Tuesday, 30 March 2010

suction, self promotion and the art of noseriding...

Issue 11 of corduroy lines is out now, click here to check it out. I wrote them a piece on the art of noseriding but (as i type this) the mag version has half the text missing (but not in an edited way) and the article makes less sense as a result. I'm sure it's an oversight on their behalf but the full text is below just in case......

The Art Of Noseriding

Magazines like this one are filled with pictures of surfers nonchalantly perched on the tips of their longboards. Yet to many intermediate surfers, standing on the front 18 inches of their boards can seem a daunting, almost impossible prospect.

In truth, noseriding isn't THAT difficult and is within the grasp of most people once you understand how it works. Like many things in surfing, it's difficult to teach people how to noseride, there's a lot of feel and experience involved and this isn't intended as an exhaustive "how to", more a list of tips from someone already in the know.

- Learn to cross step

This isn't a specific noseriding tip, more a general longboarding one. Learning to cross step fluently is a major step to good longboarding. Not only does it look better but it is more functional too, allowing you to move up and down the board quickly and make use of the noseriding sections of the wave as they appear and disappear. If your water time is limited, learning to cross step on a long skateboard or an indo board can help a massive amount
You will notice that some surfers take two steps to the nose while some take four. This is dictated by the length of your legs and the length of your board, to begin with just go with whichever feels "right" to you.

-Pick your waves

Small clean waves are the ideal learning conditions. Although it's possible to hang five in almost any conditions, the bigger and messier the waves get, the more difficult it is. `Ideally  you want a lined up wave that has a long tapering shoulder- there's a reason the worlds two best noseriding waves (Noosa & Malibu) are sandbottomed points.

- YOUR Longboard WILL noseride

Sure some shapes make it easier to stay up there for longer but any board over 9 feet will let you noseride if you get the board in the right place on the wave.

- Practice, practice, practice

Don't be afraid to fall off, just make sure you understand enough to only try and go to the nose when the time is right. Try and analyse your waves and note the differences between the waves where it worked and it didn't so you can concentrate on replicating the successes.

- Positioning

This is the biggest part of getting your toes on the nose!
In simple terms, when you stand on the nose, your weight is counterbalanced by two things

1) The upwards force exerted by the water rushing up the face of the wave and across the underside of the nose of the board. Wider noses and nose concave increase the amount of lift available

2) The counterweighting force of the wave breaking over the tail of the board. Look at some pictures of people noseriding and you will see that at least the back third of the board is sunk inside the wave. Having soft "50-50" rails and a convex "bellied" bottom in the tail encourage the water to do this. Tail kick also helps here as well as acting to slow the board down and hold it in the wave.

For a really solid noseride, no. 2 is the most important thing. You will see pictures of people perched on the tip where the suction is so great that the whole front third of the board is lifted out of the water. These things only happen if you position yourself in the fastest part of the wave, about two thirds up the face and as close to the breaking part of the wave as possible. The further away from this position you are, the more likely you are to nosedive or stall out of the back of the wave. Straight off your take off you can get in the right spot by fading towards the peak as you paddle in before standing and swinging back the right way. Once riding you can either stall the board and wait for the wave to steepen in front of you or cut back far enough so that the wave is already steep ahead of you as you bottom turn again. Obviously in a sectiony beach break style wave, the wave might steepen ahead of you naturally.
Once the wave is steep ahead of you, dont hesitate, go straight to the nose, the moment can be gone in a split second. Too many people wait too long and let the board trim too far in front of the pocket before they start to move. The board outruns the section and then nosedives as they reach the nose.
It helps to think of starting to walk forward as the board begins to climb the face after you bottom turn so that you arrive on the nose as the board reaches trim, rather than trying to move forward once at the top of the wave with the board already starting to head down the face. Weighting your inside rail helps too. In fact when on your backhand it often helps to have your heel quite a long way across the stringer towards the inside rail.
Unfortunately, knowing exactly when is the right time is one of those "feel" things that takes experience to fully master but trying to heighten your awareness of what is happening on each wave you ride as mentioned earlier speeds up this process.

- Stretch those toes

Don't worry too much about where your back foot is to begin with, just make sure your front toes are properly dangling over the tip. Anything else is just forward trim.

- Don't be greedy

Once you're up there, it's easy to freeze then fall as the wave breaks or stall out of the wave. Often the section will only support you for a short time. Once you sense the board start to slow down or drop down the face, step back, cut back and set up again.

