Saturday, March 7, 2015

My new ride

The saga is now complete as here is my beautiful new white 9' 1" roundtail pin longboard. So how does the new board go.
Well is is usual with a new board, my first session was in absolute shit onshore crap but I was able to discover that it is very forgiving as it has terrific balance.
The second session was again in an onshore but with at least a little shape and I discovered that it is super quick, has an amazing amount of glide considering the rocker in it and is a terrific nose rider!
The 3rd session yesterday was in cleaner side shore conditions and I had a great time as I was able to really push it finding that it is a super lively fun board coping with every demand I made of it. I cannot wait for some conditions when the waves have a steeper face to attack.
In my last post I detailed the story of the collapse of the 9' Walden SLX Mega Magic I used to own for which I received a full refund from the local surf shop. So huge props again to Dave and Alan at the Big Drop Surf Shop for doing the right thing and I hope that Walden will also do the right thing and compensate them in some way in time.
As I mentioned in the post, I took the step I probably should have made initially when I wanted a new longboard using the refund cheque to ask local shaper Warren Thompson to shape me the new board I now own. It is based on the phased out of production South Point 9' 1" Bonga Perkins replica.
Why? Well, I only happened to get the chance to ride one wave on one of them a few years ago and was mightily impressed with it's performance. I had done a swap out the back to give a visiting surfer a go on the 10' longboard that Warren had shaped for me. I have never forgotten how comfortable the Perkins felt and it's performance on the first and only wave I rode on a busy day. I think you will agree he has done a pretty good job and I will tell you how it goes shortly.
Before starting to shape my board Warren was asked by the Big Drop Surf Shop guys to see if he could repair the delaminated mega magic which he duly agreed to do albeit rather reluctantly. Here are some before and after pics which show he did an amazing job of resurrecting it!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

9' Walden SLX Epoxy Mega Magic Longboard delamination

In June last last year I made this post describing how delighted I was with the 9' Walden SLX Epoxy Mega Magic longboard I had purchased.
By December, my delight in the board's performance had not changed at all and I had been having some terrific sessions on it.
But, I am horrified to report that the board itself had failed catastrophically!
I am not a weekend warrior, as I have the opportunity to surf most days in the week, so I am in the habit of leaving my boards on top of the car all the time.
Unfortunately, epoxy boards using an EPS polystyrene core are more sensitive to heat and, as I have found out to my detriment, prone to delamination!
The irony of this is that I live on the South Coast of Western Australia that does not experience super high temperatures as other more northerly parts do.
So, I took the board back to the local surf shop, and equal shocked they, asked me to take some pictures so as they could send them to the manufacturers to see what could be done for me.

Well, nothing was the answer as in their opinion the board had been exposed to excessive heat!

"That has been cooked in very hot temps inside a board bag, it will not fall under a warranty" 

Well, that got me going I have to say!

"Well that is just not good enough. I have owned umpteen boards ( 3 of them Waldens ) over many years, both epoxy and traditional, and none of them have experienced this sort of failure within so short a time no matter the exposure they may have been subjected to. I am not a weekend warrior as I surf most days and my board are always on the car most of the time.  I was never advised at anytime that your SLX construction epoxy boards required a specific care regime, including the preference of a cover with a side vent, as they were prone to delaminate if they were exposed to too much heat. < If someone had advised me that “They do not withstand heat very well” as stated in the png attached that will appear on your new website soon then I would have taken steps to ensure that the board was not likely to be exposed to heat! In these circumstances I just don’t think you can make a blanket refusal to provide me with some level of assistance as you have mislead me as a consumer of your product and that is illegal! So please be more reasonable about this and speak with your superiors before I do and come to some sort of agreement that." 

Their reply.

"This has come from my Production Manager. He specs all materials and production processes. All surfboards should be kept from direct heat when not in use. The screenshot you are referring to is from a blog and not our site. I directed that information to Big Drop as a matter of education."  

So then they copped this from me!

"Oh for goodness sake I have never heard such a lot of crap in my life! 

So if your customers go to the beach and decide the waves are not good enough to surf and go for a swim instead, you are expecting them to take their board off the roof racks and put it in the shade??? 

What I cannot seem to get through to you is:

1. The fact that the board may have been exposed to more heat than it could cope with is immaterial in this instance as I was unaware it was not capable of being used in the way I had normally done so for years with all the other boards I have owned. That usage has included leaving boards (both in and out of bags) sitting on top of my vehicle in far more extreme temperatures than we have experienced in the last week or so when it appears the damage to this board occurred. 

2. I live on the south Coast of WA and we do not get very high temperatures here. During the month of December, when this product failure occurred, the highest temperature we have had was a balmy 25.8 degrees.
3. The information relating to the special care this type of board needs and it’s susceptibility to heat compared to a standard construction board was NOT! made available to me when I purchased it. 

4. It appears that you had not provided the great guys who run the retail outlet here in Denmark with this information until I informed them of the problem with my 9’ mega magic a couple of days ago? 

5. Had I been informed of this deficiency in the normal use of the board I may not have gone ahead with a purchase. 

6. Under Australian Consumer Law, this product has suffered major damage during what I, the consumer, considered normal usage and therefore am entitled to either a full replacement or refund.

7. Under Australian Consumer Law, had I, the consumer, known about the problem, I may have chosen not to purchase the product.

I rang your HQ in NSW and they advised me to cc Cory into this email"

So I got no reply to that one so I made an official complaint to Consumer Protection here in WA.

"Just letting you know that I have submitted an official complaint against your organisation to Consumer Protection here in WA in regard to this matter."

