Wednesday, July 13, 2016

2016 second Indo trip report n.1

I've been in Bali for more than 3 weeks now and, believe it or not, I don't have anything particularly epic to blog about.

As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be blogging at all, if it wasn't for the fact that I'm staying dry for a few days trying to heal some reef scratches before I embark on a trip to my favorite spot in the world. Even though the scratches are not bad, I really want to make sure I'm gonna have no problems over there, because the forecast looks pretty hot... but we'll get to that later in this post.

First I'm gonna keep my last post's promise and illustrate some photos from the only photoshoot (with the regular camera) I did so far.
I've been surfing Canggu a lot (15 minutes from where I'm staying), but this particular day (Monday July 10) I had to go to the new immigration office in Jimbaran for the photo/fingerprints for the extension of my visa. Since I was already halfway there, I then went to Uluwatu and took the following photos while having lunch at my favorite warung.

This was the wave of the day at the Race Tracks.

Same wave, couple of turns later.

This guy also deserves a mention for going for this pretty massive closeout barrel at Temples.

Despite the look of the above waves, the conditions at Ulu's weren't particularly clean and, seen the size, I wisely chose to go check other less exposed spots.
The deceiving beauty of Balangan from the cliff. It always looks perfect from there.

The smaller inside ones were actually peeling nicely.

But the price you had to pay for that inside position was the occasional big closeout set on the head. I used to love that place, but after I hit my head on the reef last year, I'm quite spooked out by it.

I so decided to head back towards Kuta with no expectations of a decent surf anymore and I ended up finding a little left on the beach break on which I had a lot of fun! Waist to chest high fast peelers (the bigger ones were closeouts) and a lovely sandy bottom.

Canggu surfing.

I've been surfing Canggu a lot, I was saying. It's a place with quite a nice variety of breaks in a relatively small area. The ones in the Echo beach area, for example, are all high performance and pretty crowded by some high level surfers.
Below is my favorite river mouth which, truth to be told, is not as consistently good as the other breaks, but it's usually a lot less crowded.
Pretty challenging wave that changes its steepness from "non catchable with my poor paddling" to "too steep to stick the drop with my poor skill" in a remarkably small amount of time (and space). 

The inside lagoon this particular day looked gorgeous.

So did the wave and you can see some excitement/happiness on my face.

There's other breaks in Canggu that instead are good for all levels. One of them is Old Mens, that I've been surfing quite a bit in this trip. In the end, that's what I am, at least compared to the average surfer's age...
As the photo below shows, if there is some size it can be actually fun! But here's a definition of it I recently came up with during a non particularly exciting session: unless it's double overhead, this is the least high performance wave in the world that you can actually still surf on a short board...

360 degrees of unawareness.

Another characteristic of Old Men's is the overwhelming crowd. Tons of lessons are given there at any time of the day and all kind of beginners are thrown down the face of the waves, no matter the size and no matter who's in front.
By saying this, I am NOT criticizing the local instructors. They are all extremely nice and they just try to deal with the lack of beginner waves in Bali. I totally understand them and I would probably teach beginners on those waves myself if I were born there and if I had never seen a real beginner wave in my life and wanted to make a living out of surfing.
I'm just reporting facts and warning the readers.

This was an intermediate student who was told to go by his instructor and was completely unaware of me. The important thing is that I was aware of him and managed to bottom turn around him. In other words, don't expect the others to be aware of what's going on at Old Men's. If you want to surf there, you're on your own.

 Board shopping.

My favorite spot in the world is not an easy one to reach. It's getting easier though, specially if you travel without boards.
Since I plan on going there at least once a year until I die, I finally decided to take a couple of boards with me this time and leave them there.
I already have a Maui designed/Bali built big wave 6.10. I don't use it much in Bali, because even when it's really big I always find a less exposed place where to surf.
I also have a small wave 6.0 and a stepup 6.6, but I need those to stay in Bali.

I so needed to buy another shortboard and cruised over a few surf shops hunting for it. Everything is cheaper in Bali, but that does not apply to the Hayden Shapes Cobra built Hypto Cryptos. That price tag translates into $840.
Mr. Cox, you're a genius.

That was a little out of my budget, so I ended up scoring this gem of a Payzel "the Grunt" 6.1x19.25x2.4 in Kuta instead. The nose was reattached 3 inches from the tip, but who cares about that for $150!

I immediately tested it at Uluwatu on a small day (the one below was shoulder high) and the board is great. Gonna struggle a bit when it's overhead, but you can't have everything in a board with a tail width of 14.75. Overall, I'm pretty stoked on it.
An epic forecast.

Below are the weather maps of the Indian Ocean of the last four days (July 10 through 13).

The position of the fech, the intensity and direction of the wind are pretty much perfect for a solid, long lasting swell at the UNS (Un Nameable Spot, sorry that's how I call my favorite spot on Earth).
As a matter of fact, Surfline is calling for 4 straight days of 6-7f 15s and I really hope it will actually be a bit less than that.

