Friday, 10 July 2015

Getting Heavy.

After a run of fun but slightly mediocre surfs, last weekend yielded something that I had been craving for quite some time.  Fast, racy, heavy shore break. Praa Sands style!

I love surfing here in these conditions, it was the beach where I grew up, as such I have put enough time in over the years so that I have got it more or less wired.  Because it was the place where I predominantly surfed during my formative years, it no doubt shaped my style and approach towards surfing.  I have surfed it a lot throughout my surfing life, taking a fair few knocks in the sand along the way, broken some lovely boards too, but I do love these waves. And I am truly in my element when the tide gets high and things get a bit heavy!

This past Saturday as soon as I saw what was happening, that shift from the outside banks to the ones just below the high tide line, I knew that I was in for a treat.  And I realised that because I am no stranger to these conditions, instinct kicked in and I was picking off the ones that I knew wouldn't close out.  The walled up beasts that offer the fast, albeit short race to the finish, providing plenty of scope for speed and big make-or-break moves, all in ankle to knee deep water, this is definitely not for the faint of heart.  As soon as you take off on one of these you are committed, pulling out would undoubtedly put you straight over the falls and on a trajectory with the sand, and straightening out would be equally disastrous.

It was fun. My only regret was that I was on my favourite and newish Donald Takayama.  For as I have mentioned, I have snapped a number of boards in these conditions over the years, I didn't want this one to meet the same fate, plus it really isn't the ideal board for such conditions.  So I held back a little, whereas I would have taken more risks had a been on a board that I wasn't so fond of, I surfed it with a degree of caution. Although many of the other guys didn't not, so at least I was able to witness to some big moves.

Note to self; take two boards next time it's on and go all out!

Still Rolling.

Lately I have found myself being drawn more and more towards skateboarding.  The magnetism began some time ago when I bought the first of my re-issue desks, a Powell Peralta Caballero street.   This was bought as a treat, based upon how it looked, as-well-as with a tinge of nostalgia, as this was one of the boards that I coveted when it was first issued, many years ago.  Being a child of the Bones Brigade era, Animal Chin was the film that really sparked my interest, so really it was the natural choice. Anyway, while I had every intention of getting out and using it, once I had set it up I just couldn't bring myself to do so.  My rationale has always been that I have older, well used boards, so why mess up a new one?  Whilst it was never bought with the intention of re selling it, I simply wanted to keep it pristine. A wall hanger, the first one of my collection.

So, fast forward eighteen months or so, and I find myself at a vert comp, with a whole heap of guys of a similar age to me.  And this is where things took a different turn.  For while I didn't feel the urge to take on the vert stuff (although, it was so good to watch), my stoke from just being there was enough to make me want to start skateboarding in a real way.

After some thought I decided that if I'm going to do it then I want to skate parks, rather than street, there are some really good ones around and if I time things right I can avoid the youth and the hoards of scooter riding kids(!).  Early mornings and later evenings were what I had in mind.  Based upon my reluctance to use my precious collectibles, I also decided to buy a new set up - although initially I was just going to treat myself to wheels, trucks and a few bits, a trip to the local skate shop was all it took to go fully new-school with my choice of desk also.  The friendly advice from the guy that runs it saw me walk away with an Anti Hero, Tony Mioriana.  This model is of a decent size, a really great shape, and an awesome graphic too!  I left that shop a very happy chap and ready to session those parks.

I get the feeling that the journey that I have taken to get back in to skateboarding, well in to my forties is by no-means a unique.  For while there are lots of guys that never stopped, or if they did it wasn't for very long, I know that many more have ventured back in to the culture by way of collecting, and then having the same what the hell moment that I did.  This is great, for the fact that there is now a much older scene bolsters my enthusiasm, not to mention confidence, plus it just feels good to be a part of something, sharing the experience.  For many years I held back thinking that I was too old, it would hurt if I slammed, in fact the list of reasons for not going was a long one.  But you know, it is all to easy to talk yourself out of doing something, based upon reasons that don't pass close scrutiny (apart from the hurting myself bit, that really I do take as a serious threat!).

In general, the view taken by society is that skateboarding is something for kids, nothing more.  The scathing and badly researched pieces of sloppy journalism that I have read recently can only reinforce peoples prejudice towards older guys skateboarding.  But the reality is that age is not a factor when it comes to such things, and it is awesome that so many people have realised this and are ignoring the sneers and sniggers from the general populous.  The result is a shoal new scene, guys, and girls too, are doing something that is a whole lot of fun, and offering a lot of encouragement to those, who would love to but...as I did.

It would be easy to take the criticisms as offered by the main stream media to heart, but I am so glad that this has not dampened the energy and enthusiasm that is being generated in older skateboarding right now.  I find it really interesting that skateboarding culture is going through this latest stage, for in real terms it is still young, so there are no previous generations to follow.  I, like so many others were a part of the Bones Brigade to H-Street era, a critical few years that saw skateboarding change in a massive way.  Boards evolved, tricks got bigger and way more technical, and the culture altered at an incredibly fast pace.  Driven by the thriving industry and the fact that it was skateboarder owned at the time, innovation was given providence and the scene flourshed. But then as with many things, money took over and things took a turn for the worse, in my opinion anyway.   It was at this stage in the early 90's that I stepped away from it, not in a conscious way, I just got more in to surfing, which was always my main thing.  But I have always kept an eye on what is happening in skateboarding, it's great to watch good skateboarding in any of its forms, and while a part of me does regret not keeping it up, I can't change that.  But I am so stoked to have re discovered it, and that I am able to share the whole experience with a group of people who were also there the first time around.  I think the effect of this is that feeling is one of familiarity, but on the whole very fresh.

The groms of the eighties are re-emerging, a little bit grey, slightly slower maybe, but certainly full of stoke!

The journey started here, the first of many!