Sunday, December 20, 2009
Coinciding with the weekend of our works Christmas do, I sort of increased my ratio of rest days to work out days and it was going so well. Having said that it's not been a total loss, I have got shot of the best part of half a stone of lard (7lbs) and dropped a few waist sizes in my jeans PLUS I am now 13 stone something instead of 14 stone something. So that's nice. With the festivities almost upon us it's harder to find the time to disappear for an hour or so, not too concerned as on the 6th January we are on a plane and off to Costa Rica for a few weeks. Board shorts, offshore breezes, and a consistent waist to head high Nosara surf within stumbling distance of my bed. Sorry chaps but I am going to indulge myself here for a moment or two and bask in the glow of some of last years snaps just to get me in the swing of things.
NORTH END OF PLAYA GUOINES
OLIVE RIDLEY TURTLE RETURNING TO THE SEA AT OSTIONAL
LOOKING NORTH FROM NOSARA RIVERMOUTH OVER THE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY TOWARDS OSTIONAL - DOZENS OF EMPTY UNRIDDEN PEAKS
It's going to be an interesting trip this time as the Steamroller is staying at home and the ULI Lopez is coming with us. Hopefully this should give me a bit more scope to 'work' the walls a little more, the Steamroller was so much fun but with my limited ability it was more 'cruising' than 'bruising' last year. There is a good chance that we are going to hook up with some friends while we are out there as well and I might even take the ULI 7'8" MiniMal that has been lurking in my board room.
So with the old year coming to a close and plenty to look forward to in January I thought that I would take stock of the boards that I have had and ridden this year.
1. My Naish 9'3" this has been my first-choice board all year. Initially it was a bit of a clash between my ability (or lack of it) and the board's potential (unlimited). Gradually I became more comfortable and even though there are still choppy sessions when I fall more than I should the board delivers so much it's hard to leave it at home. In fact I have just given the board to Whippet to tidy up as it has collected a few minor rail dings over the past 12 months but given the total assing that it's had in this time it's been fantastic top notch build. I will probably rest it up when it comes back from Whip and try to spend some time with my other boards.
2. The Bonga Perkins 9'6" - This is the board that I want to ride more of in the new year. Everytime I take this board out I discover something else that I like about it. The teardrop shape with the fat forward section and super slim pulled in rear makes it very stable in chop but offers a loose drivey tail that I have not really had the opportunity to explore as I always default to the Naish. The stepped rails are another thing that sort of make sense in theory but I can't say that I have noticed their effect in practise (YET)! The Bonga has good glide and cuts through, up and over the white water well, and best of all - Its not dear. In fact it's almost half the price of some boards and the build quality seems cock on. It's not perfect the balance point of the recessed carry handle is just out which is so annoying especially when I surf Petes' as it's a bit of a trog to get there. Sooo I think I'll get Whippet to stick a couple of leash plugs in the deck and use the paddle to carry it, makes life so much easier.
3. The Nah Skwell 7'8" - This board has been a total revelation this year. There is just no way that I could have guessed that it would be possible for me to ride a board under 9' and this baby is under 8'. It's not mega wide either - there is a rash of super wide 30" - 34" short boards on the way which are going to bust open the concept of SUP's being huge and unmanageable, however they are wide and the Nah Skwell is still under 30". It seems to excel in smaller waves and makes it possible to eke out the most from the least. It does ride very flat on the wave face, I'm guessing like a conventional short board fish, but I really can't say for sure as I have never ridden any standard surfboard as short as this. It's not a board to crank up on it's rails, by me anyway but its fun, very convenient and it's only 7'8" fantastic.
So that's about it for this year, can't see too many more blog's before Christmas although with a bit of luck we should get some sessions in over the holiday so who knows, and then it's full tilt into 2010. My plans for the new year, spread the load and ride more boards, MMMnnnn Mctavish 9' due in February, eat less and take more pictures and bizarrely, maybe just maybe, ride some longer boards, downwind sort of style, might have to get some advice there but the rowing has got me thinking . . . . Watch this space.
Many thanks to all who have taken the time to read this stuff, and huge thanks to all those who have left a reply.
Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a healthy and peaceful new year.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Swell 17ft @ 13secs
Got to the beach just after 8:00am to be greeted with a big, fat high tide and dozens of birds working the surf really close in. It looked like they were taking sand eel, whatever it was there was loads of it and they were filling their boots for winter, almost wanted to go back and get a rod.
Text from Shane said
'It's a bit full but it's going to crank as it drops back, and there is still some parking'
By the time I got there there was just one space left, I slipped in and got changed immediately. The word was out and cars were turning up left right and centre. We trogged off down the path and launched ourselves off the rock's at the cliff base into a decent, clean, chest to head high break.
The wave here gets a bit of backwash from the cliffs where we get in creating a lumpy left hand wedge. The short boarders love it and for a place that only really works when everything else is pretty much maxed out it's got a bunch of punch. I left Shane to get on with it and paddled outside past the half dozen or so guys that had made it in earlier than us. I took up my station way to the right of the last guy where there were a few more peaks and got down to it.
The further from the corner the more exposed to the wind you are, but it had to be better than battling with the pack on the first peak especially as there was a steady drip drip drip of more surfers coming down the path, thankfully they must have been cold as they all decided to 'huddle up' in the corner. I'm always amazed at how much water moves through here , it's almost as if the sea was convulsing, it was very clean just so strange.
Three weeks off the board coupled with the rising wind conspired to make things a little difficult for me. I caught plenty of waves but can't say that I made that good a show of it. getting caught inside was fun as well, a lot of power for such a small wave, straight out of deep water I suppose. Having said that I noticed that a few of the surfers were struggling as well so it's all relative I suppose. The wind was cross off and again I found that holding my mark with the nose into the wind made it more difficult to turn and catch as the wind would get under the nose rocker of the Naish making me concentrate more on staying on the board and less on paddling in. Turning away from the wind resulted in easier footwork and an easier catch. Trouble with this was I was being blown further down the beach, away from the lee and into harder conditions. I suppose I fell about a dozen times in the session, not too bad in hindsight.
I had some reasonable if not spectacular lefts and rights and decided to call it a day after my last right which was a decent little cover up, always end on a good one if possible. By the time I got out there must have been 30 people in what used to be a 'secret spot', including a group of three or four longboarders who again plumped for cuddling up on the inside. Not sure that they would have been too popular.
Back to the car changed up and off by 11.00 which made me realise how easy getting my new SNUGG winter suit on and off was. It was funny seeing guys struggling with their 5mm steamers, mine's 3mm and warm as toast, I have used it before but this was the first time when the conditions have really warranted it and it was the first time for the year in boots. MMnnn have to work on that one I think, for some reason I have been loosing the sensation in my toes the last couple of trips better today with boots, getting old I suppose things are bound to start falling off sooner or later.
Talking of which, better keep this short and sweet as I can hear the groans already, latest check post surf this morning 13 stone 10lbs OOhh Yeaahh. That's 192lbs ok ok I know its weighing my lowest low but hell that aint bad going. 4 weeks 190,000 meters to date (apparently 60,000 meters burns 1lb so the diet must be good as well) and I feel great. Two weeks to go and I can PIG OUT, silly thing is I don't want to now.
Follow the link for the last rowing session training chart.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Most of the places I stand a chance of getting in need half tide up to be in the lee. Winter waves eh, love em and hate them. Full of good intentions on Sunday even got a text from Gav which made me get down to Penzance, sure enough a great big fat wave pushing through in a place where it's usually calm as. Loads of longboarders and still very windy. I'm just making up excuses now but in any event I passed. Go on you - one more Kite Surfing comment - I dare you !!!
Anyway I made up for it in a small if not insignificant way by beasting the Rower in the bedroom. I'm writing this as I have just finished my third week. Five sessions a week and to date I have pulled myself stupid to the tune of 140,000 metres, and if I'm honest I'm actually enjoying it. How sad is this? My best 2000m split to date is 7minutes 23secs as part of a 5000m - 4000m - 3000m 2000m interval session. Should have finished with a 1000m split as well but was toast.
I'm rubbish at the long easy sessions, my head just is not in it, too easy and I get bored too hard and I end up avoiding the pain, so I don't do those, instead I end up doing various intervals that give me a session total of around 10,000 - 12,000 metres and a time of around 40 minutes. All this has resulted in me being able to see bits of my body that have not been visible for years. For instance I've discovered a few ribs and moving further South . . . . .
some hip bones. Still looking for that jaw though.
