Found my 2004 surf diary. 325 days.
Always glad in my heart to see this legend, Mr. Smith with Teddy/Juan.
All photos by Matt Unwin
One of the better days in history on our fickle corner of the east coast. The early morning as the wind swung was solid. I kooked it on one of the roundest rights I've seen emerge from this cold, dark little sea. Pushing headhigh, I swear.
Terasu have a series of my features up, including this one about a place full of fond memories.
One of the two friends who had lived nearby was killed, a tragic accident on a bike in London. His parents asked me to scatter his ashes in the water at the point, and with chicken skin running up our backs we watched as it came to life and we all surfed in his honour. After that, when I surfed there, he was there too.
My connection with it grew stronger over the years as I found more and more peculiarities in its character. I got to know the rocks underfoot, knowing where the channels were to paddle out, how to hide behind the jump rock when a big set flooded it. I learned which path to take down the cliff at any stage of tide, knew each section of the wave from end to end. Each year I would try to beat my record ride, past the hill and down through an inside section that might never link up again. There was a very small devoted crew, amongst a wider community of longboarders who thought they were locals. Three or four people who were really on it, and we were rewarded with some epic days, rides that seemed to span forever, kicking out a mile from takeoff, looking back at the lines feeling their way down the estuary. There was a time where I started to love the place, and the inevitable crowds on the forecasted days got me down. It somehow seemed a place beyond all of the stuff that comes with crowds, and I expect it still is, though I do hear stories of aggro and a full car park.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever find my way back there, and ignite the old devotion to it. As a place it has exerted more power over me than any other, yet of course it is no different without me. Whether I catch those sneaker swells with a hint of north bent, high period and not too big to draw the attention of the many, with the bar settled and the small birds dancing through the fishing cove, in the shadow of the hill and the mountain of the Stepper showing the pulses, waiting for the first set to come over the Doom Bar; it will run on and on.
There’s something in this connection to place, this deep map that every surfer builds. It’s strange now to think of all of those lines traced and the patterns they form. I expect I’ll get back to it, one of these years.
I was glad to have a piece in Forum for the Future's Long View. Entitled The Wilderness Within, it's about nurturing the part of us connected to the natural world. You can order a copy of the book here.
Wintersun and some runners at home.
We just put Backwa.sh Issue One to bed... come celebrate.
Surf Anthology Launch Party
9th December 2015
Launch Party @ Finisterre Store, London, 6-9pm
Backwash is a surf anthology, 160 pages of free-thinking perspective and photography. Join us at our London launch party to drink beer, talk bullshit and eyeball Issue One.
Backwash draws together a global crew of writers, photographers and artists to reflect surfing how we see it, in livid detail with beautiful chaos. Contributors and interviewees include Mickey Smith, Sergio Villalba, Easkey Britton, Shane Dorian, Tom Lowe, Leah Dawson, Fergal Smith, Andrew Kidman, Tom Doidge-Harrison and Grace O’Sullivan.
Backwash is woven together by David Beckitt, James Bowden, Calum Creasey, Dan Crockett, Noah Lane, Al Mackinnon, Chris McClean and Matt Smith. It’s a publication straight from our hearts, raising a flag for the North Atlantic and the North Sea, our homes. For every copy sold, we pledge that one tree will be planted in Irish soil. This is what we leave behind when the wave recedes.
For more information visit www.backwa.sh
Subscribe here http://backwa.sh/store/
Looking over the blueprints of the boat that my dad built and sailed around the world with my only friend to survive an avalanche, Vidar Kristinsson.
Delighted to have written a couple of recent articles for The Surfer's Journal. Mostly because it means I get sent the issues to devour, nothing else like it in print.
Matapalo Death Dance (first published on Style.com)
His head is the teeming jungle that
Boils like schools of bait fish
Beyond the shelf
His speech is the livid chatter of kingbirds
Jarring chatter, flowing constant
Leaving behind body parts
Seething hermit tides
Who render all to mulch
He crashes through your thickets with
Finesse of the white-lipped pig
Inviting you into the trackless interior
With a wry smile, a whispered promise
For he is an ape, of course
Nimble and caged
Cunning as the vipers
In his fingers and tongue
For when you are lost he’ll open up
The nectar bats in his throat
Sickly sweet questions that
Unburden every secret
Avail the forgotten promises of your heart
And break them, one by one
Until lights flicker dim and
The sloth pads through his eyes
And just as you loathe each cell in his being
And vow to leave him
He is the macaw’s scarlet flourish
Temporary as falling light
This photo was taken by Thor Jonsson. It's me surfing somewhere near Bundoran a long time ago on the September trip. The board was by Fluid Juice, based on a widowmaker template I'd taken from one of Andrew Kidman's Parmenters. I remember this session with Sam Bleakley and Jim Newitt, the tide dropped out and a few midface rocks appeared and I grazed my head on one underwater. Thor recently passed away and the surfing world said goodbye to another great talent.