The following blogs are from my journal that I kept for the past few weeks. It is almost a daily account of the European leg of the IFWA World Tour, and then our week long photo/video trip to Morocco with Fullgaz. They are just copied and pasted below. I wrote these for the blog on JSU's website.
Thoughts so far...4/14/08 in CDG airport Paris
Well, here I am in Paris at CDG airport awaiting my flight to Bordeaux where I will meet up with my friend and team mate Pierre Maxient. Who also happens to be the guy I and the rest of the riders on tour this year will be gunning for. Twelve or so hours ago I left LA on an overnight Air France flight, and right away it became evident that I was out of the US. Flying an international carrier is a far nicer experience than the domestic guys. Forget the free alcohol, (not on my training regiment this year) the entertainment center in the seat back in front of me complete with games, TV shows, movies, music, etc., or the surprisingly good food. The best part of an Air France flight is the seat! I slid that sucker back, put my feet up on the foot rest in front of me, put on the complimentary black out mask and I was out!
Glad I made it through customs with my “fake” passport.
In Brazil last September my room was broken in to and all my stuff was stolen while Liz (my girl friend) and I were wind surfing. Those guys scored! They got all kinds of great stuff, and now Pablito is traveling around the world as an American. At any rate, I got issued an Emergency Passport in Sao Paulo, Brazil. And it almost looks real. I did have the privilege of a nice hour long chat with a customs officer in a very small room devoid of any windows on my way back from Panama a few months ago...I really should get a new passport issued.
PWC magazines are ever where in France. I strolled on down to the news stand to see what was on the shelf, and found four PWC magazines to choose from. I don't think I could tell you four places to buy a PWC mag in the US. So as I thumbed through the mags today, naturally I picked the one with the most pics of maou in it. And in doing my best to channel Joe Kenney, tired to get it for free from the girl at the register. Well, Joe probably would have gotten the mag and a handy...but I had to pull out the plastic. And at $1.76 per €1, that magazine cost me about ten bucks. Last year, Mike Serlin, Liz and I all came to Europe together and stayed just out side of Paris with our friend Anthony Bonet. As we flipped through Anthony's old magazines we were amazed at the amount of US coverage was in theses magazines. I am sure there are vast differences between the French PWC market and ours, but I really think we could take a cue from the Frenchies and get water craft back on the rack at the local news stands.
We got my boat from customs early this morning, and on the way back made a quick stop by an Excell distributor here in Bordeaux where Pierre picked up a couple of wetsuits.
We spent a few hours working on the skis and getting ready to head down to the beach at Montalivet, the site of the contest. We got there to find 1 foot surf and lots of wind, but it was a good chance to dial in my boat. Ski was perfect as soon as I put it in the water. It makes tons of power and hooks up really well...I've been training on a boat with a stock motor so my timing is a little off. But that will come with a couple more rides. Unfortunately surf does not look too good from now through the contest. Flat tomorrow and lots of wind...and 10 foot plus through the weekend with lots and lots and lots of wind. So we will see what happens.
Tomorrow we are going to head to the beach around mid day to try and get a little more time on the water. Marc Sickerling should be there about the same time, and I would imagine there will be a few others also.
If I can get my pos laptop to recognize the memory card from my camera I will send along some pics that I have taken of the last couple of days as well...
Some small, fun surf this afternoon. Pierre and I met up with Marc Sickerling, Maxime Barrero, and some of the other guys competing this year to ride at the contest site.
Seeing all my friends from around the world is really one of the best part of traveling to compete. We are a pretty close group even though most live thousands of miles apart. And when we all ride, it's a lot of fun to one-up each other. Pierre and I got in to it a little this afternoon, and I am afraid to say that by my own admission I lost. I'm just not that great in small waves, and Pierre can throw his whole bag of tricks off a two foot wave. I normally won't even flip off a wave that small. Marc Sickerling, who has spent the winter skiing in Germany, got on his ski for the first time in six months and was nailing perfect barrel roll re-entries with in about 15 mins.
For me, today was a great chance to get used to my new ski. I am pretty comfortable on the new (08) SJ hull design now that I have it tubbied and found a good setup. But it always takes a few days to adjust to the nuances of a different ski, and with the power of this setup, my timing was just off on the first couple of rides. Today it finally felt like my boat.
Tomorrow we are just going to prepare everything for the contest this weekend and go over the skis. Then Friday we are going to head to the house we rented on the beach and are going to get set up for the weekend.
