Monday, March 30, 2009

A premier of sorts for Musica Surfica this weekend as for the first time it was shown at an official Victorian event, that being the Apollo Bay Music Festival in the deep south of the state.

I disappeared around lunchtime on Friday in a bid to get down and get a late surf, passed up good waves at Bells, picked up a flock of alaias from the Patagonia store in Torquay for a show and tell before the film, and got down the Bay to find a screaming onshore... although right on dusk the stormy 6-8 ft of swell was showing a little glass off about to begin, but solo at dusk in Sharkland holds few allures for me, so I went and had a meal instead.

The next day, back to my favourite spot in the area, a place called Boneyards, and it's nearby companion, Sledgehammers.

You get the picture.

A tight crew of hot kids sat on the ledge at Sledgies, picking off some very tidy barrels in between getting flogged on the reef.

I've surfed this place a few times and love it, but I was clearly only going to get dregs with this lot so opted for Boneyards at a fun if warpy 4-5ft. I was surfing like I had two left feet, (oh surprise) but did manage to get a couple that felt ok, but I suspect... no... I know I was thinking more about the show that afternoon.

Come the time, and in front of the closest thing to a hometown crowd I've yet had, I came over a bit tongue tied and left them to just watch it, a packed house that clapped the roof down, and I only wish I'd managed to get to the front earlier afterwards so that I could inform all and sundry you could actually buy a DVD before they left. We sold a heap to those who heard me, I signed autographs and even had several people coming up to me teary eyed they'd enjoyed it so much.

My fifteen minutes of fame... extended by fifteen minutes.

Once we were done Marky says.. So what now Mickey?

Let's go for a splash.

I know just the place says he.

So we dash off, at near dusk, a caravan of two cars, Rod, Hazel and Benji in one, plus Marky and me in my movie showing clothes (exactly the same shirt, jeans and shoes I wore in New York) shooting off down the road, onto a bush track, then a mile walk through the most beautiful rainforest to a little bit too-big-for-the-bank left that was occasionally reeling off some hooters amidst the almost close outs.

Mark and I both got a couple of good ones, Rod and Benji opted to watch with Hazel from the beach, but later regretted it as it ended up really showing some form, and with it all the bliss of a sunset through the trees with just two of us in glassy six foot lefts.

Getting absolutely flogged on one late take off that went near enough to dry on the reef told me in so uncertain terms not to have ideas above my station, but happy campers we were nonetheless.

Next day, back to Boneyards we lucked onto a much more lined up swell with excellent 4-6ft waves for three hours. Followed by bacon and eggs for lunch and a group alaia session in early afternoon for any locals willing to have a go at the beachies in town, the day just got better.

We had kids and dads running up to try one, hoots all round and a local guy took my Derek Hynd finless out and astounded me with how well he did.

Marky was a convert too, loving the finless but not as keen on the alaias. That they were fresh and a bit oily didn't help, but the kids took to them like ducks to water. I took a little 5'1'' paipo out and had a hoot riding prone with fins, fast and furious with my favourite bit being skimming right up the beach at the end of the rides.

Big smiles all 'round


The shots:
Sledgehammers, a Boneyards right, and I must apologise too. I didn't shoot the alaia session as I was having too much fun.

Big thanks to to BillyJo of Tao Surfboards for his alaias. Billy is making the boards for himself and Tom Wegener down here in Vicco. Super nice guy and mad alaia obsessive.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Hot off the electronic presses as a shot gets sent to me from my mate Marky, who'd in turn been sent said shot by Hec, resident GP in Denmark, in the faaaaarrrr south of Western Australia and all round good bloke, crazy as a coconut, tube denizen and leaver of little messages where you least expect them.

He's also a dab hand at stitching up wounded boat mates....

....and getting himself back in the water when he has no business being there. This is a snap of a recent hit out at the local backbeach.

I'm not sure if Hec took the shot or was out there but I have no doubt he managed one at some time over that swell.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Yesterday, after the dutiful Saturday saw me pass up a clean offshore and some pretty special waves here and there, I made my way down to get wet. On arrival I had the surprise of my life as I saw Uber Pro Joel Parkinson and the recently retired Luke Egan suiting up and about to head out in pretty terrible 3-4ft onshore Bells.

Apparently they'd made a run down three weeks prior to the Bells contest...'to get some wetsuit practice' in. Seems they hadn't worn one for a spell.


I've been decades between times when I haven't been in one.

Needless to say I decided to shine rushing out and sat on the steps to watch the show, not being disappointed at all by what I saw. They throw a lot of water around, those lads, and a cleaner surfer I've never seen in Joel, though to be frank, Luke was getting the best of it for awhile before Joel cut a few waves to bits and diced the leftovers.

A couple of sheets of spray had to have landed somewhere near Tasmania.

Sneaking out later, and I think I made a sparrow damp as it flew past, and I may have drowned a moth.

