10/24/14

I wanna be a dentist....

Text & photos Bernard Testemale




As we were gathering one month ago for the world premiere of "On Any Sunday next chapter" ( San Sebastian Savage cine festival), I asked our friend Bernard Testemale to share with us his recent Journey in South Africa with Sam and Robert August. Fifty years ago exactly Bruce Brown, filmmaker, would write an historic page of the Surf movies, and a few years after he will eventually achieve the best of the Motorcycle movie ever: "On Any Sunday".

We were lucky enough to meet the legend itself and shoot some portraits.
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Driving into Cape St Francis was beyond anxiety for me...after waiting almost 30 year to see it for my first time, I wondered what it would really look like and how dad would reflect.As we looked over the edge the break looked to set up amazing.Of course we were lacking another 6 ft in swell to actually make it work...All the talk of it being not what it was is actually not accurate.Speaking with south african ripper Ricky Basnette and he mentioned the epic day he and his buddy shared not too long ago saying it can challenge jbay when its right.Felt amazing to paddle out as dad witnessed only can imagine what was going through his mind....
Sam August











I wanna be a dentist....


First and foremost, I must say it was a great honor to witness Sir Robert August's return to Cape St Francis, more than 50 years after his unique passage in 1963, and his legendary session for Bruce Brown's mythical  movie, "The ENDLESS SUMMER".
A unique session which changed life for him and millions of surfers.

He made the promise he would return to South Africa with his son... A promise that he took 30 years to honor for his son Sam, now 47 years old.Back in 1963, both Robert and his pal Mike Hynson, get Bruce Brown's invitation for a South African surf adventure. First stop : Cape town!19 years old Robert, freshly graduated from Hutington Beach school, already has a clear plan for the future: he will be a dentist! Little does he know, this trip will definitely change his life...


Robert raised in a family with solid surfing background (his dad « blacky » August, was a reknown California Surfer) profoundly influenced by the 50's surf scene and Duke Kahanamoku.
At the top of his art in 1963, Robert is one of the best competitors of his era, and has starred in some of Bruce's previous movies...



Bruce Brown's plan at the time is to head to Cape Town where surfing was starting to grow thanks to John Whitmore after he started importing the first Gordon Clark foam blanks.
What seems natural and easy nowadays was more a mission then in the 60's! To reach Cape Town, you had to enter the Africain continent in Senegal and then go down south with multiple stops: Ghana , Nigeria then South Africa.
No to mention there was no daily flight, sometimes weekly or monthly...

It is hard to imagine and value the logistics miracles Bruce has accomplished to organize such a trip from an unknown country to another with 3 peoples and all their gear! Missing one flight would mean getting stucked for weeks!

50 ans later, its in company of 6 young Huntignton Beach Surf School surfers and their coach Andy Verdone, that we set base at Jeffreys Bay, very close to Cap St Francis' «  Bruces's beauty » in South Africa.
These young surfers have an incredible privilege to travel in Africa with Robert, and I bet it will take time for them to realize what an exceptional present it was.
Pepper Street, Beach House and African Perfection, we can almost touch the magical wave of Jeffrey's bay from our window. I realize that Robert discovers it for the first time, and his sole experience of this area will have been this epic day at Cap St Francis back in 1963.


As the kids paddle out with Sam, Robert attentively observes everyone's rides . One of the kids has a special place in Robert's heart, since he saw him grow up in Costa Rica: 20 years old Tomas King, the oldest and most experienced surfer in the group.
These past years, Robert has spent a lot of time in costa Rica, which he discovered during the shooting of Endless Summer 2 early 90's. There again he contributed to put a name on the surf world map..."Tamarindo-Costa-Rica »


Along these 2 weeks shared with Robert, my curiosity and his natural simplicity to tell stories made a perfect match. A great pleasure to hear him recall his adventures during and after what's has been called «  THE ENDLESS SUMMER ».
From all these old stories one pops to my mind: his first surf trip abroad to baja at 17 years old with 3 other friends.
As they cross the border, they get stopped since they are minor. Frustrated but not giving up, they try to cross from another check point, hiding the minors in the trunk!
So seeing this one guy in the car with 4 boards on the roof makes the customs agent a bit suspicious! He finds the kids in the trunk and sends them straight to prison where they will spend a 24 hours trip!
Robert took the lesson and swore to never ever again go against the law...This leads to the this honest and generous man I got to meet and know more everyday...



