On the road again…….
After 27 hours of travel, I finally arrive in Helsinki – no sleep for two days and renting a car – not a great plan, except for the 5 Hour Energy sitting patiently in my backpack awaiting just this opportunity. The only problem is I get a lead foot on my way to Turku, and the roads are marred with radar devices. The need to be stealth is great!
Finally reach the destination and meet with the installation team for our latest Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines attraction, a retro fit onto Voyager of the Seas. Zak, Terry and Tom K, some of our best wave installers, are in the bar as I arrive at 11:15PM – still twilight out, very surreal. Needless to say, the factory test the next day goes off without a hitch, the guys did a great job, and soon I am back on the road, from Germany and a tour of a pump facility to Scotland for a visit with Jim and then off from Glasgow to Exeter – yes Exeter, a very small regional airport in the UK – and finally picked up by Simon Palmer, the FlowRider guru for our UK sales, for a 4-5 hour drive to
Cornwall, where Fistral Beach is hosting the Boardmasters http://www.boardmasters.co.uk/ Festival.
Surf Championships, BMX, Vert Ramps, beer gardens, retail goods, huge crowds, INSANE traffic, music lineups including Snoop Dogg on Saturday night, some surf with some size, and a FlowRider Mobile attraction right in the heart of the action. Coming from California, I wasn’t actually prepared for the pure stoke of the UK surfing community and its’ combatants. It was a complete madhouse on Saturday with Skateboard comp’s, surfing heats, the Royal Air Force recruiting, and a lot of killer people watching to keep me entertained.
I was also shocked at the 21 ft tidal change – a complete shocker compared to our max of maybe 9 ft in San Diego, and that on a rare occasion. The surf competition went from nearly a half mile away to right on top of the bar when the tide flushed in. From 6 foot blown out slop to 2 foot shore break slop, but the competitors made the best of it.
Sunday dawned after a stormy night to near gale force winds, and after slipping on a wet marble floor and gashing up my foot, we rode the FlowRider before the organizers shut down the entire retail area. What was really impressive though, were the competitors. While the entire beach community was leaving the area, the final day of the surf competition raged on. The surf increased in size, due mainly to the 35 knot++ onshore winds. Try longboarding in those conditions!!! 8 ft plus faces, super short interval “storm surf” – just a full on work out for those guys. Very impressive…….. I was exhausted just watching. Meanwhile, the vendors who the day before were selling everything in sight, were frantically packing as fast as they could while things were flying everywhere!
I could only stare at the adjacent golf course, and the fact I would love to play in this kind of condition, but not surf in it. That’s why we say “surf AM, golf PM!” The hearty souls that were playing most definitely had a little whiskey in those golf bags. We decided to pack it in and start the drive north back up to Rugby. In a virtual white knuckle drive of bumper to bumper traffic, and my host Simon Palmer, who got a horrible case of food poisoning from a gnarly little snack called a meat pastie!! It was brutal to watch, as I was praying the fate wouldn’t be bestowed upon me, although I did not partake in the pastie………..
After 9 days, 12 flights, 6 hotels, Finnish, German, Scottish and UK food, I was more than satisfied to hop on my flight home, where I knew a Mexican food feast would await!! Leave it to Newark and United to delay my arrival by another 6 hrs, but nothing can quench the flavor buds like some homegrown Serrano and Jalapeno peppers and my favorite Mexican dish, which is just about anything on the menu. A crazy trip of customers, suppliers, end users, all wrapped up into a nice bow tie – just how I like it!!