Saturday, March 29, 2008

British Airways - Karma Bums

According to British Airway's (BA) own webshite "At London Heathrow Terminal 5 we’ve created a natural, logical journey that’s so calm, you’ll flow through. It shouldn’t take long to get from Check-in to Departures. Transferring and arriving are just as simple and calm. Spend the time you save enjoying the excellent range of shops, cafes and restaurants. Or simply relax and be wowed by the world class architecture..."

...while you wait hours for baggage, miss your flight and wished you'd booked Virgin. At the opening ceremony a few days ago Mrs. Windsor (aka "The Queen") was declaring that Terminal 5 would be a "21st Century gateway to Britain". By Thursday when the cattle market opened for the plebs the reality looked all together more mediaeval.

As many surfers will know, BA banned surfboards from all its flights late last year. Despite a petition signed by over 10,000 travellers, a barrage of negative PR and objections raised by some of our Members of Parliament, BA resolutely stuck to their two fingered customer service strategy. Given the recent fiasco, which further highlights the arrogance and incompetence of the airline's management, it's hard not to savour their embarrassment as the karmic wheel turns back their way.

So I'll leave you with this shot of Willie Walsh, their CEO - he's running a cowboy operation and he knows it.

DFW CEO Jeff Fegan and BA's CEO Willie Walsh

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fodder For Surf Fashionistas

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This image was supposed to be the header for another gentle Pro-surfer piss-take like this one here - but an accompanying witty one liner just wasn't forthcoming tonight (feel free to suggest one). I was at first distracted, then simply baffled by the model's pose. It just doesn't work on so many levels.

The picture is one of several spawned by the marketing monkeys at the Hollister company, a brand bastard offspring of Abercrombie & Fitch. Selling clothes to "Dudes" and "Betty's" (since 2000 - there's pedigree for you) - let's credit them with chutzpah, if not taste, for such a blatant jump aboard the surf bus.

I understand they're thinking of opening up some stores in the UK. May I suggest some prime retail locations just next to Fat Willy's Surf Shack in Newquay?

By the way, don't confuse Hollister with Hollister Incorporated, the leading manufacturer of ostomy bags. You wouldn't want to confuse a bag for shite with a T-shirt now, would you?

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sinful Sushi & Nasty Nippon

Not without justification have many of us been outraged at the methods used by Japanese fishermen to kill whales, dolphins and other species of cetaceans, the carcasses of which are cut and processed to stock the sushi bars, restaurants and supermarkets from Sapporo to Kagoshima.

If they ain't slaughtering whales, they're harpooning Greenpeace activists or shouting Banzai, right? Those nasty Nipponese. Yeah, go on - let's tar an entire race with the same brush, swap rationale debate for bar banter and help stoke the feeding frenzy of Japanophobia. Feels so good, doesn't it?

In researching information for previous posts on this subject, I began to wonder if the anti-whaling angst was just another opportunity for some to engage in the traditional sport of Nippon bashing. Examples might range from a throw-away and obviously racist comment on a forum to a much more carefully crafted article such as this one where a prominent Australian journalist manages to make a direct link between Japan's whaling and the attack upon Pearl Harbour. Truly Tora, Tora, Tora.

As always, there's a flip side to the coin and Japanese like this chap here will do his best to reinforce the stereotype that his people are a cruel race, uncaring and insular in the extreme.(I noted that the anti-Australian video on that previous link has been removed from YouTube.)

That there are many Japanese who care passionately about environmental issues is a fact that I believe we tend to overlook.
The Japanese office of the World Wide Fund For Nature's campaign ad (pictured above) made me smile and helped validate, albeit in a small way, that point of view. Look closely in case you didn't spot the visual trick the first time round. It would work well for the Japanese equivalent of Surfers Against Sewage, eh?

So let's keep racism out of the debate and allow people like Sakyo Noda, the Japanese anti-whaling activist, to spread a little enlightenment.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sandboarding - Dune Days For Flat Spells

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It was the picture that caught my eye. Thought it was one of those "Snow Bunnies" - the term that only a bloke would come up with to describe the snowboarding scene's equivalent of the REEF girl. On closer inspection, the practicality of the bikini - board combo is given a dusting of credibility since the surface is sand not snow.

Sandboarding is one of those cousins from the family of board sports that meshes elements of surfing and snowboarding. A poor cousin perhaps - as it doesn't yet have the profile of its uber-hyped relatives. Not that aficionados will give a damn - if you can carve your way down a dune over 50mph without leaving your butt looking like something hanging in a butcher's shop, you aren't going to stress yourself much about popularity stakes.

lab_image_doctorduneSandboarders even have their own Doctor Dune speed wax. I haven't got my head round the physics, but the wax goes on the bottom of the board and not the deck.

And like everything these days, sandboarders can read about what sandboarders do in the imaginatively titled "Sandboard Magazine". I noted with interest that one of my favourite beaches, Holywell Bay, in our very own Kernow was listed as a hot location for this sport. Now I can attest to the fun that can be had on the dunes as evidenced by my three Nippers in the pic below but I can't claim to have spotted any sandboarders. Perhaps like surf mats, they haven't come to Cornwall - yet.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Rescue 2008 - Show Me The Money!

