via Instagram Hanging out at the ancestral home in the midlands today. This shot has to be a decade old. A tiny Saturday morning at Saunton riding a @joeltudorsurfboards Nuuhiwa that I eventually sold to @finshack 9'6 of moving sidewalk. #nofilter #surf #longboard #dropknee #outsideisfree #singlefin #log #nuuhiwa #devon
Nicely light leaked Diana film shot of my travelling quiver for our summer trip to france. Pretty much all conditions covered by these choices and they all got wet several times.
L-R 9'4 GS slimpig, 7'0 Greco surf performance soft top, 5'6 GS keel fish, 4th Gear flyer surf mat
I hadn't ridden the mat for a long time but I had so much fun in the high tide shore break on it, it ended up being one of the trip highlights. The soft top is fun too. It's really my daughters board but it surfs really well considering.
Part of the reason I've been time poor is because of this photo, or specifically the physical effort required to take it. First light breaking over Chamonix at the beginning of another big day of riding in the mountains climbing some of this years tour climbs. Sights like this made all the miles and hours of Devon hills worth it.
I haven't written many posts of late. Life seems so busy and sometimes its difficult to find the time to obsess over the minutae of surfing. I think too that the blogosphere isn't as vibrant as it once was. our ever shortening attention span is drawn more and more to the quick hit and immediacy of tweets and Instagram captions. I guess i'm as guilty as anyone of this - my Instagram gets updated more regularly than here if i'm honest. Still its nice to ramble a little when I get the chance.
Autumn is shaping up to be a classic this year with some solid fun size swell and plenty of offshores. The water is still warm and it's been a chance to rotate quite a few boards through the van from my quiver. My favorite board changes with every few days. Honorable mentions to the 9'4 Slimpig, 5'4 superchunk and my Howard special egg.
With the new parking arrangements at saunton, i've ended up surfing P-land a bunch over the summer. Its a maligned wave in many respects, oft overlooked unless the wind is wrong elsewhere. In truth it can be a lot of fun on a log or a fishy shortie, especially if you catch the right banks.
Whenever I travel to surf, it always strikes me how much easier it is to be a surfer in some other places - California and Hawaii are great examples. There's almost always a wave somewhere and generally there's going to be somewhere the wind is reasonably favourable or the bottomshape is strong enough to keep the wave quality ok. I honestly think people in these places wouldn't bother to get in the water in half the stuff we regularly paddle out in. Surfing is just "there" to take or leave as life allows. You don't need to be quite as obsessive as UK surfers often "need" to be
point I'm making is how "on it" you need to be to get any good at surfing here. Almost everyone I know tries to keep their schedule as flexible as possible, constantly keeping an eye on the tide and forecast hoping to create a slot of freetime at the right time.
I'm lucky, I work 5 minutes from the beach and whilst I cant always pick the perfect time to get there, I can find a slot most days there are waves. Then its just a case of having a quiver of the right boards in the mobile garage that my van constitutes and hoping the summer traffic isn't too bad.
Lomo LCa picture from just after a springtime liquid lunch
So i've had a good chance to put my new gulfstream log through it's paces over the summer so far, both here and in some zippy French beach break.
I can honestly say it's one of the best longboards I've owned. Its got the perfect mix of solid noseriding and whippy turns and I'm increasingly convinced that this type of slimmed out, wide point back template flat out works, especially in the choppier conditions we get lots of.
It seems like more and more people world wide are moving towards this kind of board - almost everyone at the recent joel tudor duct tape at the US open was riding something similar.
while I haven't got a clip of the Slimpig in action, this clip of CJ Nelson in mexico on his Australian Slasher model shows exactly the kind of surfing that the slim pig is designed to do. Note how much more aggressive his cutbacks are
footage of him riding a more classic noserider template. click the link to watch, it wont embed for some reason!
If you havent seen this yet, it's really worth watching on itunes. It's a really interesting and fairly comprehensive documentary on the history of the fish design from Lis right through to the present. Some good surfing interspersed between the talking heads too!
It's taken a while but i have finally managed enough sessions on the new mandala to form an opinion! I've never heard a bad review of one of Many's boards and im just going to add to the general hype about his shapes here.
Ive ridden quite a few different mini simmons over the last few years and prior to that i'd put quite a lot of time into various iterations of fish, both the classic twin keel and the double bump quad speedialler style. About a year ago i kind of rediscovered my little 5'6 Gulfstream keel fish. I think if i'm honest that it was maybe just a tiny bit too small for my shortboard abilities when i first had it and i never rode it all that much. Fast forward to last year and my general small board ability had definately ramped up a few notches. Getting back on the fish (which is very much from the performance christenson school rather than a cruisy "retro" place) suddenly opened up much more vertcal surfing and bigger roundhouse cutbacks than the seapea and other mini simmons allowed. However this new found "radicalness" (tongue firmly in cheek) came at the expense of the flat out mush/speed generation of the seapea or the TW bar of soap.
Bottom line was to start looking for something that sat between the two with more of the fish's urning ability but still the speed generation the mini simmons excel at.
Manny would be the first to say that very little is new in board design but he does seem to have a talent for adding his own tweak to things that work very well and his family of ASQ (arc swallowtail quad) boards are no exception. Broadly speaking they are a version of the mini simmons platform with a rolled entry and flat rocker but they are narrower than the classic outline with a little more curve. They are quads and the bottom goes from belly into spiral vee instead of a single concave through the fins. The rails are more foiled than a classic simmons also.
