Gear Review: Quiksilver Cypher PS+ Heated Vest

About two months ago, I posted a gear preview/holiday gift post on the Quiksilver Cypher PS+ Heated Vest. I finally got a chance to put the vest through its paces. To set the scene, it’s been bitter cold here in New England, and we’ve had some serious snow storms with average snowfalls of 6″ to a foot of fresh snow.

The morning I went out for dawn patrol in the Cypher vest, the water was a balmy 43 degrees. The air was hovering around freezing at 32 degrees. Most important, it was clean with Chest high to Head high sets. I pulled out my trusty 6’8″ Surf RX thruster, perfect for these conditions. On the advice of Quiksilver, I suited up as I normally would for these conditions: Body Glove 5/4/3 Vapor suit with my Quik Ignite 5mm gloves and booties. Underneath, I wore the Cypher+ vest, curious to see what would happen. It feels like a normal rashguard with a little bit of “umph” around the core/midsection. I wondered if I would overheat or if I would freeze out there.

The wind had picked up a bit as I went from the car to the water, and I found the warmth to be a nice addition. The heat radiated along my back, using flexible pads and FAR infra-red heat technology. I paddled stronger in the water and being able to spend more time in the water than customary. Typically, I can last about 45 minutes to an hour and then the chill starts to take over. With the vest, I was surfing and paddling strong, even when the wind began to pick up. A HUGE bonus, the heated back pad really helped my lower back, which has begun to ache even when when I surf.

The Vest includes a battery that fits nicely into a side pouch. There is a large on/off button, which vibrates to designate the two different settings and off. I found that it was easy to locate the button and operate it while I surfed. So far, the vest works great. During these pre-work dawn patrols, I often have to leave my wet stuff, stewing in the car. The Sea Locker (mini-review to come) helps contain the mess, but I was worried about the battery plugged in and stuck in this dude soup. Battery and vest seem fine. During testing, Quik states that the battery has remained plugged in on a wet vest for a few days at a time with no issues.

Quiksilver suggests that you can wear the vest under a 1mm layer with boardshorts with a 3/2 or under your 6/5/4. With the heat focused on your core, the vest’s main job is to cut the chill when making the transition into the water easier and keeps your core warm which allows your body to increase blood flow and warmth to the extremities.

Of course, I had to ask if they would be incorporating this technology into their wetsuits. Quik’s response: no comment.

Is it worth the $200 price tag? I can’t answer that for you. If you like to surf through the winter or are starting to try, you’re going to spend at least about $600-$800 in a suit, booties and gloves. And even with those items, you’re not going to surf or last as long as you would in the summer. So I guess it depends on how much you value those sessions. They’re pretty important to me.

This has quickly become a staple of my winter surf wardrobe. I’ll definitely be rocking this on the cold days. And as they also suggested, I can’t wait to try this on a bitter pow day, shralping.

Catch the Big Wave on Your iPhone: Vans launches the Triple Crown of Surfing app

Comin’ at cha live from Haleiwa, Ha-wai-ee, brah is the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Starting with the Reef Hawaiian Pro in early November, hometown hero, Joel Centeio captured the win, besting CJ Hobgood. The second jewel in the crown is the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing with super pros like John John Florence, Pat, Tanner and Dane Gudauskas.

Wait a sec… I don’t have a plane ticket to Hawaii, and I’m stuck in my mother-frickin’ cubicle. Well don’t fret Haole. Vans is bringin’ it to ya live with the iPhone Vans Triple Crown of Surfing application. For $0.99, you can catch the action live with lots of tasty tidbits (see below).

  • LIVE CONTEST WEBCAST (WiFi) – Each Vans Triple Crown of Surfing event streamed live in low, medium and high bandwidth.
  • LIVE RESULTS – Dynamic heat scores after each wave is surfed.
  • VIDEOS (WiFi) – Daily event highlights, highest scoring rides, rider interviews.
  • PHOTOS – Live ASP photo feed with new images refreshed throughout the day.
  • NEWS – Daily news updates on competition, competitors, conditions, outstanding performances/best rides, and anything else that is noteworthy for the day.
  • FORECASTS -Daily surf report “powered by Surfline” with current surf conditions and swell forecast.
  • PUSH ALERTS – Let’s you know when live event webcast is available

Make sure you have your WiFi enabled so you can catch it all live. One hopes that they’ll also include some nice tasty shots of the… ahem… scenery. I’ve downloaded the app and will be playing with it through the next few weeks. Look for a full report comin’ at a shortly. Check all the action at the Triple Crown site.

