Hydro Uwh News
The new year dawns, but some things never change....
...Like this guy. His never-ending wait for scraps from the dinner table that will never come, it will never change. Bless him. I guess we shouldn't be surprised. When we got him, his stomach was his largest bodypart at 7 weeks.
Some interesting snaps from the workshop this week... interesting if you're an uwh nerd, that is. Let's not be ashamed guys. Let's embrace it.
This was a custom glove I made a while back for the legendary NZ referee, Muzza. He had a pretty serious break in his hand/finger, and this was to try to provide some protection while he was healing up. It's a piece of heat-mouldable plastic, tough as anything, shaped over the busted finger, and then cunningly covered in a layer of silicone until the thing is a crazed mitten. You'd hardly even notice anything was different! (holes drilled in the thing connected the silicon through, so it wouldnt get bashed off, hopefully. I need to find out if this worked or not. Someone let me know if Murrays family actually let him into the water with this on?
Reminded me of this, that I found in my archives...
This monstrosity was the glove I played 2004 worlds with. It's latex, and I made it just before the comp, as I had a fractured index knuckle... THE hockey knuckle, yes. In the language I currently use as Dad to a 3 year old, this was a really really hurty ouchie. The white stuff is a piece of Marley drainpipe heated and bent into shape and cunningly buried under a mammoth latex finger. This shot is from just after the comp, when I cut it open to see the state of it. Was it legal? I dunno.
This wasn't taken in the workshop. But I can really relate.
We now have a size 95. It really is giant. I think our 8 month old could crawl in there. Or use it for a sleeping bag.
We had a fire drill at the workshop today, the business park we are squirreled away in did, at least. It was ok, but did feel a little like this
The guy told us all to hang our tags on the evacuation board, which numbered all units up to 32. We are unit 33. There was no 33. I think we will chat to the landlord about this.
These fashionably themed samples are headed to Tauranga, to take up the mercenary life in a communal gearbox somewhere. Go well little buddies. Make friends out there!
Because nametags are cool. Aren't they?
This little fella is a stick in a very french style, requested months ago by a french player I met in SA. Finally I got to it, on my list of things to develop... got a prototype made up, tested it in the pool, works great actually. Got in touch with the player who requested it... "oh don't worry, she's been using Hydro Rockets for weeks" says her English speaking friend (remember, I am sadly a simple monolingual kiwi). Funny old world. It's a nice stick though, we will get it into a nice design, and celebrate the differences. It's back on the list.
After months of feverishly reworking thousands of complicated algebraic equations, we have finally been able to... stick more names on more stuff. Including cuffs of gloves. Won't rub off!
And, just cos I've sunken so much time into developing the Ninja gloves, here's a green one.
Camp coming up this weekend... early mornings. Hooray for coffee!
November is here, and turns out all those crazy people who have been saying it forever were right... the world is ending. With the most unlikely Apocalypse ever.
No-one thought it possible, but an orange hair-piece is now leader of the free world. And unfortunately, for us that live down here under the world, that was just the beginning of a bad week.
Earthquakes hit all over the south of NZ. Shaky in the extreme. Poor folks down south got it the worst, but we still had damage and scariness here in Wellington too.
Yes, the entire country is on a massive faultline. Damn.
This was us the other night, when the first big one hit.
Then, in some exceptional timing from mother nature, we have some nifty storms and torrential rain! Brilliant! Now my firewood is wet and I am grumpy about it.
But, the silver lining has been that I've had to go and check on our NEW WORKSHOP SPACE after all these sub-optimal happenings... which we have moved into last week! Very excite!
People with very small humans in the household may understand that at times, it can be a bit hard to keep things organised...
But our wee converted workshop under the house, being scarcely large enough to turn around in let alone swing a cat in (which I wouldnt!), has been so crammed full of construction equipment that frankly, as our product line has developed, its been getting a bit out of hand. We have shelves on shelves and tables in/on/under our tables down there.
So, more space in our new workshop is amazing. Here it is in all it's current glory, a work in progress.
Pumping out Rainbows and Unicorns! Still small ay? You should have seen the old one.
With all this space, we will be able to push out our newest products, super awesome polyurethane gloves! We have been through about 4 different design prototype iterations, and what we have ended up with is very sweet. We call it the NINJA! Here it is... coming to an internet near you very soon.
The padding is low volume, but the material is very dense which gives good protection. The segmented design gives good coverage and incredible flexibilty, and the rubber is much stronger than silicones, making it durable on rough bottoms. We can even look at putting a super-tough shell over the contact surfaces for very rough pool bottoms. Very excited about getting these cranking out.
Coming into the Christmas season, we will be holding a wee sale next week for black friday, so look out for that. Cant believe how fast this year has gone. And we are also in the process of getting some gift-cards available, for the odd stocking filler that can beat the inevitable postal collapse.
