Monday, June 30, 2008

Going out with Alba's Surf Club

G'day mates!

After going out for our own a couple of times now we joined Alba's Surfclub. Alba is a Spanish PhD student who's in Melbourne for 3 years and as she is passionated of surfing she started a club where people (mostly students from abroad from France, Germany, Spain, New Zealand, China....) can join and share cars to reduce cost of driving to the Surf Coast. Most of the peoples are beginners or intermediate surfers but there are some advanced surfers (like Alba) and even a World Qualifing Series surfer joined a few times. There are almost 50 peoples in the club and normally 15+ participate on a day of surfing.
We left the house at 8:15 and walked 15mins to Alba's apartment where the meeting point was set. Those who had their own boards mounted them on the roof racks and we packed our stuff into the cars and headed out of the city to Torquay. We had a rendezvous at a coffee shop and ate a cake which Alba's made the day before (*yummie* Thanks to Alba!!).
Stupidly I forgot to put a memory card into my camera but I was lucky to by a 1GB card in a shop around the corner for a very reasonable price. You'll see it would have been really sad if I had not been able to make some photos!
After the short break we went to the same shop where I rented my surfboards before and this time I selected a 7,6 foot board a lot shorter than the ones before but I paid attention that it was about the same width. In addition I got some booties.
We jumped in the cars and headed to Jan Juc where I have been surfing the last two times but the conditions weren't so good (very messy and a lot of onshore winds) as you can see on Sylvain's and Frank's face.

So back into the car on further to the south where Fairhaven probably would be a bit better. It was an half an hour drive on the Great Ocean road with some nice scenic points but we all wanted to get into the water and do some surfing. When we arrived at Fairhaven beach we unpacked our surfboards and put on our wetsuits.
Though it was not as messy as Jan Juc it was still very messy and the gaps between two sets of waves was very short. It was really hard to get out a few meters and I think it was worse than the week before. Nevertheless I made some good rides and I realized that I can handle a shorter board. After 2 hours of surfing I took a break and the following pictures are the result of it:
After taking these pictures I went back into the water and scored some white water waves. Though the waves were not so nice it was fun being surfing with some people who still enjoyed it despite the hard conditions for the beginners.
While listening to the greatest hits of The Offspring we changed back into normal clothes and talked about how the surfing was.
Back in Torquay I decided to buy me a own board because it was so much fun going surfing and renting would become more expensive if I'd go surfing more often. Thus I had a look in several shops until I found a nice board at the Flick Outlet center:
(picture missing)
It was so much fun to go surfing with all the different people and I certainly go out with them again. And more than ever I'm already looking forward to test my new surfboard out. So make sure that you'll come back to read about it!!!

Sport & fun-weekend II/II

After paintball on Saturday the plan was to go surfing on Sunday. Fortunately I went to bed early so I was in quite good shape though the day before was very exhausting. Sylvain and Frank stayed up late and so they where pretty tired and slept in the car on the way to Torquay. But first things first, we had to get up at about 7:15 and had breakfast after a quick stop in the bathroom. We left the house at 8:15 and walked 15 min to Alba’s apartment where we met the other mates of the surf club. We fixed our boards on the roof of Shiggy’s (a Japanese who came to Australia in the ‘90s) minivan and headed down the coast.

We had rendezvous at a coffee shop in Torquay where we discussed where we want to go to surf while sipping on a hot cup of coffee. We decided to go to Fairhaven, the same spot as last week and jumped back into the cars and drove to the TSA to rent boards and wetsuits for those who have not their own stuff. Though we thought we’d go to Fairhaven the leading car turned at the intersection to Bell’s Beach into the street leading to this famous beach so we just followed them and assumed that they wanted to have a look at Bells before going further south. We stopped at Southside a spot just south of Bell’s beach. As there where only a few people in the water and the waves where pretty clean we decided to stay and geared up for surfing. I waxed my maiden board on was really excited to catch some waves with it. As it wasn’t as messy as last weekend it was pretty easy to paddle out and in addition the swim training at the sports aquatic centre paid off and with some powerful strokes I was sitting in the line-up and waiting for the waves. Actually waiting was most of the part as sometimes there where a few minutes of flat water between two sets and so I began to chat with an Australian architect from Melbourne who enjoyed getting out of the city, too. We talked about going abroad while studying, surfing in Australia and he gave me some advices how I could improve my take-off. After taking some waves in the middle of the peak I changed to the right shoulder because the waves broke over a length of 25m and it was not possible to go right or left. And that was a good decision!

