Posts Tagged ‘travel’

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.

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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!”

 

On the continuum that begins at hype and ends somewhere in reality, Earl was on the reality side of the border- somewhere between fantastical imagining and gritty, in your face 3 dimensional manifestation. The swell was the focal point of countless hours of news programming, keeping Sam Champion and Al Rocker pleasantly fed.  So the hype level was high. 

As a surfer I can always tell when East Coast Swells make their way into the mass consciousness of our collective society.  I measure this by the text messages that I receive.  If there are waves and I only hear from surfers, well then, all is right in the world and few are paying attention.  When the swell is heavily hyped I receive messages from coworkers, friends and family telling me to be safe.  It is by these messages that I am able to tell if the swell has the infiltrated thoughts of popular culture.

Sam Champion Told You to Stay Out of the Water

In this area Earl was on the radar.  I received 4 separate well wishes by really good people, cheering me on and imploring me not to drown. 

The only question was if Earl would deliver?  Happily, Earl came with the goods, albeit, not perfect but real. The Saturday morning session was crowded, warm and intense.  The long swell lines were hard to pick and the line between makeable sections and a rinse in the washing machine blurred continually.  By the evening the incoming tide interjected a second level of juice and the walls held up longer. Everyone relished in a second session.

It was this second session that projected Earl from a storm of general hype, to a swell worth adding to the card catalog of surfing memories.  I heard some rumblings that the evening swell was more a product of a faltering Fiona than a feisty Earl, but I have no idea.  That is where the professionals like Duke Storm step in and explain the semantics to laymen such as myself.  What I can tell you is that Labor Day Weekend 2010 will be remembered for the waves Earl sent our way.

Feel the Trim

Earl Had Everyone Running for Cover

Daniel Yackewych and I finally caught up via telephone several days ago.  The timing could not have been more appropriate.  Like a tried and true surfer, he must have smelled that the Atlantic was finally starting to brew- with Hurricane Danielle cranking happily along and more activity sniffing at her heels.  This is some feat on his part though, since he was reporting from a small town just off of the Pacific Crest Trail, 200 miles south of the Oregon border.  However, I was not surprised that he still had a read on things- because a surfer in the woods is still a surfer.

SSS: Excellent to hear from you brother.

Daniel Yackewych: Excellent to be heard from.

SSS: For those not checking in on your blog, which is an awesome travel log by the way, please tell us, how is the hike going?

DY: As well as could be expected with 100 plus days under my feet.  I am ragged, dirty and worn but I am feeling good.  So far we have hiked just over 1600 miles and I smell to high heaven.

SSS: You say we- I thought this was a solo mission?

DY:  It started out that way, but I have a few travel companions now who share the goal of making it Canada.

SSS: Mainly Flyboxer right?  I feel like I know the guy from your posts. 

DY: Yeah, Flyboxer is a real levelheaded guy and we have a similar approach to the hike.

SSS: What approach might that be?

DY: Well, a lot of people on the trail are super succinct when they get into town.  They are able to organize their supplies, do their shopping and what not with little effort.  I on the other hand, end up standing in the middle of the grocery store, wandering the aisles for two hours trying to adjust to the change of scenery.  Flyboxer is the same way so that works well.

SSS: It sounds like you are a homeless guy.  You aren’t talking to yourself or screaming on street corners about the approaching UFOs are you?

 

DY:  (Laughs) I don’t think so.  Would somebody tell me if I was?

SSS: That is a great point.  I guess we will see when you get back.  Speaking of getting back, what does that look like for you?

DY: Well finishing the hike will be a miracle.  Washington looms as does late September, and the weather is going to play a huge factor. We are certain to encounter some wet chilly conditions and I am trying to mentally prepare myself.  As the trip is currently planned, I am flying back to New Jersey in early October.

SSS:  Just in time for some prime Atlantic activity I hope.  Although I doubt that you are thinking much about surfing right now.

DY: You would be surprised.  I really miss getting in the water and it is one of the things I look forward to most.

SSS: What else do you miss in terms of your “normal” life?

DY:  I have thought about this a ton.  I miss having an armrest and a couch.  I am focused on a beer, a blanket and the NFL.  I really want to see football.  Flyboxer and I are actually going to try and catch a high school game somewhere in Oregon.

SSS: That is if security doesn’t throw the two homeless guys out.

DY: (Laughs) Good point.  Although most towns along the PCT are used to having hikers pass through, so it is more likely that someone will offer us a pasta dinner and place to shower.  The people we have met along the way have been amazing.

SSS:  And if you had to say there was one lesson that you have learned so far, what would it be?

DY:  I would have to say that I have learned that I know where my home is.  I feel really grounded in knowing that New Jersey is where I belong and that I have it to come back to.  The hike has solidified my attachment to place- to family and friends. 

SSS:  Well that is cool.  Just so you know we will be here when you get back.  Of course you better plan on getting into paddle shape before the winter swells start to come in, or you will be sure to get you tail handed to you.

DY: I know!  I am hoping it is like riding a bike.

SSS:  There is a reason why Todd Stewart titled his short surf film Surf Magazines Don’t Talk About Lapsed Catholics. The ocean will be waiting…

DY: I can’t wait.

