Sunday, March 16, 2008

Frustration and Turmoil

Been a while since my last post - almost a month - several reasons really - the last session at Hawks was a blinder and being a greedy bugger I probably stayed just a bit longer than I should, the wind went round and the paddle back to Carbis was Hard actually BLOODY HARD. This took it's toll on my shoulders that were already work sore from the previous week.

It's fair to say that my paddle technique is far from graceful - Neanderthal is probably a better description - harder - faster - more, if you get the picture. Result one painful week of sleepless nights and a grim session the following Sunday at the River mouth when I should have known better. The pain seemed to travel across my back from the right to the left shoulder eventually taking up residence in the deep centre of my shoulder blade. I don't consider myself to be a wooss, I've broken ribs, smashed my collar bone and taken stitches without pain relief (I may have cried like a baby, peed my pants and called out for my mummy) but generally I've taken stuff on the chin. But this was real SORE and smarts. Plus I could not paddle Neanderthal - no strength. Double arse. Apparently a rotator cuff issue (self diagnosis) and I gather not uncommon with Kayakers. (Internet circumstancial evidence). Add all this to a couple of abortive sessions due to 'The Perfect Storm of the year' and here we are - fatter, less paddle fit, aching and desperate to get a decent session in.

So enough self pity wheres the surf stuff? - Still on the trail of a demo session on the Starboard 9'8" I got hold of John Hibbard and loosely arranged for a Sunday session at Gwithian. This saw today's early morning meet overlooking a flooding tide of the most dire onshore slop. I got out of bed early for this North Easterly nightmare. We chatted for a while and I had my first 'in the flesh' look at a 9'8" Extremist. It's soooo small, chubby but cute sort of a Lucy Ewing of boards - am I showing my age here? Anyway all I wanted to do now was ride it!

John introduced me to Steve Carter - nice bloke , who handles the surf side of Sunset Surf cafe at Gwithian and we eventually abandoned the car park and had some most excellent coffee at what is likely to become Sup surf central this summer. We talked and chilled and as the cafe got busier and busier we said our goodbyes and resigned ourselves to a blank day.

A quick trip with Shane to the Longboard House to get another paddle, that was destined to be cut shorter in a bid to prevent over reaching on the high handle grip and hopefully relieve my shoulder issues. Yawn Yawn Yawn, saw me pawing over the C4 9' bat wing 'I wish', the 10' er 'Still wishing' and the 10'6". Tim is convinced that the 10'6 is the board for me. Shane agrees with him and to be fair I know that if I were to persevere with the board it would be great - I just want a a shorter board and 10'6 ain't that much shorter than 11'. It might be thinner and prettier and more surfy but it ain't shorter.

Driving home I had a text from John Hibbard - something along the lines of

' Decided to stay on for a while - Marazion is working at waist high - do you still fancy a bash on the Starboard or are you still whinging like a girl about your poorly arm?' (I might of made the last bit up).

Quick call to Gavin - 'Sort out your Man Flu - the Starboard has landed on your doorstep'

I paddled out to see John spanking a decent knee to waist high clean wave ON HIS OWN. I was a bit rusty and slow off the mark but started to pick a few off - Gavin turned up and immediately got on the case and then we paddled out to a rock outcrop which seemed to be turning the swell up a notch. It was, but it was not easy to get on John had a few but we soon went back to the beach. Gavin sloped off towards Penzance and we could see that he was well into it. I swapped boards with John and 'oh my God' how solid was Lucy Ewing? Very stable no drama and excellent recovery when my balance let me down - it seemed like I was on it for ages before I fell off. Rock solid. The other noticeable trait was how easy it was to weight your back foot and turn before an oncoming wave whilst remaining stable. I was amazed. Paddling did not seem to present any major 'yawing' or 'row' issues. I like this board, all I need now is to catch a wave.

All around me John was picking off waves on my Jimmy - could I get a wave? Could I hell. I struggled and struggled and eventually positioned myself for a late take off (late me - never) and a couple of strokes and - away we went. Surfs nice - stayed upright on the inside and punched my way back to the line up with ease - I am really liking this board. It turns so easily. A few more waves and I'm beginning to feel at home - working the wave face a bit more and generally getting comfy. I want one - it fulfils my criteria - it's small - pretty and I can ride it. Conditions were kind but sometimes you just gotta go with it. When Gavin had a bash he felt that he would like to spend more time on one, even though his first wave on it was a peach. He is definitely getting too much practise. Having said that he did spend more time on the C4 than me and reckoned that it got better and better. I can see that the C4 could possibly be the better surf board BUT I felt instantly at home on the Extremist.

We all swapped back to our own boards and moved down the beach where the peak seemed a bit - well peakier. John very soon started chatting to a longboarder and volunteered the 9'8" up, it was noticeable how quickly John's wave count shrank on a longboard.

As the tide pushed up the wave got fatter and fatter it was obvious that the Stand Ups were getting the Lion's share of the action - Gav and myself both spotted a monster set cranking up in the middle of bay and stroked out for it - turning I shaped to go right Gavin left. Gavin got it spot on and scored what was probably the wave of the day - again. Flushed with success he then feigns sickness and says 'I gotta go before I pass out' and paddles off home. Sort of rubs salt into the wounds.

We surfed on for a while before John makes tracks off - it was getting dark and life must be hard when you surf for a living!! Only kidding John's a genuine sort of bloke as today proved when he gave up his board to us in what was pretty decent if small surf - As the advert says;

' I'm not sure I could do that' !

So there we go - what started as a pretty crappy day ended up really well - Even my shoulder seemed to hold up well , had to concentrate on keeping my top arm straight (advice from Tim) which seemed to have a beneficial effect. Have to ring Tim to get my order in tomorrow. It would be nice to get it from Sunset Surf, Steve is also a decent bloke and they are on my doorstep but I have a prior allegiance to Tim at the Longboard House. hard to explain but there it is and there will be other boards. Good to know though that there are so many decent folk out there willing to put themselves out.

So many thanks to John and Steve for letting me test their board, buying me coffee, saying nice things about my Uli and listening to my drivel, Tim for being Tim and medical advice above and beyond the call, Gavin for STEALING ALL THE BEST WAVES and not talking about it like I do, and most of all the love and support of my wife and family for just being there, without whom none of this would be possible. Sniff Sniff.

If you do read this and take anything from it Please leave a comment - it makes me feel wanted and worthwhile in a fractionally sad sort of way.

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