I spotted this on the inspirational MR’s blog.’This photo was taken at Merewether Beach in the early 1990′s. ‘I am riding a 6’2″ 20 1/4″ by 2 3/4″ Twin Fin. ‘

This has gotten the grey cells racing. Mr Richards is one of the truly great performance surfers of all time. He surfed on ,and still does,  boards of dimensions (thickness and width) that would just make the current performance surfer smile.Surely the logs that he surfs on do not have the facility to  feel out the wave face as your typical 6’0″ 18 1/4″ by 2 3/8 shortboard does today? Of course MR is a shaper of great repute too. Would another shaper be able to produce a board for a surfer of significantly less ability that would perform?

I’m going to find out….when I have some spare cash.


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Ever since I became aware of these sculpted curiosities I have idly wondered how these miraculous vessels perform. Are they a ritual sacrifice to the creative ego’s of their shapers or are they the specialist’s scalpel to dissect waves of rare quality with? For now at least, I will just have to keep wondering.

Reasons Why Poms Should Not Surf

Robert Lenkiewicz 2

Fellow blogger, talented teller of a yarn, surf savant and all round good bloke Mr Peter Bowes recently set out this challenge. I summoned up all my negativity and dived in. The old guy was right . It did hurt.

It’s done now.Over to you Peter.

  1. It is very cold.
  2. Large parts of the coastline get no swell.
  3. You cannot surf and smoke a pipe at the same time.
  4. The predominant winds are onshore in the most popular surfing areas.
  5. Our skin suffers blocthiness, burning and peels when the sun shows.
  6. You cannot get kegged in two foot wind swell.
  7. There is a ‘seaside culture’.
  8. Other nations drop in on us when we travel.
  9. Pom’s chuck their wax wrappers on beaches, in lay bys, on the streets and down any hole they can find.
  10. The wind doth blow.
  11. The motorway network.
  12. Poms have a poor competitive record against other nations.
  13. There are more banks in most high streets than on some of our beaches.
  14. It is very cold.
  15. Putsbourgh.
  16. Our ‘North Shore’ is near the Arctic Circle and is dark and covered with snow for a portion of the year.
  17. Our lady surfers are encased in black rubber for most of the year. (Some of our ex public school boy surfers see this as a bonus).
  18. Ireland is ‘in the way’.
  19. A Pom pisses in his wetsuit out of necessity, not pleasure.
  20. The activity is done standing up.
  21. It is very cold.
  22. Beach side carpark attendants who collect even when you have got in for the early before work.You know who you are!
  23. Pollution on an epic scale.
  24. Evil crowds from the Smoke and other inland places.
  25. Peer pressure.
  26. A world shortage of tweed wetsuits.
  27. The summer months are characterized by only more rain.
  28. There is more chaffing in these islands.
  29. The Bournemouth artificial reef.
  30. Few world class breaks.
  31. Pom’s do n’t support and value their shapers (enough).
  32. British Summer Time (BST). We live in enforced darkness for evening upon evening.
  33. It is very cold.
  34. Too few river mouth breaks.
  35. Our surf brands are ‘domestic’.
  36. The liquor at the bottom of a Pom’s wet suit bucket typically contains-rainwater, urine (human and animal), cow dung. sand,wax, mud and dead plant matter.
  37. The ocean is rarely blue and clear in many locations.
  38. Dowdy seaside resorts.
  39. The coast (east coast) with the preponderance of quality reef breaks has a small swell window.
  40. Unskilled canoeists.
  41. It’s not an activity for the obese.
  42. It is very cold.
  43. Combined sewer overflows.
  44.  An English man’s home is his ipod/bmw/alcho pop/soap opera/x-box/wii/ready meal/super market/government scheme/fast food joint/x factor/smart phone.
  45. The UK has less sunshine hours than Oregon.
  46. Few skate pools/bowls close to beaches.
  47. RNLI – beach safety through the power of PR and the waverunner. What was that bump?
  48. Too many grumpy old surfers.
  49. It’s very cold.
  50. It’s very cold.

Painting of tramp by Robert Lenkiewicz.


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It’s three days shy of a  year and a hundred posts since this blog rolled into digital existence. The original idea was  to write the odd vignette and supplement with photos and commentary when the muse,Demelza, had other things on her mind. Yes, you are right she has either gone on a long surf trip or decided there are more receptive surfer/skaters out there.

