Almost time to go “Home”

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It is almost time for me to pack up my Summer Home (UK Winter) and head back home. The waves this SA Summer have been “Mixed” the good days Very Good, but many flat spells, and lots of just .. well… ordinary surf. But hey!, it makes those good days “More Special”

I have had a great trip in J Bay, loads of Sun and Surf (even though other years have been better), I have done DIY to my house here, and played with other “Toys”… mainly my Motor Bike…. but I have actually missed work, not that Shaping Surfboards feels like work…. because I love it so much…. I have not shaped a board here this time….. I think I am suffering “Withdrawal Symptoms”!

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It was not until I was Fixing Dings, that I started to Miss the creative side of what I do in the UK…. Shape Surfboards. I have a few Custom Orders to do when I get back, and I need to do 1 for myself…..naturally. So with the UK Summer almost upon us, if you are looking for a new board, get in touch with me. I am full of ideas, having been “Looking” at all the boards over here, and visualizing how they could be adjusted to suit UK beach breaks….. I am ready. My best shaping is always after a long trip.

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10 Days left to, Surf, Think and Plan…. I like to “Plan”. New boards, putting those ideas into practice, next trip etc.etc.

Then back to the UK. I hope the good run of home weather and waves holds out for me.

I am sure I will get a few good, if not great days, before I leave J bay…..

The forecast is so variable here, both on Weather and Waves, it can say Ok to Medium in size and quality and be the best surf of the whole trip….Guys curse “Magicseaweed” here too!!

One thing I have learned…..J Bay does not disappoint for too long!

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J bay summer review 2019

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It has not been the best summer in J bay for swell consistency.

Sure when the swell is up, and the wind conditions are favourable ….J bay is pretty damn special, but this season has just not produced the goods often enough.

I have checked my dates for previous years, and checked the photo’s for those dates… and it is not just selective memory…. it has just not been an “Epic” Summer!CIMG9052

The UK has had it’s best “Winter” in a decade…. but it has been cold, and that is the main reason I am in SA…. it is summer here, and that means Day after Day of little rain, and wall to wall sunshine. So, for my personal preference, J Bay Summer, is still better than the UK winter.

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On the plus side…. I have had a great time on “Alternative” Summer Activities….Like my Honda Africa Twin. Geraldine (my wife) and I have had a few Bike Trips out into the interior, well 50 miles or so, to get a flavour of the real South Africa….. and pretty good fun it has been. I have also been doing House DIY, something that has to be done to protect one’s investment.

But sadly, I have spent many hours checking the forecasts and willing them to be a little better.

Ah Well!, not such a great Summer for waves in J bay this time…. I will just have to come back later in the year….Boom!!

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Bad Forecasts……

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It has been a week of “Bad Forecasts”.

Not only Magic Seaweed has been getting it wrong, but all of the surf forecasting sites here in SA have been way off track. I have been told it is due to the lack of Data Buoys and there position, the computer models just do not have enough accurate Data to make good, accurate forecasts.

However, when the swell finally arrived….. the in-accurate forcasts were quickly forgotten.CIMG8853

As you can see, these 2 shots above say it all…..who really cares that yesterday was supposed to be head high and off-shore, when today is bigger and better than that and with so few guys out….. however I do feel for the guys who based there choice of surf day on that forecast. I just goes to show….. you got to be there, at the beach checking frequently if you want to score.

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If you do not see the forecast, just rock up and see perfect little “Peelers” at a break…. you would be happy, pickup you Long Board and go surfing…. but because you were expecting head high perfection…. you do not surf and moan about the Bad Forecast. We do live in a strange world!

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So….. check the forecast, wind, swell and weather…. It “Might” make a difference to your plans etc.etc. BUT still keep to the Old School way of doing stuff, just rock up at the beach and check it for yourself…. then go for a surf.

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Another “Mixed” week.

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What can I say….. another “Mixed” week in J bay.

It is not that the surf has been bad…. it has just not been good!

Lots of unfulfilled surf forecasts, waist high when we were expecting head high etc.etc…. You get the idea.