The end of the second week saw me loosing a bit of motivation as having dropped from 14stone 4lbs to 14 stone 1lb in the first week I sort of stuck there. This week has seen the scales tip in at a low of 13 stone 12lbs (post exercise). This is the first time I have been 13 something since primary school, well almost. Still three weeks to go, could 13 and a half be possible? I'm so chuffed. It's going to make riding that 9'0 Mctavish a doddle. Well easier anyway. God I fancy a pasty.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
The tide was half way up and there were a couple of longboarders out but looking on from the cliff the we could see that they were having fairly long waits for anything half rideable. It would have been fun on a SUP but anything less would be beyond dull, and probably cold. I had a chat with one of the longboarders as he climb the path to get out. He looked liked he was getting the best of it but where he was the wind was strongest. Turns out he has a couple of Stand Ups as well, a Laird and a Starboard Whopper I think he said. Anyway we watched it for a while, contemplated going fishing instead and then decided to hang on until after lunch when the tide pushes up under the Dunes a bit more and try to get in at mid beach.
2.00pm and something must be happening, what used to be a quiet 'in the know' access spot was busy with cars all with boards on or board bags in. Shane had met up with Dan and Nick both shortboarders and we went in mob handed. There was quite a few in but still plenty of space, we found our slot and the lads got down to business. The wind was still between 16 and 20mph and I was struggling a bit to stay on the board, the biggest problem was turning away from the wave. The wind would get under the nose, the board would stall as I was ready to paddle in. It was pretty frustrating for twenty minutes or so until I found my groove and began to take some waves. Slowly I picked up my game but not before I heard howls of
'Next Time Try doing a TURN' shouted at me by Shane and the guys as I paddled back out.
Dan then proceeded to call the sets for me, Jeez please no more.
'Outside Steve' and 'Here comes a big one'.
They might not be very old but they are all masters at pisstaking. We had a blast and most of the line up was in stitches especially when Dan had a pop on my Naish. Give him credit, he was up and paddling about instantly and just managed a small inside wave. Fair play. Nice touch when he handed the board back saying 'How do you keep them in a straight line?' I had to think about that. 'J strokes pulling towards the nose before back along the rail'. I said, Jeez I'd forgotten how much I used to think about that sort of stuff.
Wave of the day for me was a lovely laid back, slashy cutback. I have been reading through Casso's new Australian Paddle Surfer magazine and have made it a mission to keep the paddle behind me whilst cutting back to the curl like the technique shows in issue 1. Sad eh? Well it sort of worked, well enough for the guys to hoot and Shane to clap me back out. Chuffed with that, just have to remember how I did it.
We stayed in until just before dark. The wind dropped throughout the session and we had moments of glass. Fantastic. As warm as I was in my summer Snugg SUSpec, my toes were beginning to feel the cold. Not really sure whats going on down there but one of them keeps going white. I don't want to wear boots, not yet.
One thing I noticed, as much rowing as I have been doing, and I reckon it's a lot, nothing beats my body up like a decent surf session. I ache for days afterwards, a good worked ache not a milky eyed, rheumatic, help needed in the bathroom ache. In comparison the rowing has hardly been an issue. So what about the rowing:
' Hi my names Steve and I eat too much'.
Starting weight 14 stone 4lbs
1st week Rowing Log
So a loss of 3 lbs in my first week. Does not really seem enough for the work involved but I suppose there must be a bit of muscle building going on as well, pretty chuffed though and actually enjoying it at the moment and almost keeping to what I think is a fairly ambitious plan.
Friday, November 13, 2009
The other incentive was my general fitness. I want to be able to do what I do for longer and weather the beatings better. I mean I'm 48 next month and with the darker evenings and the distinct possibility that too often the weather on Sundays is not always going to be conducive to surfing, the possibility of winter vegetation, expanding waistline and big smiles through several chins is looming fast on my horizon. When I started paddle surfing I was almost 15stone /210lbs/ 95.5kgs. Thankfully a lot of that has come off but I now seem to have reached a status quo.
The big question then is what indoor training method would be closest to and most beneficial for Stand Up Paddle surfing?
Easy. Which bits hurt the most after a decent couple of sessions?
Calves,thighs, back, shoulders, arms. Has to be some form of rowing machine and as it happens I have a Concept 2 lying about neglected. Perfect. And the best thing is that it's going to give me the same callouses on my hands that paddle surfing gives me . Double Bonus. So the next thing is to set it up in Kath's bedroom (she has sort of moved out) dig out my MP3 player and decide on what might be a sustainable, easy to follow program that should give me some weight loss, improve tone and hopefully help with stamina and strength.
In the past most of my 'Training schedules' have followed the same pattern. This sort of thing.
1 . . 2 . . 3 . . GO! GO Hard!! . . . . GO HARDER !!!! . . . BLOW UP
and collapse in a heaving, dripping mess of hairy sweat soaked salty flesh at the back door, convinced that I've done myself a power of good. I would then get bored after following the same routine for three days having pulled muscles, got sore feet, knackered my back, ripped my stomach muscles, suffered random bleeding from tear ducts, ears and most other orifices and had to endure the ignomany of walking down the stairs backwards in the mornings resulting in me not being assed about anything anymore and giving it all up until the next time.
But this time is different - because I'm going to go after a RAT, (Reasonably Attainable Target) and (and this is the killer) post my progress on my blog. How stupid is that? Which sort of got me thinking 'Iwander if anyone else fancies doing the same?' Sort of a cheapskate, cyber weightwatcher's for out of condition over the hill paddle surfers. Think of the shame of not making weekly progress. It could work, message or mail me if you fancy a bash, who knows where it might lead other than total public humiliation in the eyes of the entire paddle surfing community. Fantastic - this has to be even better than riding blow up surfboards for a hobby.
Anyway - the plan: Find and download from the web a 6 week weight loss plan that is easy to follow and does not involve buying copius amounts of bizarre own brand protein shakes containing some foreign gentlemans special relish. Eat more salad than shite for lunch and dinner. Stay off the beer and wine except for Saturday night when the gloves come off and surf on Sundays as much as possible.
Goals - to loose half a stone / 7lbs / 3kgs / from my current 'fighting weight' which sort of fluctuates almost daily between 14 stone 4lbs / 200lbs / 90kgs and my alarm bells weight of 14 stone 7 lbs / 203lbs / 92kgs.
Basically I just want to see 13 stone something on the scales and maintain it. Not as easy as it sounds as I think I was born at just under 13 stone and the resulting stitches still give my mum considerable jip.
My plan is based on a % of my theoretical maximum heartrate. 220 - my age 48 = 172. I know it's a crap measure but I just don't fancy doing a maximal test at the moment as I figure it might be quite nice to actually survive until the end of the six weeks without vomiting or soiling myself.
All sessions start and finish with an 8 minute warm up /warm down at 64% (110bpm) of maximum heart rate.
For the last minute of the first 8 minutes warm up the heart rate is brought up to the training interval level.
Week 1 session 1
Warm up - 2 x 15minute intervals @ 75% of max(130bpm) 2min rest between - warm down
Week 1 session 2
Warm up - 3 x 5minute intervals @ 81% 0f max (140BPM) 1 min rest between - warm down
Week 1 session 3
Warm up - 4 x 4minute intervals @ 90% of max ( 154BPM) 1 min rest between - warm down
Week 1 session 4
Warm up - 2 x 15minute intervals @ 75% of max( 130BPM) 2 min rest between - warm down
Week1 session 5
Warm up - 3 x 5minute intervals @ 81% of max(140BPM) 1 min rest between - warm down.
Each session is roughly 30 odd minutes and has a mix of longer, lower level sessions progressing through to shorter more intensive sessions as the week goes on. Following weeks see the sessions build in duration and intensity but never both at the same time culminating in week 6 with sessions about an hour long. I fully expect to be totally bored with it by then. So expect to see me advertising the Concept 2 on www.SUPGlobal.com
So thats it, this is what I'm doing and I'll post my progress or lack of it once a week along with my next weeks program, and with a bit of luck I should end up with some really convincing paddle callouses.