After having recovered from the heavy jet lag from our long trip from USA through Dubai, it is time to jump in the van and head to Cape St Francis, 30 minutes away.
As the kids strap their 5'10 superlight boards on the roof, I realize how much ground has been covered in 50 years. Back in 63 Robert and Mike had to carry their 45 pounds big heavy boards with fixed fins, without any boardbag, leash, nor wetsuit. Not even wax!
The only way would be to use some candles but it would never be really efficient in too warm or too cold waters!
Imagine being on 45 pounds longboards with no accessory and you can figure how was surfing then... Then imagine surfing perfect waves never ridden before, just you and your friends with no surfer around and you can figure what Bruce Brown portrayed and immortalized at Cape St Francis in his documentary.



Personally I knew about this amazing bay, for having been there before. But I was wondering if Robert would still remember and feel the place more than 50 years after. Back then, John Whitmore had to clear some bush around in order to access the place. You had to walk though high dunes along the bay before accessing  the "holy graal' of surfing of the era, and the highlight of the "Endless summer".



To reach the spot today, you just have to slalom though residential neighborhoods. On the parking lot, you can read on a memorial sign: " BRUCE'S BEAUTY. Home of the perfect waves ".
Of course we are far from the 1963 images frozen on Bruce Brown's camera. It 's a grey day, waves are average...The dunes have been replaced by a stretch of beautiful houses with a little bit of vegetation on the way to the beach.
Sam savoures the moment...He jumps in his wetsuit and runs to the water with the HBSS kids.
It's touching to see Robert standing on the same rocks which witnessed his session 50 years ago, admiring today his son and the team prowesses. This "father and son" connexion and communion, make this moment timeless and unforgettable.



Hard to tell if the wave itself has changed through the years. We know it is a very capricious wave really breaking  5 to 10 times a year according to the locals...
One certainty, is that she offered her prime conditions that day to Bruce, Robert and Mike!
One would think that they spent some time there, that they camped in the area to make the most of their time and the place. But they just had this day, having to head back to Johannesburg to go to Australia with stops in Kenya, Yemen, India, Ceylan, Indonesia, etc...

From this epic day in surfing history, Robert explains that after having surfed all day this perfect right, Bruce asked them to walk in the dune for this clip we all saw in the movie.
They were exhausted from this long session and had to walk thought the dunes with those heavy boards and go around not to leave tracks for the needs of the shot... After the first take, Bruce asked to make another one! On the edge of rebellion, they finally went back a mile around the soft sand african dune!






It’s exactly at the same place that 50 years ago, a group of friends made the cornerstone of the surf spirit!
During this trip, they will have crossed Africa from west to east, sometimes though bush trails, camping here and there in the bush or some remote villages who had never seen a white man or a surfer! Consider wild animals were totally free then!
So many stories came back all along this two weeks with Robert, that he could probably write a book...(I suggested he should do it!).


Two stories have to be told here:
- This little note book Robert filled everyday with stories, names..., which he forgot in a plane!
Bruce and Robert tried their best to find it but the precious document seems to this day definitely lost.
- 8 month later, back from Africa, Robert recalls a conversation he had with his dentist, who was also a surfer. How could he become a dentist after this African experience? Working on teeth was not a walk in the park then, the dentist having to fill dental cavities all day for not much reward with uncomfortable tools and unhappy clients... (this has barely changed though!)
It's finally surfboards that Robert decided to nurse! On his dentist advice, he started to learn the ropes at his sponsor/shaper Jacob's Surfboard factory. Repairing dings, filling holes, and sanding boards for happy surfers is something else than dental medicine!
Endless summer premiered in 1964, and impacted the world for many years, planting the seed of modern surfing...
Robert and Mike became « rock stars ». In 1974  Robert creates his own company, Robert August Surfboards.
Sam took the succession but Robert still shapes and uses his old plane.

