Friday, May 31, 2013

Taking the road South

St Clair Beach, Dunedin
On Thursday the 28th of March, I ventured south from Christchurch to Dunedin to compete in the annual South Island surf champs, and for whatever else the southern land had to offer...

My wingman for the trip, Dougie, is a colleague of mine at the Sumner Surf School. A Woodend beach local, so proud he even has the coordinates to his home break tattooed on his chest.
Having never travelled with a North Christchurch surfer/rapper I was excited and anxious to see what mischief we were bound for. I met Dougie at lunchtime on Thursday and packed his little Toyota Rav 4 to the brim with boards, wetties and woolly jerseys.

On the way down to Dunedin, Dougie displayed the driving skills he has been honing ever since he started doing doughnuts in his Dad’s Holden aged 8. A police car must have thought we were pro surfers and took a photo of us driving past.

In Dunedin we were put up by two of of our mates from the surf school in Sumner, Nina Young and Alethea Lock, who are studying in Dunedin.
Scarfie party: Leathey, Dougie, Ambrose, Nina and friend
After spending 2 glorious days competing, surfing and partying in and around town we got the report from Michael, another of our colleagues from the surf school (a lot of my friends work at the surf school) telling us the Catlins were looking "all time" He and a mate, Josh were on the way down to sample some deep south power.

With the competition over for me (eliminated in the semi final) I was keen to check out what the Catlins had to offer.
Michael studied in Dunners the last few years so he had a fair idea of where the best waves would be. The rest of the team doubted Michael’s claims of double overhead spitting barrels. With some serious arm-twisting we managed to convince Dougie to come along but parted with the rest of the gang. Boy would they regret that decision.

Catlins goodness
We arrived at Purakaunui Bay (PK if you want to sound like a local) on Sunday afternoon to a building 1.5-2 metre swell.
PK is a raw southern beach break surrounded by 50 metre vertical cliffs giving it a coliseum-like vibe. Sea lions are more common than surfers in these parts and the magnitude of the place leaves the mind wondering what else may be lurking below.
The waves were very unsettled and deceptive, so for every wave we made, we all took five on the head. After a good two-hour pounding all the boys went in just as the sun was going down, however, I decided to wait for one more.
After sitting for a while I spotted a bump on the horizon that was growing rapidly. My heart skipped a beat as I realized it was the wave of the day. I knew all the boys were watching from the beach, so there was no backing out. As I paddled I felt the wave quickly grow and jack up under me, and immediately realised I wasn’t gliding down the face and pulling into the barrel like the image in my head, but was in fact stuck at the lip of the wave and getting launched into mid-air. After a steamrolling I won’t forget for a long time, I staggered up the beach to find the boys in hysterics. With video footage proudly in his hand, Dougie proclaimed it to be the funniest thing he’d ever seen, which says a hell of a lot.

Ambrose - post epically severe beating

We set up camp on the grass in front of the beach. After a tough battle with damp wood (we are no Bear Grylls), Michael and I got a fire going and Josh cooked us an epic feed of nachos.
Meanwhile the undomesticated Dougie continued to tell everyone how hilarious my wipe out was. The night was seen out sipping beers and trading tunes on the guitar with the breaking waves a constant base line. As the rumble of the ocean guided us to sleep, we all silently agreed we wouldn’t be disappointed if the next morning the swell didn’t grow any bigger as predicted.

Campfire in the Catlins
The next morning I was awoken to Dougie outside the tent howling and darting around like a pit-bull on crack. As soon as I poked my head out of the tent I saw what was causing the sudden outburst of emotion. The swell had dropped a little in size, but definitely not in quality.
Though the sun wasn’t up, you could just make out some perfect four-foot, airbrushed A-frames barreling into the bay. A howling southerly offshore made it hard to get out of the sleeping bag, but the sight of perfect waves made it an easy decision. We jumped into our icy wetties and skipped into the surf. For a good two hours we traded waves and pulled into as many tunnels as possible. More often than not the waves would end up consuming us but we all came up stoked from the few seconds of bliss. A handful of the Southern locals joined us, in what was probably playful waves by their standards.
After an epic session we all sported some very smug icy grins.
Josh managed to snap his board, but was still stoked after surfing the best waves we’d all surfed in a long time. After a quick pack up and a few touristy snaps, we began the long trek back to Christchurch.

