Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Naish 9'0 Hokua versus the Christmas Coma

I started writing this entry on the 8th December, funny how things can conspire against you sometimes, I'm now posting it on the 28th December. Christmas has come and gone and no doubt the shops will shortly be crammed full of Easter eggs. The joys of consumerism! Anyway back to the 12th.

What a week, spent most of it thinking that I should hold out for the Mana, but that would mean waiting until February and I'm just too impatient for that, so I ordered the new 9' Hokua.

There was a small swell forecast for last Sunday, the 5th, which gave me the opportunity to have a second spin on a board that I had first ridden the week before. Last time out conditions were so weak it was a struggle and difficult to make any judgement at all, this time however it blew me away - totally.

I rode three different boards on Sunday in a dead clean, waist high, mid tide wave and can honestly say that one of them stood out head and shoulders in those particular conditions.

Phil was on my 9'3 Hokua and struggling a little which is hardly surprising as he has only just made the leap from longboard to Standup and until now has been on my 10' Steamroller.

Sam was picking a few off on her 10' Escape and I was on the 'new un'. We swapped boards about during the session and I found the Naish and the Escape bloody hard work compared to what I was on - hard for different reasons, the Escape was wide, stable and held it's speed but was a lot slower than the others, nothing wrong with the board but I would think TURN and after a while it t u r n e d . The Naish as always was clinically brilliant, always begging for more juice and never showing any signs of a refusal to go, but just not as much fun in the conditions.
Fun - remember that? Fun's why we (I) do this, the opportunity to act the goat and mess about on the water. In fact I reckon this could well be one of the best (read most fun) boards that I have ridden since I started on standups, and I truly did not expect that.

This board is a beast and I wish that I could say more. I had a bit more swell to deal with than the last time out, still very clean and small, sort of waist high and a bit on the sets but what a difference some speed and punch makes to the board. I was able to make a total pig of my self and caught everything that I went for with the minimal of paddle strokes. The ability for it to turn both on and in front of the waves is nuts. Really nice noserides, for me anyway, cheater fives, backwards, mini slash cutbacks, little fin first slides and all preceded with a full thrust rocket launch into the catch - truly amazing. And that's it! For now, but watch this space.

Anyway the 9' Hokua pitched up yesterday at the shop, how pretty is this board? Naish Yellow with white accents and the bamboo deck, I know that most manufacturers are getting smacked with the Bamboo stick and it must be difficult to keep things like graphics and image fresh each year but Naish have created a clean look for 2011 product that instantly dates my old Hokua. Clever.

First things first, sliding the board out of the supplied travel bag proved loads easier than the thin foam lined cover that my 9'3 came with and my first impressions were that it would last a lot longer than a couple of trips. Out of the bag and slipping my hand into the new 'undercut' hand hold. She's reasonably balanced, I think with four fins and a leash the tail will dip but we'll see. One things for sure - finned up it ain't going back in the bag despite the fin slots. That's a bit crap.

She looks sleeker and less porky than the 9'3 which makes the narrow nose look even more rakish. The rails however look positively huge and until I checked I would have put money on them being almost 5" thick, they weren't. The tail has a slight 'stinger' mullarkey going on that blends into a thinned out step deck arrangement before finishing in the mini bat tail. I have to be honest here, aesthetically this was my least favourite element of the whole board. I'm sure that there is a sound reason for all this additional mold work but it just seems an unnecessarily complex finish to such a pure shape that works well on my 9'3. I do like simplicity.

Whipping the board over I had expected to see a dead flat hull but there is a very pronounced keel line and that surprised me. It's not as full on as on the 9'3 but it is there. The rail edges are softer than the 9'3 as well with significantly less obvious nose rocker. Five fin placements and it's supplied with 4 FCS fins and a Naish ??" centre fin for the longboard fin box.

Back over on it's belly and the diamond cut 3/4 length Naish deck pad with kick tail is factory fitted. I hope it stays that way as I had a mare with my 9'3 before I finally replaced the Naish pad with a Dakine that has stayed stuck.

So the figures

Length - End to end top side I made it 8'11"
Around the hull curve 9'
Nose 1' from the tip 15 1/2"
Middle 28 1/2"
Tail 1' from end pre stinger 18 1/2"
Tail 1' from end after stinger 17 1/2"
Thickness 4"
Nose Rocker @1' 4"
Nose Rocker @ Tip 6"

The hull has a double concave creating a 'v' keel that starts 3' from the nose and finishes 16" from the tail at a point that is level with the front fins. The deck hollow starts 43" from the nose and finishes 40" from the tail. All up she weighed in at 18.2lbs 8.27 kilos.

Standing back and checking her out I started to question my last minute swap out from the Mana 9' - this board is very similar to my 9'3" which although well used is still in excellent shape the BIG differences are the Quad fin option and the lack of three inches in Length and 3/4" in width and how that will translate on the water I had no idea.

So back to today - Xmas has been and gone preceded by one of the hardest cold snaps for decades bringing much of the UK to a complete standstill . The North Easterly airstream that brought the snow and ice to us usually results in clean offshore conditions however bar a couple of days there was no swell giving me a three week dry spell. That had me checking every predicted 1-2' pulse. Even Dwight was getting impatient, email from Dwight. -
'What the hells going on over there fatty, you got that board wet yet?'
'Uhh sorry guys' quick think of something . . . ' I urgh umm, well it's complicated, but it should clear up as soon as the Penicillin kicks in'
That usually does it.
It was pretty much total bollox until Xmas day, that looked perfect. Naturally we were entertaining our Mums, and Mums always trump surfing these days. Boxing Day looked possible however the winds had now turned Southerly and were increasing from 20 - 30 knots, and that's how it stayed until today when I woke to - silence. No tiles rattling - no wind - no second thoughts - I loaded up the Naish and headed for Gwithian. High Tide was 10:00am light South Westerlies and a slight WSW swell showing 10' at 12 seconds . Plus it was warm the air temp was 12'c and the water was 11'c paradise. The air temp has not been much above 0'c for the last two weeks and we now have permafrost in the garden!!

Quick change and off down the path and into the water - looking good. Usual story push the board out spring (did I say spring?) onto the deck and straight off the other side head first. Bugger! It was an omen of things to come. I struggled like hell today. I was like Bambi with broken legs and must have fallen off 20 times in the session. When I actually managed to get up and paddling I felt like my feet were nailed to the deck.

'For F**ks sake Steve, come on get it sorted you twat'

I often find that a little loud but positive verbal encouragement helps to get the tension out of my system, that's one reason why I surf alone,
'Look Mummy - see that nutter shouting at himself in the surf, do you think he's in trouble?
The best way for me to describe what was going on was pitiful. It wasn't the board although the quad fin set up MAY have speeded the tipping recovery point to a pace that I just could not match. The tail was sinking under my Xmas cheer filled wetsuit and as I said my feet felt leaden and stuck down, I just could not shuffle and weight my forefoot and heels quick enough and as a result I had trouble not just staying still but also spinning the board around prior to a catch.

'Come on think about this'

I had spent three weeks out of the water, I have just eaten pretty much a whole herd of roast turkeys, an entire flock of cows and half a pig along with endless cocktail pork pies, roast potatos, leeks, parsnips, some Gucci little bacon wrapped sausages, cheese, cake, cream and anything else that happened to be lying around the house in glittery wrapping paper. The resulting food induced torpor and endless diet of inane regurgitated Xmas television had dulled my previously highly honed Stand Up skills - in short I was shagged. Colonic irrigation was looking like an attractive and welcome proposition.

