Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Matt Johnson At Fistral?


It's Boxing Day and I'm supposed to be walking off the turkey gut with Sea Nymph and the Nippers. It's chill, crisp and the blue brightness of the sun just seems to amplify the bite of the off-shore wind that's blowing hard.

As usual, I take the camerameramera and - as usual - I get distracted by the waves and not the walk. I tumble down the cliff and precariously position myself as close as I can to the waves without jumping in. A ludicrous thought that - but it still flits across my hungover head. Some local guys are ripping up the waves that seem to build in bigger, steeper sets each cycle.

A "proper" photographer is taking shots too. He's got all the gear and his 300mm lens is (literally) putting me in the shade. He needs a tripod for that tripod I muse. He gets the odd shot published in Carve he says. Good for him. I mean that most sincerely folks, I really do. He knows some of the blokes in the water. Kudos, eh? But like me, he's a spectator and like they say, those who can do...well, anyway (and perhaps to crack an icicle or two) I ask him if that's "Stokesy" out there. "Nah," he says, "he's probably shacked up with a bird somewhere". Then it clicks - that's Matt Johnson out there. That is Matt Johnson. Don't believe me? So he's not cleaning pools anymore but the camerameramera never lies ... right?


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Extreme Surf Photographer?

I am - but only in the sense of being an extremely poor one. However, I spend more time on-line than I should staring at some really great surf shots and many of the best are taken by folks who don't do it for a living.

If you fancy yourself as a surf snapper extreme then check out the photo competition that LG Phones are running and like they say, "simply upload your top shot and you could win a holiday worth £5000 for three friends as well as some incredible Nike AGC clothing".

Must tell Sharpy ... oh yeah, they paid me to tell you this. I need the money - I'm stoney broke - still paying off the builders.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Surf Like An Australian


Our last Surfboat Captain - Fred - returned to his homeland of Oz a few months ago. He last made an appearance here in Cornwall exhibiting the bare assed cheek we came to love and respect. Literally.

I've always fancied a trip Down Under so when I caught sight of an article asking...

"Want to blend in and make friends with the locals while Down Under? Easy as, mate. You just need to learn to surf, stop speaking like a drongo and grow a mullet. Here’s our Johnny foreigner-friendly guide to being an Aussie."

lab_image_fred...I was all eyes. Sorted. If you're reading this Fred - hope you're missing the rain and having your hand up a Cornish cow's ass. Have Aussie Bum signed you yet?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Curious World Of Tandem Surfing


When Marvin Gaye sang "It takes two baby" I doubt he was referring to a couple on a surfboard but if the International Tandem Surfing Association (yes ITSA mouthful) is looking for an anthem, it would surely suffice.

Like so much in surfing, the origins of tandem surfing owe much to the Hawaiians. The story goes that as tourists flocked to Waikiki at the beginning of the 20th Century to watch the likes of Duke Kahanmoku strut their stuff, the urge to "catch a wave" had the male visitors solo out and give it a go. Their wives and daughters, not to be outdone, hired the locals and were "escorted" out into the surf and shared a board.

I've watched Mr M at our club - one of those watermen with shockingly precocious wave riding skills - take his tandem board out with a lady from time to time. The stick is so big, watching him unsheath it from the board bag reminds me of Cold war footage of missiles emerging from silos. And his surf board's impressive too.

The body strength required of the male half of a tandem team usually means that stick insects need not apply even if the girl being carried is usually a slip of a thing. I read somewhere that there's no rule that says the girl can't carry the bloke. Now, there's something to draw a crowd. I haven't heard of same sex tandem teams but I'm sure it's only a matter of time.

The closest I've come to two on a board is when Spike (who's a she) rolled me onto a Rescue Board in an impromptu and rather impressive display of lifesaving skills. Of course, as evidenced below, it can all go a bit "Pete Tong" - which only highlights how skillful (if still slightly curious IMHO) the sport is.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Serena's A Surfing Beach Bum...

...and it was always going to be difficult to ignore a headline like that, especially with the attached picture as explanatory accompaniment.


Yes, yet again I have been leafing, nay loitering, through the pages of the builder's daily rags. Obviously, as this post evidences, the salacious tone of the Sun & Star is rubbing off. Plus ça change, perhaps, but I fear that wherever I may have fancied the tonal denominator this blog was previously set, it is swinging disturbingly close to "lowest" and "common". Another night sleeping on the floor with just a bottle of Bush to keep me company. I really hope we have our home back soon.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

More Beach Fashion Gone Wrong...