Happy November! Here's to mother nature easing up a bit as we head into Summer!
Time for the next very first ever Tournament Report!
Last week or so ago, clubs in NZ converged on Rotorua to battle out the National titles. There were teams in 4 grades, C, B, A and Prem.
Joining them were two teams from Australia to add international flavour and intrigue, a Mens team in Prem grade and a Womens team in the A grade. Who they were and where from exactly? ...I think a mix but mostly from NSW?
Your blogger here played with the Phoenix club from Wellington, and travelled with the majority of the 4 Phoenix teams in a bus. To start the weekend, we thought we were going to have a wee bus, 30 seats with 29 people
But thankfully when the bus turned up it was actually a proper one
...without the luxury of course. We can't afford that! Or the top floor. The best feature on the bus was our intrepid driver, who was a funny dude and pretty good in a crisis as it turned out.
And I guess the skylight emergency exits, which a few of us were dying to try out later on but unfortunately never got to experience.
More than half the bus, OK nearly everyone was extremely young people (ie under 20), so I was having nightmares about this trip from the beginning.
Our first excitement was stopping at our first rest-stop, for our driver to let us out for a food and after-food-relief. Only the doors didnt open. Either of them, and the wee buttons marked "push in emergency" LIED to us! They did nothing. Nothing!!
So, with a busload of bursting bladders and rumbling tummies, we ended up forced to drive over to Palmerston North to the bus depot for the engineer to let us out and change to a less-faulty bus. Palmerston North.
It's a great spot. I lived there once. For 3 months.
But at least they had a Wendys! For when they dont have Burger King.
Anyway so when we finally made it up to Turangi, an actual Burger King had just closed along with all the toilet block doors, so 30 busting kids flowed out into the darkness to water bushes, fences or a dark patch of grass, while Camp Mother led a search party to a public toilet.
They made it back unmolested, and we made it to the accommodation at 3am or some such hour to find the motel block covered in named bits of paper showing us our rooming arrangements. ...Somewhat like the passive/aggressive post-it notes all over the food in the cupboard from that flatmate you had who was sure you were stealing his (delicious) home-made peanutbutter that time.
This labelling was actually incredibly useful, the work of the organising fairy of the group, to whom we were all very grateful on a number of occasions
Every group needs one of these.
We were to find that we also had a cleaning fairy too, which was also awesome and caused many of us to feel guilty for being such slobs. Others didnt notice.
On to the tournament, which was hotly contested in the only grade I can talk about with any knowledge, Prem grade, with no team scoring above 6 goals in a game I think? Many games were only decided by a goal and there were draws as well. Brillo! Great to have so much competition.
In fact, the top 4 teams happened to be playing very similar styles, and any games between any of the 4 looked a bit like this
Only with a lot more water, scowling and straining.
The classic "Sure, we'd love to take the puck wide if only you'd put us under a little less suffocating pressure please" was in full effect for the 4 top teams, resulting in games where the puck was violently spit or squeezed into space and then ruthlessly hunted down by both teams immediately so they could continue their game of puck-wrestle. Fun times!
Mostly evenish games on the first day, then a nice sleep where we were constantly warned about undesirables hanging around our motel place. Just to make sure we didn't get a wink of sleep fearing for our possessions all night.
Undesirables roam free
Back to the hockey the next morning,
The bottom 2 teams were playing a completely different style of game, valuing possession, passing to each other, looking for space to take the puck into, and other crazy mad-cap schemes. These were the Aussie team and KOM, who had a great game in the RR that led to a draw and another close game in the playoff which was drawn and went into golden goal, when the refs suddenly decided to make up for not binning anyone all game and binned 3 players at once, and the game then collapsed immediately from a thrilling contest to a confused 20 second goal, with KOM winning in the end.
Our round robin game against the Aussies brought me back to a distant past, when I looked at my white stick in the subs bench and saw it was covered in black smears... ha! That's right! This is what it was like to play against dudes with wooden sticks and last-minute spraypaint. Amazing the things we forget. 2007 was the last year I played with wooden sticks, so it's been a long time since I was leaving my own spraypaint smudges. How time flies, and in terms of NZ Uwh culture, how things change.
And how some things don't ever change, too. It is always nice to play against the Aussie style, so reassuringly different and yet familiar. And funny to see little young guys on my team learning the hard way that yes, those Aussie bats are big and yes, the hooks are large but YES, they hit so very hard with them and YES, it makes it so difficult to tackle them and stay not-tackled. Brilliant.
Phoenix had a tight semi with Makos, going down 3-0 early but getting back to 3-2 at 45 seconds left and then getting the puck into the Makos bin with 1 sec remaining, only to have a ref huddle pull it back for an earlier infringement, and putting Makos through to the final.