Balclutha provided our starved tummies with some welcome fuel (the best fish and chip shop ever - trust me). As we neared Christchurch, the stoke of the day gradually began to wear off, knowing we would have to be content with the mushy beach breaks of quake-city for the next while. But we all agreed on one thing: we would be back in the southern land very soon.

Thanks to Seventhwave Wetsuits for keeping me warm in my 3/2 Max in the cool southern waters and to Sadhana Surfboards for making awesome tunnel invaders.

Thanks also to all our Dunedin friends for putting up with us.

Wetsuit Tip #10: How to: Thrive and survive in cold water

As the days get shorter the water temperature starts to cool you can tell winter is on the way. Winter time often brings the best surf and the least crowds in the water. And if you're not into the waves but paddling the lakes and rivers you will be also be thinking about the increasing colder water temps. What to do? The key is to keep your core body temp up. A good fitting wetsuit is definitely a great start but you need to cover the extremities. Just like you need a hat, coat and gloves to venture outside at an alpine ski village you need the same kind of accessories for your water activity.

Here's a sampling of our products to keep you covered through the cold season.

L to R Arctic hood, Surf Cap, Ice Hood

80% of your heat escapes from your head and that's not an old wives tale.
Without a hood its like having all the doors in your house open in the middle of winter when you've got the heater and fire going. It's a no brainer...

We make four models depending on your requirements.  

Surf Cap
2mm neoprene covering your ears and noggin only this is made for those who don't like the claustrophobic feel of a full hood. [View here]

Lite Ti Hood 
Very thin, titanium lined and great if you wear a helmet. [View here]

Ice Hood 
Flexible and warm with a generous window, made from "smoothie" neoprene. [View here]

Arctic Hood
Titanium-lined 3mm super stretch neoprene and super warm. [View here]

Rob Allen Gloves (left) Xcel Infiniti Gloves (right)

Gloves come in varied styles and thicknesses, including webbed gloves. We have Xcel and Rob Allen gloves in stock.

2.5mm Rob Allen Spider 
A general purpose water sport glove. Made from super stretch 2.5mm neoprene. [View here]

Xcel 3mm Infiniti Surf Gloves
3mm thick surf gloves with a quick dry lining and grippy palm. 

2mm Fin Sox (left), Atlantis Icon Boots (centre), Xcel Infiniti Boots (right)

Again there are various models out there. It's best to go for a firmer than looser fit as your feet contract in the cold. For surfing we recommend the Xcel style as they feature a split toe to help with feeling on the deck of your surfboard.
The Atlantis range has a harder sole designed for diving, kayaking or boating.
Fin Sox are designed to be worn under fins, usually when bodyboarding, bodysurfing or diving.

3mm Xcel Axis Surf Boots
A basic, "no frills" 3mm boot. [View here]

3mm Xcel Infinity Surf Boots
Thin enough to surf naturally whilst still retaining heat. [View here]
5mm Xcel Infinity Surf Boots
For those who need extra warmth. [View here]

Icon Boots
5mm neoprene with a side zipper, black rubber non slip ripple sole and rubber toe cap. [View here]
Quest Boots
5mm neoprene with a side zipper, non-slip white soles designed to not mark boat decks. [View here]
Legacy Boots
Extra tough "hard-sure" grip sole ideal for shore divers, jet skiers and rock hoppers or slipway regulars. [View here]

Fin Sox
2mm Flatlock Sox
2mm neoprene to protect and give warmth under swim fins and can even be worn under shoes for extra warmth in cold conditions [View here]

3mm Sealed Sox
3mm titanium lined neoprene socks for even more warmth. [View here]

Clip'n Drip

Clip'n Drip Glove and bootie hangers were designed to make it easier and faster to dry your boots and gloves. (no one likes putting their hands and feet into wet boots and gloves)
The Clip n' Drip hangers hang your boots and gloves in prime drying position without the need to use damaging pegs. Get one free with any boot or glove purchase from Seventhwave.

What wetsuit for me? interactive product finder

What wetsuit for me?' is a question we get asked everyday. So we've developed an interactive product finder to fulfill your needs. By following 2 easy steps the product finder will suggest a range of products that match your unique conditions. Whether you're surfing in freezing waters or wakeboarding on a summery Saturday morning, we've got you covered. Give it a whirl!