I managed a few lefts, badly, and paddled out again and tried going in later and caught a few more but the questions and voices were flaring up in my head.

'This boards got you beat' - no it hasn't it's just that I'm a bit shit today and then just to prove my point I nailed a half decent right and popped out the back still on the board. That took an hour to get to that point. Slowly I began to spend less time flailing and more time surfing and the board was good. I'm still not sure about the fins and made a note to put in a decent longboard fin to hopefully slow up the side to side tipping and give me a little more time to dial in.

Another left, cutting back to the wash and then hooking the nose around to the left again had me smiling, again I managed to stay on my feet and paddle back out. The Naish cuts through the wash well but until I get my timing and balance reset my feet semed stubbornly stuck to the deck. It was coming but slowly.

The tide was dropping back a little now and the set waves were jacking up a bit more. I paddled down the break a little and dropped into a decent right. Suddenly it came together albeit briefly. Bottom turn, up the face, cranked it around watching the wave feather a little just in front wandering if it would hold up long enough for another, crank the bottom turn and booosh off the breaking lip before another bottom turn and running through the wash for the green exit door. Nice!

So is it better than my 9'3 - well it might be but not based on this mornings performance. I think I need to ditch the fins for a 2 plus 1 setup and possibly change the leash that I put on. I thought that I would try a new 10mm cord knee leash and whilst the leash is very good in the back of my mind was the extra drag that the thicker cord was creating. Excuses? Definitely. But that's how it goes.
Anyway possibly one more chance to get in between now and the 5th when we fly out to warm seas and constant swell - hopefully I wont be dripping on about lack of water time then.
Hope that you have had a great Xmas and have a healthy new year - might try a few changes on the blog for 2011 - fiddle about with the look a bit, and try posting smaller entries more frequently with some more pics - let me know.
All the best Steve

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Naish 9' Mana morphs into 9' Hokua - Reef Live.

There seems to be some form of synchronicity in the world of sports equipment manufacturing. Our bike launches are always around September / October with the finished product dribbling though from November to April. It would seem to be the same with paddle-boards. You get the odd few rumours and then some 'spy shots' then some outdoor shows followed by very limited stock going out through a few chosen dealers by which time the rest of us are salivating like a long term prisoner on the eve of release. Accident or design, who knows?

Anyway I have been waiting to get get my hands on the new Mana 9' and you know what it's like, you pretend to be all cool and chilled out

'Don't worry - it'll be here when it gets here'

sort of thing, but really deep down I'm bubbling up like a seven year old kid at Christmas. What the hell is it about new boards? It just doesn't matter how good the current one is we convince ourselves that the next one is going to have that special sprinkling of 'shaper dust' that will transform our surfing.

We consume every piece of information about the new board, we read every blog and forum comment we try and compare ourselves to the writers situation, weight / skill level / previous boards / conditions ridden in until there is nothing else to read and then - we start all over again but from a slightly different perspective. Each rehash of the same microscopically small snippets of second and third hand information is teased out of text and pictures and builds up the confirmation that this board is the one that will take me to the next level. Paddle surf Nirvana.

UUrggh you don't do that? Really?? Just me being a sad twat then. Bugger.

Anyway revved to the point of popping as week 46 approaches, (Mana Week) and the email comes in.

'Good news Steve, the shipments arrived'.

Oooohh here it comes.

'Bad news is although they have been booked and advised on the manifest, the Mana's are not on the shipment, there are some 9' Hokua's but the Mana's wont be here until week 2, Sorry.'

Have you ever looked into a seven year old's eyes and told him not only has Christmas been cancelled but you have also just run over his pet dog Bruno in the driveway? Not a pretty sight. Get a grip Steve. It's not as if you have been rejected for a kidney transplant is it? Email back.

'Hey that's ok, it's just a board, I can wait, its not a problem, it's not as if it's a life support machine is it? I'm away most of January so I'll have it in February.'

There, that was ok calm, cool and collected, no point making a fuss I got a board, I'm not stuck, every things cool.

New email.

'F*c& it! Send me a 9' Hokua please'

Deep breaths, . . . . and relax. It's an obsession, worse an addiction and it needs to be fed.

Last Friday Charmaine and myself went to see the newly reformed REEF at the Hall for Cornwall. I like REEF, I liked them the first time round and always regretted not making the effort to see them back then. They combined the full on heavy, youthful rock metal with a laid back Indie twist and a sprinkling of Stone Roses thrown in for good measure. Their breakthrough to mainstream hit 'Place your hands' was actually the least typical of their entire catalogue.

As I watched them last Friday I thought

'Either I'm too old for this or they are'.

It was a good gig I just felt that the guys were too old too be giving it the 'HORNS' maybe Ozzie could still get away with it but I felt slightly uncomfortable for them. Gary Stringer slipped up a couple of times on a wet stage - Incontinence is a bugger to deal with. I swear that Jack Bessant had actually been replaced by Robert Lenkiewicz. Robert Lenkiewicz died in 2002 I think.

I swear that the bass player was Robert Lenkiewicz!



It was a good gig and the band were sound - but just out of time. In hindsight it was probably me. I don't age well and what the hell do I know, I ride paddleboards and my nose hair is thicker than whats on my head.

My Movember Tash is coming along nicely though.

So the only other thing that I have to write about I can't, but that's the thing about secrets knowing that there is one is half the battle of discovery. damn I've said too much already.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Got something very special on the way so am selling my trusty ULI Steamroller. The board is in very good condition. It has had the deck grip peel back and been re-stuck down a few times but other than that the board is terrific. An excellent standup board capable of much more than I can do. Complete with pump. £450 - Delivery possible from £25 to the UK. I could possibly chuck in a 6' ULI inflatable surfboard for £500 ALL UP plus carriage!!

UPDATE 2nd December 2010 - Many thanks the Steamroller and the 6'ULI is now sold! And will be living in Germany. Well they are travel boards!!!

I know they are old pics but I do like them.

Obviously as it's a travel board I could ship it overseas subject to having cleared funds but please be aware shipping costs to the U.S. for instance could be as much as £160. Way less to mainland Europe but Italy and Switzerland seem to attract a premium.

The Steamroller was brand new to me in July 2008 my first blog entry was here

It was my second ULI standup board. The Steamroller was my last twin skin construction boards before ULI started delivering the lightweight single skin jobs. Hard to describe but trust me they are bombproof.

Construction is excellent no cracks or issues. As I said the deck grip has come unstuck through being rolled up and with the temperature differences in aircraft holds etc. but I have just restuck it down and I dare say that anyone that has it will do the same from time to time. The Fins are hard flexible plastic and they have some 'slight' scuffing on the edges. They can also take a 'set' after being rolled up however with warm water / warm air temps they always return to straight.

The 10'r was much more of a surf board than my original 11'r however as my pics show it is still more of a cruiser than a short board. You have to turn it from the tail but it nose rides really well. My Gerry Lopez 9'11 is much more 'slashy' and way more tippy.

My only relationship with ULI is as a very satisfied customer and they used some of the words from my blog on their website. The guys at ULI are totally genuine and care about their product. I had the pleasure to meet with Jim Weir this year in Costa Rica and share a few waves with the guys - never stopped laughing.

Total respect for Team ULI - they have totally transformed my trips away.

The Board rolls up and is then held with a strap before it is packed away in a bag. It comes with a high pressure pump and guage (only pump to 15psi).

Be sorry to see it go but I have the ULI Lopez and that's all I have to say about that!!

