Saturday, August 29, 2009

There's been a bit of swell around here lately.

The day before yesterday I made the run down to help out Maurice Cole with an interview of Nick Carroll, with a view to adding it to the webisodes I'm doing. Naturally you time these things to the waves and boy did the waves arrive.

As part of the process I had committed to filming Nick riding his six one by 18 1/4 by 2 1/4 MC. The only fly in the ointment was the fact that it was one of the biggest swells of the year, plugging in at a solid 8-10ft with the odd 12ft bomb. I stood on the Bells headland filming, and I had Luke from Nalu Productions kindly covering it too. Out there as well was Derek Hynd, finless as ever and having no problem at all holding highline drives from Rincon all the way through the Bowl.

A screaming offshore made things pretty sketchy on the takeoffs, with guys missing heaps of waves as they failed to crawl into the thick black walls, though the successful entries resulted in some hell beatings and a few great rides.

Also out there was Kye Fitzgerald, ripping I must say on the single fin Hot Buttered Bobby Owens rode in the big swell of 1981. The moment had a great synergy as the board was originally Nick's. He and Derek later had an hilarious moment of nostalgia as Derek theatrically recalled Gabe Callahan's epic ride of that year. Below Derek acts out the moment of astonishment the guys in the heat felt when they realised he had made the wave they all backed off from in horror while Gabe spun and went the drop.

An hour or so later it was my turn to give it a go, the swell still holding but carnage on the inside as guys were being swept towards Winki and the infamous Button. Two near catastrophes as I was suiting up and it was down to luck and the surf gods giving me a little window out. That at least one guy had been vomiting on the sand from the flogging he just got didn't do much for my confidence but I did get lucky and had a pretty good run out. Age and cunning (read luck) has its rewards.

Out the back and I managed a solid wave pretty quickly, a big drop and a few turns, not as long a wall as I'd have liked but still fun. I though it was a pretty good start as I was only on a six seven when most of the guys getting waves were on true guns heading into the 9 ft range. Nick was the anomaly on his six one, but was struggling too with the takeoffs. You had to be right under it and stroking down to get in.

That was the mistake I made on my next wave. Not Stroking Down. I thought I was into a big one, paused a little taking a look down the line and as I stood up it did too, big time. I started dropping but it all came unstuck. After a long time enmeshed in god knows what I hit so hard I got the flash of yellow and white light in my brain, a severe chiropractic from C1 to L256 ( I invented a few new vertebra), then did the gurgle gurgle thing for quite a while before coming up and readjusting my hat.

My mate Jamie had a big grin on his face as I paddled back out, calling it "one of the more ambitious takeoffs" he'd seen in awhile. The "cartwheeling in the tube" had him chuckling though I find little humour in it myself.

That the wind was blasted from my sails is putting it lightly, as I was looking for those little grooves in that help one on a little board, but age, weary arms and not enough talent conspired against me. I felt like I needed the Queen Mary to get into them, that and arms like Nick. The delightful gorilla managed five or six waves though even he was admitting he'd never missed so many.

Kye Fitz called it quits too, and I think in my view honours go to about to turn 60 Hellman Russ McConachy as he had two damn fine sessions on a very sensible 9 foot six that had him gliding into some biggies. The man has the heart of a lion.

As the light began to fade, I still had an interview to do so I skulked in. And I mean skulked.

Of intense interest but also of utmost secrecy, somewhere else in Victoria Ross Clark-Jones and Maurice were towing into 25-30 foot bombs. I've seen the photos but alas localism issues prohibit publication or spot identification. For the moment.

Yesterday was smaller, in the 6-8ft range with the very odd biggie. I did manage a couple of good ones finally, though this time I was on the 6-3, the wind still strong but dropping. At the end of it the one really good wave I got was enough. The full Rincon drive through, racing all the way, with the only thing missing being a grin as I was concentrating too hard. My highlight though was watching Derek as I pulled into the carpark, driving into a series of power drifts and spins on a beautiful wave, leaving no doubt in my mind his finless journey is much more than a diversion. His surfing is a unique dance.

It's still pumping today, but I have school sport to deal with.

And I need a rest.

So the shots: A few line up shots of Bells (look for the dots, those are surfers), Derek and Nick, and a shot sent to me by my mate Rod, of a place called Sherbrook River. Not a surf spot, but a spectacular place with a great cliff top vantage. It ain't small.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Well, back from Tonga and had a very interesting time.

I'll follow up with a longer post soon as I have a bit to do today, but a few shots to show where I stayed, and a little of what I got up to.

The wave, a left out front, the day I arrived. It went onshore shortly afterwards though I went out for an hour but I and it were totally forgettable. You can see the conditions it degraded to in the shot of me.

The crab, I nearly stepped on while stumbling through forest as I returned from fossicking around the site of the first proto-Polynesian settlement in the Pacific.