...or is that thong? The builders tend to leave their titillating tabloids on the table - which is proving a bit of an education for the Nippers. The Dow Jones may be jaw-dropping, Wall Street is wobbling and the FTSE's being kicked around like an old casing but for the readers of the Daily Star, this news can't compete with headlines like "Blackmail Over My Porn Movie". Of course, I can't lower myself to read the gutter press so I can't imagine how this clipping ended up here.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Perranporth Triathlon 2008 Pictures


... are now on-line for those who have been emailing me asking where they were. Thanks to Jonty & Giles for helping out with the snaps! If you didn't click on the picture, you can wade through the shots here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cornish Rollers Wash Up At The Driftwood

cornish rollers

Cornish Rollers by Sam Walsh

I'm up to my oxters with this damn building project but, like a determined sperm seeking to pierce the egg, a PR shot from the Driftwood Gallery has wriggled its way past all the other trash in my in-tray for release here. I generally find "galleries" places where priced up pretension parades from dawn 'til dusk but I will make an exception for the Driftwood. Afterall, the flotsam and jetsam that washes up there from time to time did introduce me to Harry Daily and, based on the blurb and, more importantly, the images below, I definitely, positively want to check out Mr.Walsh's work.

lab_image_colour_blindness" Cornish Rollers", pictured above, reminds me of those eye tests you had at school to check for colour blindness. If you can see a number in there, do let me know - just in case. I picked this image as my favourite from those Cherie at the Driftwood mailed me. The second picture below was actually the one that caught my eye. It's called ‘Fistral Ballet’ and "it’s about collective humanity moving through space." Are we all moving to Mars? I'm not sure what that means but it chimed with images in my head from the weekend when circa 200 triatheletes gathered on Perranporth beach, heads shrink wrapped with yellow swim caps ready to swim, cycle and run 'til they dropped. Art mimics life they say, or is it the other way round? PR below ...

Sam Walsh will be at the Driftwood Gallery in Truro on Saturday, November 8th from 2pm to 5pm to launch some specially selected original paintings from his personal diaries.

Sam, now in his early sixties, found his way south to Cornwall during his late teens with a desire to improve his life. In the mid sixties he found his creative domicile in the small Cornish village of Newquay, on the North Atlantic Coast and became embraced by its embryonic culture.


Fistral Ballet By Sam Walsh

A man for whom the painted image is far more natural than the written word, he uses his art to express his emotional voyage upon the sea of life. Sam is dyslexic and admits his inability to represent his thoughts and feelings in the written form leaves him sad but this fuels his constant search to leave his mark through his art. Sam says his favourite artists are the cave painters of aeons before, who with no written language available to them, chose form and colour to represent their living world.

Taking a therapeutic approach to this artistic journey, he suggests his work is a collision of colours which record his emotions in a formatted visual expression at a specific moment in time. Each of Sam’s paintings or sculptures is a page in a very personal diary. Strongly influenced by Surfing and fellow Surfers; many of his images depict surf saturated beaches of local renown, and local surf culture influences his work clearly. He has many strong ties with people of the sport and seems to have a thorough understanding of ‘surfers’ and what makes them tick.

In Sam’s own words, “My paintings are, for me, a multi-dimensional representation of the world that I see and feel. Sure, there are obstacles in life … and some of that moves me to want to leave messages about it. Plus simple joy sometimes needs a signpost for us to see it. I’m completely fulfilled to spend my time endeavouring to give shape, colour and form to my passing visions of life”.

After working in construction and then local radio, Sam left work to attend Camborne Art College in Cornwall for two years in which he completed an Access to Art course. Sam speaks very highly of the staff at the college giving special thanks his tutor Mr. Patrick Laurie. Soon after finishing college he won a competition to create a major piece of sculpture for a multi-million pound surfing complex on Fistral Beach in Newquay. He’s also had several exhibitions throughout Cornwall including a prestigious show in St.Ives.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Surfing Sold Everything...

...even Boney M albums - now there's a cat that really was gone.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Wake Up Maggie...


Photo By Maggie Marsek

... I think I got something to say to you. I like your eye - I mean the one that looks through the lens of whatever camera(s) you use. I was going to spend time bastardising the magnificent Rod's lyrics but it all sounded too smart-ass to be witty, let alone sincere. I'll let your photographs elucidate & illuminate instead. If you haven't checked out Maggie Marsek's work before, then get clicking here now.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Mark Twain On Wipeouts


A fine chap called Gregory emailed me and had me wondering if I could be the next Face Of A Major Surf label. I have to say I wondered about that possibility for longer than a nanosecond - but only just. I spent much longer re-playing some waves caught & lost at the weekend. I was trying out a boogie board that Sea Nymph won in a raffle. The old hamstring is healing well but I figured I'd take the opportunity to flex a flipper and check the twinge factor. I got as much craic sitting out the back and watching some mates surf with the confidence and skill that comes with having spent time in the ocean from more or less around the time they gave up breastfeeding.