If you fancy a go feel free to use the plan, message me your results and I can shame or fame you along side me. Please satisfy yourself that you are not in danger of a stroke or a coronary and if you think you might be, seek proper advice or at least try to film it with your Go Pro.
I am not a coach and this is just a hamfisted plan for me to follow and anyone else to use at their own discretion. I would guess that any stepper / rower / climber /ski trainer would give you a similar value workout if not the callouses.
Good luck - Steve.
Currently BMI = 29
chins to spare but no jaw line to speak of.
14 stone 4lbs / 200lbs / 90.9 kgs
P.S. obviously I'm going to cheat having already completed my first week, so you are already a week behind. Bona fide' gym bandits and anyone with a six pack need not apply.
As far as the surfing is concerned, it looks like the storm from Hell is about to hit us tomorrow with just a slim chance of getting in on Sunday afternoon somewhere very sheltered.
Friday, November 6, 2009
Wednesday morning and I stuck to routine, up brekfast and bike it down to the break only to be faced with head and a half plus of bedlam perfection. Clean, offshore, sunny and lines racking up as far as I could see. No-one out. Bollox! Just knowing someone else is there sometimes is all I need. It was pushing up towards high tide and still the beach would not hold the swell. Double bollox!! I had left my Storm rider guide at home and I needed a wooss out wave.
Meanwhile back at the Van : (Tonto, disguised as a bucket was feeling a little pale)
'Charms, how do you fancy driving into St. Giles and sitting on the beach reading for a while? We can get our salad in then'.
(All our holidays seem to rotate around food. Where, when, what etc? Last time in St. Giles we had a fantastic salad Nicoise at a cafe' opposite the car park looking across the river towards the slipway).
ST GILES HARBOUR SIDE
It was a plan, stacked heavily in my favour, but a plan. We loaded up an drove to St. Giles, parking up at the roadside near to the beach access just shy of the Southern end of the promenade. Small world for such a big country France. I reckon that I parked in exactly the same spot that we parked in five years earlier when we took our first lads trip. Bizarrely I could not remember what the town was then, it just felt familiar and came flooding back as I walked to the beach. There was a very long sea defence wall with built in seating jobbies backed by shops and hotels. With such easy access it was reasonably busy but the sheer size of the beach ensured that there was loads of room and again plenty of peaks. I had a decent couple of hours here on the Nah Skwell. The wave here was a little mellower and the paddle out was do-able first time. It was still a bind getting caught inside and my timing had to be good not to get caught under the lip paddling out, but at least I was not in fear of my life. The weather was fantastic and the sun was behind me and the skatey little Nah Skwell was on song. 'Did you get any pics?' I asked Charmaine after taking my last wave just a bit too far inside to make the paddle out beating worthwhile one more time. She flashed me her 'dont push it pal' look. So I didn't.
Got to admit I'm not be too keen shopping with Charm's and probably would not sit around taking pics if she asked me, and that's pretty much all the ladies do you know, shopping, decorating perfectly fine rooms, making themselves gorgeous for us, questioning valid road signs whilst driving. (sit back, count to ten and . . . . ) You know I don't mean it I'm sure that there are some ladies that hate decorating.
The salad was every bit as good as we remembered it. So fantastically decadent sitting outside at the harbourside in late October soaking up 21'c of sunshine, wine rocket, anchovies and French cafe' atmosphere watching people that ooze style without even trying. God I love France.
Later that afternoon I checked out our beach again. The tide had dropped back and although still pretty big it looked like the low tide banks were shaping up a few shoulders. Plenty of surfers out. Charmaine wanted to read her book and I thought hell let's go. Possibly one of my best sessions of the trip. Plenty of decent waves, nothing too 'slashy' but again loads of variety including a very satisfying, very long, tucked tight under the lip backhand and a seemingly endless ride that had me fixed on (near don't exaggerate) the nose, with the Naish set high on the wave and me just shimmying my hips to alter the trim and accelerate or slow the board. Felt so good. This place really rocks from mid to low tide.
I Got back to the van where Charmaine said a chap called Dan stopped by to say hello. She said that he introduced himself and told her that he reads the blog. I suppose he must have recognised the van. Be nice to catch up with him, maybe have a wave. Small world.
Loosely arranged a dawn(ish) session with Dan who assured me that the swell was dropping off a bit over the next couple of days. Can't say I'm too sorry about that. Got to the beach about 7:30 and it looked like Dan's forecast was spot on. Clean, offshore and chest to just overhead on the sets. As always it took me a little while to crank it up but soon it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Lefts, rights, cock ups the lot. This was why I like coming here, always a decent variety of waves and often walling up offering long rides peeling both ways.
There were a couple of other chaps out on stand ups who seemed to be enjoying themselves, I said hello to one but to be fair the rides were so long and the beach so big you could easily loose hundreds of surfers there so basically it was a nod and a smile, catch a wave and we were miles apart.
Back to the van for a shower, a cup of tea and brekfast consisting of much needed dietary fibre. I wont go into details!
11:00 on the bikes and back onto the piste cycleable. This time we headed South back through the Olonne forest stopping off to check out Sauveterre. This break is a legendary Stormrider venue and it was fair to say that she was showing off a bit when we got there.
SAUVETERRE BREAKING WELL OFF
The cycling is predominantly traffic free and pretty much flat. Personally I would say head for St. Gilles if you have 5-6 year olds or younger. Whilst not hilly, the Southern route to Les Sables is a little more undulating and has a few more traffic intersections. Both ways are very scenic and it's easy to rack up the miles, the routes are well waymarked although we did get lost a bit in Ollone. Doh!. All up we did thirty miles or so and had a great afternoon in 26 - 28°c heat.
Back home we knocked up a quick homemade salad (more fibre) and I was back out the front to soak up the last of the afternoon sun and hijack some more of this amazing swell. The water is so warm I was tempted to go in with boardies and a rash vest but instead wore one of Malcolm's Snuugg Tube Suits.
MELLOW EVENING SHORTIE SESSION
What a piece of kit that is. Short bottoms, body with wifebeater arms, only one of which has a double velcro fastener over one shoulder. Fantastic, I've been so hot in the water this week in my SNUGG SUSpect, this worn over a short sleeve rashie was perfect. Snugg offer so much stuff that is and could be Sup specific and the beauty is that they make it, so they can totally tailor it to you, it's so worth given them a call. Even Shane has succumbed to the custom suit option. Malcolm said when he measured him up, 'You seem to be made up of all sort's of different bits.' Poor kid did not really stand a chance.
Anyway, the wave had dropped a little further and I had a great time. It did not start off too well though as my first wave involved dropping in on a French lad. My fault entirely, there was a bowl like take off section and I was on the outside of it. I just did not see him inside me. He rightly called me off, which I did and as he passed me paddling back out I did my best to apologise profusely. He shrugged, I think he was ok about it.
SHAME THE MOST SPRAY I SEND UP COMES FROM MY PADDLE
The French wave claiming system seems to comprise of everybody paddling for everywave and the guy who catches it who is the deepest has the wave with everyone else pulling off. Anyway, no harm done, and I had a belter of a session.
Tomorrow is our last full day here, what a fantastic spot, decent waves close to the beach, clean site, kids play area, very good cycling. I'm sure that there must be loads of other great spots in France that can offer all this, if you read this stuff and know of one please let me know, but until then Les Dunes does it all for me.
Caught up with Dan again this morning. He was longboarding it at the Northern end of the beach. We chatted and surfed for a while before he packed in having been in since dawn.
NAH SKWELL 7'8" IN MORNING GLASS
I started the session on the Nah Skwell, the wave was a rolling lazy chest high and although I kicked of with a couple of decent skatey rides I again thought that a bit more paddle speed was in order to get the best from the session. I swapped boards but was equally crap on the Naish. I hate to admit it but I may have been suffering from a bout of paddle fatigue. Eight fairly hard sessions to date one last one to follow, thirtyish miles of albeit easy cycling, and twisting the neck off countless bottles of '33 EXPORT' had taken their toll. I was going to need a holiday to get over this.
Out at 9:30, back for brekfast and really looking forward to a mellow evening session. Not quite sure where Dan was getting his forecast info from but it was spot on pretty much to the hour. The latest was for the swell to build again, the wind going onshore and with foul weather coming in for Sunday.