Surf looks to be big and blown out on Saturday, but Sunday should be about 6 feet and glassy. So provided I keep my head and don't sink or do something else stupid on Saturday, I should have a good chance at doing well.
I will keep you guys posted.
Just working on skis this morning. It's rainy and a little cold.
Good news is that the surf forecasts are calling for better conditions for the weekend. Looks like the wind will not be as bad as first predicted on Saturday, still on shore, but only up to about 18mph. Not great, but could be worse. Saturday surf should be in the 6-8 foot range with the occasional bigger set, and a good long period. Sunday has the same 12 second period (which makes for fast moving powerful waves) but the wind should be offshore which will clean things up a lot. The size of the surf should be in the 5-7 foot range all day.
I think it is shaping up to be another great contest...we had good conditions for the last several rounds last year and it looks like the trend will hold.
My boat has been perfect since we got here, so I really haven't had much work to do.
Pierre is riding Jimmy's blaster from last year so we spent some time getting that boat sorted out. Eddie Bettencourt is also going to ride it in the contest at Zarautz, Spain.
It's going to be strange not having Jimmy around this year. He is the guy I most admire and try to emulate when it comes training, living, and of course his dominance in the sport. Jimmy broke his wrist earlier in the year riding his SuperJet, and was in the water before it was completely healed and broke it again. I was hoping we would have him along to judge, but that is not going to happen. I am sure he will have a speedy recovery, I know we have not seen the last of Jimmy.
Got some reports from the beach today, and lots more of the riders have shown up. Conditions are very bad today. Lots of wind, stormy, and surf building from 3-4 feet to 8-10 by the end of the day. It sounded like there were a few people sinking today, but nothing too bad. I'm really hoping things clean up like they are supposed to for the contest.
I will probably ride for a few minutes tomorrow. I'm still not 100% on the timing of my flips on the new ski and that is super critical if you want to go big and land cleanly/safely. There is a lot that goes in to doing a big flip, especially one with some kind of variation like one foot, one hand-one foot, no hand, etc.. And as Mike Serlin (broken tib/fib) and Jerry Brandon (broken heel) during our last contest one tiny mistake and a flat landing can cause lots of trouble.
Today was a long day.
We loaded two vans and a trailer with all our gear, Pierre's parts for customers and his booth, 3 skis, 1 blaster, a Yamaha Grizzly atv, four carts for the skis, and three huge canopies. Once all that was done, we headed for the contest.
Surf is in the 6-12+ foot range and a complete mess. There are winds gusts reported in the area of 100kph, and it has been raining off and on all day. Tomorrow should have less wind, but it will be onshore all day.
Other than the weather, it was a great day! There is kind of a small crew this year. We have 20 entrants in stand-up and I think 12 in runabout. There are lots of big names missing this year, and I think the tour will suffer as a result. Ivo Sehn, Mike Serlin, Jimmy Visser, Xan Sampaio, Henri Chalet, Eric Forney and Jeremy Phillips are just some of the most recognizable names who have been IFWA regulars and are not here this year. Most of those guys are out due to injury. I heard that Jerremy Phillips missed his flight and lots the ticket Red Bull bought him. The top three from last year are back, Pierre, myself and Gil Bearnier. It has been a good surprise to have Federico Bufacchi (2nd 20006) back this year. Love him or hate him, he is a great rider and the tour and show will be better as a result of having him along. Marc Sickerling is riding very well and is always a strong competitor. The “East Coast Freeriders” from the French Riviera are back again this year. Aurel was a co-winner of the round in Spain last year when the final was canceled due to fog, and Max (also of the East Coast Freeriders) was fourth in that same event. So although there are quite a few big names missing, we have most of the top 10 from last year, and I think we will see increase in the level of the riders across the board.
A good portion of today was spent setting up our pit area, then taking everything down again as the wind picked up. Fortunately we have a house right in front of the contest site, and we were able to move all our stuff right in the garage.
I'm a little nervous about tomorrow. Conditions are not going to be good, and it is very important to qualify well. A good qualifying round in the first contest will really help with the rest of the tour. Qualifying in the first heat along with my seeding as second from last year will give me the advantage of riding against the supposed weakest riders as I work my way through the brackets. A bad qualifying round means having to ride the LCQ to get in to the event, and that means having ride against better riders on the way to the finals, and with the depth of this field that can mean getting beaten early. I made a few very costly mistakes on the tour last year that cost me in the points, and results. Hopefully I will be able to take what I have learned and apply it well this year.
