Tuesday, 27 January 2015

ANDY GARNER INTERVIEW



Andy Garner - Against the Grain Handplanes
Pic: Maria Cavalier

Andy Garner is amazing. He's been surfing for nearly 30 years and still retains the enthusiasm of a stoked grommet. He posesses a creative eye and a craftsmans hands, being an accomplished photographer, fine art painter and more recently the creator of fine handcrafted handplanes which he makes from his home in Cornwall.

These seemingly simple craft may appear humble in appearance, yet look a little deeper and you'll discover that these are quite possibly the best handplanes being made here in the UK currently, and with orders from folk in California, Australia and Hawaii who are now also enjoying the glide, they may well be some of the best internationally too.

The research and development that Andy puts into his products is quite phenomenal, hours and hours of water testing, refining and defining all providing direct feedback into the creation of his high quality watercraft.

He took a break from the workshop to answer some questions on skateboarding, surfing and the fun of handplaning.


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Andy where did you grow up.
I grew up in Cornwall, primarily Playing Place.

I know you were a skateboarder, what turned you onto skateboarding?
During the 70s there was a big influx of American TV programmes and products like American football shirts and suddenly skateboards appeared on the scene. So we all started making our own with roller skates stuck onto a board. At the time there was a housing boom and all these housing estates went up with perfectly smooth new tarmac roads which were fantastic for skateboarding and my Dad saw that I was into it and even made us a little driveway ramp too. I remember getting a combined birthday & Christmas present, I went into my room and can clearly remember the urethane smell of brand new blue Kryptonics and in another box a pair of blue and red Vans and they had a really distinctive smell too, the smell was so unique like going into a surf shop and smelling the sex wax - it was just fantastic!

Andy Garner Flamingo Skatepark, Redruth Cornwall
Andy in the halfpipe at the Flamingo Skatepark with hand-painted hi-tops, late 70s.

Where did you used to skate in the early days?
In the early days we mainly skated in carparks. Hardy Carpets in Truro was a known spot, with loads of people doing slalom on Sunday mornings & Essjay turning up in his van with OJ wheels and California Slalom trucks for sale.

My Dad was keen to encourage me and the other kids and he actually pushed for the little skatepark in Playing Place. I’ve actually still got the original plans for how it was designed, those designs were changed unfortunately. There were trees that couldn’t be removed and it had to cater for other users including roller skaters which was big at the time too. The continuous wall that we wanted so you could carve all the way around the bowl had to go and the flat area was introduced too. But a lot of people put a lot of hard work into it and it was a good project and it’s still being used today.

Andy Garner at Playing Place
Andy Garner with the original plans for the Playing Place bowl... at Playing Place.


original Playing Place skatebowl plans
Originally the 'skate board rink' had included a bowl with extended hip - click pic for enlargement.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

ROB SMALL INTERVIEW

Rob Small & Gally

Rob Small grew up surfing the beachbreaks of Perranporth, the Badlands & Newquay and quickly developed from a hot local to a sponsored surfer, competing on the National and International pro circuits. Now with over 35 years of non-stop surfing under his belt he is still active as a sponsored surfer and SUP surfer and also runs Crantock Bay Surf School using his experience as an ISA surf and stand up paddle instructor and RSLS beach lifeguard. He kindly took the time between working long days at his surf school and SUP surf trips to the Canaries to answer a few questions about big waves, stunt doubling for Ewan McGregor and why maybe using a paddle could be considered punk!

Rob, where did you grow up?
Like a lot of us Cornish boys, I was born at Treliske in Truro and lived in Helston and St Agnes before my parents settled on Perranporth. Perran is really the place I grew up. There was a little pack of us running about causing mayhem and surfing. I was driving through Perran the other day and saw a little gang of surfy kids skating about and thought; "Nothing really changes does it?"

What got you into surfing originally?
My parents bought me a surfboard when I was very young, 7 or 8 years old. It was a 7’0” Graham Nile pintail single fin. Classic 70s board, brown with pin lines and a wooden fin with the old council insurance stickers on it. Like most of the older guys I wish I still had it today. The Surf Life Saving Clubs were going strong in those days and many of the local beach kids learnt to surf through them. We also learnt water safety and water knowledge. I’m not sure about sending kids out with a hundred metres of rope attached to a reel on the beach though... But they are great community clubs and invaluable for the youngsters. Of course as soon as the surfing started to become all encompassing the SLSC went out the window!

