A couple of summers ago I got interviewed by Polish journalist Jarek Sepek for the Mediorama NZ project which is available through i-tunes, but here's the link. The waves were shitty but it was super fun being interviewed for surfing not photography
Busy busy busy
I've been a bit quiet on the website the last month because we've in full swing for the production of the next Beached As book, yep, no surprises here- but naturally with the first Beached As book going so well it would be crazy not to kick in with a follow up.
Follow ups and sequels can often mean a watering down of the original concept, but that's not what's going on. Last year when I had the chance to pump out Volume 2, however I pulled back from that release date to give the project another year to really distill, evolve and do this next book properly. I've had the luxury of double the time to shoot this book's images and combined with the new cameras used, I'm pretty confident that is going to shine through in the final product. The book goes to the printer in just under a month and will be released early October.
Over summer Version 1 of the Photo CPL NZ Surf Beach Postcard Books sold out [man- it's SOOO cool having something sell out!!!!] So Vers. 2.0 is also underway, the whole format has been changed to full DLE postage size so each postcard will be 33% bigger, while still being the same price to post, the most popular 11 from Vers.1.0 will be used with 9 new additions, again it's been a case to seeing what works and building on those strengths.
Some where amongst all this I've also scored some pretty sweet commercial gigs, one of my favourites was landing the job as Billabong's shooter for the Billabong City Squared Skate Squared Invitational. It was a very cool day of the country's best skaters going big backed up with a very social night at the Parnell Amazon store.
Another wee project has been shooting the Sitka Store fit out in Osbourne St Newmarket, the progress shots are now up instore on their art wall as an exhibition for the next month. for the tech geeks I shoot everything on my Zeiss 50mm @ f2.0 to empathise the subject in frame. The panoramics of the entire shop were digital stitches using Lancie's custom made nodal arm tripod head...see told you that bit was for the tech geeks.
It’s a no brainer that being surfers we all care about the environment we’re most exposed to- NZ Beaches. A lot of mates and myself pick up at least one piece of rubbish off the beach after every surf- it’s a good habit to be in and in a small way it’s just being a tidy Kiwi.
This week I notched up my own contribution a bit; I’ve donated 50 Beached As- Our New Zealand Beaches Vol 1 books to Sustainable Coastlines for them to use as either fundraising or as prizes during their beach clean ups. I believe all NZ surfers have a vested interest in what the crew at Sustainable Coastlines do. I certainly feel this way as my book Beached As is all about our pristine coastlines and now, with the book’s success, this is a small way of putting something back. I also interviewed Sam Judd, one of the co-founders of Sustainable Coastlines, for the current 09 Magazine (which you can read in full here)
but here’s an excerpt and some pix from the Hyundai Long Board Comps that Sustainable Coastlines have been partnered with all summer.
Sam, it seems last year Sustainable Coastlines really hit its straps, was 2010 a big year and why?
2010 was huge for us. Being just the second year of our operations, the idea behind our charity has resonated deeply with all those Kiwis who love their coastlines.
In December, we launched our biggest New Zealand project to date. It was called 'Love your Coast' and saw over 5,500 people work together to remove over 69,000 litres of waste from the coasts of Rangitoto Island, Te Whanganui a Tara/Wellington, Otautahi/Christchurch and Te Tai Poutini/The West Coast.
We also picked up a handful of awards and massive exposure for the cause and our part in protecting New Zealand’s coastlines. I guess this shows that people out there are into what we do.
Everyone here wants to look after their coastlines- they just need an excuse to do so. We provide that excuse and in 2010, we showed people that looking after our epic coastlines can be a whole lot of fun.
You keep stats on all the clean-up huh, what's been the biggest surprise for you?
Probably knowing that we removed 201,003 individual bits of rubbish from Rangitoto Island with a crew that was mainly 13-14 year-old school kids. This means each person picked up more than 200 pieces on average, amongst savage volcanic rocks on a very hot day!
Some of the stats are quite shocking. Plastic bottles (which we find absolutely everywhere) were 8346 in number- 5.5 cubic metres of space!
We also removed 24,021 plastic lids, 27,364 plastic bags, 3531 straws and 954 parking tickets/receipts. It is clear that the main offenders here are single-use plastics, which is surprising because they generally things that people don't actually need and can choose not to use in the first place.
If anyone out there (schools, volunteers, organisations and businesses) wants to get amongst our upcoming events- we will be at the Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour final at Port Waikato on the 5th and 6th of March.
We also have a sweet trip planned for Coromandel Town/Te Kouma Harbour and the Happy Jacks Islands on the 1st-3rd of April. Following that, on the 15th and 16th of April, we will be doing a huge clean-up of Auckland's North Shore.
