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Showing posts from 2014

Looking at the east coast from the west

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So tomorrow I fly west to my east coast, subtropical roots, where I'll be spending christmas and new year and a little more too. I've been away from my NZ home more often that I've been here these past two months, so it's weird to be leaving again, and it also feels a little... weird. As always when I move somewhere new, the word 'home' starts to shift and find new applications, and today I confused a friend when I used 'home' to describe first Byron Bay and then Raglan, almost in the same sentence. I'm not even sure I mean the same thing when I use it for each place - Byron is my heart and bones, but Raglan is where I live and is being very kind to me. I feel a bit bad skipping out on it now just as the holidays arrive. 
Home I go. Home I leave.
But these last few days, Raglan has really turned it on, as if to show me what I'm about to miss here too. Today was stunning with blue skies, sunshine and a cool breeze. And tonight, to top it off, it…

This is the best clip of women's surfing I've ever seen

Check out this beautiful clip by Morgan Maassen of Stephanie Gilmore surfing in France. It's gorgeous.

Stephanie from Morgan Maassen on Vimeo.

Watching this, my first thought was, 'What the hell was Roxy thinking in that stupid sexualised clip of Stephanie they made to promote the 2013 Roxy Pro in Biarritz?' I know the controversy is long past now, but when I see footage like this of the stylish, strong, smooth, female approach Steph Gilmore takes to waves, it really blows me away that Roxy didn't centralise it.

Anyway, I headed this post by saying this is the best clip of women's surfing I've ever seen, so I guess I better qualify why.

1. It focuses on Stephanie's surfing, which Morgan Maassen has done in his past clips of her as well. But this one is different because...

2. It addresses that thing people say about women's surfing being sexy and beautiful and athletic. You know, the 'women can be strong AND beautiful' thing. Sure, whatever. Usua…

Don't drop in and call it sharing

Today was my third surf back after over two months out of the water. Say what? A combination of weather and travel has kept me out of the surf, and I've been going nuts. But the last few days have offered up waves and no wind, so I've been making the most of it all.

Today I paddled out to some lovely, glassy beachies. I'll usually take a point break every time, but some of my favourite surfs in NZ have been at this beach, so I feel a fair bit of affection for it. In my mind it's always raining and green, which has much to do with the kinds of winds and weather conditions that shape the conditions. So I made my way down to the black sand and along the shore to some lefts that seemed pretty consistent.

There were only a few people out at first and it was lovely. The waves were far from amazing, but they were fun and they were there. After a while, more people arrived and the competition stepped up. Everyone was playing the inside game where the usual rules of the lineup …

Portland, Oregon

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Blogging has been this crazy thing in my life. It has led me places and introduced me to people I would never have otherwise met. It has always been more than an online space, weaving its way into my day to day life and relationships. Amongst others, over time I've met Jamie, Felix, Neil and Mick (you can find Mick over here too), who have become people I count as friends and who have been incredibly supportive and inspiring, and there are a bunch of other bloggers and Instagrammers, who I hope to get to visit some time. (Y'all have been warned! Haha.)

At the moment, I'm in Portland and was lucky enough to meet Kara Sparkman, who is currently involved in the She and the Sea project in the Pacific Northwest. We met because I contacted her about one of her beautiful prints, but was stoked when we realised that she was going to be at home in Portland while I was here for a few days. Yesterday we met for coffee, and it turned out that we had a lot in common in terms of ideas a…

The Undress: For if you get carpark changing anxiety (I don't).

One of the ongoing embarrassments that my surfing buddies endure, is the lack of concern I have about modesty when I get changed in the carpark pre- and post- surf. I'm sure you think you know how much I don't care, but you really don't. I feel like making a fuss draws more attention that just changing and risking the fact that someone might see parts of your body for a moment. But I can see why my friends might tire of seeing me. Haha. My poor friend Izzy is so used to/exasperated by my needless boob and bum flashing that she has pointed me to this new possibility: The Undress.



