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].

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Helmets for Sandboarding

In November 2016, the wearing of helmets was made mandatory in all InterSands Sandboarding events with a unanimous vote from members and athletes from Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Peru, and Switzerland; InterSands is different from Dune Riders International but they are another sports organisation that host global sandboarding events.

In my honest opinion, I agree with the ruling as this can reduce risks of injuries, but at the same time this may only have come about due to negativity bias (i.e. bad news is more prevalent and popular with readers than good and articles on death may be more popular on someone winning a championship title for example); still it's a move and I welcome it.

As well as the sporting organisations, tour agencies such as Kalbarri Sandboarding will include helmets as part of your included equipment and many other agencies will do the same and some agencies will even refuse to allow you to board if you don't wear a helmet.

It's not exactly a law but as mentioned in articles where people have actually died whilst Sandboarding, it will probably help to wear a helmet from time to time as falling into sand isn't hard but it's not soft neither.

Some of you may or may not be aware, I also ride a moped; I used to have an old Honda City Express but now I've gone up in the world and own a little green Vespa.

"Piaggio Vespa ET4 Moped" by Jack Soley is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
In the UK, it's legally required that you wear a helmet whilst riding a motorcycle.

In other countries, the law is different and/or different safety standards may be used, but with other ventures such as Sandboarding, it's not a requirement to have a helmet at all; however standards that are often used in motorcycle helmet manufacturing are the ECE, DOT, and Snell; you can find about these standards by clicking here, but the tests used for seeing if a helmet is up to safety standards include: Abrasive resistance, fire resistance, impact resistance, penetration resistance, and assessing build quality so if you're looking to buy a helmet which may or may not be labelled for Sandboarding "as this sport is niche" then at least look for these standards if you can, or better still a snowboarding helmet will work just fine.

It's also a good idea not to buy from abroad (most notably, China) only because you will often find replicas made there, sold abroad, however with some items it's not as obvious that some big brand has been replicated; it'll be common to see a fake bag being sold as a "Lewis Vitten" (take a guess on the real brand name). Also, if you're buying from abroad; make a good guess if you think the company is reputable; as a lot of low-cost high-traffic warehouses shipping goods all over the world will use techniques to cut down on their costs, a good technique to reduce cost is to use lighter shipping materials; instead of shipping in a cardboard box with a bubble-wrapped interior, you might often find your new acquisition delivered to your house in a bin bag; so whatever protection the helmet had in the factory, it's been diminished from shipping.

I've got a helmet, as I like the idea of keeping my head in one piece; it was a cheap helmet from the UK that was designed for skateboarding. It's rare, if not impossible to find a "Sandboarding" helmet, a snowboarding helmet I suspect would work.

If you've got any opinions on the use of helmets in Sandboarding, leave a comment and this week's poll will be regarding helmets!

Friday, 24 May 2019

Sandboarding Bites #13

If where you are is quite remote and you can't get a phone signal, it's always a good idea to keep some spare change just in case you need to make an emergency call.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Another Blog Record!

On the 17th July 2016, the blog set a record of most views in one day (175).

On the 2nd January 2019, the bar was raised to 1,840 views in a day.

Now on the 4th May 2019, a new personal best was set! In that day alone, there were 1,872 views on the blog.

I'm still forever thankful, the blog wouldn't exist without your continued interest! Thank you.


Thursday, 16 May 2019

Sandboarding Bites #12

Going abroad? Take out travel insurance before you leave, it'll save you a fortune in medical expenses.

A good website to check is GlobeLink, get a quote from here and you help this blog as well!