Quick Movember update - we have currently raised £334 with the bulk of it still to come in. Currently sporting a Mexican Bandito sort of thing. Charmaine likes it!!

Quick Mana update - should be getting the new 9'er towards the end of the month - Come on!!

Totally busting to say more . . . but can't !!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Go Global for your Gland - Stand Up and Paddle your Prostate - Get stuck in and Feather up your face!

Yeh I know, sounds like the lyrics to a bad country and western song but you are going to have to read it all to get to the bottom of it!

Sunday went pretty much according to plan, the general forecast was a bit iffy, dubious surf - light to moderate winds, spring tides and two boards to play with.

Into Gwithian first thing for a quick surf in a smallish, clean but confused swell.

A few decent ones coming through but mainly short period stuff with lots of little double ups. Interestingly there was a guy out on little Nah Skwell 8'8". Looked like he was getting to grips with it as well. Top little board.

Back home for 11.00 and a quick check to make sure that I'm not needed for the day and with the green light on I was straight into the shed to knock up a fishing box for the board and sort out some kit. Basic plan was shoot down to Perranuthnoe - paddle upwind a bit, back across the bay and then back to load the box up and try a bit of fishing.

And that's pretty much what happened, South coast was flat with a small bump pushing through and again a couple of guys on stand up's making the most of the little swell. One of the boards might have been a white Mctavish. Amazing how many Sup's are beginning to show up now and the diversity of boards out there.


Remembering to set and check the GPS app on the phone, and double checking that the Overboard waterproof Iphone bag was sealed, I pushed off the beach and headed South East across the bay. I was getting used to the board now and made fairly decent progress up to Cudden point without busting a gut. I was still knackered from the mornings surf. Plus I had only had 3 Weetabix all day!!


Turning back just before the point I had expected to have the benefit of the wind on my back but it was actually North Easterly cross off and I was pretty much able to maintain my albeit wobbly heading by paddling on my left side most of the way.


Catching a little bump into the beach I rememembered to step well back on the board and then jumped off in good time to avoid stuffing the fin on the beach. That was alright. I had just racked up my third ever session on a race board.

Off up to the car and out with the rods and box which was duly strapped to the board just behind me. I have no idea if the kit is better off in front or behind, answers on a postcard please. Fifty yards from the beach I stopped and popped out a Mackeral coloured Yozuri sinking plug and trailed it fruitlessly around the Western headland and into the little bay that I used to call 'Boat Cove'. Not a touch - never mind it was all good practice and part of the learning curve. The part that told me that fishing off a race board probably is not the ideal option. I'm guessing it's as easy as racing on a fishing board.


By the time that I got back to the beach the tide had pushed up so far that there was no beach head left and I had to 'Gingerly' surf in and carry the entire assembly level up the steep shingle bank. Another lesson learned.

So heres the download of the trip using which I pinched from a recommendation by Ponobill on the Standupzone.

Perranuthnoe sup paddle

The app is dead easy to use and once I had deleted the part of the trip that was recorded driving from Hayle to Helston actually made a bit of sense. Just hover over the panel and click on the little icons at the bottom right of the window to view the data in either graph or list format.
Little bursts at 5mph average of 2.5mph total trip of 4.1 miles. Easy.

Top stuff and just £1.79 from the app store.

The recording was all made possible by being able to pop the iphone into this little Gizmo

amazing bit of kit available here (blatant plug) and I reckon at £14.99 it's a bargain. They do audio enabled pouches as well as waterproof ear phones, bum bags, ruc sacks and storage sacks. Great range of kit and decent prices.

OK - Movember - what's the score?

In the shop we have decided to get behind the Movember movement that raises money worldwide for prostate cancer charities. Everybody gets a bit 'charity battered' these days so what we thought we would do is fleece everyone for a £1, not set our sights too high, grow the facial hair, have a laugh and if nothing else stick two fingers up to prostate cancer!!!

And then I thought,

'Hang on - here I am bashing out this blog just for the love of it,

(and of course for the hundreds of free boards, paddles, wetsuits, leashes and cash that come pouring through my letter box on a daily basis)

all totally ad free, and maybe, just maybe some of the 1500 or so visits to the blog each month might like to chip in a $1 or a £1 and maybe even get inspired to get in touch with their own prostate, you know get to grips with the old fellow, check him out, say high. I'm guessing that most of you reading this have one and would probably appreciate keeping most of it intact.

Pageviews today

Pageviews yesterday

Pageviews last month

Anyway if you feel that you want to do something join our team here for a £, or a $ or just grow your own and raise a bit of awareness throughout Movember.

Mail me a pic and I'll post it on the blog - (faces not gooches).

Come on - Go Global for your Gland - Paddle your Prostate - Get stuck right in and Feather up your face.

Cycle Logic MOVEMBER team site here site here

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nah Skwell 12'6" Race - Seriously?

I have no idea what's going on here sometimes. There's me, in my comfy little cocoon, mooching about buying the odd one or two surf boards and pretending like I know exactly what I'm doing and that I have a grip on things when


I end up driving up to Watergate bay to collect an ex-demo Nah Skwell 12'6 Race Board - I mean come on - me on a Flouro pink white and grey 6" thick leviathan of foam filled glass sporting a fin as big as a sail. To be honest it looked to me like something Pocahontas should be paddling down the Pamunkey River.

Actually it looked pretty cute, and after relieving Rich of his board and an amazingly light carbon Xpaddle I trogged back off to the car to load it on the roof. Thought that I was done with that sort of stuff.

John Hibbard busted me just as I got into the car park.

'It's not mine honest mister'

I lied - well actually it wasn't yet.

'I'm just looking after it for a friend'

'Why am I explaining myself to this man? He is a mine of information, just shut up and listen.'

We had a quick chat and conscious of the fact that Charmaine wanted to get something from her only day off as well we booted off.

Having done all the stuff that I should do I drove down to Carbis bay to beast the beast. Cos it was going to be easy right? Wrong!!

Something Rich had said that I dismissed out of hand at Watergate came drifting back into my consciousness as I wobbled, corrected, over corrected and teetered my way off the Beach. Something about being wobbly at first. Really!!!

The board tip's like it's going to roll totally but then gets to a point and tightens up, by which time I had already corrected my foot weighting, pitching me over to the other side. Ok,ok, relax and paddle and relax and paddle - there we go, phew that was a bit of a shock.

The bottom of the NS126R has a well defined keel that gets very prominent towards it's well defined prow (do surfboard's have prows? This one does). In fact everything about this board is well defined, not least the colour scheme, which I have to admit was beginning to grow on me.

Other than a 2 minute paddle on Steve Carter's Starboard Point a year or so ago I have never been on a race board so I did to it exactly what I thought a race board would need. I gave it beans. Rich had lent me a new carbon XPaddle and we were getting on just fine, I felt that even with the insanely high standing position afforded by the NS126r's deck the paddle was a tad too long but it was so light and easy to swing even with the bigger blade than my Nitro sports. The shaft was super skinny and round, which I like, and even allowing for the fact that there was no grip on the shaft I really dug the 'steely stiff' feel of paddle. Might have to fight me for that one Rich.

Once I got the roll - hold - roll thing under control we made steady progress out into St Ives Bay. I had my iphone running with a gps app but like a total twat with fat fingers I had failed to correctly press the 'GO' button at the start so that was a waste of time. I had wrapped the phone in yards of polythene bag and popped it into a water proof bum bag. Have to get that sorted.

