Us or them … or anyone.
Miki Dora once said something about being a surfer when there was surf and being other things the rest of the time. Over the last couple of years, we here at Legless have learnt the truth of that statement as our lives have gone through massive transformations. Apart from forging new careers and growing businesses, we’re all now proud fathers with rugrats running to look after, a ton more responsibility and a lot less time than ever before. In these hectic days of overtime, changing nappies and paying school fees, what little spare time we can find is directed squarely at getting in the water. These are our chances to recharge, commune with nature and friends and give our souls some space before we head back once more into the grind. In this regard we’re no different from most, and certainly not Dora.
For Chayne and Albert, a big chunk of these escapes is spent not in the water, but behind the camera. In the absence of big budgets and dedicated film crews, taking turns filming one another’s surfing is their only option. Although they sacrifice precious watertime by filming each other, they do it happily: they enjoy bringing you the video clips. A little bit of sacrifice is a necessary part of what we create here and we all know it’s worth doing.
This time Albert and Chayne headed south, to a well known yet strangely empty beach break. The waves weren’t consistent, but when they came they offered up plenty of fuel to recharge depleted batteries and gave the guys a truckload of reasons to smile the whole way home while exchanging stories of dirty nappies and making plans for the future. Just like anyone, really.
Chayne’s Legless day out.
Down the coast a bit from here, Mark McLeod has a little bolthole: a shack tucked in just behind the dunes at a pretty random beach that not too many people know about. Recently, Rob Rennie, Rob Slater and I drove down there to meet up with Mark for a day of winter fun. With a South-west wind grooming a building Southerly swell, we knew there would be plenty of options to choose from.
Our first session was a cold one: freezing early morning cross-shore winds and a fun beachbreak that we shared with just a couple of local kids. After a couple of hours trading waves we’d had enough of the rip and the heavy shorey, so we took our worn-out arms back to the shack, where Macca’s girl Jane thawed us out with a hot breakfast and coffee. The big defrost continued in the sheltered backyard sunshine, while our host dragged out a few old boards he recently scored. The stories started flowing as we discussed the different design approaches taken by Craig McDonald and Peter Ware, and then of course that led to Rob Rennie digging out Macca’s old guitar. After belting out a few tunes for us to rock out to, Robbie began improvising an impromptu song for the occasion: legend!
Eventually someone noticed the wind had swung around to straight out of the West. With our surf froth well and truly back on, we figured it was time to get wet again. We suited up, wandered down the track through the dunes and came out onto the beach right in front of a clean peak: a lovely right and left and not a soul within coo’ee.
All up, a great day, sharing good waves with great friends.
Words… Rob Harwood
Pics… Rob Slater
Tunes… Rob Rennie & Mark McLeod
Video… Jane Birch
There has been some waves around lately
Pic: Steen Barnes-16images
No dribbling, please!
Back in June 2013 we ran a little piece on some interesting split-tailed boards from UK – based Chris Cockett. Chris had some really intriguing ideas about getting flex into the rear ends of his boards while maintaining speed and drive. He created a brilliant design innovation utilising different materials, creative thinking and a truckload of laminating skill, all of which caused a quiet little stir here and there around the alt.surf world. Anyway, Chris just sent us these photos of a new board he recently finished for a customer in Hawaii, coincidentally also named Chris. We have no info on dimensions and so on as yet: we’ll save that stuff for when some photos of it in action arrive. Meanwhile, feel free to drool.
A short little clip of Chayne and Albert enjoying some fun beachbreak action. Enjoy!
Two men and a swamp donkey.
Africa’s a vast continent whose coastline is still, incredibly, relatively unknown and unexplored. Much of her West coast, for instance, is an inhospitable place: harsh coastal desert with huge sand dunes, enormous seal colonies, and abundant sea life, including massive sharks. There’s also mind-blowingly good surf, as anyone with a laptop and an internet connection now knows. Namibia’s Skeleton Bay popped up, apparently out of the blue, on Youtube and various surf media websites a few years ago. As an example of a sand-bottomed point break, it’s jaw-droppingly good: long, relentless, powerful, but it’s also a rigorous test of skill and commitment, both as a wave and as a travel destination. Thousands may drool over the online videos, but few will ever make the journey to experience the wave at first hand. South African Gigs Celliers is an exception. He was among the first crew to explore this Namib Desert gem’s potential. Marc Crawford recently convinced Gigs to take him along on a road trip to Skeleton Bay to catch a swell. On the long drive back home, Marc managed to extract an interview from the captive Gigs, but only on condition that Gigs was allowed to interview Marc afterward. The donkey? Well, read on.
