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ASP Coming Good On Digital

Late last year I commented on the ASP weighing in on the digital sphere and after the announcement yesterday that Kelly Slater had split from Quiksilver we got to see a real insight into the bonuses of having of a new fangled ASP.

After the media storm around Slater’s big move tongues were set to waggling all over the world. From my own personal conversations about it (even with non-surfing friends) to some of the biggest names in the surf industry. Thanks to the ASP we were able to plug in to a really interesting feedback loop, seeing opinions from…

Nat Young:

“It’s funny as I was asleep and Mitch Crews came into the room going, “Did you hear the news?! Do you think it’s true?!” Kind of like the world was ending and I was just waking up. So I looked on instagram and the ASP site and read it, then remembered that it was April 1st so it could have been a joke, but it would have been a weird one if that were the case. We were all sitting around the table trying to figure out if it were true or not. We were all making bets about it. I don’t really know what to think about it because it’s so fresh and his company is just forming. Pretty sure it will be exciting though.”

Jeremy Flores:

“Thanks Kelly for all these years of being a great example of the sport, giving me some tips since I was 12 yrs old being on the same Quiksilver team. I was very lucky to be able to share most of my free surfs with this freak since I was a kid (and stealing some boards too). Good luck for this new chapter of your life bra!”

And a host of others. You can check out the rest here:

http://www.aspworldtour.com/posts/36268/worlds-best-react-to-slater-quiksilver-split

I for one am stoked to be given a chance to see candid opinions from pro surfers, less than a day after they were formed at that. Well played ASP. So far so good…

Kelly Slater Pipemasters

April Fools From Kelly Slater?

International surf media is up in arms today since Kelly Slater apparently called it time with Quiksilver.

You can read the original article from the ASP here.

I wasn’t sure where I stood to start with (seems April Foolers are all over the place this year), Carve Magazine and Surfline still aren’t sure and the guys at MagicSeaweed are convinced it’s a joke:

We are calling April Fools on the ASP announcement that Kelly Slater has quit Quiksilver.

A worthy effort, but a bit obvious. ~Magicseaweed

But with statements from the likes of Bob McKnight, Founder and Executive Chairman of Quiksilver, it’d have been a pretty convoluted prank. Why would you want to damage your brand so much for the sake of some cheap laughs?

With that, I’m 100% that the whole thing is true and I’m happy for it. With Slater’s do good attitude when it comes to surf ecology, I’m glad to see him moving into a partnership that will benefit our blue planet. Here’s a tiny section from his leaving letter:

I am excited to tell you that I’ve chosen The Kering Group as a partner. They share my values and have the ability to support me in all of my endeavors. ~Kelly Slater

Good on you slats!

If not Quiksilver, I wonder what colours he’ll be wearing tomorrow as the second stop on the 2014 World Tour, The Drug Aware Margaret River Pro, gets underway.

Severn Bore Riders

Surfing The Severn Bore

At 6am on Monday 3rd March 2014, 100 miles from home, three others and I forced breakfast on nervous stomachs and made for the “Severn Bore Inn”. It was bore riding day.

In short, a bore is a wave caused by a tidal river’s changing direction during flood tides. The tide turns, rushing toward the shore, gaining power as it’s channelled into a narrow river and occasionally generating surfable waves depending on the water height and the formation of the river bed.

The Severn bore is world renowned; it’s one of the most powerful tidal bores in the world and certainly one of only a handful that are surfable. It had been a long term goal for all of us to take on the challenge and there was a tad of pressure, to say the least…

Preparing For The Severn Bore

Preparing For The Severn Bore

Before we’d even planned the trip we knew that surfing a bore wasn’t like catching a wave in a set; miss the first one and you’ve missed it. No second chances. We’re not talking about waiting another few minutes for the next one either, we’re talking months. Now standing, wet-suited in a backwater Gloucester pub car park, early morning frost nipping at our extremities and the deep rumbling of a far-off tidal wave approaching, the tension mounted. As crowds began to gather and a press helicopter appeared above we shot glances at one another and muttered our chorus. “Do. Not. Miss. This. Wave.”

Fortunately we had the help of a local chap called Steve (www.thesevernbore.co.uk) who brought with him a wealth of experience. Quite simply, we wouldn’t have managed a fraction of our success without his guidance and we’re ever grateful. Following Steve to the bottom of a treacherously steep stair set we paused on a concrete bank with our boards in hand and watched the frothing wave bearing down on us apace. After 10 minutes, which felt more like an hour, it was time to paddle out.