Do you remember your first green wave?
I don’t have a recollection of my first green wave but I do remember discovering cutbacks and getting under the lip for the first time. My first tube (ha ha, head dip) was at Perran Sands with Steve Cant and first cutback at Droskyn. Those lefts under the cliff are pretty good for figure eight cutbacks, they formed my entire surfing repertoire for a few years. When I first started surfing Aggie I didn’t have a clue what to do on the rights there, full pooh stance too. I get asked this question a lot by my clients and I’m not sure that they always believe I can’t remember learning the basics.

Was surfing Perran in the 70s & 80s very different to now?
It was really different, but then the sport itself was in a distinct phase. I remember the first thrusters that John Heath had in Piran Surf in ’81, after Simon Anderson won Bells, strange looking things. It could even have been ’82, things certainly didn’t move as fast as they do today. It was definitely friendlier, less crowded but on the downside the equipment was shit compared to that which is available today. I think that the generation that are in their 40s today matured as surfing matured as a sport, industry and lifestyle. It’s fun, traditional even, to give it the old ‘It was better back along’ to the younger surfers but I’m sure that there’s never been a better time to be a surfer than now. There are so many more possibilities within surfing than we ever dreamed of back in the 70s and 80s.

rob small, la santa right
Rob, cranking off the bottom at La Santa Right.

Monday, 3 November 2014

C'MON... GIVE THE BEACH A BREAK!


beachy geometry
Cornwall, land of beachies (mainly).

So often I've fantasised on what it must be like to have a perfect right-hand point as your local break. Being able to draw long, swooping, joined up, carving lines across waves such as Burleigh Heads or Rincon is surely what surfing is all about.

I'd lament the long paddle-outs and too-short rides that the beach breaks of West Cornwall so often conjure up. Jealous of those surfers, usually in warm waters, growing up with and taking for granted the consistency and perfection that point-breaks bestow on those lucky enough to live near them.

Why, oh why are we geographically damned to skittering across closeouts, double-ups and shore-dumps?

Then, last week I paddled out on a small to medium day on low tide at a long west-facing beach. There were a few peaks at the usual spot under the cliffs, and I snagged a couple of nice lefts. But it was a big spring tide, and within 20 minutes the peak was already getting shifty and being negated by the tide's return.

I paddled up the beach to where a handful of surfers were making the most of some rights that, although a little quick and dumpy, were still fun with the occasional one that kept some shape and peeled shorewards. But after a couple of those, I found the small crowd off-putting and anyway I'd just spotted another peak that was showing promise a further hundred yards north of the main beach. And with no-one on it. So I paddled off again.

I found myself sitting a little further out, all alone as a set approached. The darkening lump jacked up right underneath me and offered a lovely steep shoulder that quickly became a fast walling right that held up and zipped me nicely across the face. I kicked out and paddled straight back out to the take-off spot. Another set pulsed through, and an almost exact replica right-hander popped up. I couldn't believe my luck. This time as I paddled back out after another sweet ride I was expecting to see a pack break away from the crowd down the beach, drawn to this lovely little peak like ants to a honey pot. But, no. Just me sitting on a bank that was offering up peaky blinders consistently, again and again as the tide slowly pushed up.

After a dozen perfect chest high rights, I was back outside waiting for another set. But this time it bent in at a weird angle which put me facing almost parallel to the shore paddling down the shoulder of another right but actually angling left... But the peak seemed to catch up with itself and the whole wave swept back into place and swung me easily down the line again, fizzing along a clean green wall.

That was the last of it though, the tide must have filled in over the bank because the next set just kind of shrugged its shoulders before settling back down and rippling past in a froth of white water.

I paddled back down the beach and headed in. Happy to have scored some really nice little waves all on my own, yet within shouting distance of a half-term crowd. I'd ridden three different peaks, culminating in a surprisingly good handful of waves that were behaving like they were a reef-break. All in one session, on one stretch of sand.

Beach breaks - gotta love 'em.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

SUPERBLUES & HARDLIGHT

I lived in Sydney for 10 years and one of my strongest visual memories is of the light. Hard, bright, dazzling light.

Some Australian painters caught the light...

Brett Whiteley


Brett Whiteley


Howard Arkley


Howard Arkley


Jeffrey Smart


Jeffrey Smart


Reg Mombassa


Reg Mombassa

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

HAPPY SWITCH


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Saturday, 30 August 2014

NEURONS v PIXELS


Mark Hollis 'Live' 1986
Like somebody else's digital dream..

