I visited the Mentawai Islands last March and scored small but perfect waves, but the journey out there did not turn out as simple as we thought. I have written an article about the trip which also looks at some of challenges facing the Islands - as they become more popular and the modern world slowly creeps in.
Yesterday, I interviewed the owner of this vintage
beast of a pick-up truck for Wavelength magazine. It is a 1946 Ford Pick-up and
has growling 4.2 litre engine. The owner is Stuart Blake and he was an absolute
legend to give up his time and be patent, whilst Alexa did the photo and I asked
him a bunch of questions.
Stuart turned out to be a classic. He rebuilt this
truck, including the engine, himself. He also owns a hot rod and a classic
Cadillac, refurbishes jukeboxes and has a vintage surfboard collection.
Collecting and owning stylish classics like this can
sometimes seem like an image choice but talking to Stuart you quickly realise
that it is something he loves to do and he really lives it. The story about the
Stuart and his truck will be in the next issue of Wavelength.
Last Sunday a weak swell trickled its way onto the Kernow coastline, where a northerly wind slashed chop across the faces of the small weak waves this sorry swell produced. Despite the poor looking conditions and since the sun was out, Alexa and I decided to go for a surf as we both had new boards to try. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find some fun waves.
They were small and weak but had good shaped peeled nicely across a sandbar for a good distance. Alexa rode her latest board from http://empiresurfboards.co.uk/, a modern 9ft 2” log. It was perfect for the conditions. She caught lots of long waves and had some great nose rides. Alexa was totally stoked on the little waves, the logging feeling, and the performance of the new board.
For me it was the second session on the Albacore Alaia, http://tomwegenersurfboards.com/products/albacore. It is not as easy as it looked when I watched Alan Stokes ride one in the Slyder Cup, but a lot easier than a thin wooden alaia! It paddles well and picks up waves like a really fat fish, yet it has so much more glide and instant speed. So, catching waves and standing up is quite straight forward but it is adapting your surfing to a finless board takes a bit of practice. After sliding around and falling off lots of time I started to learn how keep the rail engaged to control the board effectively, and had some good rides. It's a really fun little board and seems to work in even the sloppiest of waves. I am really looking forward to experimenting with it more over the summer.
Mixing up what I ride keeps me motivated when the conditions are marginal and it was good to catch a few waves in the sun. Especially, since the surf and weather is so bad now.
It is refreshing to see a business like Enjoy Handplanes doing so well. They use as much recycled materials as possible and the least toxic resin available. Not only is the business model about sustainability but also about fun. When you watch the video, you can tell these guys are really stoked on what they are doing and love passing that stoke onto other people.
I only make handplanes for myself and I have made them from recycled materials. The couple of wooden ones I have created are made from timber off cuts. Trade timber yards always have odds and ends that they sell off cheap. These are end pieces that are less than a metre or timber with imperfections which can be cut up and glued together to make a recycled timber handplane.
I have seen quite a few plywood handplanes around and as a carpenter; I don’t really understand this, unless it is recycled ply. Plywood is made with glue that contains highly toxic formaldehyde and the whole production process of ply is not that green. Basically, plywood is the chicken nugget of the timber world. You are also limited to how thick you can have the handplane and you can’t put much vee or concaves in it. It just seems the easiest way to make the most handplanes for the least cost, irrespective of quality.
Punta Huanchaco became a World Surfing
Reserve in October last year due to the two thousand year old wave
riding and seafaring history. The wave riding reed boats of
Huanchaco, called Caballito
de totora, have been used here for fishing since around 100AD.
The coast receives so much swell that it was necessary for the early
fisherman to create a surf craft that allowed them launch from the
beach then ride the waves back to shore with the catch. Today, local
fisherman still paddle out daily on there reed boats and there is a
thriving local surf community.
The point at Huanchco does not have the
quality of the nearby points at Pacasmayo and Chicama, but it picks
up more swell and always has some fun waves; even when they are too
small. On the other hand, Pacasmayo and Chicama are quite bleak but
Huanchaco is one of the most interesting and nicest places to stop on
the the North coast of Peru. So, it is a good place to recharge and
chill out when the other points are not quite doing their thing.
