Friday, November 27, 2009

Blanked on Sunday - Go Row

When is this weather going to change? Seems like we have had three weeks of Westerly storms fantastic swell but with winds averaging 30mph very few opportunities and spots sheltered enough to get in on Sunday.

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

Sunday's session - Weight . . . Update

South coast had been blown to bits Friday and Saturday and with a Westerly swell and high winds Sunday was always going to be a run for shelter. I met Shane at 11.00am at one of the most sheltered spots available to us. It was very sheltered!!

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

Finishing weight 14 stone 1lb

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

SUP Specific 6 week Indoor training plan

Been thinking about this for a while and finally decided to do something about it. Having a body mass index describing me as verging on the obese (such a harsh word) and overweight has made me get my thumb out of my bum and start a structured 6 week pre Christmas training program. The key to this being the pre Christmas bit. Hopefully it will help me fend off the insane onslaught of the food and drink mountain that is about to reign down over the festive period.

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

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

Yawn - Please no more holiday snaps


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.'Olonne.aspx

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.
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.
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'
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.
'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.
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.





'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.