I received a call from Consumer Protection within a week to say they had rung the suppliers who still refused to assist in any way. The officer related that she had hotly disputed that the board may have been exposed to excessive heat and in view of the premium price, $1350, paid for the board that they should be covering the board under a warranty of some sort as it had suffered a major failure within a year of purchase. Her advice was that I now take the matter to the Magistrate's court and that it was highly likely that the magistrate would rule in my favour. Unfortunately, I would have to make the claim against the shop from which I purchased the board whose owners I happen to know well.
So I am in a bit of a quandary wondering quite what to do so I left it for a few days to think about it and eventually decided on a plan of action.
In the end I decided that I would go back to the shop in person and discuss with the owner what might be done in view of all that had transpired. I suggested that he ring consumer protection to get their view on the matter rather than hearing it for me. I did state that I preferred that the board was replaced, with a different more robust board at a similar price point or a full refund so as I could purchase another board elsewhere.
He was not particularly happy but I left stating that I would send him the contact details of the consumer protection officer involved.
Within in half an hour, to my bewilderment,  I had been called back in to the shop and was handed a cheque for a full refund and asked to return the damaged board, which I happened to have on the car still! I did express that I was very surprised they had not offered to replace the board with another which would have been a much more economical option but he was adamant that he was sick of the whole thing and wanted done of it all. I accepted, got the board off the car and laid it damaged surface down as there were many customers in the shop. He offered his hand saying That was a relief as I did not want to fall out with them but felt that I was well within my rights to make a claim. Hopefully, there will be some redress for the shop from the manufacturers somewhere in the future as they certainly deserve it. 
So the moral of the story is? If you by an epoxy board, particularly one with an EPS core, you will need to make sure that you do not expose it too any degree of heat at anytime!
Oh and, as I have enjoyed my return to stand up surfing so much, I have ordered a 9' 1" high performance longboard from my local shaper.
It is based on this Bonga Perkins Replica that I rode once and was pretty stoked about the performance of.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Step back, turn and drive!

I have been enjoying getting out fairly regularly of late on the smaller fatter days using the 9' Walden Mega Magic. If I get the right conditions I end up having a terrific time but if they are not quite so good it can be pretty frustrating. This is mainly because I still haven't got my pop up back and am tending to scrabble up unless the wave really jacks up and I am better able to get straight to my feet.
It always takes me a few take offs to make the change from having surfed a mat to being back on a longboard. On a mat I am so used to taking off deep in the pocket and driving straight into the wave that getting that gliding top of the wave longboard thing happening on the take off can elude me for awhile. Once I am up though, the Walden just hollers out to be stepped back on, turned and driven hard across the face from up near the nose. I cannot remember any of my previous longboards having quite such a particular effect on my surfing but my god I am enjoying it! Oh and I reckon I am very close now to swinging my legs straight through again as I could have today but just forgot to as I have not yet quite set the habit and lack a little confidence that I have regained the strength required.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How fast do you go?

Well soon you will be able to find out!
I am really looking forward to getting my filthy little mitts on one of these watches.  Not only will I be able to find out just how fast a surf mat goes in 4th gear when it occurs but how much actual wave riding time I am getting in each session. Hopefully, they will provide an average speed summary too as that would also be interesting.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

After 3 years of mat riding the bodyboard just had to go!

In this post back in March of 2009, I expounded on the virtues of the BZ Big Bruddah bodyboard I had recently bought. I was very comfortable on it using it regularly on busy chunky days at the point until I discovered surf mats a year later. Yesterday, after three years of riding surf mats, I took the BZ out for a session. It was an appalling wave riding experience. Now the BZ is a big bodyboard, and feeling that might be causing the problem, as surf mats are smaller craft and it just felt almost unmanageable underneath me, I swapped it for a smaller bodyboard being ridden by a mate. The experience was not changed and after an hour of persevering I ended up returning to the beach to swap it for a mat. After a fun session on the mat, I ended up leaving the BZ leaned up on the car park fence with the message written on it that you can see in the image to the left. So what was the problem.
1. Compared to a surf mat, it was far harder to cruise around and return back to the line up. In the rippy conditions that often occur at the point, I was barely able to get myself back to the take off spot especially on the smaller bodyboard.
2. I am so used to adjusting the shape of the surf mat to accommodate the various parts of the wave catching and riding process that the bodyboard just seemed completely ineffective. For instance, I was unable to bend the nose of it down to assist the take off as I do on a mat let alone perform all the other subtle changes one can make to the shape of a mat once on the wave.
3. With the nice big round rails the mat has more inherent grip on the water surface and feels more secure on the wave than the bodyboard which can spin out within a moment with little ability from the rider to stop it apart from dipping a fin. On a mat a judicious shape change can alleviate the situation.
4. I missed the feedback from the wave surface that the soft surf mat so willingly provides.
5. Bodyboards seem to be inherently unable to find the power source in the wave that a surf mat excels at.
It was a truly revelatory and confirming experience that threw into a stark light the brilliance of the surf mat as a wave riding craft and showed that 3 years of effort have not been wasted!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yoga for older guys who surf

As I mentioned in my previous post, I have started riding a longboard again after basically three years away from this style of surfing whilst I explored the intriguing world of surf mat riding. Although my pop-up is yet to return as it once was, after only 4 sessions, it has been a surprise how quickly, at the age of 61, I have slipped back into this style of riding again. Yes, the 9' Mega Magic I am using is a terrific board and really helping but bemused I thought further about it today. It occurred to me that it is probably due to having recommenced a 6 day a week yoga practice 18 months ago, which has dramatically improved my flexibility. My routine is to switch between a group of sitting poses (worked for 90 seconds) and standing poses (worked for 60 seconds) each alternate day. So even though I still don't quite have the strength to pop-up straight away yet, I am able to get to a standing position quickly enough. I am confident that fairly shortly, my strength will have increased and my pop-up will return and that I will be back to my previous level of ability.