There is a lot of history and culture to explore around here too,
such as the MocheSol
Y Luna temples or the ruins from the ancient Chimu
city of Chan_Chan.
Huanchaco also has great places to eat and is home to Peru's national
dish of Ceviche.
Whilst in Huanchaco we stayed at Casa
Amelia. For about £12 a night we had a split level thatched roof
room with our own private bathroom. The whole place is stylish,
unique and charming. There is a garden, two sun terraces, a communal
kitchen and a lounge. It is one of the best value places I have ever
stayed. It is Peruvian owned and run by a Dutch couple, Paul and
Renee. They work really hard to keep the place nice and do everything
they can to help. Paul is a surfer too and can help arrange trips up
the coast. He also loves to go for a surf with anyone staying there.
The surfing in these two videos really challenge what many people see as high-performance surfing. I like watching the ASP WCT events and have a fantasy surfer team, so I'm not against what you might call "mainstream surfing". I just find it really positive that their is so much variety in surfing, anything really does go these days. Riding waves in different ways is a good way to get into the surf more, surf different spots and keep your surfing fresh. It also would be boring if everybody surfed the same.
When I watch guys like at Dane Reynolds, Alex Knost and other open minded free surfers, they not only have there own style but they also look like they are really enjoying surfing; no matter what kind of boards they ride.
Some stick in the mud kind of people will still think that surfing does and always should revolve around competitive shortboarding, and everyone one has their own perspective on what good surfing is. I just try not to take it too serious. I just like seeing impressive surfers doing impressive things.
The last few years I have become interested in body surfing because it is so simple and at the same time challenging. It's good way to get in the water in certain conditions or whenever I fancy a change. Due to this I am very much inspired by Mark Cunnigham and Mike Stewart.
So,here is some "alternative" high performance surfing.
This is my current workable quiver. The genesis for all three of these boards is Steve's own Magic fish, a MR style modern twinzer fish. The middle board came first, which was made as a good allrounder and last March I took it to Indonesia. The
board goes amazing in all kinds of conditions, but I felt I wanted
something extra for fat weak waves and something else for bigger
more challenging waves but still retain the feel of the original board
to ease transition between the boards. So, Steve recently shaped for me a
shorter, flatter and fatter version for little waves and a longer,
slimmer and drivier version for bigger waves. So, all three boards have similar characteristics, just tweaked for different conditions. Left:
5ft 8" x 20.75 x 2.75" small wave quad. The bottom shape is a subtle
flat - single concave - double concave vee between the fins. I asked
Steve to incorporate some of what he has learned from making his Lumus model.
The rocker is very flat and rails boxy helping the board to get up and
plane quickly. This lift seems to keeep the board loose and lively even
in the smallest of waves. The fin setup is a Neal Purchase Junior style Quartet. Which seems to give the board lots of speed and drive, but still be loose.
6ft x 20" x 2.65" all round performance fish with five fcs fusion
plugs. Single concave - double concave - vee quad concave through the
fins. Works well as a quad, twin with trailer fin or in powerfull and
hollow surf as a quad with a knubster fin.
Thinner railed and curvy where it needs it to perform turns in the
steeper part of a wave but straight enough to be fast down the line or
generate speed in small waves.
6ft 4" x 19.75 x 2.65" Step up Bonzer fish. This is a stretched out
version of the 6ft fish. So, when the surf is bigger and, or hollow,
I have a board that will the familar feel of a fish but with more
control and extra paddle power. With the nose/tail pulled in and the
curvier rocker this board is starting to look more like a conventional
shortboard. The Bonzer
bottom shape, thinner rails and Bonzer5 fin system make the board fast, drivey and responsive.
three boards function different but have a similar feel which allows me
to swop between the boards smoothly. There is also an amount of overlap
between the functionality of each board, which means if it turns out
bigger, smaller or slower etc, it does not matter as much as if I was
transitioning between widely different boards. Each to there own and
this is just what works for me. Thanks for the great boards Steve.