From Roughing It by Mark Twain

"In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing. Each heathen (sic) would paddle three or four hundred yards out to sea (taking a short board with him), then face the shore and wait for a particularly prodigious billow to come along; at the right moment he would fling his board upon its foamy crest and himself upon the board, and here he would come whizzing by like a bombshell! It did not seem that a lightning express-train could shoot along at a more hair-lifting speed. I tried surf-bathing once, subsequently, but made a failure of it. I got the board placed right, and at the right moment, too; but missed the connection myself. The board struck the shore in three-quarters of a second, without any cargo, and I struck the bottom about the same time, with a couple of barrels of water in me. None but natives ever master the art of surf-bathing thoroughly.

Ain't that the truth Mr.Twain...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

August, Aileens, Al and Andrew

Like being pinned down by a wave, force feeding on sand, it was when my head started throbbing that I figured I'd been holding my breath too long. Quite possibly, after gawping at the tow in surfing shenanigans off the West Coast of Ireland in the clip below, you'll come up gasping too.

Several months ago, I interviewed Al Mennie for this blog and, with my penchant for glib word play, had to resist the temptation to describe him as a "turbo charger". To say that he attacks a wave is a bit like describing the landings at Iwo Jima as a day at the beach. His mate Mr.Cotton rather rocks too.

As with many athletes near the top of their game, Al's easy-going onshore demeanour belies his feral and focused approach to hunting down bigger and bigger waves. To paraphrase the accompanying sound track from Static-X (and excuse my French), I think he wants to "f***ing break it".

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Surfing Sells Everything...

...including "girdles" from way back in the days when Mad Men ruled and wives mainly cooked. Would those hold in a beer belly? They may be out of fashion but I feel a strange stirring in my Speedos...


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Cheap Flip Flops For Beach Bums


Whilst I favour TEVA's for scrambling over rock pools and KEEN footwear for trails and hikes, the good old flip flop is a firm favourite for this Beach Bum and many other rubber tramps. The story goes that the flip flop (referred to as "thongs" Down Under or "Jandals" in Kiwi-land - a contraction of Japanese sandals) was inspired by the traditional woven soled zōri from Japan.

This simple shoe's popularity has been exploited by the evil REEF empire (I'm obstinately - and probably quite pointlessly - mounting a personal campaign to highlight their shameless sexploitative marketing tactics) who have managed to hoodwink thousands of us into believing that you need to pay over the odds for a shoe. Rip-off REEF, is what I say.

Sure you have to pay for quality, but many of REEF's flip flops have a price point so high that outlets should throw in a sticker marked "sucker" to stamp on your forehead as you exit the shop. And there are top drawer brands for those with cash to spare. The word is Rainbow Sandals are a cool alternative, and though their web site is as homespun as REEF's is slick, I'm impressed by the fact that the founder, Jay "Sparky" Longley, has resisted the temptation to sell the company to REEF. Respect dude - for presumably the REEF'sters have been dangling all sorts of carrots in from of him, quite possibly including the bottoms of the models whose anonymous bums they love to display.

Anyway, seeing as my old flip flops were frayed and fried beyond repair, I thought I'd pop into Bojangles on the main drag in Perranporth for some sole. I came away with the pair pictured above for the princely sum of £4.99 - a bargain, and Beach Bum loves a bargain. They're supplied by Urban Beach - a company just across the border in Devon - so I can claim to be supporting local businesses x2. There's fine flip flops at competitive prices here if you prefer to order on-line.

Mind you, perhaps this clobber should come with a health warning. When Jimmy Buffet sang "I blew out my flip flop, stepped on a pop top; Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home", he was hinting at some of the downsides of open style footwear. Recent scare stories would have you believe that wearing a flip flop should come with a health warning. If they don't give you ankle sprain and fallen arches, then you'll get skin cancer or, like the claims of this person - a nasty rash. To hell with it, I'll keep wearing them - a style choice you won't catch me flip flopping on.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bitchy Beach Volleyball in Beijing


Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins signals* to her partner at a recent event

They've been busing in Chinese spectators to fill out the stands at many of the Olympic events that remain - worryingly for the sponsors - spectator free. As expected, drawing a crowd for the ladies Beach Volleyball match between Andrezza "Rtvelo" Martins & Cristine "Saka" Santanna of Georgia with Natalia Uryadova and Alexandra Shiryaeva from Russia was a cinch - for all the right and wrong reasons.

The games have a long history of throwing up matches with competitors facing off from countries at each other's throats (think Russia and Hungary's tussle in the pool at the Water Polo semi-final in 1956) so perhaps it was a surprise to see the girls step under the net and hug each other before play began.

The twist here is that Martins and Santanna (the names are a bit of a giveaway) were both born and bred in Brazil and encouraged paid to take up Georgian citizenship to advance the sport's cause there a couple of years ago. Well, England has a cricket captain who's South African and when it comes to sport, some competitors will swap their passport faster than David Blaine can slip a card up his sleeve, if it means more opportunity to shine in the spotlight.

lab_image_volleyball04 The good natured start soured shortly after the Russians lost, sulking to reporters that they hadn't lost to Georgia but Brazil. Further comments suggesting that their opponents would struggle to name the President of their adopted nation appeared to rankle Santanna and Martins who have adopted Georgian names for their team. Santanna is "Saka" and Martins is "Rtvelo". Together Saka Rtvelo are the Georgian words for, you guessed it, Brazil. I'm kidding, I meant Georgia.