Friday, 10 May 2019

Sandboarding Bites #11

Don't throw away your old sunblock, some sun lotions can last up to a good 2 years once opened before it gets defective.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Sandboarding Bites #10

Your eyes are precious, keep them working well and invest in some goggles; to stop sand entering the eye area, and from harmful UV rays.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Sandboarding Bites #9

Appropriate footwear is key to a fun ride, heavy boots and high heels won't suffice; try some trainers, sandals, or even go with a pair of socks.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Sandboarding Bites #8

Sandboarding in the cold can be a good sport too, always keep hydrated because the air's drier and you'll use more energy heating your body.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Wax-Off! - Beeswax

Today I took another trip to Merthyr Mawr in the South of Wales, but this time the weather was more acceptable and there hadn't been any rain for a few hours beforehand.

I tried to go down a dune and go for a few runs, I still couldn't do well despite the sand being dry, I didn't understand if I bought a bad board or whether the sand still needed to dry.

Except, last week I ordered some beeswax online (I didn't go for branded waxes as they're manufactured in the United States and they would have taken a long time to arrive), I chose beeswax because of my article I wrote on waxes before, beeswax is a natural product so it's not created with petroleum oils which could potentially not make me slide at all, and it was the most abundant to find at the time of my online shopping experience!

I bought some bars of 100% pure and natural Beeswax and I can single-handedly say that Beeswax is the "Bees Knees"! It's good if you're on a tight budget, and most importantly, it gives you an excellent run, fast descent, high speeds... Basically, it lets you go fast; However, it does lack when it comes to giving you the ability to curve as it makes the board extremely slippery all over and I did have to re-apply the wax every other run; but re-applying the wax very often isn't so bad when you consider that the wax lasts so long, it's a natural product, and from a fresh bar of the stuff, I had only used ½ to 1cm of Beeswax during a whole 2 hour session.

"Pure Natural Beeswax Blocks" by Jack Soley is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Also, an unrelated note but useful if you're thinking about making your own wax at home; Beeswax is easy to clean up compared to candle wax and wax from Edam cheese.

Pros of Beeswax

It allows you to go fast almost immediately, cheap, easy to obtain, a naturally ocurring product, protects your board from light & deep scratches, and lasts long during sessions.

Cons of Beeswax

Requires constant re-application, and it is extremely slippery so if you're trying to do some tricks or if you're a beginner, you're out of luck.

Overall Opinion

Given the good features and bad features of this particular method of waxing a board, this is the first ever Sandboard wax I've used (that has worked) with good results that are so good I can immediately report on them the day I got back from the dunes! I would definitely reccomend Beeswax as a wax to use on your board and I give Beeswax an 8 out of 10!

Also before I conclude, I have uploaded a video online titled "How To Wax A Sandboard" featuring my session yesterday at Merthyr Mawr, I hope you find it interesting.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Switching Format on this Blog

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been thinking of switching to a podcast format as outside of the blog, I've also decided to volunteer for a hospital radio station, I used to volunteer for a local community station, with that experience I was taught on editing, clipping audio, and high quality audio distribution and considering that writing articles is a lot of work as opposed to a podcast where I can produced and created in a far less time than a written post; I believe this will be a good way forward.

I will include a public poll on this and I'll let you debate in the comments on whether or not you think this is a good idea, I'll close the poll some time in Mid May.
Should Sandboarding Nation be migrated to a podcast format?
pollcode.com free polls

Thursday, 21 March 2019

My Trip to Merthyr Mawr

This isn't going to be a particularly large post but on Monday, I took a drive to the nearest sand dune so I could practise some sandboarding; basically, I didn't do any sandboarding as I couldn't have chose a worse day to sandboard here; over the last 2 weeks I had my eyes glued to the weather forecast but still as soon as I arrived over the Welsh border, rain had struck and there were torrential downpours on the way home.

You have to pay for parking here; 1 hour will cost you £1, 2 hours will be £2 and there was also an option to park all-day (over 2 hours) and that would cost you £3.

There are lots of sign posts and I genuinely thought it would be one big dune and just lots of grassland, however there's the "Big Dipper" which is the largest in size by far however if you look in the distance, you'll find beaches with small dune complexes on them as well, this buckets of sand you can see on this site makes Holywell Bay look like a grain in comparison.

