August 7th, 2005

Last week I started my column with the bragging boast of I surfed 5 days in a row! Well...I don't know how to tell you this kids, but...I surfed 3 days in a row this week! The swell that hit on Tuesday and Wednesday was a pleasant surprise to say the least. I had more people ask me "Where did this come from?" I could only shake my head and point out to Sea. Was it the first (and only) pulse from TS Harvey? Don't know for sure. My guess is, some back door low slipped in under the radar and gave us a fun little 3 day summer swell. And...the water was warm to boot! Is the Summer of 05 shaping up to be like the Winter of 05? God I hope so. In fact, the surf has been so good and consistent this summer that I've been stock piling a ton of new footage and I'm looking like I'll have enough (before the summer's over) to release a sister companion to WINTER 05. And the title for this new project you ask? Why SUMMER 05 of course. I've got my work cut out for me as far as Movies go. Almost done with editing the WINTER 05 flick. And we're all on Stand By for the ONE project see for details. Also...stay tuned for a never before Summer Happening involving the WINTER 05 Movie. You'll see it here first. So keep in touch every week.

I just came back into my office after a short Coffee break and I happened to catch the weather channel. It looks like there's another dang TS heading our way. Her name is Irene. I seem to recall a storm named Irene a few years ago. In fact, I believe it was in the Summer of '95. Anybody out there remember the Summer of 95? Now that was a Summer to end all Summers. I was calling it the BEST Summer of all. We had back to back Hurricanes and Tropical Storms. I think we went through the entire list of names that summer. It was ridiculous. Some of you Old timers will lay claim that the Summer of '69 was better. I was Not around for that Summer so I can't say either way. However, from what I've read on the Summer of '69 and what I witnessed in '95...well I'd be hard pressed to not say that 95 was better than 69. Anybody out there care to weigh in on this? Drop me an email and let the debate begin.

Hard to believe it's August already. I guess it's even harder to believe if you're student and you're facing school in a few weeks. I remember that feeling. The Summer drawing to a close. No more hanging on the beach all day. Getting new "school clothes" and school supplies. What a drag. What a bonafide bummer.
But hey! Now that I'm older, I look forward to school. Why? Be serious. Most of you Groms are getting better at this thing that we all love. That means less waves for us older guys when the surf is pumping. At least with you all back in school in a few weeks, my wave count will automatically go up. That's a good thing. Do the math. If there's 100 people in the water and the surf is 6' and averages about 100 waves per hour, how many waves does the average surfer get? Now take those same figures and subtract about 50 surfers, how many waves is that for the average surfer? You see where I'm going with this kids? Nothing wrong with a good education I always say. Be smart. Stay in school.
My kids must be sick to their stomachs reading this.

Now why do I have to be so hurtful?

The 3rd ESA- NNE contest of the Summer 05 season is this upcoming weekend. Saturday August 13th at the WALL sign ups are at 7:30 AM. Pray for Surf.

Someone please tell me that I didn't see that Ty Law is about to sign with the JETS. Please say it ain't so. That wouldn't be right...who do you hate more the YANKEES or the JETS?

Local boy Andrew Thompson (Reverend Chip's son) must have seemed like a 747 to other hikers as he sped down the Appalachian Trail.The 29-year-old just set the unofficial record for hiking the 2,175-mile path. In 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes, Thompson blazed through 14 states, tolerated a sore knee and feet, ran from a bear, endured heat and cold, and managed to enjoy some sweet Ben and Jerry’s ice cream
. Way to go Andrew. Bet you can't wait to get back in the water.

Got good surf pics? Send em off to me directly.
(See link below) Just make sure they're NOT huge files.
In fact if you have any questions about the size, email
me first and I'll write back.
Start shooting crackie!!

Ralph Pic Of The Week

If you want to access the Pic of the week from past weeks click here. Archives

Yesterday 1987 New Hammy Barrel Riding
My late father once told me, "Talk about what you know." In other words Don't try and BS someone with little or no knowledge on a subject. My TIP on Barrel riding this week stems from my true love of Tube Riding.
This wave was taken right after I was held down by a two wave set.*Yes that's a Lobster Bouy in the lower right.
Photo by Robin Rowell from the Movie Surfing The Soul.

Yesterday 1988 Dave Cropper Barrel Riding Before Work
I remember this day like it was yesterday I stood there filming my friends wanting so badly to join them. But I knew that if I didn't document this day NO ONE would. It's been my dilemma since I started making movies.

Frame Grab by R. Fatello SFOD from the Movie Surfing The Soul.

