Wednesday, October 21, 2009

WANTED a cure for my hunchback left's

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.'

followed by

'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

Sunday's Looking Good

Really flattered about the SUPGlobal thing but it sort of gives me a bit of a dilemma as well. I keep thinking things like,
'What can I write for the next post?' and

'How often will they want stuff?' and
'What do I know about anything anyway?'

And then I think, 'hell to it, I'll just keep writing my blog and posting my post's and when everyone gets bored with it they'll let me know'.

So check this out for a Magic seaweed forecast for Sunday

Sun 18/10

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

(damn I wish I knew how to insert tables into BLOGGER properly so that they look neat)

Winds are South Easterly first thing, going South Westerly through the day. Given that it's been pretty good all week with light breezes I reckon that's shaping up for an epic all day bash (well at least 2 sessions) which should sort of make up for being stuck in all week. So an early night and off the beer on Saturday to make the most of a dawny Sunday morning session.

With conditions like this the BSUPA crowd are going to have a blast on the last of their series at WaterGate Bay on Saturday and Sunday. I'm going to say hello to a few guys on Saturday night but Gwithian will be calling me on Sunday.
It's not that I'm anti-social or anything - honest, it's just that I have never felt too confident surfing in large packs, I go right off my game and end up making a complete cock of myself. Even when I prone surfed I would always sit right off the peak and take the scrag ends of what was going. The difference now is that the scrag ends are so worth having.

The only exception to the rule is when I'm surfing with Shane and his mates then it can all get a bit ' freestyle' sometimes. Like this recent pic of Shane launching himself off a Swell- Board to destroy Jon Boy's classic Poo Stance. Kids eh? See what I have to put up with.

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.

Half wrap overlaid taking care that you start at the blade end and work up towards the handle so that you don't 'rub over' the open ends.

End result - finish off with a wrap of tape. 5minutes job done, and should last all season.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Snugg Wetsuits, SUP Global and Asparagus

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

Mixing It Up - Road trip - Wetsuits

Had some really fun sessions recently - seems like the swell has been small but constant for a few weeks now and I have been making an extra effort to get home and in as we are rapidly loosing the light in the evenings.

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.