Llandudno SurfingDuring my travels my sister has scanned this blurry picture, which shows me surfing the north shore of Llandudno, which is in many ways a considerable distance from the north shore of Hawaii!

The quality of the scan is not that great but the things to note from it are that my wetsuit had no arms or legs despite me surfing in the middle of winter in the UK, and that I am proudly holding up my first board which was a Dick Van Straalen 7’2″ loaned to me by Peter Kraus.

Dick Van Straalen 1The board was shaped in Burleigh Heads which is just south of Surfers Paradise so I convince Neil to join me on a grail quest to try and find the person who shaped it.

We head towards the original location of his workshop, only to discover that he is no longer based there, after a fire bombing incident in the eighties!

Asking around the area we are lucky that one of his former neighbours knows where the workshop moved to and he kindly passes the address on to us.

A short drive later and I am pulling up outside the Dick Van Straalen workshop.

Fin ChatI am lucky that the shaper who produced my board, whose real name is actually Dirk rather than Dick, is working when we arrive. I show him a picture of my old board and he can instantly tell me what it was made for, when and the history of the logo used at the time.

Many modern boards are mass produced using computer lathes, but the Dick Van Straalen brand continues to build bespoke boards now under the banner of Classic Waterman and I have a great chat with him about design development and some of the projects he is working on.

Me and DickDirk tells me how the local breaks have changed since the introduction of high rise blocks along the coastline, and the impact of dredging the sand off the coast, which is fascinating.

I’m not the only former customer to call by while I am there and Dirk makes time for all of us. A top bloke who I am thrilled to have met, and the whole experience takes me back to my first ever surfs.

Speaking of which time to get in the water again, me thinks.

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