Gower Gold April 2019

Confessions of an English Opium Eater nee Surf Addict

For me, there’s definitely a link between being unable to surf and writing. I started this blog five years ago when I was a frustrated, landlocked wannabe surfer. Unable to surf or travel to the sea, I had a major shoulder injury and was off my face on pain killers. There’s a theme here because although I live by the sea now, I find myself in dry dock again, off it on pain killers and sick and I’m tapping away on my keyboard for the first time in months. I’ve also written three bits this morning for another project I’m working on. I reckon I must be channelling Shelly or Keats, only able to write on opiates. For authenticity I should really be writing a masterpiece in Italy but, a little blog post in Swansea will do for today.

This year has felt like a bit of a disaster on the surf front, I can count the number of decent surfs I’ve had on one hand. January 3rd was a good one, 31st January too. More often than not I’ve been injured, ill, in shite waves, broken my board or lost my fin. I’m not sure if it’s age related, I’m nearly 45 and my body might just be rebelling against me or if the surf gods are trying to keep me out of the sea for now. I know I should be grateful, people I know have it much worse, I am after all just having a rough patch with my health, temporarily in dry dock. It’s just the only reason I moved was to surf more, it’s my opiate and I’m not getting my fix. I also have an acute awareness of time passing and that every day I don’t surf is one day closer to the day that I hang up my wetsuit for the last time. This will happen; it’s going to happen to us all. Yes, I know that’s bloody dramatic and ridiculous but, look how quick the last five years have gone.

It’s certainly not all misery and lament, I’m just having withdrawals from surfing. There has been some good happenings too. We’ve had a few golden evening here on Gower and had our first evening beach fire, summer is definitely in the air.

Back in January after a few years in white water as an occasional surfer my buddy Long Legs (read how I brainwashed him into surfing here) got his first proper belter from out the back and he went right for the first time coming face to face with the wave. On top of that it was a magical day in Newquay when the whole town got snowed in, we had to abandon our car in town after sliding down the hill so we walked back to our apartemt and decided to go surfing. There was a kind of unearthly silence that comes with snow, the absence of traffic and people and we walked down to Fistral making the first footprints in fresh snow. It was an unforgettable session.

I also had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Ellie Wainwright at the February Surf Senioritas meet up. Photographer Ellie was taking some shots for an article she had written for Surfgirl. Ellie is a lush lady and her work speaks for itself, she’s definitely one to watch. Take a look at her website here. Anyway, the magazine was published and they used some of the pictures with me in. Now as we know, I’m not exactly Surf Girl’s desired demographic . I’m too old, fat and cynical but, it will be lovely when I’m an old lady to look at that magazine to remind myself who I was.

Finally, after 5 years , loads of ‘ it will do for now’ boards and frankly annoying poor Lee in the Custard Point shop to death, I got my first new board. A unique, hand shaped 8ft magic log fresh from the workshop and into my hands in April. I’ve not really been able to test ride her with my recent setbacks but, the little I’ve been on her, ‘The Kumquat’ ( see the colour) has all the promise of being the best board I’v ever had, I can feel it. I’ve now got 3 weeks to recover fully for the Surfsistas longboard weekend and I’m resting and taking care of myself as much as possible before then. I’m hoping I’ll be able to really put The Kumquat to the test and report back on the board and the Surfsistas longboard course in the same post. Right then, I’m off for a back treatment with my Chiro, I’m seeing my Dr again about my rattling chest in the moring and very much hoping I can get my next salt water fix soon. Otherwise I may, in the mad persuit of my blue opium be driven to do something daft like move to Cornwall.

NB: refering to myself as a surfer is in no way claiming to be any good . I happily confess to having basic skills and being a dick in the water

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The Board I Ride

Riding old boards is where it’s at

Well, riding old boards is where my budget is at. I have never bought a new  surf board, a mixture of lack of budget and skill meant I was quite happy to go second hand and not spend too much.  However, buying old boards has not only bought me the equipment I need at a fraction of the cost of new, it’s also brought me to people, told me a little of their stories and given me an affirmation that people in the surf community are a fabulous bunch of humans.

