Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You'd think after 40 years I'd have made a board for myself at least once, but alas. Noop.

I've helped out on a couple, in a minor way, and in my grommity (both young and aged) hanging round the surfshop days I've certainly watched more than few take shape.

Circumstance and space have been my shackles, but the advent of wood is good, and I wanted to make real a promise to myself.

Over the last couple of days though I've been working on my first alaia. Summer holidays on the coast are coming up and a chance to play meant now was the time. Last week I picked up two paulownia blanks. Over the weekend I hit the computer, worked up a few templates and printed a likely suspect out for number one.

I opted wide, fine and four feet long, my rationale being I have room to shave off some width if necessary, and a paipo-ish first cap off the rank. The soft fish shape was partially ergonomic, with some nice soft curves to rest my guts on and an extended rail line because it looks nice. Bottom line is a concave running into a rounded top third. It is still to be finished and made good though it's pretty symmetrical for a first go. I was surprised how much fun it is.

Kinda like artful exercise.

Tom Wegener has given me the good oil on the right oil, so next time you see it it should be quite pretty. Now to think on a name.

Tools were a spoke shave, block plane, saw, and surform.

How it rides remains to be seen but so far I think number two will be twice as much fun.. since it's pretty much twice as big.

I'm already imagining myself striding manfully across the beach with my little piece of wood.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A couple of weeks back I had an out of the blue email from the Chairman of Stoke Appreciation Society, the wonderful Eef, of Monsterboards.org.

Those of you who don't know Eef would do well to go to that gentle place, his blog full of the happiest skulls and crossbones, tattoo motifs and scary stare-y eyes. He is, in my humble opinion, one of the great surfers of the world, if only because he seems the most appreciative of what he has. Onshore, cold, slop... week in, week out, and when the waves get overhead he shits himself, but take a look at one of his movies or his flakily beautiful paintings and you know he's found a happy place inside.

But I digress.

Eef perceptively noticed I was perhaps a little down, and offered to 'up my stoke' by sending me one of his hand boards.

Yesterday it arrived.

My stoke was upped. Oldest son Joey was very generous with his expletives when he saw it, so much so that I can't print what he said here and he was sent to his room without his supper.

Try that with a 6'2" 94 kilogram 17 year old.

I'm a brave man.

Eef. You're a legend. Thank you.

So to other legends.

The day before yesterday, in a desperate attempt to get a wave after a waveless weekend brought on by duty and a wedding, I did an early morning run with my Australian Chamber Orchestra pals, Richie and Julian,in the hope of catching a new but fleeting swell before a big wind shift. Alas, it beat us, the waves were crapp ( so bad they needed two p's)... soooo we popped in to say hi to Maurice Cole, and allow Richard T to order a board.

When we arrived, MC was in the final scrapes on Ross Clark Jones' new tow board for Jaws.

His fifty foot and over board.

It was a leaf.

5' 11" by three fifths of fuck all.

And it was quite ... beautiful.

Shots: Richard and Julian from the ACO gas bagging with Maurice, (ie listening without getting a word in edgeways) Eef's Great White Handboard, and RCJ's Magic Carpet to Hell.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

In case no one has noticed, and I'm sure everybody has, there seems to be a trend/movement/explosion in creativity at a pavement level.

I've just had an email exchange with Tom Wegener, with part of its thrust being the amount of work done for love or exploration. In his case, and mine, it is the surfing world, be it making alaia's, making surfing movies, or doing this... writing.

To survive though, Tom has the joy of falling back on his finned boards to supplement the historic explorations. I do mean historic in both senses of the word, too. As Tom studies history he is making it, the past informing the present, creating an unlikely, surprising, future.

For me, advertising work is it, though that avenue seems as dry as a witch's tit.. if you'll excuse my french.

Paying the bills is an issue that won't go away.

Still we persist, I get more joy out of this blog than I ever did out of my career industry. The friends I've made, real or imagined, have more to give, with very dear exceptions. As I found out on my trip this time last year to the US, when you get there the people are real, they're not just one's and zero's but delightful flesh and blood.

All trying to do something beyond the grind, beyond their little patch, or in spite of it.

And so to those who do something within their patch, but under cover of darkness.

A few months back I went on a photo jaunt through the lanes of Melbourne, looking at the graffiti, trying to get my head round the whole thing. Having watched it in a cursory way since the early seventies when the wall scrawlings of choice were either political or sexual, the explosion today I find fascinating, infuriating and beautiful, all at the same time.

The infuriating is the indiscriminate, rubbish tagger, notably when it's on my front fence, which in principle is vandalism... and when I lose all the skin of one hand using the graffiti remover without gloves.