The final itself, I was in the shower for the first half of it until I remembered it was on, but apparently someone went up 2 goals early (Makos?) and then Crocs clawed it back and went up 3-2. It finished full time 3-3 anyway, and in golden goal Makos were attacking on the goal only to have Nick Healy, who I was assured by his team-mates had literally done nothing all tournament long, swim off for a length of the pool breakaway to win it for Crocs and redeem himself.
Off to the function, where our group of kids crept fearfully past the security at the venue who crushed thoughts of underage schenanigans or overage debauchery with steely glares.
Being sleep-deprived at the best of times, I skipped the party after prize-giving to snooze back at the motel as the undesirables prowled around and tipped rubbish into bathroom windows (who does that?), but in the morning saw some good indications a good time had been had by a few.
And we went home. And the doors worked. Thank goodness.
So what's been going on around here lately...
Well, Gus was delivered at the front door this morning by one of our neighbours in a towel... He found a hole in the fence due to the temporary scaffolding and somehow got into the neighbours house, and then bedroom, and woke them up by licking someones face. !!! I spent some time this afternoon mending the fence.
Also I feel like I have neglected the bold function for too long in my life. We're our own bosses now, so here goes.
Our Hydro is a family business and we are expecting a new addition to our little family any day now... Likely to be a girl. There's all sorts going on including a new roof going on the house here, so it really is May madness. That's what the scaffolding is about.
Back-tracking just a little, Worlds in SA was great, some great games and open hockey. After being scaled down for a couple of weeks during the comp, we are now back up and firing on all cylinders. We have been going for more than a year now! Thanks so much for supporting us, Global Uwh Community!
We are still working to develop and improve all our products as always, and thanks to some great feedback from our customers (thank you!) we have made some recent innovations.
SKELLY AND TANK GLOVES... We have upgraded the silicon lining layer of our Tank and Skelly gloves. The new silicon is slightly softer, extremely flexible, tougher and has made the Tank and Skelly even more comfortable. As if that were possible! Well... for real. From as comfy as your slippers, they are now as comfy as your slippers that have been nicely worn-in. We have included more information for our customers packaged with the gloves to spread awareness on how best to use and maintain the gloves, which is super important, as they aren't like most other gloves out there. We have also for quite a while been reinforcing the front knuckles of all our gloves to increase durability in those very high-wear areas.
TRAINING GLOVES... We also have a shipment of new liner gloves arriving very soon that we will be using for our tank training gloves, which are a great product at a great price which we will be pushing with a sneaky sale later in the year. They are thinner than the standard nylon/cotton weave which is universal to almost all commercial Uwh gloves, but still tough and we are able to coat the palm and fingers with a thin coat of silicon with these gloves, making the training gloves more comfortable, better fitting, more durable and allowing better feel for the stick.
STICKS... We have a new requested design that's in the works for some keen players in france who like a particular handle, so we will have some new designs out soon, which is exciting. We have a bunch of gloves sent over the Tasman for the Australian age-group squads which will see action at the Trans-Tasmans in Hobart coming up, which we hope will go well.
VIDEOS... I have not had time to collate the footage I have shot and put together a proper How-to-backflick tutorial, apologies to those that have requested this, but it's coming soon!
Thanks for checking in on us, all the best in the pool, and remember if in doubt.... dummy-punch.
So, I just got back from the CMCs tournament in Milwaukee, thanks to our friends at Canam Uwh.
Turns out it's a great place, with great people, and balls-freezingly cold at this time of year.
We ran a cozy little clinic for people on Friday, and then the comp was Sat-Sun. A good time, on the sport-court pool bottom, super slidy and fun.
Got home after a casual 19 hours flight home and back into the swing of things... we have launched our new soft coated rubber sticks. So excite! We have had some hardy and brave pioneers testing some of these for us for a while, and after much tinkering and improving we are now letting them into the wild.
This here's the handle of one of our soft pixies. Super-awesomely grippy and comfy in the hand.
And this here's a special skin on one of our soft shivs... the happy skull themed stick! The normal texture is nice too, only a little more conventional.
Katanas and 260s versions are just around the corner too.
People have been asking for more vids with passing and coaching tips etc, so I'll get onto that in our next technical blog... people keep asking about inside flicks, so I think we will cover that first.
It's been a while since our last update and things have been as busy as ever.
We have added some things like the capability to purchase single sticks to make up those lost pairs. We also are bringing in some coaching supplies, including some neoprene vests for poor coaches who have to float about and struggle to stay warm, but dont like the hassle of carrying a big wetsuit to the pool!
We also have done a tonne of experimenting with materials, and are very soon launching our newest stick model, the Rocket. This one will be available in both light-textured plastic and soft-coated versions.
