Posts Tagged ‘surfing’

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“Once in awhile you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at them right.”

Praying for Funsets!

We had some good waves last weekend in New Jersey.  The March winds blew and blew, the passing storm shook the trees and filled the lakes, and in the wake a nice swell persisted in the face of howling offshores.

While surfing on Sunday I found myself feeling immensely grateful for the opportunity to be in the water.  It is a small miracle to be able to paddle out, to have legs and arms and a body that will allow it.  It is an equal miracle to have found surfing at all; to be given the opportunity.

Rarely is this gratitude lost on me, but last weekend it was more pronounced.  With the devastation in Japan I could not help but reflect on how quickly life can turn.  The phrase, “that there is no day promised to you” came to mind as I watched the sun weave its way through the mid-March clouds.

Internally I had a flickering reminder that “there is no wave promised to you either.”  Life can change on a dime, all the more reason to give thanks for the opportunities we have, as we are having them.

I know that when surfers plunk down sixty bucks on a pair of wetsuit boots they are not making a lifelong committment.  I am fully aware that these boots, and even the gloves and suits for that matter, are consumer products with a shelf life in alignment with the average Hollywood relationship.  I also hypothesize that there is some grand marketing plan behind it all; with a CEO looking at the prototype, asking his team of designers, “are you sure that these boots will fall apart after six months of normal use? Because that will truly alter my bonus and our bottom line if they don’t.”

None the less, and maybe because I am a cheap SOB, I feel like these products should offer more of a return on the investment.  Afterall, when they are through being useful, the rubber generally ends up in a landfill, free to release toxic compounds for generations to come.  So why, as a half-awake buyer, should I not anticipate a long and happy marriage with this costly gear?

So fast forward to my second season in my Infinity 7mm boots.  Snug as a bug in a rug when purchased, but more torn than a pair of Union Solider boots during the Crossing of the Delaware, as the second February came closing in. 

I knew I was in trouble given their current state of repair and the 36 degree water temperatures.  So I borrowed a bottle of this product that is essentially rubber cement glue on A-Rods vitamins, slathered every hole in my gear, and paddled out for a friendly Sunday surf session.

As soon as the waves wrapped around my ankles I knew I was in trouble.  My boots took on water, or should I say ice water, faster than an oil company raises gasoline prices.

Still, I decided to play through the pain.  I was suited up, and the waves were glassy and fun.  About an hour into the afternoon my foot began to throb mercilessly.  I will spare you the dramatics, and let you know that I dodged a few more waves and then grabbed one for home.  

The glue did help with this hole... I think...

The run, I mean limp, up the beach was excruciating.  The rock solid sand, coupled with the ice and snow, made matters worse.  By the time I reached the car I was cursing these blasted boots, and the glorified Elmer’s Glue. 

Sure my digits were intact, right down to the smallest toe, but my session was cut short, and that is the point right?  For sixty bones you might think I could get a little bang for my buck.

Below are ten very unofficial suggestions you may wish to adopt as resolutions for the year twenty-eleven.  Either way SeaSandSurf wishes you a year of peace and good times. 

1) Don’t hate on the beach that is growing on the floor of your car.  Sand is beautiful.

2) Drink more pre-surf coffee so you can stay warm during those winter sessions.

3) Don’t doubt it- when it’s your turn to go, paddle and go.

4) Road trip!

5) If you find yourself mind surfing in the middle of the afternoon then you must be doing something right.

6) Don’t let the boss know.

7) Surf on a day that is beyond your comfort zone, even if it means a surf trip to Tahiti.

8) Go ahead, hoot that stranger in the line-up into the wave of the day.

9) Snake one for old time’s sake.

10)  If anyone can get away with wearing a pair of purple Uggs you can. No, for real!

A special thanks to Daniel “Surfer Into the Woods” Yackewych for helping to formulate the scientific list above.

 

As I write this New Jersey is digging out of a massive snowstorm which left several feet in its wake.  In a few words, it is cold, it is icy, and it is mean.  Flash to another time and place with me though.  The palm trees are swaying to the hum of the paradise breeze, while crystal blue barrels fire in 78 degree water.  The air lightly hints of sunscreen, but in actuality it is the coconut trees in the distance that are so fragrant. 

Well, the first account is my reality- the latter is the reality of Mr. Gene Wahl, owner and lead shaper for Essence Surf.  He is currently in Hawaii testing out some of his new designs.  Fortunately, I had the chance to catch up with him before he left about all things Essence Surf.

SSS:  So what is happening in Gene Wahl’s world?

Gene Wahl: I have been shaping a bunch for one thing.  I have also been getting prepared for my trip to Hawaii.

SSS: Is this more work or vacation? 