So, I'm not saying this isn't a great idea - I mean they really have thought of everything and it's pretty smart! - but I am saying it's sort of mental. How chuffed is April though. Also, people are clearly super stoked on this idea because while they aimed to raise $22,000 and they already have $182,627!! Holy crap!

I'm not chucking in for their Kickstarter campaign because I&#…

Stop pushing me, already!

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So, a few weeks ago, my friend Ollie came and stayed. Ol and I have never lived in the same town at the same time, but we've managed to catch up in a bunch of places over the years - in Byron, in Sydney, in Brisbane, in San Francisco! It was so great having him here.


Sadly, the surf wasn't really doing much that was tempting while he was staying. It was big enough, but it was full and washy and moving around a lot. Nonetheless, we paddled out because, what else are you gonna do? Also, you gotta keep your go outs up.

It really was a mess so there were only a few others out - maybe six. One guy on a fat, red shortboard was getting some waves, but the pickings were otherwise slim. I wasn't so fussed, so I sat wide and paddled for the odd wave, but the faces were doubling up in that not good way, so I wasn't getting on them. I got one, but I was happy just to be out there and cruise.

But after a while, the guy on the red board paddled over and started talking.

'That'…

'Away', by Elisa Bates

I love any film about surfing that is different - that challenge the stereotypes and mainstream representations of what surfing is, what is looks like and who does it. I like these films because they call into question who gets to tell the stories of surfing. For so long, it's been those who are best at it, those for whom surfing is life, rather than part of life, those who are the most self-interested, those who see their place in history as significant, those who are trying to make money from it. This is all fine, but it means that our surfing stories have been mostly high performance, glamorous, spectacular, and let's face it, hyper-masculine. Again, that's cool, but it's given us a pretty limited representation of the majority of surfing experiences.

So when I saw this surf film, Away, come up on my social media feed this morning, I was pretty thrilled.



Away, by Elisa Bates is a short film about three women who surf in New York - Katarina Del Mar, Jee Mee Kim and Ma…

I totally meant to do that.

Surfing is always a bit of an unknown. For me especially. I mean, mostly it just feels like a leap of faith that things will work out, and to be honest I still feel amazed whenever I stand up on a wave. Only because, well, it's rally amazing to be able to ride a wave like that, don't you think? And then there are those days when things work out that weren't meant to work out and you think... okay.

So, I'm thinking of a wave I got the other day. It was so nice out in the water - long, peeling, clean, 3-4 foot, and sunny. Like, wow. It was kind of crowded though, so I did my special trick of sitting wide and waiting for the big, wide sets to come through - the inconsistent sets that scuttle everyone on the inside, leaving the wave for me. It means I spend time looking like a moron sitting on my own, but it seems to work well enough. At one stage I abandoned this plan for one of the smaller sneaky inside waves that were coming through. I was keeping an eye on the horizon …

Day trip

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On the weekend, I ventured down the coast to meet up with my friend, Kevyn. I've been here for 5 months now, and it seemed as though it might be time to check out places other than my own little corner of Aotearoa. Kevyn lives a little further south, but we wanted to go surfing together, so she kindly split the difference and we met in Takanaki.

The drive down is a few hours and a half, so by the time I arrived the wind had picked up and was starting to ruffle the sea. But we grabbed a coffee and Kevyn showed me her favourite spots and we found ourselves a left that was consistent, smooth and had a bit of size. Oh, and no-one on it! The few guys who'd been out there were making their way back in across the rocks, so we had the chance to ask about it... Fun, they told us. Kind of full, but with a longboard, no problems. We had parked beside the weekend campsite of these guys, who'd been cruising there for a few days. As they peeled off wetsuits, we pulled ours on and made o…

Boards for miles! Boards for sale!

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So there is a pretty amazing surfboard auction happening over in Western Australia at the moment. There are 111 boards up for sale - you can check out the boards up for auction via this link.