To learn more, receive updates, support the cause and sign up for events, check www.sustainablecoastlines.org
I’ve been helping out Greenroom Productions with TV edit of the Quiksilver ISA World Juniors held at Piha in last January this year. Man- I cannot believe how fast this year has flown, since those crazy days of having to shoot every day, regardless of the conditions. Being one of the contracted photogs for the ISA was a real honour, but holy heck they worked us. Sitting in the edit suite with Chris Kirkham from Greenroom, trolling through their gigabytes of footage, he’s had to condense into a 30 minute TV programme which was brutal, but it also got me thinking about what a stellar year the New Zealand surfing community is having. While the World Juniors at Piha is no doubt the biggest thing to happen in NZ surfing wise probably ever, there is also a lot happening for our Kiwi flag flyers overseas.
We’re sitting in the suite, which I suspect- not ironically is actually green, chatting about Blair Stewart’s epic performance at the Teahupoo Trails, this evolves into animated banter about Billy Stairmand’s victory of the 6 star WQS in Spain and that epic Haka footage:
- which then leads into how well the trio of Billy, Jay Quinn and Ric Christie are doing, at the time of writing Ric’s sitting at 77th on the WQS- this is a big deal. The boys have a website set up, which has been plugged on surf2surf.com before and it’s totally worth saving as a favourite, all 3 surfers are regularly adding comments and behind the scenes images; here’s that link http://suitcasesurfers.com/blog/.
The WQS is a ball-buster morale wise, and this has always been an issue for Kiwis trying to give it a solid punt. You’re on the other side of the world, cut off from friends and whanau- generally the waves are pretty damn average for these events- while you’re hearing about how fun the waves are back here, and the bank account is haemorrhaging Euros. It is soul crushing, which I know, cry me a river right? These fellows are surrounded by some of the most beautiful women in the world wearing nothing but a string bikini bottom, and very night is party-time....yeaaah it sure sucks to be them huh? But the point is it’s hard to keep focussed on the job at hand.
Jay Quinn’s now the elder statesman of our travellers; I asked him what’s the difference between this season in Europe and the previous;
“It seems that I am the old fella these days! Yeah- we have found some momentum for sure! We don't drink during the week and make a routine. The rugby ball is a huge part of it for sure. Our results speak for themselves for sure. We have a winning formula and it is here to share for all the kiwi lads.”
And then there are the Kiwi women. Paige Hareb is currently sitting 9th in the World...dude...the Taras Terror is one of the ten best women surfers in the world! She’s sitting 6th on the WQS ratings too, so she’s looking the business to be on the World Tour for a 3rd year on the trot. And then there’s the Mason sisters, as much as the Aussies STILL keep trying the claim them, Kiwi passport holder Arini Mason is the 2010 ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series Champion, she won it in 2006 too. But wait there’s more, her ‘lil sister Sarah is nipping at her heals hard, Sarah, who also represented NZ for the World Juniors at Piha, came third in the overall ratings of the ocker’s junior series.
For years it’s been a huge source of consternation among NZ’s surfing community, why haven’t we got a bunch of surfers competing at the elite level, sure there’s been the freaks like Allan Byrne, Ratso and Maz...un-incidentally Ratty is also still flying our flag as the ASP’s European Head Judge- a deserved and fought after position. Yep, seems to me this year has been a real consolidation of a lot of people’s hopes, and who knows, once Bobby Hansen has had yet more surgery on his shoulders [they keep dislocating], he’ll be recharged and making up the 4th musketeer for next year’s world assault.
The first print run of Surf Food sold out before even hitting New Zealand last summer, but fear not- Surf Food has been reprinted and there’s now a limited amount available here. The lavish cook book features 59 mouth-watering recipes divided up into four comprehensive sections; Breakfast & smoothies, Salads, starters & sides, Mains and of course delicious Desserts. Each signature dish is accompanied with a biography of the surfer, and it’s pretty much the ‘who is who’ of surfing- even our very own Paige Hareb throws her favourite Baked Fish into the mix.
Even forgetting the insights of the profiles, this is a great collection of easy to prepare yummy, healthy food presented in a lavish colourful book. So why not eat like a champ, you deserve it....Dane Reynold’s Tortilla Soup for dinner anyone?
I've been on a real mission with a group of good mates, we try to go away at least once a year- we always talk about making it more, but work and family commitments always seem to get in the way- and frankly- it's a fricken ordeal of a trip. Steve owns a Thundercat boat, you know the ones- a racing inflatable; 12 ft long with a 50hp yammy on the back, go like stink. Steve's gig is that he hates surfing crowds and he wants to explore the hidden coasts....so that is what we do. The boat is equipped with an eperb and radio, plus a whole bunch of other safety measures.