Marc Crawford. How many trips have you made?
Gigs Celliers. I’ve done 8 or 9 trips there. The fact that it’s on the same continent as I live makes it a bit easier to respond to the right swells and launch a strike. It’s a flight away, but a long drive. I’ve done both. The first trip I did was kinda a weird experience. A kid walked into my shop and mentioned Cory Lopez had just visited his area. What? Why would he be in an area with fairly good but pretty average surf … considering the cost, distance and cold water! I went into stealth mode and waited for the heaviest storm of the year. I flew in without a clue where the heck to go but somehow knew I was onto something. Turns out a hitch-hike into a local town and a beer at the pub with my board bag on the patio got a local bodyboarder chatting to me. Soon I was networked into a tight but amazingly friendly crew. Turns out they barely knew what was in their desert area but it had been spotted on Google Earth and ventured upon by Surfer mag in the USA.
Gigs. I got a few waves first visit but knew I had to get it at potential. Turns out I arrive the next year with only Andy Irons, Corey Lopez, Twig Baker, Greg Long and Pete Mendia. Six of us in what I can only describe as a cartoon line-up that only Wilbur Kookmeyer and Captain Goodvibes got to experience. Linear hollow grinding perfection stretched out illogically for two kilometres. Not joking. The host family (Lombards) shuttled us in Landrovers until the sun went down. We were hi-fiving and Greg and Andy said they just counted me in a six foot, thirty second tube. I know it sounds like crap but I remember visiting zones mentally during that ride that nullified any previous tube experience. G-land – gone. Supersuck - gone. Desert Point Lombok - fading badly. Since that moment we were all hooked. We lied and denied any knowledge of its whereabouts but the media couldn’t let go of it. And no one can blame ‘em.
Marc. Can you describe the uniqueness of the wave in relation to kneeboarding?
Gigs. When you unlock the right one it is hands down the best wave on Earth, if tubes count. No turns except an angled drive off the bottom. I’ve had waves so mesmerizingly metrically perfect reel for more than a km. Oh bullshit, I hear some of you call. OK, let’s get mathematical. Fifteen second plus period swell striking the sand at the right angle turns a Waimea shorebreak type effect into an angled peeler. Being a West coast wave, the swell seems to slam more as opposed to East coast points that wrap. I ain’t no scientist, but the punch the wave packs is beyond terrifying. I have been more frightened of a six foot wave there than a thirty foot wave when I was doing all my tow surf adventures.
Marc. What’s the longest wave and barrel you’ve surfed while in the desert?
Gigs. I’ve been learning to concentrate on focusing and mentally not ejecting. Sounds weird but when you pass ten seconds of tube time you enter new mental zones. So to calibrate I try talking or counting - one crocodile, two crocodile, three crocodile kinda deal. I have counted to thirty nine before. I have seen guys sit in pits for close to a minute. When you arrive you will understand for yourself how hard it is to document.
Marc. Rumour has it some of the farts on this trip were as long as the barrels. Please shed some air on the subject?
Marc. Looking back at all the visits, can you sum everything up in a few words?
And then the tables turned …
Gigs. Hey MC, now that I managed to get ya up to Skeleton Bay, what can ya tell the kneelo world ?
Gigs. Oh, and how do you compare the wave with other spots you have paddled?
Marc. Unrelenting rawness, earthy Jupiter madness.
Surfing: Gigs Celliers
Images & Words Marc Crawford
Legless.tv African correspondents
A quick video of Chayne Simpson, Albert Munoz, and David Parkes on a day trip down the coast.
Simon Farrer blistering on through and early autumn light.
#autumnsurf #surflineup #mygong
Winter Euro style: rubber-up and smile.
One of the things legless surfing has in common with its taller cousin is a long history almost entirely associated with the Pacific triangle defined by Hawaii, California and Australia’s East coast. It’s all too easy to conjure up sun-drenched images of long, glistening barrels peeling off like clockwork in the lee of a palm-fringed paradise. It’s nice work if you can get it, but reality for the majority of surfers around the world is far removed from the island idyll so beloved of magazine editors and video makers.
For those who call the Atlantic coastline home, long summers of onshore dribble are followed by monstrous winter storms that can sweep the entire ocean for weeks at a time, battering coastlines and keeping most of the population cowering behind closed doors. When the swells born of those storms march in from the cold to unload on reefs and points from Europe to Africa, Atlantic surfing is restricted to those prepared to brave waves big enough to swamp buildings, often in water and air temperatures low enough to be painful.
