Sunday 30 January 2011

the man responsible......

Jool's Matthews, owner and shaper at Gulfstream surfboards in  North Devon, the man who was voted best fish shaper in the UK last year.

Jool's just shaped me a frankly lush looking 5'6 x 20 1/2 x 2 3/8 keel fish, it's not quite done yet but pictures and ride report to follow when it's actually in my grubby mitts! Gulfstream is a small operation in the true sense of surfboard manufacture as a cottage industry, but their shapes, finishing and attention to detail is excellent. Each board is a labour of love and craftsmanship and Jools really cares about delivering something he can be proud of. They're a great example of how ordering a custom spec handmade board can be a fantastic experience.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Sunday 23 January 2011

heading north...

Heading north today, towards the snow. Gonna be my first scandinavian experience after a lot of trips to europe and north america in the past. Hopefully it snows and reindeer is tasty!

Thursday 20 January 2011

speed freaks

By the power of youtube, the aforementioned Mike Vallely segment from the 1989 santa cruz video, speed freaks. I remember watching it over and over at a friends and being blown away, then skating SO hard the hours following, amped on this section.

At the time, Vallely had just done the unthinkable and left the bones brigade, the biggest team in skateboarding, joining punk upstarts World industries, which seemed incomprehensible to us. He followed it by releasing the first "double ended" pro model featuring the iconic barnyard graphic. This shape was revoloutionary and it, and the decks that emulated it, had an effect on street skating which cannot be underestimated. The "pill shape" deck is still the industry standard today.

If you want to follow me down memory lane have a look at Mike's website here.

There's a documentary in the works about the Bones Brigade, with Stacy Peralta behind the lens, the man largely responsible for the team originally and one of the originators of the skate video itself, it should be something to look forward to.

Tuesday 18 January 2011

a happy ending?

In case you missed it in the comments......... the dagger saga continues but perhaps will have a happy resolution!

"my name is robin and ill come and take it back and here is your options: 
take a used board from the quiver i will be traveling with in france , uk, and other disclosed places.
a trade for a used board straight up .....
or a cost only deal on a new custom.
ill be back this spring"

Saturday 15 January 2011

sound and vision

This is the trailer for the new project bt Mikey Detemple, the man behind Picaresque, which was one of my favorite recent surf films. Keep updated on their progress here

I'm already looking forward to seeing this one!

Wednesday 12 January 2011

a dagger of sorts....


but only of sorts.....................................

  I've rewritten this post several times, trying to be concise, accurate and honest so here goes.

I ordered a 9'4 gato heroi death dagger off Robbie Kegel, through the squire who had organised for him to come and shape some boards in newquay. I've previously spent a lot of time looking at these shapes from afar and felt pretty sure i knew what i was getting. What i actually got, despite the laminate, is different from any death dagger that i have seen for sale in US or Japan, different from the board an accquaintance in Oregon owns, different even from the death daggers posted for sale recently on the Gato blog. Among other things, it's only 9'3 and the nose width is at least an inch and a quarter less than anything i've seen them make for this model before. Needless to say, i am slightly gutted. Brendan at Gato agrees it's not the stock shape, Robbie himself seems less than helpful. Unfortunately they're a whole ocean away anyway. Sadly the board doesn't sit in my quiver where it was supposed to and as a result i'm not sure how much it will make it out of the bag. I had been warned to be careful with ordering but had thought this was a fairly safe way of doing it. It's not the squires fault either in my eyes, i hasten to add. Interestingly i know RK didn't want to put gato laminates on the boards he shaped here, perhaps thats because he didn't want the evidence of having let his customers down. I know i'm not the only person out of the episode who didn't get exactly what they asked for.

