Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A chorus of approval...

Josh Hall, slider/creator of many crafts.

The beautiful present, as framed by Thomas Campbell, places us surfers in a mad mansion of a million rooms, all populated by subgroups of enthusiasts. And we, the lucky, get to inhabit the most dynamic room of all- the green room. And what a fascinating diaspora of characters fill our room. Middle of summer booty wearers rub shoulders with smug sliders with surf knots on their weathered feet. Hi-pro bro/brahs give the surfer's shake to profoundly experienced feral tube hunters. Small wave fishmongers look at each other eye to eye and grin, both knowing a pleasure unique to our sub culture. In the evolution of surfing we are immersed in a period of much experimentation and open minded joy inspired simply by the act of sliding a wave in a pleasing manner. We need to celebrate this moment.

This morning there were logs, fish, shorties, alaias, mats(me), boogies, SUPs, and bodysurfers in the water at my local. Hoot for the kook. Hoot for the ripper. Hoot for the grom. Help them to understand the etiquette of the lineup with patience and understanding. Embrace the joy of the present and give thanks for being a part of our strange, wonderful tribe.

Above, Josh Hall, San Diego shaper, points the way. Sin Diego has always had something of a "ride anything" mentality. We've always had our niche slide tribes. Now the functionality of that mindset is manifesting among a new generation. Encouraging.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Small steps forward....

Fate sometimes seems to shrug her shoulders, cover her eyes, and flip a coin.

A few years ago a triad of reasons led me to spend more time surfing in one spot than I had in the past preferred. I needed easy access, consistent waves, and a place where my family could spend time at the beach. A nice spring swell had me sliding Civil Rights and the decision was made. In time, I learned the spot(s) and met some outstanding surfers amid the chaos of a very busy break in the very busy city I call home. Unexpectedly, my "have-to" spot has become one of my favorite places to surf and be a surfer. Yes, the surf schools, softboards, and SoCal 'Tude Dudes dirty the water a bit, but what I've found is a pretty rootsy gathering of surf stoked generations coexisting happily(?) amid the waves. Among those of the younger generation is Josh Oldenburg.

Fade the peak and go right. Cross step, cross step. Hang. Throw ten toes. Back to the tail. Kick out to kneepaddle.

Such was my introduction to young surfer/shaper Joshua Oldenburg. Friendly, reflective, motivated, and intelligent make a good recipe when cooking up a fledgling shaping career. But nothing beats out skill. By his own admission he's always been good with his hands. The proof is in the pudding. Granted, he's a true grom in shaping terms, but it is evident that he cares about surfboards and has the desire to create remarkable surfcraft. "I love all things related to surfboards." Josh says. It shows. He crafts a variety of equipment, all a vision of his own surfing life. You'll find sleek singles, aircraft carrier noseriders, and pod racers coming out of his workshop. Interestingly, all glasswork is by his own hand. "It allows me to keep completely engrossed in the building process." Josh reflects.

His stomping grounds and its accomplished surfers have shaped his vision of surfing. Watching Kevin Connelly, his primary surfing and shaping influence, has been the inspiration for his full-involvement noseriding style and the fountainhead for his log design.
"My largest influence comes from Kevin Connelley. His ability to ride any type of board well is amazing. On a log Kevin never leaves the tip that style of nose riding has definitely transferred heavily into my shape design." His work with Roy Sanchez and Mike "Matzo "Mataratzo have informed his glasswork. Conversations with local shapers such as Terry Goldsmith and Don Laughlin have provided necessary guardrails on the highway of his shaping trip. The coalescing force of so many divergent but experienced board builders has empowered Joshua to flatten his learning curve a bit.

It is not surprising that a break where Rusty, Bob Mitsven, Richard Kenvin, and Josh Hall might be sharing the lineup on any given day would produce young shapers and surfers of note. Joshua Oldenburg understands that he is fortunate to have been witness to great surfing and shaping during his young surfing life and also understands that he is at the beginning of a long, beautiful life of board building. "Just like anyone else who has attempted to shape could tell you, those first couple boards are rough, but I stuck with it and now my shapes are resembling surfboards. I really build because I love most things related to surfing."

That love of surfing and surfboards has led him to this point. With all the force of influence coming to bear on his able hands he is beginning to create really nice boards. Mind you, there is room to grow, but this is something Joshua understands and takes seriously.
"My shapes are constantly evolving, progressing and expanding. I have been fortunate enough to surround myself with phenomenal surfers who are willing to ride my creations and give me constructive feedback. Richard Kaminski, Peter Nguyen, Garrett Highhouse, and Tristan Sullaway (young rippers) have been really supportive of my shapes and with their help I have been able to make them boards that work. I am really looking forward to developing a brand name and business out of my shapes...At the end of the day I see myself building surfboards for as long as I can."

Shorepound jump, belly to a paddle. Spin, dig hard. Pop up and set the rail. view......

This morning I spent an hour and a half in hollow closeouts with one friend. A set came. We pulled in, smiled at the view, and were digested by the sandy, sweet sea. Conversation drifted towards the prismatic visions of life offered to us by our personal history as surfers. We were thankful to be surfers and thankful to surfing for helping to broaden our experience. I look into the future with optimism, past the polluting smog of crowds, Billavolcom, and narrow minds, confident that places like mine with people like those who surf and sip coffee there will inspire people like Josh Oldenburg to surf and create.

All photos Garrett Highhouse, who I believe also helped with Josh's logo and website (which iz the biz).

Busted a fin box on my favorite board, 5'8 Josh Hall mini fish simmons in the shorey this morning. Damn you closeout barrells! No, I didn't mean that. Really.