Sunday, 19 February 2012

MONSTERS tries to kill me - again!

Monsters. I have a love hate relationship with this place, by that I mean I love her - she hates me. Maybe she felt neglected because I've not surfed her much this year. That's not my fault it's hers - she hasn't worked.
So when Luke Young of Luke Young Surfboards fame called and said "It's going offshore and the swell is all west at 12 seconds" - It was a no brainer. Monsters. The tides were perfect, the wind had gone. It's a bastard long paddle, but from the cliff it looked epic. Except the odd wave would just freight train down the reef at super speed. Twice this happened while I watched and it sent a chill up my spine. 'Dont go for any big wide sets' I told myself. As long as I kept my spot and didn't get sold into one of the bigger, churning pretending to be make-able barrels. I do love a barrel though.
Monsters... evil to the bone. Would you?

We paddled out, Luke and Wot being a stand up and bodyboarder respectively, ran and jumped off the cliff and got there first. Wot on his bodyboard took off on a mutant, but it guillotined. A two wave beat down. He actually stood up on the reef and threw himself under the third. It looked savage. He sprint paddled to the rip and looked flustered. Red flag 1 then. The tide was a lot lower than I thought it was.
My first wave was good, crazy speed, a bit of chop but no real problems. My second wave much the same. I'd say the swell had a bit more South in it because the odd wave came through and warped, then exploded. Followed not long by a wide one. But the wide ones with their open, cavernous barrels looked make-able from here in the water. Weren't they? So a hour passes, I'm getting some crazy good cover ups. Monsters is a violent but a short ride. And those wide ones were looking good. It had been a while since one shut down the reef. The tide had pushed and maybe the wide ones were getting more make-able.

There was a big lull, the waves turned off for a while and there was nervous chit-chat amongst the three of us. There we sat. Then off in the distance, the texture of the ocean changed. A set was storming in toward the reef, and it was a big one. A big wide one. Now I know I should have sprinted over it. I didn't though, I swung and paddled for it. The wide ones were stupid fast, I'd maybe four paddle strokes and I was already looking down a vertical face. It looked perfect, I knifed in my rail, my ski was designed for this place.  Every wide set had a big barrel that looked like as long as you high-line it, you would make it out. I cane off the bottom, throwing an arking bottom turn to scrub off some speed, and set myself up on the wall of the wave, that erupted into a big, wide cylinder of water. I set my rail again and everything looked fine from inside my watery room. For a while anyway. Just like from up on the cliff, and what I'd not noticed in the water watching them, this wave was crazy fast, and my bottom turn to set up the tube spelling doom for me. I was getting deeper and deeper inside the wave, sat atop a ball of foaming water. I threw my weight forward to eek out a bit more speed but it didn't help, a huge wall of water was going to collapse on me, over rock, covered by only three foot of water.
The wave that tried to kill me - started as a god barrel...

Everything went dark. I braced for impact. The wave smashed down so hard my head hit my knees, for a split second there was a floating sensation as the wave sucked me up to it's roof to throw me hard against the reef. I couldn't work out which way was up or down. I hit the reef hard. Invisible forces were trying to rip my ski off me and trying to tear my paddle from my hands. I hit again. I felt my ski  slam into the rock, then my back, my head then the ski again. I tried to shift my blade to protect my face and that too smashed into the reef. In the confusion and pain, it felt like my hands where touching each other like I was holding shears. I can feel my ski getting eaten alive by the reef and my lungs are  throwing compulsions like they are trying to punch out of my chest and swim for air. Just as violently as it started, the wave let me go. fortunately, it flipped me upright. I looked at my paddle and it was bent at a right angle, The nose of my ski pretty much gone, and another wave was about to give me a water version of a prison rape. I rolled and tucked up again. Boom, again I hit the reef, my head scraped along rock, the ski crunched again. I could only get a tiny gulp of air. This was bad. The hold down was savage. On and on. I could taste blood. Finally, I was blasted off the reef. I unbuckled expecting my ski to be in bits, but considering the violence upon it, it was in bloody good shape considering. I'd say James ASCCwipeout was. I drove home, walked through the door to a house of strangers. So confused and concussed, I walked into the house I owned six moths ago!  So off to Hospital for me. Another tooth broken, a bit of bruising on the brain, but apart from the dead equipment, another lucky escape.
Vomit from mouth - blood from ears, ski eaten by Monsters

A new crank angle? and buckled ski!