SSS:  We can’t either.  Keep up the great work.

DY: I will. I hope there is a Jersey Freshie waiting with my name on it.

SSS: You know there is, and I am buying!

DY: With pepperoni too?

SSS: Sure.

DY: Nice.

 

When I arrived to meet Mike Stadler, owner of New Life Surfboards, I did not know what to expect.  A mutual friend suggested that I talk to him for Sea Sand Surf and I took the lead.  Mike and I exchanged several emails, set a date for an interview, and I drove over to his place in Manasquan assuming nothing.  I figured “how bad could it be to talk shop with another local surfer?”  Worst case scenario, I may know another face in the lineup when all is said and done.

What I found upon meeting Mike was a surfer with a wealth of knowledge and a shaper with ties to the deep history of the sport.  He was kind and generous and extremely stoked to show me around the intimate workings of New Life Surfboards.  We got together early, after a wave check revealed a mess, and he and his wife Trish gave me a great cup of coffee upon my arrival. As often happens with surfers, it felt more like I was seeing old friends rather than becoming acquainted with strangers.

Sea Sand Surf:  So when did you first start surfing?

Mike Stadler: It was either 1964 or 65.  My father used to pack the family up and take us to Sandy Hook.  My earliest memories center around surfing and everything associated with it.

The Stadler's and Their Summer Quiver

SSS: Did you stick with it this whole time?

Stadler: Pretty much.  It was one of those things. It got in my blood and I could not imagine it any other way.  My father passed the love of the sport onto me, and when I had my son I tried to do the same.  My son is 28 now and has been surfing his whole life.  Surfing is part of the Stadler family.

SSS: How about shaping surfboards?  Is this something that you have always done?

Stadler: Not really.  I have only been shaping for a couple of years.

Stadler Knows that Fine Edges Make for Fine Surfing

SSS: What made you want to get into it?  Why not just surf a few boards you love and be done with it?

Stadler: The design of boards has always been an interest to me.  I have always been very aware of my equipment and the way that it was built and how it functioned in the water.

SSS: I think most surfers share that desire to understand their boards, but to start a surf company like New Life Surfboards is a whole other thing right?  How did that transition happen for you?

Stadler: Well, I was sitting around one day in an apartment in Jersey City, totally frustrated by the rat race.  I was caught up in it.  I was a successful graphic designer, but the landscape of the profession was changing rapidly.  I was fed up with the hyper-competitive nature of things.  I was laying this all out on the table to my wife Trish, and she said, “well, what do you want to do?”  I told her I wanted to shape surfboards and she just asked me what I was waiting for.

SSS: I am sure that support is a big help right?

Stadler: (laughs) I tell everyone that she is the C.I.O of New Life Surfboards… the Chief Inspiration Officer.

Cool People Doing Cool Things

SSS: So you basically dove right in from there?   That must have been daunting.

Stadler:  I was already accustomed to working in design so the transition felt natural in many ways.

SSS: Did the 40 plus years of surfing experience help?

Stadler:  Absolutely.  I had a pretty clear idea about what works in the water and what doesn’t- so that eliminated a good deal of the trial and error phase for me.

SSS: What types of shapes have you been designing?

Stadler: I love making classic East Coast Long Boards.  Boards that let the rider get in the wave early enough to get down the line, but still offer some precision turning in the tail.  I try to get the right foil on the rocker with a perfect blend of concave.  That, combined with the rounded pin, and you have a board that flies but still turns on a dime.

A Classic East Coast Board from a Classic Guy

SSS:  Have you branched out from there?

Stadler: I have.  I have made some fish that work really well, and I am currently working on a shape for a classic California Long board- a board that will let the rider get ten over the nose.

The Cup Loves to Hang Ten- Forever...

SSS: Outside of your C.I.O, who are your other influences?

Stadler: I was fortunate to fall under the tutelage of Donald Takayama for a spell.  In the short time that I had the chance to see him at work I was amazed.  I went to California to meet with him.  I left so inspired, and I have applied that inspiration to my work.  I mean, here is a guy that has been shaping for over 55 years, and I am standing there learning from him thinking, “this can’t be for real.”

SSS: How does it feel to be a small leaf off of that great branch of surfing?

Stadler:  You know; it is my goal to help other people get stoked on surfing.  When I shape a board for someone I try to get to know them as a person first.  I may go out for a session with them, or do a quiver inventory.  In the end, I want their New Life Surfboard to be something they will have in their quiver for a long time to come.  So when a shaper like Donald Takayama opens his bay to me and spends some time I am ultimately very grateful.  He has a knowledge base that is so unique, and the fact that he was willing to share it with me just solidified my love of shaping.

SSS: What direction do you see New Life Surfboards taking?

Stadler: As of now, I am really focused on making custom boards for people who love to surf.   A number of people have approached me about making “go to” long boards for their quivers, and that has really driven me.  In the end New Life Surfboards has a core mission of passing along the love of surfing on to people in any way possible.

SSS: What is on the radar in the near future?

Stadler: We will have a stand at the Belmar Pro in September and we welcome everyone to stop by and say hello.

 SSS: Best of luck along the way.

Stadler: Thanks.  We will get there one great board at a time.