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Level: Gybing and upwards.
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It’s kind of the ultimate tool for all professional windsurfers, the surf bus, or surf van, or whatever you want to call it. Over the past ten years I’ve had two vans and both have seen me maliciously abuse their guts, stripping them out, re-fitting, trying every possible surfrack vs bed combo. The two essentials right, get the gear in, make a small coffin sized space for sleeping.
Well these last weeks I’ve had a bit of time to finally tune my van the way I wanted. I spent months building up a catalogue of inspiring images over the winter and went from wanting a modern sophisticated vehicle to actually stepping back a little and finding myself super attracted to these more wooden based fit-outs.
So it wasn’t exactly a blank canvas; a couple years before I fitted the insulation, ply-lining and carpeting. I installed a bed, far too high, but myself and a friend were carrying A LOT of gear at the time. One year ago I fitted a kitchen unit and the two rear windows. For my estimated costs scroll down.
Fitting Side Windows
First job: Tint and fit two side windows. It’s surprisingly easy, you need the following; soapy water (for applying the tint), a squeegy thing (for squeezing out the soapy water from the tint), drill, metal drill bit, electric jigsaw (or similar with metal cutting blades), sandpaper, adhesive, duck tape and those glass sucker things.
Bed Positioning and Removing Old Fittings
Next up we lowered and changed the bed position. Instead of sleeping lengthways, we will sleep across the van. I’m 188cm, the width is about 178cm, solution: to give much more room for everything else in the van I will sleep diagonally in the bed, tried and tested and it worked absolutely fine.
Next job, we stripped out the old fittings, basically this whole unit behind the driver’s seat, it stored the spare wheel, a bunch of tools and random stuff.
Installed a box, it can store up to 6 windsurf boards and sails/masts around it. I carry four boards with two surf boards, 10 sails, 6 masts and so on. Booms are on the other side along with a couple more surf boards, kites and the spare wheel. We will also put a fridge in there.
Although I was keen for a lot of wood I know it’s good to save a bit of weight where possible so we got hold of a wood vinyl and put this around the box and other bits for some detailing.
Work then began on the seating.
First up, I installed the new L shaped seating, 35cm height, later about 42cm with the cushions.
We then recycled some 30 year old fencing wood. Taking the sander to it, the wood came up super nice and we used it everywhere we could. Note the windowsill, the top of the box and you’ll see where else later.
It took some serious sanding!
Back to the seating area. There’s a top opening storage locker, which now houses the 1000w inverter and some electrics as well as tools. The whole area was carpeted to match the walls. Ah and the second compartment was built to perfectly fit my drone box, it fits perfectly. Under the corner is the leisure battery and all the wiring, accessed from behind the drivers seat. Tips for carpeting; put the carpet on the ground, coat with spray on adhesive, wait 30 seconds and press the wood onto the carpet, cut out the excess trim, jobs done.
Cushions and Curtains
We picked up some curtains from a nearby homeware shop, where we also bought a €29 kids mattress for the seat cushions. The curtains were trimmed to size, curtain wires put in place and small clips attached to each curtain and hung in place.
The cushions were cut to size with a bread knife and then hand made covers were produced by my girlfriend, #sewingskills.
My first idea was to have a table that slid out from the kit storage box but then whilst walking around the builders market/shop/thing we came across the perfect hinges. So cut up two more pieces of wood, screwed them in place and now we can have just a small coffee table or space for 2 with full legroom underneath. The hinges just swing up and gravity locks them in place. I actually leave the tables up whilst driving so they don’t rattle (I know, loads of useful info here right).
We got inspired by a shelving unit we saw in Ikea (well similar to Ikea), it had steps in the shelving and held these boxes that we now have in place. So more wood and this time using bamboo for the uprights, I measured around the boxes and secured the shelving in. It’s fastened to the bed surround, which we also fitted from the old fencing wood (same on the other side of the bed when you open the back doors). Plenty of bolts used and brackets to the wall so it will stay in place in case someone decides to drive into the back of us. NB. Bamboo is super difficult to deal with, it splits super easy, so basically ended up using a lot of bolts and cables. There are still more cables to go in.
Note: At first I wanted to use metal table legs for the uprights, super happy I didn’t as I think the bamboo looks a hundred times better.
Dropdown Film Watching Shelf
I had pretty grand images of a projector in the back with a pull down screen and so on, but it’s just not practical. The next best thing, and actually now we have tried and tested it, it’s perfect, is a drop down shelf situated at the end of the bed. I’d seen some ideas of a hanging shelf on Pinterest, but that was also impractical, so I met half way as I really wanted to use this type of rope in the van. It’s a fairly self explanatory build, I’ll let you work it out from the pics.
