Mayumba, Gabon in NALU, Japan

Text extract from Longboard & Freeride © Sam Bleakley

“…The mesmerising section is the inside, third point, where the chaotic wind-churned tumult of the Roaring Forties gathers into a predictable rhythm and the offshore combs the wavefaces in killer form. If looks could kill, this would be the goofyfooter’s graveyard. As we later play back video clips of the session, John plays Booker T and the MG’s 1962 instrumental soul hit ‘Green Onions’. It fits the wave perfectly – twelve wave sets and twelve bar blues with rippling organ lines that describe the surfer’s path. The side wash is cat-like, stealthy, stacking up on you and sneaking past on the inside leaving you flapping like a beached fish, or like those damned logs.

Booker T and the MGs were the sitting house band for the legendary Stax record label in Memphis, Tennessee, and in Mayumba, Gabon, days and weeks blur into one long blues-infected groove as we are the resident houseband, taking turns to solo on deserted lefts, lunching on tinned sardines and crusty baguettes while camped out in the cramped bush. At night we toast Regabs and eat soft-boned river mullet, or bush meat, with rice or manioc, or maybe chicken raised on a diet of local trash and styrofoam. Only the shreds of green onions keep our nutrition alive, and the relentless surf at Green Onions keeps our spirits intact…”

About Sam Bleakley

I am a freelance writer and professional surfer from Sennen, West Cornwall, in the UK. I specialise in surf exploration projects with renowned surfEXPLORE photographer John Callahan. I have undertaken groundbreaking trips to the likes of Algeria, Liberia, Kenya, Oman, South Korea, Hainan, Palawan and the Maluku Islands. Surf writing has led me to visit sixty countries. My roots, however, remain in Penwith, where I live with my family above Gwenver beach, close to Land's End, the westernmost tip of Britain - next stop Novia Scotia. I have an MA in Geography from Pembroke College, the University of Cambridge, and I am currently researching a part time PhD in Travel Writing with Falmouth University. I am the author of two illustrated surf travel books, Surfing Brilliant Corners and Surfing Tropical Beats (Alison Hodge Publisher, Penzance). I have been a multiple European and British Longboard surfing Champion, and former competitor on the ASP World Longboard Tour. I am widely published and featured in international magazines and newspapers ranging from Resurgence to Action Asia to The Cornishman, and a regular contributor to The Surfer's Path. I have studied and taught travel writing courses and guest lecture on aspects of surfing, travel, writing and geogrphy in further and higher education. I edited The Surfing Tribe: a history of surfing in Britain, and have edited Longboarding supplements and specials for Carve and Wavelength magazines. My first book, Surfing Brilliant Corners, details a decade of extreme global surf travel, illustrated by John Callahan. Surfing, jazz, geography, ecology and cultural studies mix as I journey to Mauritania, locked in political strife, where landmines litter access to some of the best waves on the planet; and Haiti, which captures my heart and makes it race as if falling in love. My second book, Surfing Tropical Beats, follows our surfEXPLORE team on a rollercoaster ride from Haiti to Gabon, through Algeria, India, Vietnam, China and back to Haiti.
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