The sand was too wet to do proper sandboarding and my best run was only about 2 metres on my new, proper sandboard which I had imported from a seller on eBay; I did however manage to try some jumps and tricks on the high rising dunes on the edges, I've also attached some creative commons images below so you can judge for yourself.

"Big Dipper at Merthyr Mawr" by Jack Soley is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

"Sandboard at Merthyr Mawr" by Jack Soley is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Oh, and unlike Holywell you don't get out of breath so easily as the dune is less steep but the descent is longer; Merthyr Mawr is long and tall where as Holywell is shorter but taller. I'll do a follow up of this original post when I go there on a good day... Preferably in the summer.

Oh and yesterday it was my birthday, but I guess that's not too important here.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Sandboarding Bites #7

Position is key; bend too little, you fall back and be less aerodynamic when going down a dune & bend too much you'll fall in the sand and roll on your face.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Sandboarding Bites #6

Always clean your board regularly, a small piece of grit can cost you time and money if you don't take care of your board.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Sandboarding Bites #5

If you're going down a dune at high speed, always slow down before a bend rather than during.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Chilean Visa Policy & Reciprocity Fee

Since I've published the Iquique article, I've had something that's been on my mind for a while...

That's the fact that I've had conflicting information regarding the payable "Reciprocity Fee" if you wish to enter Chile; if you look on the Iquique article, I'll tell you that only Australians need to pay, but if you look at the Top 10 Sandboarding Countries of 2018, I'll tell you that Australians, Albanians, and Canadians need to pay as well.

As I was sick and tired of receiving conflicting information, the same night I published the article on Iquique, I typed a letter to the Chilean Embassy in London regarding information about visa entry requirements and the applicable reciprocity fee, because if anyone would know with certainty, it would be a government official of Chile (for example, an ambassador).

Yesterday afternoon, I received a letter from the Chilean Embassy in London and this was the response I received:

The link on the document is attached here, and I don't speak the best Spanish but I can verify that it does specifically mention that only Australian nationals have to pay the reciprocity fee at Arturo Merino Benítez International Airport (Santiago International Airport) but this also states whether or not you would require a visa or not to visit Chile and what the appropriate cost is for obtaining a visa.

Just want to thank the Chilean Ambassador for making this information clear once and for all, this may change over time but this information is as of 2nd March 2019.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Who is Alex Bird?

Last year, I was attempting to write a book regarding sandboarding; I was (and still am) looking for an appropriate topic regarding the sport; at the time, I was looking at places in the UK and I found out about Braunton Burrows in Devon, so I did research on the dunes and little did I know that American motor company Jeep decided to film an advert here with "Britain's Leading Sandboarder"; so I did more research...

This stunt was also covered by national UK newspapers, and also described that "It was the first time a participant in his sport had been towed by a car on UK shores." Keyan Milanian. 2019. Sandboarder tears up Britain's largest sand dunes as extreme sportsman is towed by car in UK first - Mirror Online. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/motoring/sandboarder-tears-up-britains-largest-9932080. [Accessed 25 February 2019].

At this point, I stopped reading and asked myself a few questions; Who was this man? Why was Jeep here? How come I've never heard of another sandboarder in this country?

I dug deeper, and discovered that it was none other than Alex Bird, an extreme sportsman and now sandboarding instructor who has also been involved in other sports alongside sandboarding, both in a recreational and competitive fashion.

I had burning questions, so I finally managed to contact him after some searching, and after some time I finally managed to have an interview last week!

How did you initially get into sports?

"I have skied since I was 3 years old. I then got into skateboarding and then snowboarding from the age of about 11, since then I've been hooked on all board sports."

Would this be partially the reason why you got into sandboarding as well?

"Yeah the excitement of going sideways! I enjoyed team sports too but love the freedom and adventure that go with board sports."

In 2017, you were approached by Jeep for their Renegade Desert Hawk, how did it feel to be a part of that?

"It was a really exciting project and an honour to be involved in, Jeep approached us asking what sort of things could be done, we talked through lots of ideas including trying to break the sandboarding speed record, they were really supportive with our ideas."