There are some pretty wild creations in there, this one chief amongst them:
OLE Olson Twin Fin
1961. 8’11" X 21 ½". Built in 1961 by Bob, he remembers only making one of these, one of the first ever twin fins. Double glass on fins and black stripes with OLE logo. Fully restored.
Also...

Tom Blake Paddle Board
1946. By the Catalina Equipment Company of Los Angeles. Tom Blake was a forerunner of surfing design and is credited with being the first person to put fins on surf boards. A champion athlete he was a fine surfer, swimmer and board paddler, having won many titles at the three pursuits, both in Hawaii and America. 16’ long and of a hollow design with ribs inside.
And this one I'd love to have. It's is one of only two of the 111 boards that are in any way associated with wome…

The Pursuit of Saltiness

Nice Friday clip from surfer, photographer, artist, Kat Charles:

The Pursuit of Saltiness from Kat Charles on Vimeo.

Oh Chanel! You've done it again.

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So, it has come to this. And obviously, I can't let such a thing go by without posting it here in all it's contrived, luxury, haute couture, ridiculous glory. Here you have it, Gisele Budchen, supermodel, not riding a not waxed surfboard:



(Note: I cannot find who the surfer - the actual surfer doing surfing - is in this clip. Can you please let me know when you find out! Seems weird they've not said...)

The thing is that it's just so 'bad rad', so beyond reality that it's hardly worth saying much. It feels like watching an action film - those films like X-Men or Iron Man or Pacific Rim, that are so filled to the brim with sexism, racism, homophobia, false history and incredulousness that I really can't be bothered critiquing them, and thus find myself going back for more. This clip is the same in that it's 'So fashion! Much Chanel! Very surf!' that it becomes a parody of itself.

And Chanel is no newcomer to this. They've been making spor…

"Looks like a chick's board"

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Today I went surfing.

The last few weeks have been driving me mental with what I've come to realise are dreaded seasonal winds. They're strong and relentless and filled with rain, and they've been getting in my head and stressing me out. As in, I've a constant headache for the past couple of weeks. Over the weekend, however, they relented and I was back on the beach and back in the sea. Bliss!

So today when I noticed the wind coming up again, I rushed down to get some waves before carrying a longboard became impossible. The waves were solid and long and fun.* Sets were coming through wide and cleaning up the lineup, so my longboard and I sat wide to keep out of the periodical carnage.

The crew out were chilled and quiet. People say hello and give you a smile or at the very least, a head flick. It was mainly shortboarders of course, but there was one other longboarder and a couple of SUPs out too. One of the SUP guys paddled over to me and, as happens a lot here, commen…

'The sea' and 'Blue-green sea with steamer'

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I love seeing new perspectives on the sea - ways of imagining the ocean that I've never dreamed of. Noah Sabich presented me with images like this today, when posted this very beautiful and evocative paintings by Emil Nolde (1867-1956) on Facebook. 
The Sea (date unknown)

Blue-green Sea With Steamer (date unknown) Emil Nolde (7 August 1867 – 13 April 1956) was a German painter and printmaker. He was one of the first Expressionists, a member of Die Brücke, and is considered to be one of the great oil painting and watercolour painters of the 20th century. He is known for his vigorous brushwork and expressive choice of colors. Golden yellows and deep reds appear frequently in his work, giving a luminous quality to otherwise somber tones. His watercolors include vivid, brooding storm-scapes and brilliant florals. Nolde's intense preoccupation with the subject of flowers reflect his continuing interest in the art of Vincent Van Gogh. (Via ArtStack) (image found via the perpetually s…