Dan gave me the web address of the French site that he had been using for the forecasts. 'Seems only fair to pass it on' He said. So here it is.
We checked the top gate end of the beach that evening, and as predicted the wind had just gone onshore, the swell had also jumped back up to the size that it was early in the week. I had had a great trip and did not want to spoil it now. It was time to pack the boards up for the Saturday drive back to Roscoff.
So that's it - another French raid over and all I want to do now is keep some of my hard won paddle tone until January. Well that and sleep, I'm bloody knackered, good knackered but knackered all the same.
Anyone who actually reads this and who wants a heads up for the campsite etc. please feel free to message me. It's through hooking up with people like Dan who has now been twice to the site as a result of reading the blog and people who leave comments that make these things work. If you read it, say so. It costs nothing and lets me know that this stuff gets read. I bet the same thing applies to everyone that writes a blog.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Got the ferry Saturday night, with the swell forecast that we had been watching all week there was a better than fair chance that it might be a bouncy crossing. So the obvious thing would be to settle down for an early and get a decent nights sleep. Straight into the bar then to get stuck into some vin rouge and Guinness. This was the first time on the new Plymouth to Roscoff boat, The Amorique, and she is a beauty. . The old bus never had enough decent seats and would rattle, shudder, bang and creak along all night bearing scant regard to the sea conditions. Not sure if it was down to the boat or the particular swell conditions but this one was a bit 'cork screwy'.
Lots of green faces at breakfast and Henry's wet and dry cousin was out on regular duty. Still rocking as I write this and I’ve been off the boat for 9 hours. Anyway we got into the campsite at Les Dunes at 3:15; we chose the slower coastal route via Quimper and St Nazaire eventually getting into familiar ground where we painfully shut down our female version of HAL9000, (what are you doing Dave¿) as we drove past La Sausaire reef. There was a Solid swell showing with a crazy amount of random peaks. Looking across to 'our' beach all I could see was white water. Last time I surfed here with the guys it was pretty solid. This was the same if not bigger. 'Could be interesting'. I thought ,surfing chunky waves with a few mates is one thing, paddling out on my todd in this might well be character building. Booking in to the site we checked out the accommodation. It was basic but clean and when you take into account that it was not that much more than camping it seemed good value. We unpacked and sorted ourselves out before jumping on the bikes and cycling off to check out the surf, as if we needed to, it was all that we could hear on the site, even in the mobil home it drowned out the fairly impressive farmyard noises that our fridge was making. Ghosts of pate' past? Who knows? What I can say was that the surf provided the soundtrack to the entire trip. The beach access was very close and having negotiated the numerically coded gate we were soon at the edge of the dunes watching a solid head high set come piling through. Nice.
LOOKING GOOD - LINES TO THE HORIZON - MELLOW ??
Except that a hundred yards or more behind the darkening lines starting to focus their energy were revealing the actual well overhead first wave of a seven wave set each one just a bit bigger and a bit scarier than before. The waves were not full on close outs just huge rolling walls of full fat Atlantic juice.
BETTER PERSPECTIVE WITH THESE TWO - CHECK THE LONGBOARDER OUT - DOUBLE CLICK THE PICS
Charmaine thought it looked pretty. 'Going in?' she asked 'course' I said as casually as I could given that my brain had just passed the evacuate signal to my colon. Well jeez you can't look bad in front of your lady can you? And it was the reason that we came here for.!! So back to the van change up and in. The paddle out was challenging, about five tables of white water to negotiate, I managed the first three on my feet. Looking good Steve nearly there don't cock it up now. Boooom. I was off and for the next hour or so (well it felt like it but actually it was probably only 5 or10 minutes I sloshed about barely holding my position. Off the board, on the board, off the board. . . Etc. as soon as I saw the lull I was onto my knees and short paddling like buggery. I was knackered already, but I was out. I had already decided that should I get caught inside it would be game over for the day so I paddled well behind the break even so I did not feel that I could look to the beach for fear of getting caught by a rogue set. It was pretty chunky, with so much water moving in, out and across the beach. My first wave was the second or third of a set. I tried to take it as early as I could and lucked into a fast moving left shoulder. I held on for a short ride and popped out early on my feet and paddled for the horizon. 'Ok one in the bag, out of breath but alive, result'
PLENTY OF PEAKS TO CHOOSE FROM
I had a few more, nothing special just decent size with plenty of punch. I fell off one or two and the thought crossed my mind that I might be better off on a longer board; the Naish was being bumped about that much whilst traveling down the faces. I stayed in for about an hour but I was toast partly from the trip but mainly from the paddle out beatings. I caught a long right to the beach getting out a couple of hundred yards from where I went in. 'You looked like you were struggling a bit' Charmaine said as she met me at the path. 'Mnnn' I mmnnnd. 'The short boarders seemed to be having a few good ones'. I explained that they were in first and had the pick of the peaks. Tomorrow’s going to be fun. Decent meal at Cafe Sol et Luna and back to the van. I was totally out of it and I crashed at nine. It was quite cold through the night and all I could hear every time I woke was raging, pounding surf. It did remind me however to make a note to bring a thicker duvet or sleeping bags if we came this late again. The days might be warm but the nights were bloody cold.
Next morning I was not the eager beaver that I usually am on holiday. I hung around the van fiddling and fannying about before jumping on my bike to check out the waves. It was very misty, foggy even, all I could see was two lines of white water appearing from the gloom. The constant freight train roar told me that there were more unseen waves out of sight. I have to admit I was pretty spooked. So I abandoned any thought of an early morning session and bimbled back.
9:00 AM - SWELL BUILDING - BOTTLE FAILING - CAR PARK EMPTY
'Didn't think that you'd get in this morning' Charmaine said. How do they know all these things about us? I called her bluff. 'I was shit scared' I said. She smiled, she knew. We jumped onto the bikes and cycled along the 13km or so along the off-road cycleway into St Giles. There are hundreds of kilometers of cycle paths both along the coast and towards the interior.
All well way marked and easy going, a far cry from what I jibbed out of earlier. Later that afternoon the sun burnt off the fog and the beach came alive. I could see a dozen or so out further down the beach at the far end but no one where I was. I paddled out having stood and watched for a while. The were no permanent channels but between the two access paths seemed to be a spell of rippy fast moving water that seemed to be an obvious entry point. It was, I knee paddled through the rip and made it to the line up easily. It was only now that I was out that I could see the half dozen or so short boarders that were hidden from view in the turbulence. Paddling away and out a bit from them I took up station and waited. It was not a long wait.
PADDLING OUT INTO A WARM OCTOBER EVENING
What followed was an endless succession of rights, lefts, cutbacks, and under the lip rides. I felt good. I did not feel scared (I didn't honest) exhilarated, pumped and knackered maybe but my previous apprehension had faded with the fog. I think that I have said this before but for me there seems to be a key to unlock each successful session find the key and I’m sorted. These waves had their key. As high as they faced up simply paddling in front of them did not automatically result in a catch, I had to paddle down the face with the lip just feathering otherwise the wave would simply pass me by. It felt wrong almost suicidal but the nature of this break meant that the shoulders were long and workable. Back home I would be paddling into closeouts. Here you either went under the lip and pull round to the shoulders or you didn't go. The prone surfers were also suffering a few abortive catch's. I got hooted at by a French lad on a short board who beckoned me over. 'Bonjour ' I said with a big smug smile and a lousy accent. 'Bonjour ' he said. 'Le wav c'est bon' I said trying to organize my best nasally, throaty French. 'Oui c'est tres bon' he said with a smile. I paddled off happy that I had spread a little bit of SUP ‘Entente-cordiale'. I have to admit that I stretch my Franglais every trip with the same conversation. In my usual fashion all the things that I wanted to work on technique wise went straight out of the window as I made a complete pig of myself. I took my last big right all the way into the beach and stepped off the Naish onto the sand pleased that I had faced down a few personal gremlins. Shane would have laughed at me and called me 'his gay dad' but I was stoked. Standing back on the beach where there used to be a lifeguard hut I looked back out at the break across dozens of families soaking up the last of the late October afternoon sun's heat, all blissfully unaware of the dramas unfolding in front of each wave just a few hundred yards away..
