Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Wax-Off! - Wax Melts

Some of you may have noticed that this weekend, I was away in Cornwall; mainly to see my grandparents and go out and do some shopping. As I was going to Cornwall, I thought I should take my board just in case the weather's nice; it was relatively overcast but the main thing is that I got to do some training at none other than where I first fell in love with the sport, Holywell Bay.

I intended to go Sandboarding on Sunday as the forecast looked good, so on Saturday I went to the market; my girlfriend and I bought some stuff for our families and I thought about using more waxes on my board to see if I could do any better; loyal readers to this blog may recall that I made a post regarding Beeswax on a Sandboard, and I thought I would follow up this series by using more waxes and documenting my findings.

In the market, there was a stall that sold essential oils, incense sticks, soaps, wax melts, and homemade creams, oils; basically, it sold anything oily and waxy and it was all homemade! For 20 pence, you could purchase a single wax melt that was 5 grams, I bought a bag of 10 for my mum and bought two for my "experiment"; the scents I used for my board were Vanilla and Spiced Apple & Cranberry.

"Candle Wax Melts in hand" by Jack Soley is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

It felt a lot more oily than Beeswax and because of the nature of wax melts (i.e. it's meant to melt), it's easier to spread at a higher temperature and in direct sunlight; the nice smell is an added bonus when it comes to application, and you don't have to apply much pressure when you're applying the candle wax as opposed to a Beeswax block; but when I got to the second step of rubbing the wax in the board with my fingers, it was much harder to rub the wax than applying it.

The performance on the first run was bad, but that was also because it had been raining 5 hours prior to my test, however this hadn't been an issue with a plain board and also because I saw other people board down there; but the second run felt like as if I had Beeswax on the board, or if the rain hadn't been for at least a week! I noticed that I would go a little slower run by run but I was still able to board with no problems; despite the speed decreasing, the board didn't need waxing even after 4 runs, whereas if I used Beeswax, I'd need to apply it after 2 runs so in terms of durability, it's twice as efficient as Beeswax.

The cost was much better, however it might be because I was able to buy individual pieces instead of being only limited to buying by 100 grams or a kilogram as you would online, but in pretty much all retail stores you'll find that by the kilo, you're better off buying Beeswax as Wax Melts is a product that people would rather have in small portions.

The sand at Holywell Bay isn't as fine as Merthyr Mawr so the environment is harsher for sandboarding; but after my hour's run, I found that my heart and star shaped melts still looked like their respective shapes so it could be used to your hearts content.

"Walking with Sandboard at Holywell Bay" by Jack Soley is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
*notice how small the wax melts are in my left hand.

Pros of Wax Melts

  • It's much cheaper and easier to buy wax melts in smaller doses
  • It's smaller and lighter so it's easier to store in a small pocket
  • It lasts twice as long as Beeswax
  • You don't need to apply a great amount to get a good result

Cons of Wax Melts

  • You must buff it off a lot more and the first run might even be a total failure
  • It's harder to rub in the board because of its oily nature
  • The wax melts at a lower temperature and could melt under sunlight
  • The wide range of shapes might make it awkward to hold

Overall Opinion

In conclusion, your loved one would buy it for the smells but if you wanted to buy it for the potential performance, you could... with a catch; the performance at first is shameful but once your board has the scent and wax from a vanilla heart or a spiced apple & cranberry star applied, you'll see that your first 2 runs are exceptional and that after that, it'll still slide well but the friction from the sand against the wax will kick in causing a noticeable drop in speed.

I'd think wax melts would be a more economically better solution as you get them in smaller sizes but because you're getting what you pay for, expect worse performance than Beeswax but in my experience, it's a lot better than a bare board, it makes wet sand dunes easier to ride on, and the wax melts are good for your bank balance. I give wax melts a 5 out of 10.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Sandboarding Bites #15

If you're taking a vehicle with you to the dunes, always carry spare water fit for human consumption and a first aid kit.

If you're in a rural spot and haven't got access to water, some safe water purification tablets will work just as well.

Monday, 23 September 2019

Sandboarding Bites #14

Travelling within the European Union? Get an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) along with travel insurance so that your national healthcare goes on holiday with you.

British citizens are reminded that the United Kingdom plans to leave the European Union on the 31st October 2019, so you may need additional documents and/or papers in order to live, work, study, or retire in any of the member states; it's not currently known what will happen as the United Kingdom and the European Union still have time to hammer out a withdrawal agreement but until that day comes, the current laws will apply and remain in force.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Dune of Pilat, France

I'm doing another location post because mainly because I'm here, but also because this was mentioned in my interviews with Alex Bird & Vitor Semedo this year and I thought I'd come here and see what I could find for myself!