Best of times

Feminism and famous people

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So, feminism has become a real talking point among female celebrities lately. Popstars and TV and movie stars have been coming out in droves to associate themselves with women's politics, and clearly stating what feminism means to them. Sometimes I find the way this appears like a trend a bit uncomfortable, and sometimes it becomes a little simplified into soundbites. But I can't deny how pleased I am that it's encouraged conversations about what feminism is, what its political goals are, and enabling the kinds of highly publicised discussion that they have the pull to get media coverage for. While some of these seem like self promotion (I'm not linking to these), others are a reflection of personal beliefs. Angelina Jolie's participation in the 'Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict' is an example of this, as is Emma Watson's recent speech to the UN. They're not unproblematic examples (over to you, Roxanne Gay), but they're sure som…

Roxy Pro France 2014

So it seems like Roxy was paying attention after all! This year's trailer for the Roxy Pro in France is a world away from last year's controversial offering:



There are still a bunch of butts, but it focuses on featuring the women as surfers and athletes - wetsuits and all - which is awesome.

Good work, Roxy! :)


Surfing is not only for the sea

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In 1998, I lived just south of Munich for a couple of months leading into winter. It's a really, really gorgeous area and I loved my time there, but I never saw this on any of my trips into the city.

River Surfing in Munich Germany from James Kamo on Vimeo.

River Surfing in Munich's English Garden from Snehal Patel on Vimeo.



You can read a good article about it here.

P.S. Form a queue!



She and the Sea

Over the years, I've talked to a lot of women who surf. Like, a lot. I've learned a lot. Like, a lot. But most of my knowledge is of women who surf in places where is pretty warm and where you can easily get into the sea year round. As in, you just need a 3/2 and you're set.

I've made no secret over the years that I'm in equal parts intrigued and confused by those who manage to surf all year in places where it's cold, where you really have to love surfing in order to keep getting suited up and into the sea over the winter, and sometimes in the summer too!

One of the things that has come up in my conversations with many women who surf, is that they are not so into the cold. They tend to drop off their surfing in the winter, or they didn't bother to learn until they moved to a warmer place. They just weren't interested in the cold. Maybe it's just us wimpy, summer-loving Australians who are so adverse? And of course, I'm sure there are a bunch of …

Frankie Harrer and Teahupo'o

Gill just sent me another great link, this one by Morgan Massen of 16 year old Frankie Harrer surfing at Teahupo'o back in May this year.

Frankie from Morgan Maassen on Vimeo.

Great clip, huh. You can see how with more opportunities to surf breaks like this more often, women are going to be gain the experience needed to compete at these breaks more comfortably and with more confidence. Like Frankie is clearly doing, they will get to know the waves better and better and be able to ride them with more familiarity.

Seeing as she's only 16, I did feel a bit icky about the lingering shots across her body. I feel like her surfing (and her obvious gorgeousness) totally speaks for itself, without needing to be driven home. But like so many of the photos he takes of women who surf, Massen's shots highlight what a skillful and flowing surfer Frankie is - he really is good at what he does, huh. I reckon he totally admires and respects the abilities of the women he photographs and for …

Onwards Upwards

This is the film clip for the track, 'Onwards Upwards', by North Arm. Both the song and the clip are really, really lovely.



You can read more from the artist, Rod Smith, talking production and motivation here at Lost at E Minor.

Hmmmm... What to wear?

So, this has to be the shortest and most adorable surf short I've ever seen.

Sunrise sliding

What I love about blogging is the kind of responses that it can elicit. Sometimes these are on the comments thread, but other times these come via email, Facebook or text. I've received a couple from my last post, including an email from Gill that had a link to this lovely clip.

Sunrise Slide in Bondi from Lynden Foss on Vimeo.

It's definitely not the same kind of critical nose-riding as in the last post, but in lots of ways, I much prefer it. Sometimes with longboarding, folk are so focused on nose-riding, that they forget there are other possibilities. Watching logging can feel a bit like that. But the way this woman sweeps around and explores the wave a bit more is really nice.

Thanks, Gill x

Mondays

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I decided to work from home today and I was focused and ready to get some runs on the board. But then I saw my friend, Kylie, who let me know there were waves about...

So I caved.

I spent a happy couple of hours out in the chalky green sea, tickled by drizzling rain and looking back to the green and golden hills and cliffs, and the mist-covered mountain rising from the shore. And the waves sure were fun. They were long and clean and right-handers and I was the only longboard out, so I could get all the ones that the shortboarders didn't want (plus a couple they did) and I was super stoked.

I was also really, really cold by the end, with frozen, red hands and feet that I knew were going to itch like hell as they warmed up.


Weekday surfs you don't expect feel sneaky and secret. They're always worth the distraction from work. Always. Now I'm back at my table, staring out my window at the tide coming in and wishing I could go back to the beach - wet wetsuit and all! But no…

Extreme lego surf

Pretty smooth clip.


Post by Mpora.

Trite? Yes. Delicious? Hell yes!

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(Oreo art by Tisha Cherry. Via Lost at E Minor)

Quincy Symonds: surfer, skater, hero.

This is a great story, and this girl, Quincy Symonds, is one hell of a person. (Via the wonderful, spectacular, government-funded, nationally available, Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

A small surfer makes big waves from ABC Open on Vimeo.

From the online article:
“It just doesn’t make sense to me, how she’s able to do what she does,” says Jake [her dad]. “I’m amazed by it. I’m really proud of it but, to be honest, I can’t comprehend how she does it.” “She has no fear,” offers Quincy’s coach Anthony Pope. “And she just doesn’t fall off. She has incredible balance and her ability to judge the conditions and adjust is at a level I’ve never seen in someone her age.” When the waves were too big for her to surf, Quincy took up skateboarding. As you’d expect, she took to a board on land just as deftly as in the surf. Looking over the edge of the 12-foot skate bowl as I filmed one of Quincy’s skating sessions, I felt immediately uneasy. But there was Quincy with her back foot planted on …

Einstein was a surfer

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Um, WHY have I never heard of this song before? Did it do the blog rounds last year when it was released and I wasn't paying attention? Having missed this song, I feel... inadequate. Not that the song is great, but conceptually... AMAZING!

And the photo Jimmy Buffet is talking about is real and here it is!

And here is a bonus Einstein sporting shorts and a devil may care attitude!

Now, LYRICS!! With the obviously winning lines being 'Cause the universe was his home break/And we’re still all paddlin’ out'.

****
There’s a photo of a genius Standing by the ocean In a pea coat and cool hat In 1943
On a beach in Santa Barbara He’s looking quite contented His world is only matter And energy
Past the Channel Islands Out into the cosmos There are worlds in motion That only he can see
He’s smiling as he’s thinking The harbor lights are blinking He’s the smartest cookie Ever was, ever will be
Einstein was a surfer There really is no doubt Cause the universe was his home break And w…

When should a blanket just be a blanket?

I just wrote a really long post about the focus on the small-scale production of bespoke items in surfing culture at the moment. There's a pretty solid niche brand, handmade, homemade, up-cycling vibe in surfing culture at the moment, and it's great and I see lots of lovely things and I even purchase some of these things (especially swimwear). A lot of the time, this is about owning something unique or individualised or local, which is based on the use of small-run or second hand fabrics, many of which are sourced from jaunts to second hand stores. I wrote how great this is - financially, ethically and aesthetically. I was trying to set a tone for my point which would reflect that I like this DIY-esque approach, while allowing me to admit that I've got a bone to pick about one aspect of it. But instead of dancing around the issue, I've decided get straight to my point, which is this:
Can everyone please stop cutting up woollen blankets to make surfboard covers. 
Curren…

Well, he could write.

This second line about writing from Ernest Hemmingway just made me laugh out loud: "No matter how good a phrase or a simile he may have if he puts it in where it is not absolutely necessary and irreplaceable he is spoiling his work for egotism. Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over." Love, love, love it. Also, I reckon I might be pretty guilty of this. Hemmingway would have hated the way I write.