Very humbling today, revved with my performance yesterday I thought today was going to be a doddle. Checked out the wave on the bike first thing, the tide was high and the wind was offshore. Huge clean lines striding in from as far as I could see, perfection!!!? Changed up and in the water inside of ten minutes, I was keen. Twenty minutes later the distinct possibility of a blank was was racing through my mind, along with another major rinsing. Getting caught inside was only the half of it. Three or four times I thought 'That’s it, I’m out', before another huge clean up set from way outside dumped it's load all over me. 'FOR F**KS SAKE' I shouted as the last wave of the last set knocked me off my knees. As if someone had heard me the path to the outside went flat, I needed no second invitation. Onto my feet and paddling like I was fitting I found my self in the safe haven of green water unstained by speckled foam. My heart was pounding my arms were limp and my balance was shot but I was out. Now what? I had expected to be half way down the beach such was the nature of the beatings that I had taken; in fact I had made it out pretty much in line with my flip-flops sitting safely at the top of the beach. Not that I could see them or anything else on the beach for that matter, I was miles out!!! Bugger. I told myself to catch my breath and paddled up and down behind the break for a while, trying to gauge where the peak was and where the shoulders were. Hah! I was kidding myself. From the outside I could tell nothing. Worse I could see no one else out. Paddling in a bit made me feel super vulnerable to the huge dark faces that seemed intent on finishing their thousand mile journey on my head. Tentatively I tried paddling for a few. Not a chance. Each failed attempt at re-entry was followed by a manic panic to turn and flail towards the deep water sanctuary of the horizon. The gentle offshore breeze seemed to be accelerated a hundred fold up the wave face. I just could not get into them. My priorities were beginning to shift from 'how am I going to catch one of these buggers' to 'How the hell am I going to get in without getting proper bum raped' and 'Will my dental records be enough to id me'. I'd asked Charmaine to come down and take some pics. That'll be nice I thought. I paddled for the second wave from the next set, missed, stay cool, stay here, paddle from deeper, next wave, dig in gasping, missed, bugger - shit or bust now the next wave was rearing up behind me. Stop paddling, stop paddling, don’t get deeper just take it steep and hope it does not fold. The foothills of the wave lifted the tail of the Naish and I dug in in and BAM! It felt like an Apollo second stage kicked in. I crouched as the board accelerated from pretty much zero to Mach 5 in a split second. STILL GREEN STILL GREEN STILL GREEN. I hung on to ride the right to the inside painting a pretty white paddle trail down the green face. The wave felt huge the photos say 'what's all the fuss about?' I was just happy to walk up the beach with a board that did not need a Pope Bisect sticker.
LOOK'S NICE AND EASY NOW
SAME WAVE - TUCKED IN, HOLDING ON AND PAINTING PADDLE LINES
OUT-RUNNING THE FOAM BALL - JUST!!
NOW WANDERING WHAT ALL THE FUSS WAS ABOUT
MORE OF THE SAME THREATENING OUTSIDE - DOUBLE CLICK FOR FULL VIEWS
'Nice wave' Charmaine said, ' I just got here! I was going to take some pics. I got some of that last one though.' Bear with me as it's the sequence that's needed to actually give some perspective. This was beginning to worry me a bit now. Big waves are ok but you have to get out to get them. Plus the majority of these buggers were going no-where. It's like - you get battered trying to get out, finally make it and all you have are monstrous clean up sets to work with. The alternative is to hang around for the non too small inside waves and risk racing out again as the sets comes in. Thats the joy of beach breaks I suppose. One thing I did learn however was that it pays me for me to stay on my feet as much as possible when paddling out. I have been getting lazy recently and knee paddling through the wash, which is fine up to 2-3' but anything bigger and I'm better off attacking it on my feet. The shift / balance control is better than simply leaning back when on my knees. Plus the wider stance and sea-saw shift in weight from my back foot to my fore foot seems to 'pivot' the board over the wash better. Not having to short grip the paddle shaft lends a bit more power to that first steadying stroke should I actually make it up and over the other side. I had plenty of opportunity to contemplate paddling through wash and work on my technique. So that's how the first few days shaped up. Don't expect too many surfing pics though, one it's hard to get Stand Up Body Doubles and two staring into a compact digital camera on full zoom for a couple of hours into a setting sun for pics for hubbies blog is not a whole bundle of fun. Can't quite understand why but there you go.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Mooched up the road to Watergate on Saturday Night and met up with Ritch and Matt. Judging from the sea of knackered faces the waves were well worth having and the BSUPA finale had waves!!! Looks like a good time was had by all who entered. I caught some of the results on the SUPGlobal forum through some form of live feed. Impressive.
Sunday saw a reasonably early start, the tide was half way off high and dropping, wind was offshore and light. The chart was giving three and a half feet. I don't know how people measure their waves but I would say it was head high and pitching fairly fast. The lower the tide got the less workable the waves became. I stuck with it until 11.00am when the close-outs were just a bit too frequent to be fun. My last wave was shaping up to be a reasonable left, my back hand, where I rode it high and proud, hanging on just too long. The lip rolled the wave side rail of my Naish up and over from under my feet. I landed squarely on the rail and was tumbled nicely over the falls catching my arse on the fins. Through the stinging I thought
'Please not my new suit.'
'Surely one ass is enough for anybody, I don't need another.'
It was fine. How you can get a scrape on the skin yet not mark the suit I have no idea. I decided that was my cue to give it up for the morning. I think that's the difference between good surfers and average ones. Decent surfers seem to be able to make the most out of all conditions and look good doing it. Whereas I need everything to be right to look average.
Text that afternoon from Gavin -
'Green light for 5pm'.
Excellent. High tide with a strong swell and clean as a pin. Pete's has to be one of my favourite waves anywhere. A strong punchy swell offering big walls that were shared by a couple of mals, three or four short boarders (including Gavin on his Linden quad) and me on the Naish. Loads of waves and a good vibe. We surfed until dark. Brilliant.
One thing that I know I need to sort out are my lefts. Going right I can make a passable imitation of a surfer. I can paddle in, set the board on it's rail, crank up a reasonable bottom turn and work the face top to bottom hard enough to leave me feeling gooey but gasping for air, before occasionally popping neatly out the back still on my feet, and paddling smugly back to repeat the process. But, my lefts STINK! Jeez will someone please tell me how to do something with a backhand wave. Currently my left repertoire consists entirely of -
Paddling in. Fine.
Hard bottom turn . MMmn sort of ok.
Geriatric hunched over, semi constipated stance with a pained expression. Perfect.
Stand tall and statuesque pretending to be 'on the nose'. Sorted.
Crouchy kneely thing. Fine.
But anything over than setting the board up for a variation on a cruise down the line and I'm stuffed. Gav has suggested switching my paddle from my beach-side grip (causing my left shoulder to drop and lead forward, to trailing it wave-side, thus widening my shoulders and possibly offering a little more control. Sounds plausible, but I would welcome any more tips to improve my backhand.
Can't help it - even though they are lousy pics - some waves really give me the horn
Sunday's sessions' were going to be the last before my 'boy's trip' without the boys. But with the swell steadily building through the week, peaking on Wednesday we had to check out Godrevy after work.
With forecasts showing up to 14' at 14 seconds we had expected to see the bay totally out of control. Surprisingly although big it looked really do-able although the strong offshore wind would have been a pain. Peaks were well defined with decent lefts and rights running right through the bay. It did look very grey and was bloody cold standing there and watching for a few minutes. There were about a dozen or so out. Fair play.
Apologies for the lame snapshots - they were the best of a bad bunch - if Shane's turn out better I'll pinch some of his.
So it's off to France Saturday night - I'll bore you with holiday snaps when I get back.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
12am 4ft 15secs 4mph 12c
3am 4ft 14secs 7mph 12c
6am 4ft 14secs 5mph 12c
9am 4ft 13secs 7mph 12c
12pm 4ft 13secs 9mph 13c
3pm 4.5ft 13secs 10mph 13c
6pm 4.5ft 12secs 10mph 13c
9pm 5ft 12secs 15mph 14c
Gavin's been on the 7'8" Nah Skwell this week, making up for lost time since he sold his 9'0 Starboard, and hopefully re-building his stoke levels enough for him to sort a board out for the winter. Sunday should give us a good opportunity to compare notes and swap things about a bit.
