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, 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 0.36 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 4 sandboarding deaths between 2009 and 2019 took place in 2 countries, all instances apart from the one in 2013 occurred in New Zealand, the 2013 death was in Namibia. (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!