Sunday, 31 March 2013
As some of you would be aware, for the last 4 months I have been recovering from
some serious spinal surgery. On 27/11/12 after being airlifted from Milton Hospital,
I underwent a 4.5 hour operation carried out by William Sears, one of my shaping
clients and one of the finest neurosurgeons in Australia. The procedure involved
complete removal of my L3/4 disc, fusing of the vertebrae, and a Laminectomy. In
addition, bone grafts and titanium rods and screws were used to permanently stabilise
my spine. After 5 days in the ICU I was released into a general ward, and on 20/12/12
, six weeks after admission, I was released. I spent the last 2 weeks in a specialist
rehabilitation hospital where the physiotherapists informed me that it would likely
be 6--12 months until I could surf again.
I am now back living and shaping at Milton.
Three weeks ago I started surfing again. I paddled out at Bendalong on a small day
with high hopes, great excitement and the self belief which only a world class neurosurgeon
like Bill Sears and months of dedicated rehab. could impart. The surf was maybe
waist to shoulder high with nice shape. Prior to this I had only been paddling my
board in the ocean. Now this was the real thing. Paddling into the first wave and
it's all happening at once. I'm riding a 7'4" X 22 1/4" X 3" high volume V-SKATE
which big Steve Minors had traded in......a perfect rehab. board for me. Paddling
my heart out, the board lifts and slips in just like it should as I clamber to my
feet as quick as I can.....gentle turn and then trimming, trimming and then over
the top and out. Stoked. I was almost crying. The emotion of relief, that I can
still surf after my surgery, that nothing seemed to break inside, that I'm back
into it. Oh yeah. Then wave after wave until I could paddle no more. Since then
I've been surfing as much as possible and shaping as much as possible. As of today
I'm almost caught up with the back orders that were waiting all these months. Yesterday
I had the first surf where I really got going properly, and was able to turn up
and down the face, cutback and feel some real mastery returning.
Starting to surf again has reminded me just how difficult surfing is. The trickiest
part for me now is getting to my feet quickly. Because of the fusion of my L3/4
vertebrae, I have lost some flexibility down low, and this is most apparent when
getting to my feet. However gradually I'm getting quicker and smoother. I'm getting
heavily into Pilates and also some Yoga which appears to be working. Going through
all these relearning experiences has helped to remind me of the critical importance
of stability and volume in the surfboards we all ride. No matter what age you are,
how experienced, or whether or not you are carrying injuries, the right "fit" between
you and your board is crucial. If you are riding a board which has been well designed
for you, then you will have fun and improve progressively. If not, then you will
suffer and your surfing will suffer. Life is too short to ride poorly conceived
Recently people have begun ordering boards for Indo trips later this year. If you
are thinking along these lines, don't leave it too late to order. Generally I like
to use special thicker stringers on these boards, and these can take longer to source
which can then slow down production. Also, interstate people need to allow extra
time for freight. The other day we got a board delivered to Perth, WA in 3 days,
but again, it can take quite a bit longer.
I have also had several queries recently concerning volume. Specifically, people
are asking me how many "litres" are in this model or that of a particular length.
I am in the process of writing a critical article on this recent practice. However
for now I will simply say that the whole idea is bullshit and should be condemned.
It is nothing more than a new form of marketing, and an attempt by certain manufacturers
to differentiate their offerings, which are primarily made in Asia by people who
do not surf. What is crucial in a surfboard is not the actual amount of volume,
but rather, that the amount of volume is appropriate for the surfer riding the board.The
amount of volume which is appropriate for a given surfer must be calculated by the
shaper. Factors relating to the surfer such as their weight, fitness, experience,
height, arm length, age, injuries if any, frequency of surfing per week, types of
conditions surfed in, whether or not they have other boards, their style and approach
to surfing and so forth, need to be known and assessed. Specific questions must
be asked by the shaper to elicit this information. The shaper must then be sufficiently
experienced to be able to use these answers intelligently to design and construct
a suitable board. It is neither legitimate nor ethical to invite surfers to simply
fill in a type of inventory such as those presented on certain websites, and hey
presto, out comes a number (litres) which purports to represent the appropriate
volume for that particular person. Think about it. This is fantasy, unethical, without
empirical basis and a breach of the Trade Practices Act with respect to misleading
claims and advertising. Surfboards which are marketed like this, are mass produced,
like sausages, and are then sold by commission driven salesmen in surfshops, or
over the internet. These salesmen invariably lack the competance which is necessary
to find the right fit between surfer and board, and thus this psuedo scientific
method has been developed to help them. Have a look on Ebay and Gumtree under used
surfboards and you will see how many people are trying to offload boards right now
which are too small for them, or too big for them and so on. Invariably these boards
have been bought from surfshops with the "help" of salesmen. Only long years spent
surfing and shaping enable and qualify a shaper to make, what are in effect, difficult
decisions. Find an experienced shaper who keeps accurate records of your boards,
and work with him to progress your surfing. There are no shortcuts. Enough on this
for now. Lets move on to another topic where ethics and legitimacy are also strongly
POLITICAL - Tony Abbott.
I think this video on YouTube sums up very clearly what Tony Abbott has to offer.
Nothing. His contribution
consists of nothing but primitive strategies designed to elicit as many votes as
possible. He says whatever he thinks people want to hear at any given time, and
since different people want to hear different things, he has no real position on
anything. He promises everything and therefore nothing. A man without a moral compass
who purports to be a Catholic. Surely all intelligent Catholics must be cringing
at the disrepute he brings to them.
However I'll leave the last word to Mike Carlton from the Sydney Morning Herald
who offers "Whenever I see Abbott
on his hind legs, I find myself wondering if the nation really wants a prime minister
who walks like a chimpanzee".
Oh for that to be his only difficulty.