She will kill me one day. She breaks so infrequent that you can never really ever know her. And, those evil, destructive waves sell themselves well. They look so perfect. And they are - at destroying all that try to conquer them. Till next time monsters!

Monday, 20 June 2011

The British Championships: Utter crap can be so much better then excellent…

The British championships were on, finally, this weekend (18th June). And, as expected, the God of surf didn't play us a good hand. Howling 28mph wind and small, rubbish surf. Giving us the best contest ever. Confused? Well, it's a bit like a Chuck Norris movie. They are utter crap, just awful. You wouldn't watch one on your own. But if you had a group of mates over, and a few beers, you'd all watch it and laugh your asses off.

8am - there were waves out there. Miles out there
The howling wind, had everyone hunched under the tent and everyone just goofed, told tales and laughed. My abs are killing me and I don't know if it's from trying to paddle out countless times or from laughing. Pete Kane was on form. We all laughed at his tale of not remembering the location of the secret hiding please for the key to his brothers house. So they all had to sleep in their vans… But at 4am Pete woke up and remembered where it was!. We all laughed as I skewered my thumb trying to fix a quad belt. I laughed too as I tried to stem the bleeding. We even laughed as I found out it wasn't rain that made my jacket wet, Sam Jone's Jack Russell had pissed on it.

You see, when the surf is good, people get competitive. Isolate themselves from the group, put headphones on and get into 'heat' mode. Groups of people who know each other break off into little splinter groups and it can feel team vs team. Sort of South vs North vs Wales. Performances begin to matter. Saturday, we all just hung out and it was brilliant. Spending time and enjoying the company of people you realise you've only facebooked with, Such as Shaun Holmes. What a first rate dude.

Aside from the good company, there was a lot to be proud of. The quality of the ski's was brilliant. I know it sounds snobby, but in years gone by, contests were held with only a handful turning up, and often tatty old ski's that looked like it could have been Jesus's first ski. If anyone happened to turn up from TV, sports council or even the ASP, we'd be able to puff our chests out with pride. Jem's Ski's with intricate artwork as beautiful as ever. Pete's uber-cool Barbarit RTM. Stunning finished Pro-designs and a flete of spectacular weapons from the Scientist, James Hawker at future Waveski's. So many different shapes, rockers, widths, designs. No one could say we were the poor cousin of any sport.

Quality and quantity

As for the performance. It was savage out there. Beatings a plenty. For the first time in 30 years of waveski surfing, I actually got flipped… by the wind! Not a wave - the wind just flipped me over. The good thing was, we all got into the spirit. Taking the piss, laughing at each other. I even said to James Hawker that if he managed to get out the back I'd eat a shit. As in a dog shit. Now, I was supposed to bring 2 or 3 ski's with me. As my car was broken, the rental the garage gave me I could only fit one ski in. I had agreed to bring the big wave ski as it'd be easy to paddle out on, and James wanted to use it if it was windy. Was it windy… yes. Did I bring it? No. I brought a tiny 19" wide ski. James had his tiny 19" wide ski. Much to my utter disappointment, james did make it out the back, and after his heat, Elaine told me he was off to find a shit for me to eat!

James struggling to get back 6kg ski vs 28mph wind. This just before he searched for my shit-snack!

As for the contest itself. It was a bit of a shame we couldn't show up and blow up. The waves were rubbish. I thought, from the early rounds the gold was going to go to Mark Trise, but he was more unlucky than the rest with the waves. Last time I saw him on his wavemaster was a year ago, and he looked a bit awkward on it - he still had the 'new ski wobble' but he was looking mighty in the contest. Twice I saw him take off, finding loads of speed, wind a big bottom turn and the wave just faded. Had it held up, he'd have smashed it. Also, Steve Tickle. He does this thing we now call 'the Tickle-turn'. He paddles for a wave way too far out on the shoulder. You think he's going to blow it or do a softie, but he does this weird semi cut back into the pocket, to a bottom turn that looks really cool. I watched him do the same thing on a biggish day at a South Coast secret spot. It looks so stylish.

