Friday, December 30, 2011

Custom NC Dumpster (almost)

He she is - first the numbers

Length 8' even if I squint I can't make it less ???

Width 30"

Nose at 1' 17 1/2"

Tail at 1' 21"

Nose rocker -

at tip 6"

1' from tail 3 1/4"

Weight 17 lbs

Glassing Schedule

Top 3 x 6oz plus a 6oz standing patch
Bottom 2 x 6oz
Hull contour - dead flat until 37" from the tail when a slight V starts and increases slightly through the fins.

Now the pictures -

Initial reaction is - I love it and I reckon I can do this, next thought - I want to go slimmer and shorter, third maybe listen to Bill next time and slim down the tail a bit, followed by,  I really need to get out and ride this puppy.  Problem is the forecast is so shite for the next week or so and we are off to Costa Rica soon. Nice dilemma.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas Blog World

 Bill from Escape just emailed me this picture.

7'10 NC Dumpster  resplendent with St Piran's flag 
(Baner Peran The Cornish Flag)

How good does that look? I have to say I'm more than a little excited about this. In fact this picture has been giving me Tissue Issues all day!  

Massive thanks to Tris from Home blown for cutting the blank and Bill and the crew from Escape Surfboards for all the finishing and especially to Dwight over at NC Paddlesurfer for the modified Dumpster design, incentive and inspiration to get this done, My mum for her unwavering .   .   .   you get the idea.  

I've not seen it in the flesh yet and I  have to wait until next week before getting my sweaty paws all on it. Could be queuing up a New Years day session, now that would be something.

  I've no idea if I'm going to be able to ride the damn thing yet, but even if I can't, you just can't beat a bit of Cornish tribalism and this looks like pure art to me.

 "I wander if Charmaine will let me hang it on the wall? Hang on. What the hell am I thinking? It's going to be phenomenal!! Just look at it ferchrissake it's amazing  .    .     .   .   .       UUurrghmmmph "  

Oops,  SORRY slight gentleman's accident, that's five today. Can't accuse me of not being passionate about my sport. Anyway more pictures to follow as soon as. 

Thanks to all who read this blog and a massive thank you to those who have left comments over the last year - always appreciated - hope you all have a fantastic, happy Christmas and a healthy and rewarding New Year - Regards Steve.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Escape to The Rescue

These are the first images of the raw blank straight from the machine at Homeblown, got to say I'm pretty chuffed with the way that it looks. Tris told me that he glued three blocks of foam together and then hot-wired the basic blank prior to having the shaping machine deal with Dwights numbers for the final shape. 
On the Machine 

Rail Line and Nose Rocker

 I love the look of this bottom profile - it looks like a porky version of my Naish and there is something comforting about the width of the tail. Above all though to me it looks like a proper job surfboard.

Ok - to sum up the story so far is -

I have a 129litres of surfboard shaped foam all ready to rock and roll.

A big, fat resounding N.F.I. from  three local shapers, one of whom  I had hoped might be vaguely interested in hand finishing the blank, and slinging a couple of layers of epoxy drenched six ounce glass on the bottom and three layers on the top.

And an increasing feeling that I was going to need a crash course in glass lamination and epoxy resin.

The prospect of having to do the glassing myself was looming large, there was no way that I could pull this off without help so I called Andru to see if he fancied re-awakening his board manufacturing skills.

'I could probably get the loan of a shaping shack' he said, 'and I'm pretty happy to stand over you whilst you screw things up'.

Well it was a back up plane least.  Then Tris who could obviously feel my pain mentioned that he was about to travel up to a customer of his in Wadebridge, who not only had experience in epoxy but also with StandUps.  That customer was Bill of  Escape Surfboards.  He suggested that I gave Bill a call. So I did, and you know what? The guy was so easy to talk to, he was interested in my project, his first comment was -

'Yep we can do that'

His second was

'No problem'

and his third was

'Give me an email of exactly what you want and I'll give you a price.'

So I did - glass it as you see fit, twin leash plugs on the tail, twin plugs in the deck to use the paddle as a carrying handle, (no balance issues with this one) and a leash plug and FCS plug in the nose for a GoPro mount. Paint the bottom with a Cornish Flag and you know what - he emailed me back within 24hours with a price. Happy with that I thought and off we go again.