I am very blessed to be able to travel and ride at all of these incredible locations around the world with the best freeriders there are. I owe a lot to Hydro-Turf and Blowsion for affording me the opportunity to do this. And thanks largely to Jet Ski Unlimited and Blowsion's efforts I am on the very best equipment here. There is no good reason I should not win these next two contests. I think Pierre is the best in the air, but I am hopeful that I can match him. So I just need to beat him surfing...
Qualifying went well enough today, but I almost blew it on the very first wave. Conditions were better than expected, but still big, powerful and a little on the dangerous side. After the green flag went up, the first wave I could get to had about a six foot face. I pulled the trigger and with a ton of speed lofted an nice sized flip. But I over rotated it a little and landed it basically flat from about 20 feet. There is a technique to landing flat and not hurting your self. When you know you are going to flat land, you simply let go and fall backwards in to the water as soon or a split second before the ski lands. Problem with this is you have to regroup and get back to your ski. I let go as I was landing, (a tick too late as I bent the handle bars a little) and I lost the ski for a second. The next wave of the set was about 8 feet and I just barley got back to the tray in time to hold on and take the second wave on the head. After getting worked for a few seconds I wound up body surfing toward the beach holding on the the ski and was able to regroup and restart the ski. The rest of the heat was uneventful I just had to ride with the bars a little bent.
All in all qualifying went well, and I am looking forward to a fun day tomorrow. Surf should be good, weather will not be. Wind will be off shore, it switched this afternoon and really cleaned things up this evening.
I have amazing equipment this year, and it is still taking me a bit to adjust to the ski. I think by tomorrow, I should be pretty well dialed in. The ski has gotten lots of attention, and a lot of positive responses. This ski should be on the top of the podium. I hope I can put it there.
Today was a great day! Good to great surf all day long...sun was out all day. Big crowd of people came to watch the event. And we won!
Surf was great for me today, sets were a few feet over head and the ski and I were just dialed in. Without question, my boat is THE setup for freeride. The ski made my job much easier. I on the other hand was a little harder on the ski than I wanted to be...(sorry John). Power wise, I can't say enough about the package. It really comes alive right where I need it to and pulls right on through the top, and it never missed a beat, except when I drank a little water and fouled a plug. But that happens. The whole rest of the weekend, I knew exactly what was going to happen every time I pulled the throttle and it never failed me! Jet Ski Unlimited did an unreal job of building this ski.
In addition, this 08 handles so well in the surf with the Blowsion tubbies and D Cut plate! I'm still getting used to it a little, but I am finally able to push the boat through a real bottom turn like on a surfboard. And that is something I have been trying to do since I started riding.
The event it's self was amazing, there is some incredible riding going on these days and I am very happy and luck to have won. The top 6 were very close today. My strategy was pretty simple, go bigger, do more variation than my opponent, do my best to do his tricks bigger than he does, and be sure to surf lots.
Grahm Reid (sp) from the UK was my first round today. This guy is the embodiment of freeride. He rides out of Whales normally in horrible conditions, and absolutely loves the surf. Grahm did some amazing back flips and I think probably had more fun than any one else here today. But being that he is more a flat water rider than a surfer, I had an advantage.
The next heat was against the Roman Stampers from France! Roman is an amazing rider, great friend, and a true innovator in freeride. I was truly very happy to be able to ride with Roman. We have spent many hours talking about tricks and riding, but this was our first time competing against each other. Roman is as capable of winning as anyone else, so now it was time to start really pushing. I threw almost everything I had against Roman, because I knew he was going to do the same. In the end, I was fortunate to win and move on.
After my heat, Pierre had to ride against Federico Buffachi. They had an incredible heat, but I don't think they saw each other once. At the contest site, the tide goes out about 150 feet from high to low tide, and the waves change drastically with the tide. During their heat, the outside was bigger, but weak and the inside was smaller but very powerful. Buffachi went outside, and Pierre chose to stay inside. Short story is that decision by Pierre to stay on the inside cost him the win. So Buffachi moved on and Pierre was stopped.
Gill Bearnier and I went back and forth all last year, we met in the final in Portugal, and two other contests. He is a rider that I have tremendous respect for. Gill is perfect when he rides, almost no mistakes. Everything is very smooth and controlled. His weakness (if he has any) is a bit of a lack of barrel roll variations. I knew to beat him, I would have to do a double roll, and be as impressive as I could be with his signature no hand back flip. I would also have to concentrate on surfing, as Gill is a great surfer and would more than likely beat me there.