What do others say about their Seventhwave gear?

"My Seventhwave "quiver" of gear has grown over the last few years and all of it has given relentless performance and kept me very warm. I'm always getting good comments and asked about my wetsuits and especially the Surf All Day Vest.[more:]"

Craig Morgan
Ohope Beach Bay of Plenty

"I love my Seventhwave wetsuits, they are so warm: when I'm out in the water with my mates they are freezing in their 3x2 big name brand suits and I have my 2x2 Seventhwave suit on and so toastie. I've tried a lot of brands of suits and I think the quality of the Seventhwave suits is the best, from the kneepads to the neoprene.[more:]"

Michael van der Klooster
Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia

"These shorts are perfect for getting out on your SUP when you don’t want to look like a Russian gymnast. I loved these and made plenty of use in them in the surf. A great alternative to boardies when the water’s chilling down and the boys need warming.[more:]"

From Smorgasboarder #11, the All Black Issue.

Read more feedback and reviews and check our product range at 
or get your copy of our free eBook "How To Be Happy In Cold Water"[here].

Online - Custom-Fit - Worldwide 

Click here to get yours

Friday, May 3, 2013

The 2013 Lifeguard Longboard Nationals

As seen through the eyes of Tony Baker a.k.a Banksy

Who – Me, well I am a lifeguard at Mangawhai Heads, have been for the last decade or so. I am also an avid surfer of any type of board that I can put my feet on. And around February every year the Mangawhai Heads Volunteer Lifeguard Service (MHVLS) hosts the Annual Lifeguard Longboard Nationals. After helping run the event over the past 4-5 years I stepped up as Contest Director in 2013 and the fun begins....

Competitor line up Photo: Dave McNeish

Its fair to say that the traditions of Surf Life Saving globally have strong ties with surfing, in particular Longboarding. Mangawhai Heads have hosted the Lifeguard Longboard Nationals for the last 21 years straight… and the event always attracts lifeguards who drape toes, shimmy up and down their logs, and have a few cans afterwards to celebrate. In 2013 there were some 50 entries from all over the North Island from clubs including Gisborne, Piha, Bethells Beach, Whangamata and a strong local contingent from Mangawhai Heads., and one sneaky / ripper Americano brother in the mix too.

The event is a lifeguard only event and there is an Open Mens, Masters, Womens, Juniors and Classic Division. Traditional longboarding is the flavour of the day, especially in the classic where boards must be pre-1970's with no modifications, and definitely NO LEASHES.  MHVLS as the host club is unique in the New Zealand SLS movement in that (a.) you won't find anyone wearing speedos and (b.) you will find more surfboards hanging in the gear shed racks then any other club in NZ.

Mangawhai Heads

 In its 21 year history the event has always been run at Mangawhai Heads, either on the main beach or on the Harbour Entrance, known as "The Bar". In 2013 clean 1.0m-1.5m waves rolled in all day and surfers were treated to some great peaks and peelers. This year it was Californian Lifeguard and Santa Cruz local charger Paul Steinberg who stitched up both the Open Mens and Classic Division.

Well what more can I say.... 21 years and going strong. Always a few laughs, plenty of classic boards and a bunch of cold beers that flow on afterwards.

Good times!

Full Results:

Open: Paul Steinberg, USA, 1; Neil McInnes, Mangawhai Heads, 2; Andrew Ear-Peacock, Whangamata, 3; Toby Gibb, Mangawhai Heads, 4.

Women's: Jess Costello, Mangawhai Heads, 1; Alana Thrasyvoulou, Mangawhai Heads, 2; Brenna Bishop, Bethells Beach, 3.

Juniors: Mitch McRae, Mangawhai Heads, 1; Brenna Bishop, Bethells Beach, 2; Daniel Hessell, Mangawhai Heads, 3.

Masters: Dave Sneyd, Auckland, 1; Steve Jones, Omaha, 2; Graham Darlow, Mangawhai Heads, 3; Bob McDonald, 4.

The watchful eyes of the judges

Longboards only!

The winners trophy, with JR Cash in the background

Paul Steinberg, switch foot style.

