November 30, 2011

Chunky Thruster

A favourite chunky thruster of mine. And like my favourite board ever from last week's post, this is another Valla custom by Paul Joske. I had it made back in 2007 and it's far thicker and wider than most thrusters from then or now. It's 6'1" with a rounded pin tail and a double 6oz top and bottom, so it was never intended for airs! I was after something that rode a bit more like an 80's thruster, it goes great. I took the board photos before waxing it up for a first surf at middle Narrabeen, and the surfing picks are from a really fun and uncrowded mid day session about two years ago.

November 23, 2011

Favourite Board Ever

As I've said in the past this blog's not intended to be all about my own surfing, but about everyday regular surfers, or surfer joes. But as I'm a surfer joe myself, sometimes I get a pic or two as well. I'm going to pop up around once a week over the next few weeks—please excuse me if it comes across as self interested... And it won't always be this verbose!

Now that I'm getting older, I find I'm becoming less certain or definite about a lot of things. A little slower to make absolute, finite, best-ever kind of calls. Like for instance "this is my all-time favourite surfboard". But I thought it might make for an interesting post.

To begin, I considered my first ever board. It was a pre-loved 6'1" Sam Egan thruster (complete with the dinged rails from my first attempt at balancing on it in a backyard pool). After all, those first rides will remain some of my most memorable. Or perhaps my favourite board was my first custom, shaped by Brett Warner at Brookvale when I was not long out of high school? However, these are both fairly conventional thrusters which I haven't ridden so much in the past few years.

Then I thought about my funky purple double-ender—a thick, short and wide Chris Brock number complete with a deep single Ben Lexcen winged keel fin. My first summer riding that board was super fun. But then, I've also had massive amounts of stoke in recent years riding longboards. So, what about my first custom McTavish malibu that I picked up second hand for a song at sleepy Evans Head? Or maybe one of my sweet single-finned Valla longboards by Paul and Sage Joske?

I'm tempted in my old age to temper the absoluteness of my initial quest and tweak it to "favourite shortboard" or "favourite fish". But that just won't do. I've gotta say it loud and proud: the Valla fish pictured below is a dream board. I just love it! Now I sound like a teenage girl...

It was hand crafted by Paul Joske over 8 years ago now. After my first surf on it I wrote to him gushing that I felt "destined to ride this board". Unlike a lot of the closer-to-a-thruster "fishes" that get around, it's a traditional, timber keel finned, wide swallow tail fish—far closer to the original design that came out of California in the 1970s.

For a few years previous I'd been mesmerised by the footage of Curren riding a true fish at Jeffreys Bay. The high-line speed runs and massive drawn out cutbacks looked like so much fun, and so different to how a thruster would have performed in the same waves. Paul's been building all kinds of boards for over 40 years, and when I saw his son Heath ripping on a fish his dad had made him, it finally dawned on me I could have one under my feet too.

As with a lot of good things in life, you have to wait for them. I'm sure it was at least 6 months before I paddled the fish out for it's maiden voyage at the south end of Mona Vale in October 2003. It was a dawn session and I quickly took these board photos before heading out. It was only small, but I was alone and just so stoked on the unique way it rode. Still am. The surfing shots are from a great afternoon session a few winters back—at least 6 years on and the fish is still going strong.

So there you have it, my favourite board ever. So far at least...

5' 8 1/2"  X  21"  X  2 7/16"

November 11, 2011


A recent Spring morn. 

November 9, 2011

Mr Enthusiasm

Going on the amount of times I see Tony out for a morning session, it must be pretty rare for him to pass up a surf. As a regular longboarder I end up splashing about in some pretty marginal conditions; the kind of conditions most won't bother with on a short board, but Tony often paddles out on a trusty thruster to snag a few before work. His surf stoke and energy nearly out does the groms. Cool to see. Sometimes he even puts in a decent ride to and from the surf as well.

November 4, 2011

Eyes Fixed

Gaze already fixed on where he wants to be next. Smooth surfers always seem to be well and truly ready - in the right place at the right time. It doesn't happen by accident of course. An integral aspect of the broad skill set accomplished surfers have built up is the ability to 'read' the wave as it bends, tilts, jacks, wobbles, slows down or speeds up, even while they are split seconds away from being there.