We have surfed 2 times a day for a whole week, so really should not be complaining, but when the forecast is saying 2.4 metres at 15 seconds, shoulder high is not what we were expecting!!CIMG8767

The lads from Ocean Magic Surfboards have joined me for a couple of weeks, and it has been a blast, but not in great waves. Lots of small to medium surfs, in medium to good conditions, but as the waves have not been plentiful, the whole of the J bay Surf Crew have been “Hungry”…. so any slight improvement of the surf had meant an increase in Surf Numbers…. to the point of almost crowded!!CIMG8812

There have been a few great sessions, well for me at least. I tend to ride a Longboard when the waves are marginal, which gives me an advantage…. I catch loads of waves, in fact it is a discipline I have had to work on…. not to catch too many, which let me tell you, in near perfect head high surf with loads of guys out who are struggling on short boards…. is….well… DIFFICULT!

J Bay is a great place, loads of Summer Vibe, Loads of wall to wall sunshine, and loads of great rights on close to perfect points…. but not all the time….. but even when it is bad…. I feel it is good. I love my J Bay life!

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Not every week is perfect for SURF!

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Not every week in J bay is a great surf week. The past week or so proves this. Mixed wind conditions and small swells have all but put pay to getting in the ocean to surf. Sure I should ride all waves, the big and the small, the good quality and the poor, but when you have had loads of “GOOD” it does not seem so viable to surf the “BAD”.

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So we have been doing the “Tourist” things…. and there is loads to see in and around J bay. Looking for wild life is one of the fave’s, but so far not really seen much, Monkey’s ….Yes, big Tortoise….Yes, but apart from that, only cows and horses!! We have spotted 4 Giraffes on a local Game Park, through the fence….but the were about 1 mile away, so can’t really count those!, and we have spotted a “Rougue Zebra” hiding amongst a herd of cows…. all very weird.

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I find it difficult to discipline myself not to eat too much, when there is plenty of surf, it does not matter, but when there is little or no surf to burn off the calories….Oooops! additional inches soon appear!…. So a strict eating regime has had to be introduced…. so No good waves….AND no good food!…. I am not a happy bunny right now.

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Experience has taught me that this happens all over the World, the dreaded Flat Spells…. one just has to learn to get through them. Experience has also taught me that some places are better than others as far as swell consistency and weather conditions, and as I am in one of those “Better” places…. I “Know” it will not be long before the good waves come…. let’s hope I am ready for them!

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7 Good Days

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It is nearing the end of January 2019 and I have been in J bay for just over 1 week, and had 7 good days of surf.

The SA Summer is not known for it’s big swell, but compared to the UK, it is still Very Good….. not to mention Warm Water, and Hot Air Temps…. it is the African Summer after all!!

The waves have been mainly in the Shoulder to Head high range, with one bigger pulse…. and the winds have been mainly light off-shore, with a few on-shore afternoons. The weather has been fantastic…. Hot and Sunny most days, with a few showers here and there.CIMG8693

The water temps of the ocean at this time of year are perfect, sure you still need “Some” rubber, but on the sunny days, a shorty is just fine. The daylight hours are long, not quite UK mid summer long, but you can easily get in 2 or even 3 surfs….if you are fit enough. As the waves tend to be long in riding length, tiredness is a major factor, there can be a lot of paddling….I have only managed 2 surfs in a day up to now.CIMG8664

Not all the sessions are “J bay Perfect”, some times the tide and the swell are just not quite right, but still the waves are good, and much better the the majority of sessions I get back at home. I feel that if one is truly “Hardcore” then the UK winter is possibly better for actual waves than the SA Summer, but for me…. J bay in the summer is close to Perfect.

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“Short” or “Mid Length” ?

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Mid Length is the new bye word for all those boards that are not “Short Boards” and definitely not “Long Boards”, possibly not Mini Mals, or retro boards either….. so what are they?

Well….. my view is…I do not really know, and nor does it really matter.

I have always maintained that surfing is about FUN, and not what board you ride. So many guys want to “Label” you, as a result of the type of board you ride…..I think that at last, these “labels” are a thing of the past.

I am not really known as a Short Board Shaper, but I did do plenty of Bear Wombats, back in the day, and this is the type of board I am happy to shape now as a “Mid Length”

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The “Old Wombat” was a great board, and I have incorporated much of that “Flavour” into my new Mid Length boards…. but the are not only Mid Length, but Mid Width and Mid Thickness too.

Plenty of “Float” is what is needed for a Mid length board, easy to catch waves and stable enough to allow for easy Pop Ups, and with the 10″ centre box and side FCS fin “Combination”…. easy to turn to boot.