- Watch some videos

There are lots of good logging films and plenty of clips on you tube. When you watch them, analyse what the surfers and waves are doing. Watch waves that show the surfer setting up the noseride. Pause the action just before they go to the nose and look at where they are and what the wave is doing around them. Try and visualise how the wave looks at that moment from the surfers point of view.

Once you become adept at hanging five you'll notice that there are some times where the board feels much more stable and "locked in" compared to others. This might only be for a split second, especially in beach break style waves. These are the moments when the time is right to move the back foot up to hang ten or kick it out into the wave face or hang heels or lift it up and hold it while you stand on one leg! Only feel and experience can help you judge the moments it will work but you can practice the balance needed for the moves over an over again on a long skateboard. Then when you're in the water, you're only learning how to get set up properly not trying to improve your balance as well. This is something i found really useful when learning to hang heels.

- Most of all, have fun with your surfing, after all thats why we all started in the first place isn't it?

I should also mention that Tom Wegener had an article in an issue of pacific longboarder about 8 years ago that greatly contributed to my understanding and influenced what you see here. I think it's still available to read on tomwegener.com

Pic is from Woolacombe a couple of August's ago, shame it isn't this warm all year round!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Thursday, 25 March 2010

28 seconds......

So, Christian Wach must be officially one of the most talented noseriders ever, winning the Noosa noseriding comp for the 4th(!!) time with a noseride clocked at 28 seconds! I so want to go surf there!

p.s obviously not my picture, not sure who's it is, if it's your's, it's sick, please claim it. Apologies in advance!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

what's old is new again

The wishthound gave me a new skateboard a month or so ago, much to my wife's disgust i might add.Since then i've spent an enjoyable number of hours (in upstanding member of the community fashion not like a ne'er do well abusing council property or anything :-)) rolling around Barnstaple's new-ish skatepark. I have discovered a few things:
Firstly i'd forgotten how much fun skating is, not having ridden anything other than a big long skateboard for 5 years. I can actually remember how to do some tricks though i've forgotten more. Each time i leave for home, i remember something else that i should have tried, a trick that used to languish in the bottom of the trick bag. all those years ago. There is still that same satisfaction from landing something (however simple now) and rolling away clean that never changes.
Secondly, i don't bounce like i did ten years ago. I have a fraction of the bottle i used to have, gone are the days of throwing myself down sets of stairs with abandon. The threat of broken limbs & their consequences loom ever larger and well, concrete is hard and it hurts, for a lot longer as well at my advanced age. In the wishthounds words, the ability curve for surfing is gradual but with an overall upward trend for most of your life, with skating it peaks early and it's pretty much all downhill from there, but if you're having fun, who cares right?
Thirdly, like surfing, it never truly leaves. Skateboarding was a big part of my growing up, becoming a man, it shaped my future path in life in a way that i only recently understand. It changes how you look at the physical world we interact with on a daily basis and i don't think you ever fully forget that or ever lose the desire to skate, it's just your body that lets you down. Even though there are a couple of long periods when i haven't rolled around, it's always in there bubbling away under the surface.
Finally kids today have it easy! The park in the pictures is one of at least five small skate facilities (off the top of my head) within a 30 minute drive, in a relatively rural area, all well built and good to skate. Back in the early nineties, my friend's mum fought for years for our midland council to build some ramps and when they did it was virtually unusable. Skateboarding is acceptable now in a way that it never was when i started (though there is still a punk ethos like there used to be once you dig beneath the shiny veneer of tony hawk & the x games)
Kids today learn tricks in their first year that were beyond the imagination of the pros of the eighties and it's easy to learn them because the boards are light and you can see things to inspire you in magazines, dvd's, on youtube and in your local town. Things never used to be like that (please excuse the monty python style "it were hard in my day" monologue but..)
Take learning to ollie for example, essential basic skating building block. That took us ages to learn, we had heard reference to it & seen stills of people in the air but never actually seen a video or much less anyone do it in real life. Our town had no older skaters to copy and it wasn't until a friend of a friend managed to get a photocopy of a "how to" from an old mag that we managed to see how it was done, before that it might as well have been magic. In fact i can still remember the afternoon my friend and i first managed to properly leave the ground.
Steve Pezman has a great quote in Andrew Kidman's Glass Love where he talks about surfing as you get older being just as challenging and rewarding even though your actual ability level might be decreasing as your body ages. His point is that as even the simpler things become harder, the satisfaction in still achieving them increases and the sum total of joy (or stoke if you like) in that is the same as it ever was. I think he's right and the same applies to skating, surfing, pretty much any physical activity
So here's to my fellow old skaters with a peter pan complex! It's a shame i have a princess obsessed daughter, a son might have given me the perfect, spouse approved, excuse to keep going!