Sam Jones - with quad, and a bastard of a paddle to come
I managed to watch Jem catch probably the wave of the day in our final, but I was so exhausted, I just sat and watched. Then the wind caught my paddle and smashed it into my face. Jem took much delight at that. I could see him laughing as he surfed past. The usual suspects were as talented as expected, but conditions didn't allow the show we all wanted. Kieron Davies looked like his new ski and him would be spectacular. KD's not much of one too talk up is talent, he lets his surfing do that. So if he excited about the new ride - expect something big!

The Legands.
There were four guys, who with out doubt are total legends. These are as follows:

Pete O'kane: Judged the whole contest, battered by the wind and rain. Ran the length of the beach to update the boards. Apologised time and time again for the waves and was too busy to see everyone was loving it.  Never stopped providing the laughs and the scoring. A solid gold dude.

Steve Chivers: Steve did so much too keep all happy. Don't let Steve fool you, he may have a casual way about him, but he is super competitive. He loves to win. Yet, he gave up his time to check everyone was ok, enjoying themselves. Even getting into the water late for his heat as he'd run around to get food for us all. Now, a special thanks to Steve and Pete. Pasties were on the menu, me being a veggie, I only mentioned that I'd not eat one. Would have been easy for Pete and Steve to think 'Tough - go with out' but no, they tuned up with Pizza's. Not one, but two, as they overheard that Denzil too was a veggie. He even provided coupons for a couple of free beers each. That is going the extra mile. That is why it was such a great day - cos they cared. Chiv's is a legend for good reason.

Chris Skardon: Keeping it running, keeping us informed. All the emails. The judging, he never stopped running over to who's lost/won/updates... back to judge. We'd not have been together if not for Skarsy.

Thirdly Denzil: Epic fella. Turned up, just to help and judge. Out in the wind rain, sorting scoring etc. None of us offered to judge as much as we could have, issued preferring the shelter of the tent, the food and the good times. Denzil explained the judging to some, to others who and why they were scoring, and was excellent company. His contest in September will be epic, and this is one dude who deserves for it to be well attended.

Dreadding the paddle!!

I only have two regrets. firstly missing faces. Rudi was sorely missed. He does so much for the sport and is such an epic dude. You'd not have been bummed so much at the lack of surf had Rudi been there. He seems to bring sunshine and good moods with him. He'd laugh and go out no matter how shit. It did seem as though something was missing without him. The other, Adrian 'Thorny' Thorn. He'd not believe how much he was spoken about in his absence. I was looking forward to the 'Copp and Thorn' show. A very sarcastic dude, and he's have made some legendary remarks had he'd been there. Conversations like 'Thorn called it right', I could see him having it empty and offshore at home. Not a fan of contests, but is presence even if not competing is needed. Him and Pete Copp are one of the things you look forward too. Seeing their little squabbles and fights. We've even considered getting a sticker made up, a bit like the Christians W.W.G.D (What would God Do) with W.W.T.D (What would Thorny Do). Thorny has become the unofficial barometer as to if to go out n surf!

Secondly, that it was only one day. As shit as the surf was, the time I had was epic. I'd do it every weekend. I was in such a shitty mood on the way home as I had to go to a  wedding and would rather have stayed and gone for drinks, the company was so good. It's just solid - a group of true dudes. I even had one of my famous 'Hulk' angry episodes as the surf was so bad, nobody gave a shit or judged me. South Coaters know I'm angry white trash - the rest of you might have thought I was nuts. Seems most you all knew about my shouty-ness. 

So back to my Chuck Norris film analogy. It's not the film that's good, you laugh cos of who you watched it with. Maybe if the film was good you'd all sit in silence and watch. Maybe if the surf was epic it wouldn't have been as much fun? Sometimes, shit can be better than good. You can look up who won. But as far as I'm concerned, we were all winners. For those of you who didn't or couldn't go. You don't know what your missing.
Next time - show up n blow up!