Once I decided that I was going to blow my tits off if I kept up the stroke and weight that I started with I settled down and began to enjoy myself. I messed about with my cadence, I counted my strokes per side, I took some pictures and I began to wish that I had brought some fishing gear. This board's a blast. It's pretty much flat calm, dead loss for surf and here I was in the middle of St Ives bay feeling pretty much in control of things thinking

'This has got potential'.

Black Cliffs

Turning at the Channel Markers

Hayle River Mouth

I kept a heading for Godrevy across the bay and when I got level with Black Cliffs I turned for the Channel markers. Heading back the very light breeze was now on my shoulders and the board seemed to sing with the lightest of paddle strokes. I wish the gps had been working as the feeling of speed during this leg was significant.

Skirting the beach back past Hawke's Point, I started to dig deeper and faster on the home stretch. I was really enjoying this. Beaching the board I thought that I would drop off the phone and then just ass about and test the tilt factor, plus I was so hot I needed to get in the water as up till now my hair was still dry and I was poaching in my summer suit.

The second loop took me off the beach and out of the bay past Sunny Corner towards St Ives. I stepped back on the board as far as I dared and paddled a couple of left and right 360' turns. Again the board would lean, tighten up and correct. My hair stayed dry.

I have to admit I have no idea what to look for in a board like this. I have no benchmark and no comprehension of what is good bad or indifferent, but I know that I enjoyed it and in the short time, 80 minutes or so that I was on it I knew that I was going to be blanking a lot less this winter, and that has to be a good thing.

Walking back up the beach to the car I thought 'The handles in the right place', how good is that? If a company can get it right on a board over 12 long even factoring in a fin and leash . . . .

Ok I have not been over the board with a fine tooth comb but there are some really nice touch's dotted about. For instance - the detailing on the deck. There were two pairs of fittings up front for I believe additional handles which I'm already planning to use as hold downs for a fishing box. There is a vent screw and an additional leash plug part way up the deck, one more and I will be able to use straps to carry the board.

JP If you read this can I fit an additional leash plug in the deck forward of the handle recess? If so How??

So there we are - From a lame sort of Google Earth reckoning that first trip was a tad under five miles and loads more to come from this baby I think. I'm already loving it and thinking about waterproof iphone packs, tackle box attachments etc etc etc . . just wish I knew what the hell I was talking about.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

If Chuck Norris had a surfboard .. ..

Here's something that you don't see everyday, two genuine, first generation ULI inflatable surfboards. A 6' x 24" twin fin fish waxed and used and a 7'6"x26" twin fin minimal unwaxed and never used. Both 5" thick. I'm the wrong side of 14stone and have ridden the little one, not a pretty sight but it does the job when you need to scatch that itch.

These boards inflate in seconds (well under two minutes) and pack up so small that you can easily smuggle them into the holiday luggage, only to miraculously produce them at an opportune moment instantly making you the hero of those all too frequent

'Whoops, I've lost /broken / had stolen / forgotten, my surfboard!' moments. Priceless.

Tougher than Chuck Norris, . . .

Chuck Norris doesn’t believe in Germany.

If you want a list of Chuck Norris’ enemies, just check the extinct species list.

Chuck Norris has never blinked in his entire life. Never.

Chuck Norris doesn’t need to swallow when eating food.

Chuck Norris is so awesome he gave himself a vasectomy, before he fathered his kids

. . . yet still kind and sensitive to the skin like a ball pool full of Abyssinian Guinea pigs soaked in Pro Generis Oil of Olay, making them perfect to teach the little un's all about surfing before sending them out into the world of VW T5 ownership. OOoh I hope that does not come across as being a tad cynically stereotypical?

Great fun boards my preference would be to sell them both for £325 with one pump but would seperate at £150 for the 6'er and £200 for the minimal both with pumps. Postage easily arranged at £15 (UK Mainland) tops as they would pretty much fit in a padded envelope.

I could possibly be tempted with a swap / px cash either way for something interesting - tempt me. Or at least pass on some more Chuckies!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy reflective SUP Birthday to me.

I just got back from an early Sunday morning 'nothing to shout about' session and re-read my first ever post on this blog and realised that it was pretty much three years ago to the day that I bought my first Stand Up board a Jimmy Lewis 11'from Tim at the Longboard house, and started down this road. Seems longer somehow.

I cant quite recall the exact web info that made me decide to buy one but I do seem to remember an article about Olaus Mcleod

and his original SUBCULTURE website that was pretty inspirational.

The first post on the blog was on the 28th of January following a holiday in Mauritius where I got to know an ULI 11' travel board prompting me to start writing the blog in the first place. Clinton Yap a.k.a. 'Steamroller' was the initiation of that with his amazing video clips surfing 'Ovah Rocks' on his ULI. Other videos followed like driving over the boards with his 4x4 and generally having a ball and not taking anything too seriously. Fantastic stuff. Still keep in touch with Clinton, Chris and Jim at ULI - great guys all of them, genuine and helpful.

The first person to comment on the blog was 'Stoneaxe' from the Standupzone, it's always been the comments that have made the blog worth writing sort of still comes as a surprise that anyone actually reads this.

Hooked up in the real world with Gavin another Jimmy Lewis user in December 2007 and we surfed every available Sunday through the winter and into Spring 2008 before both realising that we needed more from our boards. So by March we had both bit the bullet and had bought Starboard Extremist's, me a 9'8" and Gav a 9'0. Again as I write this it does not seem that long ago but the board choice available at the time in the UK was probably fractionally less than the number of Catholic priest's that didn't have multiple facebook accounts.

There were a few C4's and 3 or 4 Starboards, the Jimmy Lewis' some windsurfy crossovers but that was pretty much it. We tried the 10'6 C4 but that felt a little beyond us at the time and so the flat rockered call of the 30" wide Starboard's were the way that we went. The whole appeal of 'shorter than 10' was a big draw and thanks to the amazing stability of the boards and John Hibbard's willingness to let us demo them, we were of and paddling.

Re-reading the old post's the change from the Jimmy to the Starboard was not an easy transition and took a bit of acclimatisation. I would love to go back now and have a go on one of those boards just to see what they are like with the passage of time.

I can see a Starboard joining the family again soon - just not sure which one.

So we surfed our tit's off on the little red and white SB's and began to hanker for 'something' I'm not quite sure that at the time either of us new what that was, it was as if the Starboards had opened a door for us but were just that bit too wide to let us through. That's actually a pretty good metaphor for what was happening although strictly speaking it was not simply the width of the boards it was more a combination of our low skills level, coupled with the wide, flat, stable boards and a moderate increase in our ability to push harder each session on open beach breaks that started us looking for that extra 'something'.

The Starboard encouraged me to start to think about what and how the actual shape of the boards affected their overall performance, not just surf performance but paddle, static and wave entry sort of stuff. Deep ehh? But it was an eye opener and educational.

If the Starboards opened the door, the purchase of a 2nd hand 10' C4 BK pro showed me how to go through it, at warp factor five. This board was such a handful at 27" wide it scared the shit out of me every time I took it out, but what a surf board. Totally uncompromising, totally focused and the first time that I thought 'This sport has no limits'.

Time spent on the BK was well spent BUT there was no resting, no stopping and plenty of flailing and falling. It had to have decent pucnhy conditions to get going but I liked it.

What next? Easy, the C4 classic 10' slightly less aggressive and a little more stable but still very surfable with the bonus feature of being able to stop and look around. Glide was good too allowing early wave catching BUT it was still 10' long and the Starboards had shown us the promised land of 9' something.

I had been following a blog online written by and starring Dwight and Jackie Fisher, I had left a few comments on his blog as he had on mine, there was a little network of surfer's following the same path. Eric Linter's 'How to' collective site amongst many others.

