I like to think that i'm farly objective in my surfboard reviews. I hope i have moved on from the childlike wonder that used to greet every pretty resin tint (when those things were much less common) and the gushing over every new line and turn and new surfing experience. That said, i'm aware that i'm rarely critical of the boards i buy and borrow to surf. Perhaps a little out of courtesy to others hard work and tightly held views. I like to think though that it's because there aren't many bad boards out there anymore, just stuff that suits some people more than others!
I've had a couple of really fun trips to London recently, feeling like a country bumpkin off to the big smoke. It reminded me how much fun living in a city can be. There's a real buzz of energy and a feel of excitement and possibilities. I'd never move but it's good to get some exposure to culture more vibrant than the backwater that Devon can be. We definately ought to do it more often..........
No trip can be complete without a sojurn along the South Bank and a trip to Slam City Skates both British skateboarding institutions and two places i looked forward more to visiting than any of the official sights when i first went to the capital.
Incidentally, if you or your kids have anything more than a passing interest in Harry Potter, i'd heartily advise a trip to the Harry Potter studio tour at Leavesden where you can wander amongst the sets from the films, drink butter beer and try out greenscreen broomstick flying.
BGA tries to look all moody and catalogue pose........... or maybe he's hiding his red face fm the exertions of the climb!
North Devon has a new MTB trail centre at Keypitts farm. It's small scale so far but if they get enough interest over the next few months there are big plans to expand it afoot. It's not quite bike park wales and they are learning as they go but early reports are good and it's great to have something like this happening here to supplement the good natural riding.
It's been a while since i watched the sun set from the line up but the last couple of weeks of waves have treated me to some beautiful waves and gorgeous skies. This time, glassy shoulder high sets with just the seapea and one other for company.
There was a thread on the Magic seaweed forum a while ago about keepers, those boards you will never sell. Thinking about it i'm pretty fickle, there are a few boards that i was sure i'd never get rid of which went to make way for supposedly bigger and better things. That said, there are a few in my quiver that have survived the periodic culls and that i'm still really fond of.
Ask me again this time next year and who knows but currently...
5'2 Gulfstream SeaPea by me!!
5'2 Tyler Warren bar of soap
5'6 Jeff mcCallum mford
Both rare, both beautiful, both fly! The McCallum has the best laminate ever, a signed, defaced Dollar Bill.
9'4 if6was9 mod log by Neil Randall, my current beau for logging and the board in the pic above. Based on Dane Petersons logs with a greenough fin. Super fun off the tail and super good on the nose in steeper waves. It's pretty much where current "cutting edge" longboard design is right now.
9'6 classic Malibu jai lee noserider by Peter White, such a good noserider it's almost cheating!
We had a fun little weekend swell hereabouts, not too busy and fun size. The water has definately dropped a degree or two though. A slightly optimistic wetsuit choice on saturday left me shivering outside the van a couple of hours later. Great to see a couple of seapea's in the water. Looked like they were giving as much fun as mine did on saturday!
In the spirit of sharing the seapea stoke, i managed to finagle a few waves on Thom's Bing Dharma on saturday then a whole session in fun shoulder high beachie on sunday using BGA's new dharma. Both were 5'8
Just in case you are curious, here are my semi-learned thoughts! First thing i noticed was how much more foiled it was than i expected. I had kind of imagined the dharma to be on the mini sim side of the fish but that isn't the case at all. Although there's plenty of foam under the chest, it's really (nicely) thinned out at the rails and nose. The rocker is eally flat and the 5'8 paddled beautifully early into the clean zippers on offer. The other thing that immediatly struck me was the depth of the single concave, you could almost feel the base curving upwards under your fingers as you grabbed the rails to sit up or duck dive.
Once into a wave it felt a lot more "neutral" than i expected, more like a shortboad that wants some input from the rider rather than a simmons or fish that needs guiding but goes immediatly towards its own characteristic line. The tail feels narrower than it is and almost disappears beneath you allowing you to direct with force wherever you want and without having to push or fight to break a line. This shortboard style nature translated to easy backhand surfing and a really fun couple of hours.
That said, it is very fast laterally and will trim past sections almost without the need to pump. I'm sure cheater fives would be possible if you were so inclined..
Not at all the board i was expecting but a really great shape. One that i think perhaps likes a bit of shape and isn't quite the mush buster that the outline photos might suggest. It felt like a quad fish that you could really drive around and get up in the lip - i made a couple of late timed floaters i had absolutley no business keeping my feet on! If you normally ride shortboards i think it might be an easy transition, it's definately more on that side of the spectrum than a loggers shortboard.
Definately one to snaffle another few waves on in the future!
