Posts Tagged ‘Atlantic’

Colin Williams

Colin Williams remembers all of his family holidays spent on the isle of Wight where he learn’t surf during the 60’s and 70’s. The Isle of Wight was and probably still is my favorite place in the world. I must say that Australia, for me,is the one of the greatest places on earth; however, a […]


Round the World Surf Charter by Rob Ward

The Circumnavigation of Orinoco Flo Part 2 by Rob Ward PART ONE FINISHED happily in Bayona on January 17th. The ‘Bay of Biscuit’ (Hils) had done its worst and the ship of fools had sailed into northern Spain on the back of a northeasterly gale with all nine relieved and happy – seven thinking that […]


Crossing The Atlantic – Part 3 by Rob Ward

Crossing the Atlantic and Returning Home (The Midnight Hour – Part 3) From-Multihull International, August 1990 By Rob Ward Antigua – Flores (Azores) initially making for Bermuda Having returned to Antigua for the second time from the Grenadines and many strange and wonderful anchorages in between, Tris, Ray and I set about preparing The Midnight Hour […]


Rob Ward

I am heading off into the South Australian desert in a week or so to Cactus. If you Google Ceduna South Australia and go west 60k to Penong, Cactus is on the coast 20k roughly south. Nothing there except vast ranges of dunes to the west and the extensive Point Sinclair where there are 3 lefts and one of the best rights in the world. Cactus is only the surfers’ name for the area. It is not on the map as such. I’m figuring out the intricacies of inverters, solar panels and deep cycle batteries. In the 1970’s I went there about four years in a row for period of up to 3 months.

I don’t know how the writing will go at Cactus. I am taking a table I have made (Foam Sandwich/Carbon/Formica) , and hope to be better set-up than I have ever been in the past. But I’m not an electrician and my ability to write ANYTHING (pen and paper? Are you kidding me?) is contingent on my yet-to-develop competence in assembling the deep-cycle battery, the inverter, the alternator and the 2 solar panels (when they arrive) in an order that is not mutually explosive. Or, even, that produces a trickle of usable MACjuice.

There is no broadband or telephone reception there and I shall have to do a ?weekly, ?Fortnightly trip to Ceduna to hook up.

There is some resistance to surf photography at Cactus these days. If you look on any website that speaks of Cactus (any that I’ve seen, anyway) you’ll be pushed to find a decent wave. A brilliant bit of reverse propaganda. Dunno how they do it. Violence, I suspect.

I have a lot to do between now and the next 10 days finishing off work at “Mermaid Composites” and preparing the Ute.

I wonder if you have read Fred Mew’s “Back of the Wight”. That’s more or less the Old Testament when it comes to getting into the surf. Of course, this was largely about getting in with rowing boats at night in horrendous storms to pull people out of sinking or grounded ships on the IW SW coast (the “Back of the Wight”). That, and smuggling and a little messing up the excise man.

I’ve lived in California and South Africa as well as sailing around Australia (whilst I was circumnavigating in Orinoco Flo) and I’ve driven across this country 3 times in cars costing from $50 to $200. But it is no pose to say that a great wave at Freshwater or Compton, for being so rare and beautiful and for its almost bizarre context and improbability remains as much of a thrill in my memory as any waves I have surfed around the world. And I do suffer a small nostalgia for Sid and the boys and girls, who so wisely and happily continued to make the lovely Island their home. I have a friend in Western Australia, Glyn Kernick (and his wife), who was also an early (and conscientious) member of the IW Surf Club and may be able to help you with pictures and memories.

I built Orinoco Flo with a heroic small crew of surfers whom I did not pay. (Even at £10 an hour, 15,000 man-hours was going to break the project!) I did what I could with caravans and work-for-dole projects and whatever it took. But they were all champs. I’ll spell out the money for you one time but be quite certain that, when I sold Midnight Hour for £35,000 it was less than 1/6th of what was going to be needed. God is Good and I knew none of this before I started and (Allah be Praised) never employed an accountant who may well have made discouraging noises. I started her in 1992. I had built a less technical 35’ catamaran; Midnight Hour in the late 1980’s mostly alone, although a surfer from Sandown, Pete Singleton, came down from his job in London as a despatch rider to help every other weekend. The object was always to get to surf, though of course the boat building travelled under the guise of “commercial enterprises” but no-one was deceived, least of all the first ex-wife who moaned fairly constantly. With Midnight Hour I spent a year in the Canaries chartering, mostly to surfers before going round the Atlantic and selling her to a Welshman. We had good access to Isla Lobos off Fuerteventura. It’s essentially just a volcano with a brilliant lava bottom right point break peeling down the west side. One South African described it as, “more fun than Jeffrey’s.” I’d agree with that. I lived at Jeffrey’s Bay for 6 months in about 1975 having gone there by boat from Western Australia. A Newquay surfer, “Moby” (David Patience), travelled with me. I had met him in Newquay when I was at the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth after my midshipman’s year. But I didn’t know him very well at that time. After the winter in Jeffrey’s we cycled about 1000k to Cape Town, mostly along the Garden Route, but also via some inland areas like Oudtshoorn where (if I remember right) ostriches are bred. We made some good mountain passes like the Outeniqueberge and the famous (for being a bastard) Schwartberg Pass.