We had a very close heat that I was able to win, but not with out some problems. My double was pretty big but came up a little short and I did a little damage to he hood so that it would not close. This was in the middle of the heat. So for the rest of the time I had to be very careful because there was about an inch gap between the hood and the hull that would let in lots of water. Thank you Blowsion for the hood straps, because with out them my day would have been over and I would have sunk. The latch was broken and the hooks were bent so the straps were the only thing holding the hood on, and I was still able to push through and win.
The final was with one of my very best friends on tour, Marc Sickerling! He beat Buffachi by pulling a beautiful double barrel roll and just killing it with flip and roll variations, as well as surfing incredibly well. It is an amazing pleasure to be able to ride with these legends of the jet ski world. We had a great and fun heat, I fought with my hood a little, but the straps saved me again. I think it is time to order some billet hood hooks from Blowsion so this does not happen any more. I went in to the final knowing that if I was going to do a double roll it had to be at the end of the heat because the hood would not take another impact on the side and stay on. The hood latch and hooks were both fucked, Pierre had a spare hood latch for me to use, but it was stock and with out the Blowsion latch, they don't tend to take hard impacts too well. So my game plan was to surf a lot, and do every flip, roll, flair, and re-entry variation that I could. And to hold the throttle on just another split second than I would like to. And it worked...Marc was also pushing very hard and wound up with three broken motor mounts after a double roll attempt at the end of the heat.
The podium celebration in France is second to none. We had a great crowd treated all of us like stars, we all signed a hundred or so posters and then got our awards.
The 10th anniversary of Jet Jump Extreme was a great success, the promoters do a great job with this event every year, and I would encourage anyone to come and ride or just see what goes on. You will not find a nicer group of people to ride with.
The past few days have been spent mostly relaxing around Bordeaux. It is an amazing beautiful old city, and is kept immaculately clean. It is a great city to walk through, and there is a new tram that runs all through the city.
Some general reflections on the contest.
Jet Jump Extreme was a great event!
Injuries were kept to a minimum...Fred broken his wrist. Roman Gabriele gave everyone on the beach a pretty good scare when the rescue guys pulled him in on the sled and he was completely limp. He wound up being ok, just drank a lot of water and was completely exhausted. Other than that things went very well.
It is very nice to go to an event that is put together so well. After the contest the riders signed tons of posters, shirts, etc for the crowd that was on hand. And we actually had a good crowd for the finals. All in all it was a great weekend.
I fixed most of what I broke on my boat...little black duct tape on the hood with a big Hydro-Turf sticker over the top goes a long way to covering up a good break. New hood hooks and latches also got the hood to seal properly again. Should have a new bilge switch here tomorrow. Those were all casualties of my slightly short double roll.
Today Pierre and I loaded everything up and headed for Spain. We picked up Eddie Bettencourt at the airport along the way to Zarautz. He is the only other American to make the trip this year.
Surf in Zarautz today was amazing! 6-8 foot + sets, and just beautiful green water, still off shore when we got here...amazing! This is the first time in 4 year of the contest that there are waves, and it is great. Surf should still hold through the end of Sunday, although it is expected to get down to the three foot+ range. Which is ok for me so long as there is that plus set in there.
I should probably not get in the water tomorrow, just because we are getting so close to the contest. But if it is as good tomorrow as it was today, I will probably just go and surf ride again. This is probably the best wave I have ever gotten the chance to ride from a surfing point of view, and it is hard to pass that up....but we will see.
Trip Blog 9
Zarautz, Spain in just an incredible venue for a contest. Thousands of spectators through out the week, and really good surf until the finals on Sunday!
I wound up riding for an hour or so on Friday afternoon. There was a great 50yard left that was like 6 foot plus on the sets. So even though it was the day before the contest I think every one rode. Things went well, I took it easy and mostly just surfed. I've finally got a good feeling for the new hull design, and I love it! With the new ski you can push it really hard through a bottom turn like you would on a surf board, and it feels great!
Saturday the surf was still really clean and fun. The first rounds of the contest went very well. I rode through my 1/8th finals. Eddie Bettencourt, the only other American on the tour this year, rode both classes and qualified well in both. Eddie's wife came in from London, and we all went to a late dinner that night with the French crew.