The Champ

Have you got a story to share? Would you like to be a guest blogger? 
If so, we are keen to meet you. Get in touch and send us an email to:


Pemberton’s Kiwi Family Vacation 2013

Seventhwave stitched me up with my first custom wettie in 2009 and since then Paul has been onto me to write a blog/testimonial/sales pitch. I thought it was premature as my experience going back a few years is that wetties may last three winters max but usually two.

Well here we are going into the 5th winter for my Viper 3/3 and with the addition of the Titanium Hot Top I am toastie in water to 12º and air to 0º. So here is my take on what’s good about Seventhwave gear and of course why I am such a tragic kiwiphile!

Background is that I live in Tasmania and some say I am the oldest bodyboarder around which is not really true but close. Here are some pics of local waves:

A massive SW swell brought on a rare break close to Hobart.

This is my favourite reef break and yes the big set of teeth in the local pub came from the channel.

I had to put this one in as I did a trip to Sumatra last year and have my first surf without a wettie.

I found Seventhwave through the Isolated web site and I also found the southern part of the South Island.

Last year my son, Joe, and I stopped off in Christchurch to pick up custom Maxes – he got a hooded version and I got a special 4/4/3 – that is legs in 4mm.  Well we had a ripper of a time so this year we did the first ever Pemberton Family Vacation outside of Tassie to celebrate Karmen’s Birthday and to do quality control on all those Kiwi beers (that’s a whole another blog). Here are some pics with comments!

 The flight into Queenstown was the perfect start and then 6 star luxury.  Karmen’s birthday chow at Amisfield Winery
Joe and I get a taste

The crew on a Moereki Boulder in our official T Shirts thanks to Ali.  About to head over to Fleur’s Place.
How far out dorked is this Tee!! You should have seen the guys face Ali and Karm sweet talked into taking the shot when we whipped these things on!!!
Dunedin was culture – Highlanders vs Hurricanes – pity I am so keen on the south and now have to support another bottom dweller like the Rebels, Richmond and the Wallabies.  Where in the world could you eat Bluff Oysters and watch rugby?

We did manage to find a wave at a spot which is well known to the locals but does not draw a crowd because you have to save half your surf energy to climb back up the sand to get out.  There you are Paul, the A Team matching the 1080 warning sign! The Max 4/4/3 was way too hot for late March in 17ºC water!!

Then we shipped Ali back to Oz and headed south to Papatowai for two weeks of Crib living – surf, bbq, beer, fishing, reading and walking the coast and forest trails – sweet as bro. See Rachel at the Lost Gypsy for a fine coffee.


Yup the Gath on top of the hood is up there with the Tees as a bad look but when you are counting down the surfs you do not want to miss one because of a dinged head.

It was cranking

Joe's sea run was tasty.

We did go to Nugget Point and yes that if a Fergburger cap – have to plug those big suckers – what a feed

Talking about food – lamb and lots of it – plus boerewors from New World Dunedin – yes the best supermarket in the world.

OK we did score some of Joe’s favourite gear at the Otago Farmers Market (another good thing about Dunedin) – check out the blog on Chilligasm for more!

Here I am once again astounded by the geology coming from a fairly steady island like Tassie to squashed, buckled up and down rocks. The Te Papa Museum is great – the pre European section and the Moa and its mate that big eagle – what a story.

So that’s a brief run down on the Pemberton Family Vacation and my Seventhwave experience.  Beats me why people pay half the price for less than half the value. Oh and do not forget that from Christchurch, you can get the toughest gear from Cactus Clothing to go bush or to the Tonic bar (Dunedin) and Groundeffect will hook you up with MTB stuff to keep you toastie as well.

To all the Seventhwave crew keep stitching and I love this shot of the main dude at the shop.

John Pemberton
Tasmania, Australia

Have you got a story to share? Would you like to be a guest blogger? 
If so, we are keen to meet you. Get in touch and send us an email to: 

Suited Up For Three Seasons - The Interchangeable Hood Option

We may be heading into a southern winter, but one thing's for sure - the surf never stops - and your surfing doesn't need to stop either.
In fact, as those in the know will tell you, getting out in the cooler waters of autumn/winter - with the cleaner, uncrowded waves, and crisper air - can bring a whole different level of stoke to your surfing experience. In fact its been described as “a more profound stoke”.

