Khao Lak Surfing

In Khao Lak, surfing is getting really popular these days. Khao Lak is hands down one of the best places to experience sun, sand and surf in the country. If you are planning on coming here to surf, here is a rundown of some of the well-known surf spots.

The first place is the Nang Thong Lighthouse. The waves on left side of the lighthouse are small but fun right-handers. There were a few large boulders jutting out of the lineup so it is best to go there mid to low tide. Coconuts Nang Thong Beach is the place to go for drinks, snacks and lounge chairs but they aren’t always open during the monsoon. I’ve never seen more than a few surfers in the water. There is plenty of parking behind the restaurant. Suwan Palm Resort is a good place to stay and it is steps away from the lighthouse.

Our next stop was just a few kilometers north to Bang Niang Beach. There is a river mouth that was flowing heavily from the recent rains and the beach had some of the best waves in Khao Lak. Bang Niang Beach has a nice sandy bottom, lefts and rights are always on offer and you can have the lineup to yourself most days. You can park on the dirt road just past The Haven Resort or at the end of Bang Niang Beach Road Soi 1. Nong Prew Bar and Restaurant is about 200 meters from the good breaks.
You can’t mention Khao Lak surfing without talking about Pakarang Cape. Down a long dirt road is Pakarang Surf Shop and Memories Beach Bar. This is by far the busiest and most popular surf spot in Khao Lak. They have surfboard and bungalow rentals and surf lessons are available year round. Ripcurl sponsored surf contests are held here every year too. With everyone from novices to experts in the water at the same time the lineup can get pretty hectic. There is also a pretty strong riptide so stay on the inside until you get more experience to hang outside with the big boys and girls.

You can also stop in Salt Surf Club and Hostel. Located a few meters from Apsara Resort, Salt is the new kid on the block although it’s owner, Matt has been surfing Khao Lak beaches longer than anyone in the area. They also sponsor charity surf events for underprivileged children and board giveaways. Salt Surf Club offers surfboard rentals, surf lessons, good food and clean rooms for rent.

There are other spots on Pakarang Cape that are worth mentioning. Taxi Dave’s is probably the first surf spot in Khao Lak. Dave is long gone (RIP) but his surf spot lives on. There is another good spot on the cape but you’ll have to ask a local about it. Maybe they will tell you…maybe they won’t.

In my opinion there is nothing better after a session than an ice cold beverage and some quality Mexican food. The World Famous Rusty Pelican is the place to be. Good vibes, great food and the best margaritas in Thailand wait for you. We also have second hand surfboards for sale from time to time. We hope you all come visit Khao Lak. Surfing isn’t the only thing to do here. There are waterfalls, world class diving and snorkeling, beautiful beaches and an abundance of natural beauty.

Surfing Khao Lak is where the spirit of aloha meets sabai. Come and see for yourself.

Check out The Surf Forecast and Tide Times Click Here!

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Interview with Surfing Innovator Gary Mountford

We are happy to have Gary Mountford here with us today. Most of you have never heard of him but if you surf you are more than likely to be using one of his products.

Lets start with a little background. When did you start surfing?

Well I started surfing when I was twelve in a place North Curl Curl in Australia. After I finished school I worked in the plumbing trade. After just over a decade working as a full time plumber and surfing everyday, the Simon Anderson thruster was created and became available to the public. With the thruster it would take you a few waves to get your back foot positioned right. For those of you who don’t surf, your back foot position is pretty critical. Being a plumber and owning my own business I was good at working things out to make them more efficient. I realized that having a rear foot positioning device would be a good idea for a thruster.

So an idea is born?

That’s right. I came up with an idea to make an adjustable block to attach to the back of a surf board. I got together with my brother in law, Graeme Bennett and an old school friend, Bill McCausland and in 1984 we developed a product called a Rocketblock. It was a simple, adjustable foam block that adhered to the back of the surf board with Velcro. It was an after market product that sold really well. After about a year we started sending them over seas. A Japanese distributor contacted me and asked if we could develop and manufacture some type of anti slip stuff for surf boards. So the three of us put our heads together and came up with a product called Gorilla Grip.

