Elite Clique Surf Club – I can’t quite remember how it went but evidently we weren’t allowed to compete for a reason that still escapes me, so John Ainsworth, perhaps Len and I started our own club in about three days and had it ratified by the British Surfing Association – if that was the name of the umbrella organisation. We competed and I think we might have won. It was a bit of politics and I honestly can’t remember who was behind it and what the motivations were. But I think the IW surf club had made it difficult for us to enter and be a part of the contest. That would have been about 1969. I was on my way to Australia.
What we did was silly (the name was intended to be) and to make a point.
I can report that the inverter works the coffee grinder. Tomorrow I’ll charge the MAC on it and after that, the world’s our oyster.
When I built the canopy for the ute, I bonded-on 2 20-ply bookshelves. Today I loaded an unfeasibly extensive line of books and had heaps of room for more! Rog Mansfield met me first when I was camping at M, Etchegoan’s valley and he was the reciprocal guest of Francois-Xavier Moran, the junior French champ, I think. He’d been a friend when we lived at the Villa Baccharis on the Chemin des Falaises. (Cliff Road.). Etchegoan was a lovely old dipsomaniac with a tiny herd of Friesians that used to wake me with their lovely cold, wet, black noses when they peered through the tent doors. I was under instructions from my friend Douglas Jardine (then in his late 60’s – he died in his 90’s) to leave the old dear a bottle of Martinique Rhum. Which was done. I can’t remember what the little pair of left and right reefs was called… ooops (‘Seniors’ Moment) it was Cenitz. I had a tent full of books then. Among them Arthur Koestler’s “The Act of Creation”. I must have been afraid that tent book-critics wouldn’t take me seriously as I also had Bertrand Russell’s “History of Western Philosophy”. My reflections were sophisticated: “What the f### are they on about?” Roger later credited that as a guiding moment in his ambition (to beat me?) into print!
Busy day, setting up solar panels, getting inverter to work, 3 board repairs, loading box on roof with long-term food-stuffs.
I’m hoping to get off some time after Monday. If, by any chance, the ‘blog’ – if that is what it is – gets a bit raw, it will not be to provoke but merely where I may happen to be (“at”, as American hippies used to say.) I hope I may have your collective indulgence. One needs to trust those whom one imagines one’s readers to be. And yet not alienate. It’s hard to guess where that line might be with people one has not met. And looking at about 4 months alone on the road or in the desert (though not by accident but of free will) it is not always possible to anticipate how it may go. This is by way of a wavering and uncertain pre-emptive apology if things go a bit pear-shaped.
On a lighter note, I leave the light on where the basin is during the nights so I can find my way there from the ute where I sleep without, perhaps, stepping on a snake. Yes, it can happen! I came out of my office to find a large Brown snake 3 paces away and quite alarmed. (The snake, actually). It could get no traction on the concrete so spun its wheels for a bit before it was able to gather some composure. It slid off and out of the building by descending one of the small tunnels made by the corrugated steel overlapping the concrete slab. Finding itself in bright sunlight, which perhaps offends a snake’s delicate sense of privacy, it immediately returned to the shed and finding me not much of a threat, relaxed for a while before having another go at outside. But that’s by the bye. The light has been attracting some lovely insects. Today a 6″ long stick insect. It can’t feel very comfortable against the white paint. On any of the ten million trees that cover this Island it would be invisible. The two previous days a couple of bright green mantises wandered in, intent to make the most of the sterile surroundings. If you watch them closely they swivel their triangular heads this way and that and it is impossible not to conclude they are having a very good look at you. They also oscillate from side to side at about 3 movements per second. Whatever it is they grab and eat (head first if it is a mate) perhaps struggles to decode this endless movement. A good friend called Neil Harding, kept preying mantises wrote two books, one of which was called “Bizarre and Macro Mantids”. He was obliged to learn German as the main field work had been done by German entomologists. (Always a struggle to know if one means to say “etymologist”).
And that leads rather smoothly to a joke. Since I can only ever remember one joke at a time I rather hate to tell them as it is more or less inevitable that my audience will have heard it. That’s always assuming I don’t fluff the punch line, which happens often. Far safer to write them:
At a convention of philologists in Costa Rica (obviously this was suggested by the reference to etymology… IF I have that one right… my 2 volumes of the SOED are somehow packed in the ute) a Latin American philologist addresses an Irish visitor to the convention.
“Tell me, por favor, senor (sorry can’t do the enya!) do the Irish have a word equivalent to our “manana”?”
Looking up from his pina colada, the Irish man replied,
“To be sure, oi don’t think we have a word with quite that pressing sense of urgency!”