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Mr. Complex... James Hawker

Autistic? Mult-personality disorder? There is something going on with James Hawker. Spend some time with him, and I mean  'time' with him, get past that smiley, appearance, and you soon realise there is a lot going on in that head of his. First time I got a hint of this, the mayhem boys had rocked up at a fave spot of mine. From the cliff looking down it was a solid 5 foot, offshore and cranking. Grinding lefts, firing off a shallow bank. I'm jumping up and down and clapping, like the kid from the 'Make a Wish Foundation' at Disneyland. All excited. James however, was silently looking down on the bank. He had tuned out  'Rage Against the Machine' blaring from my car's stereo, and was observing, assessing and downloading data. Next thing, he is suited up and heading down the path first. His focus as such that he doesn't mean to be anti-social, just that his brain has 'locked on' like a heat seeking missile, to the job in hand.

Between sets, we all have a laugh and a chat. James switches personalities between 'chatty mate' to 'wave assassin' and back. It being spring tides, the waves pushed over the bank, getting fuller and less rippable. Those who know me will tell you, I have only two emotions, angry or idiot. And as soon as the waves stopped being perfect, I just wanted to reach up and tear the sky apart I was so pissed off. The only guy having fun was James. This is what he had assessed from the cliff. Like the bit in the Matrix where Neo downloads skill sets, James turns off,' Top to bottom waveski attack, and turns on 'Old-school, big carve' style. Gone is the 'off the bottom-to invert air', now there is the 'gun it down the line, and pull long drawn out gouges'. You would swear it was two different people surfing, so contrasting was the styles. It gets more frustrating. When the waves get too full and we get out, James goes up to his van and gets out the weirdest looking Kayak I have ever seen, and continues to carve it up for a further two hours, as we all sat and watched from the cliff. Proof enough that his approach to technology, materials and design are a marriage between intelligence and raw talent. That and the fact he drove us, so all we could to was watch... and vandalize his van.

We are hanging out at 'Boneyards' The not so secret loading bay area at the back of the Future Factory, where James leaves odd projects, ideas and all number of strange stuff. We are working on Project X, an idea for a shape I have had for over 10 years. I have discussed this with many a shaper, surfboard and Ski maker alike, and have met the same resistance, head scratching and a "Well, why don't you just go narrower or more V?" James came back with, and I kid you not, "It can be done if we shift 12% more volume to the tail and spread the surface area at the rails by 8% allowing the X shape..." percentages? This guy wasn't guessing, he had concrete answers, and diagrams for evidence. The backbone being a revolutionary lightweight construction method, that to date, is still a research project!

I love this place - the 'Boneyard' at the back of the shaping bays, lamination units, the lab is the loading bay - full of some of the most important DNA of waveski surfing - Go-Fast Gee boards, Christo's Smashed up Future's - custom Kayaks.

James is like that drawer in your kitchen that is full to overflowing with stuff. All useful, any thing you need is there. The longer you delve into this drawer and pull out bits and look at them, the clearer the picture becomes. See, James isn't just a talented surfer (Ranked No. 4 in the world at the time of writing) . James is also a professional composites engineer, and works with advanced composites every day . He has a fascination with design and attention to detail, that can only be called Autistic. Yet, seeing him in the shaping bay, you are convinced he is a craftsman. Each ski hand cut from a solid block, . ". According to James, it's not till you are working with the shape, watching it take shape in your hands, that you can make the subtle adjustments and improvements that can't be done without hands on finishing. I watched him spend over an hour sanding barely noticeable tweaks into the rails of my board. Each ski is organic in it's construction, and every single one is  unique. Templates are refined for each and every ski- no “standard” shapes here. James stresses how much tiny changes affect performance. He must have 20 different templates on the bench from which he takes measurements and combines ideas. You wouldn't believe how long he takes to shape. Just when you get bristly and do the 'Hurry up visit' - you see your creation and it all makes sense. But this behavior contradicts the scientist James. Who labors over materials, new developments, even developing totally new construction techniques like the ASCC system. So you can have a pro-light ski, with near the strength of a standard ski (mine weighs a little over 4kg!). He cannot settle on the fact that pro-light has to be delicate and far less durable than standard. It doesn't make sense to him and he will not let it rest till he has the answer. Everything from his engineering background pushes the design.

A little sneak image into top-secret land. One of the Shaping bays. Here James is making another custom Kayak for some guy in the USA - a pin-tail rocket ship.