Good idea number two!

It is funny because I was still a plumber and my two partners were pursuing their careers in photography and engineering so we were all working really hard. What was a side project was turning into something larger than we expected. Gorilla Grip was doing so well that we rented a little factory and hired couple of staff. Pretty soon we were traveling to America to work the trade shows in California. We met an American distributor there named Larry Block. He really got our product out there and into the hands of some well known surfers at the time. At the end of the 80′s most pro surfers weren’t into having the full deck of the board covered in Gorilla Grip so it was shortened to just the tail pad area. That pretty much cut our market in half.

I guess it was time for good idea number three?

It was at that time that we started looking for a new product to launch. We were introduced to a guy named Brian Whitty and he had this idea for a detachable fin system. He was working as a surf board sander at the time and it was really difficult to sand between and around the fins. We bought the idea off him and my partners and I developed it from scratch. It was the most difficult project we had come up against because we had to convince the market that it was necessary and it had to be a good product at an affordable price. It was an uphill battle. At first the market didn’t want to know about it. The manufacturers wouldn’t produce it until the market ordered it. So we went directly to the shops. Everyone liked the idea but they wanted people to ask for it.

Sounds like a dog chasing it’s tail. What was the break through?

That’s exactly what it was. We went to the professional surfers and they were pretty finicky about things. We found a machine to make the fins in the sizes we wanted and started to manufacture them ourselves. At that time Japan was the most influential surfing market in the world. They loved them but wanted items that were popular in America. We went back to America and they were worried about supply. Finally we went to Hawaii and gave the fins to some big wave riders there. The response was good but the breakthrough came when we opened up an office in Orange County, California. We hired a guy named Tyler who was in advertising at the time and he took us to the next level and beyond. Now almost all new surf boards come with FCS or Fin Control System boxes and fins.

2015 is upon us. What’s the next idea!?

Some sort of self propelling device. There is a company in California developing a small jet propulsion system that sounds good. Something light and easy with no motor or battery that’s easy to attach to the board and gives you the extra help with paddling. Other than that…who knows?

It looks like the challenge has been cast to all of you inventors out there. Thank you Gary for spending your holiday time to come talk with us.

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Reef Rash & Coral Cuts

If you dive, surf or even just wade in tidal pools there is a risk of cutting yourself on the sharp coral. In surfing and diving circles they call this reef rash and it is very painful and can leave lasting scars if not treated promptly and properly. Since the severity of your injury depends on the activity we will focus on minor cuts and abrasions sustained when coming into contact with hard coral.

First and foremost is to clean your wound. Any dead skin should be cut away. Again depending on how badly you are damaged this might require an anesthetic and trip to the hospital. The wound will then have to be scrubbed with soap and rinsed with fresh water. This step should be repeated a few times.

To reduce the itching that comes with reef rash, you should then flush the wound with white vinegar or Isopropyl alcohol. Flush the wound or abrasion again with a mixture of 1/2 fresh water and 1/2 hydrogen peroxide. This will help remove coral dust and other contaminants that cause itching and stinging.

Apply an antibiotic ointment such as bacitracin to help prevent infection. You will have to rinse the wound with fresh water and reapply the ointment 3-4 times a day.

Reef Rash on Leg
For a more severe injury or if signs of infection occur, it is suggested that you see a doctor.

Symptoms of infection are continued itching, swelling, blistering, inflammation or ulcers. Red streaks moving up an extremity with blistering and pustular draining should be a sign that a visit to the doctor is necessary.

If after a few days your symptoms have not subsided it is suggested that you seek medical attention.

History of Surfing

Surfing in Khao Lak

There are beautiful beaches in Thailand. Surf spots are easy to find. The most logical place to start is to go where everyone else is going. There are some popular places to surf that are advertised in local and national travel guides. The breaks in Phuket are well documented and easy to find. Billabong and Quicksilver both sponsor surf competitions there.