OK kids, it's time for the 8th Summer Installment of:
"Ralph's Tip of the Week".
The last 7 weeks we've talked about Holding On To
Your Board,
Paddling Common Sense, DROPPING IN, Knowing a Left From a Right, How To Use That Leash, How To Wax Your Board and HOW TO TALK TO A LOCAL. See archives for past Tips.
This week's Tip HOW TO GET BARRELED.
This TIP is meant for those who have been surfing for sometime and understand what tube riding is all about. THIS IS NOT FOR BEGINNERS. Let's begin shall we.
To some, the mere mention of Barrels in New England brings a look of disbelief. To others it brings out the true passion of pure surfing. For me personally, I think the art of riding inside the wave is timeless. It still provides an intense degree of excitement for both the rider and the viewer. Nothing to me, says Surfing, more than the Tube. Truth is, we do get hollow waves here. The unfortunate truth is, most of the younger guys don't look for the hollow section. Well, they look for it, they just elect to do other maneuvers. Moves that are devoid of Barrel riding. Cutties, tail slides and Big Airs are the norm for most young Groms. I'm not saying that we don't have any Good Barrel riders. We do. There's too many to name, (Come on I CAN'T NAME YOU ALL) but I'll name a few here. From Kevin Rafferty and Phil Carey to Mike Paugh, Mike Stanek, Stevie O' and Dave Cropper himself. But if I had to think of one who made his mark on riding deep in the Barrel it would have to be Kevin "Doc" Grondin. No one gets as deep, or finds as many holes as Doc. The man is a Barrel magnet.
So, how does one find the ultimate position in wave riding? Well for starters. The waves need to be hollow. How hollow? Hollow enough to fit your butt into it. You know, at least chest high. Although, I know some people who can fit themselves into a shoebox. But chest high is a good start. Finding the right wave is Key. A hollow peak or wall with a reasonable escape route is preferable. Once you've found the right wave you have only two ways to ride. Frontside or Backside. Let's start with FRONTSIDE. Arguably Frontside is the easiest way to get shacked. Unless your Kelly Slater or one of those other limber kneed freaks. Dropping in late is not advised for Intermediate Surfers. You want this to be easy. DON'T GO TO THE BOTTOM. Instead angle your board midway down the face and set your edge. You can go to the bottom and find the barrel after the initial pitch but 9 out of 10 times the most hollow part of the wave is right up front. When the lip makes that first pitch.
Adjust your speed by doing one of two things. Using your foot placement (Doc's specialty) or sticking your arm into the face of the wave to slow you down . It's all about timing and ducking. You need to duck your head when the lip throws or you'll get slapped. As in bitch slapped..
Depending on how big the wave is, the actual act of Barrel riding is actually quite easy. You just have to fight the urge to jump off your board, or worse, fall. Relax, let the wave dictate what you do. As far as speed and all.
Let the lip pour over your head while you stay focussed on one thing. The end of the tunnel. You know, GETTING Out of that thing. Doc likes to stand with a semi wide stance while inside the wave and then he applies the forward foot to accelerate out of the tube. You must remain clam while in the wave. Most people freak out inside the wave especially if it looks like it's going close out on you. Theres a good reason for this. You can get worked. Hell, you can get freaking killed. I
t is my friends, the most dangerous part of the wave. Your instincts are trying to tell you something. GET OUT! Once you've managed to calm down, you need to exit with grace. The ideal situation is to simply exit with no fuss or muss. You know, like they do at Pipe or Chopes. But we're talking about New England. You've got to earn the way out here. If the ceiling is collapsing around you, plant your feet and pretend you're an Oak tree. You can turn your board towards the beach and exit out of the white water. No one does this better than Doc. You need to be solid on your feet to pull this off. But it can be done. Don't let a closeout dissuade you from finding that ultimate thrill.
BACKSIDE- It's everything I wrote about above, except now your back is to the wave. In the recent Movie GLASS LOVE Rabbit was talking about a backsider at Kirra and how he was able to get deeper into the Barrel because of the contour of standing on the board with your back to the wave. He pointed out that the natural curvature of your spine fits perfectly with the wave face. It's true. The best backsider in the business is Kelly Slater. Look at photos of him in the barrel and practice that lean forward rail grab stance in the safety of your Living Room before attempting it in the Ocean. Writing this Tip this week I realized that I could write a book on Tube Riding, so, I'll stop here. If you've ever been barreled you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't...well the best is yet to come my friends..
Next week's Tip Which Board Is Best For You?

As always my friends...
Pray for Surf. Pray for Peace. Surf For Fun.


Click On Wave to Go Back to The Top.

Today 2005. Summer Barrel Riding at North Beach
This shot of Kevin "Doc" Grondin was from Wednesday of this past week. It got hollow. And the boys were pulling in. Video Frame Grabs by SFOD from the upcoming Fall Release SUMMER 05

This shot of Johnny Reynolds is also from Wednesday of this past week.
Video Frame Grabs by SFOD from the upcoming Fall Release SUMMER 05

This is a frame grab of young Kevin Rafferty and yes it was from Wednesday as well.
Video Frame Grabs by SFOD from the upcoming Fall Release SUMMER 05

This frame grab is Matt Evans. Looks like he really wanted to fit into this little section.
Video Frame Grab by SFOD from 13POINT5

This frame grab of Phil Carey was from this past winter. Phil's one of the Best Barrel Riders in New Hampshire. Video Frame Grab by SFOD from the upcoming Summer Release WINTER 05

Today 2005 Wednesday Flight
I couldn't resist posting this Frame Grab. Casey Lockwood was busting Airs all over the place those two days. I had to put one of them up. That may be Kody Grondin (who's following in his dad's footsteps in the barrel riding tradition) on the left or it could be Perry Reynolds. Two of the area's hot upcoming Grom Rippers.
Video Frame Grab by SFOD from the upcoming Fall Release SUMMER 05