Thursday, 30 April 2020

Sandboarding Bites #16

Always check expiry dates on sandboarding waxes and sunscreens, they will become less effective overtime.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Olympic Recognition!

It has been a personal goal of mine in the sport to see Sandboarding being recognised globally! Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee finally managed to take some time out to assess the efforts that were being put into the sport, and came to a decision that Sandboarding would be included as early as the 2024 Olympic Games in France.

The 2024 Olympic Games would feature Sandboarding Slalom and Boarder Cross events from the Dune Du Pilat near Bordeaux, and in 2028 where the games will take place in the USA; Sand Master Park, the Federal Government (representing the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado), and the State of Michigan (representing the Silver Lake Dunes) have all expressed their interest in hosting athletes for when the Sandboarding events arrives for the Olympics in 2028.

The flag of the Olympics Movement is a Public domain work.


The International Olympic Committee has decided that national teams will be chosen by participants who write in, and send a 'Notification of Interest' in which a judging panel of experts will determine whether the competitor will be deemed good enough to represent their national team, the competitors will then have to compete in trials so they can make it to the qualification stages of the Olympics in 2024, the qualification events start on the 29th February 2023 and the IOC states the deadline for mailing applications will be the 31st November 2021.

Max Mustermann, a keen sandboarding expert from Germany said that: "It's a wonderful chance for us all to practice, we can still be in the World Cup & other contests but now we can all focus on making our national teams and our countries' proud."

A panel is considering whether or not amateurs with no prior professional experience, and writers of the sport should be invited to the trials for Olympic qualification for the 2024 games; this is a move that has never been done before by the International Olympic Committee and an intern for the organisation stated that this move was conducted to: "bump up the numbers" and "encourage more people into this adventurous sport."

For the Paralympics; the stairs that you see on the current Dune du Pilat will be retrofitted with an elevator to provide disability access, and future hopeful venues for Sandboarding in later games will need to meet this requirement as well, this is so that everyone from whatever background can have a fair and equal opportunity to discover this sport.

And finally, to recognise the efforts of what may be the world's oldest sport; the IOC have decided that the medals will also be composed of the purest gold of any medal ever given out at the games since the inception of the modern games back in 1896.

I knew it would be a long while until our sport could get finally recognised by the best of the sporting organisations, and it still is going to be a long while, because sadly it hasn't. Hopefully this article may have cheered you up amid all of the bad news in the world right now, or it might have made you worse and if that's the case, I'm sorry.

Nevertheless, Happy April Fools' Day.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Buying Sandboards from Overseas

Morning broke on what I thought would be a good day; I got woke up by a loud knocking on my door and I finally got my first ever, brand new sandboard, fresh from the United States of America! It was also a good deal because: the exchange rate was doing well at the time, I find shipping times from the USA to be fast so I know I wouldn't be waiting, and I didn't have much choice because not too many sandboard merchants are keen on shipping to the British Isles.

"Sport 120cm Sandboard Package" by Jack Soley is a public domain work.

Sandboard with Lustrum Bindings: $198.95 (£159.14)
Shipping to the UK: $89.80 (£71.83)
Total Cost: $288.75 (£230.97)

Exchange rate at time of purchase: £1 = $1.2502

I just went online and bought a standard sandboard from an online store, it just so happened to be Venomous Sandboards at Sand Master Park; a place which I have applauded so many times on this blog, and I was happy to buy from them because I'm familiar with their brand and I know the quality they strive to achieve.

I won't be talking about my board just yet, but I will be talking about buying boards from overseas and if its worth it?

What are the benefits?

Importing is Cheap

The benefits of buying from abroad are plentiful! The cheap prices for delivery and the board itself are one of them. You might get a bit lucky buying a board if you take advantage of exchange rates; for example, let's say you want to buy the Sandboard and Shipping for $288.75, if the rate is 1.26 dollars to the Pound, you'll be paying £229.17, but if you wait a week and the rate changes to 1.28 dollars to the pound, you'll now be paying £225.59; a difference of a couple of pounds might not be too drastic but that difference could be used to buy waxes or something else of good use! Even if the exchange rates don't work in your favour, a difference this small isn't worth thinking about.

But I hear you ask, what if you're on a budget but still crave the adventure and thrill that a new board can bring? Wild West Sandboards of Australia can offer you a 90cm board that's 11mm thick and just shy of 2kg for what would be described by many as a nice price.