Has anyone yet recognised you from the advert?

"No! Although we do sandboarding lessons and people who book have often seen the ad."

Claim to fame? Perhaps?

Have you done sandboarding in other places?

"I've been to Dune Du Pilat in France, which is awesome and has some of the longest runs I've had but I think we have a bit more variety and some different features to ride." 

I'm in agreement with Alex on this; a lot of sources have indicated many times that Merthyr Mawr in Wales have the second highest dunes in Europe behind the Dune Du Pilat, and that Holywell Bay is where I first learned to sandboard, as well as being a strategic camp used during both the Second World War and the Cold War.

Would sandboarding be a sport you want more people in the UK to know about?

"Definitely. It's a great activity and a great way to stay fit! It also happens in some beautiful places, events are always a great way to inspire and get more people involved in the sport."

I also spread word to Alex regarding my campaign to make the UK a member state of Dune Riders International, which I don't think will happen for a few years if I'm honest however I'd like to see someone like Alex be the first President of the British division of the DRI.

Is there a philosophy you live by?

"Not really, I just try to do something outside and active every day, even if it's a run in the rain after work."

Are you competitive?

"I can be! I compete in the British Kitesurfing Championships Wavemasters Fleet, I've come 3rd for the last 2 years. It can really motivate and push you to improve." 

Any long term ambitions?

"Just to see my kids get better than me!"     

What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start in a competitive sport?

"Get involved and enjoy it. Be honest with yourself and others about your own ability and people will support you. I've met some great people and learnt loads through competition." 

It has taken so long for me to finally get all of my work and degree stuff aside, not just because of this interview with Alex but for my blogging as a whole; I'd like to see more stuff like this in the future with other sportspeople, as for this interview I've finally discovered more to the guy on the Jeep sandboarding advert.

But literally minutes before this article was published, I got a final statement from Alex himself: "I really need to get a big thank you in there to Nigel Brown from Barefoot Surf School as he really got me into it as he set it up as a flat day activity for the surf school. He really pioneered sandboarding in North Devon, building and testing his own sandboards and finding locations. He was also the one who helped make the whole Jeep ad happen."

A big thank you to Alex for making this article possible! Nice one!

Sandboarding Bites #4

A snowboard will still go down a sand dune; it will perform nowhere near as well as a conventional sandboard; but with a bit of sandboard wax, it's a great cheap alternative!

Monday, 25 February 2019

Sandboarding Bites #3

If you have any excess sandboarding wax, don't throw it in the bin. You can sell your wax or even recycle it; if you're looking to use it again, keep it in a cool place so it doesn't go bad.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Sandboarding Bites #2

If you're going down a dune at high speed, always slow down before a bend rather than during the descent, always try and lean your body back while you're on your board; using your hands to slow your down should always be a last resort.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Photo Attribution & Creative Commons

I know this is a sandboarding blog, so I'll keep posts like this to a minimum but to anyone who wants to learn blogging and wants to stay on the right side of the law and avoid a plume of legal trouble, stay alert.

I've had some people saying that I inspire them which is good because I think writing really lets my creativity flow, motivates me, and helps me become more known in my field but if you're going to use photography in your work, please do it properly.

Ever since I've started this blog, I've referenced photos in many different ways; originally I've looked back and I've seen they have been rubbish in comparison to 2019, but in order to be a good blogger and a saint compared to a sinner, you need to have 4 items:

  • Title (Every photo will have a name, whether it's the standard file name on your phone or a name someone has given a specific piece of work, it's named.)
  • Author (Whoever owns the photo, took it, or made it what it is; there will be an author too.)
  • Source (Basically, where you got the photo from; just attaching a link is sufficient enough.)
  • License (When the author uploaded the photo online, which creative commons license did they give?)
Notice I said "Creative Commons" and bloggers tend to use these photos because getting any photo can be really complicated, because normally you'd have to ask the owner of the photo if you can use it, and then you'd have to pay what is known as a "Royalty Fee", but with Creative Commons, this doesn't happen; it's free and the person who uploaded the photo cannot revoke the freedoms of the license if you abide by the specific license rules. You can view the licenses offered here.

