Summer’s Swell

Towards the end of September the swell gods smiled upon me, the forecast was 3ft, no wind and sunny on my day off; a perfect excuse to chuck my board in the car and head through to Cayton Bay.

Despite the sun shining the traffic was relatively free flowing on the run through, and once at Cayton the carpark still had plenty of spaces.

After a couple of coffees I suited up and headed down to the sea. Usually I would do a scout of the town beaches too, but a friend I knew off the East Coast Bodyboard Club Facebook group was already in at Cayton so I trusted that he’d done a check and headed down to meet him.

Now as it was a weekend the beach was fairly busy, with lots of newbies in the water on foam boards, not the biggest of hassles, but a touch annoying when a lot of them were unaware of surf etiquette and were dropping in on most waves.

I paddled out and snagged a couple of small ones before noticing Lee and swimming over to say hi. It was good to have someone to talk to in the water again, and I tried to get some decent shots of him with my board mounted Go Pro:

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Unfortunately I was just shooting video so the quality of the stills isn’t as high as I would’ve liked, but it gave me some good practice for positioning to get the kind of shots that I like.

We had a fair few waves between us, and while it wasn’t big or perfect it was still good fun. There’s a lot worse things to do on a day off!

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Steph was also on hand to get some shots from the beach. Her photography skills improve everytime, I’m sure she’ll get a shot the mags before I do!

After the surf I spent a couple of hours wondering round Scarborough with Steph, eating fish and chips and doing generally touristy things that I never really do on a solo mission which made a really nice change.

All in all it was a swell day at the coast!

Welsh WaveGarden

If you surf you’ve probably seen the pics and videos that have been doing the rounds over the last couple of months of the WaveGarden in Snowdonia. Teaser shots of the wave had been released whilst it was still under construction and upon it’s opening day the internet was saturated with images from the place showing a pretty decent looking wave.

Speaking to my friend Harry we decided we had to have a crack at it, sorted a day when were both free and pre-booked an hours session down there one evening.

We decided to do the advanced wave and it was a good job we did. Whilst the intermediate was more of a knee high peeling wave, the advanced was genuinely shoulder high, not exactly the world’s most technical wave, but it looked fun.

It took us a couple of hours to drive down from Sheffield and we got there early so that we could check the place out and shot off some pictures:

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Was A Bit Of A Walk To Get This Shot, But It Gives A Great View Of The WaveGarden.

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Close Up Of The Same Sponger.

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Different Angle, The Wave Holds A Nice Shape.

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Never Seen A Surfer With A Background Like This.

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Plenty Of Time On The Wave  For Maneuvers.

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Incredible Place To Surf.

We were due on the wave at 6 so we checked in at around 5. It’s a bit weird getting ready in changing rooms as opposed to a carpark but once we were ready we walked over to the briefing room. The staff were super friendly and explained the rules to us, took a couple of minutes, it’s not overly complicated. 3 people are in the advanced group and you take it in turns catching the wave. If you miss it or wipe out you go to the back of the queue!

Briefing over, we headed out into the pool…. waiting for my first wave was a very weird experience. The pool is flat and still, then you hear a small groan and the plow that generates the wave starts moving towards you and the wave just rises up out of nowhere! Very disconcerting at first but easy enough to get used to.

It’s probably more powerful than most of the beaches in the North East on anything but the most intense of swells, meaning each wave is nice and fast, as well as quite easy to catch. During my hour I caught all 12 waves that came my way and each one lasted between 15-20secs, better than I’ve had in Scarborough for a longtime!

I had my go-pro mounted on the board for the first few waves, but after a lifeguard told me the founder of go-pro had lost 2 cameras himself I left it on the shore as I fancied taking off later and pushing it a bit, highly likely to lead me to wipeout and lose my go-pro!

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One Of The Stills From The Go-Pro.

A little longer than an hour would’ve been nice, but we got out of the pool pretty satisfied. 12 waves in an hour is good going, especially when they all peel smoothly I will definitely be heading back, just not for awhile as at £45 an hour, plus a full tank of petrol for a trip, it ain’t cheap!

Shooting Shorebreak

When I first started getting into photography some of the shots that inspired me most were those of empty waves breaking onto the shore. I’m not 100% what drew me to this type of shot but it has remained my favourite type of surf shot, and is something that I have been wanting to try for years.

