When i really got into surfing, joel tudor was my first surfing hero, a beacon of smooth style amongst a sea of flapping shortboarders on impractical equipment. I know that some people have reservations about his personality, i've never met him. (i must admit to hoping to see him surf in California but no luck!)
What you cannot deny is his influence on the direction of non-mainstream surfing over the last 15 years. From ushering in a return to traditional style and heavy single fin logs, to prompting a re investigation of forgotten shortboard designs, his influence cannot be understated. In recent times he has stepped a little away from the spotlight, devoting much of his time to taking care of his son. His surfing is still as good as it ever was, smooth understated with a casualness that belies the technicality and positioning of the lines he draws.
This section, from cyrus sutton's riding waves was one of my favorite bits of footage for a long time. i still think if you wanted a short segment to show someone the grace of good traditional logging, you'd be hard pressed to find a better example. Slightly forgotten it's back in rotation on my dvd player this summer.
Brit filmaker Ross Johns just sent me a copy of his new film, Fusion which is already out and available online here or from most good surf shops. It might just completely re-define your idea of british surfing and the quality of our waves. Here's my review for Drift
The shelves of your local surfshop are filled with a steady stream of new dvds each featuring an all star cast of action heroes pulling into monster barrels in Tahiti or pulling monster airs in Indo. Yet the number of movies celebrating our homegrown talent is woefully small. Having already seen some stills from some of the sessions included in Fusion, it was with a fair amount of excitement that i slipped it into my dvd player.
In the shops as you read this (or available through http://www.surfclips.co.uk) it aims to reveal British surfing and British waves at their best. It's been a labour of love for filmaker Ross Johns over the last three years and has lead to many an uncomfortable night asleep in the car and many a junkfuelled petrol station dinner.
From the start, there's no delusions of Thomas Campbell, there's no chin stroking celebration of how cool we all are for being surfers, this is straight up surf porn. Set to a pumping soundtrack of dance and guitar bands, it's a balls to the wall barrel fest of epic proportions.
If you are unaware of the quality of the current crop of top British surfers, or you are unaware quite how good some of the waves in the UK are, you will be picking your jaw up off the floor time and again. Some of the slab waves are very scary looking indeed with tow or paddle entry and the quality of the camera work is good. It's not all pits either, a large number of lips get well and truly slayed over the 60 minute(ish) running time along with some pretty progressive aerial surfing as well.
It's filmed all over the South West, shows the brown water of North Yorkshire at it's best and features some of the recent slab sessions in Caithness at waves like Bagpipes that have been well documented in Carve and others.
The cast list is a veritable who's who of UK shortboarding from Russ Winter and Stokesy (who has a good section as does Mark "Egor" Harris) to newer names like Tom Butler. Reubyn Ash is perhaps the only notable not present.
There's a dash of progressive longboarding in the mix too. Adam Griffiths and Ben Skinner wield their nine foot sticks into turns that most people dream of doing on boards three feet shorter, before they prove they are both equally at home on shorter, skinnier equipment.
This isn't "Thicker Than Water", its not trying to be. It is a great document of where we are right now and almost certainly shows the highest level of homegrown surfing captured on video to date. If it doesn't inspire you to pull in deeper or smack the lip harder the next time you surf then nothing will!
Rincon was pretty much flat while we were close (being more of a winter break) though even with the tiny windswell you could see the potential. The beach itself is smaller than you would imagine and covered in driftwood. There are a few huts out on the point made with the wood. This one would have easily seated three or four people.
Randall has finally left his temporary Devonian shaping cave with some truly beautiful stock boards. All but the mini simm are available now. The mini simm is already in the water and by all accounts is incredibly fun.
This is from the first roll out of the diana toy camera i was given for my birthday (thank you mr Gardner!). Typically mixed results, personally i think this shot was the pick of the bunch. Weirdly, in exact opposite to the holga, the view finder shows far more than the shutter sees and that scuppered a fair number of the shots on the roll. Nevermind, at least i know that now and on the plus side they were all pretty well exposed.
I sit typing this a while before it's going to appear, still buzzing from a super fun surf at sunset p-land. Mostly friends in the water, strong offshores and a swell building with the tide added up to very fast, fairly hollow zippers. When i got there, it was most definately log size and i rode the dano from the post below. I had a feeling it would like the wave there and i was right. Cutting back it felt far more alive and the speed and hold in the pocket on the nose was incredible. I had one especially memorable head dip cheater five where i was certain the tail would break out and it never did. It's a really fun board and my opinion of it gets better each session!
As the tide pushed up so did the size, as is often the case at p-land. It started to get a little too exciting on such a big board with no leash so i broke out the hull and rediscovered the joys of forward trim again, and burnt a lot of brownie points as a result. Still you have to make the most of these long evenings, all too soon the nights will start to draw in, slowly but inexorably......
Dano Forte holding my board outside Pure Glass in Costa Mesa, hopefully he doesn't mind that the perspective on this makes his head look a slightly weird shape. He is a super nice guy and a great shaper.
I had heard that he could be slightly "relaxed" to deal with but my experience has been totally positive. Right from staying in contact while we were finalising the order, to getting the board done in a little over a month, to meeting me on a sunday so i could pick the board up and not miss a weekends surfing by being without a board.
He nailed it too. It's a beautifully shaped and glassed board that has been much "oohed and aahed" over by the "peanut gallery" at home.
Completely failed to come up with a witty title or repartis for this post so read no further, just click here to visit the new British Surfing Museum website. I can't tell you anymore about the progress with the plans as i'd have to kill you all afterwards but believe me it's getting closer and it's very exciting!
Tourmaline, despite being designated an "official surfing park" is never going to make headlines on it's wave quality alone. In fact on an average day it bares a very close resemblance to my local spot being a lined up mushy beachbreak. It is, however, a lot of fun on a loggy board and has a pretty vibrant local scene, with friendly talented locals in the line up.
It's also Skip Frye's local beach and i have to admit that sharing the lineup with him was one of the highlights of my trip. He's still a REALLY good surfer, always in the right spot to take off with minimum effort. Lithely bounding to his feet with a grace that belies his age. Eaking every last moment of trim out of each little peeler before paddling back out with a smile.
I'd love to say that i managed to pick up one of his boards as well, a nice Eagle or something, and i did see a couple for sale, but at $1500 - $2500 second hand, even i couldn't justify it.
This is pretty much my favorite photo from the whole trip and it was one of the first i took, although i guess the composition is hardly original. The owner of these two was pretty much the standout that afternoon, super smooth and stylish.
I took it just after my first surf of the trip on a 9'4 anderson breakwater (nice log!) i rented from Chad Marshall at Mollusc in Venice while i waited for Dano to finish my board.
It's hard to describe quite how excited i was when we pulled up to see flawless waist - chest high glassy waves peeling down first point with only about 15 people out. It's such a good logging wave, not too fast not too slow, fully justified of all the hype, so easy to perch on the nose, cutback once you outrun the section and perch again. Makes you wonder how good we could all be if we got waves like that more often.
The rub, of course, is getting a few to yourself without getting in a fight! Even with so few surfers in the water, it was carnage. There was a pretty wide range of ability (weirdly the most aggro person being some of those well down the ability order) and with very little general drop in etiquette. Even so, just one of those waves would have had me ready to spend the airfare again......