Saturday, September 26, 2009

My Jason Buttonshaw Story

I was lucky to be approached by my best friend during his senior year in High School. We had been watching the Chris Bystrom movies and were in complete ahh of Australia, Kirra in general. He said that when he graduated, he was going. He invited me to tag along and I took him up on it. In 1988, we ventured to Cooly and had a nice flat waiting for us, two blocks from Kirra. It was January and summer was in full swing. We stayed for six weeks. Our flat was on the third floor of a six floor building. Our balcony overlooked Coolangatta. On the far side of town, around the corner from Snapper, was the legendary, "Patch," nightclub. It was the big hangout for every surfer within 20 miles. Legends, pros, local hero's, traveling donkeys (us), and anyone else you could ever envision, would be thier on most nights. I was a little timid in unfamiliar settings in those days, and looked like I was about 10. Though I was 19, going to a nightclub basically scared the shit out of me. I spent many a night holding up the walls watching. On the nights that we didn't go, we would stay up late and watch the entourage walk by after it closed. Of those that would have to walk by, Jason Buttonshaw was one of them. For those of you that don't know who Jason is/was, well he was supposed to be the next "Tom Curren" of the surfing world. He was groomed in the legendary hollow pointbreaks on the Goldcoast and thick barrels of D-Bah. He was amazing to watch. This was his heyday, and he was on-fire, both in the water, and at "The Patch." Though, I think he was only 17 at the time, I think they really didn't care that he was underage. So, most nights Jason would come walking by the dark path that went around our building. Many nights alone, and, well, intoxicated. My buddy and I would watch him pass, and after a few nights, decided, it was time to fuck with Jason. The next night he walked by, we were ready. Ice chips were our form of attack. We would throw a grip of chips high in the air, and then duck out of site and watch. That boy had no idea what was going on. He would just look up in frustration, without a clue of what or where these things were coming from. This went on during our whole stay, and remains one of the biggest memories to come out of that trip. There were others, and I did learn alot, mainly how to dodge a perfectly good barrel, but the Buttonshaw thing just brings a smile to my face. Jason, if you are out thier, and I ever meet you, you get one free shot, anywhere you wanta take it, I deserve it. A few other things come to mind when thinking about that first real trip away from home. Sitting on the balcony, watching lightning storms, while listening to U2's Joshua Tree, on my walkman cassette. One of my favorite songs to this day comes from that album. "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," the gospel version. When that song randomly comes on, I can close my eyes and envision sitting on that balcony, watching the sky light up in the most amazing patterns. Then, when that chior starts whaling, it makes my heart beat a little faster, and my body a little warmer. I love gospel, and mixed with a good song, it just can't be beat.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Love to Plane

Handplane that is. As a follow up to the post from a while ago. I got around to making a handplane. I am totally enthralled with it. It's pretty much all I have been doing over the last month. 3/4 of the times I have gone to the beach, I've not surfed, only to handplane instead. Somedays, I'll surf for a while, then switch and get in some time on the plane. It's amazing that in 25 years of surfing, I never got into this. It is so much fun. Nothing like the feeling of your body sliding down the face of a wave, stalling for the upcoming section, then contorting your body to fit into the barrel. Prior to this, my idea of bodysurfing was catching a wave straight to the beach to retrieve my board. Rarely was I ever able to get on the face of a wave and go down the line. If so, then it was a very short ride. Now, with a plane, I'm catching waves as easily as if I had a board, and riding em just as long. I can't explain the feeling, and I know, eventually, I'll probably get bored, just like in surfing, but, for now, it is all I can think about. So, I've made a few planes now, but I still mainly use the initial prototype that I built. Initially, I built it without a strap or hole. I just palmed it. I really liked it in that phase. Just me and some wood. Plus, it was nice to swim with. I was urged to either put a hole in it, so the fingers went through the board, or attach a strap. I'm not a big fan of the hole, everyone says that is doesn't affect function, but, I just like the thought of water flowing freely along the contours of the bottom. Holes in Handplanes do keep it basic and aesthetically pleasing, and allow some for control. I also don't like the looks of most straps. They just look like they don't belong. The curiosity got the best of me. So, one morning I went in the garage and found an old bodyboarding strap, cut off the leash, and screwed it to the deck. Wow, the newfound control was pretty amazing, but honestly I still like the pure and plain aesthetics of just a peice of wood. I learned alot about what a strap had to do to be functional, which definately needed to be taken into consideration when designing a strap system. The next phase in the process, was to come up with a strap system. I tossed around some ideas with others, my main concern being function, but also something that looks good. I mean, you gotta a beautifully carved piece of wood, with a nice finish if desired, you can't put a piece of dogshit across the top. So, the strap system below is what I came up with. It is adjustable for looseness, and also pivots that way a good strap should. Plus, I think it looks pretty good too. The last thing that I've done recently to my handplane was add two channels (actually did it this morning). They aren't pictured, but run about an inch from the rail, parallel to the center, about halfway up the board. So, I think I've run the course with this first board and plan on making many more just like it in the future.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