I was gobsmacked - apart from being an easy going guy that made me feel like a customer and not a pain in the ass, Bill had pretty much single handedly restored my faith in  custom shapers, and he hadn't yet seen the blank.  Top bloke.

So there we go at the moment the blanks with Escape being hand finished prior to glassing and fitting out. Can't wait.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Custom Board - About Time

Four years in now and I've pretty much lost count of the stand up boards that have crossed my path. When I was surfing prone longboards I would probably order a new custom every 3 or four years and each new board would usually 'retire' it's predecessor gracefully but totally.
The idea of buying a 'pop out' was alien. I always wanted a little bit of 'Me' in my boards and bizarrely I liked the notion of using a local shaper. Quaint eh!

Then along came the standup's and everything changed.

Board ownership  has been measured in weeks and months in what must look like an orgy of stand-up spending. Fortunately a lot of these boards were subsequently snapped up by fellow SUPaddicts. Limited supply (here in the UK) meant that depreciation was pretty much non existent especially on the used boards and moving boards on and between friends was commonplace and easy.

The source of this board fever could  partly be traced to the progression that had taken place in my still limited abilities and also in the availability  and design of the boards on the market that convinced me that I could advance said limited abilities.  Funny I never bought into this with prone boards perhaps it was the excitement of being close to the beginning of something new and evolving. Perhaps it was a perverse form of pressure that stemmed from keeping this blog. Who knows? But the boards kept coming thick and fast.

So where now?
I have no doubt that for me boards are fast approaching the end game in terms of size and possibly design. As far as size is concerned both Gong and Starboard are now producing boards under 7' and even sub 6'.

 At some point the paddle advantage on a stand up is going to be lost over lying prone especially on windier days when we present a significant sail area when standing and with shorter boards offering little or no glide advantage over lying prone we may as well ride prone boards.

Design? - Well I could be wrong but there can't be that many undiscovered 'magic' hull shapes, rockers, plan shapes, rails etc. etc. that have not been tried and tested on conventional surf boards over the years. There may be as yet untried combinations and maybe new materials and construction methods but true design?  Not sure.   Which is why Dwight's custom shape made so much sense.

I had been hankering after a custom board for a while and the thought of riding something shorter than my 9'0 Mana was an itch that was gaining in intensity.

 My Nah Skwell 7'8 proved beyond doubt that short was not only viable but also capable of wringing more out of less than perfect conditions.  When Dwight over on ncpaddlesurfer started down his  foam frenzy of home shaped boards I watched with envious admiration.  He first shaped his downwinders which was impressive, but he really caught my attention when his first surf stand up was hot-wired from the solid block of foam.

His philosophy seemed simple and obvious - take a proven surf shape and blow it up to a size that would support a rider and paddle. Keep the hull flat in order to maintain wetted area helping with both stability and speed. Beautifully simple, and for me the fact that his Naish 7'8"'s were immediately put up for sale and sold bore testament to his shape.

There was no way that I could personally copy Dwight's handiwork, as I said to him in a recent email my manual skills are stretched when I have to dig a hole with a shovel. My only option then was to get a blank machine shaped using DW's detailed CAD designs and then get a local shaper to glass the beast -

Easy right - WRONG!!

Phone call to Tris at HomeBlown surf blanks.

'Urgh Hi, I don't suppose you could shape me a Stand UP blank could you? I've got some drawings and numbers for your shaping machine'

I was desperately trying to sound

a) serious
b) not a numpty
c) Technically together

There was no chuckling from the other end, I don't think I even detected a snigger.

"Yep, no problem, send us the drawings and we can give you a price."

Bloody hell that was easy. So I sent over DW's drawings and back came the quote - £180.
BLOODY HELL this was going to be a doddle and not crazy expensive.  Better ask a few questions.

'So how finished would that be?  What weight foam is it?  Would it have a stringer?  How long would it take? Could you glass it?'

I was now sounding

a) desperately naive
b) like a cock
c) totally clueless

The answers came back almost as quick as I had asked them.