I must be clear that i'm not saying it's a badly made surfboard. In fact it's beautiful to look at with abstract glass and volan flex fin. It's heavily foiled and SO narrow, it's almost like some kind of shortboard gun under arm, all sleek and pointy. It doesn't paddle well despite it's exceedingly flat rocker, perhaps due to the subtle roll through the bottom but more likely due to lack of foam. Once you've taken off it is fast in trim though and feels lovely to jam hard rail buried cutbacks or deep crouched grab rail bottom turns. It's more akin to a midlength egg off the tail, smooth but quietly radical. So far so good.....

Sadly it's up front that things are not as they should be. It will noseride, just, in the pocket of a steep wave but the nose is so narrow that there isn't enough room to fit ten toes over and that narrowness means it is difficult hang five in anything other than a cheater position. Obviously, it's not supposed to be a nose rider and i didn't order it as such but if you watch footage of knost or others riding this shape. In fact if you watch segments of Gato's own DVD showing the model off, you will see that it should pocket noseride better. Of course you will also notice that the nose width on the death daggers  they are riding is close to 16 inches or more, not 14 1/4 like my board!

I'm left feeling frustrated. I like it but can't help feeling i'd like it more with a 15 1/2 or more nose width like i thought i'd ordered. Left feeling that the waves it will suit best as it is, are waves i'd probably be riding a shortboard in.

The saddest thing i think is this. I am a fervent believer we should support hand shaping, custom ordered surfboards, made by craftsmen not factories and yet the argument for doing that is to get a board you actually want. Instead i must settle for something that isn't exactly what i ordered with no prospect of resolving the problem without sending yet more money in a direction that i'm not entirely sure is deserved.

compare this:

 9'3 dagger in Ca........

with this:

my 9'3 "dagger"

Obviously it's a little difficult to show in pictures but hopefully most will agree the nose template is different!

Sunday 9 January 2011


As the winter sets in and the colours of summer are long gone, it's easy to sink into reverie and dreams of warmer climes, but maybe there's still happiness to be found within the montone seascape.

For many of us there's no escape from the cold and we must greet the winter face on, the gloom, the damp, the light so flat the horizon is lost in the sky. Endlessly watching the forecast hoping for the prevailing southwesterlies to abate for the bittersweet triumph of stolen moments in offshores.  Freezing wind from the east  blowing the mess to corduroy and then to ironed cloth.

You could send yourself mad with the longing but it's better to embrace the dark mornings, the frost on the inside of the windscreen that never clears quick enough, the teeth of the wind biting into exposed flesh as you struggle into the wetsuit that never quite dries, the shock of the first duck dive as you struggle through lines of whitewater, battling current and wind beyond the break.

Because if you look, through the waiting, the discomfort, the grey light, the grimace as your suit fills with 6 degree water for the first time, there's still that little spark of fun and stoke that keeps you coming back. Still the need to grasp that elusive sliding feeling we are all addicted to. Still the afterglow that warms you and has nothing to do with the van heater on full as you drive home, reliving the waves of the day.

It's still surfing and it still makes me smile...............

Saturday 1 January 2011

a ghost in the machine

Happy New Year Everyone!

I was looking back at my new year post from last year and remembered that the surfer forums had a "best 3 boards of 09" thread running. Although a year has passed, two of my top three haven't changed!

I'm still in love with my 5'8 larry mabile keel fish, i've still yet to have a bad surf on it. In fact on the day the waiting" post picture was taken i think i had my best two shortboard turns ever, on the same righthander on this board.

Longboard wise, the 9'6 jai lee is still the board to beat, just like last year, and it's the log i've ridden most often. Honorable mentions go to the Dano i brought back from Ca and the bing NR2 i've acquired. Both have given some great trips to the tip on their day

The third board does change though....... Having been gifted a 5'8 mini simmons a few months ago, it's been in heavy rotation ever since. So much fun in junk, such a smooth feeling racing down the line. I think it's responsible for more surf related smiles than anything else over the last few months. Although they are very fashionable right now, if you can live with some lateral speed in your surfing instead of vertical ripping i'd wholeheartedly recomend getting on the program!
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