OVER the falls at Porthleven in an inflatable dingy? It's all in a day's work according to Rohan Inglis, spokesman of the Porthleven Dinghy Club (PDC):
What I love about this shot - as well as running amok in the waves on our inflatables - is the slightly odd sequence of events that led up to creating it. You can see signs of which if you look closely, such as how Mickey Smith is using a spade instead of an oar. Let me explain: being in the most hardcore sporting association in Cornwall is not as easy as it looks.
This shot was taken one fine Sunday morning. And like many of the finest Sunday mornings, we were all still half drunk. Maybe some of us more than half. In fact, as testament, Louis (in the red wetsuit) was throwing up over the side of his boat only moments before this shot was taken. Gaining many a disapproving look from the confused (bordering on scared) surfers sat nearby in the line-up, still struggling to comprehend the fact that we were out there in dinghies in the first place.
My morning began with being woken early by a phone call from Mickey, ringing to let me know the conditions were right for a PDC outing. A call that's not often made - so i immediately set about alerting PDC kingpin, Louis "Liquid" Burnard. A man who lives for dinghying and is always on call for when a mission is on. Whilst discussing tactics on the phone with Louis it dawned on us that due to the club's last Lambrini-fueled escapade, we were now short of water craft, so within minutes we were rendezvousing at the local bucket and spade shop to sort out some new equipment.
Reason being that during the PDC's last outing a few months back, the RNLI had confiscated our entire fleet following the PDC's rather controversial venture into the limelight during Porthleven's biggest annual event "Lifeboat Day". As the village's premiere boating association, we honestly thought we were helping them out, but as we found, apparently the RNLI only like to do pre-planned rescues on Lifeboat Day. That's a story for another day though - although if you're from Cornwall the chances are you may have read about it in the papers at the time.
However, after racing around the shop, selecting the best equipment we could see, on approaching the counter we were confronted by yet another setback - we were both out of cash. We then remembered having invested the remaining contents of our wallets in shots of Sambuca only hours before. Being that we were in good old West Cornwall there were no cashpoints within a day's hike and the shop didn't take plastic. So after a quick emergency discussion between ourselves, we figured that being the high profile organisation we are, perhaps hooking up a quick sponsorship deal with the said bucket and spade shop might resolve the situation. As Louis happened to know the shop's owner, Roy, who lived just down the road, we spared no time in paying him a visit to find out if he would be interested in any last minute lucrative endorsement opportunities. Louis pointed out that Roy had always bragged about being mates with Mr Lilo himself so we figured this was a good opportunity for him to come good on his gloating.
Being a wise man, Roy promptly told us to get lost. I think he may have sensed our neediness, or just noticed the smell of Sambuca on our breaths. He even threatened to charge us more for taking the piss. However, being the enterprising chap he is, Louis didn't take this as defeat, and instead came up with the genius plan of just telling the cashier back at the shop that our proposal had been well received and with Roy's blessing, we were now on the team. Fortunately the rather dubious cashier didn't bother checking with his boss whether our new sponsorship deal was legit, and we were soon enough in possession of three fine vessels, complete with blow-up guitars and spades, making our way to meet Mickey up at the main reef. Looking back on it now, we'd probably just committed an imprisonable offense, or at least have warranted some kind of criminal record for "acquiring boats by deception" or suchlike.
Once kitted up, we spared no time in getting up to the reef to meet Mickey who was not surprisingly incredibly excited to see us rocking up wielding our freshly acquired wave-riding equipment. Wasting little time for idle chit chat we got straight down to business, pulling our wetsuits on, whilst proudly taking turns on the air pump. Very soon our new fleet was beginning to attract a great deal of attention from curious walkers and surfers alike, some of whom were understandably beginning to show quite obvious signs of jealousy for our superior water-craft.
Being proud PDC members, often conducting our expeditions in the public domain, we have grown used to receiving such enquiries from those with an untrained eye for booze fueled sport dinghying. So as club members and ambassadors of the sport, we are always keen to educate the public and glowed at the opportunity to answer questions from inquisitive onlookers, such as "Why have you all got spades with you?" - "Because there weren't any oars left in the shop." "Why have you got blow-up guitars?" "Because they'd run out of life jackets too." Obvious solutions to anyone with any deep knowledge or experience of sport dinghying, but all too easily a source of confusion for your average dinghy enthusiast.
It wasn't long until we were ready to go, and as usual with the PDC, things were running like clockwork, when just as we were setting off, our good friend and surf photographer Kirstin Prisk turned up, looking for some action to shoot. Being a man of great taste and skill himself, after taking one look at the packed out 3-5ft and clean Porthleven line-up, Kirstin was as glad of his timing as us and knew exactly who he'd be shooting today. So off we all went down to the rocks ready to set sail and blaze in glory.
There's a great deal we could write about what happened once we got in the water, but I think this time we'll let the photos do the talking, as they say plenty for themselves. Needless to say it was definitely an action packed session. There is however one other odd thing about the picture that we've not addressed yet, but I think deserves a mention. Besides the spades and the guitars, which surprisingly seemed to stay with us through the whole session. If you look closely, you'll notice Louis is wearing something around his neck. In his over excitement whilst getting ready, Louis chose to use one of the Bugga flags Mick had in the car as some kind of super hero cloak. (A Bugga flag if you're wondering, is similar to the Cornish flag, only pink and white rather than black and white. The official emblem for Cornish Rock band Bugga, for which Louis plays lead triangle from time to time.) Mickey was quick to warn Louis of the dangers involved in wearing such garments in the sea, as he'd almost lost his life a year earlier whilst surfing Gwenver shorey in a wedding dress - but that's again a story for another day. However Louis, still feeling invincible from last night's Lambrini, went against this advice and was promptly reminded why it wasn't a good idea when the flag got wet and started to assimilate a lead weight, almost drowning him on more than one occasion.
So there we have it. Sport Dinghying at its finest. But maybe this article's just one big ego trip? Or perhaps it provides a rare and insightful look into the hard-core world of the Professional Sport Dinghyist? Either way, one thing's for certain, the PDC are leading the charge in this ground-breaking new approach to riding waves of consequence and will continue to go where few will dare follow, even if it is via the off license.
If anyone would like to join the PDC please contact us for an application form, serious applications only please, the PDC have no time for time-wasters. Words, Rohan Inglis www.slut.co.uk, and pictures, Kirstin Prisk, www.kirstinprisk.com