Lone Surfer On The Severn Bore

Lone Surfer On The Severn Bore

Apparently we’d picked a “5 star” day for the Severn bore. As surfers, we knew 5 star to mean the best possible conditions, at least when it came to ocean forecasts. In the relative calm of the pre-bore river water we chatted nervously on heavy breath, reflecting on our choice of wave, guessing its size and wishing each other well. All 20 or so people bobbing on rafts of all shapes and sizes fixed their eyes on the wave as it trundled on, gaining in size and speed as it came closer. The four of us broke into pairs and steadied ourselves. 5 star or otherwise, when “head height” was the surface of the water, she was a big wave; a thundering mess of brown-white water at the head of an unstoppable snaking tide.

The next few minutes passed in a blinding rush. We turned and paddled (needlessly with the sheer power of the thing), catching the wave with varying degrees of success. Surf boards clashed with kayaks, people and river banks. Some stood, some fell; the two most successful of our four went on for a mile or so, the least successful a few hundred meters. Nevertheless, there was a point in time when all four of our crew tamed the wave.

Actually riding the bore was a new experience; a powerful surging wave breaking over a thousand barriers along the river’s length; here it was a surfable shoulder, there churning whitewash, changing haphazardly every few meters. Surfing in such changeable conditions posed all sorts of new challenges as you could see in the river riding regulars as they popped to their feet and dropped low to their stomachs at intervals.

Wacky Races On The Severn Bore

Wacky Races On The Severn Bore

Lying prone it felt like you were carrying some serious speed, slicing the choppy river water like a powerboat at sea, head down low. Conversely, when standing there was an air of serenity; time enough to talk to one another and appreciate the bizarre surroundings as they rushed by. It’s not every day you see trees, fields and farms from a surfboard, let alone cheering crowds!

They say all good things must end and surfing the Severn bore was no different. Sooner or later we found ourselves having drifted off the pace of the wave or unceremoniously dumped behind it.

It wasn’t until the time came that we were quite so aware of the logistics of escaping a fast moving river with 9-10ft longboards. Exit points rushed by punctuated by thickets of trees, logs, rubble and the occasional tractor tyre, not to mention the precarious mud banks. It was a case of paddling hard and gambling on whatever debris presented itself to haul ourselves back on to terra firma, man handling the boards in the process.

Crowds Around The Severn Bore

Crowds Around The Severn Bore

Eventually we each found a separate way clear of the river and, for all the camaraderie throughout the day; this was the time for reflection. Wandering in solitude past garden gnomes and through farmers’ gates, wetsuit-boots squelching and adrenaline still pumping, realisation kicked in. We’d all caught the wave! We could check the river Severn off the bucket list and now proudly call ourselves bore riders…

Overall it was an awesome, albeit other-worldly, experience. The complete unknown gave way to surfing in a truly unique and very English setting, with more support from locals than we could have dared to imagine.

Lessons Learned:

  • There’s a whole community dedicated to surfing the Severn bore.
  • Nothing does justice to the experience of a tidal river rushing at you.
  • Where the Severn bore is concerned (due to the changing nature of it’s power), the more voluminous the board, the better.

Links:

I am proud to have experienced the bore with my employer Vision Nine and originally wrote this story for our company website. See the original here.

Rip Currents

A video from “Waterlust” was shared with me today – it tackles the idea of rip-currents as killers. Watch the video:

One stance is that if you’re not on a fairly open beach you could be in more trouble than is made out here. If you’re in a rip and the “merry-go-round” happens to include some rocks or reef, you could be in a lot more trouble.

None-the-less, it’s a fairly insightful video, and if advertising can ever be doubted this definitely made me want to run out and get a go-pro. No finer advice than “be careful out there”!

Lessons Learned:

  • Rips can fall into repeat patterns. The best way to get out is stay calm (as ever) and look for a sideways movement.

High Street Surf

Found a surf shop you love recently?

I visited a friend in Bath this weekend. One of the key goals of the morning was to find a surf outlet and learn about a technique or product that we’d never seen or heard of before. We failed.

Off the train and into the new-fangled shopping “district” – (is it a district? outdoor mall?) – one of the first things we were confronted with was a live feed of Huntington Beach, Surf City, USA.  Not just a live feed, mind you, one that was bigger than some cinemas.

Check it out:

We were a little disappointed by the interior, though; a dimly lit atmospheric overload. The staff were nice enough and there was another live feed of Huntington Beach inside, but that was where the buck stopped.

Never having been inside a Hollister shop before, my first reaction was that it completely misses the mark. It seems very try-hard; full on palm trees indoors, “hip surfer music” blaring at 11… We left fairly abruptly.

We did have a good look around the Animal shop just down the road, but nothing matched our criteria.

You’re just not going to find a belt and braces surf shop in a city centre. It makes perfect sense, obviously, but it doesn’t stop me missing the warehousey, browse-at-your-leisure, “shaper-in-the-back” style shacks of the South West.

Come on summer, bring the heat.

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