I finished an Honours in well, all sorts of things like The Romantic Poets (Distinction! eh?), Shakespeare, The Enlightenment, Modern Art and Modernism and so on and so forth. Yes, it was done at about double the Open University usual speed. This degree was the counterbalance I needed after being battery-reared in the sciences to further my lost career in the services. The Navy took me to South Africa and South America where I had started to surf and that was the rest was my life. Not the one my parents imagined or wished for.

Flo was the biggest thing I have done and my best memory of all that is the achievements of the young surfers on the build who went on to get jobs in France and Spain as top boat builders. Andy Rose married a beautiful Spanish lady (Teresa… daughter Zoe)) and worked on the build crew for the Spanish Americas Cup. Luke managed a boat builders yard in France and they both did major parts of the circumnavigation. Andy the first half and Luke the South-about round-Oz and Indo leg. I built Flo with two experimental flexible rudders that I built like Tuna-tails. The new owners of the Oricnoco Flo are mostly surfers and she has done 17 Round-the-Atlantic voyages (about 9,000 miles each) to charter in the Caribbean each winter. And last year she completed a second circumnavigation.

My longest-serving Island friend is Marcus Lloyd from Sandown. I met him on my return from South Africa in 1970-something when he was 14. I was getting up a business in jewellery-making and used to take him out to the West Wight. Marcus was to be making this trip to Cactus with me and continuing on to Western Australia.

We recently agreed that a trip we made in (Oh, you know.. “back in the day”…) to France, Portugal and Morocco, taking the entire winter, was one of the best times of our lives. And the beginning of mine once I left the beaten path

France was my break-out and the crucible in which I transmuted from a young, middle class, would-be naval officer to a committed lifetime surfer. It is a pleasant interlude to recount and if you will be patient, I will write it for you as well as I can. Your other references I shall put straight where needed. I should start by saying that others made the real contributions to surfing huge Ireland. I did go there for my honeymoon as the customs had temporarily removed my passport. A Vietnam war vet loaned us his caravan at Easkey (damned if I can remember the Gaelic spelling but it had at least 5 x the number of vowels). And no doubt rendered properly all the subtleties of one of the dozens of Irish accents. I surfed big Easkey alone. Except for some really big sharks. It’s at the mouth of the river and they were no doubt gathered for the salmon run. I almost doubted my eyes but others will tell you that, at Spanish Point, (in the pub?) you can find fotos of huge sharks and the anglers that caught them off the beach. Also, when I got out of the water my wife who was warming my undies on the car heater and pouring an Irish Whisky for me, said “Did you see those sharks?” Before I married, I drove around all of the UK and Ireland when I returned to the UK from Australia, selling jewellery. I made three circumnavigations of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, living from a Fiat van.

I did a lot of surfing by myself. I don’t think many people could truthfully say that they really enjoy surfing alone. I did so on Lanzarote long before there were locals there and of course the place is fairly intimidating. But I had a lovely surf on the huge beach just south of Malin Head. I had spoken to a local woman in a cottage and she said that there could be surf there that extended to the horizon (or some like Irish exaggeration) but there was none the day I was there. I’d come over on the ferry from Scotland where I’d been surfing as well as (er?) working. So I went for a run and halfway up the beach (a mile?) I came across a beautiful 5′ peak, light offshore in clear blue water. So! I ran all the way back to my van, got my board, ran all the way to the peak and surfed 2 hours with the 1000′ high cliffs disappearing, blue to the south. Magic day.

We all had people who influenced us and perhaps gave us the courage to make a break with what we were “supposed to do” with our lives. I’ll mentioned one or two I’d like to credit as we go.