Recently Kate Bush made a request that concert-goers refrain from taking photos or recording video of her performance. My first reaction was 'That's kinda harsh, bit dictatorial..' but on reflection I totally agree with her. Here's why:

The best concert I've ever been to was Talk Talk at Hammersmith, London 1986. I've seen loads of really good gigs; The Clash supported by Spear of Destiny, Dinosaur Jr at The Mean Fiddler, Pavement supporting Sonic Youth and blowing them off the stage, Firehose in a tiny club in Brighton, and a whole host of others, too many to list here... But it was the total experience of Talk Talk's final UK appearance that was the standout show for me.

The audio was as good as it gets that night, and Mark Hollis's vocals were astonishing, every nuance in his delivery as clear as a bell. The band's musical arrangements and performance were incredible too - a group at the very top of their game with not a note out of place. The venue offered uninterrupted views of the stage and along with a few thousand others I was witness to a gig that felt intimate yet epic at the same time.

And nobody was holding up a mobile phone or digital camera because there weren't any in 1986. The crowd were fully engaged with a band that were equally in the moment, no distractions, no other agenda - a live performance was taking place and that was all that mattered.

It was awesome and I remember thinking even as it was happening that this was special.

I was still buzzing for weeks afterwards, yet there was no instant replay available - there was no internet or social media. I'm sure there was a write-up in one of the music papers at some point but I didn't search it out. Why would I? I'd been at the gig, no need for somebody else's opinion, I was stuffed to the gills with vibrant memories of my own. A while afterwards the BBC did broadcast a recording of the concert which I taped and would listen to now and then. Talk Talk went on to produce two more albums, both increasingly atmospheric and deeply nuanced and not particularly suited to live performance. Which was all fine with me, as simply listening to their music was a profound and satisfying pleasure.

Then they stopped, it seemed Mark Hollis's work with Talk Talk was done and he virtually disappeared.

Like many, I wanted more - the latter Talk Talk output was some of the most sublime music I'd ever heard and I couldn't believe that the sonic journey had come to an end. For a while I hunted down any new or obscure material. A live bootleg of the London gig was eventually released along with a DVD of the same tour 'Live in Montreaux'. I have them both. Ironically the DVD leaves me cold - watching little figures (cringingly 80s style too) on a screen is a pale imitation and can never equal the vivid memories in my head. I thought the internet would add to my connection with Talk Talk. It hasn't. I've come to understand that my love of the music is personal and no amount of pixellation will alter that.

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So I believe that a gig clip on YouTube is not only unnecessary, but actually a disservice to the performance, the band and the viewer.

I like taking photos and I like looking at them too (often post a few up here), but music performed live adds myriad layers, elevating the visual and blending it with the aural, emotional and physical senses - you can't record that. Because of this I agree with the advice - Be in the moment truly and there is no need to pixellate it. It exists forever, because you are there with the band, listening, watching, feeling. That is enough.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

LIKE DUVETS FOR YOUR FEET

... as Spex used to say.


Vans TNT4 - comfy
Vans TNT 4

Sunday, 27 July 2014

DEATH OF A HULA GIRL...

... and other pixels.


busted hula girl
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longboard ale
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godrevy sunset
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palm tree halo
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truro train station bridge
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a30 tail lights
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boyhood movie ticket
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Monday, 7 July 2014

HAD A NICE DAY...


lash-snapper
In the morning, took off on a leash-snapper.


mistyinroots
In the evening, got nicely chillaxed.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

BATTLE SCARS


custard point
Like an old battered sea creature.

My 9'4 Custard Point is about 14 years old now and quite frankly showing its age (we make a good pair). But what a warrior it is - still got the glide despite putting on a few pounds over the years (I refer to it endearingly as 'The Fatty' - & funnily enough I too have gained some extra timber over that period). It is still the board I use most of the time. I know Custard Point aren't viewed as a cool label, but when I bought it I was looking for a heavy traditional wave rider and this board fitted the bill. It is solid, and for a single-fin, trad noserider, it does pretty well in most conditions too.

This long, dry, sunny flat spell is the perfect time to apply a few ding repairs and smooth a bit of resin over the cracks in readiness for when the next swell rolls in.

custard point
Every scar could tell a tale.


custard point
We'll live to ride another day.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

WAX TO THE MAX


waxjob
<<< >>>

... and ready for Summer.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

3 HAWAIIANS


Hawaiians ruling
Still from 'Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau' - Eddie always taking off deepest.

So good to watch loads of great footage of Eddie Aikau absolutely ruling it.

Sunday, 23 March 2014