'An hour or two hand shaping to finish', something in kg/m2 that passed me by totally, 'no', '3 days' and 'yes, but not a chance'

"Brilliant", I said "lets do it"

So I paid my money and set out on a quest to find a glasser to finish my board.  It would have been easier to milk a Unicorn.

Call one -

'Hi  - it's Steve, how do you fancy glassing a board for me, it's ok it's not huge, in fact it's just 7'10, yes it's EPS. Right so it needs to be done in Epoxy. Right so you're not keen then because you think it will fall apart and you could end up with herpes. OK not to worry, thanks'

Strike one.

Call two -

'Hi Any chance of glassing a Stand Up Blank for me,     .     .     .     .     yes in epoxy, ok so you would rather nail your hand to tree Mmmn so that's a no then is it?.'

Strike two.

Call three -

'Hi  any chance that you can glass a Stand up blank in epoxy for me, it's pretty much finished, just needs glassing.  You can!! Fantastic !!!  £1800 and it will probably be a pile of shit, the EEC will fall apart and I'll get herpes.  Mmmn, not short of work then?'

'F@$k Me - Will someone somewhere just glass my F@$king blank!'

  I could be in trouble here or worse - I could end up doing it myself!!

Call from HomeBlown three days later.

'Hi Steve it's Tris, your blanks ready'

"Great! - I'll be over to get it then."

They could hear me crying down the phone.

To be continued - with pictures.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Trip Summary - Intense

Been back nearly a week now and the trip is beginning to feel like some surreal experience that happened to someone else. Red summed it up succinctly on the way back on the plane.

 'That was bloody intense'.

 He was right. From arrival at Agadir airport and for the next seven days we were totally immersed in the hospitality that was Moroccan Surf Adventures. The routine, although clockwork :
 Sleep - wake - eat - surf - eat - surf - eat - drink - sleep
 was relentless BUT never intrusive or regimented. We instantly fell in with the easy going manner of the Surf camp and with the minimum of fuss got into the groove.

 We came to surf and that's exactly what Denny and the surf guides and drivers, Hicham (who took most of the pictures) and Rashid enabled us to do even when it seemed unlikely that we would find any swell.
They always put us on waves.
The Moroccan Perfection that is Machine Guns

The mix of surfers that we found ourselves with helped a lot and during the week we met some great people and had a barrel of laughs. There were a couple of couples that were novices and some independent travellers that very quickly found themselves part of the overall house group along with the three of us and another group of five (KernowSurf Doc that were always on 24hour call out), that also happened to be from Cornwall. Small world surfing.

(Man stumbles into the Doctors office in a blind panic, trousers around his ankles , rushes up to the desk and flops his old man down between the stapler and the stethoscope. 

'My God man' Exclaims the doctor with the fear of god in his voice. 'What's the problem?'

'Nothing - beauty in'it')

Not so far from the truth that.!

 As far as me being the only Stand Up paddle-surfer, Denny's crew accommodated me and the board with the minimal of fuss and bother and apart from a couple of sessions when I felt that it was prudent to sit out a session (down to busier more focused peaks rather than conditions) I don't think that I was too out of my depth. Even during the post surf decontamination process people would still talk to me.  I was generally able to get stuck in most days with the advanced party, and don't think that I let the Stand up crew down too much. In fact several of the house guests seemed genuinely curious, once they stopped sniggering!

"See that Muppet on the Paddle Board getting Nailed - that's what happens when you get old"

 Anyone riding a standup, with some time on their hands and looking for a reasonably close, warm surf trip would be well looked after on a daily basis by Denny and his house-crew, Sophia, Russell and MoMo the cook, could he cook? So much so in fact that the distinction between staff and guests was often subtly blurred.

Denny said at the outset

'Make yourself at home'.

And you do.  The camp has claimed some mighty scalps, Taj Burrows, Taylor Steele, Sam Lamiroy to name but a few. It's easy to see why. I don't think anyone would argue if I said that the stretch of beach from Banana Beach to Taghazoute was not exactly a pristine piece of coastline, but the area does enjoy some cracking and consistent swell, especially if you know where to look.

Water temperature when we were there was supposedly 20'c , to me it felt more like 15'c. I was fine in boardies and a rash vest and occasionally a tube suit (2mm shortie john). The other guys needed their 3/2 full suits. First session at Devils Rock and I went in without my Vibram's - my feet were pretty much shredded on the rocks in the shore break. My shins caught it inside at Machine Guns. One week later and the itching as the scrapes and cuts heal is driving me nuts.