DW's blog was always much more visual and Dwights technical expertise and board manufacturing experience offered great insight as volumes and rockers were compared when new boards finally surfaced in real life.

Gav then bought a 10'6 Naish (he still had his 9'0 Extremist). The Naish was an amazing fully rockered board which surfed so well, problem was it was a foot too long to be really practical, on the strength of this however I ordered a 9'6 Naish Hokua only to have a rush of blood at the last minute and swap it out for the 9'3". That was 18months ago and although I spent 3 or 4 weeks thinking that I had made a mistake it would take something truly special to prise it out of my dying hands now.

It was about this time that C4 had launched the Sub Vector and DW was extolling it's virtues as a one board quiver option. I have yet to ride an SV but Dwight has since picked up the Naish baton and not only run with it but cleared the stadium.

Since having the 9'3 Hokua I have bought an ULI Lopez inflatable such a good board, similar shape to my Naish very surfy, super light and loads of fun. A 7'8" Nah Skwell fish founf it's way into my boadroom that proved beyond doubt that smaller SUP's can be easy, stable and fun. The convenience of living with a sub 8' board is a revelation and the ego boost is stellar, however for me the board was a 'one peak' product. My Naish has little glide but I can paddle it a mile or two up and down the beach while I patrol the break. This is something that you give up a little of with the Nah Skell, and I would venture with other boards that are as short, not a problem, but not for me at the moment. I also had a Bonga Perkins 9'6", Very pretty, very surfy and were it not for the Naish very keepable but no point in having both. Bloody good value though.

So, to what was meant to be my wish list board, the Mctavish 9'0. What a total disappointment. I ordered it early, it turned up late and totally out of balance on the handle - call me a ponce but it really matters, and it was heavy, at least I thought so. Construction looked ok but come on ok for a board costing well over a grand - nah!! Fortunately the guys at TIKI were good as gold and did not hold me to it, they sold it on very quickly. I notice that it has sold on again twice since. MMnn.

So my Naish - it's the longest that I have kept a board and is now my only board other than my ULI's. It always delivers and realistically I should just order another but there is a 9'er somewhere out there with my name on it. The Naish Mana with a slightly wider nose might just open some more doors to me. I have plans, who knows . . . been fun this.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Nah Skwell 8'8"

Knowing that I only had a few days to try the NS 88 I was hoping for a bit of a let up in the weather, we had the swell but along with it was 15 - 20mph onshore winds. That coupled with pretty much bang on low tides after work meant just one thing at Gwithian. Hideous, dumpy closeouts, (is that three things?). Anyway the forecast was looking better for Thursday, so in true forward planning style I decided to give it a bash mid beach on Wednesday night.

Sure enough trotting across the beach and staring out at chest high walls of white water I almost said to myself 'Sod it, I'll go back and watch the tour', but there is something about the investment that it takes to put on a wetsuit, even if it's only a little shorty, that makes it inevitable that it going to get wet, plus even with the stiff, gusty wind in my face carrying the little 8'8" was dead easy and not at all like fighting with some mad, kiting, wing of foam that almost has to be dragged flapping down the beach. It's the little things like this that can make a board grow on me.

Low tide Gwithian, like most flat beaches, is full of pits and hollows that churn the inside wash, pushing the board out until it was more than fin deep I had already made up my mind that it was going to be a short session given that I could get out at all.

Popping up onto the deck for the first time told me instantly that this was going to be fine. It was solid as a rock. I kept the nose pointed seaward and paddled alternate sides through the inside wash with no drama until I got caught in that 'pitching zone' just between the safety of the green and the inside maelstrom. Ok down on my knees and bide my time nose on, until I made my dash for the relative calm out back between what passed for a lull.

That was better than I thought but it had taken about 15 minutes to get out and I was knackered.

The swell was chest to head high and not well shaped, the waves were sort of all or nothing making taking off a case of going what seemed to be suicidally late, and I did not particularly want to get caught inside and battle my way out again. So I waited and realised that although the chop was lively I could stay on the board and up right. Ok I fell a couple of times but it was choppy, windy and this was my first outing. Top stuff.

After a couple of aborted attempts to drop in, two of which had me stepping forward to weight the nose resulting in me slipping off the front I made a note to 'self'. Wax!!! I caught a couple of pitching set waves and got the feel that the board was keen to go, conditions were not good but staying on it was a bit of a victory.

I caught one in and felt very positive - this board should sing in the right conditions, and judging from this session, the right conditions could be far from perfection.

Next day - phone call to Rich

'Hi Rich it's Steve, do you mind if I wax your nose?'

I jumped quickly back in as the pregnant pause told me he was probably bucking up courage to ask for a back, sack and crack as well and I knew that I had to stem that one pronto.

'And can I keep it for a few more days - please?'

No problem.

So, tonight - back to the same spot - the wind had dropped a bit, but more importantly had gone around and was cleaning up the head high sets. The nose was waxed up and every thing looked good to go. Paddling out was fine and I found myself a clearish slot although there were plenty of surfers up and down the beach.

The waves were punchy but going no where. I picked off the second of a set, dropped into a right and just had time to stick in a decent bottom turn back up and off the face of the already threatening lip before popping out still on my feet. Marker down, now relax.

It was not easy, staying on the board was fine - patrolling up the break was good but the speed that the waves were forming up and detonating in shallow water left no time for me to settle. That plus the sheer number of prone surfers in the water made it harder to find a shoulder in space. I had a few but everyone was struggling and every now and then a few big 'sneakers' came striding through just to keep everyone on their toes.

The board then, it's a cracker - a proper surfboard that is 'fairly' easy to stay on and has plenty of float and stability even for someone of my weight (currently 14 1/2 stone, 92.5kgs, the 9'3" must a doddle). BUT it is a shortboard and you need to be 'working' it consistently. It turns hard and fast and even after just two sessions it has been one of only two boards that has not needed too much acclimatisation to stand on and paddle even in pretty adverse conditions. Funnily enough the other was the Nah Skwell 7'8".

Standing and paddling on them is one thing catching waves is another. The transition between patrolling, spotting, paddling to and accelerating into a suitable wave requires so many adjustments, considerations and pre-emptions that are all highlighted on shorter boards. For me on the NS88 this was going to need some work.

Shorter boards don't have the glide and early bump catching speed of boards that are 10' plus. You have to go late, often just under the lip, this means the board needs rocker and lots of it, not just to prevent pearling but also to enable you to set the rail on it's edge and use the rocker to turn the board quickly to the safety of the shoulder, away from the curl. The NS88 does this, however for me the stability plus of the board that comes from it's totally flat hull led me to sort of 'skid' and 'slip' into the catch sometimes just wrong foot me. This is not a criticism, it's the nature of the board and with time and familiarisation could be utilised as a great way to slip in sideways.

I felt the need to get to the front to weight the board but often ended up just side on with the nose dipping under the water stalling any momentum that I had and watching the wave go past. Even then with the nose buried it was solid as a rock and totally recoverable. Setting myself up for the catch was the one thing that I felt that I would need to spend some time getting used to and I think that for a 8'8" performance board that's pretty bloody amazing.

This then got me thinking, my Naish has a pretty well defined central keel line running the length of the board, it does make it tippy compared to the Nah Skwell but I reckon it offers some 'drive' and 'bite' when making those last few paddle strokes that keeps the board pointing where you want or expect it to go rather than have it slip and skid out.

