Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sundays just dont come round soon enough

Usually I get one chance a week in the winter to get a surf in - Sunday. Thats partly why I thought that paddle surfing would be right for me. I was growing middle aged man boobs at a rate of knots and was always looking for 'the right surfing conditions'. The effect of this was the conditions were seldom perfect and my man boobs were getting to be.

So for my wifes' sake I got a paddle board (she'll appreciate me more if I'm buff) and I'm on it every Sunday (my paddle board!) - regardless of conditions. I didn't expect to stop surfing - but for the moment I have - this is more physical - more fun - more waves - just more everything. And it's in my wifes' best interest. Result.

So having spent all week cuing up for Sunday - toning down the copius amonts of Saturday night red wine in readiness for an early start - here I am standing at the Bluff (Hayle Rivermouth) thinking 'Thats big' and it was. A few hasty phone calls and we re-arranged to meet up at Carbis Bay to Surf Hawk's. We being Gavin and myself on the standups and Shane, Andru and Red going in off the Rocks at the break.

Nice little paddle round the point and 'bloody hell' there were loads of people already in. 'We are going to be popular' I thought.

Actually there was plenty of room and we paddled towards the rivermouth taking plenty of long empty waves en route. I being greedy was hanging onto the waves like each was going to be my last and then paying the price getting caught inside several times. The waves were chest high with the odd head high set - and so clean. We both had plenty but very soon it dawned on me that Gavin was on fire - every time I looked around he was into another. I would get caught inside - he would be charging down the line. I paddled out to the break - he would be sliding down another clean green wall. You could get a tan off the grin on his face.

Shane was also having a field day - the waves on the inside would ramp up super quick and Shane was taking advantage of them.

Red and Andru were also getting their share but I have to say apart from one very stylish guy on an orange long board I thought we (actually Gavin) had the best of it.

In hindsight it's possible that he only caught one wave - he just stayed on it for the whole session.

I had some very nice - very late take-offs almost paddling into the backdoor before setting up the right. I seem to be too dominant on my right side paddling something I am going to have to address as it sends me left on a right - if that makes sense. I know what I mean.

Today also marked a moment of realisation regarding the Jimmy Lewis - there were times when I just couldn't 'get it round' fast enough. Shane also spotted the the board was becoming a limiting factor. Hell can't complain but at the same time I'm looking forward to trying the Starboard 9'8"

Bring it on.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A weekend of two halves.

Bizarre - this Paddle surf thing can become quite consuming - I have always been 'into' something that takes up my spare time - Surfing - Motorbikes - Mtb's - Fishing - etc. . . etc . . . etc - Perhaps it's because I have a limited span of attention, that gets worse as I get older, but nothing has engaged me at the rate and intensity that this SUP'ing has. Perhaps it's because it takes one of my long term passions and enhances it. Perhaps it's because the initial learning curve is short and then steepens as quickly as you determine. Anyway I initially thought that it would supplement my surfing - it was not until this weekend that I seriously considered the possibility that it might actually replace it.

Shane checked out the forecast for the weekend - the best prospect of any sizeable wave was going to be before work on Saturday morning - in the water at seven. He was up for it - I was a bit reluctant - but ever keen to recruit a sole to the dark side I tried to broker a deal - I'll do the dawny if you ride one of my Stand up Boards on Sunday - Sundays forecast was looking pitifully small even for a longboard. Shane laughed and said that he would rather have a chilli enema and that he was going anyway so I gave in - We met in Gwithian car park the next morning just as it was getting light - I drove there in my wetty to save time - that's a first.

Climbing down the cliff was interesting with 11' of Jimmy's finest and a paddle to contend with but time was pressing on. We got in the water at 7.00am and Shane got out first - it was clean, consistent and shoulder high - overhead (just) on the sets. We did not have much time to waste having to be home showered and back in work by 9.00am so we set about our work. - I always find that the first waves of a session either go well or I completley loose the plot - these went well and Shane's response to my cheesey grin said it all. We have always been competitive with each other and even though his surfing skills are light years in advance of mine we always have a laugh, goading each other on. He said "Don't - alright just don't say a thing".

The session was one of those perfect little interludes that although we did not want it to finish getting out was not too much of a bind as we had made the most of our time. A perfect surf raid that made me feel smug all day.

Saturday evening I text'd Gavin and we arranged a 9.00am start Sunday - I got to Gwithian at 8.30 - it looked soooo small. I went straight in and found myself a little peak that was firing (yeh right - at knee to waist high!!) with both lefts and rights. This was all right - hell it was better than all right it bloody good fun. I paddled up and down between Sheep's Pool and the Rock taking as many waves as I wanted - looking over towards Godrevy I could see that it was bigger - but it was already very busy - I surfed pretty much alone save for three other hand paddlers until Gavin joined us.