 The practicalities of taking a Stand Up are only limited by the airlines. I think I was lucky with mine. I double bagged my 9'Mana and slipped my one piece Werner Nitro in it's case in between the two bags. Total weight of the board bags and paddle was 19kgs, having booked a surfboard I had a total allowance of 32kgs. No problem.  BUT officially the maximum length should not have exceeded 2.5meters(8'2 1/2"). MMnnn. My 9' Mana in the Nash bag inside a 10' bag should really have had me going back to the car for my ULI Munoz. I reckon I just got away with that.

Had we been gone for longer than a week I think that I would have taken my ULI Munoz by choice anyway. The board is lighter than the Mana and possibly a tad more lively. It does take a little more adjustment and acclimatisation to get the best out of it so a week would be iffy whereas the Mana is instantly doable. Next time however there is the distinct possibility of taking a custom 7'10 . . . more of that later. All in all  fantastically, selfish, fun packed trip, that does not leave you wanting. Big thanks to all who put up with me and especially Charmaine for springing the surprise.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Moroccan Montage

Little taster video of what we had during our trip.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Machine Guns

Wow what a day - after a fairly heavy night it was decided to get up and on the road for seven am as we were going South to a spot with the slightly worrying name of 'Machine Guns'!

Denny had been giving us the lowdown throughout dinner.

'Yeah it's totally sick, a slab that you get onto by holding your leash and jumping off the rock between sets.'

He then looked at me and said

'Can you lie down and paddle your board?'

"Why would I want to do that?'

I asked, I was getting fractionally more nervous with every description that Den used to paint the picture that was Machine Guns. Words and phrases like, Slab, Reef, Firing and f'ing mental sprinkled with timing and insane were being used liberally.

He then dropped the bomb

' I just think that I would just prefer if you got going and got out quickly'

The other guys in the group lept to my defence Stating that I could probably paddle just as quick on my knees or standing, it was good of them but the seed of doubt had been sown in my mind. The counter to that was that it was Friday and almost certainly our last surf of the trip. So I was going in shit or bust.

So after an early start and an hour and a half or so on the road we pulled off the main road and headed down a desert track to a cliff overlooking Machine Guns. It was exactly as Den had described. The sets were stacking up well out to sea and were being focussed over a series of reefy lava outcrops up and down the coast. Our outcrop had been named as Machine guns.

Not wanting to spend too much time thinking about it I pulled on my rash vest and Vibrams and mooched off down the cliff. To be fair getting out was fairly painless - wait for a lull pushed through and over the wash and knee paddled quickly out behind the reef.

The sets when they came through were amazing and heeding Hishan's advice of 'Take the last wave Steve' I picked off the last wave of a set and paddled in to a steep drop and a rolller coaster ride down the green face before taking the high line and exiting cleanly as everything beyond shut down.

That was allright and the session that followed saw me rack up my wave count considerably. The break was mainly rights but a few lefts presented inside of me that the guys were on.

A couple of rides ended up with me holding on too long, ending up well inside in the washzone and I touched down a few times but really no great drama. If i had to go behind someone paddling out I would get caught if I cut across them I got away with it.

We all had a wave fest at machine guns and again credit to the Moroccan Surf Adventures team for once again placing us in perfect conditions and on a break all to ourselves.

As one or two decided to get out the real fun began. The wind which was virtually non existent when we paddled out had just gone slightly onshore, the swell had jumped up a bit and the tide was dropping back down the reef, all pretty small changes but together they were enough to change the character and atmosphere of the place from a benign, glassy break into something a little more grey and snarling. With the dropping tide the inside was hard enough for the guys with 6' shortboards - my Mana was going to take some holding on to. Three tentative attempts later, one involving me bailing inside and duck diving into three feet of water and six feet of wash saw me struggle to my feet and scramble up the reef carrying my board, desperately trying to hold on against the surging back wash.

All in all a great session and an experience to remember. Can't quite believe that the board came away unscathed from that but it did.