In Spain, things are done a little differently. We ride throught the 1/8th finals in stand-up and 1/4th finals in runabout on Saturday so we can start late on Sunday with only the more competitive heats. Also, Zarutz is a major party town and on Sunday morning people are still in the bars at 9am. So riders meeting was at the crack of 12:30 and fist heat in the water by 3. But that is cool, it's light till 9:30.
The problem is that at exactly 11:00 the wind went from dead calm to on-shore at about 20mph. Surf quickly went to crap...
My quarter final went well. But the semi did not. Buffacci beat Pierre in their 1/4th final, and I went out determined to beat him at his own game. Surf was junk, but there was an occasional 3 foot set that would come in. My plan was to throw a double roll off the first set that came in. I figured that would take away the awe factor that Buffacci has when he pulls it first. The problem was that I missed the whole fist set because I messed up trying to line up the double. I was just out of position, and could not get a run at it. After that, I found a wave to throw it, but landed short and lost the ski. Also had the helmet visor break and get stuck covering my eyes... So my initial plan went out the window. With about three or four minutes left, I did what I could. But it was not enough, and Buffacci won with a good solid run. I came back to wind my consolation final for third agains my good friend and current French National Champion Max Barrero. Roman Stampers went on to beat Buffacci in the final. I could not be more happy for Roman's win! You could not find a nicer guy, and he had a hell of a weekend. He severly dislocated his shoulder in the last round Saturday, and in his route to the win beat both Max and Marc Sickerling!
In runabout, Pierre beat Eddie in their semi final and wen on to easily win. Eddie also won his consolation final for third. So I would say the American had quite a good showing in a very talented field!
Pierre and I packed up and headed back to Bordeaux that Sunday night...and on the way back were trying to decide what to do for the next week. Since the contest in Portugal was canceled we had some free time. Our priority for the week was to get some great pics and video done with Fullgaz. Problem was that weather was going to be shit for the next week in Europe. So on Monday, Pierre decided that Morocco would be a great alternative...there is great surf, warm weather, and it's Africa! So he made a few calls and we are set up!
It also just so happens that Jet Skiing is THE Royal spot in Morocco. Turns out the King loves it, and it just so happens that we have some friends in common. Next thing you know, we are on the way the African continent, and the President of the King's water scooter club has us all set up to fly right through customs without a hitch. We gave them our car info, and names...and got the promise back that we would have not problems at the border. And if we do, a quick call to the King should clear everything up!
It is about 5am and we have been driving all night through Spain, and will catch the ferry in Terrifa in about 4 hours. I'm not sure what exactly to expect from all of this, but I am sure this will be an unforgettable trip to say the least. Also forgot to mention that Pierre set us up at his friends house that just happens to be right on the beach in front of a world class right hand point berak called Anchors. The guy also has two wave runners that the Ludo, Fly, and Blondon are going to be able to shoot from.
Not really sure if this is all a dream or not...I am kind of delirious right now. But I think I am headed to Africa to ride my water scooter in some world class surf, with some of the very best riders in the world, and it is all going to be captured by the best guys in the business at Fullgaz. WOW....
4 30 2008
Ok, well so much for the red carpet treatment. We got everything but the rubber glove! The whole process took about three hours. It is a super simple process, they stamp your passport with a number, then write that number on a piece of paper with the ski info on it. Simple enough, except we are in Morocco. I guess the King's letter did not make it in time...oh boy.
At any rate...we got through and have spent the whole day on the road again. We got to Morocco at about 7:30am local time and it is now 8:00pm and we are still 180km away from our destination.
Our fist stop was Casablanca airport to pick up Roman who very wisely chose to fly down most of the way to meet up with us from Paris. I then got about an hour of very much needed sleep in Fly's van with the bed on top of one of the skis in the back!
The next major town on the way to our destination of Agadir was Marikesh. Ludo took tons of pics that will be up on Fullgaz.com, but needless to say we aint' in Kansas any more!
The roads around this country are insane! Two lanes huge trucks and slow as hell...on top of that it seems like there are police check points ever 10km.
This certainly is an experience that I will never forget! I am very glad to be down here with a bunch of good friends who speak French. I would have lots of trouble if we were just Americans!
That reminds me, my Passport got me down here fine, except the customs guys ripped the cover off the id page. I dunno why, guess it just seemed like a good idea.
At this point I am very much looking forward to a bed and then a nice warm point break in the morning. We have been on the road nonstop for about 30 hours at this point. And at this rate I am guessing we have 3+ to go. Time for the next police check point...
