Tom Beaton

What I have been up to!

July beach tour

This month has been pretty hectic – making the most of the weather has been my number one goal so I hit the road and visited a load of beaches. Camber sands in Kent, Calshot, Hampshire and Poole, Dorset. The wind blew and I managed to get a few sessions in myself which is always good. Spending time on the kites I am selling really helps me make recommendations and give feedback, so I like to mix up what I ride. It also keeps things interesting. Looking forward to more time on the water!

It was cool to be joined on tour by Ozone rider Jake Kelsick for a few days.

Allotment sunset

Was out till late picking strawberries last night so took a few snaps as the sun went down.

Snowboard Spring Break Snowtrooper Edit

Riding the all new for winter 14/15, do everything, go everywhere Never Summer Snowtrooper at Snowboard Spring Break 2014. The event is held at Kaunertal in Austria and the UK snowboard industry gets together to test boards for the next season. Kaunertal always provides great spring conditions and regularly dumps fresh snow. A great week if you can make it.

Early morning Pembrey

I am no morning person so I did not trust myself to get up early and drive to the beach in time for any wind – so I cruised down the night before to make sure I would get the best conditions and make the most of my weekend! I was greeted by a pretty awesome moon on arrival and a clear sky, so after cracking open a beer I went for a little stroll with the camera and took a few shots.

It was pretty late now – I got in my sleeping bag and soon passed out. Next thing I know its daylight and I can hear voices. People are up and getting ready to go ride and it is barely gone half six. A bit keen for me! I needed another hour in bed. An hour later I got up, and hopped into Craig’s van for coffee and cereal. I popped down to the beach to take a look and assess the conditions. It was windy, but the early birds were out on big kites. I spent a bit of time playing with the camera.

I ended up going for the 10m Edge first. My first session on the 2014 model. I felt pretty comfortable straight away and was loving its performance. I can see why people love the Edges so much. As the wind dropped it was time to swap the twintip for the Flyboards Razor. That is going to need some more practice but paired with the Edge it was a great combination. I hopped onto the Zephyr and had some fun in the shallows. Not a bad day – almost five hours on the water.

Photographed at work

It is not often I get photographed as I focus on working behind the scenes doing events to promote brands and get people into kites. I am not a fan of having my photo taken either. A great local photographer has a real knack for capturing images of people whilst they are doing their thing, and not worried about or thinking about having their photo taken. It is like animals in the wild – especially with how feral looking I am right now too.

Photography Practice 1

I am that guy who turns the gopro off whilst people do stuff, then on again whilst I move to a new position to film. I have been known to take 200 shots of which 4 are in focus and 1 is any good. In order to remedy that I recently purchased a Canon Powershot SX50 HS. I couldnt be bothered with the expense, weight and faff involved with DSLRs and lenses, but wanted good shots and similar features. I settled on this as it is lightweight, super versatile and has most of the same features in terms of manual modes and shooting in RAW.

To go with it I have adobe lightroom – a whole new world of post processing. Luckily I am pretty familiar with Photoshop so it isnt totally alien. The key is going to be practice so when I use it in anger I have something I can use.

Here are some of tonights practice shots.

Snowboard Spring Break 2014

Another year and another UK snowboard test now known as Snowboard Spring Break and for many the #bestweekoftheyear – it is certainly one of my favourites. For some reason Kaunertal has a habbit of delivering the goods year on year. It is a win win situation normally. It either dumps and we ride powder, or its sunny and we hit the infinite little side hits that appear along the edge of the slopes.

This year we got a mixture of both! Compared to the January snowboard test – where it is freezing cold until the sun makes it over the hill, late April to early May make it much more manageable.

The week flew by as ever – a blur of late nights in the time machine that is the local drinking hole (turn up at half nine and an hour later it is 3am – happens every time) and early mornings to set up the stand. The riding conditions were for the most part great and gave me the chance to spend some time on the new Never Summer boards. The Snowtrooper is the the one for next season!

Having recently acquired a camera I took a few more shots than normal! The highlights being the local wood carvings and some avalanche shots – definite right place at the right time images.

Kitesurfing on the Isle of Lewis

I joined Oli and Marcus on a trip to the Isle of Lewis (originally Portugal but the forecast forced a destination change) to take product shots for the new S series kite. I have always wanted to check out some of the Scottish islands and I am well into the cold water surf thing right now.

That drive was long and dull. My section was tough – taking over driving in the early hours of the morning just as the motorway ended. At the beginning it was terrifying flying over the crest of a hill into complete darkness where the roads had been resurfaced but lines had not yet been painted. As the sun came up the views were spectacular with snow topped mountains.

Ullapool first thing in the morning
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I grabbed some sleep on the ferry. I have pretty much mastered sleeping at any given opportunity now.

We got lost within minutes of getting on the Island despite planning out a route. Phone signal was mostly absent – we had to do things the old fashioned way and ask the locals. We found a stunning beach. Work before play – I pumped up the kites and we knocked out all the product shots of kites in the sky etc. Once done we suited up and headed out into the mushy onshore slop and chop. Still fun though.

Lesson to all – at this point put your camera gear away in a waterproof container or the incoming tide may get it.

Wetsuits hanging to dry as we made a cup of tea
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An indian and a beer and I was done. I could sleep through anything – which is a good thing in a hostel.