Nothing stays dry and it's mid winter, for this trip the boys had google-earthed a tiny harbour, out from the harbour on the open coast is a series of rock shelves and reefs that we've sessioned before but from coming from a safer, larger harbour entrance which is a bit too far away. The weather window was looking 'alright' with Sunday’s east swell. We’ve bolted- stayed in the local motel and woke at 6am to load up and launch the boat. I had one camera loaded in the housing, another with the 300mm sitting in the Pelican case...so I'm holding 14,000 nzd of gear in a boat that's going to get very wet and a likelihood of flipping coming in and out of this tiny harbour mouth. We're wearing hoods, ski goggles, booties, 4/3 wetties, buoyancy vests, everything you can to keep warm and covered from the spray and wind.
We get out fine, zigzagging through the waves at the tiny harbour-mouth; effectively it’s a river-mouth. Straight away dolphins are hanging out with the boat, I'm leaning over the bow with the preloaded housing submersed, I tell ya, it was amazing! They were just hanging with the boat, literally at fingers touch, these shots are all at 10mm focal length....so that's how close it was, unfortunately the water vis’ was a bit average. We hung with the dolphins for ages, just doing passes, them hooking up with the boat and cruising alongside-we were all buzzing, a marginal harbour crossing and straight into one of nature’s treats.
So then it was on to the right-hand slab, the dolphins had beaten us to the reef and were already surfing. I was in shooting mode, over the side with the housing and into the line up, the light was absolute shite and the waves were a bit shifty, in that different sections would throw out depending on the angle of that set. It was almost impossible to line up the boys. After treading water for 2 hours I head back to the boat for my board; amping to get one of these waves. First wave straight over the falls onto the reef [it's nicely covered in soft weed :)] Next two, OK, but no barrel, next set, both my thighs cramp up on take-off; done- the cold and treading water for 2 hours has done me in...I catch a few more but every take off is on the verge of cramp and the wind kicks in. The day is over...we're all frozen to the bone...we get in back through the harbour sweet. Getting back is always the hardest- it's easier to punch out through waves than follow them in sitting between 2 of a set.
We're all broken, sore from meeting the reef, sore from just being in the Thundercat as it flies between whitecaps, sore from trying to free the now lost anchor, soaked and frozen. But happy- it's a full on adventure. I know I’m going to be sore all over for days and none of us can get warm just yet...I don't want to go again...but in a week I'll be up for it and talking to Steve about what we can do to make the boat safer, better, what gear will help, what is not needed- when can we go again and to where.
It’s fair to say my admiration for Tonga is pretty clearly evidenced by the fact that this was my fourth trip to the Kingdom. Even although the first three had been for work-photoshoots- they had all been both productive and fun. When the whanau decided there was a chance to meet up in Tonga with my ‘lil bro Kent, whose working in the islands, I was there with bells on.
And there was no question we’d be spending a portion of the all too brief 10 days at the Burling’s Surf Resort, Ha’atafu. I’ve stayed here before, so I knew what we’d be in for; a great left hand reef break straight out in front, not 200m from your bed- strangely enough called Motels- [we’re a creative bunch us surfers huh!]. There are also options further down and up the lagoon that come on in bigger swells, again, uber-creatively named, such as The Pass, Bowls and Kamikazes.
Staying at the Burling’s Ha'atafu Beach Resort is what every surfing holiday should be- EASY. You have simple accommodation in Fale styled huts, huge breakfasts and dinner buffets of excellent grub are included in the reasonable price. All you have to do is surf, eat, relax, surf, eat, sleep- repeat. The Burling family have their systems down, and so they should; they are one of the world’s longest running surf resorts- Steve and Sesika established the resort in 1979- hell Sid Vicious was still alive then.
I wouldn’t say that Ha'atafu Beach Resort is for everyone though; it’s a quiet, family run joint- the emphasis is on the quiet bit- there ain’t no Bounty Bar all nite foam parties going down in this neck of the woods. Chances are most of the guest are safely tucked up under their mossie nets by 9.30. Tongan waves can’t really be compared to the constancy of world renowned waves like G-land- but no one is ever claiming they are. It is what it is and it is pretty damn fun. Sitting out the back, between sets with your ‘lil bro, watching whales breach not 100 metres away is a pretty cool way to spend some time.
Back to the Gold
To be perfectly honest I was going to lambast the Gold Coast in this blog. It’s gaudy, tacky brashness, the sheer plastic try-hard Californication that ruthless property developers inflicted on the landscape over recent decades. The hideous skyline of the ironically named Surfers Paradise, hairy orange people in Speedos refusing to obey the togs, togs- undies rule. Bad pick-up joints guised as nightclubs, ex- Cross Lebanese mafia and piss weak coke.