Incidentally i just saw the latest Flip movie (Extremely Sorry) The level of skating is fully RIDICULOUS!  I always have a soft spot for Flip, being the phoenix from the ashes of Classic Brit brand Deathbox & sponsors of two of my favorite ever skaters Tom Penny & Geoff Rowley. Their new dvd is well worth a watch if you get the chance, just not with any young impressionable children in attendance!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

a word in your ear...

Surfers ear is hardly breaking news. A cursory trawl of the net will reveal a wealth of wealth of information about the condition. Unless you are a complete beginner, chances are you will have either had some surfing related ear problems or at the very least know someone who has.

I'm not going to insult your intelligence by going into detail about why our beautiful obsession with waves can lead to repeated ear infection, partial deafness or unpleasant surgery to sort the problems out. What i am going to do is encourage you to be proactive about it.

Most of you will be aware that the damaging effects of wind and water can be reduced by wearing earplugs when you surf but most people don't start using them until they are already having problems. If you will allow me to offer a piece of advice - start wearing them now, before you get a problem, you'll thank me in the long run!

There are lots of different options, blue tac does work as do off the shelf silicon putty plugs but the safest option is custom made earplugs exactly like the ones Rob Shaddick at surfplugs made me. Granted they are more expensive than blue tac but (unless you are a muppet like me and lose one) they last for years. We spend hundreds of pounds a year on boards, wetsuits, petrol, carparks all in the pursuit of waves and custom plugs are realtively cheap in comparison, especially as they will help prevent a condition that could seriously limit or curtail your water time eventually.

Surfplugs are made in a cast of your ear, poured up from a silicon rubber impression Rob takes of your inner and outer ear which is an interesting and slightly weird experience in itself. After placing a piece of sponge over your eardrum the rubber is injected into your ear and sets hard enough to remove in a couple of minutes.

My plugs were back in about a week and, once you have the knack, are easy to place and remove. It does take a few sessions to get used to them. Lots of people say it affects their surfing but i honestly think if you wear them for every session you adapt to the feeling of wearing them quickly. I think lots of people dont wear plugs consistently enough to get past this. They dont affect your hearing enough to stop you chatting in the line up, though you can feel a little cut off in winter if you are wearing a hood as well.

Having already worn the putty style plugs for a number of years i've found the custom plugs more comfortable and you dont spend half your session pushing them back into your ears. I now feel a little uncomfortable surfing without them, especially in winter when it seems the cold gets inside your head more without them in.

Don't just take my word for it, many of the best surfers in the country are wearing Robs plugs, whether the logo is on their board or not. If you want to find out more about the plugs themselves or surfers ear, click here

Sunday, 14 March 2010

GS go blogtacular....

Gulfstream surfboards have a new blog up and running featuring the ramblings of shop monkey Will. Check them out here

Picture of Skelton ducking for cover to prevent passersby being blinded by his wetsuit courtesey of Rob Tibbles. Moral of the story is never let someone else have free reign over the colour of your custom wetsuit!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

coulda, shoulda, woulda...

I often feel my surfing life is filled with near misses and if onlys. I am lucky that i get to surf quite a bit but i am generally limited to the closest beach and whatever stage of the tide it happens to be when i engineer a slot to go. Consequently i am often left feeling like it would have been better an hour ago or a couple of hours later or just round the corner or.......

Today had the right ingredients just the wrong mix, sunny offshore, few people but not quite enough swell and more than enough wind. It left me thinking how much the wind changes the shape and nature of our beachbreak waves. This spot is usually one of the mushiest breaks on the coast.

Least i got to try out the new family snapshot point and shoot pentax which just happens to be waterproof too! Of course that had nothing to do with my choice of model :-)

Monday, 8 March 2010


So i've kept this fairly surf based so far, but those who know me will know that guitar & music in general is another of my life's obsessions. I recently treated myself to the little vox amp in the picture. Four watts of lovely rich tube tone, looks like a handmade chocolate and best of all?
It's quiet & aesthetically pleasing enough to be allowed downstairs in the house!

This pic and the water shots on film are from another new toy, an ebay bargain waterproof film camera + some film that expired 6 years ago. Seems like an experiment that has worked so far!

Friday, 5 March 2010

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


Though he's far too modest to claim it, this is the local legend that is Mr Skelton owning the point last week. In his usual understated manner he snuck the wave of the day from under the noses of the local pro's & photogs before disappearing back to continue rennovating his kitchen.
Photos & questionable tv border via Rob Tibbles.
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