Monday, May 31, 2010

Autumnal best describes the Saturday run, and the weekend in general.

In windblown Victoria it is the season when, most often, the chance for sheet glass presents itself, the chance for one of those days when horizon and ocean blend, when an approaching swell line rises with little contrast from the sea, creating squads of squinting surfers gazing into the outness wondering if this is another set coming.

For the first hour or so on Saturday squinters were everywhere, the waves well shaped but miserly in frequency. This led to a fairly predatory pack where I chose to sit, though it mellowed and I did manage, here and there, to get a fast high line going, occasionally frustrated by its loss as I was forced to go around the odd guy trying to dodge a set.

Rich, wisely, chose the left off my right, and I think got the better of it as a cross wind later blew into mine, but left his left unruffled and groomed. The lucky toe rag later claimed a best-for-a-long-time session.

Sunday, quiet and a chance to rake leaves as the winds went into the foul south, overcast, the odd bit of rain and a late afternoon nodding off in front of the tv watching a documentary on the life of Walt Whitman.

The pics, Washed Out at Woollie x 2, and the Front Step at Home, just before sweeping.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A couple of posts back I reflected on being 'the old guy', the ragged wretch sitting out the back waiting for a bomb, a wide one, a lucky scrap. This was not always the case, though at every age after about thirty, I saw myself as an 'older surfer'. In my early twenties the oldest surfer I knew was about 36, and the thought that beyond that was a surfing life held no immediate proofs. There were virtually no over forties in the lineup.

By the time I got over thirty though, I'd begun to notice that I kept setting deadlines for myself -

"Darling we've got to get to Hawaii again before I get too old" (33)

"I need to get back to Hawaii again before I get too old" (36)

"Darling; I'd really like to do a boat trip with the boy's for my 50th" (49)

"Darling, Tony's scored a killer price for a trip to the Banyaks! At 54 I've got go before the body gives out..."

And so on.

As you can see we must all ask permission, from long suffering partners, our kids, our guilty consciences, ourselves. It must be the way as the idea of something that is just for fun, and as intensely personal as a surf holiday, needs approval. Since our lives are rarely solitary, and involve responsibilities, the clarity that comes with a clear conscience means a guilt free head as you jump off the boat.

I'm searching for an excuse to make an over 56 trip, but the cupboard is bare, though come the time when coffers fill I have no doubt I'll rustle up a reason.

But back to the start, the old guy thing. Where I was going before being utterly distracted by a daydream. The old 'use it or lose it' principle.

I have managed, all my surfing life, to fill in the non surfing days with some activity. Running, swimming, gym, rowing, bike, bag, climbing wall. Cross training, I suppose, to fill the space a wave might have so that come the hour it is not a start from scratch situation. Not being blessed with the lithe frame of a Mr Slater, I am closer to Tom Carroll without the six pack, (not a sign, not a hope), a bigger bum and thicker legs. No chance of grace or a body shape made for a camera, nevertheless it has proved durable and has kept me able to ride a board length circling six feet for a long time now.

The struggle to scratch down a face in double overhead never gets easier, I wonder when the board length must go up, but those moments when it all comes together, the flow state kicks in and a magic at-one-with-the-wave moment comes, well, those seconds make the frustrations worth it.

My immediate surfing buddies, Richie, Marky and Rod, and Richie T, they all know those moments are becoming more and more scarce, but I know too, when it does come I might as well be twenty again.

Where am I going with this?

Muscle memory and experience, the ingrained technique of all your years on a board, stay into old age. Watching Nat Young surf Angourie, the young ripper still lurks, the injuries occasionally disappear in a Surfer Cover cutback, or a lip caress out of Morning of the Earth.

Wayne Lynch, not far off 60, can still bury himself in a barrel, yoga keeping him Evolution loose.

This past few weeks Maurice Cole was consistently the best guy out at perfect Bells.

And in thirty years time Kelly will be the hottest 68 year old on the planet. I bet he will still be able to air and on his best days then, he will not be 'just a shadow' of his former self.

Age wearies us, but old age can be kept at bay far longer than people think.

Just now I'm pining for 9'6" gun so that my bigger wave ambitions don't die forever. This spurred on by schoolmate Hellman Russ McConachy's recent 60th birthday month being punctuated by several sessions in easily 15 foot Voldemort* (*the break that must not be named) to add to the 300 plus sessions he's had out there over the past thirty years. Hard man to kill, that bloke.