As surfers, we all owe to Sir Robert August, and the "Endless Summer" team, who redefined surfing. Robert will never be a dentist....







10/6/14

The Lucky Cat Garage








In 2008, blogs were rare: this growing phenomenon, in which we have participated from then til today, is now something known to everyone. "Seb" ran a blog called "The last chance garage du 7-8" and we started to communicate back then.
Seb now evolves in his world around the bikes that he builds patiently in his garage, to develop what is called today "The Lucky Cat Garage".





Last year I broke my ankle and fibula in a bike accident the week before Glamseck 101, that I'd been preparing for months. In my hour of need all my friends and family rallied round to get the bike finished. It was finally ready in time for the sprint races in Germany. My friend Sylvain took me over there, rode my bike, and won the StarWars category. The bike also won Best of Show. This sucess was followed by a wave of enthusiasm for this bike, which we called 'Sprintbeemer', and which will be few months after on exhibition at the Museum of contemporary art at Lyon, at the Moto Légende show and part of the exhibition at Wheels and Waves.



I loved the atmosphere at Glemseck 101 and I have promised myself to return and ride the bike myself. However, it feels a bit of a pity to return just to ride it myself: why not push the project a bit further? That is how I started the project officially called 'Furtherer', though between ourselves we call it 'brainfuck'".
I had been happy with the previous version with its barnfind petrol tank and fairing hand painted: it worked well, and the bike was coherent. I had kept the (original) fairing and petrol tank to one side. However I eventually decided that it was a bit too classic; I wanted to push the design a bit further and take the BMW sprint to another level, to correspond 100% to my vision, to take more risks and not to sleepwalk through the design. To me the bike tasted slightly of unfinished business.... and, after all my motto is "dream, wrench, love, weld, machine, ride, repeat" !


From the beginning the whole project depended upon the idea that a sprint race is won before the race starts, by getting the upper hand over your opponents psychologically. And this year, I have had various ideas of how to spread worry and uncertainty amongst the ranks.... visually and mechanically! The story of this bike, then, is above all else a story of friends and good times spent working in the workshop in the evenings, and the weekends and during the holidays.
Benny and Seb "Brainfuckin'"
A design that M.C Escher would be proud of !

The most visible part is obviously the new fairing, provided by my friends Kent and Dutch at Airtech Streamlining. As I'd imagined, I wanted only to show the boxer heads under the fairing. To do this I lengthened the original fairing. Next, the painting, which was a real headache. Benny aka Machine 17 came up with the idea of the design for the pattern which almost hurts the eyes and makes an optical illusions with the arrows in 2 directions. Benny usually works as a graphic designer/ photographer for Edwin Europe. It was amusing as I found out later (as he did, from another source), that the idea of interlocking arrows had already been used by Jean-Pierre Lihou on a Citroën concept car in the 1970s. Benny is a genius!!
Then, to complete the visual update, I found a new petrol tank. It's a Malagutti 50, which had suffered Cyril's attacks. He incorporated my requirement,which was to be able to mount the ammeter and the Lucas headlights... some brainstorming sessions later..... the English section finally joined with the Italian petrol tank to accommodate the petrol pressure and oil temperature gauges.


Lastly I needed a little more horsepower for the come back of the Lucky Cat (and the races to come).... for that the engine was completely reworked by Edelweiss Motorsport. In the end they kept only the cases and the crank from the R100RS. Still the breaking-in period, the motor already has more than 100 HP when benchtested and the engine is currently limited to 9500 tr/min. There has been a lot of work here: the crankshaft has been modified, the conrods, pistons, cylinders, camshaft, pushrods, lifters, rockers, and heads of the R 100 GS have been reworked, the lubrication circuit has been modified, the oil pump and the programable twin ignition..... the assembly and metrology were done by the sorcerers Edelweiss Motorsport in Essen who christened the engine the " Sprintbanger ". It is "only" 1,070 cc but enough power and torque to wrest the Sprintbeemer from the starting line.