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Bugger it all - life shouldn't be this busy for a self-avowed Beach Bum. I used to sing a song in Primary School with a verse that went, "...but I would rather be sitting on the beach all day - like the lazy co-co-coconut, co-co-coconut tree (repeat)". So you see, I found my personal mantra at an early age and it has served me well.

So why the whinge? Well, excuse this post's parochialism, but ever since Perranporth Surf Lifesaving Club appointed me as fund-raising coordinator (I think that was at the point in the meeting where I pulled some tinnies out of my man-bag to pass around) I - along with many other members - have been phone calling, e-mailing, hard hustling, sweet talking, lip smackin ... hang on - I'm off on a tangent there - well, you get the point. No company, corporation, friend or foe is safe from the cold call.

lab_image_Rescue_2008 Amongst many other competitions, events and activities our focus at the moment is on finding funds to allow us to take a squad of our fittest and finest to the World Championship "Rescue 2008". This is, arguably, the most prestigious Life Saving competition in the world. This year, it's being organized and hosted by the German Life Saving Organisation on behalf of the World Association International Life Saving Federation (ILS). From 20th July to 2nd August about 4000 participants will take part in pool and beach competitions in Berlin and Warnemünde on the Baltic coast. Sitting back from all the effort needed to fund our team's participation, it's hard not to ponder on the reasons why, in this country in particular, we have to scrabble so hard to encourage and develop sport.

lab_image_perranguards This isn't the time or place for an historical exposition of the development on surf lifesaving in the UK but whilst we are the spawning grounds for many of our professional RNLI Lifeguards, the actual clubs are designated "registered charities" and depend almost entirely on the support of sponsors and the local communities they serve.

When there's so much governmental angst over the vacuum of opportunity for youth, the "yob culture", the preponderance of pre-pubescent puddings wobbling round the streets (obese child hoods), the fragmentation of society - the stuff the chattering classes love to chew on - I reckon they could take a few pointers on social cohesion from your common-or-garden Surf Lifesaving Club - and funnel some of that cash away from wars us "subjects" never got a say in. Aye, dream on.

Whilst (successive) government initiatives talking shops and the reality of sport development have traditionally gone together as well as a ship and an iceberg, it wouldn't be fair to bitch at Brown and co. without looking at how our own governing body, Surf Lifesaving GB, helps us, as local clubs to encourage and develop the sporting prowess of our members. After all, a significant slice of our membership fees helps keep it running. If anyone can suggest how they do this (insert pregnant pause) - feel free to comment.

By the way, Prince Philip is the Chief Patron of SLSGB and as you can watch here, he's very nice. (Thanks for that link Alex - laugh? I nearly cried.)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Julian Wilson - Pretty (Surfer) In Pink

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If you've been following the action at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast as intensely as I have (zzzz) then you'll know that some baldy bloke won another shedful of cash having fun riding waves. (Anybody else think that Kelly Slater looks like George Michael's younger brother? Wake me up before you go go...)

...OK, I'm tough on Pro surfers - but they're a highly paid, privileged and pampered species - I'm sure they can take it. I was more interested to read about young Julian Wilson and his pink surfboards. With many big brand sponsored surfing competitions hype-fests, the personalities and shenanigans behind the scenes are often more interesting than the actual event.

lab_image_julian_wilsonJulian turned up with a rack of pink surfboards - not a colour choice normally associated with ballsy rippers. What was going on? It was all a savvy stunt to raise awareness & money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Julian explained that he "... had lots of friends on the junior series tour lose their mums to breast cancer, and my mum is a breast cancer survivor too, so I just thought it'd be a good way to bring attention to the disease and raise money at the same time".

Credit where credit's due - one of these boards fetched close to $5000 Au here - so the folks over at the National Breast Cancer Foundation should be pleased. And the boy can surf...

Check out Julian's "Sushi Roll" - quite amazing. Just hope there's no dolphin in that sushi...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

When Beach Fashion Goes Wrong...

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Now I've seen it all. If this look ever catches on round here, I'll have to move inland.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Surfing...and it stoned me

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A nod to my mate at SESHN for turning me on to the output from a rather spaced out photo-shoot from Insight51, the Aussie company that started out with surfboards and ended up with T-shirts. What were they on, I wonder?

If you're going to try and smuggle cocaine in a surfboard, make sure you have a surfer's tan. That's lesson one - learnt the hard way by this chap here. I'm not advocating, endorsing or encouraging drug use you understand. And yet there's a lot of surfers out there who compare surfing to a drug... which rather suggests they are - shock, horror - talking from experience.

Those so inclined may do well to comb our Cornish coves. As has been widely reported, suitcase sized stashes of Colombia's finest have been washing up on beaches here. Anxious community leaders have been trying to keep a lid on the news in case it sparked a rush of "undesirables" to the shoreline. This was cause for much merriment at our swim session the other night. Would you get a better price for it in Truro or Newquay asked Ian? Tony Montana is alive and well and living in Perranporth. Ian - just say no.