For now, my only wish is that just after I got lumbered with the 'old guy' thing... I wish I'd scored a belter and proved there was life in this particular dog. As it happened, I didn't. Thank god for Maurice as he, at just two weeks younger than me, came home with the bacon and absolutely blitzed the next... and the next... and the next.

The pic, from last year, Cold Mr Lumpy, bum hidden by judicious cropping, stomach sucked in.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

After so many years in advertising you'd think I never wanted to do another ad, but no. Consider this post an ad if you feel like it.

I was contacted a couple of days ago by a young surfwear company, Rapanui, based on the Isle of Wight in the UK.

Now my immediate thought was "how the hell do you start a surfwear company out of there?"

That they did and it is succeeding is cause for applause, and worthy of support. Why? An almost obsessive devotion to sustainability, the discipline to find ways to make a company work without exploiting third world labor forces, and what appears to be an ability to start as good guys with an idea and stay that way some years later.

God I'm a master of business analysis.

Anyway, have a look at their site, and perhaps you will be persuaded to ADD TO CART. They have some great T's and the gear list is growing. I'm in for one of the bamboo T's when I actually make another buck.

Naturally I had to rummage about for an Isle of Wight wave and found the peak below.

Not much to complain about there.
One thing I noticed in my travels to the surfing parts of the UK is that the locals are as hard core as they come, with a level of surfing rising exponentially. I've heard more than once of returning Mentawai travellers complaining of hot young Poms (that's Australian for English, said with love) stealing all the waves.

Who'd have imagined?

I suspect as they discover more of those slabs and bombies that seem to appear momentarily during those ridiculous tidal pulses enjoyed in the North Atlantic we'll begin to see the hellman count rise as well.

Good luck chaps.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

A crisp, cold morning, an early start because we needed an early return, running east this time and a favoured spot frequent visitors will recognize. Inconsistent, but clean with banks everywhere, Rich and I opted for the furthest, and least favoured of the many ruler edged triangles of sand.

As you can see from the second shot, with that little bald head, it wasn't too bad, and we had it to ourselves for a couple of hours. Light offshore, glassy at times, it did my head good, not in.

Good thing Rich was driving as I nodded off three times on the way back.

Hello to another week. I hope you have a good one.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It had to come sometime.

Last Wednesday, a quiet work day (again) and the report of some good waves prompted me to nip down for an early. Got to the place most likely with hopes that the crowd might be reasonable. It was, but though delightful to look at, the swell was sporadic.

Opting to go out anyway very early in the session, having decided perhaps wrongly to go Bells instead of Winki, I had the misfortune to overhear a conversation abut a wave I had paddled for and backed out of somewhat ungracefully on seeing a guy coming through on the inside.

Apparently the question to the offending answer was "who nearly took off in front of me?"

The answer, etched now on my hearing neurons...forever.

"The old guy"


The chap who said it spotted that I'd overheard, smiled, and then said " I suppose I shouldn't throw stones.. I'm no spring chicken myself." I laughed and commented that I still think I had twenty years on him.

Whatever, the tone was set, and for that session, or at least most of it, slow and less than spring loaded was how I felt.

The session was rescued later by a good run through Rincon before getting dropped in on, and a pretty fair wave with a nice slice off the top, that gave me that shooshy sound as I swung around.

As they say, one good turn deserves another but my follow up turn coming off the next bottom turn ended in near disaster as the wave suddenly flattened and I hit a bump. Went for about five feet balanced on one leg doing a reasonable impression of a statue of someone running, 'cept I was doing it on a surfboard.

Went in after too long, woke up with a cold.

Hastily snapped pics... Winki, and Bells.

Monday, May 17, 2010

This past three days has been catch up time.

Friday, an early surf with friend Rich from Sydney, down for a couple of concerts and as ever this provides a chance for a splash.

Small Winki, slightly onshore but uncrowded and great fun, we played swapsies between a 5'11" Maurice Cole and my Derek Hynd finless. Both epic fun boards in very different ways, it was a brilliant morning. Delivering him back to the The Australian Club, a very highbrow establishment in the middle of Melbourne, a frenzied pop on of the jacket and tie over jeans and flannels so that he can get back in.. hilarious stuff though it seems the establishment is very good value once you have the 'in', which RT has in spades.