Just a little update. I have been fortunate enough to travel through many countries. A lot of which you would call third world; places like, Costa Rica, Panama, Mexico, Barbados, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Brazil, etc. The roads here in Morocco put all those to shame as far as danger goes. Huge and way over loaded trucks, no lines on the road, all kinds of construction, two tiny lanes just big enough to fit two trucks. We passed one semi on its side, and I am sure that is a common occurrence. The only place that could even hold a candle to this place was Sao Paulo, Brazil. And that was more crazy just because of the ammount of traffic and blatant disrespect for good common sense. These people here don't seem to know there are logical ways to make traffic flow together, if there is an opening, they go for it.
Ahhh...good times. I say that in jest, but these really are great times. An adventure for sure!
Wow...yesterday, and the day before were well worth what we went through to get to today!
There are more good waves in about a mile stretch of beach here than in anywhere I have been in the world. Plus we are in Africa, which I am still having a hard time getting over. The 5 of ate a huge breakfast this morning for about 10€. I am not going to be able to do this place any justice by explaining what is around us, you really need check out the pics on Fullgaz.
We are staying just north of Agadir outside of a town called Taghazout. Our little house is the last one in a line that runs out on the rocks at Anchor Point! We literally have a world class point break about 30 feet from where I am sitting right now. Behind us are some remnants of buildings from some time last century, maybe older than that. As I look out past the break and across the bay of Agadir, I see the lights of the town.
Today, was an amazing day! We were up at about 7 and the tide was high, surf more or less flat. We went and had a leisurely breakfast, and then went to get fuel and the rest of the stuff we would need for our stay. On the way back, we could see the begging of a swell filling in. We stopped at 6 or 7 different breaks on the way back from Trghazout, all of them looked small but it was building. While we were screwing around with the cameras and preparing skis, sets started rolling in. After about an hour we had sets in the 6 foot range at Anchor Point. That also brought about 30 surfers. We spent another hour or so filming some filler stuff for the video while the swell continued to fill in and the tide dropped out.
After we put in, we rode the point, but just down from the surfers and would sneak up and catch sets they missed. The wave there is amazing, but although the people on the point really seemed to be enjoying the show, I didn't think riding there for too long was going to be the best way to make friends with the local surfers. So we rode up to Killers, named for the Killer Whales that are often seen off the point. What an amazing place! No one surfing, waves in the 4-6 foot range. Just me, Pierre, and Roman with Ludo and Fly shooting from the clifs 300 feet above us!
We rode through just about a full tank there, and made a quick stop by Hash Point to get a few waves on the way back. Today was great day to ride around here. Just a few of the famous spots had surfers. But because it was smaller, that put us closer the reef and rock these amazing waves break over. Fortunately no one had any encounters with the hard stuff.
Pierre and I surfed Anchor point for a little while when we got back. The wave is amazing, a right that just lines up for ever. I think surfing with the locals helped our cause a lot. And for our last ride at sunset there were a bunch of surfers out of the water and watching us.
That last ride was a blast! Sun going down, just the three of us in the water, I rode in just board shorts and shoes. Waves were small where we were but big enough to be fun. Ludo got some amazing pics, Fly shot just unreal video. The back drop here is just...well something from another world...hell there was a guy with a camel on the beach!
So far this has been by far the best trip of my life...and this is by far and away the best part of it. Amazing place, great people, world class uncrowded breaks all over the place, beautiful scenery, inexpensive, just amazing. Thank you again so much for every one who has helped me get here!
Ok so today was not ideal. I lost both of my camel races. Roman won the first, but he dislocated his shoulder in the second and that slowed him up a bit. I was closing on Pierre in the second race, but we just did not have what takes to win. All three of us were in full riding gear. I'm pretty sure we are the only people who have ridden a camel with a life jacket on.
Today was very cool...surf is getting smaller and smaller. We shot lots of cool stuff for the videos, like our camel race. Then we rode a fun little wave at Taghazout beach. There was a fun little wedge that would bounce off the rocks and make a nice little peak. Today I experienced the biggest mechanical problem I have had so far this trip. I actually had to get out my tools and change the plugs...hahah. I love this ski! We are running on camel piss fuel, hot salty water, and all I had to do once we got here was lean out the low speed jet a little and the ski was spot on right away. I'd been running the same set of plugs since France, so new plugs were in order!
Surf is getting a little frustrating for me at this point. The morning was fun, but this eventing was small small small and windy.