The Hoodoo Gurus. A band that energized a generation of surfers.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Movies That Inspired an Era

When I think back to the Curren/Occy Era, I've got to think of these movies made by Chris Bystrom. From 1984 until Taylor Steele ushered in a new kind of surf movie, these were the bible. From Blazing Boards, Beyond Blazing Boards, The Last Surf Movie, to Son of the Last Surf Movie, they inspired a generation. I personally was a very impressional teenager through this time. My friends and I watched these things over and again probably hundreds of times. The soundtracks became anthems to any extracurricular activites we were doing. They even inspired two trips to Australia that I was lucky enough to take at the ages of 19 and 22. Kirra in it's heyday. Taught me plenty good how to dodge a barrel.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Lagged

Hopefully when Robert gets his board, he will be so stoked that he will forget about how long it took me. So, here it is, 5'8 Mini-Sims Arc Tail. While finishing this board up, it went through my head how many people I know that would benefit from a shape like this. I'm surf if he doesn't like it, it won't be hard to get rid of.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Groovy Little Hand Plane

I found this makeshift handplane on the beach about a month ago. It was sitting next to the kids boogies. It sat all day with nobody to claim. At the end of the day, I threw it in the back of the van and their it sat for some time. On Saturday I took the kids out to the low tide sand bar to boogie. Perfect reforms taking them quite a ways to the beach. I noticed a nice waist to chest high wave breaking pretty fast over the sandbar. Once the kids were tired, I grabbed my fins and did some bodysurfing. Next day, same thing. This time, decided to try the little hand plane that I had found weeks ago. I had so much fun. Never realized how much a hand plane makes a difference. I was actually trimming and pulling into some nice views. I'm addicted. It's all I've been thinking about for the last few days. At first I was a little turned off by the outline of this thing. It was pretty crudely made, no sealer, but they did put some belly into the nose. I had been eyeballing some of Hess's handplanes, and even looked at Peter's extensively. This one just seemed kind of basic. What I didn't realize, is this basic outline provides a pretty good ride, but, it also is very functional in the water. It's easy to paddle with, and actually, I was able to just palm it, and swim normally. I like it. I'm gonna make a few. I've got some leftover Redwood from our table project from last year that I'm gonna use. Gonna make some modification that I think will help performance and function, but, otherwise, gonna keep it nice and basic. Can't wait to get working on em.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Roberts Update

Well, spent alot of time on this board over the last week. I haven't surfed, but have had a good time working on the board. Just finished sanding it. Needs gloss and polish then it will be done. It's f-ing hot. Over a hundred in my shaping/sanding room. I'm dripping with sweat. It's time to wash off with a surf and start the holiday weekend off right. Will probably hand deliver it to him in Orange County early-mid next week.

Bottom Glossed

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Roberts Board

Robert has been really patient, and a pleasure to work with. Here are some pics of his shaped blank. Will be adding more pics to this post during the glassing process to keep him updated on the status.

Bottom Laminated