Stand up Paddle Surfing from a novices viewpoint - My complete journey
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
SHOCKINGLY BAD - SO MUCH FUN
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 surfable 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) Nah Skwel
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.