It does not look like we will have much of an increase in surf for tomorrow. I think we will wind up staying here till we either all run out of money or we get the surf we came here for. In the morning we are going to load up the skis and head north about 30km to a place that may be picking up a little more swell. We have already gotten lots of very cool pics, and some great video. But we are still waiting on a good swell to be able to push and get some really great stuff.
Ludo's partner in Fullgaz (Blondon) showed up today. It's nice to have another person behind the cameras. Both Ludo and Fly were in the water. I got a couple of rolls right over both of them..it is kinda cool to look straight down or up...and smile for the camera.
Roman, Pierre, and I have been talking about new tricks and variations the past couple of weeks. I think when we do finally get some surf we'll be able to put a new spin on a few older tricks. Who knows...pray for surf....
Trip Blog 13
Lots has happened since the last entry. I'm sitting here in Amsterdam airport waiting for my flight back to LA that leaves in 5 or so hours. This is after our 30+ hour trip back from Agadir, Morocco that started on Monday and ended just three hours before I had to be at the airport in Bordeaux to make my flight...but I'm skipping way ahead.
Early Saturday we loaded up the skis and headed North about 30km to a beach that was facing more west, as opposed to the beaches around Taghazout that point more southerly and were not pickng up the swell very well. As soon as we got close to our destination of Tamri, we could see we made the right choice. There were well defined swell lines as we rounded the point and got closer to the spot.
We needed fuel and food so we headed in to the little town. I had the most amazing breakfast I have ever had in my life. I don't know what most of it was or what to call it, but it was amazing. The Moroccans eat lots of creamy, honey spreads on a really delicious kind a bread they make. Some of the spreads had a peanut butter taste to them. There were others that were made from different kinds of oils and spices. And to top it off, they brought out an amazing omelet! I have always heard how the Arabs talk of paradise being the land of milk and honey, and I never really got it...till I had this breakfast. But all good things must come to an end...it was time to go check out the waves at Tamri.
Surf looked ok when we got there, finally a little bit of size (1-3 foot range with the occasional 4 foot set) and it was clean but not very powerful. The challenge was getting the vans with the skis in them to the beach. The beach it's self was a mixture of cobble stone and hard sand. But getting there meant crossing some water and blasting through some really soft sand. Pierre and I figured the best plan of attack was to hold it wide open and hope for the best...and that is what we did. All things worked out just fine and the two of us had a really fun ride. Roman, still feeling the effects of the dislocated shoulder in the camel race, and a huge breakfast decided to sit this session out and recover a little. The conditions deteriorated a little as the wind got on it, but we still had a really fun ride. And I began to get a little more of a fell for flipping really small waves. That is just not something I have done in the past, but I feel like it is really important to be able to put on a good show regardless of the conditions.
After our ride, we decided to take 120km or so drive up to Esawehea (I know I didn't spell this right.)
There is a very famous island off the cost, the name escapes me now, but Jimmy Hedricks bought it and lived there for some period, and I think it is owned by Mick Jagger now. The town is very cool, and there is an old French fort with lots of little artisan shops and places to eat inside. There are some amazing wood workers there, and I got a puzzle box for Lizzy. You have to slide the pieces of the box all different ways to find where the key is hidden, then you have to find the key hole.
Sunday morning we awoke to basically flat conditions. The day before we planned to head back to Tamri, but that idea was abandoned because it just didn't seem like a good idea to make the drive all the way up there if it was going to be even smaller than the day before. We still had lots of non riding stuff to shoot for the videos, so we spent the morning doing that. Surf picked up a little in the afternoon, and we rode around the corner from Anchor Point in 1 to occasionally 2 foot surf. We still had a blast in the small stuff. Fly and Ludo were in the water and Blondon on the beach. Then, the point began to break a little so we headed over there. The point is always bigger when it breaks, I guess it is because the water is relatively deep till it hits the shallow reef of the point. I watched Pierre almost pull off the first “striper” flip (leg through his arms over the bars) and then wad up in the tray as his foot got caught up a little on the way back through the bars. On the next wave, he lands a flip and hits his ass on a rock. I was running out of gas, but just kept sitting on the point waiting for waves. By about the time it was dark, the ski was totally dry and the surf was getting better. I decided then that I was going to be in the water before dawn on Monday, the tide was going to be right and there was a little swell running. I figured if I got it before dawn I would be sure to beat the surfers and catch a few of these amazing long rights!