It's now Saturday mid morning and everything is packed up ready to leave at three. The offer of another surf this morning was tempting but it's great to finish with a good one under my belt.

As soon as I get a decent connection I will upload the pics - the whole guided surf camp thing has been a new experience and great fun. Imagine staying in a hosted ski chalet and you sort of get the picture. As Denny said it's not five star but if the alternative is camping or just taking pot luck and ending up in a scruffy guest house in Taghazout this is luxury. Always plenty of food, fun, hot water and waves. Perhaps recording the morning call to prayer on an iphone and playing it back over the outside house sound system at one o'clock in the morning was not exactly what Apple had in mind for itunes but it did make us smile and give the stray dogs some competition.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chasing waves

Quick update today got some pictures but will add them all in one go when I get back the internet is slow here.
The swell had dropped off overnight and the plan for this morning was to go South to get out of the swell shadow, however a last minute change of plans saw us drive up the coast past Boilers and on to a reefy point that broke over shallow flat rocks. A couple of the shortboarders in the party braved the descent down the cliff whilst the rest of us wnt on to Tamari Beach.

Got to say having Hishan and Rashid with us as drivers and guides has been a godsend. Driving away from where we are staying we followed the coast and it was sheer glass with hardly a ripple even Boilers was quiet. Crest the headland and there were the swell lines, not huge but waist to head high with a suprising amount of punch. Left to our own devices we probably would have fannied about and ended up not surfing at all. As it went we all gottwo sessions in on the beach. Net result totally knackered - feels great.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day Three

The wind had dropped off and with the forecast predicting a bump up in swell we all piled into the two 4x4's and headed north to check out mysteries and then on to the headland that looks down on Killers. With perfect lines bending around into the bay it made sense to get stuck in. Duncan Red, Mark and Jim joined me shortly after although they struggled a bit with the paddle out against the rip that kept taking them back to the beach. All in all a good session for me and to finish the day off Andru and myself paddled out into Banana beach whilst the others took the windier and bumpier option of Devils just around the corner.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Moroccan Day Two

Sorry bit light on the picture front - the guys went in this morning at a very heavy and busy Devil's rock. Thought that it might be best to sit this one out but the heeby jeebies were well and truly laid to rest in the evening session. Managed some head and a half reeling rights to keep the Stand up flag flying high.
The wind was howling offshore and the sets were stacking up proper.

Wind dropped off overnight and wewent to Croco beach clean Head high plus with some Monster closeouts. All in boardies Couple of sessions. Arms are now officially toast!

Got a lot of Naish Mana 9 love going on.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Curry Night

Easy Jet got us in an hour late - 17 hungry bodies from Cornwall to Copenhagen all made to feel incredibly welcome by Denny and the crew at maroc surf adventures


Guess which one is the paddleboard?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One week in Morocco

Hopefully there should be a flurry of short, sharp posts over the next couple of weeks. Charmaine surprised me with a weeks surf camp in Morocco flying out with Andru and Red next Saturday. How cool is that? That's the joys of an impending 50th birthday.

So the big decision was board choice. The sensible option would be the 8'11 Uli Munoz. However with  the fact that hard boards had been already been booked with EasyJet I opted to take my 9'0 Mana. Ticking away in the back of my head though was the notion of taking a shorter board not least for the convenience during travel - so why not just take the ULI? A circular dilemma.

Shorter boards were already on my radar for this year anyway, not to replace my current boards but to make more of less than optimal conditions. I sort of regret getting rid of my old Nah Skwell 7'8 and would probably take that with me if I still had it, the only downside with that board for me was the number of sharp edges that had my name on them.

I had been following Dwight's home shaped 7'10 and 7'8 Dumpster inspired boards with interest and envy and had tentatively made some enquiries both with Dwight and locally with a view to getting something home grown. I had also checked out a couple of Gong boards, the Mutant and Faking and had my eye on the Starboard Rush 7'4" which was coming out favourite on paper. The new 2012 Starboard Squirt also looks do-able but would it be viable? None of this however was going to help me with this trip.

Until Rich rang -

"Hey Steve - fancy a demo on our 8'6"?"

"Urrgh - funny you should say that Rich - how do you feel about me taking it to Morocco for a week?"