The problem with this type of shot is that you generally need a good DSLR with a fast shutterspeed and a decent lens. On top of that you need a waterhousing for your camera. Now the camera and lens can add upto anywhere from £500 to £2000, then add on another £1000 or so for the waterhousing and you can probably gather why I haven’t been posting many shorebreak shots.

However, since the launch of the GoPro and it’s subsequent upgrades the price of shooting in the water has gone down. The quality of the GoPro isn’t quite the same as a DSLR but it is pretty damn good, and some surf mags have even run GoPro shots on their frontcovers so the quality isn’t far off.

Since I didn’t have a spare £3000 knocking about I got a GoPro Hero 4 Silver for Christmas and have been slowly getting to grips with it.  I made a DIY mount to make it easier to swim with and last week I finally got a chance to test it in the open ocean.

I’d gone to Scarborough with the hopes of catching a few waves but the reality was different from the surf forecast. Instead of just turning round and heading home I decided to just swim out with the GoPro and shoot some empty waves. I put the camera on burst mode and rattled off around 900 images. Some of them turned out ok;

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I’m really pleased with the results, they may not be as good as the photographers I look upto (Clark Little & Tedford Mahiko) but they aren’t a bad start. Hopefully I’ll get a few more chances to practice before the Autumn swells start hitting and some great waves will be lighting up the East Coast.

Scenic Cumbria

Ever since Steph moved upto Whitehaven in April of last year I have enjoyed going up there as often as possible. The weather has usually been pretty cooperative, especially in the summer months, meaning we got to do a lot of exploring in one of England’s most beautiful places.

The scenery never fails to amaze me, no matter the weather, but on a recent weekend exploration we ended up at a Moto X event near Workington. I had my DSLR with me and snapped off a few hundred shots, just because the action from the races clashed amazingly with the local landscape:

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These shots are my personal favourites from all the ones I took.

It was a great event to watch, the background however made it spectacular, it was just a shame the event wasn’t well publicised as the crowd was a touch sparse with all things considered.

East Coast Getaway

Both myself and Steph had a few days off towards the end of March but weren’t too sure what we wanted to do with them. Various ideas were floated, Norway looked like an option for awhile, as did various other European destinations. However, in a bid to save a bit of cash (big adventure in the pipeline for the end of the year) we decided to stay fairly local and rent a cottage.

A couple of hours looking online and ringing round later and I had one booked in the small village of Ebberston, close to Pickering, Whitby and Scarborough, a really great location for some walking and, if the weather was in my favour, some surfing.

The cottage I had found was lovely, in a really quiet area but had access to a swimming pool and jacuzzi, as well as having a great wood burning fire. It ticked all the boxes for me, I enjoy swimming and any chance to play with fire. Steph was equally happy, mostly about the swimming, she’s not as big of a firebug as me.

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Nice To Have A Fire On An Evening.

Our first full day started out quite overcast as we headed over to Pickering. It’s somewhere I have been a lot, but not since I was about 14/15 so it was good to have a wander round again. There are a couple of old second hand bookshops and it’s quite easy to lose a bit of time in those. With a few books bought we decided to move onto Goathland, famous as the setting for TV’s Heartbeat.

The weather wasn’t great on the way there, we stopped to eat some sandwiches overlooking the Hole Of Horcum but the rain meant we couldn’t really see all that much of it. As we parked up in Goathland the sun started to peek out, and it stayed relatively bright and warm for a couple of hours as we walked some of the trails along the old railway line.

The paths were really nice, taking you into the woods and dropping you down by small rivers, the highlight though was seeing some wild deer run by. They were super close, pretty much heading straight at us when they realised we were people and changed direction rapidly. About 15seconds after the near-deer crashing experience a dog bounded past after them, obviously the reason they were running.

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Taken Before The Stampede.

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Just Off The Beaten Track.

After spending most the afternoon walking we headed back to the cottage for a pre-dinner swim. It was a nice quiet evening spent watching films in front of the crackling fire, can’t complain at that.

An early start on Friday morning led us to Scarborough. Upon arrival the surf looked good but I decided to leave it a couple of hours before getting in to give the wind a chance to die down. We spent some time on the beach at South Bay before walking up into the town and doing a little shopping. I picked up some new fin socks to try and stop my feet freezing like they did the last time I paddled out.

By the time I got my wetsuit on the wind had died down a fair bit so it seems I made the right call. The waves were 2ft max, but still fun. Quite a few people were out but I still managed to get my fair share. It was my first time using the go pro too, so not having to do any duckdives or suffering any bad wipeouts was good for my confidence in it.