I followed your links and it is bonkers how nostalgic it is to see the old fotos and the old faces. Please do send my very warmest regards to Sid, Rog and Sue Backhouse, I always remember for their brilliant house at the bottom of which cliff? where? Rory I remember for the green ? Bilbo with the terrific arrow on the deck. I swear it made the board go twice as fast at Compton Fields. John Ainsworth was a lovely, gentle fellow and a good surfer. For the record, I’m as full of admiration for those people who made the Island their home and the centre of their surfing existence, as for any emigrants from the Island! Of course, Islanders took their adventures in the wide world. But they returned home to a place unique in the world. Has anyone else seen the Shingles Bank going off? I did once at about 6-8′, from somewhere near the Needles! A left and a right peeling down each side.

Today is Saturday. I’ve got some clients coming to pick up a race paddleboard and surfboard I’ve built with Chilean Myrtle veneer and a vacuum-bagged epoxy laminate with some carbon. I really only make boards for my own amusement. I can’t get properly paid for that sort of work but I am past bored with what I call (with reference to the band), “Average White Boards”. The board’s a quad. I veneered the paddleboard too which was shaped in Styrofoam. I’ve got to get a lot of stuff ready for the 5000k round trip drive to Cactus and I’ll enjoy writing the story if I get my electrickery spot on.

I’ll start with France as it launched from the Island………..


2010 Interclubs Classic at Cranking Croyde

Press Release from Croyde Surf Club

* Croyde Surf Club Retain Interclubs Trophy after late fight back.
* Westward Ho! take Open division in tightly fought battle.
* Cornish Juniors Wrestle u-18 team title from Devon.

A Lucky strike with solid swell and offshore winds saw the 2010 Tiki National Interclubs Surfing Championships run, in classic contest conditions.

Organisers and sponsors alike had been nervously watching the charts for a week as a powerful early Winter Low spun across the Atlantic from Newfoundland, threatening onshore gales and torrential rain.

But in the end the storm split North and South, bringing light offshores and sunshine to North Devon, and pumping swell. The only damage was a shredded Marquee which ate itself in spectacular fashion on the day before the event.

With support from headline sponsors Tiki; and the Redbull crew on site with sounds and drinks; energy levels were sky-high amongst the 150 plus surfers who braved the paddle out on Saturday. From the contest site overlooking the break the gathered spectators winced and cheered epic rides, whilst hideous wipeouts in the heavy surf punctuated the generally high standard of surfing.

Clubs and teams from as far afield as The Isle of Wight, Boscombe and Truro descended on North Devon, determined to take the trophies on offer away from Croyde Surf Club, who in 2009 had dominated the event with wins in all categories. Intense local rivalry saw an equally strong challenge from the other North Devon clubs. Woolacombe Boardriders fielding two open and two junior teams, Saunton Hotdoggers entering the Open twice and Westward Ho! putting forward a heavy hitting crew.

At Half time on Saturday evening, the bookies sheets had been consigned to the bin: Croyde’s finest were lying in a dismal 4th as the reef-hardened dark horses from Westward Ho! had established a solid position in the Open Division. Powerful performances from Luke Parkhouse and Jordan Reed underpinning their lead. Woolacombe A and Saunton A sitting a close second and third respectively, were eyeing day 2 with eager anticipation.

On Peak ‘B’, the Junior division had ended with a battle of the mini-titans. Two rounds of top level performance surfing from some of the countries best young rippers ended with the Cornish Team Atlantic Coast Surf, run by Newquay legend Tony Good, coming out winners ahead of a strong Croyde ‘A’ team which had been widely tipped to retain their title. Croyde’s Alex Baker, Beau Bromham, Laura Crane and Taz Knight were unable to stop Tom Good, Harry Timson, Tassy Swallow and Angus Scotney from carrying away the trophy for ACS.

With all to play for, the banter in the aftermath of such an epic day was at fever pitch. Gulf Stream Shaper & DJ Jools Matthews eased the pain for the CSC contest crew in the party tent on Saturday night… and Sunday dawned to reveal a very contestable, and perfectly groomed swell.

Open Round Two opened with a bold tactical move from Woolacombe Club Captain Paul Barrington. Struggling to deal with ill disciplined team members who had failed to return from Saturday night revelry, Barrington attempted to field WBC ‘A’ team standout Stuart Campbell in two heats under the noses of Westward Ho! Sharp eyed Ho’s spotted the devious manoeuvre in time to protest & scupper the plan and Barrington was left to make a humiliating tour of the car park in search of a grommet to take the place of the missing Nick Thorn.