After a nice nosedive and a missed take-off I paddled into a clean wave and was at the right spot. I jumped on the board and turned right and guided the board along the face of the wave and had a nice ride. My first clean wave on my first day on my brand-new board!!! It was awesome standing on the board on feeling how it floated just in front of the white water. Once I was on the wave it was like was time was passing fast and slow at the same time. Though there was the speed of the wave pushing me I somehow remember me having a look first down on the board and then back to the beach and the cliff line.

Stoked after that, I paddle out again and had some more tries but eventually I was getting tired and cold because the water was bloody cool (it gets down to 13 degrees in winter, so right now!). I went further to the inside and had fun in some smaller waves with the other beginners.

When we got out off the water I was happy to have my warm fleece coat with me and a big sandwich because I was staving just like Sylvain, Frank and several other guys (you won’t waste some minutes for eating when you go surfing).

Back in Torquay we did some shopping in the outlets and I bought some booties because the water is getting 'bloody' cold and they provide some protection against rocks on the ground (I had a pair with the rented board last time) and some sneakers since my other pair is already pretty used and soiled from paintballing the day before and they only cost 50$ (less than 30€) though they are from Rip Curl.

Back in Melbourne we ate Pasta and went to bed early because we first were exhausted after this active weekend and because we had to get up early for the final of the EURO 2008.

See you soon on ‘Where the beds are burning...”!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sport- & fun-weekend I/II

Hey there!

This weekend was really an active one! First on Saturday some people from the Wackett Centre, Melbourne Uni and me drove out to Coldstream to play Paintball. We had to get up at 6:15, that's a lot of earlier than for the going to work. Mathias, a german who is living in Australia permantly, was so kind to pick Sylvain, Frank (who now lives in our house, too) and me.
The driving to Coldstream took us about an hour. A few minutes later our second and third car arrive and we geared up for the 'battle'. We got all a mask, an overall, an belt which contained the spar loads of paintball, a marker (the gun) and for the wimpss there was the possibility to buy a cup for the precious parts of a man and gloves with plastic reinforcements. The girls got a paded vest similiar too (though a plastic inlay over the breast like the girls at karate use would have been enough ;-) ). The place had several different maps, like one with huts in a forest, two facing fortresses, plain forest, a 'white house' szenario or just a field with some wooden walls to duck behind. There where several different game variants like capture the flag, behind enemy lines (one team has to search for a shot-down pilot, the other had to get him out, that's my favorite), president protection, simple deathmatch and some more.
The first I recieved was a head-shot right on the left eye ( the mask worked without objection) and though we lost the first capture the flag rounds our team got better and better and we won several round. A made some nice hits, too; at least two headshote (sorry Mathias and Frank ;-) ) and in my best round I had six 'frags'. Though there was one round where I was hit before I even could make a shot (Mathias's revenge). We played from 9:30 till 16:00 and I shot about 1100 paintballs. The last two rounds where only to finish the balls, While the first was just run-and-hit, the last one we made a circle with everyone facing to the outside, on the first whistle we moved apart and on the second we turned around and shot... *ouch*.
Though the hits hurt a bit and the taste of the paint is awful ( thanks Mo!) it was a lot of fun and I probably will play again in some months time ( it was relatively expensive compared to the surf trips). In the evening after a whole day of running, proning, jumping, being hit, scoring hits we counted our bruises and Frank's got a nice one on the left side of his back.

Stay tuned for the second part, a Sunday's surf just next to the famous Bell's Beach!!!
PS: Photos will be added or the link to the web album posted.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Comments enabled

Though I had problems with spam on the comments I enabled them again but with a security check (you how to type in a word that is shown on a picture).

Friday, June 20, 2008

On the waves again

Last Sunday I got out of Melbourne to go surfing again. Frank (who was part of the surfing group last time, too) had the opportunity to get a car fort he weekend from a friend and so we took the chance to go surfing again. This time Jess had some exams to write and Sylvain was traveling around in Queensland with his girlfriend but Ilse and Markus (two colleagues of Frank) joined us.

In the morning Frank picked me up at 8:30 and after collecting Ilse from her place we drove to Markus and knocked on his door. Well, he opened the door only after three times knocking and looked quite ‘out of the bed’. He had forgotten to set his alarm clock…

Finally arriving in Torquay we went to a surfing gear outlet to get some rash shirts, those you put under your wetsuit and it’s a bit warmer in the water. We got some surfboards at same place as the last time and drove down to the beach. After checking Torquay’s main beach we decided to switch to Jin Juc where the waves would be better and Jin Juc didn’t disappointed us.

Though the swell wasn’t as big as the last time it was very hard to pedal out because the interval between the waves was very short and every time I dived through the whitewater of the waved it pushed me back a few meters and before I could gain ground the next wave was coming in. So I stayed most of the times in the whitewater. It wasn’t so bad because I improved my stand up technique and that would help me following surfing days.