It took under 3 minutes to get lost the next morning. We ended up in completely the wrong spot, but found some epic looking waves in an even more stunning beach than the day before.

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We went out, and rode hard. We got some good shots but needed more. Waves were much bigger up close.

tom-waves

After a quick snack and discussion around the gas stove we went back out. The wind had shifted more offshore and dropped off. I couldnt make it back to shore.

Eventually I had to tack across the bay in a straight line until I got close to land. It was a couple of beaches past where I started but it would do. Any sandy beach was preferable to the rocks. When I got close I ditched the kite, started paddling in on the surfboard and after a while got to the point where a wave pushed me in to shore.

Fins broken from rocks
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Oli and Marcus had shoved everything in the van, got changed and driven along the cliff top to find me. We walked along a couple of coves/rocky beaches past where I came ashore. Eventually we found the kite. We clambered down the rocks, and I hopped down between waves to grab it. It was heavy. Back at the van we assessed the damage. None of us had ever seen a kite this bad.

Another good nights sleep for me.

Next morning we took our time, it would be a long trip home. Cleaned the van and our gear and just chilled out by the beach. On arrival at the ferry port, all seemed ok. Then they announced the ferry was broken and told us to come back the following morning. Not great – we checked into a hotel to take full advantage of the ferry company paying the bill. It was going to be an early start the next day for a 7am departure.

Next morning the ferry was still broken.

Plan B – drive down to Harris, kill a few hours then get a ferry across to Skye, drive the length of Skye then get onto the mainland via the bridge. Then navigate cross country to Fort William, then Glasgow and back onto the motorways.

Harris was beautiful.

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It was a long day and night. and by 9pm we had only made it to Fort William. I finally got to bed at just after 6am. Cant wait to go up and explore more of those islands. I am ready for summer road trippin.

The Rider Social Experience

I have known Paul and Fi for a few years now and been out to see them in Chatel every winter since. My visits however tend to be for just a few days and I have never done the full Rider Social experience as such as stayed with them for a whole week – as most punters would. Feeling the need for more snow time and a holiday I booked myself and some mates in for a week.

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We were picked up on time, dinner was ready when we got to the chalet, the food was amazing. The chalet is beautiful with everything you could need. Next morning breakfast was great (everyone loves eggs benny) and our lift passes were waiting for us.

Part of the experience is the fact that Paul and/or Fi come riding with you a lot of the time. That local knowledge is so essential for having a great day. Knowing where to go depending on the conditions can make all the difference. It turned out to be a week of classic spring riding with fast pistes in the mornings to please the skiers followed by more fun for boarders as the snow softened throughout the day.

Steve and Jude from the Sick and the Wrong in Keswick were also in town for a few days. It is always a lot of fun getting to know people who you have a business relationship with a little better in a more relaxed setting with the pressure of deadlines all over. If all retailers had as much passion and knowledge as these guys the world would be a better place.

The week had a bit of everything! The Portes du Soleil is a massive area and we covered a lot of ground. We did most of the runs in Chatel, Super Chatel, Margins, Avoriaz, Champery, Les Crosets. We didnt bother with Morzine or Les Gets due to their lower altitude. As well as covering a lot of pistes we played in the Stash, and the park in Les Crosets, and did a couple of little hikes to access extra terrain. This variety in riding had a lot to do with riding with people who knew the best places to go.


The weather was scorching! Preventing sun burn and dehydration required a little thought. After a couple of days I resorted to wearing a bandana to protect my neck. It is such a nice time to go away – not too busy, pretty comfortable conditions, warm enough to chill out on the slopes etc. Shame we missed the much needed fresh dump of snow by a week!

My board for the week was the Never Summer Proto HD – that thing never lets me down!

Brunotti Boards in Amsterdam

I had never been too sure about Amsterdam – it just seemed too touristy. However last week was the Brunotti Boards sales meeting and I went over to check out the 2015 boards. Flying to Amsterdam is so easy. Easyjet is fast and easy from Bristol to Schipol and the new app makes checking in etc real quick and easy. Public transport is simple and inexpensive between the airport and town centre too – and this is coming from someone who drives everywhere.

It was really nice to be in the town centre (Rembrandt Square) and not out in the middle of nowhere. First night was a civilised affair – dinner at Flo. Next day a trip to the HQ in Amersfoort. I have already mentioned the awesome kite fin chandeliers and twin tip bar stools. A day of presentations and discussions on the new range (cant show pictures yet!) and all the usual stuff including great snacks was followed up with beers then a trip back to the hotel for a quick shower and more beers.

Dinner was at Pasta Basta – amazing food and singing waiters and waitresses. Pretty random but quite fun. After dinner things got hazy – a couple of bars, some shots, more beers, dutch techno then somehow santa hats and xmas songs.

Breakfast was a struggle. A couple of coffees later and we got back to business. A nice lunch in the sun in Rembrandt Square finished off the meeting and most people headed off to the airport. With only myself and Leftis (Greek importer) left, we decided to hire bikes and explore the city. Cycling in Amsterdam is an experience. It seems like absolute chaos to start with but it seems to work and bikes seem to have priority over everything meaning you are only in real trouble when you encounter other bikes.

The centre of the city is actually not that big at all and easily explored in a couple of hours on bikes. Here are some shots.

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