The week after that it's off to Bretignolles in France with fingers crossed that these conditions hold out. At the moment it's looking pretty good with a decent low building in the Atlantic and light off shores all down the West coast. Come on!
So I'd better start sorting out my kit out, One thing I have been meaning to do is tape a couple of my paddle grips. I have been using this ace super thin, rubberised BBB Handlebar Tape. It grips really well and keeps the paddle shaft diameter pretty much the same. The first wrap that I put on was over six months ago and it has held up fine . According to the pack it's -
'High grade Synthetic material gives absolute no-slip grip under any riding conditions.'
as well as having
'Super strong, water-proof and sweat proof adhesive',
Whatever, its only £8 a pack and that's enough for two paddles and I have not waxed my shaft since putting it on.
Taping my Werner three piece Nitro with some bar tape for grip and duct tape to re-inforce / support the joints.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Smooth skin arms and back panel
3mm Smooth skin arms and Pecs into Thermal 3mm Chest
Liquid seal inner seam and fleece
Its fair to say that I get enthusiastic about things. I get revved really easily. So having ordered my new Snugg wettie I was pretty excited to get it this Thursday. So much so that I have not stopped telling people about it all week. I would be serving some one at the counter and just randomly drop into the conversation.
'Yeh I've just ordered a custom suit from Malcolm at Snugg, sort of a StandUp Special Specification. Bit SUSpec!!'
Well I thought it was funny, but judging from the yawns and tired expressions on every ones faces - at least from the people who don't surf. It was hard to convey the level of my enthusiasm to the un-enlightened. Those that do surf were like -
'Yeh he makes really good suits'
But it's more than that - it's what makes it possible for me to do what I do, when it's too cold to be doing it, and not make it too hard to get it on, to do it.
Inside showing orange fleece
Let's be sensible about this, for God's sake it's only a bloody wetsuit. But this ones special. It fits, its only 3mm, it's fleecy and it has the shoulders and arms that come straight off a high performance Triathlon suit offering zero movement restriction and it's sort of unique to me. Don't get me wrong, there are surf suits sold that have elasto this and mega that but unless you have worn a full blown, triathlon specific wetsuit then you have no idea how inconspicuous smoothskin neoprene is. My TRI swim is pretty good, but if I ever have to swim for my board in a surf suit I'm beyond crap, which tells me that my paddle movement must also be somewhat restricted. That's in a summer suit. Multiply this by a thicker winter suit and the reason my sessions are cut back in the winter is more down to me being knackered fighting with my suit than actually being cold. Hence the SNUGG SUSpec Special.
During the course of the day Shane suggested a quick after work bash at a little known South Coast spot that in theory should catch the majority of the small South Westerly swell that was running. Ace, Charmaine could drive Shane's Bungalow back home while we high tailed it down the beach to grab one of the few remaining evening sessions left to us and give me an opportunity to wear my new suit.
At some point during the day I had a message to call Matt Argyle, 'Names familiar' I thought, 'Oh yeh - he's the SUPGlobal guy who's just got himself a Nah Skwell to test'. Probably wants a bike.
'Matt, - hi it's Steve'
'Hi Steve, thanks for calling back, how would you like to contribute some of your Blog articles for SUPGlobal'
'Look I'm only going to say this one more time so listen up carefully, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE SOME OF YOUR BLOG ON MY SITE?.
'What? Bugger off, what?? Ergh Yeh ergh What? Why me? Ergh . . . Is it because I'm cheap, no seriously , you are serious, me? What do I know . I just sit at home and never go out and write my blog'
'Well it's like this, we tried pretty much everyone else and to be honest the reason that they are all so good at doing standup is because they spend all their time doing it and not sending us in any copy so we figured because your crap, you would actually have more time on your hands.'
'Excellent, I'll do it . . thanks, I think.'
So off we go at bang on 5.30pm. The tide is half way up and there were a few small lines showing. We quickly got changed up, and that's the first clue, I have almost dropped a plum with the effort required getting into some of my old winter suits. This was so easy. It felt that I needed to be careful but it did not feel fragile and once on, well it was like it had been made for me. Which it had. I could even do it up. All by myself!!! Some of you bigger guys might understand the joy that that brings.
The Suit was warm and to be honest with the super small wave and glassy conditions I was very soon begging to fall off my Nah Skwell to get a cooling flush. But I didn't, and the best thing that I could say about the suit is that apart from the heat I simply just did not notice it at all. I was just very warm.
Shane soon got boared with the wave and I saw my chance.
'Fancy a go on this?'
'Go on then'
'Bloody hell - that's a first'
It was almost exactly two years to the day since I had picked up my JL 11' and went with Shane to Gwithian for my first ever stand up session. That was the last time that Shane had got on a Standup board. Like me that day he struggled and fell, unlike me he said 'Sod that - it's a tanker' and has not been on one since. Tonight he still struggled but fell less and actually paddled into and surfed a couple of waves, the difference being that this board was only 7'8". It's that stable!
So, the suit. Well I got on and swamped Shane's little 5'11" eagerly anticipating that refreshing, cooling flush through the zip and . . . nothing. Still dry , still hot.
I made a few little mental notes to myself -
1. make sure that I always try to take a pee before suiting up.
2. never ever risk that last minute waz before getting out of the water.
3. Never ever eat Asparagus or corned beef the day before surfing.
Walking back across the beach the sand was cold enough to hurt my feet so even though the water temp was still summer suitable at 15'C the evening air had dropped considerably and was getting fairly chilly.
Getting the suit off in the car park was as easy as getting it on, I'm looking forward to this winter.
Monday, October 5, 2009
This has resulted in 3 - 4 sessions a week sometimes, and I have to admit my shoulders and back are beginning to complain a bit, not to mention my chest which has that 'cardiac crisis' feel when I twist a certain way or take a deep cool breath. Fantastic.
Some of what I'm writing now seems vaguely familiar, I know I have a short term memory issue, I just can't remember why I mention it!!.
Any regular readers of this blog will have worked out that I have aquired a few boards over the last couple of years, with the swell running as it has been I have been taking the opportunity to swap and change boards about for each session. It's amazing how much a different board can eke' out the most from a particular session that would otherwise be a complete 'write off'. Its also the measure of standup that some sessions end up as being 'alltime' when the decision to go in was pretty much borderline. two in question.
One overcast Sunday afternoon 4.00pm ish. The forecast and weather had been pretty crappy all day, in sheer desparation I decided to check out Gwithian. I drove in as Gavin drove out, he had been out the front on his shortboard. 'It's better than it looks' he said 'pretty chunky'. I was not particularly convinced but as I had brought the Bonga 9'6" down for a run out I thought 'Hell to it, lets go'. It was a blast. I went in at Pete's and surfed my way back to Gwithian over the course of a couple of hours. It was rippy, onshore and fun - the Bonga has a solid feel about it when punching through wash and the glide is a luxury that I have not had in my regular boards. What the hell do I want to sell this for?
Another evening session saw me standing on the cliff for 10 - 15 minutes trying to decide wether or not to go. There was another guy checking out Pete's, I quite often see him in there. 'Iffy' I said 'Last day of my holiday' he said so I going in. I knew he was a short boarder and that was it decision made. I took the Naish in and had one of the best 'quiet' sessions of the summer. The tide was pushing towards high and the backwash was bumping up the swell - it was endless - the wind dropped out and the 'glass off' was spoilt only by the two of us ripping tracks in the grey mirrored surface. Perfection.
Last night was another fine session. Again late afternoon at Petes' with a high spring pushing through. There were a couple of anglers at the base of the steps so I paddled off to the right. The waves were small and fat, just about workable on the sets but the little Nah Skwell seemed to be able to make the best of them. I posted a reply to SUPGLOBALMATT on standup zone about the Nah Skwell, being lazy I figured it was worth repeating here. -
The 7'8" seems to be able to maximise the use of the wave face and facilitate more turns and re-turns as the wave gets critical. This means I can surf smaller waves without getting 'board' bored, if that makes sense. Whereas for me a longer board sometimes seems to 'bog' down as the smaller waves steepen up. Most of this is probably beacause I'm crap but some boards do make me think 'I couldn't of done that better'. My Naish 9'3" is one of those boards - the Nah Skwell 7'8" is another.
I don't suppose it's that much of a secret really - big boards for glide and 'down the line' cruising - smaller boards for that manic chuckability. It's just that this design allows bigger guys a piece of the action as well.
