Thursday, July 29, 2010

About ten months back we had a run of swell down here that was pretty special. A succession of big, long period swells with real grunt.

I had been working on my Tales from the Chook Shed webisodes for Maurice Cole. The chance came up to get some footage of Nick Carroll at big Bells, and to talk to Nick, as a very technical observer of board design, about the direction Maurice Cole is going with deep single concaves, and smaller boards in bigger surf. As we've discovered as tow surfing has grown, and lately ebbed a little in popularity, is that you don't need a lot of board once you're on the wave.

Even me, old plonker that I am, do ok on waves in the 8 plus range on a six two or so,.. added volume helps me in but, wisely placed, doesn't hinder once there. The concave, volume distribution and the location of the concave, make for, as Nick says, a board that is fleet of foot, no hang ups, and very, very fast. Of course it all depends on the surfer but I for one never imagined I'd still be on boards in the below six foot range at 56, so something is working.

Naturally there are many wonderful ways to skin a cat and these boards are for those that like to surf on rail and go fast, which skins lot of cats, if you ask me.

The surfing in this episode is from two sessions on the same day, one at Bells in the ten foot range, one at very big Voldemort (the break we dare not name), and a session post last year's Quikky Pro at Kirra. Graciously, Jack McCoy allowed us to use the Kirra footage in this, and some of this session may end up in his new film, A Deeper Shade of Blue, which, from all accounts, is destined to be a beauty.

Surfers are Tony Ray, Ross Clarke-Jones, Nick Carroll and Kelly Slater.

And, if you'd like to see it a little larger, you can.. here.

Tales from the Chook Shed Episode 2 from Mick Sowry on Vimeo.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I had the pleasure this weekend of meeting a couple of legends.

One a certified Living National Treasure, literary figure of note in Australia's and much of the English speaking world's universe. The other a young fella who though not a legend yet, may well become one.

Last Friday I attended a charity art auction at the Australian Marine Conservation Society in support of the banning of the shark fin fishery and its abhorrent practice of cutting off the fins and returning the sharks alive, but finless, to the sea. Hundreds of millions of sharks are killed every year to service shark fin soup. Clearly a cultural wall of massive proportions will make a worldwide ban difficult but in our backyards why should we put up with it?

Some very desirable works were up for the hammer, supported by an introductory talk by writer Tim Winton.

Tim's writing is like a knife through technicolour butter. His ability to paint you into a moment with words is pure delight for me, so to meet him afterwards made my month. Some of you may know his book, Breath, and know too that in his spare time he is also a surfer and freediver of great experience.

I'd wanted to get a copy of Musica Surfica into his mitts, in thanks for giving me so much reading pleasure and also as a gift to someone I felt would enjoy it. Seeking him out in a quiet moment, we ended up having a conversation of more depth than I'd expected given the demands being placed on him ina crown of 300 or so. It turns out he already had a copy, loved the film, but said give me that one anyway, and make sure you sign it.

As if I wouldn't?

We got talking about the sea, riding fish and his love of Tom Wegener's boards. An easy, unpretentious, delightful guy...

And yesterday, a call from Ed Sloane, who wanted to hook up for a chat and maybe take a few shots, but really just to say g'day.

I mentioned Ed in my previous post, and discovered yesterday his real job is as an environmental scientist, with a working brief to survey water quality over a range encompassingthe hinterlands of some of the best surfing in the country. Naturally this gives him ample moments to be on the spot when light and the elements combine for magic. Little wonder his shots sing.

At fun but sorta sloppy Bells, Ed parked his lens on the stairs in an attempt to get a shot of me at it, but he quickly realised his mistake and joined me in the drink, as the waves were so inconsistent waiting for one was more fun that watching me wait, and wait, catch it, then stuff it up.

Whatever. I did get a couple worth the effort, if not photographing.

The guy has great deal of talent, I hope he manages to keep its flame alive long enough to see it grow, and we manage to catch up again, to gasbag some more.

Oh and by the by, big lumpy son Joey wanted me to take a snap of him as a bookend to one I took of small ratbag son Tom, using the Hipstamatic app on my iPhone. There is a particular combination of lens and film in it I love, though in Joe's case I fiddled about some more just to be difficult.

So shots today... Winki, in the dawn light, Richie checking a "secret place of colours' prior to going back to Bells, and my darling boys, set for the wall when I get the prints back, just before I nail them to it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

One of the gems of the Victorian coast is a beach named with a number.


No secret. Easy to find.

The variety of waves to found along three of four kilometres of sand and patchy reef has to be seen to be believed.

From cruisey high tide little walls perfect for longboards, and soft crumblers that are beginner land divine, to pitching heaving barrels that will challenge anyone, it is a beach that can deliver more smiles per square inch for more levels of surfer than many in the world.

A very hot local population is generous enough to not play the locals game, and surfers from all around come to smile and be challenged by what it offers.