This time I took my own camera with me and as Ilse went out of the water because she was freezing she took some photos of me and Markus surfing.

At 16:30 we had to bring back our boards but that left us some times to stroll through the surf shops which, fortunately, had sale and so we bought some stuff at half to quarter of the price you would pay in Germany.

Back home Frank and I cooked a big portion of Spaghetti Bolognese and opened a bottle of beer to bring the evening to an end.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Finally I got wet!

No it didn’t rain while I was out of the house. I went surfing to Torquay. “Torquay what’s that?” that’s probably what you’ll ask yourself but Torquay is like Wimbledon for Tennis, Monaco for the Formula One. Actually most of the well known surf brands, i.e. Quicksilver and RipCurl, have their roots in this little town 80 km southwest of Melbourne and one of the most famous surf spots, Bells Beach, is located there. To get there, you take the train from the Southern Cross station in Melbourne. One thing the Deutsche Bahn should consider to copy from the Victorian train service: The announcer calls out every stop like it was the list of the participants of the final of the Soccer World Cup, “Footscraaaayyyy, Newpooort, Werrribeeeeee, Coriooooooo, Geeeeeeelong….” and you might scream “Woohooo” or “Yeeeeeehaaaa” after each single name.

After arriving I Geelong you’ve got to take the bus to Torquay for another half an hour until you arrive at the Queensland Surf Coast.

First thing to do was to buy a wetsuit and I found a really nice one in one of dozen surf shops on the Surf Coast Highway. It’s an O’Neill, mainly grey and black with yellow strips on the side. After getting a wetsuit all I needed was surfboard. Jess and I went to a local surf school where we could rent it for the day and in addition we could put our valuables in lockers. I got a longboard and she selected a shorter board with a soft-top. With the surfboards under the arms and dressed in wetsuits we marched to the sea and already felt like surfer though we haven’t ridden a wave ;-). After a 15 min. walk we reached Jin Juc beach were we met Sylvain and Frank again who went directly to the beach because they had already bought wetsuits and surfboards. After taking some photos we headed down the beach and into the chilly water and paddled out to catch a wave. Though the last time I surfed was on my Portugal trip in 2004 I succeeded in getting up in the white water and the next wave I tried to catch an unbroken wave. Though every successful ride motivated me I had to pay tribute to the forces of the oceans and had a break to get something to drink and grab something to eat.

After the break I went back into the water but was only one or two times successful in getting up and soon was exhausted. Especially paddling out to the line-up is tiring with a bigger board because you can not duck-dive through the broken waves and you are always pushed a few meters back to the beach and it seemed as the waves were getting bigger two (the bigger one were about overhead on the face).

The most thrilling moment is, when you finally paddled through all the whitewater to the line-up, sit up to catch your breath and looking satisfied out over the ocean but instantly turn pale because a big set (2m+) is coming towards the beach. Normally those sets break earlier and sometimes wash a big number of surfers back to beach. One of the teacher in Portugal said “Look to the horizon and when it’s trembling, paddle out as fast as you can…”. As a beginner you normally try to get the smaller ones therefore you wait closer to the beach and when you forget to pay attention you get a free ride in a 100% natural washing machine.

Since the waves got messier we went to Torquay’s main beach and try to get some nicer waves but unfortunately only a few waves were good and as inexperienced surfer it was too hard to catch those waves.

At quarter to five Jess and I had to bring back our surfboards because the surf school closed short after that, but before it did, I took a hot shower there (wonderful after a few hours surfing in cold water) and put on some warm cloths. We went back to shore to watch the sundown (as it is winter time here the sunset is at 17:30) where we met an older man with a body board who told us that everywhere he goes he tries to catch some waves and makes photos to show his grandchild (I guess he didn’t know that Australians call body-boarder ‘shark biscuits’).

By the way a funny story was on the news a few weeks ago as some people have seen a kangaroo getting into the water and swimming a few meters towards the open sea until it got attacked and eaten by a shark. Better not try jumping around in Australian waters ;-) (actually it was somewhere on the surf coast).

At half past six we took the bus back to Torquay but I remember hardly what it was like cause I fell asleep shortly after I sat down and so were the others. Unfortunately the announcer wasn’t as enthusiastic as the one at Melbourne Southern Cross Station but nevertheless we arrived an hour later in Melbourne.

Next weekend I arranged already next surf trip so came back to read about this!

(Unfortunately photos are only available on StudiVZ, just go to my page and select under my profile-photo the link to 'linked photos')