'Joking!' Got to say though the board does look good and following a quick pre-brekfast bash in super clean but close-outy conditions this morning I was sorely tempted to take it. As stable as a rock, just a tad less nose rocker than I think I'm going to need. Looking forward to getting some more mellow sessions on it when I get back though.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Rich asked if I would post the details of the BSUPA championships on the blog for him - so here they are

Friday, September 16, 2011

Stoke - Lost and Found

Can't deny I had a shite surf summer - part of the reason is that someone stepped on the season throttle and accelerated spring straight into Autumn. No sooner had summer started it seemed like all the leaves were turning brown and blowing off the trees. No idea where the time has gone this year. Anyway that coupled with a van deficiency, an insanely busy workload and . . and . . . . and bollox I'm just running out of excuses now. I just plain didn't make the effort and when I finally got some transport it just didn't seem worth going in unless it was 4 foot and clean with perfect offshore breezes. And we have had a lot of that this year. Haven't we?

So - load up the courtesy van and change up for first trip for weeks, and I put my shortie on inside out -

's'funny, I don't remember this being blue'


It was pathetic - lock the van, mess up my key routine , unlock the van - start again - it was like my first time ever.

'Come on Steve get your shit together and sort it out'.

Can't say it was an epic session but it sort of half fired me up, enough at least to make me want to go again. The next time I took the Sub Vector in - it was ok but still not feeling it. Couple of lame sessions followed on the Mana 9' in mush and I thought seriously about giving Gavin a call at The Traditional Surfing Co. for one of his belly boards. These puppies are going to make the ultimate Xmas presents and it's a great website.

Then I cracked it - literally, there's nothing like a bit of self harm to spice things up a bit and make you focus on the important stuff - so with a decent forecast (finally) in between gales I trotted of to Gwithian the Saturday before last and promptly decided it would be good move to get caught between the beach and my board and head butt the rail of my Mana - I thought it best to get out after that and trogged back up the cliff to the van trying to look all non-plussed like.

'OOOhh I think you might need a stitch in that'

commented a walker coming down the path.

'Really ?'

My nice white Naish deck pad was now looking like a slaughter-house floor, which was a bit of a give away. Anyway a quick trip down to casualty to collect 10 stitches in my brow (2 inside) made me think -

'This really isn't going at all well at the moment'

10 days later I gave the Mana another bash - the headaches, double vision and nausea had settled down a bit (joking). It was an evening high tide with a bit of swell pushing through about chest high. The forecast was promising to give a few decent days between the squalls. Again the session was lack lustre - I needed a bit of a system reset so I pulled out the 9'3 Hokua and the following night in super clean, albeit small conditions I nailed it. (My nailing uses very small tacks).

God I love that board. Whatever posessed me to ride anything else is beyond me. Again it was hardly epic the swell had dropped off to between thigh and waist high but it was so much fun eking out the most that the waves had to offer. Steve from work took his new toy down - a waterproof housing for his Canon Eos to get some practice in and Phil and Sam pitched up with their Starboard Drive and Naish Hokua 9'6 after half an hour followed shortly by Nath who had just bought a Starboard Stinger. Between us we made the best of a sweet little sunset session just the way it should be, tired, chuffed and desparate to get some more in. Hokua rules!

I had the Go- Pro mounted so enjoy the Music (Art of Noise) if not the video and pics. Forgive the clumsy editing.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Use it - Or loose It

Can't quite believe that it's been almost five months since my last post here - loads of reasons for that March and April were just nuts. The swell just did not die down and I was so busy making a pig of myself that to be honest I just could not be bothered to post.

My new (not now) Mana 9'0 was my turn to board throughout the run of swell and once I got dialled in I almost stopped missing the 9'3", not quite though.

Having decided that I could not do without a proper van and getting a blazing offer from Peugeot to buy back the Popemobile providing they could have it for the 1st May I once again found myself without transport for what was meant to be just 4-6 weeks.
Little did I know! - Soooo back on the motorbike with the ULI Lopez for the Summer - which just happened to coincide with the longest wave drought that I can remember, followed by me starting to get back on the push-bike and ride to work. I just could not take sitting in the back of the POLO one more day. We also had a few cycling jollies that I had to attend so there was an incentive to get a few miles under my sorry ass so that I would not let the side down (too much!!)