One place to find good surfing at one of Khao Lak’s larger river mouths. For those of you who are new to surfing a river mouth is the spot where the river meets the ocean. Depending on how strong the water is flowing into the ocean the force of the two tidal swells meeting can make for some good waves for surfing. Thailand has so many waterfalls and rivers that there are a lot of places that could generate a great wave to surf. The best and safest river mouths for surfing beginners would be one with a sandy bottom. Rocks and other large immovable objects can ruin not only your surfboard but your life as well. It is better for you to wait until you get really good at surfing before you try to surf in a rocky area.

A better way to find a good surf spot in Khao Lak is to meet other local surfers and ask questions. Having a great attitude is essential if you want to go this route. Most of the local surfers in Khao Lak will be happy to point you to a good place to surf.

The most important thing about surfing in Khao Lak is to find a place that is easy to access and generates a wave that you would be comfortable riding. Surfing accidents happen when people aren’t being responsible. Surfing in Khao Lak is fun, easy to find and great exercise. Come and join the fun surfing in Khao Lak.

See KHAO LAK SURF REPORT AND FORECAST at the bottom of this page.

History of Surfing

Beach Boys in Hawaii

Surfing is an exciting recreational activity in which the surfers are propelled to shore by the force of a wave. In this sport, the surfer stands, kneels or lays on a fiberglass, foam, epoxy or wooden board. Many people want to experience the thrill of surfing during their beach vacations. If you want to know more about surfing, it may be interesting for you to know a little bit of the history of surfing.

Although there is no recorded history of the first surfer, it is widely assumed that this sport has its origin in the South Pacific. The act of riding waves using a wooden board started in Western Polynesia more than three thousand years ago. The first known surfers were fishermen who found that riding waves was a convenient method for getting to the shore with their catch. Eventually, “surfing” became a part of daily work. It proved to be a revolutionary change in fishing.

Vintage Long Boards

There is no written record about when stand-up surfing was recognized as a sport. It is believed that the kings, queens and royalty of the Sandwich Isles took part in the sport of wave-sliding or “he’enalu” in old Hawaiian during the 15th century. Early records of the history of surfing are found in the late 1700s, when Polynesians and Europeans first landed in Tahiti. It is assumed that the sport of surfing started during the colonization of the Pacific Islands including Indonesia, Tahiti, Fiji and Hawaii. The fact is that the Hawaiians mastered the skill of standing on boards about 1000 years back and Hawaii is generally accepted as the birthplace of modern surfing. The kings of Hawaii used huge 25 to 18 ft long ‘olo’ balsa surfboards while other people surfed with the use of simple ‘alaia’ boards.

Two Waikiki beach boys along with Duke Kahanamoku and George Freeth made the surfing culture very popular. Freeth visited America and presented his surfing skills in California. He was titled as ‘the man who could walk on water’ in California.

Duke Kahanamoku was a deft swimmer who won a gold medal in the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games for the United States. He was also the most well known Hawaiian ambassador. To spread the Aloha spirit, he traveled all across the globe. He introduced surfing to countries like Australia and New Zealand. In the year 1917, Duke managed to surf a Waikiki beach wave on his 16 feet solid redwood surfboard for over a mile. Tom Blake, Duke’s companion in 1926, was the first person to surf Malibu.

Beach House Surfboards Hawaii

By the 1930s, the sport of surfing was expanding and gaining in popularity. Tom Blake was the first man to photograph surfing from the water. Early surfing boards were made of wood that were fin less and heavy. They were difficult to control in huge waves. In 1930, Tom Blake developed the hollow, rib-supported balsa, waterproof glue, dowels and varnish surfboard.

Surf Board designs changed in 1937 when the native Hawaiian teenagers managed to cut the tail into a lucid V. It helped the surfers to hold the wave in a more effective manner allowing them to ride bigger waves.

Bud Browne, a skillful surfer and water man, produced the first ‘surf movie’ with his 1953 “Hawaiian Surfing Movie”. This inspired many surfers, filmmakers and photographers to document this sport. Although the sport of surfing was dominated by men, adventurous women surfers can be found in the history of surfing. Anona Napolean and Eve Fletcher were two notable surfer girls.