Plus I can indulge myself by trying to explain further what I mean. I find when the swell is small, clean and fat, a longer board, like my old JL11' would be ideal to paddle into and catch 'the bump' but this would lead to me simply riding/cruising down the line with some non too delicate attempts at stumbling to the nose before getting kicked off the board in the shallows. The sheer length of the board meant that any 'radical' turns were impossible for me on knee high waves. My shorter boards turned quicker and got bogged down less, the Nah Skwell although taking off much later allows for more 'sweet tricks and turns' as it can change direction within it's own length. Thats why I like smaller boards. I don't get bored. Phew glad that I got that sorted.
So what else is new - well our October lads' road trip was going to be a December raid to Portugal but I did not get around to the booking plus December is a bit awkward so we sort of rescheduled the old faithful, into the van and down through France, until Red's workload got in the way and it just did not seem right to go without him. So it was a case of 'Charmaine, do you fancy a week in Bretignolles at the end of the Month?" she bit my hand off, the only proviso was that we stay in a mobile home rather than under canvas. No problem. I booked that one right away. Les Dunes here we come. Might even take the Nah Skwell home!
If anyone can recall seeing one of the few pictures of myself that I have posted on this blog you can't fail to have noticed that I am . . . ergh . . fairly well insulated. Yeh thats it - I'm one of the lucky ones that just does not seem to feel the cold, as such for my surfing I have never really indulged myself with expensive wetsuits. In fact exactly the opposite, I tend to buy the cheapest model in the range. I have however always promised myself that one day I would get measured up for a SNUGG custom suit. Seeing that both Malcolm from Snugg and us at Cycle Logic sponsor Perranporth Triathlon I figured that it was about time that I got one. Now the beauty of a custom made wetsuit is that it is, well . . . custom made. So I rang Malcolm and said.
'Don't laugh, but I standup paddle surf'
I waited but, he didn't laugh.
'Good start' I thought.
'And I would like a suit that has triathlon material in the shoulders and arms'
smooth skin, super super flexible
'and a conventional abraision resistant body and legs. I want it fairly warm but not too thick like an industrial duty, reusable Eastern Bloc Condom'
He knew exactly what I meant -
'How about a double lined, fleece backed 3/2 Yamamoto neoprene made from a limestone based polymer with 99.7% calcium carbonate rather than the usual petro chemical based neoprene. You will probably be able to use it all year round'
'Urrrgh, yeh that sounds exactly what I had in mind' I lied but judging from his past clientele that includes multiple world champions and even royalty who was I to argue?
So that will be here next week, and I cant wait. The best thing is that I can have certain panels in any colour that I want, excellent 'Black please' I said. I'll let you know.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Tonight I was determined to get in no matter what - I got to my mid beach mark and peeked over the Dunes - it was grim Magic seaweed gave 6' at 10 secs - I like that, high tide was at 8:50pm perfect, but the wind was a constant 16mph right to left cross onshore that ripped all the shape and form from the swell. In fact it felt more like 25mph.
This probably looks better than it actually was - the first pic across the bay to Godrevy shows the white caps blown off the tops of the waves.
I changed up into my wet wetsuit that had been fermenting in the back of the van since Monday. Above and beyond for this blog - I hope people still read it. Off down the 60' high dune and once at sea level the true horrendous state of 50 metres of white soup became fully apparent. Be back home in half an hour I thought.
I waded out and jumped onto the deck. I had to keep the nose of the Nah Skwel pointed into the wind and was expecting an immediate rinse. Nope! The first few, foot high walls of wash slid under the fat nose of the board barely un-noticed. The further out I paddled the more my confidence grew, and the board seemed to just rise up over wash with ease. This was too good to be true. Finally I was in the Impact Zone proper. Water was rising up, threatening disaster, and melting away all around me like water boiling in a kettle. I was working very hard to stay on the board - but I was on the board. The paddle was deep in the water most of the time for balance but I was making way albeit slowly.
In these conditions there was no way I would have normally gone in and I have been thrown off much bigger boards in far more friendly seas. Then out of the blue I got caught side on in a trough and tipped over by a chest high lazy breaker.
Back on the board point the nose into the wind and up to my feet - steady - and away. Ok lets see if there was any possibility of turning into a wave and paddling in. It was hard to spot the sets coming - suddenly one wave would jack up from nowhere bigger than the rest of the chop and it would be followed by three or four more in close order. The swell direction was supposedly Westerly but with the Northerly wind the faces were running at 45' to the beach mainly from the East.
In strong winds I always try to turn into a wave away from the wind. This seems to avoid the wind getting under the front of the board and throwing me off. I know thats what I should do but most sessions it takes me a few wrong turns to remember this. As usual I turned the wrong way into my first wave - and caught it. No bother - it wasn't pretty and I basically just rode it down, but the wind did not seem to affect the paddle-in at all. Being rocked and knocked about was harder to contend with.
I suppose with such a short board there is less of it to catch the wind. Compared to other SUP's the board is not actually that wide - or that thick, it's just that the perspective of it is unusual with it being so short, plus it carries it's width all the way to the tail. That coupled to a reasonably flat hull and sane rockers seems to keep as much of board in the water as on a 10' board with heaps of rocker. Maybe even more.
So the scoreline was - NS78 : 1 Rest of the World : 0
By this time the wind had blown me a hundred metres or more down the beach - I thought that I should at least try to paddle my way back to my starting point. I could only make two or three paddle strokes to each side before switching but amazingly I was slowly making my way back into the guts of the wind back up the beach - again I think a longer board would have been more of a handful. Something else I noticed, with my weight, 90kg being pretty much at the boards limit in these conditions the deck was sloshing about with water - I was not sinking it, but there was not too much showing for the wind to get hold of either.
I turned and caught a few more waves en route and enjoyed some half decent rides, no major heroics but fun, long rides in conditions that were less than perfect (way less). Two sessions and I'm really getting to like this board. I managed to get the board on it's rails a couple of times but the waves were not really conducive to any smoking turns.
So good points so far?
It's 7'8" (cant get used to that)
It's Light (It makes a difference guys, honest)
It's more stable than Valium
It's great in slop
It's actually very attractive (Sorry Dom - but you have to see it in the flesh)
It's 7'8" (Jeez)
It's got Shane interested enough that he might have a bash (thats saying something)
It's going to be a useful addition to any quiver.
It's deck grip seems a bit slippy sometimes (might have to wax the pad).
It's handle is a tad shallow and the balance point is a fraction off.
It's got lot's of sharp pointy bits - Big fins - Tail swallows (I just know its going to cut me)
It's not got Glide - (I'm not going to race it!)
It's not been mine longer (did I just say that)
The Nah Skwel has only just lifted her skirts and I have to say I like what I have seen. I reckon that she has loads more to offer. My gut feeling is that here is a board that has been designed by people in Brittany, who have extensive knowledge of what makes the water / hull interface work and more importantly design and use their products in pretty much the same conditions as I surf in, rather than that warm, mystical, magical Pacific perfection that is plastered all over the forums screaming 'you too can ride like this on our products'. And that makes a huge difference.
It also makes me think that I could be clearing out more than a few boards shortly.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
It's fair to say that I was pretty revved last night, still am really, I just can't get over the fact that I'm standing on a Paddle board that's only 7'8" long.
My first board was the Jimmy Lewis 11' and I can remember thinking that was challenging. Last night was not challenging just great fun. In fact I cant think of a board that I have ever tried that has been as easy right from the off. I was desperate to get back in the water tonight to see how it would go in a proper wave or choppy conditions or wind or anything, to be honest I just wanted to get back on it. Unfortunately work conspired against me, but it did get me thinking. Where the hell is this all going to end up? If the board is this easy to use then it stands to reason that the limit (my limit) has not yet been reached. God I love this sport!
It took me weeks before I was comfortable on the Naish, at least to the extent that I would not worry about turning to it first time every time if I was going out. The Nah Skwell is easy from the very first time. It makes me want to experiment and play about and fool around like taking off the fins altogether and try and slide it IVV style. Steady - take a breath and get a grip. . . . and breath.
I think we (I) can get a little too serious sometimes and forget how to just arse about - it's harder with a bigger board to just goof around especially if you are surfing around other people - which I tend not to do. With friends though all the normal surf politics and etiquette shoot straight out the window. Well mine do anyway.
