Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Little bit of French

Phew - bit of a shaky start with the ferry being cancelled on the Sunday night crossing but at least it gave us an extra day for our hangovers to wear off. Caught the 11pm boat from Plymouth into Roscoff and drove off the ferry into fantastic 8.00am sunshine.

Decided to take the coastal route down to the Vendee via St Nazaire and after 4 and a half hours on blissfully empty roads we pulled into Bretignolles sur Mer. North of Les Sables d'Ollonne and South of St Gilles. The camp site 'Les Dunes' had had a bit of an update since we were last there in October but the main difference was that the place was well and truly open! Novel experience for us Summer holidays!

We pitched our tent in our favourite #91 spot next to the boundary and the gate to the cycle piste and I checked out the surf. Onshore shite - no one in and no obvious sign of it improving. Arse, however The wind dropped overnight and an early morning check saw me grabbing my board for a solitary - lumpy but fun couple of hours - the little starboard never fails to amaze me - the more I get used to it the more it delivers and I had some fantastic waves in conditions that I would have thought twice about at home. A good incentive to stay on the board were the masses of jelly fish that were floating about in the surf.

I managed to get a varied mixture of waves in over the five days and four nights that we were there - the wind generally went offshore late evening and early morning giving me a range of big and munchy to chest high and clean

why is it that the pics and videos dont show the true scale of things? - I dont think that I'm a pussy but some of the stuff rolling through the morning I filmed was a fair size - yet the film shows it as tiny. Honest - it was (yes I am a fisherman and the one that got away was truly huge!!)

Still ropey video with loads of editing but the Ramones seem to help smooth things out a bit!

and a cracking little late afternoon session that was only a couple of foot but clean as - unbelievably I was the only stand up surfer there - and with about 13km of beach and limitless free access points within 5minutes walking of our tent, finding my own space was never a problem. The beach at Les Dunes is huge - If you thought 3 miles of Gwithian was a stretch this one appears to go on for ever not being as shallow as Gwithian there is a bit more of a shore dump at the top of the tide and the greater water depth seems to give a bit more punch to the wave than at home. We began to settle into a bit of a pattern of early morning and late evening surfs and afternoon (and later evening) bike rides to check the surf.

The area has over 300k of brilliant cycle piste which is fun,easy and family friendly - even with tag-a-longs and buggies. In fact our campsite had bikes available on site ready to rock although we took our own. We stayed at http://www.campinglesdunes a large, clean and incredibly well appointed site with mini golf - proper supermarket - water park and swimming pool etc etc etc. This is the fourth time that I been there - always camped always pitch 91 and always payed 20euros a night. The site is open from the 1st April until the 11th November - when the surf rocks. They also have mobile homes for rent at good prices especially just out of season (but with limited site services).

The village back to the main road has a bit of an odd 'ghost town' feel with a one way system that like everything else in France does not look like it should work - but does brilliantly. A few small cafe's and and family restaurants all great value all very friendly. We mainly ate mussels and drank loads of vin rouge and beer and cidre all for about 28 - 30 euros for the two of us.

We cycled the 5km or so along the coastal pistes cyclables north into town which was great fun plate of oysters - more wine and back. £8 for a dozen oysters and beer - fantastic.

North of where we camped is St Gilles - beautiful fishing port 15k by traffic free cycle path and the town is geared up to give cyclists priority - big long beach here as well as a breakwater about a mile long which is great for fishing off.
Fantastic break and really chilled, easy living - camping is fun and civilised here - loads of space, not too many people (depending on season) bloody hot - we had 37.5'c at one point, and pretty much perfect if you had a young family and wanted to keep everyone sweet and still get some waves - while checking out your Autumn road trip.

Travelogue over - I'll be back here in October with the guys. - Check out the pics and videos if you want any more info ask.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Road Trip

Been a bit of a week - massively busy at work, the 2nd round of the BSUPA series held at our home break Saturday and Sunday our daughter's 20th on Friday a flying factory trip to France Tuesday and Wednesday and a loose plan to take the Sunday night ferry to Roscoff for the first 'Summer' weeks holiday in 20 odd years.

So get the Lyon trip out of the way - if ever a company needed a European source of high quality carbon fibre tubing these are the Guys to sort it out. From a roll of carbon filament they 'weave' continuous lengths of carbon sock several layers of which is stretched onto a hard internal mandrel varying the lay-up to suit the stresses and torsions. This is then encased in a hard alloy outer mold and then injected with resin. baked and cured - amazing - this is the Time sport cycle factory - - absolutely, unquestionably the finest hand built cycle frames - can't for the life of me think of an alternative application for a product like that !!!!