The wooden boards progressed into surfboards coated in fiberglass resin with rear stabilizing fins. Today they are made with a variety of materials like epoxy. Surfing is still a growing sport so there is still time to make surfing history yourself.

Shore Break Malibu

Photos in this Article
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Expat in Thailand Interview with Grant Young

OK so let’s start at the beginning. Tell us a little about yourself.

Well I was born in 1953 and raised in the town of Narrabeen which is about 30 km. north of Sidney. You might have heard it from the Beach Boys song. I’ve lived there my whole life. Actually considering the size of our club, North Narrabeen Boardriders Club turned out to be something of a machine that has turned out more top 40 international surfers than the rest of Australia. Some of the best and most innovative shapers and designers in the world come from Narrabeen. The three fin and thruster system came from a mate of mine Simon Anderson. There were other guys like Terry Fitzgerald, Jeff McCoy and at the moment we have a lot of the top pro riders using boards by Brett Warner, James Chill of Chilly Boards who are boys from our Club. Over the years we have consistently turned out some of the best board riders in the world. I taught world junior champion Davey Cathels and Laura Enevers. So growing up there was a real experience mate. Being part of the surfing machine that is North Narrabeen has been truly amazing.

When did you Start Surfing?

I was about seven years old when I learned to swim at the local rock pool and my father was president of the North Narrabeen Surf and Lifesaving Club at the time. He got me on a board and I was stand up surfing by the time I was twelve. I joined the North Narrabeen Board Riders Club in 1966 and the rest is history. We are really blessed because we have a massive lake system in North Narrabeen that has a ocean entrance so the tide is always running in and out and also makes it one of the best, most consistent beach breaks in the world.

Tell us about the early days of surfing in Australia

In the late 60’s and early 70’s when professional surfing started we had a lot of competitions in the area. Inter club competitions, state and national competitions all took place in North Narrabeen. The Billabong World Junior Championships were held there. The Coke Classic originated there too which was one of the top rated events at the time. With all of the surfing history it really drives the local kids to want to do better and excel in the sport. I was sponsored by and worked for Terry Fitzgerald at Hot Butter Surfboards when he was creating those beautiful masterpieces with his airbrush designs on them and really ripping it up in Bali and Hawaii. When the 1972 World Championships came around it featured twelve Aussie riders. Six of them were from our club. From the 1980’s until I left Australia I stayed active with the North Narrabeen Board Riders Club. I was judging state and local competitions, life guarding and raising my family.

What brought you to Thailand?

In 2005 I had a spinal injury. I was basically paralyzed for two months and had to undergo a spinal fusion operation that kept me out of the water. I tried to surf again but the environment out at North Narrabeen had gotten pretty aggressive and old guys like me don’t have much of a chance in the lineup. Out of respect they would let me have a wave but they were few and far between. With that and my injury it wasn’t the best place to be. I was divorced and my kids were grown up. Change was due so I came to Thailand. I knew there was surf here but I was busy doing other things and quite frankly I didn’t think my back would support me. I moved to Khao Lak and saw some of the boys surfing. I said to myself “Well that doesn’t look too challenging. My back is feeling pretty good so let’s go out for a paddle!” One of the local surfers, Lee, lent me a board. I paddled out, a wave formed, the surfer in me kicked in and I knew that I had to stand up. I got up and immediately realized that the passion and drive that makes us surfers came flooding back.

What do you think of the surf in Khao Lak?

I was really surprised at the number of good surf breaks in Khao Lak. I was even more surprised that there aren’t many surfers here. The Andaman coastline all the way up to Burma has a lot of potential. It’s never going to be a world class surfing location but there are some great places for beginners to learn how to surf. Khao Lak has a non- threatening laid back environment. The water temperature is beautiful and the sunsets are truly inspiring. It reminds me of Tahiti…with spicy food. Because there is virtually no one in the water it’s a great place to hone your skills without being embarrassed about wiping out.

Do you like the direction that surfing is headed?

I always wonder what the future holds. There have been so many advances in board making alone. As far as performance you have to leave that up to your imagination. Back in the old days it was considered impossible to do an off the top reentry. The things kids can do with the waves these days are magical. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next!