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.


ef said...

not related to this thread at all, steve, but i wanted to let you know that after almost over a year of dithering, i've finally plunked down for an ULI. Well, not an ULI exactly -- a new C4 10.6 inflatable, which is, as I understand it, made by ULI. Didn't think I could handle the 9.3, didn't want to deal with stability issues I know I'd have w/ the Lopex, wanted a little longer than the Steamroller and a little shorter than the 11 ULI -- voila! C4 10.6

will report in with review.

meanwhile, got any uli-type tips, regarding inflation and the like?

csx355 said...

Hi Eric - welcome to the Inflatable club - I may be wrong, but to the best of my knowledge ULI Boards no longer have any connection with C4. The original ULI 11' SUP was dual branded and marketed by C4 so I'm not sure what C4 are selling - they don't appear to have anything on their site unless I'm missing something. Get some pics and let me know how you get on.

csx355 said...

Eric - I just found the boards on the Boardworks site. According to that they are 32" wide - thats pretty big!! Nose looks a good shape though.

ef said...

steve: i know it seems pretty big, especially at 32" wide. but who knows it could be a noseriding dream.
meanwhile, my pal went ahead and sprung for the 9.3 subvec model, so we'll be able to try em out head to head.
my understanding is it's an ULI branded board; but i heard that second hand, so the info could be wrong.
i exchanged an email w/ C4 about three months ago and was told they were working on some kind of solid bottom inflatable. either that didn't happen or else it's still being developed.
will report in once i get it on the h20!