Wild West Small Sandboard with Neoprene Bindings: AU $279.99 (£144.55)
Shipping to the UK: AU $69.90 (£36.09)
Total Cost: AU $349.89 (£180.64)

Exchange rate as of 18th February 2020: £1 = AU $1.937

With deals like these, it's easy for any sandboarder to be sweet-talked into buying a board at these prices!

More Variety

Pre-owned boards can be priced anywhere between £60 - £150, so it's making more and more financial sense to pay a little extra to buy a new board that may even give you some free goodies like some wax bars, and most definitely the peace of mind knowing your board's going to last for a long time before you end up buying your upgrade. Some sandboarding merchants in other countries may offer a warranty on boards, something that you most definitely won't get when buying pre-owned. Finding sandboard sellers from abroad will also open doors to find more styles, shapes, and colours due to different tastes and preferences in that area.

"Sandboards" by Leonardo Pallotta is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


It Supports Sandboarding Businesses

Also; Sandboarding is a niche sport, hence why the companies that make sandboards don't have a huge number of orders and why there are few merchants out there; buying brand new from these sellers will not only support their livelihoods, but it'll keep the trade alive for people who want to buy new sandboards (people who want upgrades or those who are new to the sport), and those profits can be re-invested to expand their services (i.e. Shipping to more countries or making bigger and better boards).

"Beaufort City Hall ribbon cutting" by TheDigitel Beaufort is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


What are the drawbacks?

Delivery & Import Fees

So you might be thinking that buying from overseas is a good idea! It's cheap, gives you more choice, and it keeps the sandboarding industry alive; But before you get your credit card and buy yourself a big sandboard with the most comfortable bindings in the heat of the moment, don't let your guard down just yet; because someone who'll be waiting for your board to arrive just as much as you, will be someone from your country's tax authority. Before I even bought my most recent sandboard, I was given a suggestion to just fly over and pick it up!

If we take my board as an example, the breakdown for the import charges were that I didn't pay any customs or excise duties (however, tax rules change all the time and it depends on your country and the country you're importing from, so do your research!) I had to pay £36.74 of Import VAT plus another £12 fee for clearance which is applied to "help cover the cost of additional handling, administration, collection of monies and provision of facilities for Customs clearance of packages." (Parcelforce Worldwide, n.d.)

The cost of the delivery plus all import fees, came to £120.57 which is 75.8% on top of the board's price; which if you were to buy in the domestic market, the import charges won't apply and the shipping costs would be drastically reduced and in some cases, free. Some countries however will let you take the board without any additional charge and some countries will insist you pay a tax, plus another tax, and a fee on top of the taxes before you can even receive it. As I say, all countries have different tax policies and because sandboards are quite niche, countries will disagree on how they should be taxed.


"Parcelforce Import Charge Invoice" by Jack Soley is a public domain work.


Difference in Quality

Quality can seriously determine whether or not you buy from one country or not; according to a survey of 43,034 respondents, goods made in Germany are the most reliable and goods made in China are the least reliable (Dalia Research, 2017); but if you're from a country with good build quality such as Canada that was ranked 6th on this survey, it wouldn't make sense buying a sandboard from countries lower than you on the list such as the United States and Australia (ranked 10th and 14th respectively) despite having a much bigger Sandboarding market.

If you're in a country with high manufacturing standards and good quality control on goods, you know you're going to get a good quality product buying in the domestic market.


It Hurts Your Economy

Importing cheap boards can undercut the prices of a domestic sandboard merchant and therefore this forces a domestic seller to reduce their prices to remain competitive in the global market, which will drastically reduce revenues for the company; and if the business is in a country with high labour costs such as Canada or Australia, that means that the reduced price of the sandboards will mean that some businesses won't be able to create jobs to serve their community; and if people aren't employed or if the business isn't making enough money to stay afloat, the government won't be able to collect any taxes.

However, imposing an import tax still allows the government to collect some income but nowhere near as much as the Corporation Tax on a company, the Income Tax on a worker, and the Sales Tax on the customer.

Say what you like about the government; but if it weren't for taxes, we wouldn't have schools, hospitals, police, roads, etc...