The Dune of Pilat (also known as Dune of Pyla) is the tallest free-standing sand dune in Europe, this fact is so proudly shown at the park itself and at the passport control area at Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport; I was getting more and more excited the closer I got to the dune. Once you arrive, you will find yourself enter a large car park equipped with plenty of spaces for cars, bikes, and even coaches; this includes a café, toilet and washroom facilities on the park a few hundred metres away from the dune. The parking fees are generous and won't break the bank for your trip.

List of the prices as of 2nd July 2019.

In my interview with Vitor, he told me that you can sandboard on the dune but only on the side facing towards the beach; sandboarding towards the side facing the forest is forbidden, most likely to preserve the pine forests there. Despite being a nature reserve, it's worth noting that the site is open all year round and there's no limits to the beach or forest access near the dune.

Notice how the dune slowly creeps towards the trees.

The best things about this place is that there is a staircase to the top of the dune, this has been the first dune I've been able to climb without feeling the need to drink all of my available water; the other great feature of this dune is that the views once you reach the top are jaw-dropping! The dunes seem to go on forever and don't stop in one direction, the other direction shows you a stunning beach also with paragliding as its sport of choice! I've seen so many photos of this dune on the Internet, but once I saw it with my eyes, it hit me and I couldn't stop smiling!

They should have steps to the top of every dune as standard!

I actually came to do some recreational sandboarding over 2 days here; the first day did allow me to do some sandboarding but the sand in some places was wet and my board wouldn't move, I did manage to achieve a couple of good runs on the dune but the best one I did, my camera wasn't on! Sandboarding was able to be done but it required a lot of wax, a lot of patience, and a lot of skill; thankfully luck was on my side! The second day went without a hitch, aside from getting a lot of sand in my eyes and getting my board buried a few times because of the amount of sand here, overall I completely understand why so many tourists come here, I even saw some German, British, Swiss, and Dutch vehicles in the car park.

The wagon for my trip!

It is a task and a half to try and get public transport to the dune, even from the near towns of Arcachon & La-Teste-Du-Buch; it's not an easy task, I hired a car from Bordeaux's Airport as in my view, driving is pretty much the only viable option, especially with a big sandboard to hand; to summarise, it can take some time to get here, but it's open 24 hours (I'd recommend sandboarding in the evening during the hot summer months) got a spectacular beach, and dunes that don't seem to finish.

This is the main reason I got 3-day flight to Bordeaux, but I gotta say it was money well spent, I ticked off another sand dune and also, I got to visit France, I'll see you when I get home!

Monday, 1 July 2019

Who is Vitor Semedo?

At the Sandboard World Cup in 2017, he finished 3rd in the Boardercross discipline for Cabo Verde; at this year's world cup in June, he came 2nd in the Slalom and was crowned world champion in Sand Boardercross!

The 2019 Boardercross podium (left: Deybis Jhair Donayre Ecos, centre: Vitor Semedo, right: Omar Martínez)

Vitor Semedo had participated in his first ever snowboarding event this year at the Audi Snowboard Series and the Giant X tour in Flumserberg, Switzerland; he finished 11th on the Giant X tour and came 19th in the Audi Snowboard Series. [1]

It's the first time that an athlete outside of Europe or South America has won a Sandboarding discipline at the world cup since it began, hearing the good news and armed full of questions, I had an opportunity to interview, the champion himself!

Mute Grab by Vitor Semedo

How does it feel to be world champion in boardercross?

"I still can't believe that I can call myself world champion, I did a bronze medal in 2017 and I was there more for the experience than for the title!"

What do you think you did differently this time to be the world champion as opposed to coming 3rd?

"Work, training, practice, and fun were the added ingredients."

How would you prepare yourself before a sandboarding tournament?

"I did training this winter and last winter, in the snow (because I live in France); I did the Giant X tour in Switzerland; I did a long trip in Namibia as well for training."

What's your favourite place for Sandboarding?

"After my trip in Namibia, definitely Namibia; because the landscape is just crazy, amazing; the dunes are really big."

Do you think Cape Verde will get more exposure for Sandboarding after your world cup win?

"I don't think so, the tourism isn't big enough for sandboarding. For people who want to discover something, it can be a good experience."

How did you handled coming second in the slalom?

"Actually it was surprising for me because, Slalom isn't my specialitity; I was relaxed for the slalom because I already won the boardercross and I wanted to live the experience, after the run maybe I could do it; the German man (Luca Flachenecker) was really strong and really fast and I couldn't win but second place is a good position, I'm happy with it."

Do you have any messages for anyone who wants to get into Sandboarding?