* Does my bum look big in this?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I Caught Crabs...

lab_image_crabbing03 Walberswick. But relax - as you will have gathered, I'm not talking about Phthirus pubis (which, coincidentally, Sea Nymph has to treat in her professional capacity), I'm referring to Carcinus maenas or other variants of the common shore crab.

With all the hoo-ha surrounding the Olympic Games, I feel beholden to fly the flag for what must be considered one of the more important sporting events that is taking place closer to home. Last weekend saw the British Open Crabbing Championships take place at Walberswick in Suffolk and frankly, I would have entered just to get the T Shirt.

Unfortunately, circumstances (builders demanding sanitary ware specifications - don't go there please!) dictated that Team Bum had to cry off this event and other beach related activities we had scheduled.

Hunting for crabs along the shoreline has been, and remains, a particular pleasure for me ever since I can remember. And crab meat is up there with caviar as far as I'm concerned. As a child at Sand End, a strip of beach near Ballywalter on the Ards peninsula, my cousins and I would gather buckets of red and green crabs for gladiatorial style contests in sand-walled approximations of arenas. Their claws held out defiantly, shells scuttled and crackled, wrestling on the strand, as we pitted red versus green. Of course, these days, I just take pleasure in whittling out a specimen, screened by seaweed, from beneath a barnacled retreat, and then returning it from whence it came.

I mark it as a singularly important parenting achievements then, that my Nippers 1 to 3 are as happy to spend hours crabbing as they would be plugged into a games console ( if left to their own wicked ways). Nipper 1 was particularly dismissive of the catch pictured above and demanded that his recent trophy was displayed for all to see. Not bad, but you have much to learn young master.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

New REEF Web Site - Same Old Asses


I'm sure this image of Esther Baxter will be offensive to a few sensitive souls, irritating for some and pin-up poster material for others. No prizes this time for guessing which category I fall into. Now I've no idea if Esther can surf but she sure can dance. I've seen the video. The effort I put into researching a post - honestly, it's can be so demanding. The thing is, however you perceive the image above, it is recognisably Esther. Possibly it's something to do with being able to see her face.

Well, the other day I was scanning through an email from a surf related feed that I subscribe to. "Big" news in the junior playground of corporate surfdom - REEF have launched a "new"webshite. As regular readers will know, I've had a beef with REEF over their marketing tactics for a while now. (REEF is a subsidiary brand - along with many others like Wrangler, VANS and North Face - of the behemoth that is VF Corporation.) Call it sexploitation or just lazy marketing but selling surf wear, sandals and board shorts off of the backsides of faceless models "grinds my gears", as my bro-in-law likes to say.

Was it naive then to expect that their new website might have moved some way away from total objectification of the female form and perhaps shown the faces of the models whose bottoms have graced their advertising for so many years?

Well, as you can see, when you're signed up by one of the world's largest clothing manufacturers as a "REEF girl "you can call yourself Lila, Janie or Alice but you could be a transsexual with a todger - as long as that ass looks good, you will sell - and be sold.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Spot The Aussie Bum


No need to go into the demographics of their customer base here but as aficionados of close fitting male undergarments will know, "AussieBum" is a well known brand of Australian swim wear.

For a while, the company in question sponsored our surfboat team. As any "boatie" will confirm, there's really no substitute for a wedgie to give that extra grip on a slippery seat as you power out through the surf.

Here, the crew from Perran's own team line up for a bout of rigorous buttock flexing. These men can crack a nut between those cheeks without flinching. Moreover, one of them actually is an Aussie bum. A pair of Speedos on the way to the lucky reader who spots the derriere from Down Under.

Ladies Team will be posing next week. There is method in my madness...muhahaha!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Beach Bum's Shack...


... is undergoing renovation. At the moment, it looks a little bit like the pic above - and that's after some serious Feng Shui and a whole lot of creative Hoovering (technically, it's a Dyson). There's a caravan in the drive, and a neighbour's cooker involved. I'm getting bored with my brother-in-law who keeps phoning me up and asking me if I'd tarmac their drive (politically incorrect "travelling person" joke).

I point this out by way of an answer for the legions who have emailed me concerned about the hiatus in posting. I'm sorry - but if you've ever had "the builders in", you will understand.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as I can move my PC from the bedroom back to another part of the shack that isn't being rearranged like a cheap set in a twister. Sea Nymph doesn't approve of the hum and the tapping and as most of this tumbles out of an evening, my keyboard action has been seriously curtailed. She's reading "An Angel At My Table". It's about a schizophrenic Kiwi, who wasn't - but just missed out on a lobotomy when her poetry was recognised for what it was. Like I said before, "art will out". "Switch off the feckin PC", I've just been told. I just have to get that shot of our boaties and their wedgies up soon. It'll have to wait.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Paddle Surfing Is Hot!