Then we get the start of the Tour De France so three weeks of catching up with the greatest show on earth and then - well I just don't know really I suppose that for a while I just ran out of steam as far as the blog was concerned.

I found myself checking into the forums less frequently and being less 'revved' and inspired by some of the stuff that was going on, things just did not seem as fresh and exciting as they used to be. Where once everybody who paddled out seemed to be breaking new ground and we all had something valuable to contribute there were now too many and opinions and rules all saying the same stuff that had been covered ages ago and yawn . . . and as a result my 'SUP Stoke' levels began to wain somewhat. I had no doubt that come Autumn, with a van and some decent waves I would regain my enthusiasm but for the moment I just was not feeling the love.

Around this time Mark rang me and asked if I would be interested in his Sub Vector - MMnnn not had one of those (was this the stirrings of a SUP Boner?) - had not even ridden one - 'Scwhinng!' - so I went for it and . . . for six weeks it just sat in my board store looking sorry for itself.

My get up and go had not completely got up and gone - I was being seduced and spoilt by my SEVEN Axiom. Jeez what a bike - cycling has been part of my life almost as long as surfing, it's how I earn a living but this bike, this one's special.

Not the lightest - maybe not the quickest but smooth and satisfying - within a few weeks I found myself doing all the things that I promised that I would not do - working on cadence - checking averages - drafting tractors - overtaking cars - generally being a total cycling twat and recording it all on another new toy that we had been selling in the shop the Bryton Ryder 50GPS. These puppies give loads of useful info and are dead easy to use - we still have not read the instructions - like we would anyway. Speed, time distance, heart rate, ascent, descent, slope %, direction and a load more besides.

If you click on this link you should get an idea of how useful the Bryton can be as a training aid without having to shell out excessive amounts of dosh. £279.99 for the all singing all dancing HRM version.

08/01-17:49:48: "Activity Type: Road Cycling"
Loads simpler that the Garmin Edge to use and a couple of hundred pounds cheaper to boot. An amazing piece of kit and they do a watch version for triathletes which should be a blast for distance paddlers.

Anyway having been told that there were some delays in the production for my van Rygor Mercedes came up with the goods and delivered me a courtesy van to use until the new bus arrives, now that's customer service and they delivered it to my door - oh yeh - is that surf I hear? You just can't beat a van for stoking up the surfing horn. God I love vans.

Surf's been shite since it arrived though on shore short period stuff - until this weekend and an early morning Sunday opportunity was looking good. Wetsuits and board (Sub Vector) loaded Gwithian beckoned.

Unload the van - pull out the wettie and, - shit that's a lot of fleece - I had brought my winter suit with me - no way was I going to poach in that, fortunately I also had my shortie, it was 7am, grey, mistly drizzle and I was going in. Changed up locked the van and I don't remember this shorty being pale blue. Cock - I had put it on inside out. Amazing how it's so easy to get out of the rhythm of things.

So the Sub Vector - my first impression was that it was heavy, significantly more so than my Naish boards but with the stiff onshore breeze and choppy conditions that I paddled out into that might be a good thing today. Jumping onto the deck for the first time and paddling through some waist high chop the board was indeed rock solid and the nose cut through and rode over the oncoming mush without any drama, good sign. However turning side on to the wind to patrol across a face or turn to catch a wave had me staggering around for a minute or two like Bambi with a broken leg. My 'sweet skills' had deserted me.

It felt like the wind was getting under the high boxy rails and tipping the board, my reaction was to over correct and it was not until I sussed that the board would only 'tip' so far and the opposite big rail would come into play that I began to settle down a bit.

Keeping things in perspective I don't think that I did that bad. Picking off a few very messy set waves in adverse conditions (I did not see anyone else out) the board began to sow me some of the magic that has been accredited to one of the original hi-performance short stand up boards. The odd wave allowed me to work the face and fire off down the line, nothing too exciting but there was potential there. This was the first time back on a board for six weeks!