Rare example of me on the other side of the lens, frame grabbed from Joel during one of those fading light, making the most of it sessions. Friends in the water bringing far more fun that it looked from the water's edge
This is James, saunton local and a pretty inspirational surfer. He's just as surf stoked as any of the younger crew and probably logs more days in the water than many of them. I can only hope that i'm as active in 30 years time!
Super fun weekend catching up with Jules on a flying visit from The North Face, spreading the SeaPea love, careering around lanes on indecisive surf checks and dodging the downpours. Some fun waves despite the wind. Jules take on the mini - simmons experience? "Looks like a comedy board but boy is it fast!"
Out on the bike too, our dry trails are well and truly gone now but getting both wheels sliding at the same time downhill through trees sure gets the pulse racing.
Both on land and at sea, a little but of exploring can pay dividends!
Pete from the Museum of British Surfing just reminded me that they have a surf film screening next Monday at the thatch in croyde. Looks like a good film, hopefully i can make it too!
Here's some more detail!
The Museum of British Surfing is proud to present its latest exclusive film screening – the multi award-winning ‘North of the Sun‘. It will take place on Monday October 21st from 7.30pm at The Thatch pub in Croyde.
We’re grateful to the filmmakers for giving us special permission to
show their stunning surf movie. It follows Inge Wegge and Jørn Ranum as
they spend nine months of cold, Norwegian winter in the isolated and
uninhabited bay of a remote, arctic island by the coast of
Northern-Norway, facing nothing but the vast Atlantic Ocean.
There they built a cabin out of driftwood and other cast-off
materials that washed up on shore, and ate expired food the stores would
otherwise have thrown away. But the boys brought with them two items of
utmost importance: their surfboards – perhaps their biggest motivation
for the arctic adventure. Because the remote bay holds a well kept
secret; some of the world’s finest surfing waves.
This beauty is a 9'10 RON model log custom made for my friend BGA by Michel Junod
Junod isn't a massive name this side of the atlantic but he is very well regarded in his native California both as a surfer and a shaper. He hails from the Santa Cruz area and was heavily featured in Thomas Campbells the present movie which is probably where you have heard of him before if you've been scratching your head!
He makes beautiful surfboards but they are great value because his name doesn't have the worldwide cache of Bing and others. His boards deserve it though. The shapes and finish are every bit as good as other californian prestige brands.
BGA is most definately a fan and has had a few different boards from him over the years. This one came over with Nineplus and is one of Michel's Regular Old Noserider models. It's defiantely got a little bit of a piggy wide point back/ hippy influence but it's more of a full all round log shape than his Pignar or Two tone models. As a result it probably suits our average days little bit more.
I rode this one the other day in waist high semi-clean medium speed beach break and i was really impressed. I normally dont like long logs, anything over 9'6 and i usually find that the extra inches are a hindrance rather than a help. Not so here, despite it's size, the RON has a nice weight, not too heavy, not too light. It has a nimbleness off the tail (in a traditional pivoty sense) that belies it's size and i found it was easy to whip through fades and cutbacks for me even though i'm only ten stone. The gentle roll in the bottom and nice round 50/50 rails undoubtedly help too.
Up front there's a subtle teardrop concave and perched with toes over it's very stable both in the pocket and when the wave fattens a little. It paddled great too but then there's a lot of float relative to my (fly)weight. BGA is taller and heavier than me and it suits him to tee. His daily driver for the last couple of years has been a 9'8 junod two tone which is a superb noserider when the wave has some shape but at mushy gutless saunton it's not the easiest board to get the best from. The extra width in the front half of the RON gives more forgiveness when the wave gives less and it's flattering his surfing already.
In short it's a good value californian all around log and well worth thinking about if you are in the market!
This is the north end of Les Dunes 1 near Brem sur Mer in the vendee. It's a really fun beachie, not too dumpy and retains pretty good shape through most of the tide. Busy but nowhere near our summer crowds. I guess it's a bit like combesgate, a nice peaky speed with a long wall, perfect for extended tip time on a log or for flying down the line on a fish when it's bigger. Boardshort temperature water in midsummer too!
There's something visceral about live music. There's a physicality that goes beyond what your ears can hear, the beat pounding through your body, the energy in the room from the band and the shared experience.
This is city of lights, a young band from Leeds that i stumbled across on a night out in manchester. It wasn't really a night about seeing bands, we were just looking for entertainment in the downtime between two days of courses. We were blown away.
I've seen a lot of bands live, both local ones and big names and there is something special about some of them, an intangible x factor if you will. You can usually tell if they are going to be any good from the first few bars. There's a tightness to the sound and an energy between bandmates that crosses from the stage to the audience so readily that it doesnt matter if you've heard their songs before.