Conclusion:

Importing sandboards from other countries can support Sandboarding businesses around the world and help expand their services to provide more products and services to us, the public; whereas you'll have to pay around 75% more just for delivery and possible import charges, your country's economy will ever so slightly decline while another country's economy will ever so slightly improve; buying a Sandboard from abroad will give you more choice but you risk potentially worse build quality that might not last as long or perform as well as you would expect.

My experience with importing has been really good, it was easy and I'd happily do it again; but because the UK isn't a huge sandboarding country on the same scale as Australia, USA, Egypt, or the UAE; there isn't the demand for British made sandboards, but considering the build quality reputation of British made goods, I would give it a chance and if anyone reading this in the UK knows how to make a professionally made sandboard, get in touch. I'd like to be your next customer.


Reference List:

Parcelforce Worldwide (n.d.) Why do Parcelforce Worldwide charge customs clearance fees, Available at: https://www.parcelforce.com/help-and-advice/receiving/why-do-parcelforce-worldwide-charge-customs-clearance-fees (Accessed: 18th February 2020)

Dalia Research (2017) Made-In-Country-Index, Available at: https://www.statista.com/page/Made-In-Country-Index (Accessed: 18th February 2020)

Sunday, 9 February 2020

The History & Origins of Sandboarding

This is a re-work of my first ever post published in November 2014, it was regarding the history and origins of sandboarding; it's now 2020 and my journalistic abilities have increased since I made my way out of school, therefore I have decided to have another look at the history of sandboarding; How did it start? Where was it invented? and When was it invented in its original and modern form?

What is Sandboarding?

As the name would imply, sandboarding is snowboarding but instead on a snow capped mountain, it's on a sand dune.

When and where was sandboarding 'invented'?

There are many answers to this, there's no universally accepted correct answer but I'll look at 2 potential contenders. The first possibility goes to Ancient Egypt where it has been allegedly depicted on hieroglyphics that "people would use wooden planks or pieces of pottery for faster travel and for transporting cargo across the sand dunes." (Old Town Inn. n.d.) 

However, it's worth mentioning that there have been no sources of these hieroglyphics available on the internet. Because Egypt is caked in sand dunes and since Egypt is one of the cradles of civilization, it's unknown who was the first pharaoh or peasant to take some wood or clay and go down a sand dune and therefore, we can't give the title 'Inventor of Sandboarding' to one individual. 

It then leads us to China in the Middle Ages where there was a "Chinese ritual where sliding down the dunes in a similar fashion around 800 AD" (Sandboard Magazine, n.d.) Again, there is not enough concrete evidence to support this theory.

When and where was modern sandboarding 'invented'?

But if we're talking about Modern Sandboarding in the form we know and love today, with wooden boards, with a competitive element, and more modern because it's much closer to the present day: That can go to one of 2 places, the first goes to Brazil, "Modern, upright sandboarding is believed to have been invented in Brazil in the 1940s. In recent years, though, advances in materials and techniques have led to much faster speeds and longer jumps than ever imagined before—professional sandboarders routinely reach speeds in excess of 60 mph (100 kph) and jump distances of 50 feet (15m) or more." (Kissell, J. 2019.) 

The story, if confirmed would mean that surfers of Brazil, specifically Santa Catarina; would go sandboarding "as an alternative to surfing if there were low, or no tidal waves." (Actionhub Reporters, 2017)

The second possible contender is the United States; "there are stories of people in the 50's riding car hoods down the dunes in California and people on sand boards getting pulled behind cars on the beach in Oregon, USA.(Sengers, M. 2017) 

But there's also Dr. Dune in Oregon who on his own website states that: "I myself started sandboarding on a slalom water ski in 1972 and was introduced to this sport by friends who were sliding down the dunes on similar planks in the early 60's. I have seen photos of people standing up on boards with no bindings from the 50's but, again, these were devises all ready in existence for other sports or other purposes and simply tried out on the sand." (Sandboard Magazine, n.d.) 

It's worth mentioning that these 'boards' were not designed for sand, they were often snowboards, waterboards, or other wooden boards that were suited to other sports; the account from Dr. Dune also strengthens another claim: "What is known is that sand boarding has been developing as a thriving sport since the early 60's. People were sliding down dunes on planks and standing up on boards with no bindings." (Sengers, M. 2017).