Like I said every board I try teaches me something, but then again it could all be total bollox.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

It's Been Awhile

It's not because I've not been surfing, in fact even while I was vanless I still managed to get out on the ULI Lopez carried in a rucsac on my little Honda 250. Great fun and a fantastic way to stick two fingers up to the principle of 24hour car parking charges recently imposed at Gwithian.(You can't put a pay and display ticket on a motorbike).

No more sneaking in early mornings before the attendant is on duty. Must be making the council tons of money(NOT!!!), as bizarrely in addition to the 24hr pay and display machines the council still have an employed attendant in place - smart!!

Anyway the van replacement is now on the road along with this little puppy that I've been getting to know.

30 years old, Unmolested, 15000 mile, 2owner(now 3) 653cc of thundering parallel twin insanity. Mellow, fun, ridiculously cheesy and I love it. It has to rank as the best way to check the surf,

Having thinned out a few of my boards and pretty much resigned myself to hang tight on the Naish I get a call from Rich -

"Hey Steve - do you fancy having a punt on the Nah Skwell 8'8"

"Sure - I'll get my cheque book" - here we go again.

So I immerse myself in the details of the board in order to try and pre-determine my ability to ride it, and when the board pitches up out comes the tape and calipers. (sad twat I know but hey).

These are my actual measurements compared to the Naish 9'3"

Length is 8'8" versus the Naish 9'3"
Width is 29.5" versus 29 1/4"
Nose is 17.5" versus 15"
Tail is 18" versus 17"
Nose and tail taken 12" down

Plenty of nose rocker but not as aggressive as the Naish and the bottom is pretty much pan flat whereas the Naish has a highly pronounced 'keel' or 'V' running full length. So what does all this mean?

First things first, first impressions. That's three firsts.

Like the Naish the Nah Skwell 8'8" is a long shortboard, not a short longboard. It looks right, even the little swallow tail works although I'd like a pin, don't really know why just would. Hard rail edges extend way down the rocker line towards the nose, and the satin / matt white finish has an almost industrial look about it.

Standard central fin box with two side bites secured with screws from the deck, Mnnn not sure about those. The deck grip is much more restrained than my 7'8" Nah Skwell and covers two thirds of the deck. The central handle is smaller than most but deep, annoyingly it's still just off balance, not as bad as the Mctavish as the tail does not drag but why don't manufacturers just give up with deck handles and fit leash plugs, boring I know. The great thing is the board is light, very light could even be Naish light and that's bloody light, I'll weigh it tomorrow.

I think it's fair to say that the 8'8" is not a 'Hang on the wall board' instead it looks like you would not be afraid of giving it a damn good seeing to without crying about every nick, chip and ding, you know just like a proper surf board.

So back to the question - What does all this mean? Ok - I like this game. Every board I have had or borrowed has taught me something. I still don't know much but I have a better understanding about how rocker and nose and tail profiles affect boards, and I reckon that this one is going to be as stable if not more so than the 9'3. Why? Because even though the board is 7" shorter, the slightly reduced nose rocker and 'hippier' plan carries further down the length of the board resulting in more board in the water. The Nose is also going to add massively to the stability in chop, not sinking so easily.

I'll let you know if I'm right.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Anyone that reads this stuff probably has a good idea by now that I have a habit - it's called compulsion. I recognise it and to be honest I celebrate it - my compulsion's are usually born from genuine passion and in my defence there have not actually been that many over the years. Fishing - Rugby - Motorbikes - Surfing - Push bikes - Triathlon and anything involving the sea, not getting bored and staving off wearing pissy smelling fleece jackets that seem to accompany the onset of middle age and terminal tedium.

I'm fortunate in that I can usually indulge my compulsions, not in a 'Bollox I'll buy a new Porsche' sort of penis substitute sort of way, but more of a £1500 quid MG Midget sort of whim way, if that makes any sense at all.

Charmaine has pretty much given up on trying to contain my disease, of course we'll go through the initial 'what do you want another board for?' stuff, but she knows it's got to go through the process until the possesion thing happens and all my internal boxes are ticked and then I can move on to the next compulsion.

I actually envy people who have lifelong single passions like . . . I dunno running - that's a good one I would love to like running as a passion but the problem is I just couldn't deal with having that seemingly permanent dribble of semi dried caked spittle tracing down from the corner of my mouth, and I'd look shite in running shorts, and, well I just don't think that I could get that horny about a new pair of running shoes or think of enough excuses why so and so beat me. But a new board or a new road bike or another motorbike - hell that's something else . . that's something that tugs from deep inside something . . unreasonable - passionate - selfish even.

So - the story so far -

I drove Charmaine's car, nothing special in that except that it's a VW Bluemotion Polo and it does an average of 73mpg. AN AVERAGE. So there I was beating down the bypass at 80 plus and I checked out the mpg readout and it said 85mpg - WHAT??? The car is no rocket ship but it is fun, and lively and it cost's nothing in road tax like ZERO and it uses less fuel in a month than it costs to boil a kettle, and, I thought 'I want some of that rightous greenism'.

So I started touting my Vito about the dealerships and was amazed at how much Merc would give me for it after three years and 33,000 miles. So amazed I sold it to a customer.

It's not like it was particularly thirsty 27-35 mpg for a 3.0 v6 diesel, 205bhp 0-60 in 8 seconds auto van, it's just that I fancied something that would do 50 plus mpg carry my board and impending motobility scooter and full range of varying thickness aromatic fleece jackets to the surf with . . .

So having sold the van and with at least 12 weeks before the new bus arrives I went surfing, . . . . on my moped. ULI Lopez on my back and no car parking fees, and you know what - I had a ball. The look on peoples faces as I walked back to the ped with a 10' SUP and paddle and proceeded to pack it all away and then disapear out of the car park in a haze of Aprilia generated two stroke smoke, accompanied by the sound of a thousand wasps in the confines of an empty Party Seven tin. Wonderful. Life does not get much better than that, then I saw this -

And I thought 'Great - but not on the Moped' - I know I'll get a SLR650 Honda single, or a Bonneville, or a Kawasaki cruiser Twin or maybe being totally content in the trouser department I'll pick up dirt cheap 250 Honda Nighthawk twin and email the surfer peg guys and see what they can do. I'll let you know how it goes.

In the mean time and against my better judgement I bought a Flexifoil Big Buzz, I know what your thinking but actually it's a kite, and it packs away to nothing, and I took it down on the beach in 20mph Northerly onshores, and had a blast. Gavin - if you say I told you so I'll run you down with the Ped!. Ok it's only a small two line kite but - it has got me thinking . . . .

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mctavish - The shortest time I've ever owned a board.

Getting back in the swing of things now - had a few Sunday, sloppy sessions at Gwithian and had my first full fat beating in the middle of the week. An evening session that had overhead surf and blistering offshores put my lack of paddle fitness to the test. Not nice and I should have known better but it's been pretty desperate and as the clocks had gone back I thought I better make the most of it. WRONG!!

One thing that was definitely right though was going to see Joan Armatrading for the start of her latest UK tour - last time we saw her was 25 years ago and we were worried that her voice may have suffered with time. Not a bit - in fact if anything it seemed even stronger and richer than before and if anything more confident on stage, however she don't say much!!! Nice mix of old and the new 'This Charming Life' album which is a bit rockier. Great stuff and totally recommended - Swear that I spotted Billie Jean King there, might be mistaken.

So the Mctavish - Gutted. Unpacked it like a kid at Christmas - perfect not a mark, I thought that it looked similar in finish to my old Starboard 9'8" but I would guess that it would be a bit less chip prone than that as board construction have moved on a bit - haven't they?