Also with some licenses, you can modify photos to a certain extent, if you're planning to edit these photos; you must state how you modified the original work, as well as cite the original author(s).

From now on, I will be more consistent in my referencing and I will use the "Ideal attribution" model as pointed out on the Creative Commons website; I will leave my photo as an example as to how I'll be referencing from now on.

"Sand Dunes at Holywell Bay, November 2018" by Jack Soley is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Thursday, 21 February 2019

Sandboarding Bites #1

Before you go Sandboarding, it's always essential to check your weather forecast before you get there; there's nothing worse than wet weather ruining a good session on the dunes.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Another Link

The link for this blog since 2014 has been www.sandboarding-nation.com and this will never change...

However, I have purchased a brand new link so that it's easier to get to the blog, the new link is: www.sandboarding.blog

This will hopefully boost traffic to the blog as there are 2 methods of getting to the site.

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Iquique, Chile

Every time I have a look on the Sandboarding Nation Instagram (which I'd highly recommend you follow if you don't already), there's almost always at least one post in Iquique, Chile; aside from being in a country that has a shape of a shoehorn and that has a shed load of earthquakes every year, I wanted to write this post for 2 reasons; the first being that I haven't done a location based post since the one on Huacachina, and because I recently got in touch with a Chilean man who sells sandboards.

In case you didn't know, Chile was the number 1 sandboarding country of 2018 and such notable locations in Chile also include San Pedro de Atacama, Concón, Valparaíso, and Viña del Mar. But the one location that steals the spotlight is without hesitation, Iquique.

Courtesy of: Teosaurio License: CC BY-SA 2.0 Title: Paragliding over Iquique

Iquique has just under 200,000 inhabitants and it is one of only 2 free ports in the country, the other one being Punta Arenas; the town is also host to Deportes Iquique, a football (soccer, for the uncivilised) team that plays in the premier division of the Chilean league. As Iquique is a coastal place, I would suspect that there is a lot of surfing and windsurfing in the town as well as paragliding (above photo); however according to a Tripadvisor search on Iquique, the sports I managed to find that were popular activities here were rockclimbing, cycling, and paragliding and quite a reasonable number of businesses and tour agencies promoting Sandboarding. THE 10 BEST Outdoor Activities in Iquique - TripAdvisor . 2019. THE 10 BEST Outdoor Activities in Iquique - TripAdvisor . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g297397-Activities-c61-Iquique_Tarapaca_Region.html. [Accessed 14 February 2019].

Considering the number of sandboarding based businesses here and the sheer fact that many people come here every year to sandboard, it's no wonder that the Sandboard World Tour often holds events here. Also, here's a good list of information which will be useful.

  • A good thing to remember as well is that if you're a tourist coming to Chile, passport holders from 92 jurisdictions can enter Chile without a visa, however Australians will need to pay a "reciprocity fee" if they 1) travel as tourists, and 2) enter through Santiago's International Airport. Información para el pasajero | NUEVO PUDAHUEL. 2019. Información para el pasajero | NUEVO PUDAHUEL. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.nuevopudahuel.cl/informacion-para-el-pasajero?category=0. [Accessed 14 February 2019].
  • As of 14th February 2019, $1 USD will get you approximately 665.50 Chilean Pesos.
  • Similar to the Huacachina post, you may find Coca leaves here as they are common in this part of the world; just don't bring any home with you.
  • The plugs used here are Types C and L, the standard voltage is 220V and the frequency used is 50Hz.
    POWER PLUGS AND SOCKETS OF THE WORLD. 2019. Chile: power plug adapter needed? | POWER PLUGS AND SOCKETS OF THE WORLD. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/gb/chile/. [Accessed 14 February 2019].
  • The driving side for Chile is on the right hand side, the minimum age to drive is 18 and you will need an International driving license for driving here. 
Before I finish, I want to include a video from SoulSandboard Iquique Chile of some Sandboarding in Iquique; this hopefully should make you buy tickets for the next flights here even faster.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Revisiting Death

This week in New Zealand, a South Korean was killed after colliding with a bus after going down the Te Paki sand dunes, it's a sad time and officials have pointed out that this death could have been prevented.