City of lights have it in spades and they are a band that you're going to notice cropping up on the radio soon - they already played the bbc introducing stage at reading and leeds festival. Their five track EP opens with the chiming guitar of "don't give up" sounding like funeral for a friend without the metal edge perhaps. From there it weaves it's magic through intelligent lyrics and melodic hooks and a sound all their own. They are really nice lads too and i hope they have a big future. Click the link, buy an ep and support good new music that simon cowell has had nothing to do with!
I watched Thomas campbell's sprout the other day. First time for a long time although i've seen it so many times since it first came out, every scene was like meeting an old friend. It's difficult to underestimate how much influence Sprout and The Seedling before it had on me and thousands of other people around the world. It still stands up as a great film and it's worth dusting your copy down and watching it again. It's funny to think that when it came out, owning a twin keel fish semed like a radical idea!
Here's a thing......... When you load your board on your car roof, do you put it fin first or nose first?
In the UK i'd say everyone goes nose first (with the exception of those kooks who stick it up through the sunroof etc!) and there would be some sniggering behind hands in car parks if you did anything else.
Cross the pond though and California is exclusively fin facing forward, at least if you want to swing into the car park looking cool and correct. weird eh?
Thankfully my boards travel inside a van so thats one less detail to agonise over in order to maintain my aura of hipster cool ;-)
Speaking of cool, Gulfstream now have a 5'2 SeaPea mini simmons available to demo, call them on 01271 815490 and get your shred on (brah!)
This is Glen, owner of local shop Surfed Out going beyond the call of duty and delivering a new board to a customer at the waters edge early one saturday morning.
Glen was a sometimes divisive figure when he first moved here and openend his stores but time mellows and I've always found him to be friendly, helpful and just trying to make his business run well in sometimes difficult circumstances.
Summer has drawn to a close and the anticipation of some autumn swells rolling through is building. I finished august with another super fun week in the lakes. Once again we lucked out with the weather most of the time and had a great time. I've said it before but it's genuinely my second favorite place in the country to be i think.
I think maybe its just the outdoors vibe about the place as well as the spectacular scenery abd the big hills to test yourself climbing up and bombing down!
For reference, Honister Pass is something you enjoy after it's finished!
I've just stolen Gordon from Wavedreamer's pictures of the aforementioned Will from Gulfstream testing the first stock SeaPea. This is Will's take on it:
As you know I have been given the responsibility of testing our new
board, the Sea Pea. Mainly im testing this one to see if it surfs how we
want it to, and most importantly like its Father, Chris Preston's aka
CP, Sea Pea.
I knew of a few subtle differences before surfing it. There was slightly
less rocker, and i felt it had a slightly straighter rail line. It
looks fantastic and was praying that it surfed as well as the original
The first session was in horrendous 2ft woolacombe. Strong NW winds had
been blowing all day saturday and it wasn't til 5 oclock that i mustered
up the stoke to get in. Gordon from Wavedreamer came along with his camera to document the event.
To give you an idea of how bad the surf was, there was only 2 other
people actually attempting to surf, both of which were on shortboards
and were having no luck at all. To say this board made me smile is an
understatement. It didn't even have many good long faces to open up its
turbos but good golly did it surf well. There is few boards that
accelerate and trim quite like this board did in conditions like this.
The whole experience of surfing this type of board is rad.
I also surfed it early Sunday morning in super clean 1-2ft. It was
really weak and gutless but the Sea Pea served its purpose yet again.
While a few keen loggers where in trim and getting nice nose rides, the
Sea Pea was flying across little walls and making me wonder why i
haven't owned a board like this for the last 5 years. Dam you CP.
Testing boards in good waves is no real test, most board will go well in
3 ft glass, but very few will go well in 2 foot absolute wind blown
rubbish. This board is one of those few. It finds speed from the
flattest wall, and drives through forever searching for the next
section. You can beat sections that wouldn't dream of making on your
standard thruster. It caught waves very well too, being flat and floaty
gives you plenty of paddle speed. Once up, a few moments after, a subtle
pump and I was going mach 10.
I will say a few constructive criticisms of it though;
- friends wont want to surf with you anymore as you get too many waves
- your hair will end up long
- you'll grow a moustache
- words like 'rad' will and 'stoke' become normal day to day words
If you can deal with the above then come and get one! See below for a
few little snaps of it in action. More updates to come when i have had a
few more surfs on it...
There are more of Will's thoughts and pictures of the orange SeaPea here.
Whatever your choice of trousers, corduroy lines never go out of fashion!!
So the other day, i lent my new little mini simmons, the SeaPea to my friend Will. To set the scene, Will is a shortboarder, he's actually a very very good shortboarder in a conventional pointy white thruster sense. He finds logs boring, doesn't like fish and thinks eggs are best confined to breakfast!