Everything checked out with my naive set of requirements. Pointy nose but wider than the Naish, significantly less nose rocker, and the rails held their width over a greater length before pulling into the tail with the stinger steps. Great so far. Whip the board over and a full set of fin fitments. Quad / 2 plus 1 you name it - it's all there. The fins - all of them were supplied as well, this is going to be fun. Stick my hand in the handle and BOLLOX this can't be right, the tail was dragging on the floor, with no f'ing fins and no f'ing leash.
In November I was assured by Mark Kelly (Kel) from GSI that all the UK stock would have this fault remedied. It wont affect the way the board surf's and a couple of leash plugs set in the deck would cure it - but . . . BUT double bloody arse.

Tiki were good as gold and smiled,(no doubt through gritted teeth), and took the board back to check out the score with HQ and promptly sold it that week. That'll teach me for being a fanny. It was hard seeing that board go back out the shop but I gave up carrying SUP's on my shoulders when I sold my Jimmy Lewis 11' and I ain't starting that all over again. No firm date for more boards yet either and to be honest the shines gone off it a bit especially as . .

I paddled out at Gwithian tonight on my Naish having climbed down the rapidly disappearing cliff in front of the car park, cos that's what I do. The Naish complete with fins and leash, and paddle all in one hand was super light and perfectly balanced - the tail of the Mct would have been toast before I got to the bottom, sorry guys but it would have driven me nuts. Shame. It did make me realise just how good the Naish is - the surf was small and slack but it was clean with a few waist high sets pushing weakly through, no fireworks but I had a decent little session.

The whole thing has got me thinking seriously about the boards that I have and the insane addiction to collecting more and more. So now it's one in and one out. (yeh right).

Anyway first up to go is my original 11' ULI Inflatable. I had plans for using it as a fishing/cruising board and while I have no doubt that it will be tough enough to cope with strings of dancing hooks I reckon it might be prudent to use a hard board instead. List price for one of these puppies is $1395 plus all the associated import costs - yours with a pump and bag for £495.

I may be persuaded to trade it for something interesting - Surftech Lopez possibly - try me - I'm easy.

This was the board that prompted me to start writing this stuff and my initial thoughts impressions and pictures can be found here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Now that's how you store boards on holiday
And not a single baggage charge amongst them

It's strange how fast things can go downhill sometimes, and how soon after your highest high's you get your lowest lows. Our Costa Rica trip was amazing, surfed everyday bar one sometimes twice a day and occasionally three times. Totally ace. But I reckon I sort of peaked in Nosara, and everything since has been cold, wet grey and painful. Here's why.

I had exchanged a couple of emails with Jim Weir from ULI and had arranged to hook up with him for a couple of days to say hello and catch a few waves, that was going to be on the 19th of Jan. 17th of Jan I was getting down to my usual morning business and just paddling out for another wave when as I stepped back to lift the nose up over the incoming wash I heard / felt a loud 'pop' and the lights went out. The left to right swell had taken the nose of the board sideways along with my lower leg. Trouble was the rest of me was going the opposite way. My first thought was that I had broken my leg and it was all I could do to lie across the board and prone paddle back to the beach. Back on the sand it was obvious that it was my knee - 'game over' I thought. . . . . .

OK what was that mnemonic for injuries I C E? Yeah that's it
Ice . Compression . Elevation (actually it was RICE but I substituted Rest for Lots of Beer and L I C E did not seem such an attractive idea, plus Rest was out of the equation. So I iced it up and unbelievably managed to find a perfect knee brace in a Costa Rican super market, and drank loads of Imperial and ate Ibuprofen and paracetamol and by giving the surf a miss all the next day I managed to hobble about enough to get to the 4x4 two days after the event and drive to our rendezvous with team ULI.

The evening session was thankfully short, and choppy so I don't think I looked too bad, the next morning we scored some small, perfectly formed waves and I had a lesson in nose riding from Jim as he cruised past me serenely in perfect trim. I was not on form, my knee was just holding up but we made the best of it and had the best, longest breakfast ever.

Not looking bad for 60 - Jim must be getting on a bit as well!!

Jim and his pals Larry and John are the funniest guys and the least pretentious people you could wish to meet. Charmaine was in fit's of giggles the entire time and we made a point to watch the Sponge Bob Squarepants movie as soon as we got home. I hope to meet up with them again sometime.

Jim Weir and Larry

Anyway we saw out the remainder of our holiday and met up with Kath and Richard for the last few days of the trip, taking the opportunity to catch the Rodeo again. Brutal and all the more real for one of our fellow hotel guest's getting to take part. Crazy Dave.

Two days back home and my leg from my knee to my ankle got so swollen I started thinking DVT. Having got it checked out it I realised that I was now paying the price for running on Ibuprofen for the last week of the holiday. It was almost a month later before I felt that I could risk getting back on the board. My Naish felt so scatey that I could barely kneel on it let alone stand. That coupled with me 'covering' my knee made me very wooden on the board. After a while I loosened up a bit but stale does not describe my performance properly. It was almost another three weeks before my next attempt during which time I had sunk so low in the miserable winter conditions that I picked up the phone to cancel my Mctavish, the conversation went something like this -

'Hi Steve, it's Steve Coram - any chance of cancelling my 9'0 Mctavish, I'm surfing like a girl and feel shite about everything, put on all the weight I lost pre christmas and have a bit of a water retention problem at the moment, plus it's cold and grey, raining and I'm a bit pissed off.'

To which he replied

'Not a chance - man up you big Jess and stop feeling sorry for yourself. . Twat'

'Fair enough.' I thought

Which brings me pretty much up to date barring today's conversation which went -

'Hi guy's where the hell is my Mctavish? I'm desperate'

' It's here, it's just arrived but as it's THE ONLY ONE IN THE COUNTRY we wanted to bring it down ourselves'.

Oh yeah - that's what I wanted to hear, my Mctavish is the only one in the country. Now the paranoia sets in, can I ride it? Will I like it? How is it going to compare with my Naish? Will the handle actually be in the right position?

Well if the spec sheet is anything to go by it should be 3" shorter, 1/2" narrower, the same thickness 4 1/4" and yet have 6 litres more volume. Which makes me think that the nose is going to be a bit wider and with the stinger quad tail carry the width further down the length of the board. I can't imagine that it will have more rocker than the Naish - Jeez that board has more nose rocker than Elvis . . so where does all that leave me. Pretty bloody amped actually. I'm hoping that with more board in the water me and Mr McT are going to get on just fine.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Early Mornings and Armadillos

Now you might be asking yourself 'WTF has a long eared, belly shuffling, ant powered, armoured plated rodent with poor eyesight got the hell to do with paddlesurfing?'

Fair point, but it's being able to see stuff like this in the wild -

That makes it possible for me to do stuff like this -

There is so much . . . ergh . . nature going on that both Charmaine and myself can get our kicks without either of us feeling that we have had the bum's rush of holidays.

Going West for our holidays also has some major advantages for us, for many years we would travel East, India, Kenya,Sri Lanka etc. Great places offering humbling, mind blowing and life altering experiences with fantastically cheap living and the best food if you escape the tourist traps and eat with the locals. However there is a cost. Most Westerners are viewed as being fabulously wealthy in comparison to most locals and as such are targeted by the beach boys whose sales skills, memory recall abilities and persistence have to be seen to be believed.
Fun, at first, but tiring after a while and sometimes next to impossible to find 'space' just to sit on the beach alone and not fend off vendors. Sometimes it's difficult not to be rude, and I don't want to go on holiday to be rude. Lovely people, genuinely as curious about us as we are about them but difficult at times when you are eating breakfast and trying to dodge any eye contact with your new 'friends' on the beach.