The carbon weaving loom that takes a single filament and creates the 'sock' that's seen in the next shot.

Carbon 'sock' one long continous seam free tube - incredibly strong and lighter than a light thing - on Atkins. The end result - Time RXR frame and fork Mmmnn mmmn.

Managed to get a quick wave in on Friday evening at Gwithian with Gavin - neither of us had been in much over the last few weeks - it was desperate - onshore confused chop - and great fun !!! Such is the power of stand up.

Saturday working so could not enter the comp - I'm way too crap anyway - but went to the evening pasta party - Thai chicken curry actually - fantastic food - great company and enough beer and wine to agree to meet Kath and Shane afterwards where we ended up dancing at the Sandsifters I don't dance!! Got to bed just before 4.00am.

Not dancing Family shot - Kathleen - Shane - Charmaine - not sure who the ugly guy is
A Father and Daughter moment

There are worse - but it will cost you to see them - my head still hurts.

Sooo it was a bit of a blessing when I checked my phone on Sunday morning'ish to find a text from Brittany ferries saying that they had broke the boat and we would not be sailing until Monday night when they had plugged up the hole (or something like that).

And here we are van loaded clothes packed and ready to rock - je suis tres content - à bientôt.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Been off the board since last Thursday week now. After eagerly watching the swell charts Shane and myself managed to paddle into a very hollow, lowish tide Gwithian on Thursday 29th.

The sea was like glass with a rock solid, head high swell. Most waves were close out's but there was the odd shoulder that gave an incredibly fast lip hugging, butt clenching, and as it turned out foot slicing ride. First wave clipped my foot on one of the fins in the white water. Thought at first that I might have just lost some skin but jokingly said to Shane as I paddled back out that I'd just cut my toe off. The coolish water must have deadened the feeling somewhat so I carried on for a couple of hours - great session. Probably not the best move - neither was packing the new mouth that I'd made in my foot with sand as I trudged back up to the van. The guy in casualty that stitched me up had great fun dredging '3 Miles of Golden Sands' from between my toes.

Three days later and my foot turns red and blows up like a dark red spacehopper full of custard at very high pressure - all thoughts of getting back in the water this week as the summer swell of the year hits fade away until the antibiotics do there cell bursting stuff - possibly as I write this.

So apart from the storm in my foot there is a hurricane of words flying around the net regarding the heel depressions that seem to be appearing like crop
circles on boards around the world - I have had some appear on the deck of my 9'8" - nothing drastic but enough to mention to Tim at the Longboard house and
John from Starboard. Both assure me that there is nothing to worry about - so I'm not, at the moment.

In my board rack I probably have a dozen custom surfboards all with compression marks of some form or another - I expect my long boards to last me two years
before I retire them. Most shortboarders would be chuffed to get a decent 12 months out of their kit less if they ride hard.

10'6" 'Best Ever' Triple stringer showing compression hollows

Shane's Matt Adams 5'11 on the right

My StarBoard deck showing shallow hollows

No point putting a level flat across the middle of the board as the centre is slightly raised and falls away to the rails - obviously this would exaggerate the impression of the hollow

Skate boarders trash their kit on a super regular basis. If I get worried about my deck I have registered my concern within the warranty period with my supplier who I trust implicitly.

If the deck was to delam after my warranty period but within say two years I would probably push for a seriously 'reduced cost replacement' backed up by StarBoard. If this were not to happen I would probably vote with my wallet and find an alternative product. After that I don't think that I could complain too much. One argument that could be levelled about the situation is regarding the second hand value later on - fair point but I suppose I bought my board to ride and my value comes from me using it not what it's worth when I'm done, that's a bonus not a right. The only board I have that is in pristine condition is the one hanging on my living room wall. And that's never been ridden.

I have been a bit pissed of about the cracks and scratches that have appeared in the board but when I check out USED C4's they seem pretty battered as well - just that the white shows less damage. Perhaps a custom would hold up a bit better as the paint is on the foam not a top coat - perhaps it's flailing around in the surf with a paddle like something out of the Texas Chain Saw Massacre that's doing it. All I know is that I am (was!!) riding harder and longer than before - and that's nice!

Plus the model range has two option's 'Tuf Skin' and 'Sport Tech' can't say that I didn't have the option.

Busy week coming up - stitches out Monday - off to France on business Tuesday and Wednesday - Check out the BSUPa comp at Gwithian on Sunday (work Saturday so only socialising) - then off to France with the bikes and boards on Monday for a week.

Now I'm off to check the dents in my deck!!
Big thanks to all who read this and take the time to comment - please keep it coming