“There’s nothing on earth like scoring epic uncrowded waves with friends, putting on warm clothes, cranking up the car heater, and then sitting in a wind-protected backyard with the sun warming your face.” In the Thaw - Rob Gilley, Surfer Magazine

Exactly.  However to seek out that cold water stoke in comfort you are definitely going to need to have the right gear for the job.
Hood, booties and gloves on top of a good westuit are the minimum requirements to have in your surfwear quiver. But which wetsuit for which conditions?
At Seventhwave that choice has been made much easier with the Interchangeable Hood Option now available on our top-line Max and Viper model wetsuits, for both men and women.

Steve McKean, keeping warm in his hooded Max in Japan
What is The Interchangeable Hood Option?
The Interchangeable Hood Option suit is a “natural extension” of our popular neck entry, or zipperless wetsuit. If you choose the interchangeable hood option you will receive a neck entry bib with an attached hood and a standard neck entry bib. This allows you to change the type of bib depending on the conditions, using the hood for mid-Winter sessions and the standard bib for Spring and Autumn. A versatile option to cover most of the year.

How does the Interchangeable Hood Option work?
The bibs can simply be swapped around depending on the conditions on the day, giving you the level of warmth you need in the water.
With our original neck-entry wetsuit the pullover bib was sewn onto the back of the suit.
With the Interchangeable Hood Option the bib is attached at the back with a small zipper. This means it can be taken off and swapped with the bib that has the full Arctic Hood. 
The hooded bib panel has the same zipper at the back and the front, and once attached to the back and pulled over the head is done up in the same way at the chest. Couldn't be easier!

Interchangeable option with collar attached

Interchangeable option with hood attached

The detachable bib is connected to the suit with a zip and secured with domes.

What are the benefits?
Versatility and Comfort in the water are the two big pluses of the Interchangeable Hood Option.
Versatilty: this is really like having a 3-season wetsuit that can effectively cover most of the year.  Put the hood on for Winter and just the collar for Autumn and Spring. Titaniun hot top/shorts underneath for added warmth in the Winter months.
Ultimately, whatever makes you feel right in the water on the day this gives you the flexibility to decide what to use depending on the conditions you are about to surf in.
As one satisfied surfer says “the fact that it's so easily interchangeable means that if I'm feeling a bit to hot with it on, it's so easily swapped.”

Comfort: As anyone will tell you one layer of neoprene is always going to be more comfortable than two! Not only is the attached hood better sealed at the back, but with one less layer of neoprene around the neck area – compared to say using a wetsuit and separate hood or wetsuit/Hooded Hot Top - there is less rubber therefore less constriction, and more comfort, more enjoyment.

Who's it for?
Surfers, kiteboarders, bodyboarders – men, women - anyone who wants to keep on going throughout the year. The Interchangeable Hood Option gives you the performance you need across the entire year and within each season.
And it's not just for those dealing with the cold in the South.

Jaimie from Tribal Surf in Whangarei says his 3/2 Max with detachable hood “is my favourite suit and gives me the best range for surfing and kitesurfing in Northland”.
“April-June - no hood, for when it gets a bit cold early and late surfing and for wind chill kiting... “July-September - hood on for surfing cold offshores and stormy onshores kiting. Then September/October - hood on for duckdiving as the water temperature drops, and for those long Naki bar sessions.
“I can also have the hood attached but flipped back for enjoyng the sun's heat when its shining but flip it back on for paddle outs when it's bigger, and for cold southeast kiting sessions.”
“Back full circle to April and I'm back into the Max again... its my second skin and my best

Why have it?
If you are keen to score some of that “winter stoke” then this is the suit for you.
Let's face it - a hood is essential when it's cold if you want to enjoy your time in the water and spend more time out there. But on some days a hood may be a step too far.
The versatility of the Interchangeable Hood Option means one suit can help get you through the coldest Winter months while you'll also have a suit for the border zones of Spring and Autumn - when water temperatures and windchill can vary considerably on the day.
The initial outlay maybe more expensive upfront, but for that you get a suit - with Custom-Fit also an option – that will bring you the maximum in versatility and comfort for 3 seasons of the year.

So go on – explore those cooler horizons!

Learn more about Custom-Fit wetsuits [here]