Despite what Laird Hamilton says, combining a surf board with a paddle strikes me as the sporting equivalent of an evolutionary dead end. I'm sure I can be convinced otherwise but this bloke isn't going to be the one who turns it around for me.

As news circles the globe about the Kilauea volcano going red-eyed and spewing lava like a glutton in a vomitarium, one man and his paddle board gets close in to see the action for himself. Looking like he's set on offering himself up to the Fire Gods, the expression "stoked" takes on a whole new meaning. Apparently his wax melted and he burnt his toes. Duh. That's pro-surfer (I rest my case) C.J Kanuha - pictured below with some mates. He's the one with the eye patch and the crazed look. No matter, he is, as they say,"the man".

Monday, July 07, 2008

A Beach Boy And Some Ukuleles


“I don’t know why everybody doesn’t live at the beach, on the ocean. It makes no sense to me, hanging around the dirty city. That’s why I always loved and was proud to be a Beach Boy; I always loved the image. On the beach you can live in bliss.”

Dennis Wilson's sentiment adds some weight to the views of those who argue that he was the only Beach Boy who really was a Beach Boy - more so than the old chestnut that, unlike the rest of the band, he could actually surf.

I've been letting the magnificent 2 CD Pacific Ocean Blue "Legacy Edition" wash over me like the waves I'm missing, and I'm finding it an altogether marvelous experience. Dennis, where have you been all my life?

Mention the ukulele to a certain generation here in GB, and two words will shortly follow: George Formby. To accuse an entire nation of having no musical taste would be harsh but I still struggle to comprehend why George was such an immensely popular performer in England. It was WWII and I suppose anything sounds better than air raid siren's wail.

"Whatever", as my Nippers are fond of exclaiming, but Mr. Formby was responsible for me ranking the ukulele alongside the kazoo as an instrument of torture. Now two more words: Jake Shimabukuro - and if you compare and contrast these clips of Jake (below) & George (here) - you'll see why I'm a late convert to the Hawaiian "jumping flea" or "gift that came here", depending on what story you believe that most accurately translates the Hawaiian name for this variation of a Portuguese instrument that was brought to the Islands in the nineteenth century.

So the Gods of music are getting their revenge - the ukulele is coming at me from all angles. Now that I've removed the tinfoil from around my head, I'm receiving ukulele vibrations from the ether on a regular basis. With the fanaticism of a convert, I've an order in already for the Ukulele Orchestra of GB's CD that I heard snatches off on the wireless last week. After slagging off George Formby, their version of his "Leaning On A Lamppost" in the style of the Red Army Choir is irresistible.


And just today, I had a fine smorgasbord (there's a word you don't hear very often) of a lunch at a mate's house where he whipped out a recently purchased ukulele and treated us to an impromptu rendition of "I'll See You In My Dreams" that, I've subsequently discovered, Joe Brown played to wrap up the Concert For George (Harrison not Formby).

George, like Dennis, was a member of another legendary band who was overshadowed and underestimated by the rest of his buddies and the public for a time. In the end art will out and we are always richer for it.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

You Know It's Summer In Cornwall When...

This kind of story makes the headlines (again) ...


... and I spotted a sign something like this at the Boxheater junction...


...and the weather forecast looks like this.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Beach Bum Hamstrung


"I'm not best amused" was an odd, archaic phrase a friend used from time to time. It rather fits the bill. I've been drinking Jamesons and doing some Jackson Pollack to stop my mind from wandering where it will go. My Summer is stuffed.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Obama Will Surf To Victory!


Of course it doesn't really matter who wins as everyone knows that America is run by the folks in the military-industrial complex with the pointy white hats. Just ask Noam Chomsky who's been quoted as saying that "if the Nuremberg laws were applied today, then every postwar American president would have to be hanged."

It matters even less here on the USAF base we call Airstrip 1 but we can take comfort in the fact that the hottest contender for Big Chief White House honcho used to live in Hawaii and therefore, according to the insiders at Surfer Magazine, "has spent some time on a surfboard".

I bet he plays the ukulele too.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Book Of Surfing

People send me products in the post from time to time. This is really very kind of them. They are, of course, hoping I will say sweet things about their book, DVD, T-shirt, perfume or JCB. I believe the technical term for this is "endorsement". Or maybe it's "viral marketing". However you want to analyse this curious symbiosis, I like to think I remain objective about the stuff that comes my way. So I'm always happy to plug Snugg because their wetsuits are simply great and equally content to snigger at daft designs like Realwiings.

However, I must confess that a parcel in the post has me pleasure pumping endorphins in the limbic brain that must hark back to hunter-gatherer ancestry. I was, and remain, an inveterate scrounger. As a child, I would make covert raids to scavenge through the neighbours' bins - particularly those belonging to families with similarly aged children. Many's a time I'd come home with Hoovered victims - dusty bricks of LEGO or perhaps a headless Action Man that had been subjected to some hybrid Celtic-voodoo ritual. Therapy didn't help, by the way. Show me a skip and I have to be restrained from climbing in. Beachcombing I consider a vocation.

Anyway, I got an email from someone suggesting that my readers might be interested in a book on surf culture. From the peoploids behind the conspiratorially titled "The September Project" and Stranger Magazine (always a good read but recently a stranger from the shop shelves), comes "The Book Of Surfing".

From the pics they sent it looks like a good read but the skinflints want me to blurb about it and they haven't sent me a copy to review! Don't they know that there's no such thing as a free lunch? I was hoping they could call it the "Big Book Of Surfing" and there'd be pop up pop out surfboards for me to colour in. Or a "spot the difference" page with duplicate shots of trendy board shorts subtly altered with prizes for finding all the tweaks and missing floral prints. Perhaps it's all in there, but I may never know. PS: No-one has sent me a JCB - yet - but as I'm currently living on a building site, one would come in handy.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rock Rescue At The Bat Cave

If that title reads like an episode from Batman - that's just the power of word association. Come to think of it, there is a Robin involved ... Holy Inflatable Rescue Boats!

It took me a while to smuggle this one out of the locker room. One very fortunate surfer, four very professional Lifeguards.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Style & Substance From Mr.B - Surf Film Premiere


It's a few weeks away but here's a diary date worth scrawling down for those of you who'll be in the vicinity of Newquay - specifically Buzio's Bar - on Sunday the 6th July. There's free entry for the Premiere of "Substance", the latest surf flick from Mr. B Productions & Wavelength Magazine.

If you enjoyed Driven, my guess is that "Substance" will push all the right buttons for you. Expect crowds (the movie rolls around 10.30pm but you'll need to get there earlier), expect alcohol aplenty and - as Mr. B assures me, expect perfect waves, epic sessions and the likes of Oli Adams, Alan Stokes, Micah Lester and friends ripping, shredding and performing similarly thrusting manoeuvres (?) - all showcasing the wondrous waves to be found around the coast of Britain & Ireland. (Presumably the ones that Andy Martin struggles to find.)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Perranporth Rebel Angels Delight

News in from our Ladies Surfboat Captain who penned this report for the sports section in our local paper...

Perranporth’s Rebel Angels put in a heavenly performance at the opening round of the United Kingdom Surf Rowers League (UKSRL) Summer Series held at Porthcawl in South Wales on 31 May. Perranporth’s Fallen Angels, despite half of the crew rowing their first race, managed to pick up some valuable points too.

The small surf conditions – waves in the 1-2ft range – put a premium on rowing technique and fitness. Two wins in the opening three rounds and a bonus point for coming home first in the final heat contested by the top six crews showed a rigorous training programme for the Angels over the winter had paid off.

“It’s promising but there’s a long way to go,” cautioned Shelley Holland the Ladies boat captain. “Bude deservedly won the European title last year and they pushed us hard. We had a tough battle against Portreath as well. This season is not going to be easy!”

In the Men’s event, last year’s UK and European champions - Porthtowan Blue Bali - continued their recent dominant form, winning all four of their races. The minor places were much more hotly contested, the final heat treating spectators to five boats all surfing to shore on the same wave.

The next event is at Saunton Sands on 21 June but there's a full listing of events at the UKSRL website.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Pro Surfer Sells Shoes


Another day, another product for surfdom to sell. "Quick, we've a shed full of shoes to shift - better rush out and get us some surfing totty to teeter on a pair of high heels!"

I'd struggle to be persuaded that the advertising heads behind shoe-surf-snowboard company Airwalk's latest pro surfer signing saw fit to stretch their "creativity" beyond the usual formula where luscious babe + surfboard = sales.

It's a pity as the surfer in question - Anastasia Ashley - has by all accounts, plenty of talent and precocious water skills. But why work to highlight these when you can sell with her body instead?

Her web site is a chuckle zone - though unintentionally so. It reads like one of those menus in the Chinese restaurant of yesteryear where the courses are described in a form of English that is as curiously twisted as the noodles. So we get:

"In the incredibly changeling (?) sport of surfing, Anastasia Ashley’s goals to become one of the best surfers in the world..." and "Anastasia is now entering her next faze (sic) in her career, as she is one of the most downloaded female athletes on the Internet, through out the past years she has exploded onto the mainstream through her classic good looking winning personality, and great style. To Young girls, Anastasia is a role model, and is she's living proof that staying focused and determined will lead you to success (and shoes).To women, she's the embodiment of living the healthy active lifestyle, also being a fashionista. And to men, she's one of the sexiest Women Alive."

