So recently i've been listening to Elise by The Horrible Crowes a lot. It's a side project from Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem ( who are currently recording their fourth album ) and it's really very good.
More introspective, darker and less urgent than Gaslight. Fallon is a fine songwriter and lyricist who's stature is growing with each release.
This is the standout track for me, one i find popping into my head at quiet moments......behold the hurricane
A couple of weeks ago i had the chance to ride a Bing Lovebird model. 9'6 x 18 3/8 x 23 x 14 3/4 x3 and beautifully finished as all Bings are with the distinctive 3/4 deck fabric inlay charcteristic of this model.
It's not an out and out noserider, more of an all around single fin with a medium weight, shallow nose concave, a relaxed rocker, a lot of v in the tail and a tucked under edge to the rail in the back third. It's a board i've always liked the look of and it's quite similar to a gulfstream log i had a couple of years ago.
The day i rode it was a really glassy thigh - waist high with Saunton doing it's best slow pointbreak impression. Good clean logging waves but perhaps lacking the zip that the Lovebird is designed for.
Off the tail the board is lively and the vee is really noticeable having a slightly different feel to more bellied logs but getting the board on a rail and turning with ease. The board trims fast, zipping along as soon as you take your first steps forward. The weight feels good, heavy enough to give momentum but light enough to feel manageable.
On the nose it's solid enough. It has more rocker than my own boards and that felt a little strange. Getting five over is easy enough but it's not as easy to get all ten pinkies over as it is on a loggier board, though i guess thats not really the only point here. It's also true that the shape is designed with faster or slightly bigger waves in mind than i rode it in.
So overall i quite liked it but i wasn't blown away. It's not ideal for small waves and personally i dont ride a log in anything over 2 ft at the moment. Not for me right now then. I do think it would be a good choice as a one board quiver for the travelling traditional minded surfer or a versatile single fin for those who are still on longboards from shoulder to a little overhead waves.
Obviously it's all just my opinion and what do i know really!
This is the top of the main lift out of the carpark in Vemdalen at about 9.30 am - it's a quiet resort as you can see.
This was my first trip to Sweden although i've wanted to go for a long time. The idea of how expensive it is stopped us for ages but given the pound/euro rates in the last couple of years, it's really not much different than a trip to the French alps. Unless you want to get drunk of course. Supermarket beer is about a pound a can but it's a max of 3.5%. Vemdalen is so small you have to put an order in with a local butcher 48hours in advance to get anything stronger sent over from the nearest proper town! Moral of the story is stock up in duty free!!
Vemdalen itself is little more than a couple of lifts, cafes and a ski shop and feels more like a tiny US ski hill than anything in Europe. Just like many US hills, it's quiet during the week and it's got a limited number of runs. The pistes are kept in excellent condition, real corduroy groomers which stay firm but not icy no matter how long ago it snowed. I think this is because the top layer never melts and refreezes because of the prevailing low temperatures. Geilo last year and here definately had the best on-piste conditions ive seen since we last went to Tahoe!
The mountains themselves are low, looking more like rolling tundra than craggy mountains so nowhere is that steep and there aren't any real cliffs to fall off by accident. Avalanche risk stays pretty low too and the forests between the runs are made up of pretty widely spaced trees. If it snows, all this adds up to really fun, easily accessible, safe off-piste that doesn't get tracked out very quickly. The resort was nearly a metre down on it's usual mid january base and i still had face shots in the trees and some really good pow turns, even if i did get told off for cutting through a lift line by the ski patrol!
There's some good natural hits and i'm told it's even better with more snow. Park wise, theres a small one but it's definately not the focus for the lift company and geilo in norway last year was much better set up for that. On the down side it is small and as a resort definately suited to learning to ski or snowboard rather than a place to put the miles in. I did every run on the hill with the Neilson rep in two hours! Admittedly we weren't hanging about but still!
It is a good place for families, youngsters will progress well and it's quiet. Look elsewhere if you want to party hard though!
Hopefully everyone had a few fun waves over the weekend. Once the fog cleared up here there were some beautiful glassy chest high waves on sunday and some small clean loggable peelers on Monday. Perfect conditions to show off our beaches to my visiting Californian friends, Jake (who works at the excellent Almond shop) and his girlfriend Anna
I think they had a good time, i certainly got loads of pleasure from showing them around. Seeing it through their eyes reinforced how beautiful and relatively unspoilt our coastline is and how much fun our waves are when it's good. I think Devon exceeded their expectations. They're in Spain now, hopefully getting fun waves there too.
Anna has a cool little blog thats worth checking out here.
There are some nice Ca made logs in here right now, the new version of the osprey model looks particularly nice. Shaped by Hank Byzak who has a long behind the scenes history and also has hands on Joel Tudor's Kookbox model's check the shop's blog here
Winter surfing here is a pretty grey experience mostly, grey skies, grey sea, muted countryside, grey tarmac coloured only by the brown of mud.
Some days, like this one, the sea and the sky are so similar you can't see where one starts and the other finishes. Waves loom unexpectedly and the water is cold enough to burn your face as you dive beneath them.
I'm in the enviable position of acquiring two new wetsuits in the same number of weeks after Tim Heyland from Tiki very kindly gave me one of their brand new zepha suits to try.
It's a reassuringly warm looking 6/5/4 suit with a full time hood, super stretchy double lined neoprene, chest entry and liquid sealed seams. Tiki have ditched the warming packs from their old top of the line suit and moved production to the same factory that makes the top of the range o'neill suits. On the hanger it looks the business with subtle logos, mostly black with red shoulders and although obviously thick, the rubber has plenty of give to it.
As you might expect with a six mil suit, trying it on dry it feels a little restrictive and claustrophobically warm but the chest entry and exit is easy enough for this style of suit.
Once you're in the water, all thoughts of being stuck in the equivalent of a rubber straitjacket disappear. I can honestly say that i didn't notice the extra thickness on the torso or legs compared to the 5/4 xcel i'm sporting in the photo above. It's also a revelation how much more comfortable a full time hood is compared to wearing a separate one giving a much more comfortable and free feeling around the neck and much less tension in my neck muscles post surf.
Paddling wise, the neoprene is so supple there's no feeling that you are losing mobility by being warm and nor did it feel cumbersome to surf in. Warmth wise, which is the important thing i guess, i can confirm that it's bloody good! The seams are watertight and even after an hour of duckdiving 3 foot beachbreak i had dry hair under the hood! I admit i've not exhaustedly tested it but i know a man who has and if it's kept Cotty warm taking cold, heavy, irish water on the head at prowlers and eileens, then i'm sure my first impression is right.
Winter hasn't been too cold here this year, the water is not as cold as it can get but i'm really confident that i'd stay toasty warm in the depths of midwinter with this suit. Much as i was impressed by the nineplus hasu suit i have, this is the one i'll be grabbing for the dawn patrol for the next few weeks at least!
In other news, the love for Tim Mason is flowing freely and several kind folks have donated stuff to auction and contribute funds to the timmy mason trust. thomas campbell collectibles here and a stretch f4 quad, bag and fins here. Please support them if you can....