I asked Ludo to set his alarm on his phone for 5:30, and got the ski ready for the morning. Funny thing is that where we were in Morocco is two hours ahead of France, and his phone was still on French time. We had a late dinner and probably went to bed about 1... by the time his alarm went off it was 3:30 in the morning of course pitch black lots of stars and some fun waves coming in every once in a while. I didn't really have any concept of what time it was, but I was sure of one thing...I was going to get Anchor Point good and I was going to be the fist in the water. So I spent the next couple of hours (I guess) out on the porch waiting for the first signs of light, I knew if I went to sleep I might miss my chance to ride this place and I was not going to let that happen. As soon as the stars began to fade, I pushed my ski over the rocks, past the old fish factory and down to the beach just around the corner from the point. There were a couple of times during that pre-dawn fight with the ski over the rocks and down the steep slipper rocks to the beach that I questioned my sanity. But I had a goal and I was determined to see it through. The sky was very overcast, and by the time I was in the water it was still basically dark as night. There were fun sets in the chest high plus range...the bigger waves would line up for 50 yards or more down the line and I had it all to my self! I rode alone for a little over an hour. I was so sore from the past 4 days of riding, but this was an incredible opportunity to ride one of the very best waves in Morocco. Pierre got up and joined me soon after the sun came up, and Ludo shot some pics. I rode again till my tank was bone dry and loved every second of it!
We decided a day or so before, that if surf forecast for the coming week was for it to be small again, there was no point in staying. The consensus was that it was going to be small for the next week. And if we left Monday by about noon, I would just make it back to Bordeaux in time for my original flight on Wed at 6am. So just like that, the trip was over...well almost. We still had 30 or more hours on the road, a long ferry ride, and two sets of customs officials to deal with before all was said and done.
Customs in Morocco is just not easy...at least not for us. Morocco has two major sources of revenue, tourism and drugs. We only participated in the tourism portion of their economy, but that was a tough thing to convince the customs officials. With 10 minutes left to go to catch our ferry, everything we had in the van was spread out in the customs check area (which is just the parking lot past the gate) and the customs officials were convinced that Frenchy had drugs hidden in the tray of his ski. I am really lost because everything is in French. Fortunately Pierre had some magazines with articles on him to show the officials, and that seemed to help our cause. They had already begun to tear off his turf at that time, and the drill was on the way. I think the guys there were just looking for Backsish, which is just a bribe. I probably would have paid them...but we made it through anyway.
Customs in Spain, was another story. After signing a few autographs for the customs guys and giving away a couple of T-Shits we were on our way. I am comfortable speaking Spanish, and I am sure language has something to do with my experience in Spanish customs VS Morocco. But even though we had done nothing wrong and had no real reason to worry, I was very nervous in Morocco, and Spain was like it should be when you cross the border. They checked our stuff, but once they realized we were not running drugs, they were as friendly as could be.
The rest of the trip back to Bordeaux was more or less exactly what you would expect from a horrendously long trip with no sleep in a van with no AC and seats that don't recline. To top it off, Pierre and I both got some bad food on the way back, and lets just say I was not a pleasure to be in the car with. I wound up getting to the airport about an hour before my flight was supposed to leave. To my great surprise I found a magazine called Hydrojet there with a picture of me on the cover from our contest in France a few weeks ago... I have one more flight to go to LA. Then the two hour car ride home. I should get there about 5pm on Wed. When all is said and done it will be about 80 hours worth of non-stop travel time from our leaving Agadir. It would be well worth twice that time.
This trip to France, Spain, and Morocco has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I am amazed and overwhelmed at how fortunate I have been to have these experiences with such great friends. I am very grateful to everyone who made this possible for me.
Next stop is Brazil in Spetember. I have lots of training to do between now and then. I hope to have some new stuff to show there. I am going to continue to work very hard to win the world title this year. I feel like it is very least I can do to give back a little to everyone who has gotten me this far.
I just realized that I left the magazine I bought in Morocco in Pierre's truck. It had an article in it about what the Moroccan royal family likes to do in their spare time, and the picture on the cover was the king jumping a wave on his 750 SXI. Next time we go there, I'm riding with the king and we are going to get him set up with a bad ass freeride boat!
The following blogs are from my journal that I kept for the past few weeks. It is almost a daily account of the European leg of the IFWA World Tour, and then our week long photo/video trip to Morocco with Fullgaz. They are just copied and pasted below. I wrote these for the blog on JSU's website.