just for you jamie
Through a small window overlooking the sea, swell lines rolling in at The Alley, Currumbin and an empty park come into focus - the perfect venue for the fourth Annual Alley Fish Fry.
Travelling to the Gold Coast to look at surfboards and go surfing with friend and shaper Roger Hall from Ruakaka, New Zealand, has always been a fun-filled experience and this trip would be no exception.
Once again our host, swallowtail enthusiast and event organiser Grant 'Big Fish' Newby has managed to bring together a wide range of fish surfers, shapers and vast variations of the board together in one place at the same time, by phone, email and word of mouth - no mean feat.
It was a cosy affair this year with shapers, backyard builders and surfers alike huddled together sheltering from the odd heavy shower, but this did not dampen the spirit of the event.
If anything it made introductions happen a lot faster, so everyone could get down to the nitty gritty of discussing the fish.
The first shaper to lay out his creations at the park was Bush Rat's Jed Dones from Merimbula with an assortment of fish, flex and finless.
Jed who shapes for Derek Hynd became a focal point of the event attracting much attention, also followed closely was Roger Hall of Surfline Surfboards with his quiver of chambered wooden quad fishes, a chambered twin keel made from his collection of balsa and coconut, the coconut was found washed up at his local break and with Roger's flextail twin keel fish on display meant Roger and Jed had much to discuss about the fish and flex combination, Mick Mackie's arrival from Ulladulla with his flexible fishes added to the debate as you can well imagine.
Sage Joske of Valla Surfboards from Nambucca Heads with friend and team rider Brett Caller called in on their way north to the Noosa Festival of Surfing with a mobile showroom, which was a sea of lush coloured and tinted twin keeled shapes.
Sage also showcased his personal creation, the Vector, a hybrid of the Fish and the Alaia which is a reflection of Sage's open minded approach to surfing and board design.
Floating through the park, absorbing the atmosphere was Rich Pavel from California, sharing ideas, thoughts, history and the relevance of the fish with fellow shapers.
As the boards filled the park the backyard shapers started to appear and one who stood out from the crowd was Currumbin local Eden Saul. Saul brought along his Tombstone model, a mini Simmons esk twin keel, semi-glossed, resin tinted with handcrafted plywood fins - not fitting into the true definition of the fish but had all the elements of a well executed shape, finish and reflected his vibrant personality.
Fellow New Zealander Bobby Crisp of DeLuxe Industries came along fully equipped with his highly detailed wooden framed models and said he would be definitely return to the event.
A late entry on the day was Australian surfing and shaping legend Bob McTavish with his fish influenced, finless, foam and glass, twin hot curl - another board that was not a true fish but had heads turning and got shapers thinking.
Another last minute contender was Dan MacDonald aka DMS from Currumbin with his version of a mini Simmons he shaped for Ventura California free surfer Dane Renoylds. Dan has been crafting fishes in many forms for sometime now and is well known on the Gold Coast for his mastery when it comes to his resin tints.
A mixture of local and international media followed the days progress for blogs, paper and online magazines which was a strong indication of the events life expectancy.
Italian Marco Mazzini flew out especially for the event to help with his planning of a European Fish Fry, set down for September this year.
The Fish Fry format is as strong as ever and is spreading worldwide - I wonder how the fish will evolve this year and what will be in store at next year's Alley Fish Fry?
by MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM