On Saturday I found myself in the delightful environs of Crackington Haven. The place was brimful with happy beachgoers enjoying the warm early autumnal sun on the beach, but I was on a mission. As the more ardent readers of this North Devonian organ of things skatey and surfy may be aware , I had promised to report back to you my impressions of The European Fish Fry.
The Coombe Barton Inn hosted the gathering in its capacious rooms.Spilling out onto sunbathed terraces, a stones throw from the beach, the bright boards looked as if they had germinated there. It was really well attended by a mixture of middle aged daytrippers, grommets,hipsters, beautiful women, salty types, , industry players and shapers . I’ll leave it to you to decide in which category the reporter falls into. Thrillingly , there were no diversions such as 10 foot high cut outs of a wetsuited Mick Fanning or retro skateboards for those thick of waist and wasted of memory. No, there were only surfboards. Laid out on carpet, leant against walls, placed on boardbags and nestling in blankets. There were no clear lines of delineation between one shapers wares and the next so that each exhibit could be assessed on it’s merits alone. Some shapers marketed their wares with gusto, others were happy to analyse their techniques and designs whilst others traded information furtively amongst themselves.
The diversity of boards was truly impressive. The asymmetricals’ really caught my eye. You can see the bonzer by Alio Farina above. An impressive statement of craftsmanship but I’m left wondering how it would handle well with all those edges?Another take on the asymmetrical was the rounded/square tails of the fish by Will Powered Shapes. I have not seen this approach before and it strikes me as a logical solution particularly for fish boards with fairly wide tails. I’m hoping to meet up with Will to give one a go when he next takes a trip down to this neck of the woods.
Another approach to the fish that really interests me is the hull. Paul of the beautifully crafted Glide boards from Ireland did a valiant job of describing how a Mini Simmons (a type of small hull) surfs. He smelt weakness as I eyed his 5′ 6” purple Simmons…Vicar (see pic for clarification) but some media types interrupted before I could question him more closely on the design principles and the moment (and £365 was lost). If other factors had fallen Paul’s way i.e I had swallowed another pint of Tintagel ales and there was sufficient swell for me to take the Simmons out to play, he would have had a sale. That was the trouble, there was no swell to test the sleds out. 2 or 3 foot of the fairly neutral beach break would have enhanced a great afternoon…ah well there is always next year.
Just as I drained my pint and turned to go I caught some fleeting tones of a man’s west country burred accent, above the bar room hubbub. It seemed familiar to me ..something about ”spiral concave back in the day”. I dismissed it … as it has to be said this was a gathering of people with a somewhat ‘specialist’ disposition, and I overheard many a similar remark during the afternoon.
My mind wandered as I drove back home in the late afternoon.
Could it have been? Surely he is a construct?But I can’t shake off the certainty …I did hear Chief dispersing his wisdom to the assembled cognoscenti of the world of the Fish Fry.