My Boards

 

malc

Malcolm

My first old board was Malcolm, a 7’6 O’Shea. He belonged to a friend who also had him as a first board.  I remember the excitement of seeing Malcolm in the corner of my room the first night I had him.  I kept sitting up in bed and putting the light on to look at him when I should have been sleeping. Malcolm came with me the week after I passed my driving test and made my first journey to the sea under my own steam.  When we weren’t on a trip he sat in the corner  reminding me, in my landlocked state, that the sea was just a drive away and that I was a surfer. I loved him, my friends did too, everyone knew his name.

 

My next old board was Big Frank . An 8’4 BIC,  In a previous life he belonged to Birstol Uni Surf Club. He helped me get some waves after my injury took away the tiny bit of ability I had. He allowed me to surf when I couldn’t get to my feet quickly and while my shoulder healed.  On my last trip his size and my crap paddling  stopped me being able to get out back easily and I realised that although he was a lot of fun, he was actually starting to hold me back, he needs a bigger, stronger rider. This brings me to my next board.

Ever since I tried my mate Rob’s longboard I’ve been in and out of the Custard Point shop in Newquay like a yo-yo for two years. I like annoying the lovely bloke in there, stroking the boards and talking shit.   I know I can’t afford one, so it’s a sort of torture. Enter stage left, Jeremy and The Board Swap.

Board Swap is exactly what it says, a place where you can swap boards. Jeremy who runs it is a top chap who will go out of his way to help you get the right board by either trading and paying the appropriate swap fee or buying outright. On his face book page he says ,

Be good to each other. Share the stoke. Happiness, smiles and memories are the most valuable things.

After Jeremy sending me a lot of board porn over a few months, he finally found something suitable for me. I hot footed it up to Staffordshire ,  agreed a trade fee and said a  sad goodbye to Malcolm. I drove off with Daisy Duke on the roof of my silly,  tiny car.

Daisy Duke is a 9’2 single fin, yellow,  Custard Point Ultimate Nose Rider and just like Malcolm, she is currently  in the corner of the room reminding me of the summer to come. I’m hoping to try her out for the first time very soon.

rosyFinally,  this week I acquired  an 8ft Redback Revolution performance soft top. I’ve been after one of these for a while for friends to use when they visit me in summer and for myself to have a fun board that fits inside the car. I’ve named her Rosy Redback.

Rosy, was owned by a lady from Cardiff who has now treated herself to a beautiful Howzi custom board. I had planned to collect Rosy over the bank holiday weekend in a few weeks.  In order to pay for Rosy Redback I put Big Frank on e bay the same night. He sold in a few hours, the buyer is a chap who lives near the lady from Cardiff so, Rosy’s seller is dropping her off with Franks buyer to make the exchange easier when I make the long journey to Wales. These two strangers have been so helpful, I love surfers I do.

I’m now looking forward to getting Daisy Duke in the water and putting my mark on her and enjoying seeing friends who don’t normally surf  playing on Rosie Redback. Who knows where we will end up.

I remember once finding a Lonely Planet book in a hostel in Uruguay and inside the cover it said you must give it away when you finish with it and write your name, country and a few words before passing it on. I loved this idea. Sadly it’s not so easy to do this with our surfboards so it’s great to meet the previous and new owners of the boards I’ve had.

Every old board has a tale to tell, every old board has a past and when you take ownership of one  you become part of it’s story as much as it becomes part of yours. You care for it, clean it, wax it, protect it from bumps, you repair it if it’s broken and treat like it’s made of glass, all the time adding your own invisible layer to it’s history before passing it onto the next person.

Buy an old board, give it a name, be part of a story.

Where I look for 2nd Hand Boards

Pre-loved Surf Stuff on facebook is fab direct owner to buyer group, no fees  here 

Second Hand Surfboards 12,000 members on Facebook,  so many boards,  here

Surfboards for Sale Wales,  also on Facebook  here 

Second Hand Surf Cornwall, click here

Gumtree used surfboards,  here

Preloved.co.uk