Going back, finally to snakes, I have never suffered a desire to kill them or throw things at them. DH Lawrence wrote a shamed poem about a snake who visited him in his garden in (?) Corsica. He heaved a stick at it and the poem was born of remorse. I have a picture of myself taken by a Cornish friend at Cactus 40 years ago. I am playing chess and have my head in my hand looking at the board which is supported by a Post Office cable spool serving as a table. As I straightened up I looked down to my right and there was a Red Bellied Black snake curled up asleep touching my right thigh. I was delighted and said to my friend, “Hey, Tris, look at this”. Unfortunately this disturbed the snake which quietly slid up the small bush-covered dune at my back. Two friends and I had a more serious brush with a large Western Australian Brown snake locally called a Djugait. These are really poisonous and, with the quantity of venom they pack, out-kill (measured in units of hypothetical dead sheep) the King Cobra. We had been diving for fish and were walking back loaded with wetsuits, lead weights and spear guns. We were chatting about the fish we had missed and in so doing, in a clearing with lawn-short grass on it, found ourselves on top of this 2M Djugait, whose head was raised about 300mm to strike. My friend on the left managed to get out one word,
We were in a diagonal line, he was behind me on my left and my other friend was less in harm’s way to my right. I did stop, with my bare right foot in the air above the snake. For the longest time (at least 3 seconds!) it was a stalemate. I had plenty of time to admire the beauty of it. A lovely fox red-brown with a belly of lemon yellow, clearly apparent from its raised portion. It moved off slowly in quite an odd manner, with its raised head remaining so and slightly turned back toward us. There wasn’t a moment when any of us felt any fear, which perhaps tells us something about the nature of fear. It is only useful in preparation for an event. In the instant, it has no use. Last week a friend, (Doctor) Ross Shiel was surfing when he looked up to find himself being charged by a large Tiger Shark. He told me about it 2 days ago. Astonishingly he reacted perfectly in the instant. He paddled hard AT it. It stopped 1M from him and he was able to gauge the width of its body at twice the width of his board, that is, it was a full metre wide in the body. I guess there was a moment of stand-off and the thing took off, thrashing water into Ross’s face, almost one imagines with childish pique. Tigers are scavengers and I have seen a documentary showing young Tigers trying to get the hang of catching and eating seabirds afloat on the water. It was far from impressive, but one finally got a bird down its neck. Well, I’d better not follow this line of discussion as Stradbroke has too many tales. In fact you can see some of them around you. Bruce, who drives the small car ferry to Moreton Island (to the N) has one leg. He was surfing at Main and a Tiger shark took his other leg. He tells of the relief when his leg came off as he was on the bottom and close to drowning.
Eco-clothing super brand Rapa Nui have put their hand into their pockets in these austere times and produced brand new competition vests for the Isle of Wight Surf Club. The club has had resurgence over the last year with a brand new committee and winter surf league.
“Rapa Nui have been such an enormous help to us this, by donating the coloured vests we are able to run smooth and effective competitions on a regular basis” said Matt Harwood (IOW Surf Club Chairman). He went on to say that “We are an ambitious club that want to offer Island surfers a competitive arena, coaching of all abilities, a social focal point and a voice for island surfers in regards to the environment and our beaches. Rapa Nui has been instrumental in helping us with our web-site. We’ve already used the vests in our Frostbite winter surf series. They were well received by competitors and looked fantastic”
Rob Drake-Knight (co-founder of Rapa Nui) says “We are all about local projects and surfing and the ocean is a big part of our lifestyles. Rapa Nui is only too pleased to help the surf club. It’s just awesome to see our vests being used already in the winter Frost-bite series”
If you want to know more about Rapa Nui or the Surf Club check out rapanuiclothing.com and iowsurfclub.com.
What a day Saturday the 9th of October turned out to be. The swell started to grow from only a couple of foot first thing to an epic swell that saw Compton, Freshwater Bay and The Pearl all fireing. I checked Compton early and a few of you were either in or going in and it was about 2 – 3ft and building. The wind looked a little strong, making the waves hard to catch but as the swell grew it got better and better. I knew I was only going to get one go at getting a few waves so opted to come back in a couple of hours in hope my timing would pay off. Will still alot of things to finalise for the movie night I did about 15mins filming and the shot off to try and get as much done as possible in 2 hours.
While I was away my phone didn’t stop. I had messages saying nearly every break from Freshwater Bay right round to Sandown were breaking. When I came past Freshwater Bay there was too much water and I couldn’t wait any longer. At Compton I met up with Andy Haworth (Devon Lanes and Longboards) who was already on the cliff top filming (Can’t wait to see the footage Andy). After quick introductions he exclaimed that in all his times on the Island he had never seen Compton like that. While talking a set came through and I hadn’t seen anything like that at Compton for a very very long time. I then ran back to my car to get changed and get in. With only about 15 – 20 people in the water it was perfect, I managed to get a couple of the big set waves right to the beach. When I wasn’t catching waves it was just great to watch some of you guys getting some great waves and the standard of surfing on the Island is very high. I don’t know all of you, but being out there on Saturday really showed that all those days surfing in small wind chop, onshores and just getting in when there was any wave has produced some excellent surfers on the Island.