Like a lot of Kiwi surfers I did my time on the Goldy as a grommet, I reckon it has almost become a rite of passage for us all. A year out of high school, a couple grand of hard earned in the back pocket, I was there with bells on- loving the escape from the NZ winter. I loved it so much I had two great consecutive winters there. Of course like any bug-eyed teen I thought it was THE golden time, Kirra was in epic form; breaking from Big Groyne, past Little Groyne nearly to Sausage Groyne and D-bah was the heaviest beachie in the world. The legendary Patch had Thursday $1 nights, which of course was doley day- the living was easy.
I still think of those seasons as being hugely formative years but most times that I’ve returned to the Coast since I’ve become increasingly disenchanted with her wares. A bit like an Orchid Ave stripper; while you’ve got your midnight beer goggles on and the lights are low, they are the most beautiful creatures on the planet- when the hard house-lights blear on at 4am that slim athleticism is really a pasty, skinny crack fiend with a terrible ocka accent.
So, as you’ve just read, my preconception for my most recent business trip to the coast was pretty negative. How wrong I was, while everything mentioned is a part of the Goldy, despite its plastic, tacky heart- the coast has a soul too.
It’s often joked that the Goldy- like Bondi used to be- is merely an outer suburb of NZ, there’s that many Kiwis choosing to make it their home. Especially for surfers, there is a real Surfers Paradise, just not near Orchid Ave. The water is warm and the waves are still epic- although you’ll be hard pushed to get a wave to yourself like we enjoy here in NZ. For the short 4 days I was there this time, the Point at Burleigh pumped most of the time, the beachies just to the north were in fine form. I was even treated to wicked arvo over at South Straddie, 6 bucks for a round trip in the boat dropping you off out the back- yep I was reminded just how easy living on the Coast can be.
Some random facts; an estimated 460,000 Kiwis reside in Aussie. About 25% live in Queensland, the other biggest proportion live in Sydney. 83% are employed, ex pat Kiwis contribute nearly AUS $3 billion per year in tax alone to the Aussie economy.
Next blog will be from Tonga
On the road blog 4
Well that last blog certainly sparked a healthy debate which did get me thinking about what area is the real NZ surf Mecca. Now of course my first cheeky statement would be ‘the little bit between Reinga and Port Pegasus’ but that is a PC cop out- what region really is NZ’s surf Mecca; what region really can claim the bragging rights?
Personally, what I reckon- is that you could spend the four seasons on the road working your way around the different regions. Because the beauty of our many coasts is that each has a different high season, ie; Gizzy for winter [except summer north swells.] and most of the west coast for summers [when we get off shores consistently] Rag’s for autumn, Duno’s for spring. Shippies is mostly winter and so on, which would be fine if we all didn’t have to work to live. So really the question is if you had to work/study, hence be based in one region and you’re surf mad, where would you be best off? Then my answer is Duno’s…but I’m not moving there, it’s too cold and no matter what; the draw of friends and whanau are where home is.
I’m back home at Piha now, sifting through a few thousand images that are the start of my next beach book. Apart from doing the surf trip I also wanted to visit and shoot the beaches my late Aunt Audrey had taken photos of 75 years ago, this is the central theme of the project [then and now] and it’s quite a trip to be standing, composing a shot in the exact place Auntie had in the 1940’s, it’s also happily taking me to places I would never have bothered to with my surf blinkers on.
The surf is pumping and it was very good at Piha for most of the fortnight I’ve been on the road. I haven’t missed out, I have surfed less by being on the road, but I have got to see, shoot and surf some new waves. I’ve crossed off a few To Dos, added a few more while definitely adding a few Have To Get Back There ASAP’s. I wasn’t out of love with NZ, but now I’m even more enamoured by our country’s ridiculous amount of world class set ups and beautiful beaches.
So, what were my top 5 lessons learnt from the road?
1. Drinking lots of water is a two edged sword, it keeps you alert and it’s way better than sugary energy drink spiking, but there’s a woeful lack of public toilets on State Highway 1.
2. I bought lots of fruit; it is cheaper and healthier than pies and shit from the gassy. Central Otago nectarines are off the chain, Waikato watermelons are wicked and cheap as.
3. I was surprised how well signposted NZ is… this probably balances out the aforementioned lack of loos. That said anyone want to shout me a Navman?
4. You’ll always find the slow-coach at the end of the passing lanes, never the start.
5. 4,500 songs on the iPod are not enough for a 2 week roady.