Both of us worked the whole break - well away from anybody else, however it was comical how we seemed to attract hand paddlers to whatever peak we were milking. We would then move a hundred yards along the break and again - shortly there they would appear.

'Listen Guys - it's the boards not the waves!!!'

One of them said "That looks fun". - He was right I offered the guy a go but he declined. Had to try. You just had to smile.

Both of us remarked that the day would have been pretty much a write off on hand paddlers. The wave was fat, slow and as the tide built so did the offshore wind holding things up and making entry harder - unless you had a paddle.

I stayed in until I could not paddle any more - three and a half hours - God knows how many waves - If it was only one every four minutes that would be 50 plus and even if the 'caught inside time warp rule applies' and it was only half that number - it was still like shooting fish in a barrel - all in a Summer wetsuit with thermal fleece rash and boots - IN FEBRUARY - how good is that??

So that is how I considered the possibility that I may not ride a hand paddler again - Anyone want to buy a mint Stewart - Colin McPhilipps Pro???

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hard Day!!

Arranged to meet Gavin at Gwithian 9.30 this morning - I got there early. There were lines - big lines. I counted 5 surfers in and I only saw one get a wave - briefly. Gwithian won't hold much more than 8' of swell before closing out - I thought it looked head and a half.. And it was closing out!

We had a re-think and decided to get in half way down the beach - the wave drops off in size the closer to Hayle that you get so we picked up Shane and marched out across the towans. It was still big but there were shoulders - we passed a couple of shortboarders coming back they reckoned they had been in for an hour and a half and had only scored one wave - nice!Undeterred we paddled out.

Gavin and I had been trying out the 10'6 c4 over the last week or so - today we both brought our JL11's - good move. NOT. Shane was on his short board.

I fluked through a lull and managed to get out early - It was glassy, light offshore breeze and BIG. I paddled along the lineup and spotted a likely candidate - turned and slipped into a very nice right - fast as hell - too fast for me to cut back but a great ride using plenty of paddle and all in front of Shane - didn't care at that moment if I didn't get another for the session.

Obviously a result like that comes with a price - mine was high - I'm guessing that the wave I caught was either the first or just before the first of the set - it felt like 20 minutes before I made my way back outside - it was probably only 10. I thought don't be greedy - dont get caught inside again.

Back at the line up with Shane and Gavin it looked as if the swell had jumped up a bit - Gavin was way ouside Shane was lurking around on the inside. Brave I thought. I paddled somewhere between them and turned for another the drop on this one was the first indication that I might be in trouble - it was huge - I managed to land the board and bottom turn on another right - just as I was making myself comfy the entire wave walled up, over head high for as far as I could see down the line - I thought I had got away with it by trying to jump through the curl - the wave knew different and I was planted well and truly with the biggest hold down that I can remember. A real lung buster, didn't think that we ever got those over here. Once again time went into reverse as I was nailed on the inside - how does that happen? I stopped fighting it this time and waited for a lull and made my way back to the guys.

Shane hollered at me something along the lines of 'Dad 2 - offspring nil' - excellent that doesn't happen very often - but I knew it wouldn't be long before he dialled in.

I had a few more non-set waves and paddled over to a rippy section that seemed to hold a shoulder a bit longer due to the extra depth - Gavin was picking them off and Shane seemed to be getting his eye in as well - There was so much water moving through that it was hard to stay in the same area as each other - one wave and you could be over a hundred yards away. Paddling back out after another I was met with Gavin holding the end of his leash. With the swell as it was and the frequent bail outs we all knew it was session over. Shane from the inside had seen Gav take off on what was the wave of the day Shane is prone to understatement but his description was something like 'Loads of paddle - great style' - Gavin was enjoying himself that much he had not seen the beast behind that was about to eat him - result one broken leash.

We all got out within about 10 minutes of each other and during the long walk back to the cars Shane and I reflected on the session - Biggest waves that I had surfed to date on the SUP - can't speak for Gavin but Shane said that the grin on his face on 'that wave' suggested that he had enjoyed himself. I think that Shane was a bit impressed as well - of course he wouldn't say as much, but he did say that he thinks that the SUP thing 'suits my style' . RESULT.

Back at the cars we arranged to to pick up a spare leash and finish the session properly at the Rivermouth - Should be nice and mellow there - right - wrong we spent an hour paddling around behind the heaviest, dumpiest, low tide shore break - manically hard work and only scoring a few short waves. Didn't see many regular surfers catching too much either.