High levels of performance continued throughout Sunday. Isle of Wight Pro. Jonny Fryer posted an 8.5 single wave score in front of the judges on Peak A, threatening to further upset the rankings. Alex Baker hit back for Croyde A with his best heat of the contest, Gary Knights impressed for Boscombe, and Ben Howarth surfed a spectacular heat for Saunton. But with Westward Ho inexorably strengthening their grip on the leader board the Open title was wrapped up by a huge 15.73 heat score from Jordan Reed..

Croyde’s stranglehold on the on the Interclubs Trophy looked to be slipping, and it was down to their women to rescue the event for the Club. Fielding two strong teams Croyde women’s A and B racked up sufficient points to overcome the deficit from the Open/ Junior categories. Led by standout Andrea Lawrence they led CSC to a fine overall victory, with Laura Crane, Knight sisters Jemima, Harriet & Peony, Maisie and Flora Lawton and Lucy Campbell all pulling their weight.

BSA Contest Representative Pauly Jefferies commented that “the strength in depth of Croyde Surf Club was ultimately the decisive factor.” Matt Knight, the CSC contest director said; “It was fantastic to have such a strong entry from so many clubs, and the generally high level of surfing meant that there was doubt from the word go over what the result would be. Congratulations to Westward Ho! and ACS for their team prizes, it’s definitely a wake-up call to Croyde that victory may no longer be taken for granted in this event!”

Mountains of Bacon Butties, Gallons of Redbull and pumping swell contributed to the typically good natured Interclubs vibe. “There’s intense competitions for the trophies but everyone is so loved up I can hardly believe it” remarked one seasoned contest regular. “the commercial and individual focussed contests are just so much less fun, and seeing people cheering on their team mates really adds something to the spectator side of watching a comp.”

The Interclubs certainly offers something a bit different to regular format contests. “Surfing for your team means that people are generally looking out for each other as much as for themselves which is very refreshing” said one competitor. “there was one guy (Max Pechonis) who gave up his heat to help another surfer out because the grom had lost his board… and at one point a 12 year old girl stepped in to surf for an open division team from somewhere else in the country because their team member had had to go home…. It just wouldn’t happen at any other comp!”

The 2011 event will likely see intense competition across all divisions now that the contest has proved so close.

Results:

Tiki National Interclubs 2010

Open Division 1st Westward Ho!, 2nd Woolacombe A 3rd Croyde A

Women’s Division 1st Croyde ‘A’ 2nd Croyde ‘B’

Junior Division 1st Atlantic Coast Surf 2nd Croyde ‘A’ 3rd Woolacombe ‘A’

BSA Interclubs Trophy 1st Croyde Surf Club 2nd Woolacombe Boardriders 3rd Atlantic Coast Surf

Tiki Outstanding Surfer Awards. Jordan Reed, Andrea Lawrence, Max Pechonis.

Indoboard Big Move Award Gabriel Ley

Surfplugs Hideous Wipeout Award Ian Ramon Allison


France 1993

By 1993 I had a newer VW Camper, it was better equipped and I had surfing a lot. The previous year I had done a trip out to New Zealand surfing at Raglan and Piha and stopping on Oahu, Hawaii on the way home. I was very excited about this trip to France.

This time Shaun Baxter, Mark White and Jo Turner were coming with me and we had heard there was quite a contingent of other Islanders heading to the South of France.

After an overnight stop at Avranches to pick up Jo we set off for the Messanges area again. We arrived just as the sun was going down and I couldn’t wait to get everyone to the beach. It was high tide and only a bit of a shore break, but a swim in the warm Atlantic was lovely after the long drive.

For the next few days we had small waves on a low tide and nothing at high tide. The sun was out and it was very relaxing, but there was only so much sun bathing we could do. It wasn’t long before the sand dunes started to look like they could be fun. I had brought my snowboard with the intention of trying a bit of sand boarding with it. We were soon at the top of the biggest sand dune with snowboard, surfboards (no fins) and a bodyboard. The sand dunes weren’t steep or long enough for the snowboard but were pretty lethal on a surfboard with no fins.

On one trip to Hossegor we bumped into Martin Potter coming out of a café. Jo asked if she could have her picture taken with him and he was more than happy to oblige.

