Love Letter to Ol’ Yeller.
By Nathan Lockwood.
She was the first proper board I ever bought, the first I rode in waves of consequence, the vehicle for the biggest adrenaline rushes I had experienced at that point in my life and what made me fall completely, hopelessly and head over heels in love with bodyboarding forever.
And I sold her for 60 measly quid.
The main reason was to fund the purchase of a red Drag Sam Bennet board which while undoubtedly a beauty did not have the same sentimental value.
Alas I did not think of this at the time.
After arriving in Edinburgh for university in September 2014 a fully-fledged kook and after using the battered old Atunas board that had been laying around the surf club lockup for several months I decided to splash out on a decent board and fins.
After a quick chat over the phone with the legend that is Dave Heard over at Bodyboard HQ in Portreath, Cornwall, I settled on a 41.5 PE Science Damian Prisk (multiple British champion and style master) model with a yellow deck, black rails and white slick. I also copped a pair of yellow dot MS Vipers (which I still wear to this day), previously I had been using a terrible pair of plastic US Divers scuba fins.
Waiting for the package rock up to my halls of residence and unwrapping it was like being a kid on Christmas, coincidentally it arrived the morning my good mate Oscar was picking me up to go surf one of the east coast beachies.
Armed with my new sled I hit the beach at Belhaven Bay, promptly attached my fin savers wrong to my new fins and immediately lost them (the savers), then took my new board for its first spin.
Over the next few months, I skipped shameful amounts of lectures and tutorials to surf any and all conditions the east coast would offer up. The board accompanied me on the end of term surf club trip to France and got its first surf in foreign waters.
The most memorable session with old yeller however was the first time me and my gang of mates from the surf club surfed the fabled right hander at Thurso East for the first time in October 2015.
Arriving at dawn on we found it clean, running, solid and remarkably empty. We all paddled out gingerly, having heard tales of hold downs, beatings and essentially intimidated at the prospect of surfing a full-on reef break with the full power of an Atlantic WNW swell behind it.
I still remember my first wave vividly and the way the yellow deck markedly contrasted to the water colour. Fear and excitement were served in equal measure as I paddled over the ledge, clumsily bottom turned on a running wall and eventually emerged unscathed in the channel, the waves and cheers of the boys ringing in my ears.
This represented a step up mentally for me in the type of waves I was willing to surf and old yeller played her part beautifully.
This board was my go-to for a solid two years and provided me with unbridled joy and a passion for bodyboarding I know will burn inside of me until my dying day. This is one of the only things in my life that I have ever been sure of.
Tormented with a niggling sense of grief and regret in the months that followed I was presented with a unique opportunity to pay homage to my faithful old Science.
I had planned a solo graduation trip to Indo for some time and after speaking with Bali Bodyboarding head honcho Aidan Salmon I decided I would attempt to resurrect the one that got away with an NMD Custom (PP Quad Concave Ben Player Template), with an identical colour scheme, which would be waiting for me upon my arrival in Bali in April 2019.
Sure enough, there she was greeting me like an old friend, and in doing so evoked memories of days gone by.
That first dawn surf at an unnamed bowly Bali beachie I fell in love again. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes the new board flew down the line with amazing speed and power. This was the board I would ultimately go on to surf my first wave at Pipeline later that year on, along with a multitude of other slabs, wedges, points and shories from the Caribbean to Scotland.
I know for a fact I will never part with this particular board, even long after I stop surfing it.
To this day there is still a part of me that regrets the decision to sell old yeller, but I hope that her new owner has been getting as much stoke out of it as I did.
I have learned that the bloke who bought it off me that faithful day at Pease Bay car park in June 2018 has since deleted his Facebook so hope of buying it back is slim. However, I will continue to keep an eye out on the east coast for that faithful yellow sled.