GW: It is hard to tell (laughs). As a company Essence Surf has been in expansion mode to a degree and so there is definitely an angle that pertains directly to the business model.  On the other hand, I will be surfing a bunch of new designs I have been working on, and that does not feel a bit like work.

SSS: Are you talking about one off designs, or are you crafting signature models at this point?

GW: These are defiantly models for future shapes.  For instance, I have the latest update on the Quasar where I decreased the nose width so that it holds better in the high line.

SSS: What else is in the board bag?

GW: Well, the Misfit is something that I am really excited about.  There are three variations; the standard short board, the 5 fin set up and the quad channel. 

SSS: What can someone expect from the Misfit?

GW: It is a solid go-to shortboard.  The quad channel is extremely fast and is a little wider in the turn.  This make is great for big cut backs on an open face.  Both the standard and the 5 fin are made to get up into the lip and to go vertical on demand.

 

SSS: So outside of the new boards what else will be happening for you?

GW: I am really excited because while I am in Hawaii I will be meeting up with Ben Aipa.  He is such a classic surfer and shaper.  I have had the chance to spend time with him in the past and to learn from him and it caused my shaping and surfing to grow in leaps and bounds.  It is an honor to spend time with a master of the craft. It is a blessing to see the tool work and technique of someone who shapes at his level.  Of course, at the end of the day my goal is to bring that knowledge back to New Jersey.

SSS: So we have a small branch on the historic tree?

GW: Maybe more like a leaf, but yeah. (laughs)

SSS: So Essence Surf is positioned to have a good run in 2011?

GW: We are.  There are plenty of custom orders to keep the bays busy.  Local shapers can reach out to us directly if they need a blank as well. We are offering glassing services and if someone wants to learn how to shape we offer classes. 

SSS: Just check the website right bro?

GW: Exactly.

SSS: I hope you bring back some aloha spirit too, New Jersey needs it.

GW: I will see if I can fit it into my carry on.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah…

I know, “summer is over and the blog dies.  Go figure.  This guy is a light weight anyway.” 

“Another one hit wonder and blah, blah, blah!”  Trust me, I have heard it all a hundred and three times before.  But not so fast.

Winter swells have yet to come.  Daniel is officially off the PCT.  He finished his hike and I know he is looking forward to getting back in the water.  Having a surf buddy always helps drag a person out of the gloom and doom.

On top of that my friend Basil has figured out how to make a board for under a hundred bucks.  I won’t give you all of the detail, because, well… I really don’t know how the hell he did it.  The pictures speak for themselves.  I can tell you that the board actually rode last week in thigh high wind swell though. 

Granted, it is a prototype and the kinks were numerous, but when you combine Basil’s tenacious nature with his natural understanding of craftsmanship, I have no doubt that he will make a board for any quiver.  I repeat, under a hundred bucks.

Take that China!

The Finished Product and the Maker

...From Humble Beginnings

 

According the Basil, "the holes make it float." Of course they do.

 

A Sweet Fin Sets this Board Apart

Looking Damn Near Done

I also had someone give me a board.  Sure, my halo is bent and rusty; my angelic wings are singed but when someone gives you a board you have to figure that you have SOME good karma left.

Life Smiles on Those Who Smile

The nose needs some repair, but the glassed in neon fins make me want to surf in corduroy OP shorts while wearing a pink Gotcha tank top.  February can’t come soon enough!

Other than that I am hear to tell you that Seasandsurf has yet to die.  It just rises and falls with the autumn tide.

I know it may be a little too late (or early) to revisit Earl, but Tim Bourne of Identity Surf shot a great video of some Jersey surfing that I wanted to post up.

For me, the video could not have come at a better time. 

Let’s face it, most of can’t surf whenever we feel like it.  There are jobs, families, responsibilities and all of the other facets and complexities of the day-to-day that can keep us out of the water.

Personally, this will often cause a disconnect.  So wrapped up in my busy life, I will at times forget what it means to be a surfer.  I will even occasionally think that I may be done.  “Who has the time?” my brain will tell me. 

It is in moments like this that I am reminded of the infamous line from the Godfather III when Al Pacino says,  “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

As a surfer, I don’t mean say this with the same brutal angst felt by Michael Corleone.  I actually apply the line with the utmost gratitude and affinity for those who help share the stoke.  Afterall, if I stopped surfing today I can’t turn State’s Witness.  The best I can do is tell you about a few unknown breaks that work best on a south swell at mid-tide.

So this time, with the burdens of “all things life” feeling, well, burdensome- it was Tim’s excellent video of a bunch of guys getting glad on the waves of Earl that drew me back in. 

 

Now, I will feverishly follow the reports in the hopes that I can get in the water again soon.  Happily thinking to myself, “yes, I am drawn back in!”