Costa Rica is not like that, you can walk along a beach (a long one) and not see anyone else, and even this year on Playa Guiones as busy as it was you have zero beach hassle. You always feel safe, never intimidated and always can find your own space. Plus as we travel West and Costa Rica is 6 hours behind the UK I'm bright eyed and bushy tailed at 3am in the morning making paddling out pre-dawn at 5.30am feel like mid morning to me. This gave me the opportunity to see some beautiful sunrises, surf an empty break (for an hour or so) and still get to breakfast for 8.00am. Totally waisted by 9.00pm though!!

This pretty much set the tone of our stay, up first light and straight into into a chest-high offshore wave fest without even checking. Sometimes a lunchtime session and followed up with a much busier sunset sesh with the evening crowd.

Early in the week the winds were stiff offshore but more help than hindrance holding the waves up and providing excellent workable faces with massively long lefts and very workable rights. The Lopez was so much fun, never fazed and always capable of more than I could deliver.

It amazes me how a board with totally rounded rails can hold into a steep face so well and carve (for me) such a hard bottom turn. It's also noticeable how much turning force centres around the paddle in the wave face, always a bit of a worry with a three piece paddle but again the Werner Nitro gave me no cause for concern, quite the contrary in fact as I decided to get myself a one piece job for when I got back.

As the week went on the offshore winds got stronger and stronger, culminating in a couple of days and nights of virtually storm force conditions taking off sections of the Casa Romantica's roof. The force of the spray off the back of the waves was enough one day to take me off the board blinding me in a dense cloud of warm Pacific ocean. During these days I missed one morning session but still managed to keep up my 100% daily strike rate by sneaking into the slightly less windy evening slots.

It was during one of these windy sessions that I had the bizarre experience of paddling down the face of a wave only to be stopped dead in my tracks by a gust and pretty much held in stasis as the wave passed me by. It would be fair to say that these sessions were hard work, but great fun and not to be missed.

One of the more endearing aspects of the board that came to light was the way in which the fins would progressively 'release' their hold when standing on (read close to)the nose. Nothing drastic just a noticeable, controllable tail 'S..L..I..D..E' that made me think about the prospect of pulling off a helicopter. Fortunately thinking about it was as far as I got, however the nose heavy tail sliding sessions were great fun. The closer to the nose the easier and further the tail would slide round, yet the board's trim could be kept in check with slight 'nudges' of the knees.

Anyway all I know is that the board took everything in its stride and left me smiling. The only time that I thought that I needed anything slightly altered was during a session when the swell had picked up giving some just overhead set waves. This coincided with a rare onshore breeze. The catch was easy but the wave face was quite choppy, and the until then unnoticeable 'ULI BOUNCE' conspired to stick the nose in the chop once or twice causing me to pearl spectacularly. I have since discovered that my LOPEZ was one of the very early ones and subsequently they all have more nose rocker.

You never know who you are going to meet in places like this, the Casa Romantica is a very comfortable and friendly hotel and pretty soon all the guests get chatting over brekfast and around the pool during the afternoon siesta's. Most surf, and with it's own beach access you sort of spot the guests in the water. Ron and Ania were two guests that we got very chatty with, Ron was a fantastically tidy short boarder who was totally 'dialled' into his boards and very interested in the ULI. He rides an 8'11" Joe Blair at home

Ania is Buzzy Trent's daughter and is custodian of all Bud Brown's surfing archives. Lovely people and a pleasure to have met.

More to come including 'Crazy Dave' the bull rider and 'Team Uli on Tour'

'Party wave' !!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


December 20th was my last post, such a lot has happened since then it all just seems such a blur now. Since then I managed to get a couple of decent sessions in, one on Christmas Eve on the Bonga with Shane and another on a beautiful New Years day on the 7'8", but to be honest my head was already on the beach at Playa Guiones.

We just managed to dodge the snow and ice and flew out of Heathrow on time on the 6th of January, connecting painlessly in Houston to arrive at Liberia having been on the road for 24 hours. Those that read this regularly will probably be pleased to know that I'm going to keep the travelogue to a minimum. If you need more info about Costa Rica feel free to contact me but this blog is mainly about the people and the board. What a board!!

The ULI GL-X1 has been in my board shed since May, I have taken it out on occasions, pumped it up and had a few sessions on it but being a travel board I have basically kept it for travel and used my hard boards at home. I had packed the Lopez, an original 6' Uli surfboard, the new high pressure pump, spare Uli 3pc alloy paddle and my new 3pc Werner Nitro carbon paddle all in the same Gelert bag that I use to keep the Uli Steamroller in. All up weight still way under the 23kg bag limit. On arrival at the Casa Romantica we unpacked our kit, pumped the boards up fitted leashes, put the paddles together and made our way down to the beach to check out the surf. Not that we were keen but it took about 25 minutes tops.

The tide was pretty full with a decent swell forming plenty of usable peaks all down the beach, it was good to be back but where the hell had all these people come from? Last year Playa Guiones seemed to be a fairly quite, sleepy little place - 12 months on and the sea was full of surfers.

Nervously I paddled out, I had not been on a board for a week and it had been ages since I had been on the Lopez in decent surf. Desperately trying to avoid any eye contact I paddled out, up and over the wash. The pulled in nose and rocker made light work of the breaking waves and I was soon out the back with dry hair. Good start. Easing my way into some space I cruised along the line up hoping for a decent first wave. It's always good to throw down a marker not least to let other people know that you are basically competent, sort of sets their mind at rest.

Paddled for my first wave and . . . bugger it sort of slipped by with me putting my last paddle stroke in on the left when it should have been on the right. Result - missed catch, never mind still dry and no-one too close so paddled back to where I thought the next peak would be. Nose to the horizon I back-paddled rear to front on alternate sides and waited for the next chance. Back paddling swings the nose around massively with each stroke and providing the stroke is balanced with rail pressure and followed up with an opposite side normal stroke, I can scan for sets with my back to the beach and easily and very quickly turn the board 180' left or right with a single paddle stroke. Great for watching out for 'sneaker sets', maintaining position and 'sculling' in to adjust for a catch. The technique also helps me with balance, anyway next wave showed as I back paddled left, single front paddle right followed by a couple of digs and away - to a lovely peeling right which I managed to work top to bottom with a fairly hard slashy cutback thrown in before popping out the back neatly and smugly. Oh yes Uli Lopez 1 - rest of the world 0.

A good start to a session seems to set the tone and pretty soon I was making a pig of myself, pushing harder on the bottom turns and turning the board in down the line earlier on the catches. Very quickly I dialled in to the Lopez - this was going to be a fun trip and I did not think that I was going to miss my Naish 9'3 at all.

I decided not to milk the first session as I had the best part of three weeks here and paddled in after an hour and a half paddle surf orgy of indecently good waves in 26'c water - not bad for a first day - now where's that Imperial?

Photo's - some of the pics are mine, some are Charmaine's but the really good ones (apart from the beer of course) are by a guy called Jeff Logan. He set's up camp at the Guilded Iguana in Playa Guiones and can even make a muppet like me look reasonable - if you squint - and drink lots of the aforementioned Imperial.

Look him up if you are there he looks like this.

His contact phone number in Costa Rica for 2010 is the Guilded Iguana (2682-0259).
Jeff Logan
Skype: Logan.Photo

193 Lake Drive North
Orchard Beach
Ontario, Canada
L4P 3C8