I surfed the place three times overhead in 2014 (with the above mentioned 6.10) and even though it was THE most memorable surfing day of my life, it was a hell lot of work for 5-6 rides and quite a few scary moments. I don't remember the swell forecast back then (beginner mistake!) so I can't make comparisons, but I know that those numbers above will make for some fairly big waves, which I am notoriously not a fan of. We'll see.

Below another impressive map forecasted for Saturday morning (I'll be there Friday afternoon): pretty much the whole Indian Ocean will have waves of period between 14 and 18 seconds. That is just plain ridiculous.

The 2014 epic swell.

Since I mentioned that big day in 2014, I made the effort of retrieving some photos that a photographer took from the boat. That year I wasn't posting on this blog, but only on Facebook and it took me forever to find them. But that also made me realize that I've never posted them here, so here we go... about time!

None of them is me, but I was out that day. The first one is triple overhead and I did everything I could to dodge those ones and to only go for the double overhead ones. I did take a couple of big sets on the head though and those were not fun. I also feel like clarifying that I would never surf such size anywhere else in the world, let alone in Maui. Honolua, Hookipa, Dumps, outer reefs... forget it. Double overhead is my limit (and not my favorite!). But the UNS is so perfect that I felt like pushing it. Glad to be still here to blog about it!

This concludes this report. I'll post more when back from the trip (which of course will depend on the forecast). Wish me luck.

PS. Just saw this this morning. Might be interesting to check out...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

2016 Vancouver and Napoli trips

20 days without blogging and not missing it a bit... you guys better hope I won't get too used to this.

I've been busy travelling and doing things and just now I'm finding the time for this post, mostly thanks to the fact that on the other half of the screen I'm watching the WSL Big Wave Tour contest in Puerto Escondito (on demand, of course). Great show, too bad they got the forecast horribly wrong and didn't run the whole event on the first day that was much bigger. If it happens to the pros, you guys will understand how difficult of a game wave forecasting is and forgive me if and when I'll do some bad calls myself.

This post is a collection of photos taken with my phone camera. They are quite random and unlinked, but hopefully entertaining nonetheless for someone.

As planned, I left Maui on June 7 and I spent the day after in Vancouver with my buddy Glenn. I did the same already 2 years ago and we went again for a hike at Cypress Mountain because it's not as busy as the many other ones that can be found just outside town. This time it was also drizzling on and off and that meant that there was pretty much nobody around. Just plenty beautiful nature and wildlife.

A remarkable moment of the hike was when we got to this beautiful lake and the only noise we could hear was the sound of the thin rain drops hitting the surface of it.
We are so used to all the artificial sounds our modern society surrounds us with, that it felt almost uncomfortable not to hear anything but nature.
That's just a little example of how much "progress" and technology screwed up our lives.
We kind of lost the trail at one point and had to go through some challenging passes. To be honest, the photo makes it look much more radical than it was.

Living in Maui, I'm not used anymore to seeing this amount of people all packed up inside a subway train (and not smiling to each other). City life is not for me anymore. Fortunately for them, the Vancouver citizens can easily escape into the beautiful nature that surrounds their city.
From a beautiful city to another, my home town Napoli sure does not lack in good looks. Below a gallery of them.
Here's a series of Vesuvio shots.

Pretty but far from perfect. Napoli's worse aspect in my opinion: the citizens' lack of respect for the others.
This sign was in the elevator of the building where my parents live (and where I grew up), which - supposedly - is in one of the best neighborhoods. It says:
"The tenants are kindly requested not to throw any objects or cigarette butts from their windows and balconies."
Imagine what happens in the less educated ones.
There we go, I promise this is the only garbage shot I'll post. A very moderate one.

Random shot of the leftovers of one of the many big family lunches/dinners. Expensive champagne bottle on the left, 2 euros unlabeled underground straight from the farmer Falanghina white wine on the right. Without a doubt, the latter would be my pick any time.
Food was unreal as usual. I enjoy experiencing once a year all those amazing flavors that used to be a normal daily thing. Sometimes I even run into something I forgot the taste of. Love it.

My folks are 82 and 85 and they are the main reason why I go back to Italy every single year. The Moet/Falanghina combo made dad have a good old time!

My brother got himself a used Porsche and even though cars might as well be at the very bottom of my material things preferences, it was sure fun to drive it.

He used to have one of those when he was 18... love the racks!

Eating apricots straight from the tree. Priceless.

Coffee is another special taste of Napoli. At least we claim so.

Napolitans are extremely superstitious, and those things are supposed to bring good luck.
You might think it's only tourist souvenirs, but it's not.

My niece had a small photo exhibition outside of this small wine and food shop in the middle of one of the most historical parts of the town. Unfortunately my phone camera sucks at night.

It was right in front of a building called Palazzo dello Spagnolo inside which there is this famous staircase.

That staircase has been featured in a bunch of Italian movies and also in a John Turturro's one in a beautiful dance scene that you can admire in this video starting at minute 6.40. 

PALAZZO DELLO SPAGNOLO - i luoghi di Napoli nel Cinema from Napoli nel Cinema on Vimeo.

Gonna end with the usual ad billboard contest. These two tied for first place.

PS. I'm posting from Bali where I arrived a few days ago. Not sure when next post will be, but I promise that there will be waves.