The schedule for the Triple Crown is:

  1. Haleiwa – Reef Hawaiian Pro, Nov. 12-23 – Toast
  2. Sunset Beach – O’Neill World Cup of Surfing,
  3. Nov. 24-Dec.6 – In Progress
  4. Banzai Pipeline – Billabong Pipe Masters, Dec. 8-20

All you need to know when picking a board: The right tool for the job

Yesterday morning as the sun rose brilliantly over the Atlantic Ocean, I sat in some 50 degree water cursing myself. No, I wasn’t swearing like a little school girl due to the time or the water temperature. I had made the wrong board choice. Seduced my the hopes and dreams that there would be head-high or OH waves, I had only brought my pin-tail thruster to the beach. The waves were mushy and waist-high at best. I left at home my trusty stead, the Oak of the Northeast, my twinzer fish, which would have made short work of those mushy waves. Instead, I suffered while others around me wooted and hollered.

For those of you who surf, you know, but for the rest of you, I’ll provide another analogy. Imagine bringing a WRX sti to Target or an x-acto to a samurai fight. Yup, something isn’t quite like the others. Of course I brought that sexy thruster to the beach because it represent all that is surfing (or marketed as surfing). Do you see Kelly Slater on a fish or Andy Irons on a longboard? Hell no. Sure they ride those boards, but you never see them riding them. That’s because you are marketed the latest and greatest in surfboard technology. It doesn’t matter if it works only in triple overhead, it’s cool. I forgot the cardinal rule, the one rule that you can’t ever forget when looking to purchase or select a board, any board. It’s what your shop teacher and your sex ed teacher both told you in high school: You gotta bring the right tool for the job.

Now how does this relate to snowboarding you might ask? Surfboards are ultra-complex in their simple tear-dropped foam with a variety of tip/tail shapes, concave rockers, rails, widths, lengths, materials and blah blah blah. Snowboards on the other hand have simple dimensions: length, sidecut, running length, tip/tail width and waist width. Sorry Georgie boy, the game has changed. Now you have to consider reverse camber, flat camber, camber+reverse camber, banana, rocker, triple-base-technology and some other crap that I’ve tried and can’t remember.

The decision to purchase a snowboard can’t be taken lightly. You have to remember that same cardinal rule: the right tool for the right job. Don’t be seduced by the siren call of marketing. And don’t take the shop kid’s gospel at face value. Do the research. Buy a Buyer’s Guide. Ask around. Go online, and ask questions (and get heckled) in a messageboard. Then go to that shop and have a conversation with the shop kid about your needs.

Form your own opinion that isn’t created by those looking to sell you something. If you’re local hill is Seven Springs, PA and you are 5’2″, 110lbs, you don’t need a Burton T6 164 with C60s. I don’t care how much you love Nicolas Muller (we love him too). Alternatively if you’re in AK, that JP Walker Stepchild 147 might not be the best choice for Alyeska. And for fucksakes, if you just started, DON’T buy that Burton Method, even if you made a killing last year on Wall Street. I repeat: don’t buy that Burton Method. I don’t care if it matches your Porsche Boxster (I know. You’re saving up for the Carrera) and Ed Hardy t-shirts.

This simple mantra should save you a ton of angst and triple your stoke (plus if you’re that Wall Street guy some more cash for more Jagerbombs and roofies). Oh yah and remember kids, wrap it up when you ride. Stay protected out there this winter.

Review: Dear & Yonder

You may be wondering: why is Hoon reviewing a woman’s surf movie? Honestly, with an avid longboarder wife and now a little girl who we hope will become a great little ripper, I popped the DVD for Dear & Yonder into the laptop with some curiosity on my last plane ride home.

The film starts with a brief “history” of women’s surfing. To be honest, I almost turned off the film, but then you gotta reset your expectations. This film isn’t geared to be the next Taylor Steele film for a bunch of 16-year old testosterone-crazed ADHD kids. This film is for the ladies and as such, starts by giving you the story that no one else has told: namely that women were surfing in Hawaii with the guys way before Cap’n Cook came calling.

The historical section is a bit hokey, but it works. Dear & Yonder quickly transitions to the near past with the rise of Lisa Andersen, Layne Beachley, etc. With the pages of history set straight, we then see a nice little exchange between Andy and Ashley Davis (of Ando and Friends). One surfs while the other watches their son and does the wave count. I suspect that I’ll be in similar shoes shortly.

To characterize and explore all different types of wave-riding, the film also follows Judith Sheridan. Judith is a bodyboarder who routinely mixes it up with the best of them in the cold waters of Santa Cruz and even Mavericks. You’ve probably heard of Liz Clark and her around-the-world surf adventures from Patagonia or Surfer mag. We all get that wanderlust bug, and it’s impressive to see Liz chart the waters around the globe in search of waves, friends and adventure.

