it made me think about how lucky we are to live where we do, do what we do, to have the time and opportunity to create, love, play or just sit and contemplate our navels.

I thought of doing some juxtaposition of dead child and a golden one, but I struggled with it.. it was both obvious and a bit gross, and ... at the time I just felt... no.

So I zoned in to the little one's dummy*, that baby implement I was so familiar with as at the time I had two under 5, and Tom, even though already Hell Boy incarnate, liked his dummy.

A border of dummies resulted and I had the piece output on art paper as a big beautiful print, called it 'After Kosovo', had it framed, and brought it home.

As soon as I told Sue what it was all about she wouldn't have it in the house. I gave it to my mate Shacko for his birthday, and refrained from telling him what was behind it.

It sits today on the wall of his house, he loves it I think, but he's blissfully unaware of the child on the hill in the Balkans.

And since he doesn't read the blog, he'll remain so.

*Lost in translation? A dummy is Australian English for pacifier.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

A different day yesterday.

Since the beginning of Musica Surfica, whenever the Australian Chamber Orchestra is in town, Richard Tognetti, Satu Vanska and I try to catch up for a surf on a Concert Monday morning, my workload and weather permitting. Yesterday it was just me and Richard, so it was off at 6am to find the best waves in our short time window.

Usually we score but yesterday I opted for the closest option. Bad move. Thirteenth Beach often delivers the goods, but on arrival the banks were more set up for lower tides and the swell was inconsistent and a bit ho hum.
Nevertheless conditions were beautiful, a rare glass settling the water and the sun out and warming, despite the winter chill. We had some fun , I got a couple I was vaguely content with, as did Rich, but it was all a bit boring, so we decided it was offshore at the local cafe and settled into bacon and eggs and a chat before returning to the real world.

Later, much later in the day, I heard that the banks at another spot in the other direction, the spot that was my alternate choice anyway, were all time and the waves had been perfect.

I informed Rich of this later that evening and this morning there was a friendly but pointed email waiting for me. He'll choose... next time he's in town.

The evening was a doozy though as I took Sue, the resident barbarians, Joey and Tomas, and Pepi, who is far from a barbarian and just about the most cultured 16 year old I know, along to the ACO performance of The Red Tree.

A transporting evening, much enjoyed by all, even Tomas, who is better known for leaping off high places on his skates, breaking bones and generally disgracing himself in refined company.

The after concert catch up is always loved by the kids as they really enjoy Richard, and the people who come along. Last night's gathering was no exception.

At the table were Richard and Satu, Shaun Tan, composer Michael Yesersky, Gondwana Choir director Lyn Williams, Andrew Walsh, and Master Photographer Bill Henson. A more talented line up you'll rarely find so the table buzzed away, and laughed a lot as Tom told fruity jokes and made a nuisance of himself.

At least he didn't fart.

A great fun evening though and we managed to extract ourselves early enough to allow the above fine people a more gentle moment together before the evening ended.

The photos of Thirteenth flatter it, thought to be fair it gave us little to complain about. Perhaps it was a mood thing.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Another Sunday lurches by and I managed a lone run to the coast, to Phillip Island, home of very small penguins and mighty big sharks.

When I first arrived there were two guys alone on a lovely little bank, so I had to go and spoil their fun. Naturally as soon as I did that a flock arrived, but a well behaved, pleasant one. We all had enough to play on.

An offshore wind and a clean small swell, with good banks up and down the beach meant I had a fun few hours as I swapped from peak to peak, chasing a rapidly rising and very high tide. I managed a few good ones and caught up with my mate Frenchie who had been down the Island with his family for the school holidays. He's clearly been on some kind of pills, as he looked really well. Or the Banyak islands have a strange magic.

The shots? The first peak with the two guys just before I paddled out, and the same bank three hours later on the high tide.

Just before I go, the images right at the bottom are from Michael Fordham's Book of Surfing. A mate of his sent it to me pushing for a plug. Based on the pics and Michael's other projects, it looks to be worth it. Clearly a lot of passion, the guy has gone deep into that deeper side of the dance, and those that know me know I love that.

Speaking of dancing, Derek Hynd has said he'll shape me a finless. I doubt whether I'll look like I'm dancing as I learn to ride it, but it's gonna be fun!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Today a rough old swell greeted me after the red eye run for an early.

Winki and Bells were stormy and lumpy but some workable walls were to be had at the Pop, though not particularly inviting. So uninviting in fact that I opted for a cup of tea with Richard and Satu while waiting for a certain Mr Hynd to turn up.

Derek had been off making some board modifications to Richard's new finless shooter (pictured, a Bushrat special), and on his arrival announced..." Fisho's is 2-3 foot and firing!!" Fisho's is a novelty Noosa like wave in Torquay that only works on a big swell, and today everyone was there, and me, all gunned up and know where to go, opted to try finless for the first time.

Since I'm probably the World Armchair Expert on finless technique (well, I've watched Derek enough while editing the film) I had to put up sometime and today was it.

I got three waves with a bit of a run going, but it truly is a game of the less the better, and it is fun, a lot of fun in fact. As performance is removed from the equation, at least in the beginning, any success is a great success.
A bit like learning again really, which was the point of the exercise in the first place.

You have to go with the board, relax into it and let it find its' line.

I can't say I managed that for more that 20 metres, if you're lucky, but the feeling arrived here and there and I did enjoy it, al lot, and I'd love to do more. Time will tell.

As for Derek, he wowed the crowd as ever, Richard had a bugger of a surf because of the crowd, and Satu, ditto, although she's so bloody beautiful she usually wows the crowd, just by being there.

Still, it was good to catch up.

The shots.

A couple of guys at Winki, the Bell's shore break in black and wild, er.. I mean white, and Derek and his old friend Jock, who's a bit sick at the moment. Poor old Jock had been with Derek for a lot of years and it's sad to see him like that, and Derek looks after him the way you'd imagine.

The first time I met Derek we had to drive somewhere in his car, and as I went to get in the front seat, Derek said, "wait... in the back for guests. The front seat is for Jock". You get the drift. He loves wee Jock.

In the bottom left of the shot is Derek and Jock's new little friend.

She had to live for a while in the cellar of the place Derek was staying, because the guy who owned the place didn't like dogs.

So Derek has named her Anne Frank, or Franky for short. Why aren't I surprised?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

More fun and games about to descend on us I suspect as another swell approaches from the Roaring Forties.

The day after the pictures of Bells in the previous post it was smaller but perfect (so I'm told) and on Sunday I surfed some cold dribble. Just after I left the water, after a couple of hours flopping about and shivering, I walked back and snapped this.

It came on for a moment in the tide, and for a little while there some lucky soul may have caught his or her own little bit of perfection, albeit small and freezing.

All things are relative, of course, and perhaps the guys that surfed this thing the day before may have called it freezing too, but I dont' think the S word crept into the vocabulary, unless of course it was the S word that sounded a bit like SHIIIITTT!!! although I would probably be using a bit saltier language if confronted by a liquid cliff.

Tomorrow I'm down to have a surf (er... meeting...) with Mr Tognetti and the redoubtable Derek Hynd. I'll be very interested to see what Derek's up to on his finless explorations, and I hope they don't laugh too much at me as I flail by. The pic is courtesy of Coastalwatch.