There's something exciting about the start of a road trip. The anticipation as the leaving date approaches, the loading as you try to cram one too many essentials in a little too little space, obsessively checking the forecast. Then the off, the road and the possibilities stretching out in front of you, a map and a hunch and a bunch of cd's..........
Perhaps i'm biased but i don't think anyone is making surfboards in the UK that are any better shaped or finished than Gulfstream. Maybe there are a couple of people that are comparable, but sadly i don't think there ar man people even trying to match the care and craftsmanship that most US logging labels strive for.
That said, i have an order in with Squire, the label run by John Isaac and made by Seabase. Given John's eye for detail i'm sure it will live up to expectation.
Norwegian style! Big congratulations to the uk's best freerider James Stentiford, who overcame the barriers of immense age (:-)) to place on the podium at the verbier leg of the snowboard freeride world tour. The verbier event is the original "extreme" contest and coming third is a pretty big deal for anyone let alone a Brit!
What a lovely little run of fun small waves and sunshine we have been treated to! Definately feels like spring is springing! Really fun logging waves without too many crowds (where i was anyway!). Finally starting to shed a small bit of rubber and feel like my logging ability is coming back from the winter doldrums. Big smiles.
I've been wearing the 4/3 nineplus full suit i got a few months ago for the last few surfs and it is really nice. Plenty warm enough and flexible with good quality feeling single lined yamamoto neoprene. No durability issues so far either.
In other news i watched Randall generating more speed than should be possible on a thigh high wave on his own asymetric version of a mini simmons on friday and i also borrowed a friends diplock shaped mini simmons, this one is a beast at 6'4 and has twin keels with a little trailer fin. Very much like john cherry's sim 21 model. Considering how small the waves were it flew but felt quite stiff with the center fin and personally i prefer the twin set up.
This week i spent a very enjoyable evening at the Tiki offices seeing them launch their new range of epoxy boards. In between being force fed real ale by Tim Heyland (who i now hold partly responsible for my worst hangover in recent memory!) here's what i remember........
The boards are the frutition of a five year design process and represent an attempt to push board construction forwards by marrying natural and manmade materials to create something with the best of both. The original shapes are by Bruce McKee, an aussie who has shaped for quite a few big names over the years and range from a 5'9 shortboard up to a 7 foot something fun board shape. There are a couple of fish style SUP's in the range too but interestingly no longboards. Tim, who is a very good longboarder himself, doesn't feel the technology gives the right feel to longer shapes and i think that's probably right.
Each board is machine preshaped then hand finished from a eps foam blank. The first "clever bit" is the use of a much much smaller cell and therefore denser and stronger foam stringerless blank. From there things get a bit hazy but..........
The blank gets a layer of glass then the deck and bottom get a thin bamboo skin and the rails get a carbon fibre cloth wrap. The deck gets another 6oz patch where your feet go and the whole baord gets another 4oz layer of glass over all of it. What you end up with is four layers of glass on the deck and the equivalent of seven layers on the rails, but, and here's the second "clever bit", because it's all epoxy, the boards come out lighter than a conventional PU shortboard!
Aesthetically they look lovely and feel well made. They are strong enough for a well built chap to jump on upside down without damage. I can't comment on how they surf... yet, but i know they spent a lot of time testing to try and avoid the corkiness and tinnyness that surfttechs are often accused of. The bamboo apparently gives a dynamic flex that you wouldn't find in a tufflite board.
They're not entirely my "cup of tea" and others will be far more qualified to comment on how well they work but it's cool to see something new, especially when it's homegrown.
Local foul weather "go to" spot. Sadly a case of looking better from the shore than the line up. Maybe it's a symptom of my addiction but it still felt better to paddle out and prove the wind was too strong than leave without surfing and later convince myself (erroneously) i drove away from an epic little session!
For all the obsessing about wave buoys and windspeeds, weather charts and sandbars, for all the agonising over dimensions on your next board, for all the stressing over how long it is since you last surfed, the rushing to create a precious slot to make it to the beach, for all that surfing is and isn't................
it pales in comparison to the simple joys of time with those you love, there can never be enough of that.