The evenings were spent with a few bottles of French beer or glasses of wine and a barbeque. Mark, Jo and myself were quite happy to chill most evenings at the local bar but Shaun was determined to go clubbing and would often walk or hitch along to ‘Club Le Fun’. He would come back with tales of crazy nights and sexy French girls, until one night he returned much earlier than usual grumbling about ‘elephants’ and ‘too much to drink’ as he went to bed. In the morning when we questioned him he said that when he turned the corner near the stadium he came across an elephant and had turned back thinking he had over indulged in the delights of French Red wine. We laughed at this ridiculous story but when we walked into town later that day we found that the Circus had arrived in town during the night with elephants, tigers and other exotic things. It suddenly made lots of sense and we all saw the funny side of it until we realised the conditions in which the animals were kept. The Tigers were obviously heavily sedated and in cages that were barely big enough for them to stand in.

Mark took to preparing and cooking food straight away and we were more than happy to let him as his meals were lovely. Jo got stuck in with the chores too, I tried to keep using the excuse that I did all the driving but they wouldn’t put up with that for too long, while Shaun did the washing up.

While the swell was small we went down to Hossegor to watch the Rip Curl Pro. When we arrived Luke Egan was on fire in his heat against Millar with some powerful moves. The next heat saw Shane Beschen beating Thomas and then we watched Dino Andino go through against Rob Bain.

The final was between a young Rob Machado and Damian Hardman. Damian’s experience proved too much for Rob and he went onto become the 1993 Rip Curl Hossegor Pro Champion.

With small waves we had time on our hands and Mark became very creative , making himself a nose protector from kitchen foil. Shaun had hit shops coming back with some John Lennon style mirror sunglasses.

Mark’s cooking got better and better, especially at the bbq. I remember lots of great meals using only the small hob in the van and the bbq, he would cook anything from rice, pasta, potatoes or couscous.

Earlier that year I had bought a couple of old longboards from Clive Richardson. The largest of which came to France with us just in case it was small. It was huge and very flat so I could catch the tiniest ripples with it. The only problem was that it was so heavy and the walk to the sea over the sand dunes carrying it on my head was a killer. I only managed to carry it over the dunes for 2 sessions on it, preferring to struggle on my shortboard, than carry that longboard. It made me appreciate what it must have been for surfers years a go with the big old logs.

The swell had improved and we had started to get a few good waves but it was now time for Jo to head home as she had to prepare for university. We dropped Jo at the train station in Bayonne, and noticed the pressure chart on a local newspaper. It looked very promising for good waves in a day or so.

The next couple of evenings we would always be found sat on the top of the sand dunes searching the horizon for the new swell as the sun went down. We weren’t the only ones and soon got chatting other surfers, Rich from Hayling Island who worked for Haven and his friends, Pete, Phil and others….

After a week of tiny waves we made a sacrifice to the surf god Huey. Mark made a tree mobile and donned zinc war paint (sun block). We lined up the boards and made a sacrifice of our most prized surf magazine that we’d brought with us.

When the swell hit it was epic. On the morning of the swell when we got to the top of the sand dunes and our first sight of the swell with corduroy lines to the horizon it almost had Shaun and myself sprinting to the ocean. As we started to put our leashes on at the waters edge we realised that Mark was missing. Looking back towards to sand dunes we saw Mark still standing at the top, mouth agape staring at the swell.

Initially the swell wasn’t big but it was solid and Mark said they were some of the fastest waves he’d ever had. Sadly later that day Mark was hit by some idiots board which bruised his kidneys and he was forced to seek medical attention from the local Doctor.

The swell grew over the next few days with the left really putting on a display and a couple of perfect ‘A’ frame peaks between Vieux Boucau and Messanges which broke as good as I’d seen before. These were my favourite breaks as you could sit just behind the peak and get barrelled on take off.

After a few great days of surfing we sat on the dunes with new friends Rich, Pete, Phil and others and watched this huge storm moving towards us. The wind seemed to hit us all of a sudden with no warning and we only got back to the bar before the rain started. The storm really hit that night with the most dramatic thunder and lightning show that only someone who has camped in those pine forests on the edge of the Atlantic will appreciate.

For the rest of the trip we had predominately on shore winds so spent a lot of time down at Capreton surfing in between the groins and enjoying the great fish restaurants and café’s or I would try and tempt Shaun and Mark to run down the beach and get as close to the shore break as possible for a photo. We also bumped into a gut called Liam who worked for Sola down at Capreton.

Another thing about surf trips is the music you listen to at the time. I remember listening to a lot of Smashing Pumpkins and a couple of great compilation tapes that Esther (The National Trust warden at the time) and an old friend of mine had done for me (I feel the need to download those tunes from ITunes, now where are those tapes)…


The Girls were there too…..!

During the early sixties it wasn’t just the boys enjoying the waves, there were some pretty hardcore girls surfing on the Island with no wetsuits or leashes too.