A workaholic - enjoying his vice

 I asked him for a brief explanantion of the ASCC system and as usual James lost me in the detailed explanation within seconds mumbling something about ballistics research...quasi-static loads...dynamic effects... in-plane properties...through thickness properties...flexural modulus...Thanks James, and in English? I finally managed to get a layman's explanation out of him- “think snow shoes, the ASCC is the snow shoe and the foam blank is the soft, crumbly snow- the ASCC spreads the impact pressure over a larger area and doesn't crush the foam. The clever part is doing this  whilst keeping weight to a minimum”
Pete contemplates the un-breakable? James illustrating the Pro-light and ASCC, a sub 4kg ski - he picks it up from the nose and swings it like a bat!

So, do these multiple personalities clash. Yes. Thankfully Elaine is on hand to keep the many James from Fighting. But it does still happen. I have seen a Ski, almost finished, smashed up, because he felt it could be better, his factory is littered with ideas that he won't sell because he has already thought of a way of improving them further, I have had calls at close to 3am, as he is still in his factory, working on a new idea that will make a ski lighter,faster,have flex, more buoyant and thus shorter. He takes calls from respected surfboard makers on developments, and from engineers across the world. He will sit for hours looking at a finished shape, you think he is analyzing it, but he is just enjoying it. Most think this is all new, but he has been shaping and making for over 10 years. Then you see him take off late, on a big closeout death wave, launch off the top, on a never-gonna-make-it move. You then have to wonder where the crazy James fits with the craftsman James, the Scientist James and the Curren-esque thoughtful James. All I know is, he is exceptionally talented at all that he does. In a spooky kinda way.
It is interesting to get an insight into the science being applied to James' skis- hence the 'weapons grade waveski' I just hope to hell he isn't snapped up to develop weapons that aren't for surfing. Because they would be VERY good! Does explain why the company is called Future though!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Surfing essentials - top turns

Top turns along with the bottom turn are the foundations of surfing. After the bottom turn, it is the next move you need to master. The top turn is the move that allows you set up turns, store or release speed, but more importantly, it lets to link up the pockets of power along a wave. Helping yo to make mushy sections, ride a wave for longer and perform bigger moves. The top turn is also where you start to build on your moves, getting more radical. However, top turns seem to be the number one cause of snapped noses and folded ski's and kayaks. As a result, we've had a lot of requests for the next move on the blog being top turns.

Firstly, a top turn is a turn on the face of the wave, the nose doesn't extend out over the top of the wave, if it does, it becomes a re-entry or an off-the-lip.

Lets look at a traditional top turn:

1.You have dropped in on a wave, you can see a steeper wall ahead. A perfect area to set up some speed, for a bigger move further along the wave...

2. Perform a bottom a bottom turn, with your weight forward and your inside rail buried. You can see I am looking up at the walling section that will catapult me forward...

  3. As you approach the spot, keep your eye on the spot, but start to release your inside rail to a flat plane. Start moving your weight to the centre of the ski (rather than the front) to allow the fins to do their job. The idea is you will have all youe speed and are ready to engage the outside rail...

4. As you hit the spot, start your turn early so that you can keep the speed you have gained. Lean over toward the outside rail. You will be using the outside edge of the rail as rocker, so start to insert this rail and use only a little bit of paddle...

5. Your outside rail inserted, start trowing your weight over your feet. Your aim here is to keep your momentum. At this point, you should have spotted where your next turn will be, often a spot for another bottom turn, top turn combination. As soon as your nose comes around in the turn, get ready to engage your inside rail again...

6. Turn completed, you should have lots of speed and well set up for your next move, and ready to blast off the bottom again.

Here is another example of a top turn on a crap wave. 
You can see that the wave fattens out so it backs-off and gets slow. You can see the same as described above, using the outside rail and a small use of paddle to keep the speed, setting up moves further down the wave:

Putting style in it...
Top turns in contests are what can turn a 6.5 wave into a 7.5. A couple of well placed turns add points, and shows you know where the power pockets are. You could take off, go down the line and wait till the lip presents itself, but that ain't surfing! You can make a top turn into quite a cool move.

Take a look at this little video of some top turns (sorry the quality is crap - but you don't usually film top turns!)

First one - blowing out the tail: You can turn later and insert too much outside rail. As long as you have speed, this will break your tail out off the top of the wave while still allowing you to set your inside rail. You can see I am looking at where I want to be next, so this has set up a move nicely.