Conclusion

Ancient Sandboarding was most likely invented in Ancient Egypt however there's no evidence on the internet of any hieroglyphics to confirm this; however, if we're talking about Sandboarding in its modern form, we have 2 claims, Brazil's weak claim to the 1940s or the United States' stronger claim to the early sixties. Given what we currently know, modern sandboarding would have either been invented in Brazil or the USA and at any point between 1940 to 1970. As I say, there's not one universally accepted right or wrong answer otherwise this post would have ended long ago, so I'll let you decide.

Reference List:

Old Town Inn (n.d.) Sandboarding in Florence: Everything You Need to Know, Available at: https://old-town-inn.com/sandboarding-in-florence/ (Accessed: 9th February 2020)

Sandboard Magazine (n.d.) Who Invented Sandboarding?, Available at: http://www.sandboard.com/drdune/ask/ask8.htm (Accessed: 9th February 2020)

Kissell, J. (2019) Sandboarding, Available at: https://itotd.com/articles/6983/sandboarding/ (Accessed: 9th February 2020)

Actionhub Reporters (2017) An Introduction to Sandboarding, Available at: https://www.actionhub.com/stories/2017/02/14/an-introduction-to-sandboarding/ (Accessed: 9th February 2020)

Sengers, M. (2017) The Art of Sand Boarding, Available at: https://www.twatours.com.au/single-post/2017/04/18/The-Art-of-Sand-Boarding (Accessed: 9th February 2020)


New Facebook Group Forum

I'm keen to find other sandboarders and people who are interested in the sport so much that I was recently browsing Facebook to find groups of that were active so I could make a decent input; To illustrate what I mean, I'm currently a member of the "David Bowie Fan Group" which sees about 5-10 posts a day which are mainly photos of the legend himself, questions from fans regarding what their favourite album is, and ad listings for old Bowie related merchandise. I saw the group and realised that this is an active group and there's so many people contributing to the page.

However when I look at Sandboarding groups on Facebook, a lot of times the last post was more than a year ago so it could be fair to say that the group has slowly died out, or it's a sandboarding group for riders from a specific country. Because of this, I have decided to create a forum and/or fan page #2 for the blog.

Feel free to share your own photos of sandboarding adventures, videos, relevant content, any questions, the answers to those questions, and anything that'll potentially give me a talking point and possibly a new blog post! To make the name more inclusive, it won't have a geographic name like some of the groups that I'm a member.

All are welcome to join Sandboarding International.

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Comments And Possible Spam

I'm making this post because it needs to be addressed, over the last couple of months; when the engagement of this blog came to an all time high, there have been plenty of comments on my posts which is great!

Engagement and opinion is good on the blog, but what I don't like is links to other websites... not blogs but websites that in a lot of instances have no relevance to the original content; for example, A link to a pharmaceutical website when I'm trying to highlight the importance of the European Health Insurance Card, Opioid Addiction Treatment on my Holywell Bay post, Fleet Management Solutions in India on my reasons not to buy a specific GPS tracker, Ski Bibs (really?!) on my History and Origins of Sandboarding post, or links to Airport Parking deals on my rant about Travel Insurance.

"Christchurch Police Car" by Tony Hisgett is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


I don't want to act like I'm policing this blog and given the nature of the blog, I shouldn't have to and while I completely support and champion the notion of free speech; this embedded doctrine of spam comments and irrelevant has to stop. I won't remove the comments entirely as this goes against my belief of free speech but I will report any comments with links in to be spam unless it's from a trustworthy source or one of which I am aware. I am not affiliated in any way with the links in the comments of my posts. Thank you.

Monday, 13 January 2020

The Trouble with Travel Insurance

As some of you may or may not be aware, I'll be off to Germany in July to compete in the Sandspirit challenge. If I want to make sure I come home in a good mental & physical state, with all my limbs, and without any expensive medical bills should I ever need to shell out any money for such a expense. I will need travel insurance.

Travel Insurance is an insurance policy that has the intention to cover any unexpected medical expenses, trip cancellation, flight delays, accidents, lost luggage, lost personal money, and any other losses whilst in a foreign country or even when taking a holiday in your own country. Of course, not every Travel Insurance policy is the same and the purposes of this post; I'll be primarily focusing on the medical element.