I only had a short time at the beach and only managed to photograph Compton for about an hour. If any of you have any good photographs of anywhere on Saturday please send them in to us and we’ll put up a gallery of all your shots. I have seen some great shots of The Pearl and Freshwater Bay on Facebook so send them to us too.
Havig such a great swell during the day it couldn’t have been any better for the Movie night. With everyone buzzing from the waves earlier in the day the Sandpipers was soon full to the brim and a wall of noise as everyone talked about the waves. We started the evening with ‘Devon Lanes and Longboards’ by Andy Haworth (If you are interested in buying Andy’s movie go to his website here Devon Lanes and Longboards ). This was followed by a great movie by Sid Pitman ‘Surf Rats’. We also had Strat Cat Productions who very kindly set up a screen and played movies in the Sandpipers big hall all night from ‘Brown Water’ by Sid, ‘Isle of Wight Surf Club’ by Annie Macpherson and Andy Haworths footage from the day. A big thanks to Mark, Nigel and the boys for helping making it a great night. The evning was to finish with ‘Fusion’ by Ross Johns and you can also buy his movie at surfclips.co.uk. At this point I think most of the Ale in the bar had gone and people still wanted more, so by popular request we put on Bert’s ‘Wight Water’. We went on playing movies well into the early hours and raised over £100 for the Freshwater Lifeboat. Many thanks to all who came and especially Jason, Andy, Ross, Annie, Sid, Bert, Al, The Sandpipers Hotel, the West Wight Landscape Partnership and all who helped to make the evening a great success (Apologies if I forgot anyone).
If anyone took any photos during the Surf Movie Evening we would love to put a few on here too, so send them in to email@example.com
I got a text Friday night from a good friend Chris Court to say that Compton could be good in the morning. Compton wasn’t exactly epic but there were some fun waves to be had. After about an hour and a half I got out and was chatting to Bert and let him try out […]
Come and join us for an evening of old and new Surf Movies at Sandpipers Hotel, Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight.
7.30pm Saturday October 9th 2010.
We have a couple of 2010 UK surf movies ‘Fusion’ and ‘Devon Lanes and Longboards’ and will also be featuring the Isle of Wight Surf Club movie made in the very early 1970’s by Annie Macpherson as well as a couple of movies made by Sid Pitman during the 70’s too.
Bring along your own surf movies as we will have a mobile Cinema outside where we aim to be able so show anything that you may have. We will be able to show standard 8 and super 8 sound, VHS (full size and mini), Full and mini DV tape, and DVD disks.
This morning started with an hour surfing at Compton and no one out but me, the Fulmars, Cormorants and Oystercatchers. Anyone that knows me will understand that for me it doesn’t get much better than that. Un-crowded waves and wildlife all around me as the sun comes up. A nice little autumn swell that grew […]
The original Paddle for Life started after lifeguards from Fistral Beach held a Joe Way memorial paddle to raise money for charity in 2008
A short movie from Friday afternoon at Compton Bay.
Friday saw the peak of the swell and Compton became as busy as I’ve seen it in a long time. A lovely glassy early morning with many of the girls getting their fair share of the waves and one guy out with a very old school, looking belly board. Joe Truman grabbed a few nice ones as did Andrew Tyrrell amongst others too.
South coast surfers spend long flat summer days dreaming of September swells arriving from far-off tropical storms and hurricanes
The start of September and we have a lovely little swell to get us all back into water. This morning I got up early and was in the water before 6am, although not first in the water as 5 guys went running past me at speed desperate for waves. Still a little wait between sets but like they say, ‘good things come to those who wait’. Shaun Jones came down with a jet ski to practice some tow in surfing. Keep practicing Shaun, at least it kept us amused, in between sets.
I managed to contact Tad recently and thought many of you would be interested in what he is up to. Tad has also promised to dig out some good shots of the first surf trip to Biarritz in ’71. If you went to Biarritz in ’71 too, please let us know? Tad is still in […]
heavy waves, nice long walls of water and some fine surfing
Here is an excerpt about the Isle of Wight from Roger Mansfield’s new book ‘The Surfing Tribe’ A History of Surfing in Britain’ Roger Backhouse and his friends Mike Hutchinson, Sid Pitman, Ben Kelly and a handful of others are attributed with being the first island residents to start surfing in 1964. They picked up […]
Double overhead sets at Freshwater Bay can seem pretty intimidating when you come face to face with them in reality