Just like the shoes - a load of old cobblers.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Beach Volleyball Competition - Perranporth


Get your bouncy balls down to the beach just in front of the Surf Lifesaving Club at Perranporth this Sunday, May 25th from 2-6pm. Entry open to all (regardless of skills) with a minimum of three people per team. Entry fee a paltry tenner - it's a bargain - BBQ and beer just a few yards away at the Watering Hole. Damn it, might even get this Beach Bum into his Speedos. And like I said before, just because there's skimpy bikinis - it don't mean it ain't sport.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Musica Surfica - A Finless Fantasia


There's a line in "Cyprus Avenue" - that song of songs from the better back catalogue of Van Morrison - where he stutters "my tongue gets tied, every, every, every time I try to speak". I've had the same problem trying to articulate a long overdue review that would do justice to Musica Surfica - a sublime film shot on King Island, Australia that tracks the progress of a group of extraordinary surfers as they embark on a "grand adventure" where classical music collides with radical surfing.

(I have to thank Mick Sowry, the film's writer and director for his generosity in shipping me an advance copy of the DVD. I first "met" Mick through his Safe To Sea site where humour, insight and humanity meet waves. Life, art and surfing - like it says just under his blog's header. Highly recommended reading.)

If the film's premise sounds peculiar, perhaps it's understandable. There's only fourteen Enigma(tic) Variations but countless more ways to define what that label - "Classical music" - actually means. For many, I suppose, the genre still conjures up stuffy concert halls and a rigidity of musical expression that speaks of times past, not present. If there were any truth in that stiff and stultifying perception, the lead violinist of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti, blows it out of the water with the fluidity and grace of his bow, strings and not least, his surfboard.

Richard gets together with the mercurial, driven Derek Hynd (of whom I read an interesting piece here)- a surfer with a bagful of other talents to boot who wants - initially at least - to dig deep into the surfing heritage of Hawaii and the Olo style wooden boards they rode. This reflection on what has been see's his vision translated into a gathering of surfers riding a variety of finless boards. Some of these surfers are dudes like Tom Carroll who you follow flailing finless until he masters what he's always known. At one point, one of Derek's mates describes his view of modern surfing as "function without flair" and in this experiment, it strikes me that Derek is passing on some pointers for a generation shackled by sponsors and the profiteers.

But somewhere in this work the surfing and the music mesh - and magically so. For me, this is mirrored beautifully when the legendary (a much bandied but here entirely justified description) Tom Wegener compares his shaping skills and the resonance of crafting a wooden board to a violin and Tognetti reciprocates by comparing Wegener to a luthier.

However you ride a wave, there's something about the experience that's like painting on a moving canvas. Time loses measure. The sea pumps, pushes, pounds and plays all around you - an oceanic soundtrack. For me, surfing equals art. There are few endeavours that prove this point so well as Musica Surfica. Where and how can you get yourselves a copy? Watch this space.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Beach Bum In The Big Apple

When you have five days to spend in NYC, it is much better to do than blog - so apologies for both the paucity and brevity of posts. I'll play catch up later. Anyway, I gotta keep moving to burn off all the calories I'm taking on. Fried potatoes for breakfast is just plain brutal.

In the meantime, here's another Beach Bum I bumped into at the marvellous MOMA - courtesy of Mr.Matisse.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Charity Begins At Home ...

lab_image_madeleine... and Life's A Beach - like it says on this blog's header. If only. Tomorrow, May 3rd, means it's a year since Madeleine McCann was abducted from her family's holiday apartment in Portugal. There's an opportunity to think about this one precious life at noon on Fistral Beach, Newquay tomorrow.

Some of the folks that are campaigning to keep the investigation alive have asked me to spread the word about the balloon release that's happening there - 365 balloons for each of the days that Madeleine's been missing. It's the least I can do. Just turn up to show your support.

Coincidentally, I was cataloguing some pictures that I'd taken around Fistral last October. It was big blue sky day and all was well with the world. Here's one of my Nippers pointing at the seagull that's about to dive bomb my beanie. As a parent, I can only wonder how the McCanns keep going - perhaps, as they say, "hope springs eternal."


Last November, in a rather melancholic state of mind, I referred in this post to coming across a vicious car crash on my way back from the "school run". A few of us stood around directing traffic, waited for the emergency services to arrive and tried to comfort a young man trapped in the car all crumpled up around his face and body. At the time, and until yesterday when he made the headlines in our local paper, I'd no idea who the bloke was. It makes for compelling reading - and there's that hope thing again. Good on ya Pete!

Frivolous surfing froth will be resumed asap.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Fine Fleeces From Finisterre

Mention "Finisterre" to most folks here and I'll wager it's still the Shipping Forecast that comes to mind: "Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, Forth, Tyne, Dogger, Fisher, German Bight, Humber, Thames, Dover, Wight, Portland..." almost poetic - that deeply satisfying , soporific chant I've drifted oft to sleep to as BBC Radio 4 slides off the air.

