Sunday, April 25, 2010

Desert Island Discs

It’s a relatively simple idea: You’re to be castaway on a desert island, and you must choose the eight records that you can have with you to while away the hours lazing under a palm tree next to the lagoon. Assuming of course that you haven’t smuggled your i-life with you.
This is the format of Britain’s longest-running “celebrity” chat-show which has been on the airwaves for getting on for seventy years - although we’re talking celebrity in the traditional BBC sense of the word; politicians, authors, scientists and the like. BBC Radio 4 is normally the domain of round the clock news, politics, current affairs and the shipping forecast, all delivered in a clipped and controlled Queens English betraying no emotion and harking back to the days when invisible radio announcers nonetheless had to wear dinner jackets to read the news. However for an hour every Saturday it opens itself up to the nostalgic musical tastes of its subjects. It’s the only time you’re ever likely to hear Eminem on Radio 4 (choice of Sir Clive Woodward, former World Cup winning England rugby coach).

So you get eight pieces of music, the complete works of Shakespeare, the Bible and a luxury item washed up on the beach with you. Hell-raising actor Oliver Reed requested an inflatable doll, whilst American author Norman Mailer said he’d take a supply of marijuana. Surely you could grow your own on a tropical desert island though?
Pretty sure I’d take a surfboard, a 6’2”, just on the off-chance that there’d be a smoking reef pass on the edge of the lagoon, like the one in that Tom Hanks movie. I’d guess that there’d be nowhere to develop camera film on a desert island anyway.
Now there is no way I could settle on just eight pieces of music, in fact I reckon I’d struggle with selecting eight albums because I could guarantee that the next day my mood would change and I’d be hankering for Metallica rather than Miles Davis.
Eight memorable waves? Too tough.
Eight memorable sessions? Well, perhaps I could recall and compile a list of my top eight surfs, although surely it has to be a list of seven being that one would have to be your first ever surf; the one that got you hooked on this whole endeavour.
You never know, perhaps your island would have that little kink or gap in the reef that, combined with the prevailing swell direction and trade winds would combine to produce your dream wave. All to yourself. Perhaps seven sessions out there would populate the rest of your list?

It seems to me that surfing is a pursuit that fills our brains with incredible memories, often fleeting periods that are difficult to recall in all of their wonderment as we’re so wrapped up in the moment. Can you really recall that “best wave ever”, in the same stark clarity with which you experienced it, every crystalline detail, droplet and glint of light refracting off the inside of that barrel? It only lasted a few seconds, so why not?

I love lists, but compiling this one is just too hard.
Go on - give it a go yourselves.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Step on the Gas (WA transmission #3)

"How big's your biggest board mate?"
"Um, 6'2"
"OK, I'm bringing down my entire quiver, so there's a bigger board for you and we've got some spares, we should be on for Grunters or big Gas"
Now I know for a fact that Krede has a few 6'6" and 6'8" semi guns in his rack, plus a few boards that are 7' plus for when North Point is breaking (the sort with tails so pointy that it looks like somebody made a mistake at the factory and put fin plugs in the nose). I want nothing to do with this, but keep quiet.
Grunters is a wave that breaks a fair way out and moves ALOT of water, the thing is pretty much backless. It looks ok from the top of the bluff, even kind of friendly, but by the time you've paddled out and have to duckdive through one you realise just how heavy it is and just how much you've underestimated it. It's the full board-breaker.
Gas is an identikit version of it's near neighbour The Box, 2km to the north. It comes out of deep water and hits a shallow shelf, drawing water off the reef in front of it. Below head high the wave pretty much trips over itself and the curve of the face is so concentrated that it's only really rideable by our lie-down cousins on their squishies, and over head high it gets intimidating. To make this wave you have to take off behind the peak and run through the barrel; taking off on the peak or out on the shoulder seem like an easier option until you find yourself being pitched outwards and downwards headfirst with force towards the shallows. Like I said, intimidating.
Thankfully, this day didn't quite live up to the hype - the swell had a bit too much south in it and wasn't wrapping onto the coast properly so I was spared a paddle out at Grunters, and Gas was in the "manageable" overhead range. So there I was sat out at Gas taking the odd wave and not messing up too bad, a few of the locals sat a bit further out waiting for the bigger sets, and I take a look around me. I'm surrounded by 12 year olds. All of a sudden I don't feel like I'm ruling it quite so much as I watch a tiny blonde kid spin around super late and, after 3 paddles, air drop into a wave that is enormous in comparison to all 4ft of him. He disappears from view as the lip pitches out, only to hop over the back way off down the line with poise and style way beyond his years. Keep your eyes out for a kid called Jack Robinson, that boy is going places. Me? I pretty much rode my next wave all the way in, got out and walked up the beach.
Top: A sunset drainer coming through at Gas Reef, Gnarabup, WA, with just one lucky guy left out there.
Second from top: Inside Grunters. It looks nice huh? It ain't.
Third from top: Dino Adrian getting all Larry Layback on the end-section at Karates, Gracetown, WA.
Bottom: Study this one carefully kids. This is how to come off the top, a textbook demonstration by Scott Jardine-Hargraves at Karates.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