Pics: Parko, Luke and fellow spectator. Excuse the timing as I have a bit of shutter lag in the not so crappy snapper. Makes it a bit hard to hit the apex of a turn.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

No doubt many of you out there are aware of the fires that swept through parts of SE Australia a few weeks ago.

A great friend of mine, Mark, has a mate who lost his house that day, and on Sunday afternoon, after a quick surf, he made the 3 odd hour drive north to be with his friend when he was finally allowed to return to his home.

You see, the whole area has been a crime scene now for weeks, with the prospect of new bodies being found real enough to prohibit entry to the area until last weekend.

When they got there and surveyed the damage, Mark heard the full story of what happened. It took 3 hours to relay what took place in three minutes, and on Monday Mark gave me a call just to get it off his chest.

They have a rule of thumb down here based around preparation, risk assessment and common sense. Boiled down it is stay and fight the fire to protect your home if you're confident it can be done, or pack up all essentials well before hand and have an evacuation plan that has everyone in a safe zone before fire is anywhere near you.

Mark's friend had decided to fight, and his family was far away and safe. He had four full tanks of water, plus a swimming pool, and had sprinklers bathing the house while he patrolled the perimeters putting out embers and generally keeping an eye on things.

The fire front was visible as hilltop smoke seven kilometres away, with the wind blowing northwest, away from the property.

He remembers thinking he was going to be fine.

He says he saw two signs that he ignored, maybe through tiredness, but should have been his signals to get out of there fast.

The first was the smoke in the distance 'standing up'.

The second was a flock of birds that had landed in his pool.

They suddenly disappeared.

Standing in the 46C (116F) heat he felt the wind suddenly shift and the temperature go up to over 60C (140F+), a blast of hot air on a boiling hot day, and he knew he was in trouble.

He ran inside to grab the dog, and within two minutes it hit. The dog started going mad, he ran downstairs to find jets of flame roaring through and out of every outlet of his ducted heating system, and jets of flame even coming through the keyholes in his doors.

The windows started to burst.

The fire had cannon balled across that seven kilometres in less than 2 minutes, the wind and fire feeding each other and covering that space at 200 kilometres an hour, a blast furnace that was hitting well in excess of 1400 degrees C.

He ran through the house and jumped fully clothed through a plate glass window at the back, using the wind shadow of the rear of the house for protection as he dashed into the carport where the car was waiting with the engine running.

In that short sprint he breathed twice, his throat scorching so much he had to simply not breathe, and he lost two of the three layers of clothes he was wearing as they burnt off. His bead was covered in a motorcycle helmet and wet towels, with gloves on his hands.

Speeding down the road through the fireball, he had to take peeks over the dash as the radiant heat was unbearable. His car windows began to shatter around him.

On top of that the road had begun to melt, the tires were sinking into it, making steering doubly difficult given he was driving both blind through smoke and flame and because he had to hide.

Only his familiarity with the road saved his life.

He made it, obviously, though his dear old dog did not.

When he and Mark surveyed the damage they found a pool of metal with a high tensile steel spring sitting in the middle.

The lawn mower.

His Massey Ferguson tractor was slumped in the middle.

Water tanks had flowed into molten streams.

A row of nails sat on the ashes in perfect alignment, exactly where they fell as the deck vapourised.

The steel storage shed still stood tall, but almost everything in it was ash. The fire got underneath the walls and it was torched from without and within.

Every non metallic external part of the car he drove through the fire is melted.

His family was safe. He was safe.

Clearly the car radiator worked.

I listened to Mark tell me this on Monday morning and you could tell what he's seen had shaken him through, and for me even getting it third hand drove home how much we have to respect this brown land we live in. After 200 years it still throws things at the most experienced of us that utterly surprise in the deadliest possible way.

Six hours north on the same day people were drowning in floods.

The pic is from an area on our coast that has been torched almost as badly as the recent fires, several times in the past few years.

It will come back.

Monday, March 16, 2009

You could tell there has been a wave drought yesterday.

A half decent mix of conditions and, naturally, with the 'benefits' of the web broadcasting to all and sundry that there was a chance for a splash, the line ups that greeted my crusty old eyes were packed when we pulled in to the Winki carpark. Must've been eighty guys out, spread down the line and Bells not much better.

All this with a lackluster 3 foot swell with a very occasional 4 footer rolling through. It was hard to snag a wave, and the longboards were greedy.

The bright side? I was in the water, which was warm, and I caught up with a few mates.

Basically had a cuppa tea out the back and chatted for three hours. I did get a couple that were fun, but the second surf in six weeks (not for lack of trying) showed.

Today, the swell has risen and I'm told there are good waves around 5 foot down there... and the wind is offshore.