Second - top turn into a cut-back. Here you can see there is a very small pocket of speed. A nice drop soon opens out to a slow fat face. Yet, you can see further down the wave it walls up again allowing a close out move. So here the top turn is performed with even more outside rail, snapping the nose around by pulling hard on your feet while forcing your ass into your seat, turning you 180 degrees. The idea being to set you up in the power pocket when you need it, to connect with the inside. Big snaps will stall the ski for a split second, allowing you to set up your next turn.

Third - set up and 'exclamation mark' move. Here is probably the worst footage yet the best example of using top turns. Lets face it the wave is crap, slow an short area of speed, and if you do make the section, the wave is going to close out. OK its not very exciting, but is functional, the first top turn sets up the next move as described earlier. An exclamation mark move is the one you do at the end of a wave. Usually a big air in the close out, or a massive re-entry. On slow, close out crappy waves you can add some style. You can perform your top turn, but instead of trying to use it for speed to set up a move, it is your move. Here I set way too much outside rail, with my weight over the tail (rather than over my feet). Similar to blowing out the tail, but as it's a close out, you can over extend the turn, letting the tail slide. This can be a fun way to end a crap wave, but in doing so you need to sink the nose to throw the tail, as the tail spins it will release the nose.

That all seems easy enough - where does the damage come from?
The danger comes from where the turn is done, and not committing to the move. Before you perform your turn, you need to be sure, is it functional? Is this turn to set up another turn, or is it the final move itself? Top turns are at the steepest part of the wave. If you are using your top turn as a set up, don't over extend your turn. Remember to release your inside rail early and get into a neutral plane (no.3) and be ready to throw your weight forward while inserting your front inside rail. You want to let the ski do the work and it's inside rail act as the rocker. You need the confidence the ski will do it's job. If you turn and don't re-engage the inside rail, the volume of the ski means the tail can drift up the face, the nose can dive... right in the steepest, most powerful part of the wave. Turning too far on a set up turn can do the same thing - drive your nose into the beach.

If a exclamation move, make sure you pull your nose in hard and keep your weight over the tail. Keeping your weight over the tail will ensure you release the outside rail while releasing the nose. You will slightly invert, so that when you pull up on your feet, the tail will slide, its momentum will sink the nose, but it's momentum will release the nose again so that the tail and inside rail do the work. Naturally, as you complete the move your weight will be over the nose again.

Here is another little video. Again, sorry its crap, but it is an enlargement to show weight position and rail placement. Oh, and it is a off the lip rather than a top-turn but the technique is the same!


Sunday, 14 November 2010

Take off - setting a rail...

OK, Thanks for all your kind words - glad you loved the paddle out technique section. Hope to do more as time rolls on. I have had a lot of emails from those new to ski's, in particular about nose diving, or 'pearling'. Oddly - I had a neat little bit of vid I've uploaded that should help.

Rail drops
The answer it's all about setting a rail, and how much rail you set (by set, we mean, the rail nearest to the wave, and how much you bury in the wave. Oddly, we can learn a lot form watching longboard surfers... no, really, we can.  If you take off on a steep wave straight, because of the volume of a waveski's tail (and surfyak) the tail will drift, putting pressure on the nose - this will dig in, and disaster comes next.
However, you can take off late and enjoy steep drops. If you watch a longboard, they take off parallel to the wave. As long as you set your rail in deep, you don't even need to paddle, just let the drop do the work.

1. Angle your ski almost alongside the wave, near side on. Keep your weight only slightly back. You are trying to keep your weight over the fins, so they stop you slipping. Let the vertical section of the wave got you going - you will notice I don't paddle at all

It's all about confidence and the knowledge that the ski will do it's job...

2. As you drop and pick up speed, release the inside rail, this will let the nose of the ski drift out. From here you can adjust your weight by leaning back, should you want to crank a tight bottom turn, or forward, if looking to make a fast section or looking for a tube. As you are going along the wave and not just 'down' the wave, you won't nose dive

Benefits: This is a very handy technique for reef's and tube riding. But it also has a big benefit on slack 'summer' waves. You can take off where there is lots of speed. And like on the video, the wave has no shoulder and all the speed disappears, you can use a rail drop to give you all the speed you need to do some OK turns. ON this I use the speed to perform a roundhouse cut back, so you rebound off the soup, and keep in the pocket.
Hope you like! Should help some of you Florida boys!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Duck-dive, rolling and the Vortex

OK, the most common questions I get asked, how do you paddle through big white water, or punching through waves. There is a lot of misunderstanding between punching, duck diving and rolling under/vortex method. All three couldn't be further apart, yet each is important if you want to master waveski surfing and maximise your fun each surf.

