Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Good Gear ? RealWiiings Review

When reviewing products it's generally best to apply some sort of scoring system for the sake of objectivity. Marks for functionality, design, style, value and so forth. So when Sam over at Surf Core  asked me if I'd fancy field testing a pair of "RealWiiings", a few seconds of feedback from curious bystanders suggested I'd better add "chuckle factor" to the criteria.

The name, the name! If the thought had only flitted through my mind, then I might have buried the notion and resisted the urge to go Fnarr! Fnarr! like my old mate Finbar Saunders. But to a man - and every woman present - before any credible assessment could get underway, we had passed round the laughing gas and cracked all the panty one-liners, female sanitary accoutrement gags going.

But titter ye not, we won't let a dodgy name get in the way of an honest review. As you can see from the bumph on "RealWiiings" site these "sleek, ultra light durable paddles attach to each wrist with an adjustable (velcro) strap" and are designed to give some extra oomph to your stroke as you paddle out to get some wave action. At just under £25 a pair, with various colours and slight strap length variations if used with a shortie, the price point is reasonable enough if the wiiidgets work.

Impressive are the claims mentioned - "faster paddle out!", "get out of the churn quicker!", "longboarders reach incredible speed", "faster than a speeding bullet" – well OK, the last one's Superman's.

Mine arrived with a set of instructions double printed so I'm blaming that for the time it took me to figure out how to attach the velcro straps and angle the paddles the right way. Their website has a much clearer set of instructions and once you get the hang of it, it is pretty simple to get your Wiiings on. An "R" and and "L" on either wing wouldn't go amiss mind you. Do try fitting your Wiings at home first (fnarr, fnarr), if only to preserve a modicum of credibility when you finally hit the shoreline.

And so it was that on an unseasonably sunny stretch of Portstewart strand the winter suit was donned, the RealWiiings were fastened onto Beach Bum's wrists, tightened and aligned as instructed. Despite concerns about how these Wiiings would look strapped on, I have to say that they were reasonably discreet, far more so than I would have expected. There's a slight feel of having “done a Batman” and whipped out something from the utility belt – but that’s a plus point as far as I’m concerned. The blade-like design of the Wiiings brought out the none too deeply buried "inner child" in me, so prior to diving in to the surf, I did strike a couple of suitably Ninja-like poses. Or was that Power Ranger? But I digress.

All that shenanigans out of the way, I was into the sea and awaaay (adding extra vowels seems only natural nooow).Did I paddle faster? Did I catch more waves? To be fair, I’ve seen bigger waves in my bath and in truth I didn’t notice much difference. I suspect that there’s more performance to be gained from improving paddle technique, strength and stamina than from strapping on Wiiiings or the other alternative - webbed gloves.

Perhaps for the surfing elite, any product that offers an edge is a plus and RealWiiings will take off on the back of guys like Mike Esposito who designed and endorse them. When Sam asked me for comments, he added that he didn’t know what to make of them. For me the jury’s still out too.  

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Clean Waves, Clean Conscience

This isn't my slogan - it's Errant Surf Travel's. These boys run a customised surf travel company out of Newquay & that often means flying customers off to warmer climes. And jet travel, as we all know, messes up the environment. From August this year, Errant have been offsetting the cost of any carbon emmissions generated in the travel back into projects run by the CarbonNeutral Company. This is a good thing. We want the carbon footprints of a pisky, not the sasquatch.

Mind you, I thought I heard on the radio the other day that the methane from cow's fart is more of a problem than all carbon dioxide emmisions put together. There's a thought ... which I don't want to dwell on.

Talking of carbon feet, over at Surfcore, you can calculate your vehicle of choice's carbon emission and the equivalent number of trees you need to plant to restore the carbon karma. Sea Nymph planted a witch hazel last Sunday, so we're doing our bit, OK?

I'm leaving on a jet plane (to N.Ireland) this Friday. I know when I'll be back again. We won't have the weather, we might have the waves but we'll certainly have the Guinness.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Winter Wetsuit Buying Guide

The cheeky chappies at Wavelength magazine have posted a handy guide to the latest winter wetsuits that you can download here. Most of the major wetsuit suppliers are listed, including my own personal favourite - Snugg...

... and Lifeguard Cover on Perranporth Beach is being extended again to the end of October at weekends and over half-term. Not that there's a connection...

Photo courtesy of Jon's Flickr gallery and while I'm handing out the credits, you might pop over to his site where he flys the flag for Devon's surfing scene.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nutritional Nuggets - Seaweed For Wave Riders

"You are what you eat" - according to an old native American Indian saying. The fact that it aint' a ham & cheese toastie typing this somewhat disproves the idiom, but these days, most of us understand there's a connection between what you eat and how you perform.

But hold off the dietary dissertation and let me cut to the chase - go eat some seaweed! Not just any old bit of kelp mind you. I'm talking about Rhodymenia palmata otherwise known as Dulse (pronounced where it counts as "dullus").

All around our shores is a rich resource of this fabulous free seafood that only a select few are aware of (and they're mainly from Ballywalter).There's enough in a handful of this stuff to provide all of your daily Vitamin B6 , iron requirements and over 50% of the recommended B12 intake. Who needs those Vitamin supplements at rip-off prices, eh? (NB: Spike - great for pregnant ladies!)

There's a few things you need to know about getting your hands on this "wunder-weed". Traditionally, it is collected between March and September at low tide from exposed rocky outcrops normally submerged. A small, distinctive leafed weed with a purple hue when wet, it is easily plucked from its rocky home.

Photo courtesy of Laurie Murison

Take care not to pull off the holdfast and all of the fronds so it can continue to grow and you can harvest again. Best then to just spread the booty out to dry in the sun - but you can take it indoors and let it dry out there. It should become a crisp, almost brittle material and will be covered in part with fine crystals of sea salt. Don't worry if it's a little bit moist though, some like it that way too.

Store it somewhere dry in plastic bags for a week or two. Perfect for a nibble on the beach with your sarnie and a brew. Of course you can get creative and use it in a wide variety of recipes. If you can't wait until next year's harvest, you could try these folks for a sampler.

I'm not going to try and describe the taste. Bit of a Marmite / Vegemite experience for some - you either love it or loathe it. One word of warning, don't eat too much before taking on a pint or three of Guinness. There's some sort of gaseous reaction that goes on there that can clear a pub in minutes. Trust me on that...