What do you get if you take two of the most talented and eccentric British surfers, one of the most talented videographers in Europe, plus a very amateur photographer, and put them in France for a week? Carnage and pure gold, according to Lloyd Cole.
This trip was a tale of two halves, on one side you had Russ Winter, the most successful British surfer of all time and Europe’s first ever 'CT competitor. Known for his incredible talent and bulldog attitude. And then you have Josh Piper an interesting young man with an abundance of natural talent and nose for alternative sartorial tailoring.
We headed to France following a sexy chart promising swell and sun for three days. Like most trips that surfers go on we all turned into immature teenagers as soon as we arrived at the airport and started taking the piss out of each other from the get go.
It was evident from the off that these two guys are close mates, Josh looks up to Russell and Russ looks to Josh for inspiration to keep his surfing fresh. One thing was very clear, they are competitive animals through and through. My job as coach was how to fuel this type of surfer on a video trip? You make them compete for clips! Every surf session turned into a contest with each surfer going blow-for-blow and returning to the beach demanding a result from Tim and myself. I’m not going to lie to you, things got heated, results were contested and a video playback in the evening was needed to make a final decision. If it were left undecided then it turned to how much food they could eat with plate after plate of spaghetti disappearing.
One thing which made myself, Tim, and Josh's trip was just sitting back and listening to some of Russ's tales from his long roller-coaster career. The guy had us either laughing or on the edge of our seats which took the edge off endless driving checking banks. "I beat Occy in 6ft perfect J-bay two years in a row... He was pissed, worst was he was my best mate and I was travelling with him on tour." Etc.
On the second day Russ was first up, fuelled on coffee and determined to show the young whippersnapper who was boss. We headed to the banks which supplied us with fun waves the day before to find the swell still pumping but the bank had pulled a disappearing act. After driving from car park to car park we were trying to fight the familiar situation we were descending into... The French goose chase. Drive all day searching for banks, chasing-up leads that surfers have thrown you and finishing the day with a belly full of bread, an empty fuel tank, and a dry wetsuit. Luckily we managed to get our surfing in and the lads made the most of the rippable conditions we found. Five surfs down and Russ is confessing that he’s not surfed that much in a day since he was 16. Beers drunk and clips tallied – Russ was ahead by one.
After a massive previous day, the third day started-off a bit sluggish to say the least. We headed to our local bakery to fuel up on pastries and coffee to get the day going. With the same swell height we retraced our steps from the day before hoping that the same tide would offer the same surf. No, don’t be bloody stupid this is France and the goose was on fire all morning, sending us all over the shop. After regrouping over another coffee in Café De Paris we made a team decision to investigate a bank in the Forest that we had been told of. This was our last afternoon of swell and we were all in agreement that we need one more session to finish the video. We raced up to the forest only to find that we had been willy teased yet again.
Whilst holding our heads siting in the sand dune sulking for 20 mins, Russ your frothing grom spotted a sandy peak up the beach, and within minutes the boards were waxed and we ran up the beach like school kids chasing a ice-cream van. The boys hit the water and within 10 mins the bank turned-on sending through 4 foot below sea level bazzas. The boys went to town for 2 hours on their own trading barrel after barrel. We had done it. We had out-goosed the goose and she had given up her golden egg.
With four very happy Brits returning to the apartment, no surf the following day and memory cards full of pics and clips we did what every surfer would do and headed to Spain to celebrate. We decide on the drive down that after the three days of competition the boys were drawn on points and the only way to settle this argument was to find a quiet bar and settle it on the dance floor. Tapas eaten, booze consumed and the shapes were thrown! The jury is still out on the winner, watch the video and you can make you own mind up.
Photos and article, Lloyd Cole