Tuesday, 27 January 2015


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.

- - -

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 & 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.