The EHIC Question

It's all well and good having a European Health Insurance Card which I have discussed in detail in the past, however; an EHIC won't get you home after an unforeseen medical issue abroad or pay for some other medical procedures (i.e. an X-ray); and without a good insurance policy, you'll have to cover expenses on your own; so this asks the question, what's the point of having an EHIC? According to the Money Advice Service: "If you use an EHIC to get medical care, some insurers won't ask you to pay an excess on your medical claims." (Money Advice Service, 2020).

A typical medical excess on a travel insurance policy can be from £50 up to £500; enough to buy a souvenir or a nice meal!

But you're probably thinking won't the Embassy help? And the answer is: No, they cannot cover your costs if you're detained, arrested, or admitted to hospital abroad.

"Travel Insurance Infographic FCO 2014" by Foreign & Commonwealth Office is licensed under Open Government Licence v3.0
Travel Insurance can be extremely cheap... If you have no health conditions and are young; this is because Travel Insurance companies see the elderly and people with pre-existing health complications as a higher risk and therefore more likely to make a claim, this is why younger and healthier people receive cheaper premiums from the insurance companies as they are deemed a lower risk because they are less likely to make a claim. But for us keen sandboarders, the problem lies in what activities are covered; a lot of insurance companies won't cover sandboarding because the sport isn't recognised enough for its risk, danger, and thrill-seeking elements within the sport.


My Research

Today, I looked up quotes for Annual Multi-Trip Travel Insurance on my upcoming competition in July (I chose Annual Multi-Trip because I'm going to Denmark in March and this will save me buying another policy and it also covers me for any other trips I may take in the next year).

The prices quoted for my travel insurance ranged from £11.95 ($15.51 USD as of 13th January 2020) to £108.99 ($141.50 USD as of 13th January 2020) with an average price of £35.35 across a list of 76 quotes. Within those 76 quotes, Sandboarding is covered in 31 policies or just under 41% of Travel Insurance policies; it's good that our sport is included but I say it could be improved; especially considering that Table Tennis (A sport that has a higher chance of death than Sandboarding, as discovered in Revisiting Death) has more likelihood of coverage than Sandboarding.

This leaves us with a choice, we can try and compare quotes that have a 41% or thereabouts chance of being covered for Sandboarding or we can directly go to insurers that specialise in Sandboarding (yes, they exist) and pay more for the certainty of being covered. This tells me one of three things:

1. Insurance companies don't recognise Sandboarding as a sport, this is a sad reality but because of its infrequency in Google searches and because it's only really possible wherever lie sand dunes; makes sense.

2. Sandboarding isn't considered a big enough danger or risk for insurance companies to be worried; sure, they may have read my blog and seen that Table Tennis is more worthy of coverage because of the higher chance of death, but it doesn't ignore the fact that there have been deaths from the sport.

3. Sandboarding is recognised as a sport by insurance companies, but because of its niche nature and the fact there isn't too much information on the sport, how it works, risks, dangers, and/or what can be involved; the insurance companies can't offer a quote because of so little information from our sport.

The problem lies even worse for non-Europeans, especially to my readers from the United States; since the concept of a taxpayer funded national healthcare system doesn't exist, if you Sandboard abroad, a Travel Insurance policy that covers Sandboarding abroad will be fine and you won't have to worry about an unexpected medical expense, but if you wanted to Sandboard in the United States and you got injured and required hospital treatment; if you had Travel Insurance, you would still be covered because such a policy can cover you domestically as well as abroad but private medical insurance might not; Private medical insurance is a different kind of policy all together so I won't discuss it now.

"Exchange Money Conversion to Foreign Currency" by epSos.de is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


My Conclusion

Travel Insurance will be a lifeline to you when you need it most, a lot of the time you'll never need it and the cost of the cheapest insurance won't be worth thinking about too much; It's worth doing your research to find out if the sports you want covered are in the policy you want to buy, how much coverage you'll receive. If you happen to be in a country that doesn't provide free & universal healthcare, you'll get medical treatment with a travel insurance policy; repatriation, air ambulances, hospital stays, and operations can be very expensive; but travel insurance is pretty cheap; even if you have a European Health Insurance Card, travel insurance will get you home, and won't burn a hole in your pocket.

References

Money Advice Service. 2020. Do you need travel insurance? - Money Advice Service. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/do-you-need-travel-insurance. [Accessed 13 January 2020].