What has sufficed as a 'tie' over the past months has beggared belief... maybe we should try a leg rope one day.

As I leave him and head to the first set of lights, I rather alarmingly discover I have no brakes, and limp warily through the city to a garage where I discover I've blown a brake hose.. Hoo-bloody-ray as I'm supposed to drive another two hours inland to spend a father son night with a bunch of dads and their respective sons... an overnight camp out that was due to start in three hours.

Repairs being a top up of the reservoir, I limped home, jumped on my bike, rode to where Sue had her car parked for work, chained the bike to a post, drove home, packed the car and then drove two hours or more to a pair of fireside rings of chairs in a field in the middle of the old Victorian goldfields.

Fathers and sons sitting, freezing, sharing what it is like to be fifteen, what it's like to be 'old', and how to get through the slings and arrows of life and enjoy doing it.

A great evening though a night under the stars in temperatures around zero on hard packed dirt was, for me, sleepless at best, though most of the kids slept like tops.

Saturday and Sunday? Spent catching up with number two son, still the same lovable ratbag, but a noticeably mellower one.

Ended Sunday with a trip to see Robin Hood (loved it) and then home to pizza while Tom resumed his next four weeks away.

Pics, the boards from the Friday morning surf, a few snaps from the delightful town of Clunes,
where it is very easy to swing a cat, and ending with Sue and Tom in a quiet moment, just before the movie.

Monday, May 10, 2010

There was a time when the Australian vernacular, our slang, was something that we delighted in. Rich, steeped in history. Words like bowyang (not quite a garter), and grouse (really good). Of course 'fair dinkum' (truly), cobber (friend, colleague), mate (well... ya mate) were mainstays, but they were just the thin skin of something that occupied three full pages in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

We'd laugh at attempts in films to "do" Australian, the way a foreign actor could never get the accent, or misused a word. There were unwritten rules that made usage either right, or very wrong. Only we knew them.

Now times have changed. Meryl Streep nailed the accent in Evil Angels, and even Robin Williams did ok as he did a hatchet job on us recently on David Letterman, though he got so much wrong, confusing Australian Rules football with Rugby League and some crap about flying snakes??? I haven't seen one for weeks. He's right in one way though in that everything here will kill you. As well, the kids today, with all their exposure to foreign film and tv have, though they retain an Australian accent in one of its many forms, taken up dude speak at the expense of their past.

Those of us a little older though hold on, in some degree, to old loves.

Yesterday, and on Saturday, the waves were grouse.

Fair dinkum. My oath.

If only the bloke doing the slash was me.

Monday, May 03, 2010

To the point of cliche, timing is everything. As I sit here I gather it is anything from 15 feet grading down, depending where you want to search on our long and lovely coast.

There is a slight ripple on my coffee so you can work out where I am.

A Saturday run saw the back end of a lovely swell from last week, which was happily missed as a visit to my dear old Dad interstate was my lot. A great catch up, sitting, laughing, talking about old times with a mixture of joy and that sad feeling you get when you realize how time sits coiled on your shoulder.

Good days, though my knees and ankles are suffering as the runs in the hilly terrrain of Dadland did the legs in.

So back to Saturday. Pretty much a carbon copy of last Monday. Small, strong offshore and crowded, but if you were cunning you could get the odd good one. I first opted for Winki, scored a cracker on the get go and thought you beauty I'm in for a good one. An hour and a half later with nothing more to speak of except people, I paddled back around the point, walking up Bells to join the crowd. More consistent, running long and tight on the point, it proved worthwhile as the crowd kept drifting off the take off while I managed to be a clever dick, bolting wide as the faintest ripple of a set waved at me from way out back.

A couple right through to the beach made the day.

Sunday and onshore, I busied myself with a little project I've been mucking about with. A few weeks back I took a few snaps of the Hellboy, (you're weird dad) with the hope of getting an essence in wax.

Early days and a bit detail obsessed even for my hammy fingers, but as it is refined it may look OK.

Pics: Winki, Bells doing its high tide point break thing, the reference shot of Tommy from my iPhone, and where I'm at.