The Legends Series: Interview - Bobbi Laval (Originally Posted 3/19/2009)

Within the pages of SurfWatch is the rich history of Second Life (SL) surfing from the mouths of the surfers that created or developed or promoted or excelled in this virtual sport over the years.  Enjoy these interviews and the perspective from these surf legends as SurfWatch begins "The Legends Series".

SurfWatch recently caught up with Bobbi Laval, ranked 3rd in the SLSA standings after 2008 Season 2, in the midst of preparing for Friday's St. Pat's Pro-Am Competition at Neart and her photography gallery showing at Costa Rica.

SurfWatch: How did you get started with SL surfing? Who taught you?
Bobbi Laval: (laughs) Well, I am self taught, mostly. I started on a date. This guy took me surfing at Bish (Bishara), on the fluffies that were at Munch Bay. He couldn't figure out how to catch waves, so he just sat on shore and watched me. I don't remember who that guy was - never dated him again. But I'm still surfing. I went back there a lot. Joined Bish group cause they kept boards rezzed for group members to use. I didn't know there was anywhere else to surf in SL - never saw anyone else there. It wasn't until WOI started Reef Riders that I found out about SLSA and surf competitions. So that's when I really started surfing. Seano (Osumi) encouraged me and Ritch (Goalpost) was my first surf buddy. We kinda learned how to surf together. After the first surf comp, TK (Tightline Kidd) and Portia (Roelofs) got me on Reef Riders, and I learned a lot surfing with them.

SW: Where did you surf?
BL: Back then, I surfed at WOI sims. Mostly Bundoran Reef, Crab Island and Clare. Neart didn't come til later. And Imagi. I met Virtual Bacon before that first comp. He encouraged me, and I loved surfing there.

SW: What board and script did you start off with?
BL: Well, the first boards I used were whatever was laying around Munch Bay for group members. The first board I bought was a Namiko Shibuya, the pink one. It was a pre epic enabled board, very difficult to surf on actually, especially by today's standards. Just before the Imagi comp, I bought an SJA Epic enabled board. It was the Hedonism promo board. Then I had Sammyjo Ah make me a custom SJA board.

SW: We understand you, along with Colleen Brennan, have competed in every SLSA competition since it started. Tell us about the first competition.
BL: Yes. Every SLSA competition, even the Surf City comp on Rob Jon boards and the RFL fundraiser. Gosh, that first comp at Imagi, I was so intimidated. I really didn't know anybody there. Just Seano and Ritch who I met practicing there before the comp. He was new, also, and didn't know anybody. Most of the surfers there had surfed in the Namiko competitions. And I was the new girl that didn't know anyone.

SW: What made you want to start competing?
BL: Well, I've always been a bit competitive by nature. I grew up ski racing. But I was having so much fun exploring SL and surfing was just part of that.

SW: How has SL surfing changed from back then?
BL: Gosh, it has changed so much and grown so much. Boards have changed so much. Back then, there were only prim boards made straight from Heather's (Goodliffe) template and the Namiko which was a bit shorter. Basically, boards were all the same except for graphics. Often, there were boards for each comp. Everyone rode the same board that was issued for that comp. So back then, it was all the surfer and what they could do. Boards didn't make any difference like they do now. But the biggest change was Havoc4. That changed surfing more than anything. Physics are totally different now, and post havoc boards are different. It made aerials much easier and, believe it or not, bellying is harder to do now. So many tricks we do now were so hard to do back then without bellying. Havoc4 kind of equalized everything. All the old surfers had to learn to surf over again and experience didn't mean as much. The difficult tricks could be done by more surfers without bellying. Then people like Laz (Longstaff) and Radical (Twang) started tweaking board shapes for better performance.

SW: What board do you use now and why?
BL: I make my own boards to ride now. There is so much more performance potential with 5.2 scripts than with 5.1 scripts. But unlike with 5.1 scripts, there really are not a lot of retail versions of 5.2 boards that have been optimized for performance. Seb (Sebastian Saramago) is doing some cool things, but I don't think he has anything you can buy from a vendor. I think the only way to get them is to buy a custom board from him. Sniper (DSniper Hotshot) made some small tweaks and got a bit better performance, and I think Robin (Mapp) did, too, but nothing like what's possible. I don't think we have really figured out what's possible with a 5.2 script. I just rode Wicked's (WickedV Carver) new board recently. I think it may be possible to go too far. It almost seemed like the board could do things faster than my computer could draw and was a handful to control.

SW: What advice would you give new surfers today?
BL: Whatever you do, have fun. Watch other surfers for inspiration and to learn what is possible, but experiment and develop your own style. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Most of us are happy to help.

SW: Where do you spend most of your time surfing?
BL: Three places really. WOI which includes Bundy, Neart and Crab Island, so I have every kind of wave available right there. I also have my own sim, Bounty Reef, with pipes running the full length of the sim. Other than that, I spend the most time wherever the next competition is.

SW: Tell us what you're doing in SL currently.
BL: When I'm not surfing or taking care of the beaches at WOI, I am doing a bit of building, working on my line of beach furnishings and, most recently, photography. Bon (Bonheur Chenaux) has inspired me a bit, and I got some attention becoming a finalist in a photography competition at WOI. That has kind of opened up a whole new world to me, and I've been busy getting things together for upcoming shows at galleries I've been invited to show at.

SW: Tell us about the Neart competition coming up.
BL: Sio (Sioban McMahon) wanted us to do something for the Festival of Saint Patrick. St. Patrick's week, of course, is a really big deal for West of Ireland, as you can imagine. So Cip (Cipriano Grut) and I sat down and started brainstorming to try to come up with a format that would be fast and fun and, most of all, encourage new surfers to compete. We'll see how it goes over, but I think we have come up with something that meets our goals. It should be a lot of fun. If it works out well, we can expect some more similar competitions. Colleen has already spoke with me about something similar at Tsunami, and we think it will be possible to strong arm Wil (Wilfrid DeCuir) into hosting one. Wil doesn't read SurfWatch, does he? We'll use our womanly wiles on him - he's a softie at heart.

SW: Anything else you'd like to add?
BL: Gosh, you have asked a lot. I can't think of much more. Oh, one more thing. It's always good luck to tickle the marshall's feet before every heat, and to save your gum on the board of the surfer next to you in the line up (giggles).

Check the Announcements and Calendar sections for more information on the St. Pat's Pro-Am Surf Competition and Bobbi's gallery showings.

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