Actually, in 2002 Finisterre was renamed "FitzRoy" to avoid confusion with one of Spain's meteorological areas and that, you might think, was that. Finisterre RIP...


..except for the fact that that same year, one Tom Kay (2nd from left) was considering the product development cycle for your typical surf product. Turns out he had a bit of a beef with what he saw as the lack of innovation in the surf industry and a casual disregard for the environment.

With a few mates and some office space adjacent to an old tin mine as base, he founded Finisterre - the "Technical Ethical Online Surf Clothing" company. It sounds like an interesting journey - and one that Tom will be describing in more detail when he shares the experience at a talk he's giving at the Maritime Museum in Falmouth on May the 8th.

lab_image_finisterre_arcusNow I need a new hoody and I quite fancy their Arcus (pictured left). Understated styling, lofted Merino and a lifetime guarantee sounds very good to me for £70. Fortunately, I don't have to go to the "ends of the earth" to get one - they're just down the road in St.Agnes - but you can order online.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Surfing Sells Anything...


...even Vitamins. Just a pity then that, according to some research, Vitamins kill.

(Candidate for Photoshop Disaster submission ? Elongated wheel shadow suggests the sun is low in sky so why no trace of the board's shadow - not to mention that of the front forks or rider? And how far could you ride along a beach with one hand on the handle bar and a stick under your arm?)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

European Surfers In Space - The Right Stuff?


The headline that "European surfers could qualify in a new rush of astronauts" certainly caught my eye. On closer inspection, the article in question was more about the European Space Agency's latest recruitment drive and any link with surfing was tenuous at best...

...though I once shook hands with the man on the moon - well, one of them. Back in the late 70's an assembly hall full of slouching Belfast schoolboys were roused from their routine impression of the living dead when it was casually announced that they'd be getting a "talk" from one of the Apollo 15 crew. Back then, before we got Shuttle sated and bored with the space race, it was a big deal. And in the seven years spent at that "ancient and royal" institution, Jim Irwin's address is the only memorable event in our oversized hall that I have any recollection of. That and the time the stage team lowered (in a series of supremely comical jerking motions) a large white banner emblazoned with the crude but nonetheless effective call to "Spot The Looney" behind the back of our pompous headmaster, all mortarboarded, bespectacled, gowned and mightily kerfuffled.

lab_image_jim_irwin Having bagged a front row seat, I noted that Jim had one leg shorter than the other. He wore a chunky platform heel on one foot to compensate - and presumably to stop him walking in a circle. This and his diminutive stature only served to magnify the man's charisma. The shortened leg was the result of an injury sustained in an earlier crash. He'd followed the typical career path of many of the early astronauts that started with test pilot and ended with NASA - and his pocket sized person was preferred for the cramped cockpits of the first spacecraft. His vision of the earth from space - a great blue ball, the talk of zero gravity and Lunar Rovers had us hanging on his every word and quite appropriately moonstruck. To this day, as my Nippers are bored of hearing, I'll look up at a full fat moon and exclaim that "I shook the hand of a man who drove a dune buggy up there!"

But surfers in space? Not sure that's such a good idea. Warp speed - two words that may allude respectively to (a) the mental state and (b) the drug of choice of the surfer that gets too far away from Deep Blue and ends up in Deep Space. Case in point, this exchange from the magnificent film Dark Star between the stir crazy acting commander (Doolittle) and the spaceship's navigator (Talby) as a potentially serious systems glitch arises:

  • DOOLITTLE: You know what I think about, Talby?
  • TALBY: I'm getting something here, on this readout...
  • DOOLITTLE: It's funny, but I kind of sit around, you know, a lot of time to myself...
  • TALBY:I think I'm getting a malfunction here somewhere.
  • DOOLITTLE:I can't talk to the others, but with time to myself, I think about back home, back home at Malibu. I used to surf a lot, Talby.I used to be a great surfer.
  • TALBY:Lieutenant Doolittle, I'm getting a definite malfunction on one of the closed-circuit computer systems...
  • DOOLITTLE:The waves at Malibu and Zuma were fantastic in the springs Talby. I can remember running out on the beach early spring mornings with my board and a wet suit...
  • TALBY: I can't seem to locate the malfunction exactly...
  • DOOLITTLE:Waves would be peaking really high and glassy.Hit that water. Ridin' the wall just perfect.
  • TALBY:...somewhere in the autonomic relay circuits...
  • DOOLITTLE:I guess I miss the waves and my board most of all.

(I couldn't find this clip in English but here's the exchange in full - in German with appropriate angst)

As you may have surmised, this lack of focus from the melancholic surfer doesn't bode well and the mission goes pear-shaped. Doolittle, however, gets the ride of his life and goes out with a bang. Gnarly or what?