Hesitation.

I’ve been really, really wanting to go surfing. The days when it’s been sunny and nice, I’ve had to work and the days that I’m free and willing, it’s just a bit too wild for me on my longboard at these unknown breaks where I know no-one. Maybe I should feel shitty about not wanting to take such risks – maybe I’m meant to step up - but I don’t really care about any of that stuff. I don’t care if people think I’m lame or afraid or a wuss. I’ve got nothing to prove on that front.

The other day I looked and was dabbling in the idea of paddling out. It was wild and big and cold, but the fuller wide ones looked manageable and would keep me away from a total pounding on the inside. There were quite a lot of crew out there, and double that number standing on the sidelines watching – the place is like an amphitheatre, which is a bit daunting. I sat on the rocks and watched and wondered and hesitated. If I’d been with a friend, I wouldn’t have wondered at all. I would have gone out. My friends …

Uncontainable

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One of the things I love about the sea - well, about the world really - is the way it simply defies containment. We can make boundaries of and for things, but unless we work hard to keep them as we wish, they simple crumble away, or grow over, or spill out, or flood. That idea makes me think of parts of Robert Frost's poem Mending Wall:
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,  That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,  And spills the upper boulders in the sun;  And makes gaps even two can pass abreast. ...
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know  What I was walling in or walling out,  And to whom I was like to give offense.  Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,  That wants it down.
The shifting, changing nature of the sea - where the water line will be each day, each month, each season; the shifting sands; the currents that bring weeds, bluebottles, whales, warmth - all of it is far beyond my control, and that is something that I fear and love.
And that is what I th…

Samantha Keely Smith

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I saw these images on Facebook the other day and couldn't stop staring. They're the work of artist Samantha Keely Smith and they're beautiful.


You can see more of her work over on her website, and if you're in the USA (and in the region of the gallery over on the NE coast), you might want to check out her exhibition.


'a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam...'

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Clips like this make me think I might have missed my calling as an astrophysicist - Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Cox*. But then I remember how much maths is involved (blergh), and I know I made the right choice.

But holy crap, astrophysicists, way to put things in perspective.



This too.



*Yeah, Cox isn't technically an astrophysicist, but he's awesome and I'm counting him here anyway.

International Surfing Day

Yeah, I know. It was yesterday.* And yeah, I know this video is not new, but it's awesome. Stephanie Gilmore really does have a lovely, smooth approach to waves that is a pleasure to watch. If there is anything specific I would like to acknowledge this International Surfing Day, it's the much improved visibility of women as surfing participants in the water and in the culture that I've noticed over the past few years. So great!

Dear Sylvia, love Steph. from Morgan Maassen on Vimeo.

*So was UNHCR World Refugee Day, which I feel horrid adding as a footnote to this post. I don't really know what to say about that, except that all Australians should read the first and last chapters of Nam Le's book The Boat. Also, here is something I wrote when the boat of refugees smashed apart on the rocks at Christmas Island. Almost 50 asylum seekers died in this truly terrible and avoidable incident.

Looking at the west coast from the east

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As I told you, I’ve just moved across the sea to a new home in a new country. In many ways, it’s not such a huge change; English is widely spoken, we have a similar recent colonial history set against a significantly longer past, and the north island has a lot of environmental similarities to my own home country. But there’s a lot that is different as well. For example, I know so little of the Maori history, people and culture, the cold is something new to my way of life and thinking, I don’t know where to get anything (what shops sell what?), and the coastal places on this wild west coast are very different to the powdery white sand and the clear, warm water, of the sub-topics I grew up. Here the sand is black, the water a chalky green, there are a lot fewer people (the beach I run on is often empty), and the beaches are buffered by looming hills and cliffs. It is incredibly beautiful and I’m blown away, but it’s still not in my heart. Not yet anyway.


So right now, I’m giving myself …