The last recorded sandboarding deaths were in 2009, 2010, 2013, 2018, and now 2019, which if you've seen my post from 2016: Deadly Dangers of the Dune. I recorded an average of 0.6 sandboarding deaths per year, now that figure has dropped to 0.45 deaths per year as of February 2019.

I drew another conclusion that Sandboarding is safer than Table Tennis, whilst that is still technically correct, with only 7 deaths in table tennis between 1997 and 2006, but it was only studied in Germany; whereas the 5 sandboarding deaths between 2009 and 2019 took place in 3 countries, all instances apart from the ones in 2013 & 2018 occurred in New Zealand, the 2013 death was in Namibia, and the 2018 death was in Peru. (It's worth pointing out that the link from the original article to the study is broken I have attached a replacement.) At the bottom of the page, it has been noted that "Most of these risks are far lower than might have been thought, even with skydiving or hang gliding.".

Wayback Machine. 2019. Risk of dying and sporting activities. [ONLINE] Available at: https://web.archive.org/web/20160415041017/http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/booth/risk/sports.html. [Accessed 7 February 2019].

It's unlikely that this happens on a regular basis, however there are ways during sport where death is approaching, whether it's a freak accident by colliding into someone or something, being collided by someone or something, animals and plants, natural disasters, extreme heat, extreme cold, or even pre-existing conditions which could increase your risk of dying such as diabetes, cancer, or heart problems.

There are preventable ways to stop death in its tracks.

  • Always be aware of your surroundings when you're on the dunes and keep an eye out for anything suspicious, plan ahead whenever possible by looking out for weather forecasts and potential safe places.
  • Don't go too fast. If you're a beginner on the dunes, try going half way up to the summit so you won't be able to achieve a faster speed coming down, this works because you still get a speed where you feel exhilarated coming down and you don't have to walk up as high.
  • Know your limits. If you're exhausted, you're not confident on slowing down after a certain speed or you feel like you're losing control of your slide, take a break.
  • Know about problems before you go sandboarding. Whether it's medical problems which may be more challenging after sport, or especially if you're going to an exotic location, get immunised for illnesses prominent abroad; the most common ones are Hepatitis and Malaria.

I know death is a morbid subject, but wherever you want to sandboard, please remain safe.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

A New Record

On the 17th July 2016, the blog set a record of most views in one day (175).

On the 2nd January 2019, the record has been not just beaten, but it's been absolutely smashed with a new record of 1,840 views on the blog in one day!

I'm still grateful for all my readers, and also those who have been there since Day 1! I couldn't have done this without you all. <3

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Socks while Sandboarding

When you think of appropriate clothing when going Sandboarding, you usually think of summery or protective wear but a thought has occured in my mind of an essential item of clothing people don't tend to think about... Socks.

Reasons why wearing socks is a good idea

  • Prevention of sand getting within your toes, this may sound like a simple argument that makes sense for a normal Sandboarder, but how many times do you get sand on your feet and you have to endure the 4x4 or bus ride home with sand grains on your toes? This exact reason is why wearing socks will try to prevent just that, also the "sand" may also contain foreign objects such as glass, sharp rocks, bits of metal, and in some cases animal droppings; so for the interests of hygiene and safety I believe that this would be a good case to wear socks. below, is some of the stuff you don't want in your feet, I would know as something like these rocks gave me a cut on the dunes once. In the desert it shouldn't be an issue to get objects in your toes (because there's not much there) but in 2014, the VSS Enterprise crashed in the Mojave Desert in California; the chances of space debris landing in the dune region you're in is slim, but always good to stay one step ahead, Right?
Courtesy of: Roland Unger Title: Silica Glass Area, Egyptian Sand Sea, Western Desert, Egypt License: CC BY-SA 1.0