Actually when you start working it out, there’s quite a lot to carry in the van so we used some of the leftover wood and rope and made two more cupboards above the cab area. The cupboards fold up towards the roof to reveal an area for all our clothes/towels and a few other bits and pieces.
I forgot to get a good photo of this but I just put two hinges on each bit of wood, drilled a hole for the handle and tied the rope through it. You can see it at the back of this shot.
Other additions include a box extension lead, it’s in the corner by the window in one of the next shots (contains four sockets and 2 USB sockets). The portable speaker is ideal. A solar panel is to come as well as the fridge. I’ll fit some small pockets above the bed for the laptops and some steps up to the bed. Lastly, some 12v strip lighting around the bed area. This last paragraph may be more a to do note for me than anything else. I’ll update this article as thing are done.
Reason for the van work: it’s home from now until October. I’ll be video blogging from it all over Europe as I pick up where I left off in Cape Town. If you don’t follow the Vlogs then check them out on my youtube channel and please subscribe: youtube.com/c/AdamSims. Check a quick video walk through on the next vlog of the van.
I will travel from the UK to Germany, Austria, quick stop back in the UK, down through France and Spain to Tarifa, across to the Canary Islands, then back and all the way through Europe (Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy) to the Greek Islands where I will take the van to Naxos and on to Kos, then back North, potentially to the Arctic Circle in Norway again (like I did last year), then Holland and finally back to the UK.
Supported by: ProWind92 Fuerteventura, Patrik Diethelm, Sailloft Hamburg
– Initial build (insulation*, ply lining, carpet, flooring, roofing) – about £650 (*= three layers of insulation; layer 1 = bubble wrap, layer 2 = thin foam, layer 3 = bubble wrap)
– Bed – £20 (mostly recycled wood)
– Racking – £60 (I removed all this now)
– Electrics (leisure battery, split relay, wiring, switches, 12v cigarette lighter plug, 1000W inverter, extension cube/box, lights) – £450
– Kitchen unit (came as one piece: double gas cooker and sink with electric pump and drainage plus shelving and 12v socket) – £900 + £140 fuel to collect!
– Shelving/seating/fittings/cushions/curtains/co2 detector/battery charger/tools = £350
– Additional help/wood/tools – priceless
– Build Time – 2 weeks solid if you do it on your own.
*Photos Copyright – Adam Sims
Having spent two weeks in Namibia earlier this year I’m stoked to announce that myself and Flo Ragossnig are teaming up to offer the trip of a lifetime to this truly incredible destination with our Namibia Surfari. Having travelled there together we were both totally amazed at how untouched this place was. During our entire trip there we saw just one other windsurfer yet we scored the best windsurfing conditions we have ever experienced.
Annually this country hosts the fastest speed sailors in the world, so we figured there must be a good reason why these guys keep heading back there time and time again. I think the moment our group hit the Namibian waters earlier this year was just one of the moments when we discovered that reason. From that day onwards we didn’t look back; windsurfing in new untouched paradises, camping at some of the most iconic landmarks on Earth and seeing the stunning wildlife in its natural habitat, it really was the dream trip.
So myself and Flo are stoked to announce that we will be heading back there this coming January and we will be taking a group of Surfari seeking enthusiasts for a ten day trip of a lifetime. Currently we have space but it’s filling up quicker than we could have imagined, so if you would like to know more and want to be guided around Namibia in a your own 4×4 camping equipped Toyota Hilux pick-up truck, with a bunch of like minded windsurfers, whilst receiving top quality windsurf coaching then please CLICK HERE.
You can read more about our trip in some of the most popular windsurfing mags in the world over the next couple of months.
Enjoy the ride
What a sick event, it all started off pretty slow, my draw looked pretty hard against Yegor Popretinsky, who I had been training with in Egypt just a couple weeks before and his diversity in light winds is through the roof. I was pretty pleased that I had been practising in all conditions during the 5 weeks I spent in Dahab.
My draw for the European Tow-in championships also saw our fleet take to the water last as two other qualifications fleets got under way earlier on in the event. I have to say as well that I had another dose of bad luck but at last followed by some good luck. In my heat against Yegor I was drawn up to sail the fourth heat, so whilst I heard the competition begin I knew I had 30 minutes to get my gear ready. I visited the toilet quick, came back and was just getting my gear ready to sail upwind when I found out my heat was on the water. Heat 4 had joined heat 2 and we were sailing as heat 2, I honestly don’t know how I missed that, maybe it was a late call, maybe it was my mistake, no idea but I’m guessing my heat started around the time my wetsuit was around my ankles and I was sitting on the toilet. I did my best in the ridiculously rubbish wind but could only get planning 2/3 times and thought I’d totally flamed this event, then the luck went my way and head judge Duncan Coombes announces that our entire heat was to be re-sailed. At last, a lucky chance!