Length should be in the 6’6″ to 6′ 8″ area for this type of High Volume board, any longer and it just becomes more like a Longboard, due to the wider tail dimensions!CIMG8510

One of the other nice traits of the Mid Length is almost all of them seem to have a nice Colour Job… so the sky is the limit on this one….. trawl the internet to see just what colours you like, and choose a design… then give me a call.

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Coming home is good…. .

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All too often, coming home after a good surf trip can just feel S*!t. Cold air temp, no sunshine, colder water temps, and surf just not as good as where you have come from.

BUT it isn’t always bad.

The North West facing surf coasts of the UK turned on recently, and luckily…. I was “Home” for it.IMG_0111

Home for me is “Newquay” and my local beach is Fistral, As it was High tide around 10.30 am. most of the action was at South Fistral. Luckily for me, my daughter Katy was on hand to capture a few images, and as Katy was not in the water…. most of the shots, for a change, were of me…Yippee!

As “South” can be a little “Fat” on take off, I chose to ride a longboard…. a good call I feel, as it made the take off more easy…. things did get a little “Hectic” on the inside…. overhead waves, breaking hard whilst paddling out on a 9 footer can be interesting…. very interesting.IMG_0116

I had a few “Bombs” and also paid my “Dues” a few times… trying to rail turn “Hard” on a 9 foot mal with only a single fin can lead to a few issues, and this did lead to a “Zip Down” Wetsuit wash-out on one occasion…. Brrrrr! wow, that was a shock.

All in all it was a Top Day, it is not often that my home break rivals my “Surf Trip” locations…. but this was one of those days.

Woah! That was cold. "Zip Down" wetsuit wash out!!

Woah! That was cold. “Zip Down” wetsuit wash out!!

Life is what you make it, i was feeling a little down a few days before these shots were taken, and had to “Stop and Think” just how lucky I was…. and Wow, the next day…. cracking surf. I feel “Charged” again, and cannot wait for that next adventure….. what-ever it might be.

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The Last 10 Days

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Well, what a difference a day makes…. or 10 to be precise!

The past week (or so) has again been good, and Good in J bay is the same as “Perfect” in most other places!

Plenty of swell, loads of Off-Shore winds, all accompanied by warm weather and sunshine….What a place.CIMG8324

The final day in the 10 day spell was just EPIC, I am as keen as it is possible to get for surfing good waves (allowing for my advancing years) and I lasted until lunch time.

It is hard to get your brain around the fact that your body is no longer able to function properly, just too tired. The waves are still perfect, you can see them, and yet when you try to ride them, you cannot turn hard, you miss judge lip speed and cutback angle and the list goes on…. but you still stay out there just “Flapping” around as if in some sort of mind boggled state. All very strange.CIMG8333

It is not until you come in, sit down a reflect, that it all seams to make sense…. only then do you realize you are “Surfed Out”. An old fashioned term, that is used all to quickly these days….. it does not mean you are “Happily Tired” from riding a couple too many good waves, or you think you need a “Latte” and an open topped sandwich to get you fit again to return to the ocean…. it means you are unable to function properly as a result of going way past tired….CIMG8290

The only way to re coupe…. is to call it “A Day”, and try to remember the best waves.

I have been “Surfed Out” in a few places in the World…. Morocco in those early days, Indo on various occasions, but most frequently in Jeffrey’s Bay…. ‘cos when it is “Good” here it is amazing.

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Another 10 days in J bay….

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Well…. what a contrast from the previous 10 days, only a handful of surfs over the same period of time. (I surfed over 20 times in the 10 days before)

Still good on a few days, but the swell has been small, and the weather conditions erratic.

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We have had plenty of On-Shore winds, and quite strong too…. ripping the perfection of J bay to pieces, BUT I do have a secret weapon…. my “Kite”. Just a 1,000 metres from my place, in the other direction is the “Lagoon”, and when the wind is On-Shore, it creates the perfect conditions for Kite Surfing…. which I also love to do.

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The really cool thing with Kite Surfing is it is “Action” all the way…. no down time, no sitting around chatting, just speed and fun the whole session…. 1 and 1/2 hours of this and you really are knackered.

As long as I “Get Wet” I am happy.

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