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I Had The Go Pro On Constant Video, This Is A Still Pulled From It.

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Steph Was On Hand With The DSLR To Get Some Shots From Another Angle.

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Really Like This Shot She Took.

After steady drive back and another pre-dinner swim we walked to the pub across the road from the cottage for dinner. It was a touch overpriced but really nice food so I can’t really complain there.

Saturday was our final day on the East Coast and we spent in Whitby with my parents and Steph’s mum (her Dad was working unfortunately). The sun was again out and we spent a few hours strolling up and down Whitby’s side streets before heading to a Fish & Chip restaurant by the pier for some food. The portion sizes were massive, my plaice was like 2 fish had been battered together. Safe to say I was full by the end of it.

All that was left to do was the steady drive home.

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Steam Train From Pickering.

Throwback Thursday

I know “Throwback Thursday” is usually reserved for instagram but when I realised what the the date was I couldn’t resist using it as an excuse to post some pictures from my travels.

It’s almost 3years to the day that I was watching some of the worlds best bodyboarders in the Pipe Pro final in Hawaii. Sat on the sand, camera in hand it was almost impossible to get any closer to the action, and surfers were just passing through the crowd on their way to the waves, something that doesn’t happen in many other sports. Over the course of the contest I reckon I shot close to 500 frames, but probably close to 100 of those were rattled off in the final heat. 100 isn’t that many by professional standard, but I had more shots than I knew what to do with, but here are my pick of the last round:

 

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Jeff Hubbard.

 

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Mike Stewart Was Pushing Close To 50 During This Contest. Still Surfed Like He Was 21.

 

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Dave Winchester Hitting A Backflip. Solid Reef To Land On If He Messed Up.

 

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Jeff Hubbard Running To His Mates And Fans After Winning.

It was an awesome contest to watch, the waves were great and the surfers were going all out to win. Seeing guys who I had seen in magazines and videos up close and at one of the planets premier waves was a mind blowing experience. Then there were also some guys in the comp who I knew, the North Shore is quite small, and there’s only really one backpackers place and it was full of people who had flown in for the comp, so you get to know them which makes the earlier heats all the more interesting, hoping your new friends make it.

I shared a dorm with a guy from the Basque area of Spain called Alex, he was on the Pro tour and had recently won his first event in Australia. Unfortunately he didn’t advance through his heat in Hawaii, he still had some pretty great waves though:

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Alex Uranga, Looking Comfortable At Pipeline.

 

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Renzo, 17 Years Old And Charging Pipeline At Size.

 

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Eddie Read, Flying The Flag For The UK. Big Waves Skills Probably Helped By Living In Oz Though.

 

Hawaii, and the North Shore in particular, was an amazing time for me. I was able to get in the sea almost everyday, in challenging waves and really push myself. Also getting to see the pro bodyboarders absolutely rip was no bad thing either!

 

It’s Not Always Grim Up North

I’ve been a bit unmotivated on the surf front recently, only getting in the water once or twice since my trip to Morocco. Partly down to work, partly down to not having a wingman to surf with anymore I decided that as soon as I got the chance in the new year I would be on it. Only a few days in to January and I was loading my car up to chase a decent looking swell heading to Scarborough.

The journey is pretty much autopilot to me these days and was very uneventful, but the sun kept poking out and the wind didn’t seem too bad so all in all it was looking favorable. I pulled upto Cayton Bay first and walked to the headland, it looked to be about 3ft from the top but a bit messy and inconsistent, but still there was surf! I watched a few sets but decided to check the town beaches before committing.

South Bay was almost flat, maybe 1ft, 1.5ft max so I carried on round to North Bay where some nice shoulder high waves were breaking. The crowd was probably close to 30 people, a lot for January, but the waves were breaking in a few separate places allowing the crowd to spread. I rattled off a fair few shots before biting the bullet and getting suited up myself (whilst downing a coffee for warmth).

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The pictures show just how good the waves were, what they can’t show is just how cold it was. Paddling out took a fair bit of effort and once I’d made it past the breakers I had a few minutes to recover and have a look for the best place to catch a wave. I was only out for around 45mins – 1hr and probably caught 2 waves, I’d seriously over-estimated how warm my fin socks were (turns out 3mm just doesn’t cut it in Jan). However the waves I got were good, with a bit of power behind them, and it was nice to be out in the water again, even if it wasn’t for long.

By the next swell I should have my new Go Pro mounted to my board to give you a spongers eye view of some chocolate brown Scarborough surf.