Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Tripod from the Dump.

The day before leaving Raglan I was spinning out trying to find a video tripod for the trip to Tasmania.
In the end I drove up to the village dump and asked them if they had any old ones. The guy behind the counter produced a rusted, dirty old thing that had a wobbly head and cobwebs hanging off it.
The pricetag said $10, I bargained him down to $5.

Once at home I set about trying to fix the abused, rusted piece of junk using a drill, my trusty leatherman, some epoxy resin and a spirit level I achieved a decent enough pan and stuffed it in my boardbag hoping it would do the job once I reached my destination.

Fast forward two days and Eliz and I are jogging through the Eucalyptus forest at the bottom of Tasmania, trying to catch up to the rest of the guys. We were late arriving to the carpark and I had to screw in fins and wax my 6'6. The guys were amping to get out there and bolted down the trail, shouting back to us that we'd find our way.

The trail splits and forks a few times along the hour and a half hike and the only way we found our way was to follow the footprints in the mud when we came to forks in the path.

Eventually we arrived in the bay sweating, thirsty and scratched to pieces, the waves were pumping and the boys were already out there and I quickly looked for a vantage point for Eliz to film the session from before I paddled out. A ledge on a cliff face looked promising and we followed a faint goat trail up there no doubt left by another photographer in the past.

I pulled out the tripod and set up the camera lent to us by good friends Manu and Greg, and whilst I was showing Eliz how to pan on the jury rigged tripod a serious set started to stack up out the back. I hit record and watched Marti Paradisis paddle into his best ever paddle wave out there.

It was only days later whilst chatting to Marti on facebook that I said I filmed the wave and thought I nailed it. I sent him the clip and he replied saying that the other photographers there had missed it, or didn't have the right angles and could he use it.

Talk about beginners luck! Or maybe, as my dad always says "You make your own luck in life" and my fixing the decrepit tripod in a barn in Raglan was the catalyst to making this happen.

Anyway, today I got a mail from Marti saying surfline.com were keen to use the clip for a feature. I had to smile, if only they knew the chain of events that went into capturing it and the shitty tripod that was used!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tasmania Trippin'

I just got back from a 'Strike Mission' to Tasmania, for a week of waves and exploring the island.

I must say that I've never flown into a country with the idea of surfing one swell and leaving again, in the past its been more the case of base myself there for a few months and wait for the sessions to happen naturally instead of trying to over plan and analyse everything.
I also thought that the interaction between me and the locals would be more in depth if I was immersing myself in the culture and the place over a period of time.
This past week has proved me wrong and I now have a bigger appreciation for those surfers lucky enough to have the time and money to execute strike missions to their favourite surf spots.

Myself and Eliz flew into Hobart around the same time that a big long range swell was hitting the island, and I was pumped to tow Shipstern Bluff, a wave I've dreamed of riding for a long time.
I had images of big ledges and huge barrels flying around my head as I waited for my boards to arrive off the carousel, and as the images began to fade so did my hope of seeing my boards. After numerous phone calls and lots of pacing around I was told the boards had been forgotten in Melbourne and I would have to wait until midday to collect them.
I was fuming but could do nothing, I sat and waited.

Once collected, I strapped the boards onto the rental and drove like a man possessed for the south of the island and the dirt carpark that I got to know very well over the coming week.

The 1 1/2 hour hike was done in record time and as I got my first view of the bluff and its dwarfed surfers I realised I was too late, the wind had swung cross shore and the skis were leaving the bay after a morning of epic surf. Absolutely gutted and sleep deprived I trudged back to the car and drove to the slipway to meet the guys and hear all about what I had missed.

I found them all eating in a local fish and chip shop and introduced myself to Marti Paradisis and the rest of the down to earth group. These guys are legends, just a bunch of friends who have a common love for this special part of the world, and who all have an affinity with Shippies that only years of dedication will foster.

We all hiked in the next day again as it was smaller, and I finally got to see what the wave looks like from up close. Intimidating.
After watching it for a while I skirted the cliff base and jumped in off the ledge, the boys were super cool and welcoming and I waited my turn watching the guys paddle big drops and cavernous barrels with ease.

Myself and a crazy Peruvian ... You want this one bru?!
It was a tame day by their standards, but for a Stern virgin like me I definitely had some butterflies. The bigger ones were the ones you wanted, but to sit under a 8-10ft ledge and just let go took some mental effort, the drop was pretty intense and then it just steam trains into the bay passed a boulder field that would happily swallow a surfer who can't negotiate the drop, and pull in over the ledges.

Me, feeling my way into the section, pre beat down.

It was a great first go out, and a humbling day for me in this powerful bay at the bottom of the world.

Tasmania is big, bigger than I thought. The locals are extremely proud of their island existence and are quite happy to be detached from the rest of Oz, and seem to revel in their heaving slabs and long lonely bushwalks. 

Most of the guys we met were fishermen, farmers, surfers, skaters or divers or a combination of all these.
It was so refreshing to meet people who know how good they have got it in life, and don't get jaded by their luck. 

Marti 'Para' Paradisis, no shit paddle attack.
Much of the week was taken up by walking in the bush or exploring down dirt roads. The dangling carrot was another tow size swell at the end of the week. Flights were rescheduled and the hire car secured for 2 more precious days.

Once more we started the hike in the freezing pre dawn light and the adrenaline was flowing, good times.

Word on the walk was that Tim Bonython had flown in to shoot the swell, and this raised my hopes of seeing some proper juice down at the end of the track.
Upon getting to the bay we were disappointed to see the swell hadn't really materialized like predicted and it was yet another paddle day, with a snapped 6'6 and only a tow board left, I sat on the rocks for 6 hours willing the swell to climb, but each set seemed to fade in energy and girth and by 14:00 it was time to pull the plug and get back to the airport.

After a week of hard missioning and many dollars spent it was a jagged pill to swallow, flying out skunked ... but the people we met, the sights we saw and the times we shared made it so worthwhile. 

Biggest thanks to the Shippies crew for taking us in, and showing us this special place.

Barry and Eliz.