Motivations for this strangely  obsessive activity have always been kept firmly locked away in the cupboard daubed ”embarrassingly self referential introspection”.

Like most locked cupboards though it is just too tempting not to take a peek inside. The creaky butt hinges and the peeling paint to the cupboard doors give a clue to the history of these hidden items. A musty smell wafts from the interior.The odours of perishable memories blend with still intact but shelf worn fantasy. The background tang of reality makes the aroma not unpleasing to the nostrils for some.The puzzling thing is that the cupboard is empty for the most part. A few objects catch the eye. The boards are leant in a corner  colours faded from ding repairs, coping worn, muddy and slathered with dirty wax. They have seen some action and will take it’s rider on more adventures yet. Even that yellowing clear 7′ 6” gun, hung from the rafters, is only resting, waiting for the day to revisit it’s Basque river mouth homeland. On the dusty floor is some yellowed notebook paper. The paper is ruled in the way that school exercise books used to be. The pages are liberally dotted with ink blots and creased but each side is covered with clumsily formed fountain pen script. It is the writing of an unengaged youth. Scrawled under dim lights whilst looking out of the window where real and imagined things are happening without him.The possibility of endless adventure ignored inside because of the bland two dimensional appearance of exercise book paper. The detritus of the modern man/child is distributed along the other walls. There are wetsuits bright enough for a clown, technical bikes shrouded in dirt and a Banksie picture covered in cellophane carelessly placed next to the spare parts.  It is a quiet place, unenhanced from the intrusions of friends and family.

So much for motivation. Demelza, I’m coming to find you!

The Crack

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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.

A Cracking Good Fry Up?

I think I ‘ll take a look at the Fish Fry later on in the month. Crackington Haven is not far over the Devon border. There are some nooks and crannies down there that are worth a look if there is some swell around. I’m not sure what to expect. Will I meet the cast from the Morning of the Earth or will Chief be the main attraction?  Expect a report (and some photos of questionable quality :Ed).

In Defence yer Honour

The previous post with ‘The Shaper’ by the excellent Crayfish Films has me still smiling now. I have bumped into enough shapers to recognise the multitude of the traits displayed by ”Chief” as being very far from unique.

Whilst giggling to myself (you have to stop doing that, its disturbing:Ed) I got a twinge. It’s hard to describe the precise feeling, only it felt foreign and appeared without any apparent stimulus. A discussion with my wife and then an examination of the circumstances suggested that it may be something called ‘guilt’. Clearly self knowledge is not my forté.

I’ll explain. At least once a year for the past 13 years I have asked Jools Mathews  to make me a board. My request is usually followed by a sketch, detailed dimensions on length, thickness, width(s) and fin placement and description of the desired bottom curve.You get the picture. He is asked to do as he sees  fit as far as the rails go and of course he is instructed the board must work. He always greets the commission with the air of a shaper being asked to make a board for Slater’s next Hawaiian season. He is unfailingly friendly and always cheerful whilst taking instruction from someone who he knows for sure does not exactly surf like Mr Slater and whose grasp on board design is most perceptibly severely limited in scope. The most amazing thing is though a few weeks later he shapes me a board that has all the requisite dimensions and works too. Never a dud in 13 years. On top of all this  he always does me an excellent deal. In fact a while ago he made me a beautiful 7′ 0″ quad semi-gun. It looked so good that I was tempted to take it out immediately to Downend Point. The conditions were lets say… unsuitable. Within 15 minutes I had been tumbled by a wave and my brand new leash snapped. I spotted the board headed for the infamous gullies as I surfaced. It then disappeared for 24 hours only to make a reappearance in the gullies in less than pristine condition. It was a write off. Now many a shaper would privately rub his hands together when news of an event such as this reached him. Not Jools, all I got was genuine sympathy and a new board at cost.

Jools Mathews is a a prince among shapers and a hugely skilled one at that.If a Gulfstream board of any type might interest you click on the Jools logo above to take you to things Gulfstream. Better than that visit their shop in Braunton and tap into Skelly’s vast knowledge of all things surfing.

There I feel better now. That weird feeling has disappeared.Now , when is my wedding anniversary?