So the story continues, I’m sitting there, a little over-partied from the night before and we are about to start the tow-in qualifications, it’s only two runs and I knew what I wanted to do, a clean high double funnel should get me through I imagined. Then as I am ready with my 4.4m and 93l board the wind kicks in and the PWA announce that we are starting our heats, I’m throwing my winter wetsuit on, literally running to get my gear ready and have no idea what to use, Gollito is planning on a 4.4 in the gusts. I opt for my 4.8 but because the wind has only just picked up the water is still pretty flat so I take my 101l board, then I had the heat of my life. A bit under powered a couple of times, 5.2 would have been better, but I’m planning every run at last and managed to pass through to the next round, but that’s as far as competition got, the next heat worked out and then the wind failed us for the rest of the comp, in comes the bad luck, thannnnks world, that would have been good for my ranking.
So once again tow-in was in the limelight. I was feeling a bit apprehensive because of my result in France, it kind of makes you think expectations are higher than ever but I think this actually pushes me in the end. I played it safe, the double funnel to get through but I didn’t go as high or as fast as I had hoped, I just stalled too long, and knew before the score came in that it was too safe. Sitting in 5th it was all or nothing, out comes the double spock and to be honest I think I had another dose of luck because I would have counted it as a crash, nevertheless the crowd loved it and the judges wanted to see more, through to the final but with the lowest score. This meant I had to go first when the final began…
3pm on Sunday and everyone was signing autographs, this was supposed to be our practice session, so I got my gear and went for it. I had about 6/7 practice runs without too many people there and conditions were perfect for tow-in, light offshore wind and as flat as it gets. The result I stuck a couple double spocks in training but also crashed a couple. I got close to a spock culo and decided to try one back up move, the flaka shaka into flaka, or triple funnel, same move in the end with slightly different techniques. I tried it once and got it, so felt comfortable to have that in the bag. Opening up the competition I was pretty nervous, all eyes are on the first run, but I came flying in, the water was glassy and I sent the best double spock of my life, one handed on the second spock and a clean rig flip at the end. Pretty gay claim after but it was a more “will that do” to the judges 🙂 Following that Kiri Thode stuck a perfect double culo and everyone was just like “welcome to the final”!
I tried for the spock culo after that, I thought it was my only chance to get to the top but the landing is so hard, first one I under rotated and the second I over rotated by the tiniest bit. I watched the video back already and it was so close! Anyway I’m coming to the end of this essay, making up for my lack of updates since about this time last year I guess. I was totally stoked to make the podium, it was more than I even dreamed of for this event. I went into the final hoping to come 6/7th and ended up third! Just sick!
Enjoy the gallery, unmarked photos by Martin Reiter.
Not the best start of the year for me in terms of wind but when you can hardly get planning on one tack it kind of makes life tricky to lay down a balanced heat. Whilst I always sailed a solid starboard tack it was my port tack that was letting me down, mainly because I was counting one move out of three in each heat, both heats I planned 2/3 times in total on that tack… Nevertheless still stoked with my high scores on starboard tack and I even laid down my first ever air chachoo in competition during the single elimination.
For me I am starting to get more and more excited about the tow-in discipline, at least with this everyone gets the same conditions and the same speed into their move… As a result I was stoked to land a forward in the qualifications, which helped me pass to the final. Once in the final I wanted to try a nice burner 720 to kick things off but found myself aiming at the filming boat and was forced to take off for the move much earlier, I almost ended up sitting on the side of the boat and earning myself an infamous Waves Burger from Julien Wesh. In the end I was coming into my last run with two crashes to count, my culo didn’t go to plan and so I played it safe so as not to end up at the bottom of the fleet. I was honestly pretty surprised to hear my double funnel scored so well but also very stoked to come away with 6th place, my highest result yet.
Check out the small gallery below.
In case you missed this on Facebook or Vimeo then check out the trailer from this new video project featuring Adam Sims and Balz Müller. You’ll have to wait a little longer for the real thing which will drop sometime in December 2014.
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Here’s a quick cut, filmed on Friday, edited over the weekend and posted on Monday. This is why spring time in Vienna is pretty epic; the wind is good, the weather is warm and the people are awesome!
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So, just this morning I visited one of the local schools here with my girlfriend Hanna, we got all the 6/7 year old kids out of class and showed them a few windsurfing essentials… How to rig, what the parts were and of course how to throw down a sweet shaka. It was super funny and we had them try out a harness and hook in to Hanna’s 3.3 Sailloft Quad and then got them to stand in the footstraps of the Patrik Slalom board and lean back like they were windsurfing. They each got a photo whilst trying that out (sometimes one or no-handed) and it was super cool to see their excitement and enthusiasm. For sure there are 17 new rippers for the future now and it’s certainly inspired me to do more… stay tuned.