This stick is based around one of my favourite shapes from when I was growing up in hockey in Wellington in the 90's. It has a very sharp hook which is puck radius for great tackles, a solid end mass behind the hook for some weight in the pass and a slim handle. A great classic design, and playing with it has really got me hooked on hooks again.
Had a fantastic time in Hawaii, we went through about 16 bottles of sunblock, still got burnt...
We are now back in the office, thank you so much for those of you who have been patient as you wait for your orders, these will now be rolling out the door as soon as we are able to ship them!
Age-group worlds has come to an end with some nail-biting finishes... Congratulations to all the teams.
Our next big tournament is the New Zealand Secondary Schools Nationals in Auckland in September. We will be at the tournament with stock of all our gear available and are donating some nice gear for prizes as well, so look for us there. We will also have our first stock of one of our newest designs available there, our Pixie sticks.
These are a revamp of one of the first plastic sticks Liam ever made back in 2008... here's the original with the new for comparison
And here's the finished product...
We're excited about these, they're a great little stick, short, slim and fast but all the angles are 100% true so the pass is awesome, with none of the twist or warped alignment that you can get from handmade sticks. The bevel is a little larger than our standard 8 degrees, it's 10 degrees to give both smaller people who use the stick as it suits their size to get better loft on the puck, and also to help bigger players using it as a small forwards stick get good pop passes to beat defenders.
We're not far away now from adding our Tank gloves to the site, there are a few floating about at this stage and we will have 2 versions available at Schools Nationals, both a fully lined competition glove and a training glove version that boasts the same protection and padding over a thicker un-coated nylon liner similar to the construction of our Robot gloves.
These are the Tank Training Gloves
And these are the Tank Competition Gloves
Drop by the table at Nationals to have a close look and try on some sizes. Good luck to all the teams for their final training sessions before the competition, see you all in Auckland!
All the age-group teams are converging on Spain for their world champs, and we have managed to kit out 4 full NZ squads with our gear. Whatever they do over there, they will look good doing it.
NZ Secondary Schools Nationals, that behemoth of a tournament, is looming around the corner. To celebrate we have just brought in a bunch of sweet wraparound masks.
These are pretty cool, great quality and a great price we've been able to offer too.
As always we have more things on the way in our design production line, something that we very nearly have ready to go and that some of the NZ players in Spain will be sporting are our new rubberised sticks. We have grippy rubber versions of both our standard and 260 Katanas, it's been a lengthy development process and they are now just about ready. Our production process has standardized the thickness of the soft outer material to provide consistent absorption of impacts and dampening of puck bounce and jiggle. Our standard hard plastic textures are the best around for puck control, but this rubberised material adds something next-level to your fine puck skills. We are still experimenting with softer materials to give even better performance and will be aiming to offer varying levels of rubbery grip for those who really like to get a soft touch on the puck. Pretty excited to get these rolling!
We have also got a bunch of useful bits and bobs like snorkels and ties added to our product line, and we will have Big-Bore snorkels available in the next couple of days for those who have switched to the larger-intake type snorkels or who have been waiting to make the switch but lacked the gear!
Good luck to all the young teams in their warmups this week!
It's been pretty busy here for the last couple of weeks, we are providing some subsidized gear for the NZ age-group teams travelling to Spain and all the teams have taken us up with pretty much full-on glove and stick orders... we have kitted them out in a new line of gloves, our Tank model which in the not too distant future will be up on the site and freely available... after the Skelly goes up first, as soon as this NZ gear push finishes we will be able to do that, apologies for those who have had an eye on the Skelly and have been waiting! While both the Skelly and the Tank are made with the same technique, the Skelly is aimed more at maximum flexibility while the Tank is a little bulkier with slightly broader padding.
Here are some of our gloves leaving our shores to do underwater battle in Spain in a week or so...
We have also just added a couple of new products, some nice sturdy masks and a shipment of Najade upside-down face fins.
Wombats! I've sent a couple over to Jason in Western Australia to have a play with and see if any Aussies like the new wombat stick I put together based on the tried-and-true Aussie elite mens bat... Decades of dominance can't be wrong right? In the meantime I've had a good chance to practice with them myself and quite like them... great passes, off the front and back edges, and feels amazing when you crunch someone with a big solid hit using a stick with this much weight behind it. I also totally understand why I've seen so many of the best aussie players use so many flat passes over the years... this type of stick pretty much requires that kind of passing style exclusively, as there is so much surface area that turning the wrist overly through the pass will slow you down and just isn't as effective. Some interest in Turkey with this design and we have a tester set on the way over to France, so if you'd like to try one in Europe and Fonteney will let you into their training session, track down Arnaud and ask him to try one out.
...the Wombat is the one in the middle!