I think he wanted to try a sim partly becasue he's seen mine take shape and partly out of curiosity. I'm pretty sure he really just wanted to confirm that they were odd dysfunctional hipster shapes ridden by me and my beardy pals!
He rode it a couple of times, in onshore lumpy 3 foot croyde and in clean lined up 1-2 feet croyde. I'm just going to paste some of his texts to me here
"Oh my god, just surfed it at croyde, that was SO fun!!!!!!"
"It's by no means a shortboard but it went amazingly well in average waves and created speed from nothing!! I need one in my board rack!"
Whats pretty cool about this and the reason i've posted it, is that Will could see the fun in this shape despite coming at it from an entirely different direction and surfing reference points. It blew his preconceptions out of the water and in his words "made a very average day a lot of fun!"
It's nice to know that someone with much greater small board ability than me, see's the validity in the design for our waves.
More about my board here Jools will make you one here
I've known Joel for a long time, albeit as more of an acquaintance than a real friend. He's quiet and humble but he's a talented surfer and backyard shaper. He's most definately a thinker, tinkering with his own ideas, sometimes outside the percieved norms.
The port glass is his take on a modified mini simmons kinda thing. I think you'll agree it works pretty good! The point break is a local gem, sadly it's not often as quiet as it is here anymore!
Completely off topic but i wanted to share this.....
Boom Kitchen is a new little start up enterprise from a couple of locals here. It's basically a simple curry kit to which you just add chicken and a couple of other basic store cupboard type ingredients. What you end up with 20 minutes later is the most delicious curry you will have tasted outside of a curry house. To coin a phrase it's like having a curry house in your kitchen!
I know this probably comes off as hyping a mates thing but i was honestly really blown away by the flavor of the food you make. It's head and shoulders above any of the curry sauce style jars you can buy from super markets.
At the moment they are only available from some of our local stores and by mail order but it's well worth clicking buy now!
Shooting the breeze while car park faffing. A classic male pleasure no matter whether it's pre or post surf, ride, fishing, footy, whatever! To quote a book i read recently "one of the last bastions of masculinity in an increasingly feminized world!" Maybe a little strong but...
The Sea Pea is finally finished and in my grubby mitts! Massive thanks to Jools, Matt, Ellis and Will at Gulfstream for your time and patience!
I know you are all dying to know how it surfs.
It's great! Really 'effin great!!
I can honestly say that if i had bought it off the rack i would have been really happy so to know that i designed and made it pushes the stoke-o-meter off the scale!
First session was mid to high p-land, 3 footish sets, really just windswell cleaned up by the southerly blowing cross offshore. I've ridden quite a few different iterations of the mini simmons and this one is definately a good one!
It paddles great, despite being 5'2. There's quite a lot of foam in there and i think we struck a good balance between float and duck divability. There's a hair more rocker than some versions of this shape, something we borrowed from the bing version and that really seems to work when you're up and surfing and yet isn't enough to affect wave catching or "mush busting"
It's fast, really fast and skatey and responsvie, section racing and feeling lively under foot like it will react to every little pressure change from your feet. The bottom has a pretty subtle roll up front and that transitions quickly a single concave that deepens through the fins.
There's not much of a hull feel here, more jet powered fishy. That translates into whippy cutbacks and a board that is really happy to go backside with no real nursing required, something that can be the downfall of mini-sim style boards.
Personal bias aside, i honestly think we've come up with a great shape. Like i've said before, these style of boards go great in the UK but up til now getting hold of one was difficult. Well now you can get one that you know will work great and you know it will be lovingly shaped and beautifully hand finished by Jools and co at one of the best factories in this country.
The 5'2 x 21 5/8 x 2.5 Gulfstream sea pea in full flow, available now...... disco fingers not included!
Big thanks to Tom for the company and the picture!!
So i've shamelessly stolen both these photos from Devon Howards instagram, mainly cos i really like them and partly because they reinforce how smooth and stylish Devon is. He's riding a 7'2 egg shaped by Tyler with a 2+1 set up which tends to be his choice in larger waves. Of course most will know him for his log stylings in films like single fin yellow and the seedling.
When i started logging, Devon was one of the big names and someone i always enjoyed watching with his smooth noseriding mixed with powerful rail turns and drop knees. It's a style that is perhaps even more relevant in longboarding today and it's interesting that his signature model with Donald Takayama features many aspects of what people like Matt chojnacki and Alex knost are riding today despite being designed 15 odd years ago. Of course Devon himself would be first to admit that he is in turn heavily influenced by the invlovement style of longboarding circa 66/67 and his preferences for templates reflect this.
Devon is currently testing shapes for Tyler and enjoying a proper grown up career.
He is genuinely one of the nicest people you could hope to meet. More smooth logging here