WA transmission #2

A week later than advertised thanks to time zone changes, international flights and a 3 metre swell. It's been good to be back though; sunshine and more than a little bit of oomph behind the waves are just a couple of reasons why this all too short trip was a full box ticker.
These images are all archival ones from when I lived out here back in 2005 and 2006 - I got a load of films back from the lab this morning but give me a week to digitize them and sort the wheat from the chaff. On initial inspection there's a few keepers in amongst them, including an absolute drainer coming through at Gas Reef and some good action shots of my mates Mick and Scooter alongside Deano Adrian attacking lips Down South. Check back soon hey.
Until then, from the top on down:
The way home from work; Wise Winery, Eagle Bay, Dunsborough.
Rottnest Island, home to the funny little half rat/half kangaroo like Quokka, and some heaving slabs if you can get your mitts on a boat or ski.
"Every year Scarborough steals a load of our sand and calls it a surf spot..." Mick Jardine taking it home for Trigg Point Boardriders in the 2006 WA Surf League.
Karri trees, Boranup Forest, Margaret River.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Way out West

Back to the programme. I'm meant to be throwing up surf and travel photos and it's been a few weeks since a photo of a wave made it on here, so time to change all that. I landed in Perth, West Australia a couple of nights ago, just in time for the wedding of some good friends of mine (congratulations Anna and Mick, it was a beautiful day) and now I've got a week to catch some waves and spend time with friends.
The West coast of Australia is big and remote, edged with ancient limestone reefs and long beaches. Big storms from the roaring forties send swells spinning off up this coast on their way to Indonesia, and the waves that break here as thy drag up the coast are some of the rawest and most powerful on the planet. Pretty humbling and the joint breeds a certain type of understated hard charging surfer, comfortable and competent in just about anything aquatic.
So far, a few days in I've had a few surfs at Trigg Point in Perth, possibly one of the most crowded metropolitan waves anywhere but managed to snag a few thanks to the generosity of the ruling TPB boys. I couldn't buy a wave this morning but, just spent a few hours banging elbows with crew. But Down South is where it's at, and where I'm aiming for.....a few missions planned and a 3 meter swell is forecast for next weekend which is pleasantly intimidating.
The only problem being that one of my camera lenses in in two bits post-wedding (it looks like I tried to drop kick the thing, pretty upsetting) so I'm going to be standing a long way back with a telephoto lens for the next week, and my new board is lost in transit somewhere on it's way over from the Goldie. I'll do my best to get some shots in between, before and after surfs, and I'll try to find a computer and update you all next Sunday, let you know just how that swell pans out.

The top image is from 3 Bears, just underneath Cape Naturaliste and is a rare boiling right running off Mama's. As the name would suggest, this stretch of reef has three waves of varying size; Baby's, Mama's and Papa's.

The shot below is by Perth photog Mike Maxted and is of my friend Ryan Thomas on what's being hyped as one of the best days at Trigg Point in the past decade, just a couple of weeks ago. Off the top of the point and eyeing up the mental slalom course coming his way. I told you this place gets crowded...