Photos credit: Daniel Beres



As always, I didn't want to leave it there, and to make the connection between the visual and mechanical, I found various components from the world of drag racing to complete the bike. I managed to finance a nitrous kit, thanks to the sale of Edwin X Lucky Cat garage tee shirts on Facebook. They all sold in a few weeks, and I was even able to add some more goodies, like the pneumatic shifter!

I would like to thank again the supporters from all over the world who helped the project along its way: it feels good to be so supported.

Technically I had loads of help on the set up of the nitrous from friends who race on modern bikes in the French championship . Thanks to their advice I choose a "wet" nitrous kit from NOS. With this system you can easily supercharge the engine with nitrous oxide and petrol. I still need to refine the settings a little, to take full advantage of the system that is still set in safe mode.... then I need to finish the mounting of the pneumatic shifter with the introduction of a reinforcement cylinder and selection shaft. I have preferred taking my time to make the reinforcement of the selection shaft Despite this care , there are still 10 bars that go into the cylinder when you change gear from the handlebars ... I am not sure the shift shaft will hold up for long without reinforcement. In short there is still some work planned for this winter!


But, hell, WHO NEEDS 9 LIVES ?: not the lucky cat!!





Here is a short summary of the modifications and the work done this year (there's obviously more work for next year!)

-Airtech full Dustbin fairing extended in the rear
-Brainfuck" paintjob by Benny Machine17 Nico ATN
-1070cc engine by Edelweiss Motorsport
-nitrous NOS "wet" kit with purge kit & kill module
-homemade intake manifolds (thanks Chrisian!)
-Handlebar controls (Pingel)
-adjustable shift light (MSD)
-Electric over air shifter (Pingel)
-mega slash cut silencer
-NOS & engine kill modules (under tank)
-full electric harness
-Malagutti gas tank modified and including oil ang gas gauges(nice job by Cyril!)
-Engine hood in alloy foundry (thanks 8cycles)
-Finish of the rngine foundry parts (thanks Get)

-modified R50/2 frame
-BMW R75/5 shorter fork.
-shortened swing arm BMW R100/7 .
-modified final drive BMW R80/7 .
-billet alloy struts hidden in the rear shocks
-BMW R 100 R 5 speed gearbox
-ceramic Sachs clutch
-front wheel: R75/5 machined hub - anodized Morad rim.
-front tyre: Avon Speedmaster 19''
-rear wheel R100/7 machined hub - anodized excel rim
-rear tyre MH Racemaster 18''


Seb and the good Managers: Ola and Sylvain
As fast on  dirt and track : Franck Chatokhine

This summer the Lucky Cat crew again worked furiously day and night to finish on time: Christophe, Frank, Quentin, Sylvain; Florent, Christian, Cyril, Nico, Mathieu, Sou, Laurence, Daniel, Dirk and all his team. This is where the Lucky Cat shows how lucky he really is.
For the finishing touches, Furygan made a one/off overall to match the fairings in their workshop in Nimes. Benny designed this as well. Last but not least, Bruno from Gentlemen's Factory painted my helmet Shoei NXR with my mascot and his broken legs!
Thanks to all the partners and friends who have helped the Lucky Cat Garage this year: Edwin Europe, Furygan, Shoei Europe, Instantané, Perfect Start, Airtech Streamlining, New Com, FTWco, Mombaerts Race, Gentlemen's Factory, Castrol, Edelweiss Motorsport.

FRanck Chatpkhine, Hugo Jezegabel , Seb Lorentz

Next step: the Custom bike AMD championship in Cologne. The Sprintbeemer "Furtherer" will be on stage. The Nights will be short to ensure that the finish is perfect! Whatever, the Sprintbeemer isn't a showbike, but a race machine. Built on purpose, built for Speed !



Last minute news: Seb just won the second place in the retro modified categorie at the AMD championship !!! Congratulations !!!