So that was that - another notch on our SUP ladder of experience and if the saying 'If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger' holds true today was very worthwhile day that made us strong!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Inspiration / Stoke / Enthusiasm

Weird this - I have been surfing for years - never particularly well but have always enjoyed my sessions. I taught my son to surf when he was 8 or nine - when he was 11 he started teaching me - he is now 22 - My enthusiasm has blown hot and warm over the years - never cold just other pastimes have taken precedence sometimes - Then tonight I read the Jerry Lopez interview on this site's home page - and what he says felt very familiar - sure there is a mountain of skill difference between us and I would never presume to be considered in remotely the same league as him or the people he mentions - but the reasoning behind can be similar regardless of skill levels - as can the personal sense of achievment and satisfaction.
I always felt like I was just missing something with my regular surfing - never quite reaching my potential despite having some 'epic sessions' (and some monumental crap-outs). I was always looking for that 'magic-board' that would sort it all out. Well now I have found it, except that it's a style not a board. My son thinks I'm nuts - but even he recognises that I am surfing more - way more and that's the point.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A novices view of a C4 Waterman 10.6 Demo

Filthy day today - 30mph plus Southerly winds with a little bit of West in it - Bang offshore but never going to be an easy session. I had arranged to borrow the C4 10'6 Demo board from Tim at the Longboard house and was therefore pretty committed to giving it a bash over the high tide at Hayle rivermouth.

The wind had dropped considerably by 3 pm and although there were quite a few people sizing it up there were not a lot of takers. The Rivermouth is always confused on the inside but out the back it was looking clean and consistent 3-4' ish on the sets.

I was a little nervous that I might not get to my feet at all let alone get through the inside chop. I knee paddled my way to some more settled water and popped to my feet - it was lively but I was standing - first thing I noticed was that the board needed to be paddled to be stable - stationary I fell off with alarming frequency - 'should have brought my JL' I thought - but I was not going back for it. The board reacted to each paddle stroke with a bigger 'turn effect' that my Jimmy Lewis so I was constantly alternating paddle stroke sides. Taking white water on the nose however was a bit of a blast the board seemed to pop up over the wash and providing I kept some forward motion going and left the paddle trail in the water behind me I made reasonable progress to the line up.

Side on to the swell at rest was hard - The slightly narrower width of the C4 would catch a side chop and bury itself and with the resulting loss of balance I was thrown off frequently. I soon realised that by paddling up and down parallel to the line up I was spending more time on the board rather than under it. Great workout.

My first wave was a bit of a peach - a shoulder high left - the Rivermouth does offer up a few lefts although the break is predominently a right. I paddled in thinking 'this is a bit late' stepped back and the board just took off. The pure surf board feel of the C4 was striking - it was fast and loose I could cutback and catch up with the shoulder with ease and it was not until I got to the reform on the inside that I actually used the paddle to get over the hump and start the wave all over again - magic.

I would love to say that I repeated this at will - but I found it hard to paddle-in generally as I was always just that bit too off balance to be able to give those last few decisive strokes on the face of the wave that make the catch. In fact the waves that I did catch always felt a bit too late for comfort the board however just dealt with the drop like a performance longboard.

I was finding that I had to take the waves as a straight hander and then stick in a big bottom turn - trying to take the wave slightly at an angle always seemed to let the wave pass me by. Odd. The angled take off works with the JL but I am probebly going in a bit earlier with more board speed. Whereas with the C4 and my constant 'zig-zagging' paddle approach I was never really up to speed - hence the late takeoffs.

I am sure that this was just first session blues - the Jimmy Lewis is a fantastically stable board and can be slipped into the wave very early. The C4 is much more of a surfboard and would need some adjustment time. It is obviously a performance board (and there are far more performance focused versions than this) and whilst my head told me 'yeh go on you are ready for a shorter board' my actual skill levels brought me up short and wanting.

The other noticeable thing was that I found myself riding the waves that I caught and hardly using the paddle on the wave. The board just felt that surfy. I like getting weight on the padle and I like the feel of bullying the longer board a bit. The C4 does not need bullying. I had in my head at these moments 'Why not just ride a longboard' Traitorous thoughts ehh? But the paddle just seemed to be extra baggage.

I got more tired on this board - it's harder work which is not a bad thing but in the end I was so knackered I gave it up - a shame as the waves were good but I was looking like a nob from the start and did the cause no favours so I dragged myself out with my tail between my legs.

Chatting with Gavin after the session he noted that at first on his JL he would barely use the paddle when on the wave - not the case now. As Gavin said a few more sessions would probebly see thing come good it's just that at the moment I'm not sure that I want to take the next step just yet. I have hardly had the JL for four months and have barely scratched it's potential so for the time being whilst grateful to Tim for the chance to try the C4 I am going to stay with the JL for a bit longer. Gavin however seems ready to be challenged and is making noises about the C4 10'er. Be interesting how he gets on with the 10'6 this week.