It feels somewhat counterintuitive to drive away from Cornwall and head up to London in the middle of August, but last weekend that's exactly what we did when James and Liz set off for Seven Dials to run our annual make-your-own handplane workshop at Finisterre's flagship store. The workshop was part of Spotlight 2017, a one-day festival that sees Seven Dials in London's West End (just above Covent Garden) transformed into a traffic-free hub of of music and entertainment. This year, trestle tables were set up under a gazebo on the street in front of the store, and the two half day sessions became part of the entertainment for curious passers-by. Although we don't rate summer in the city as highly as summer by the sea, it was a lovely few days; we caught up with our friend Riz from Riz Boardhsorts (who make lovely sustainable swim shorts from recycled plastic bottles), and recent workshoppers Tim and Rich both stopped by to say hello, not to mention all of the wonderful people who joined us to make their own handplanes. Amongst those who spent their Saturday crafting in the city was Nick who came to our Boards, Bangers and Beers event back in June, Jon Khoo from Interface carpets (who make innovative carpets from old fishing nets) and the editor of every surfer's staple The Stormrider Guide series, Bruce Sutherland, and Steph Pomphrey from Huck Magazine. We had a lovely day getting to know everyone and bringing some bodysurfing stoke to the big smoke - thanks again for having us, Finisterre, and we'll see you again same time next year!
At this time of year, when the sun rises so early, we sometimes (as often as humanly possible) manage to squeeze in a dip in the sea before heading up the hill to start work. Bodysurfing or bellyboarding is a great way to get the most out of these half hour or so "splash and dash" sessions, allowing us to get a load of waves, a bit of exercise from the swim, and to start work totally refreshed, wide awake, and with salt water dripping from our noses. It would be a crime not to, seeing as we have to walk or drive past the beach on the way to work anyway. Our friend Al joined us one morning to document how lucky we are.
The team from Otter Surfboards putting their wooden bodysurfing handplanes and bellyboards through their paces in the waves before work.
Last summer we received an e-mail from one of our friends at Surf Simply; Kerianne, their logistics manager, was spending a summer on Long Island, New York, and wanted a making project. She asked if we'd consider sending out to her a couple of "make-your-own" bodysurfing handplane kits, so that she could have a go at crafting a pair of handplanes over the summer to use in the waves around Montauk and the Hamptons, and then when she returned to Costa Rica. We've had requests for kits in the past, however we'd always much rather run one-day workshops so that we can demonstrate the techniques used and guide attendees in the creation of their water-craft. We made an exception for Kerianne though, to see what it would involve for us to send out handplane blanks, hardware, and instructions. We drew some template options on a couple of handplane blanks, packaged them up and shipped them to New York alongside a shopping list of tools and some basic instructions for her, and waited to hear how she got on. You can read Kerianne's account of her making experience over on the Surf Simply magazine, and we were thrilled when she shared this video edit with us, containing clips of her making in Montauk and then some incredible footage captured by Surf Simply's media team out in the warm tropical waters of Playa Guiones, Costa Rica.
Huge thanks to Kerianne for sharing her story, and to Ru Hill (portrait photograph), Marine Jaud (water photography and footage) and Harry Knight (drone footage) for the wonderful imagery. Check out Surf Simply's coaching programmes, podcast and magazine, here.