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...

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..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...

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...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?

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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?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Elvis Spotted Surfing in Hawaii

And I thought he was living on Mars - obviously he's still stoked after his session at Pipeline. Move over Surfer Bob - you've been out-kitsched by a ukulele and a hunka hunka burnin' love. If by any chance you spot the King out there on Big Blue, do let the folks at the Elvis Sighting Bulletin Board know. Available here- don't all rush at once now.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Mick Fanning & REEF - Cheek To Cheek

lab_image_assfanningI note that surfing supernova Mick Fanning has signed with REEF for another 5 years of backslapping and mutual profit. “The relationship with Mick and Reef must continue" said REEF manager, Heath "Nutty" Walker in a voice that I imagined - completely without reason - sounded like Dr.Strangelove. So expect a lot of sandals then. The next flip flop is "top secret and set to release Spring 2009". Top secret?

The last lot had a bottle opener in the heel (grips dog shite harder than a sumo) - what the feck are they gonna stick in the new one? A GPS system that plots your course from bar to bar? Why break with tradition, I say?

Earlier we had the REEF Dram Sandal marketed by one retailer with refreshing candour thus: "Not content to simply open alcoholic beverages, the Dram includes a polyurethane encapsulated flask in the heel, good for smuggling liquor into pretty much any event you can think of." Much loved by the underage drinker and college student majoring in alcoholism, US retail giant Nordstrom pulled it from the shelves. Spoilsports. So go on REEF - give us a sandal with a cubby hole for coke. If you don't, I will - and you'll see Beach Bum's Ganja Guttees hitting the stores sometime soon.

NB: This is not a picture of Mick Fanning's arse. Unlike the REEF girls, it's not easy finding a pic of Mick in a thong.

It's In The Pipeline

lab_image_EP_coverA couple of weeks ago someone was kind enough to mail me a couple of copies of "Experience Pipeline" - a book where "you're the pro surfer in this story" and " a coin flip determines your fate". Having taken the same random approach with many a decision in life (though not quite to the extent of the Dice Man), it would be churlish to criticise this principle of chaos that has spiced up life for me from time to time.

However, a book where the storyline has you flip-flopping through bite sized chunks of text based on whether you toss a "heads" or "tails" is just not up my strada. Combine that with a lead character called Nelly Yater, exclamations competing for vowel extensions - all "Noooo!" and "Aaaah!" - and I was reaching for the hatchet, razor, shredder simultaneously. Heads I win, tails you lose. Which would be missing the point. This book isn't meant for jaded, faded Beach Bum's like me - it's book for Groms who don't or won't read for fun.

I asked young SurferDawg, teen skateboard-surfer mongrel with an aversion to desks and revision to give it the once over. To quote from his review, which I'm encouraging him to post in its entirety on his site:

"The book is very well written and easy to read, you are able to quickly flow through the book as the paragraphs are short and you don't forget the last piece of text. I myself am not very fond of books and try to get out of reading them. However this book really drew me in and I was fixed on it. Maybe this is because of my love for surfing and therefore I am able to relate to it well or maybe its just the way in which it is written. Not having to read loads all at once or pages and pages of paragraphs. Quinn Haber (pictured below) I think has written it really well with great structure."

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There's a copy of "Experience Pipeline" on the shack shelf here for any reader that want's it. First come, first served - just email me and you got it coming your way. Nuff said - except for the fact that in directing you to Surferdawg's site I am in no way, and in no shape or form, encouraging, endorsing or otherwise advocating the skateboarding at speed down high streets whilst dodging the local constabulary - and traffic.

Pipeline off the page and in your face is an altogether different beast and one I'll never have the skill or probably the opportunity to savour. The underlying reef, the sharks, the hellish wipeouts - all have contributed to its reputation as a waverider's graveyard. As recently as March, this proved to be the case for one unfortunate soul.

Check out this animation that explains more about the wave dynamics at Pipeline. Forewarned is forearmed!

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

You May Not Get Out Alive...

...especially if you try to find all the beach related pictures. Commonly referred to as "doing your head in", this is another example of why creative types go mad (eventually) ... mu ha ha ha! Click here - if you dare.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

What Do You Get When You Cross An Ulsterman With An Hawaiian?

No - not an Orangeman in a grass skirt - but George Freeth, often billed as the "first surfer in the United States". Apparently, Georgie's old man hailed from Ulster and fell for a Wahine after he emigrated to Hawaii. The offspring of their loins turned out to be a rather interesting dude. As inscribed on a memorial statue at Redondo beach...

lab_image_george_freethGeorge Freeth was born in Honolulu November 8, 1883 of Hawaiian and Irish ancestry. As a youngster he revived the lost Polynesian art of surfing while standing on a board. Henry E. Huntington was amazed at Freeth's surfing and swimming abilities and induced George to come to Redondo beach in 1907 to help the building of "the largest, warm saltwater plunge in the world."

George Freeth was advertised as "the man who can walk on water." Thousands of people came here on the big red cars to watch this astounding feat. George would mount his big 8-foot long, solid wood , 200 hundred pound surf board far out in the surf. He would wait for a suitable wave, catch it, and to the amazement of all, ride onto the beach while standing upright.

George Freeth introduced the game of water polo to this coast. He trained many champion swimmers and divers. George was the "first official lifeguard" on the Pacific coast. He invented the torpedo shaped rescue buoy that is now used worldwide. On December 16, 1908 during a violent south bay storm, George rescued 6 Japanese fisherman from a capsized boat. For his valour he received "the United States Lifesaving Corps gold medal."

George Freeth died April 7, 1919 at the early age of 35 years as the result of exhaustion from strenuous rescue work.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Games Groms Play

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Beach Bum & family were round at a mate's house for lunch the other day. We were well fed and vino'd with some of France's finest. (Let me take this opportunity now, Choirboy, to apologise for drinking all your wine and the bottle we brought.) Young Surferdawg (more from him later) - the resident Grom - was sofa'd up, stretched out with Mac and tapping keyboard.

Turns out he's just one of the thousands of peoploids that have signed up to play YouRiding - the free, online surfing game. I know this post is as far from topical as as you can get without making an announcement that "the British Are Coming" and hoping to see the redcoats queuing up for their slot on CNN but, to quote my friends at Switch-Foot, there may be more "mature gentlemen of the surf" old farts for whom this may indeed be news. If it is, sit back, lobotomise and enjoy.