Starting with the punch-through.
This is for small to medium size waves, on a wave about to break and is timing critical. Get it wrong and you can hurt your shoulders and neck. This is HARD to do on a large or intimediate ski, as you need to be able to sink the nose under the water while paddling (to see if you can do this - simply throw your weight forward over your feet, paddle hard and see if the nose dives).

1. As the wave is about to break, sprint up to the face and sink your nose about one third up the face of the wave.

2. AS you punch through, keep your head down to protect your neck and set your paddle in deep. Pull hard on your paddle shaft to aid you punching through the wave. As soon as yo emerge out the back... paddle.... fast so you don't get sucked over the falls.

click to enlarge

Next - Duck Dive vs Vortex. I get asked what is the vortex? which is best. The answer is they are completely different and for differing situations. Duck Dive's are for close out, medium to large waves, waves about to break on you. The idea is you go under and pop up, paddling, quickly. The vortex is more damage limitation on big to massive, close-out, monsters of white water coming for you.

Duck Dive
A wave is about to break, it's too steep to go over it. Vortexing it will result in you getting dragged back, and if this is an impact zone - you don't want this. You want to get under the wave and upright again, as soon as possible. The key difference between the vortex and the duck dive is on the vortex your weight is forward to sink the nose, on the duck dive your weight is back to raise the nose.

1. Sprint toward the wave. Similar to the punch-through. Sink the nose at the base of the wave, or if bigger, about a third up the wall.

2. As your nose sinks, roll over. Key to the move is to roll flat, with your weight/head over the tail of the ski. Throwing your weight over the back will raise the nose (a bit like a stand-up surfer does with his knee of foot while duck diving). The idea here is to use your speed you sink the nose. While under the wave, as your weight goes over the tail of the ski, your nose will lift. The idea being that the wave will roll over you.

3. As the motion of the wave on you starts to subside/slow. Use it's momentum, start your roll and will little effort, you can use the wave's power to pop you upright. So you quickly roll under and up with out a kicking

Little example:

click to enlarge

The Vortex
The vortex is very different, in that, when faced with a mountain of white water or similar nasty situation, we are talking damage limitation. The concept is to make yourself as small and streamlined as possible, so the wave has little to grab hold of. If you duck-dive, with your arms not ducked in, the result can be nasty (I've had dislocated shoulders and rotator's destroyed).


1. Get a bit of a sprint on, then with a good 20 feet or so, take a DEEP breath and roll. This time, get your weight as far over your feet as you can. It pays to be supple and practice with yoga, as this can be the difference between a savage beat-down and a bit of a work-over. The reason we want our weight over our feet is, we want the nose to sink and stay sunk. So the wave pushes us deep. Get your paddle alongside your ski and hold it for grim life as invisible forces try to rip it from you. Keep your head down. We also want to be as small as we can so there is less for the wave to get a hold of. Try to get your head as close to your feet as you can, tuck you face in. Get your paddle alongside, but tuck your elbows in. The more streamline you can get the better.

2. Wait for the beating to stop. Key is to not roll too soon. If needed do a 'pop' (a semi-roll, just enough for a gulp of air and tuck up again. If on a reef or a set, you are safer in the vortex position than getting blasted trying to roll. Patients is the rule - as is good lungs.

3. When still -  roll back up.

4. Check you still have a head/face - thank the lord and go out to seek another beating.
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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Woolacombe comp, 37 hours awake & Jame's science stuff

There have been may questions after the weekend, like "Did Pete break anything". Of course, the answer to that was, yes. All things considered, it was a fantastic day, with a good number of as and a great standard of surfing. It was all a bit of a haze. What I do remember though, and the more I think about it, Pete Copp is trying to kill me. My problem started with the people who built my company's exhibition in the Birmingham NEC, got it about as wrong as they possibly could. It was about as effective as an 'incontinent thong'. So that had me leaving Plymouth at 4am, to be at Birmingham for 9am. A long day followed, I finally finished at 11pm, drove through the night, and got to Plymouth for 4am. Stupidly, I thought it was 5 in the morning and rang Pete to say I was ready to follow him to Wollacombe. He said "I SAID FIVE!!" and put the phone down on me.