  • Depending on your choice of sock and your location of choice, socks are beneficial for warmth as if you wanted to go on the dunes in Uruguay, the UK, or maybe some parts of the USA; it can potentially get a little chilly because of inland, coastal, or high altitude winds; nobody likes cold feet; also if you prefer to Sandboard in the evening or at night this will also further reduce heat loss by wearing socks, I wouldn't personally wear the layered thermal socks you can buy in the winter, I'd save them for the snow mountains. I don't choose thick thermal socks because the heat of the outside environment plus sweat will more likely lead to wet socks due to the excessive sweat.
  • If you're willing to spend some cash, you can buy some gripped socks which aren't 100% comfortable but if you're planning on doing tricks and need to stay to your board, these socks will be of great assistance to you.
  • This may sound counter-intuitive but wearing black socks will keep you cool in the summer, you would think white socks will keep you cool; but Esther Inglis-Arkell reports that "Black absorbs everything coming in from the sun, sure. But black also absorbs energy from the body instead of reflecting it back. Now, the helpfulness of black clothes depends on finding black clothes that are the same thickness and looseness as those summery white clothes." 
Esther Inglis-Arkell. 2012. The Physics that Explain Why You Should Wear Black This Summer. [ONLINE] Available at: https://io9.gizmodo.com/5903956/the-physics-that-explain-why-you-should-wear-black-this-summer. [Accessed 3 January 2019].

Courtesy of: Jason0917624610 Title: 中文: 學生襪 License: CC BY-SA 4.0
  • There can be potential benefits that it can limit the damage done to your feet, however this isn't the sock it's also the material that you choose; for example, a cotton sock will be more resistant to small objects and weather conditions (like hail & snow, just in case you Sandboard in Northern Europe), this will be more effective than socks made of Polyester, but at the same time both will do a good job in limiting damage, the advantage may be horrendously small but it is still worth considering.
  • Wearing socks will help reduce your risk and vulnerability to conditions such as athlete's foot, the socks can absorb the sweat you produce and also can reduce the likelihood you'll have a fungal infection or be prone foot odour due to your feet literally being in a world of sweat.
It's worth mentioning that some people have and do wear 'diabetic socks' which according to the website 'Diabetes.co.uk': "Diabetic socks are socks aimed at people with diabetes. Quite often, diabetic socks are designed without seams in order to reduce the chance of blistering. In addition, diabetic socks may also be designed to control moisture in order to reduce risk of fungal infection or with cushioning to prevent foot ulcers. Good skin care and foot care is essential. Foot ulcers affect as many as 10% of people with diabetes." 

Diabetes.co.uk. 2019. Diabetic Socks. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.diabetes.co.uk/diabetic-socks.html. [Accessed 9 January 2019].

In my opinion, wearing these kinds of socks would be a revelation and a discovered miracle for the sandboarding world; however it's only an opinion as first, I haven't worn these myself and second, I have heard no other sandboarders use these socks; so I'll let you decide (If anyone has used diabetic socks while sandboarding and has any feedback, let me know; you might get a blog t-shirt... *hint hint*)

To summarise, wearing socks is a must as this can easily prevent foreign objects such as debris and nasty diseases from entering your body, you wouldn't think it but we do stand on two feet pretty much most days; it's good for the relaxation and control of your body's internal controls, and also depending on what kind you use, socks can even give you a sandboarding experience in comfort. You may hate them during your birthdays and Christmas, but the next time you get a pair of socks, wear them with pride!

    Tuesday, 1 January 2019

    Happy New Year!

    I know this blog is only just surviving because I only write when my educational work is non-existent, but I would just like to say I wish every one of you a very happy and prosperous new year ahead!