But then you see one tag wittily put up, and the wry smile surfaces, despite myself.

The fascinating and beautiful part, though, is a personal thing, and time needs to be taken to see it.
It helps to take shots and make your own assessments later. I did, and today, months after taking the shots, I had a look and saw things I'd missed before. There's an archaeology of graffiti emerging as over the years the tags, paste ups and pieces of artist's past become icons, as long as some new kid on the block with no knowledge of what has gone before doesn't tag over the top of a bit of brilliance.

These are some shots from a couple of the lanes of Melbourne.
I kind of love this stuff, and every time you go back you find something new. An evolving social phenomenon that is going to have to be accommodated as it will not go away, clearly, despite the fact that the powers that be have now, here, decided to make it a lockup offense to be found carrying.. 'the tools of trade'.

Monday, November 09, 2009

It's been a sunny day in Victoria. Really sunny.

It will continue like that for the week.

Mid thirties for five days straight forecast and it's not even summer.

There will be small fun waves and most of us will be stuck in hot offices.
Yesterday I wasn't, so we hit it to the coast, checking a raft of breaks, with one not quite as good as the last and always some excuse not to paddle out. It was one of those lovely, hot, offshore days where every where we went wasn't quite good enough.

When we finally made a decision, based on years of experience , of.... "well when the tide turns that bank will fill, the gutter will get deep enough and it'll be epic..."

Well yaa poo sucks to us as it just got worse and worse.

Dropping swell, rising tide, and for me the malaise of hitting the fitness type exercise so much the day before I had bugger all left in my tank and could have been drowned by a high diving mosquito.
I chose a right that showed promise, which promptly filled up and become riddled with rip. Two waves.

Paddled over to the left nearby. Rip followed me and the left turned to rubbish. One close out.

Paddled in and walked up the beach. Flat right got flatter.

We should've paddled out at the first place we checked. In comparison it was going off.
Next time, drive up, don't look and paddle out. The pics are the crowded crap we walked away from..

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The first Tuesday in November, in Victoria, is a public holiday. For a horse race.

The Melbourne Cup.

All of Australia stops to watch the $5,000,000 race, it seems, and it is a very good way to do your money. Every year we have a bet, though this year I couldn't have given a hoot, as we've never won a cent and the favourites rarely get up. So I found out about the win on the news.

Instead, I went for a splash and had a nap late in the afternoon. Though there was swell, it was blowing a gale, and once out the back I could barely see on takeoff. Couple that with old man legs, which afflicted me for some godforsaken reason, and my first three waves were laughable. Finally kicking into gear a few half decent rides were managed, but a fishy board would have been more the go as the waves were flat and pretty uninspiring. Around the corner at Winki it looked more interesting, but only... looked. Sections dropping down forced very short rides and most likely shorter tempers.

So a windblown couple of hours of exercise was the order of the day.

The shots are crowded Winkl under cloud, and a chap I snapped about to paddle out with a decidedly unusual quad set up. I didn't see him on a wave so can't comment on the performance. And Joe, with Sue, pre-Halloween party.

We don't even celebrate it in Oz, but any excuse for a party.

Oh .. and one more thing. I've been doing the odd bit of writing for Drift, and also for Phoresia. The Phoresia article, on Musica Surfica participant Sage Joske, is not yet up but should be by the end of the day (Dave?) It's worth a read as Sage is a very engaging and interesting guy. As for Drift, there is also a Joske-esque tilt to the latest contribution, as I've detailed the lovely agave board made by his father Paul from a couple of posts back.

Monday, November 02, 2009

After the fun of last Monday with Richard Tognetti, I repeated the exercise on Wednesday, again with Richard as he had the rare pleasure of time off in his all too familiar stupid schedule.

The waves were the same as pictured below, only better. Three to five feet, six or seven guys out, three at one stage, consistent and light offshore to glassy. We had a ball, and swapped boards a bit as Rich was anxious to try my new Maurice Cole, just to see. He loved it and has ordered two, one finned, one finless.

For a while there, though, while riding my old board with new board legs, I managed one of the best off the tops I've done in years, so much so a young guy copping the brunt of the spray hooted me. At least I think it was a hoot.

Perhaps he was just laughing.

What a cracker of a surf though. So good in fact that I gave all thought of surfing over the weekend the flick, and devoted time to errant sons, fatherhood and a little bit of work.

Guilt was the other reason though. As soon as I surf when I think I should be working it hits me big time. Even when there's no work. Of course I'd rather be gazing at a screen than basking in the refreshing sprinkle of water drops floating on an offshore breeze.

Pics. Tom on his fixie.. what a strange business fixie riding is, and another "me" shot, via Steve Ryan and some colour experimentation, just to even things up.