Last weekend it served up some jewels, and local denizen of the lens Ed Sloan was there to record a few moments before his trembling hands had to reach for his board.

Go visit his site and see what else he has to offer. Beautiful shots and if the below is an early attempt at moving pictures, he has more to offer.

Good on you mate. I hope you don't mind me linking your vision.

Testing Testing....Winter Beacon from Sloane Photos on Vimeo.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I hate perfect days.

Paddled out yesterday full of expectation as the waves were straight from a high school doodle. I felt as though I couldn't put a foot wrong until I attempted to stand up and discovered I couldn't put a foot right. Tripping over bloody booties, then eventually getting so effing cold Roboto took over before Hesitation Man filled what available neurons are left after the Alzheimer's kicked in.

Just short of five hours out there, with two good waves. A few almost's but really!

Finally sorted a good one through Rincon that had me in shock upon realising my feet actually hit the spot.

I know I shouldn't complain, and fervently hope any Victorians reading this had a better day as it deserved being enjoyed. At least there was some good conversation out the back.

Until next time.

PS: Winki was going OFF as I left... Also, Congratulations young Jordy in Saffa Land, and well done Adam Melling, too.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Yesterday I was a bad lad and snuck down as it was the first surf opportunity in a couple of weeks... and I was quietish workwise. It turned out to be a good move, high tide glassy Bells/Rincon, pretty uncrowded, sort of sloppy but a playful four feet, and a few long ones, right to the beach. It does a good impression of a point break, the old Bells, when it does this.

Today, I had the car packed, ready to do another runner to what I'd been tipped off to be perfect brisk offshore, classic and a foot bigger, only to have the youngest say why not hang together for a bit.

Naturally I shined the surf as even an hour or two with the Hellboy is time well spent.

Quiet is good.

The thing is, at around fifteen, they suddenly decide parents are not to be hung around with, know nothing or are there only to harass, so good time is rare time.
I try to be a good Dad, but they make it hard when you feel like all you do is berate them about study and homework, and all the other things that both make their young lives and put them at risk.

Of course, we then look back at our own years, go oops!... try to maintain dignity and not feel like a total hypocrite.

All you out there kid-less but about to not be... hold on to your hats.

And wallets.

Pic, sloppy, glassy fun at you know where.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

When I did Musica Surfica our core camera guy for all things surfing was Jon Frank.

A laconic bear of a man with an easy laugh, but few words, Jon was a blessing to the shoot.

In the water it was so clear he was in a comfortable place, the efficiency of his shooting beggaring belief.

I should have known, for as far back as Litmus he's been swimming out in stupidity to get the shot. Never though, in all our time together, did he take a board out and 'have a splash'.

I had no idea how good he might be if the camera was reversed, though a couple of months back I caught a glimpse of a take off on one wave at Bells and thought... yep, he can surf.

That impression was cemented the other day when my friend Pete showed me this sequence he snapped of JF in the Mentawais about ten days ago.
Jon was on a boat at the same spot as Pete's, with a group of young pros not keen on heading out to a gnarly left hander.

Jon decided to get the show rolling.

"If I get a good one you're in."

This is his first wave.

Jaws on the floor from all watching.

And it was his birthday.

The pics, as I said, by Peter James. Thanks Pete. Nothing from me as I've been up seeing my dear old Dad. Plus it's flat.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Following on the back of the last post I had the good fortune to receive some shots in the mail from local surf camera wiz Steve Ryan.

Occasionally he points his lens my way, which is generous given the surplus of talent flying by. Judicious editing allows me a couple of shots that show some form, shots that disguise my shortcomings in technique, style, flexibility and physique. I'd say age is a terrible thing but truth be known I looked much the same, albeit a bit skinnier, 30 years ago.

Tempus fugit, as they say.

If you are a regular in the area and Steve is to be seen with his big white lens pointed your way, say hello. You may have a wall hanger waiting.

Tomorrow off to Queensland for a couple of days to see my dear old Dad.

Can't wait.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Have you ever noticed how flat take offs are harder than steep one's?

The way the drop away of the board on a steeper wave assists a quick pop up, whereas those flat one's can have you ending up tripping over your front foot, leaving you feeling like a big goose.

I ask in the hope that someone else does it other than me as it happened four or five times in vaguely crossed up four foot Bells that with persistence turned into a pretty decent session, though it took a good two hours for me to get into gear. A few fun waves were had, with a very occasional set venturing in with a little more size, oddly with some punch too but it still felt like a small wave session.

All a bit of a conundrum really.

A cracker last skitter after 3 1/2 hours had me practically stepping on the sand over Winki way so I called it quits... well my arms did really, though I was pretty done with it in the end, looking forward to a snooze on the beanbag when I got home.

Love that snooze.

Shots: Winki looking busy, and a lucky turnip on a very nice looking wave for grey day at Bells, though I'm not sure what he's looking at.