"Just try and you'll fall in love, if you try sandboarding, you will want to go back on sand for sure; we have no seasons, it's year round you can try all year round!"

What plans do you have in the next world cup?

"For the next world cup, I will do the same but the level is going up; I have to train more; the new generation is coming and they're training all year round (especially the Peruvians & Chileans) so it will be hard for sure!"

Aside from my questions for Vitor, the Champion had also asked me how I got into sandboarding, I responded by saying that I got into it from an early age, I didn't feel the same connection with sandboarding as I did with other sports, and once I learned to drive, I could progress my abilities in the sport; also I was asked why there wasn't any English participation in the World Cup, I therefore discussed my plans to compete in the Sandspirit competition first and then progress onto the world cup the following year if all goes well!

Mr. Semedo at the 2019 Sandboarding World Cup.

It's rare I get a chance to interview inspiring sandboarding heroes; but when I do, I end up interviewing the new world boardercross champion for 2019! Félicitations on the new world title & Merci for an excellent interview!

[1]: InterSands. 2019. Switzerland welcomes sand riders to participate in snow events.. [ONLINE] Available at: http://intersand.org/en/switzerland-welcomes-sand-riders-to-participate-in-snow-events/. [Accessed 26 June 2019].

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

I've Changed

Yesterday, you may have noticed that the blog was shook up a bit; new logos were added to the official Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages!

I always thought that a sandy 'S' was great, but now I reckon a rider on the sand better reflects what this blog's about.

Monday, 17 June 2019

European Health Insurance Card

"Elektronische Gesundheitskarte Mustermann RS" by Lumu is a Public Domain work.

The European Health Insurance Card (commonly known as an EHIC) was first issued in 2004 and is proof of entitlement to medical treatment within Europe; with the European health insurance card, you are entitled to health insurance and your medical expenses are covered under the legislation in force in the country you are visiting. [1]

However, it has come to my attention that a lot of my European friends haven't been made aware of this. In the unlikely event that you were to be injured abroad, they could be stung with having to pay for treatment if they were to see a doctor.

You should also ask for a receipt or certificate any time you use your European Health Insurance Card. In some countries, state healthcare is totally free and you will pay nothing. Otherwise, you will usually be asked to pay for the treatment or prescription at the time and you reclaim some or all of the cost afterwards. [2]

"Hospital room ubt" by Tomasz Sienicki is a public domain work.

Currently, you can use your EHIC within the European Economic Area (All European Union members plus Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. To qualify for an EHIC, you must either meet one of two criteria:

  • Be a citizen of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland.
  • Be a non-citizen but legal resident in the EU, EEA, or Switzerland.

For non-citizens to receive the EHIC, they must pay or be covered by social security. However, you cannot use your EHIC for treatment in Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Croatians cannot use their EHIC in Switzerland. [2]

It's also good custom to buy travel insurance along with using your EHIC card, If you’re unlucky enough to need more serious or emergency medical treatment then the Association of British Insurers recommends using your travel insurance as policies provide not only medical cover, but will often cover other subsequent costs, which can be anything from rearranging your flight home, to having a family member stay on with you and even taxis and transport to the hospital for further appointments. [3]

Residents of Europe can apply for an EHIC on the official website, the UK version is available here. Don't get stung by companies who'll charge for a 'fast-track' service as EU law reiterates that the EHIC card is free of charge.

For now, I will continue to consider that the UK is still a member of the European Union until a final decision has been made; there is a lot of speculation as to what will happen as Brexit has already been delayed... twice, but "If the UK leaves with no deal, your EHIC will no longer be valid." [4]

So no matter what you're doing or where you're going this year, don't get stung by medical expenses and make sure you're covered for any unnecessary events.

I'm off to France in 2 weeks tomorrow to write about the Dune of Pilat and do some Sandboarding while I'm there, I've already got my EHIC and travel insurance.


[1]: APRIL International. 2019. The European Health Insurance Card. [ONLINE] Available at: https://uk.april-international.com/en/administrative-procedures/european-health-insurance-card. [Accessed 17 June 2019].

[2]: Expatica. 2019. EHIC: European Health Insurance Card explained | Expatica. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.expatica.com/healthcare/healthcare-basics/ehic-european-health-insurance-card-explained-100250/#EHICwork. [Accessed 17 June 2019].

[3]: lovemoney.com. 2019. What does an EHIC really cover? | lovemoney.com. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.lovemoney.com/guides/16395/what-does-an-ehic-really-cover. [Accessed 17 June 2019].

[4]: BBC News. 2019. Will the EHIC be valid after Brexit? - BBC News. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-44850972. [Accessed 17 June 2019].