All of this adds up to a really fun board that hits the middle ground i was looking at. It generates tonnes of speed in mush - the simmons style belly and the big concaves guaruntee that but the thinner rails and the quad set up along with a narrower curvier template yield a much more responsive board that will go more vertical and wrap through cutbacks much harder/easier than a traditional simmons shape. I think the vee and the quad fins help here too.
Shannon and Vaughn heading out for some small zippers in early spring.
After the great Saunton car park debacle of the end of last year, the new barriers are in but the jury is still out. As of the time of writing its not running that smoothly with the cams failing to read some number plates, especially when the sun is low and big queues at the machines meaning some people are getting charged for extra hours parking because they are queueing for 10 minutes. To be fair, on quieter days the system is working so far.
I hope they get it sorted and crucially put some more pay machines in because things are going to get ugly as the proper summer crowds arrive later this month!
Introducing the new Gulfstream Surfboards Slim Pig!
This one is 9'4 x 17.75 x 23 x 16.25 x 3 Flat rocker, wide point behind centre, a little tail kick, subtle nose concave and a tiny amount of roll in the bottom but really soft, pinched rails the whole length. Its a refined foil and fairl;y slimmed out, its not a chunky pig shape
Designed for a greenough 4a style fin. (This one is a mikey detemple 10 inch but its practically the same as a 4a).
Gulfstream's finishing just gets better with a part polish, geometric cut tail patches and a gold leaf logo.
The idea behind it is moulded from the shapes that people like Devon Howard, Harrison roach, dane Peterson and alex knost have been riding over the last few years and it borrows heavily from a board that Randall of if6was9 shaped that has been my go to log for the last two years. The idea is to get away from a parallel railed noserider that is hard to turn and bring a bit more performance (involvement!) to your surfing without sacrificing the traditional lines on a wave and a loggy feel. Moving the widepoint back does two things. It gives more surface area for the board to lock into the pocket for nose riding and it helps the board rotate under your feet when turning. this coupled with a slimmer fin than a traditional noseriding template means a more manageable board in steeper waves and harder turns when you are cutting back.
Whilst you might think a narrower nose would compromise nose riding ability, in a steeper wave it actually works in your favour by increasing control and allowing the board to get more parallel to the wave. The narrower front end also reduces swing weight which helps your turns once again
We've been lucky to have had some clean summer waves to test it in and Jools has definitely nailed it with this model, believe me it noserides really well, locking in really solidly and with a good trim speed from the nose. It turns superbly too. If you are after something a little different to a saunton foil or something that will cope with faster beachbreak waves, the this is a great choice!
So i've been working on a new log with Jools at Gulfstream ready for summer. More details to come soon - it's going to sit as a model in their range as a nice counterpoint to the saunton foil.
The place in the picture has had a big hand in it's template and the direction my prefered longboard shapes have taken over the last few years, coupled with the worldwide move by loggings stylemakers away from the paralell templated Nuuhiwa style logs and towards those more informed by Pigs, Nat's magic sam, Greenough's 4a template and the Australian involvement movement.
While i was waiting for the superchunk to turn up i got right back into riding my keel fin fishies. Bang on trend obviously since Burch et al are being filmed riding them again. They are super fun boards - not as good at generating speed as the mini sims but much more able to carve a tight line through cutbacks. Even though the boards in the picture are superficially from the same branch of the design tree, they're actually quite different. The larmo on the right is rolled into vee on the bottom with double foiled keels. It's super smooth and flows like liquid along a wave. A real San Diego fish.
The GS 5'6 is more heavily influenced by the fish Chris Christenson makes with much more performance built in. It's skinnier with a deep single concave through the fins, a harder edge in the rail and single foiled keels. It needs more push in the wave but it squirts speed more readily when you pump and allows a muchm more aggressive approach to cutbacks and moves off the top.
New quiver addition 5'4 x 20.5 x 2.5 Mandala Superchunk. Beautiful foil to it like Manny's boards always have. All i need now is for the onshores to die so i can get it wet. I'm hoping its going to have some of that simmons drive mixed with more fish style carving turns without the skateyness of the seapea / bar of soap.
For reasons best known to the gods of Toy cameras, this whole roll came out disappointingly dark and it was only the skills of the guys at Peak imaging that rescued a few shots. This one is from the lot at Doheny. Big pick up trucks and beautiful logs, two of my favorite things about california
Sadly no Somersault Festival to look forward to this year but at least the summer is on the horizon. Hopefully we will get some nice summer swells. ive got a couple of boards on their way, a small slippery type one from Mani Caro at Mandala and a new log from Gulfstream ahoch is the prototype for a new longboard model in their line up. More details to follow!
Santa Cruz is rad. It deserves the hype as a surf town with something for everyone and i really enjoyed the couple of days we spent there. I think i've had a soft spot for it ever since i visited with a skateboard in pre-surfer days twenty odd years ago. Reading Dan Duanes "caught inside, a surfers year on the coast" further ingrained it's appeal in my conciousness. For me it encapsulates a lot of what i like about california. It's a little more "real", quieter and less plastic than some areas further south. The people are friendly, it has a wealth of right hand point breaks. The surrounding coast and countryside are greener and a little more rugged than SoCal, and there are more breaks in the urban continuum along the coast. It feels like an "outdoors" kind of place in the same way that the lake district does over here.
I'd love to go back soon, i could definately live there
The right handers keep coming down Highway 1. This is Mondos which is inside pitas point between Santa Barabara and Ventura. It's probably the closest wave to saunton ive surfed abroad. Really mellow and friendly stoked crowd of older locals and a hefty dose of srf school carnage on the inside. Pitas point itself is i think the longest wave in Ca but it only wakes up in the winter. This inside spot was good for a couple of mornings of trunk based sliding nevertheless!