5am, Pete turns up in his van with Adrian, and I am to follow him to the contest location. If you've ever seen 'Death Race 2000' - that is how Pete Drives. He drives how he surfs. He never uses his brakes! I know the brake lights work, because at junctions they were on. But I'd be trying to keep up with Pete - just two burning red tail lights flying around in the dark. Me up for 24 hours, a bit wasted, trying to follow him. Every now and then, without braking or anything to give me a clue, like slow down, he'd fly around a tight right angle bend. I'd be following lights - then hedge would appear "AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH"

Then I had to face the scorn of James Hawkes. and the "Where are your ski's?" conversation. This would have been easier if Pete and Adrian, were not laughing at me and calling me 'twatboy'. But I had the last laugh when Adrian got his ski out of the van, and Pete's sharp steel toolbox, during the F1 drive, had dinged Adrian Thorn's Ski. Pete can run fast it turns out.

So to the contest. What a hoot. Some excellent talent, a good number and some fantastic ski's from a mix of manufacturers. Some sexy KS's and Pro Designs. James from Future brought his crazy, top secret, bullet proof, formula 1 technology, space age construction pre-shaped ski, that weighs as much as a fart. When he said he was working on a production ski - I thought 'oh dull', thinking of the usual pop-out moulded stuff. Little did I know. Words don't do it justice - no seams, as good as a custom, lighter than a custom, near unbreakable and will last you for the rest of your life. If you could only afford one ski!
Super dooper light thingy
Super dooper light thingy in action
On the subject of technology, a few were asking James about the other top secret - super dooper, wowy ASCC (Advanced Structural Core Construction). This was a mistake, as James speaks in Binary code - the result was a very technical, Klingon sounding explanation, that included molecules, bonding, thermo  monomer, 6 carbon chain with an amino group, -NH2, at each end. This is 1,6-diaminohexane, you might know it as hexane-1,6-diamine (NOOOO?), compounds polymerise.....................
There was a group of very puzzled folk. This is my favorite bit. He then resulted to use layman's terms, explained it was a super tough secret compound coating that makes the ski super tough, so no rail dings from paddles... and then threw his cup at Pete's ski by way of example. Pete looked like he was going to give birth!

Back to the comp. It was great to see UK riders ripping. Steve Chivers is still super fast, Kieron still carving big gouges with fins out even in slack slow waves, Rudi and Steve Tickle having there own contest and pushing each other. Pete's flowing style and Adrian's aggressive style both effective. James Hawks almost missing heats, doing airs further down the beach in one of his many, many ski's and yaks he brought with him (watching him carry them all back up the dunes was fantastic - I laughed so much, a little pee escaped.)

Thorny dragging a hand - searching for a tube
Wavemaster slash

James busting out the tail on small stuff

The Steve!
KD doing a trademark snap

Doing the flags - Jonny, part of team retard.

Being awake for a full 43 hours, I was exhausted. So I tried to get a little sleep on the beach. Soon I was fast asleep with my mouth open, and a massive gust of wind blew half the beach in my mouth. We all met up for a beer at the Red Barn at 6 (I immediately regretted not wearing shoes on the way, as I stepped in poo). we all had a good old chat. But, awake for near 40 hours, I was exhausted, I had to leave early. In my trance like state, I walked out of the pub, into the path of an oncoming car full of old people. I did the full wipe out over the bonnet. Lucky for me they were old, and oak frees grow faster than they drive.
All in all a great day. Some serious talent and new blood. The outlook for paddle-surfing is looking brighter and less like a fringe, awkward cousin of stand-ups. The opinion was, that there will be more organised 'meets' to take the pressure off those who feel they are not competition ready or don't find the prospect of 15 minutes surfing, followed by standing on the beach, listening to Pete Copp and Adrian Thorn wind each other up like an old married couple. So - stay posted, we hope for some South as well as North coast expression sessions.