Dear & Yonder also includes female surfers near and far from Kassia Meador to shaper/surfer Ashley Lloyd to Sophia Mulanovich and Sally Fitzgibbons ripping it up on tropical waves. The film charts the progress of women’s surfing, and it paints a beautiful, compelling picture. From my POV, this film is just the start, and I’ll be looking for now a Taylor Steele-esque equivalent of women’s surfing as the segments with Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore and Sophia Mulanovich steal the show.

At the end of the day, I’ll leave it to Lisa Andersen to explain what makes the trips (and subsequently the film) behind Dear & Yonder so compelling:

“What’s great about Dear & Yonder is that it has captured some many different individuals and the way they look to the sea to experience life, it really highlights how everyone’s experience can be very different at times.  The girls in the film have taken it to a whole new level. It is this story of the bond with the ocean and using it as a means to escape the world that we can all relate to.

“The talent of the future generation is just so tremendous and the sport has gotten so young, all of the sudden you have 15 year-olds breaking records and winning contests and I look forward to watching these girls holding the thrown for a while and seeing how far they can take women’s surfing.”

Dear and Yonder: Preview

Every summer, there’s a cornucopia of surf films that are released on an unsuspecting public. Often, they’re a recycled concoction of Taylor Steele, Bruce Brown and Thomas Campbell. Over the last few years, this genre has grown to include female surfer-focused films (no not Blue Crush or the TransWorld Surf Swimsuit video). Roxy has always been leading the charge supporting flicks such as the Sophia Mulanovich biopic and demanding that their models surf.

Dear and Yonder, the latest female surfer film promises to provide a new take on the genre. Filmed and directed by Tiffany Campbell (yup the other TC) and Andrea Lessler, the film takes a list of Who’s Who in women’s surfing on adventures worthy of Sipping Jetstreams. This list includes Roxy team riders Sally Fitzgibbons, Sofia Mulanovich and Kassia Meador. According to the film, they surf their home breaks (Dear) and travel the world (Yonder). In addition to chronicling today’s surfers, Dear and Yonder spreads its roots deeper and cultivates a sense of place and knowledge of history, reaching back in time to unearth footage of iconic surfers such as Linda Benson, Rell Sunn and Lisa Andersen.

I’m still not quite sure what the title means and how it relates to surfing, but I’ll be posting a review of the film once I get my grubby hands on a copy.

The film is on tour now, traveling to 20 cities and will be released on DVD shortly. One hopes that they will also go 2009 on us and release the film on iTunes or in a digital download format as well.

I have lots of respect for this TC and the rest of the crew that produced this film so disregard the cutout image of some superimposed chica on the artsy, paper waves from the poster as this could be the real deal.

For more details, head to:

’08 or Die!

Even a mere 48 hours into the New Year it’s not too late for cranking out resolutions. This is also known as the “I might still be recovering from celebrating too much” blog post. But, my slackass-ness aside lets look at a few things that will be done more in 2008.

More Street Skating!
OK, I like concrete skateparks as much as the next guy. But just under a year ago I was in the offices of 411VM and had the questioned thrown at me: “So what are you skating these days?” It was friendly conversation and certainly not meant to dig any deeper than a “I skate, you skate, what are you skating” kind of way. But, damn it was a loaded question. I had to be honest…I was only skating transition. Cruising, mellow runs, blah blah, blah. I walked away from that conversation feeling like I was one hemp necklace, a pair of flip flops and a longboard short of being lame. I woke up Tuesday morning and cracked a few ollies, brought the boneless back out several times and might have tried a few no complies. I have a ways to go to bring back my street skating but that’s what it’s going to be this year. Gotta bring back all my street skating in 2008.

Paddle Out
Nothing hurts more than hearing your lady say “you really don’t do (insert various activity anymore) do you?” This past November my gal dropped the “You don’t really surf anymore do you” When you have no response (like I did) it’s time to suck it up and start driving to the shore. I know I enjoy it enough and the excuses are just that… an excuse.

Hit the Road Jack
At the end of 2007 I took a road trip. I can’t remember having such a good time. Making plans to go snowbroing and talking about skating in the spring. This year it will be about packing up the family friends and experiencing new places and people. Naturally, all should be done with skateboard, snowboard or surfboard in hand.

So that’s 2008 in a nutshell. Pretty simple stuff if you think of all the other crap a person can put down. However, I’m not going to resolve to make more money or try to be cooler than the next guy. No, the only theme in the resolutions above is to have more fun. Well, that and to take my dog for more walks. I really need to get on that last one.