It seems from this site in Tonga true populating of the Pacific began.
Amongst the mangroves not far from the crab, I was picking up pieces of pottery, remnants of these Lapita peoples, cast aside 3000 years ago.

And that wasn't the half of it.

As for the tree, the little boy who grew up sitting in it, looking at and surfing the sometimes wonderful waves out front, was Chas Egan, son of Shane and Chris, (thanks guys for looking after me at your Blue Banana), brother of Hayley, now doing his final paper for his PhD in astrophysics. Go figure.

Way back when they named him they gave him a middle name that proved to be prescient.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A very short post to show some fun waves scored yesterday while down the coast for work reasons.

Naturally I managed to wangle an hour and a half in the drink, passing up these waves at Winki for much less crowded Bells. Quality was about the same, but I had five guys and Winki had... more than that. I got some crackers.

Tomorrow I disappear to Tonga for four days on a something or other...

Now that's got you thinking.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A weekend of howling winds, banshee like at times, has led me into a dark space. Denied a mind cleansing surf, the black dog is on me a bit today, can't seem to break through a block on the script I'm attempting to write (delusion knows a million faces), the bank balance is in tatters so the blog is it.

What has been sitting at the back of my mind is the gap between perception and reality.

Over a Sunday coffee a mate of mine made a comment on an entry I made a month or two back drawing attention to a mind bending ride of Derek Hynd's at JBay. In it Derek really goes to town on the wave, but appears to burn a surfer inside.

Knowing Derek as I do I really didn't take much notice of that as it was well out of character in my experience.

Over the weekend I had reason to exchange a couple of emails with DH and used the opportunity to enquire about that wave. Turns out Derek was beside himself when he realised he'd dropped in on the guy, which had happened because of Derek's blind eye. On top of that, it also turns out the guy was an old acquaintance from years ago in Ireland/the Hebrides or some such, and that wave turned into a reunion of sorts. Good times revisited.

As for Good Times, it seems you can only have them a certain way. I notice in the blog PostSurf a pile of doodoos being heaped on the whole finless-alai thing as faddish and inefficient.

Of course it's inefficient. You fall off more often.

Just like when you learned to surf.

It's also fun (when you leave ego at the door) and, strangely, there is a cross benefit when you get on your normal board.

The other thing it does is break patterns that ingrain themselves over the years.

I've been surfing since late 1968, and my muscle memory is such that within the limits of the wave certain ways of doing things, good and bad, are there for the world to see.

I have a certain way of cutting back, my bottom turn, I'm told, is a mixture of BK and a Duck (thanks Joey). I tend to do my top turn a smidge too low. I'm aware of all this shit but I can show you a picture of a 1978 cutback and 2008 and apart from a thickening middle and a lot less hair it's the same turn.

So much for progress.

By taking on something completely different, while still allowing me the knowledge of wave selection and water that I've gained over the years, I am actually programing different parts of my brain and I see the wave differently.

This can only be a good thing and regardless of whether I'm good, bad or indifferent it has a benefit and if, God forbid, I leave the water with a smile on my face then all the better.

So to Mr Samuels and PostSurf, though I enjoy much of what you write, please allow us, gimps and experimenters alike, the opportunity to do our thing, to be cool or uncool or neither, and end our day with smiles imparted by any of the myriad things that ring our bells.

Pics for the day. Derek being neither cool or uncool, oblivious to cameras and just having a think two years ago. And a still from Jack McCoy's new film A Deeper Shade of Blue.
Just check the commitment, the hand, the Eye, wrap it up in a fifty two year old man and tell me its not a progression, or an inspiration. Jack takes the surfing we touched on in Musica Surfica, and with the help of Derek and others, plus his own ingenuity, takes perceptions to a whole new place.

I end actually with an email that just popped in from my brother, Pat.

Stationed in Kabul.

I'd asked him if he was far from the bomb yesterday.

"500m, shook the house so bad that we thought it was much closer. A lot of wounded whipped past our place as they fled the area. Debris took out one window and the blast another three. A lot of what ifs for our guys ... I routinely pass through that gate about 10 minutes earlier in the day. There but for the grace of God go I. But we're all OK and are lucky that that more weren't killed. They reckon a 600-800lb bomb; it left a crate about 3m x 1m. Exciting times."

And we worry about what board to ride.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sometimes, with the highs, you get the lows.. Indeed that's life and this week has mirrored that, though I will say the highs were great.

If you're a surfer (most who read this) then you probably will find some interest in the fact that the much praised swell finally did drop away, but not before a flurry on Saturday, and a last gasp through Sunday and yesterday.

I did manage to wet my nether regions, although with five waves to myself in five and a half hours it took monumental patience with the crowds.

First inconsistent Bells , then busy Winki, I may have spent my time better elsewhere. On Sunday we had the showing of Musica Surfica to the good people, young and old, of Barwon Heads.