Shot for the day... Winki from Bells looking fun and stormy, and a little bit of hilarity from the boys at Surfing Life.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Extending the long run of crook luck, another week has dragged by without waves in our southern climes, and even if I had been able to I've been desk bound as ever, although I did allow myself the fleeting pleasure of watching the Quiksilver Pro on the web. Brief grabs of raging superbank and those guys exist on another surfing planet. It might be all a bit same same after awhile but what they do and what I do aren't the same at all.

Hats off chaps and hats off to Parko. I hope he's as big a gentleman as he seems.

This weekend we're staring down the barrel of a half decent swell and the possibility of an offshore for a couple of hours here and there so perhaps... just perhaps, there'll be a photo of something other than what I did on my last bike ride.

Yes, I fell off again on the weekend.

This time, scooting along a riverside track, I saw a photo opportunity so did a big slide intending to stylishly drift to a stop but instead drifted in a full circle and ended up sitting on the ground next to my bike, furtively looking about and hoping no one saw the old fuckwit fall off the rusty mountain bike.

A couple of ducks (photographed) later I was on my way and at least it was some exercise. Tore my pants again too.

Well, I made the earlier tear bigger to be more accurate.

Elsewhere in Australia, Noosa continues to rage as the cyclone pumps in the waves, with a couple of well heeled friends jetting up there to catch the action... along with the thousand or so other punters in the lineup. With the proliference of alaia's up there it is probably the first major cyclone swell that has featured boards grown up the road rather than pumped out of a petro chemical plant.

Thank you Tom Wegener.

Photos today, the aforementioned ducks, and a freak door to the Underworld has opened, allowing Tommy to go for a skate on his birthday board last Tuesday night. Mind you he got the thing on the 28th Feb not having ridden a skateboard in months and was ripping it up almost straight away.

Dad, I'm not sure whether to be a pro blader or a pro skater.

Get good marks I say, skating will look after itself.

Dad, you're a dick.

Like I said.

A freak door from the Underworld.

They probably threw him out.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Today...well... yesterday, I received an email from Warren Pfeiffer, mat rider extraordinaire and all 'round good bloke.

Warren is a pal of the legendary George Greenough, and had given George a copy, many months ago, of Musica Surfica.

Which George promptly lost.

Time passed and I got another copy up to Warren, as to be honest I was very curious to hear what George thought. Having spoken to George a couple of times now, at some length, I can say he is brutally honest, very eccentric, opinionated and like many with the spark of genius, close to barking mad. I exaggerate, but it is an experience trying to get a word in edge ways, and why would I want too?

He is a fascinating man and we as surfers owe a lot to his vision. He showed us new places to go on a wave and devised ways to get there.

Anyway... GG finally watched the film.

I quote:

"by the way warren i have finally watched the dvd right thru
tell mick that i am
very very impressed with it
it is very good"

I felt six feet tall.. until I looked in the mirror.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Well it was my birthday yesterday.

The years fly by like poles out a train window and I leave a trail of wheels behind me as they fall off day after day.

As the last week crept by I had visions of a lovely offshore day with perfect waves 'somewhere', but as the weekend approached it became all too clear it would be crap. That Sue, I knew, would be working, and the kids dashing about with school play rehearsals and skating meant that I was all on my lonesome and surf-less to boot.

Not wanting to sit and contemplate my navel, or fluff mine as my dear old dad used to call his, I decided, after making a spaghetti bolognaise for the week and starting the dinner for that night (well trained aren't I?) to hit the road on the bike and head up to some mountain bike trails about 45 minutes ride from home. Got up there, beautiful afternoon with bellbirds calling by the riverside, and I spied a serious looking lycra clad lad exiting a little gate up ahead.

You beauty I think as I sidle up, g'day mate as I pass and keyhole my way through the gate that is clearly meant to discourage fainthearted biking types.

So I start riding along this trail and it is suddenly very narrow, rocky and traversing a fifty odd degree slope meaning if I go off the side I really do go off the side.

Then the stairs cut into the rock appear and to make matters worse it seems as though the guy I'd passed earlier actually rode down the things.

Hmmm. So I walk up, get back on the bike and whizz along for a bit, around a few corners , doing well, shit I'm hot I think, the old fart hasn't lost too much, dodge a tree, hit a root, wheel goes over the edge and I go over the handlebars.


Survey the damage,.. Torn shorts, grazed elbow, grazed knee. Gravel rash on hand, bruised pride.

A guy on the other side of the river waves at me and gives me the thumbs up.

I suppress the urge to give him a digit unrelated to a thumb, wave and get back on.

A few turns later I repeated the performance, and fifty metres after that I did it again.

Righto, up this track the road. I'll call it a day.

That night, my mate Mo came 'round with his kids for my and Tommy's birthday.. which was the day before, and we had some fun.

Todays pics, none of the birthday... but a couple of shots from my Banyaks trip last year, me coming back from a session and you can bet what kind of birthday present those waves would have been.