I'll drop in on Shane or Gavin or Steve or Jason, ride the same wave and generally do all the bad stuff you read about on the forums, and expect them to do the same to me. (When it's just us and no one else about). The problem is you sort of hold back a bit on a Sup because the consequence of getting it wrong and cleaving someone open with a 9'plus epoxy scalpel would take a bit of explaining. But with the NH78, well it feels like it's a hot dog board - full on fun for nothing other than fun's sake. Plus and this is the big one - It's not a bloody mission to go out. Easy to store, easy to load, easy to carry, easy to ride. Its so convienient.
I can't imagine where this range is going to go but already I'm thinking 'Slightly slimmer - a little more nose rocker, tuck that ass in slightly . . . make it more serious !!
One thing I forgot last night was the nitty gritty.
The board is distributed by AHD UK Limited -
telephone number 023 80894333 and costs £879
and they are actually in stock and available.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sometimes things come at me from left field - totally out of the blue and make me rethink everything that I have taken as granted , things like
'My kid's are so much like me could I have been that wrong at their age?' -
'So we are mortal!' (didn't get that one until I was about 22) and
'I can ride a Stand Up board under 8' long!!'
No Really I can - I did it tonight - it was bonkers, in fact it was so far beyond bonkers I'm still pinching myself.
I had first seen this shape some time ago on the Standupzone in a French video clip and pretty much dismissed it as being sort of quirky and . . . well French really - I mean that in a nice way because they seem to have things sorted, but things that work for the French in France you just can't get away with outside of France like hairy armpits and smoking in Restaurants - errgh big hole getting deeper - I know what I mean and it's why I want to live there (probably won't be allowed now. Anyway back to the Nah Skwell ( if I say it enough times it will start to sound normal) Nah Swel nah skwel nah skwel. Apparently it's Breton for Playground. Nah Skwel . . Nah Skwel . . Nope! That don't work. The NS78 (that's better) shares it's DNA with a board called the AHD Sea Lion. That was a multipurpose do it all. The NS78 (oh yeah that works) is a much more focussed SUP and the shortest of a range of three boards - this is the official blurb on them
The Nah-Skwell 7’8, is a highly competitive stand-up paddling short-board.
Already very radical in smallish waves, it will allow the most experienced riders to
attack waves up to 2.5m.
In less than 1m waves, this is the ultimate weapon which allows to throw curve after
curve with a true high speed.
With no other comparable board in today’s market, this is a board for fully dedicated
SUPers looking for extreme sensations and high performance.
Surfer < 90kgs
(I weighed this morning, I'm 91kgs, 200lbs in my birthday suit - not nice).
The Nah Skwell 9’6 is a perfect compromise for those who like SUPing in waves.
A very compact and lively board, it will complete short radius and fast turns, while
retaining a stability known only on 11’ « old-generation » boards, till now.
Surfer < 120kgs
The Nah-Skwell 10’6 is a fast board. With a flattish shape and a pinched tail, it will
slide easily whether cruising or playing with small and medium waves, no need to get
the trouble of carrying a 12’ weapon anymore.
Surfer < 115kgs
Nice descriptions - obviously not direct translations from French.
I also have some official pics on them - but as it's quite possible some of you might be reading this whilst eating I am not going to post them - But here are some of the pics I took on my phone this evening - AFTER RIDING THE 7'8" - proper riding like standing up and everything and it's 7'8" (pinch . . ouch! Charlie)
Now argue if you disagree but I reckon that looks pretty good. In the flesh this board with it's Techno Europe deck grip actually looks quite sexy in a Miss Piggy fetish sort of way - It's blatantly not a full blown - blown up shortboard and it might look like it's got mixed up in a blender with a dozen other boards but in the flesh it looks pretty bloody good. And it's not that much longer than my paddle!!
The officicial pics are taken without any perspective and make it look odd, almost comic book like - it really does look much better in real life.
Have another pic.
It's different. So whats it all about? More of the official stuff -
Length (cm) 238 (7'8") Bloody Short
width (cm) 75 (29 1/2") Fat (ish)all the way down
Thickness 12 (4 3/4") Thick (ish)
Weight 8,5kg (18 3/4lbs) Bloody light
Volume 127 ltr
Fin concept Twins (bloody huge)
Who’s that for? - Advanced surfer - (Nah - I'm not read on)
- Small to medium frame - (well that rules me out)
This board is easy to stand on - It's very very stable - ok I have gotten used to my Naish 9'3" but this puppy is just nuts. I ran down the beach with it - conditions were not ideal the tide was pretty much fully high and quite a big one that ate most of the smallish swell that there was. It was dead clean and only the odd set wave made for anything resembling a rideable face but jumping on the board for the first time and - Nothing - no death wobbles - no falling straight off the other side - no rinsing. In fact everything seemed to work in slow motion - this board is super stable - obviously being only 7'8" the standing spot is fairly small BUT I can't say that it was critical. The super splayed tails seem to keep the house in order at the back and the full fat nose did the same at the front - this was a real surprise. Within a few minutes I was looking for a wave to bash.
Paddling - well you dont need me to tell you that G l i d e is not one of this boards strong points - it paddles fine and the yaw is manageable but stop paddling and the brakes come on - The first few excuses for waves that I paddled for passed me by with me flailing wildly with seemingly no effect. Hmmnn - tried for a few more - nope, nothing - so I can stand on it and it turns on a sixpence but I can't catch a wave.
I paddled around a bit more stepping back and forward - parallel and surf stance, which the board seems to prefer, and generally messed about trying to get the feel of it.
I decided to go late into the next wave. Bingo - one paddle start and away, ok the wave was knee high and pretty much breaking on the beach but I had time to catch, turn and trim before stepping off the board onto the sand, not something a longer board would have been able to do.
It sort of reminded me a bit of the Starboard Extremist 9'0 - only less glide and a little more 'skatey'. There were a few occaisions when the nose pearled a bit, but to be honest the waves were too short to draw too many conclusions from that.
Another wave, go late - and after that I did it again and again. The board surfs fine - sure it's not got that, 'I can handle anything you shove down my throat' sort of feel that the Naish has, but it certainly surfs and it makes me want to get it out in bigger faces and more adverse conditions with more swell and chop and wind and cack and see what it can do for me.
I reckon that there is loads of tuning potential with the fins - Two monstrous white outboard finbox 8-9"ers I did not measure them - just felt that they needed to be smaller.
I carried on until it got dark, and you know what? I loved it. I love the speed it turns beneath your feet in front of the wave - I loved the no fail stability (except that I did fail a few times) - I love the confidence the board gave me (enough to make me fail and fall through arsing about) - I love the slo-mo recovery feel that gives me a fighting chance to level the board long after I would be off on my other boards and I Love the stupid fat grin on my face that I had playing about like a total cock in rubbish conditions on a board that looks like it shouldn't work. But most of all I love the fact that it's only 7**$ing 7'8".
In itself being 7'8" is no reason to go out and buy another board - BUT I was looking for a more stable board than the Naish that I could use to get the best out of, in the worst conditions that I'm likely to go out in. I was prepared to go a bit longer than the 9'3" to get the right board - hence the Bonga - But the Bonga although more stable than the Naish is actually fairly close in performance and is just a bit too heavy, It's a top board and a great price at £619 but for me the Naish is the one when conditions are average to epic and that makes the Bonga redundant because it's aimed at the same territory so no real gain for me over the Naish.
But this Nah Skwell - this board is fun - I don't expect it to be the full on wave rocket that the Naish is but it is very managable, and interesting enough to make me want to play more, and it's 1'7" shorter than the Naish - you don't need a van or an estate car - hell you could even strap it to a push bike or a moped, it would almost fit in a bodyboard bag on your back (IMAGINE a two piece version). It's a convienient SUP, shorter than any of my surfboards and with a bit more use I reckon there are more surpises to come.
Bonga 9'6" for sale anyone - shortboard performance as new £475 - NS78 to buy
Nah Skwell . . Nah Skwell . . Nah Skw . .
As far as prices, distribution, availability and a bit better wave report is concerned - watch this space.
Edit - It was fairly late when I posted this last night so forgive the errors and omissions, hopefully most are tidied up now - Steve