Between storms come rare bluebird days of clear skies and clean lines on an ocean groomed by light offshores. These are the days Legless.TV’s Spanish correspondent Chus Fiochi loves best. This winter just gone Chus (who recently became a doting father for the first time) grabbed his opportunities when they came and even managed to capture a few of them with his trusty GoPro. Being the kind of guy who likes to keep things simple, when Chus sees a barrel, he gets inside it. We like his style!
East coast Easters can be frustrating. Having worked since the end of whatever Christmas break you had, you look forward to enjoying a few days off, but so does everyone else, including thousands of schoolkids. Summer’s a distant memory and autumn has well and truly taken over, but sometimes the weather forgets. You get later sunrises, cooler mornings and the possibility of an afternoon glass-off, but if you intend making finely detailed Easter plans you need to factor in the chance of an east coast low developing and wiping it all out before you ever get started.
This year had a little bit of everything, depending on where you were. The preceding weekend, tropical cyclone Ita barrelled in from the Coral Sea, wiped out the North Queensland sugar cane crop and then spent a week or more drifting southeast as a benign swell-pump before joining up with another low to spin off into the Tasman delivering wind, rain, and more swell to the far south coast. Up north saw sunshine and swell, Sydney and points South had weather and swell, but all round, surfers from Noosa to Narooma scored. In the Gong, Chayne and Albert were on it early each day, making the most of the clean autumn lines, while Steen dragged himself out of a warm bed to point his camera at ’em. It’s no consolation to the Queensland cane-growers, but we ended up with a pretty sweet set of photos.
Rob Harwood - legless.tv
Pics: Steen www.16images.com.au
Wherein Tinso becomes the grateful beneficiary of some random acts of generosity, makes a slight return to selected highlights of his wayward youth and coincidentally acquires en route a subtle and sophisticated appreciation of some of the finer things in life.
I’ve fallen for an older one.
I suppose ‘Cougar’ is a little unfair – she’s actually a couple of years younger than me, but she’s so much more ‘mature’ than I’m used to. Same basic outline - some lumps, bumps, and battle scars, and her midsection’s thicker than most - but her shape is still there and just as captivating.
The ride is awesome. I’m loving every minute of being back in the saddle. She’s built for comfort, not for speed: settle in and enjoy the ride, without working her too hard. In fact, she does all the work for me, and it doesn’t have to be big to satisfy both of us either, just good clean fun.
I used to look sideways at hipsters with their 30+yo single fins, thinking “why would you ride a junker, when all the performance you could ever ask for is at your fingertips?” First wave, I found out. A donated (thanks Albert) Friar Tuck single fin, rounded step-tail slab with a nice wide, thick girth, and an equally aged and donated box fin (cheers Nick) have opened my eyes and the gate and the horse has bolted. With beyond yellowed foam, even darker ding repairs and patches of car-bog, this who-knows-how-old Friar Tuck is a whole lotta fun! The focus goes straight back onto riding a wave purely for THAT feeling. Slide in, bottom turn, and go! You won’t be launching off the lip, or smashing aerial 360’s, but you just might enjoy feeling a little 70’s-ish, cruising up and down a cool green wall.
The grommet stoke is still all there, in that feeling of elation when you’ve just wired taking off, bottom turning, and lining up a peeling wall: all smooth and flowing without any learner clumsiness. When you finally pull out off the back and realise you’ve just nailed that one … well, we all remember it!
It might be just that a change is as good as a holiday, but it feels like it’s another arrow in the quiver, another option for a different set of conditions. Riding as many different boards as possible is a great thing for your surfing, and a great thing for the soul. Widens your horizons, opens your eyes and minds. All that hippie guff.
Have a hunt for your own cougar. She’s out there somewhere. You never know where she’s hiding or how old she might be, but treat her right and she just might show you a trick or two along the way.
Waikiki beach boys and California girls, tanned skin, bikinis, fringing reefs and swaying palms: like it or not, these are the elements that have formed the archetypal images of twentieth century surfing. In reality, every place around the world where people ride waves has always had its own local variation. The Gong, a town built on coal and steel, has a version that invariably involves neoprene and often places improbably perfect waves in brutally industrial settings. The most human – and perhaps the most beautiful - truth in this juxtaposition of natural and industrial is the reminder that what we see may not always be what it at first seems, and that those prepared to dig beneath the surface will often reap a rich reward. Of this session, Chayne said, “All I can remember about it is that it was pumping for a week and I could only catch 3 waves cause my ribs were busted. ” Albert’s take? “All I can remember is it was incredibly crowded and all I could get were three waves while weaving in and out of half of Cronulla that came down for the swell.” After all, everybody loves the Illawarra.
Thanks to South Coast Enigma Rob Slater for these pic’s of Chayne mixing things up at home.