In the afternoon I picked up Richard Tognetti, Satu Vanska, and Julian Thompson of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, car festooned with boards, and headed to the coast. Halfway down I was sideswiped by a guy changing lanes without looking, not too much damage and thank god he fessed up and took the blame.

Then on to town and the concert.

I did a fifteen minutes speech about the film, and the 250 odd people packing the hall looked like they were interested.

To say they loved it the showing is an understatement, I had my fifteen minutes of fame further extended, and the topper was as an after show treat, the ACO guys did a live performance.

They brought the house down. The general consensus was it was the best thing the town had ever seen. It did wonders too, for the community, as it brought together such different groups for the first time, and the next day the town was abuzz. No surprise I say as we were all signing copies of the DVD for what seemed like forever afterwards.

After the show too, Wayne Lynch came up and said he and his family loved it, and said how much he envied those people that could put so much time and talent into becoming so good at something. I did point out that that was exactly what he'd been doing his whole life, and it is true. His surfing journey is as inspiring in its own way.

He had me reflecting on what is our equivalent to the master musician and his score.

I decided we do have one, with every break being the score, and every surfer the interpreter. To any score there are infinite interpretations, and the same applies to us. We dance our own dances on the waves, but the performance has to be done within the discipline of the wave, our state of mind, and our skills. It's an interesting thought, but true, I think, as we seek to do our variations on themes written by time.

Yesterday morning we managed a fun session at small 13th Beach. Rich went finless, I rode a speed dialler on loan, and Jules was on my new MC.

Topper for me in a negative way was I discovered as we left I hadn't tied on my boards and two hit the road... lost a fin on the new MC, and the finless got a bit of a scrape but otherwise not too bad... sort of.

So that was my other low, but small price to pay for the wonderful highs.

Last night I took Joey to see the full orchestra in all their glory.

Pics for today...
Bells, yesterdays small 13th, Richard and Julian waxing up while Satu went shopping, and me giving my speech, as captured by Julian's iPhone.


Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Stuck at work, nearly nine o'clock on a Wednesday night.

I wonder what the poor people are doing?

Well, this one is waiting for a mate to turn up to do some more work, so I thought I'd get the post of last weekend's magic, for those that missed it.

Victoria, after a maddeningly long run of nothing much at all has had one of the longest stretches of out and out perfection I've ever seen, the locals are getting exhausted from continuous waves from four feet to close to ten, with a few mad bastards managing to score upwards of twenty plus at a certain 'secret' tow spot down south.

It's all been a bit much as the lineups are starting to thin...

My little tastes of paradise have had to fit between sitting right where I am now, where I haven't really budged from for the last twelve hours. In that time I've had calls reporting on the big tow session, the perfect beach break session, and how good Bells will be tomorrow. A minute ago I got a call from another Hellman, indeed it was Hellman, telling me he was amping for HIS hit at the big water, same down south spot, only he'll be paddling. I expect it'll be over 12 feet, easily. I asked if he was going to tow... No, just paddle.

How come?

Got a bit of tennis elbow.

Work that one out.

As for me, I just bask in the memories of last Sunday, some of the best waves I've seen at Bells and Winki, 4-6 feet, ....that perfect word again. My piccies don't do it justice and for the first hour and a half I had the yips, everything was going wrong, tripping over my booties, pathetic, then I broke through and got a few of the best waves I've ever had. The last one, from outside Rincon to the sand. A hundred and fifty yards of chattering, champagne bliss.

I love my new board.

Mind you, I needed that surf after Saturday.

I'd spent the night in hospital with Joey after he tried to help a girl being bashed while coming home from a zombie party, stopped the basher, the guy turns on him, goes for his eyes and tried to take one out, then smashes a bottle and along with his three brave mates proceeded to try and finish Joe off.

Luckily Joe's bravery was tempered by good leg speed and he hotfooted it out of there and dove into a passing cab.

When he got home and I had a look, the hole in the side of his eyeball had me gagging so off to hospital where they tested it all and found that happily the gouging hadn't gone right through the wall of the eye.

So he'll still have to look at me. That's where his luck has run out.

So pics for the day are Bells and Winki, Joeys' eye, and Jack the Surfing Dog.

Why Jack?

My blog pal Tim Kevan in England, he of the Barrister Blog, and father of Jack, has managed to do what few of us part time scribes ever dream of.

His 'other blog' Baby Barista', his 'anonymous for a time' comical accounts of life in a London law firm, has grown to the point that he was picked up by the London Times, and then... and this is the good bit.. it was selected to be published by Bloomsbury. Harry Potter now has a shelf mate.

Available on Amazon now, BabyBarista and the Art of War has been getting some ripping reviews (sorry Tim, but I have to sound English for that bit) and I can't wait for my signed copy myself. (hint)

Check it out.. and check it out as I have a feeling it will be money well spent.