I missed the sheer nose kick of my Naish boards, The Sub Vector did not 'pearl' in the mush so much as 'bog down' slightly. There was always enough float for it to recover but a couple of times the submarine'ing caused just enough delay for me to miss the catch. I'm not criticising the board for one minute, in fact it reminded me a little bit of the Bonga Perkins 9'6" that I had some time ago. No the issue was with me my foot placement was poor and I was rusty and awkward and it was probably a testament to the board that I caught anything at all. Throughout the session I kept in mind that the next time would be loads better. I must have started to get it wired as I kept telling myself 'Last wave' - then shortly after - 'Just one more'. it's alright this paddle surf stuff.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Naish Mana 9'0 - ULI 9'3" Fat Ass Quad

Desperately needed to get in this Sunday come hell or high water, as it happened it was neither. The forecast was for two and a half feet South to South Westerly light winds with high tide at 5:17am. Not brilliant but it would do. My 9' Mana pitched up on Thursday and I wanted to see if I had made the correct decision in moving the 2011 9' Hokua on in favour of the Mana. The cunning plan was simple. Keep my 9'3 Hokua for decent, clean and meaty days, and the Mana for choppy conditions and small days to hoof about on. At least that's the plan. Today was small, therefore it was Mana time.

I had already rail taped the board with a clear bike frame protector and had applied Versa Traction to the nose hoping that I might be spending some time up there. The Mana and the new ULI quad were loaded up Saturday night ready for an early Sunday morning getaway. The ULI was sporting a rather fetching homemade GoPro mount that I had crafted from the base of the GoPro presentation box. This was then zip-tied to one of the four D rings that Jim fitted to the quad's nose for me to tie down my fishing box. I was counting on the Quad's 33" width to give me a stable fishing platform for the summer.

Anyway - steady with the cider on Saturday night and I woke fresh and early getting to the car park at 6:30ish. Empty - good stuff.

There were a few clean lines pushing in but really nothing to get overly excited about. Good to see that Naish have sorted the issue with the fins not matching the slots in their board bags, they have stopped putting slots in the bags altogether!! Stroke of genius that. The board with fins will now go in the bag but she flashes her tail as the zip can't be done up, which is a shame as it's a really decent quality bag!

The fins look stunning as well, sort of bamboo in clear resin. 2 plus 1 set up and not too big.

Off down the path dodging the little plastic sacks of dog shit that owners insist on decorating the Towans with and onto the beach for the maiden voyage. ( Just realised that I didn't notice the handle depth or any out of balance carrying issues at all - it's just perfect.)

The conditions were hardly going to test the Mana but she paddled out easily and turned without fuss in her own length with a minimum of paddle strokes. I think that I was expecting the board to paddle faster than she actually did, in my head she is a big board and I need to remind myself that she is only 9' x 29 5/8", that's not big.

Stability was great with foot adjustments coming easy. Sometimes on new boards the first few minutes feel like my feet are glued to the sweet spot, like I'm scared to move them, this one was easy to move around on.

First wave was a nice, easy, smooth catch and lazy glide down the line - no fireworks but there was not a lot of punch in the swell to really get the board going. Next wave - same thing no drama and easy to catch, in fact I think that I caught every wave that I paddled for.

Initially I thought that the Mana felt a little 'stodgy' but that was not really the case - the Mana reacted superfast to my input the second I thought about doing something, the Hokua reacts a second BEFORE I actually think about it. That's the difference. (Bear in mind I think very S L O W L Y, if someone accused me of being retarded I would take it as a compliment!)

As the session progressed the tide dropped back and the waves weakened further, even so I began to identify more and more with the boards character. It definitely responds best to an easy, relaxed style totally unlike my Hokua that needs me take it by the scruff and hustle it. The Mana gets you there without the hectic bullying and hustling. The more waves I caught the more 'kicked back' and relaxed I was. I almost managed to slide the tail around on one wave and even with the lack of speed in the waves tried to make progress with my sorry attempts at cross-stepping. Decent nose riding was looking like it was going to feature heavily in the future.

So - I like it, in fact I like it a lot. Given the lack lustre waves I was managing to wring out some reasonable rides. Can't wait for a decent swell.

Back to the car and I swapped over the boards in order to give the ULI 9'3" Quad a bash. Having agreed to sell my 9'11 ULI Lopez I was using the funds from that to go towards the FAT ASS QUAD.

The Quad material is of a heavier built construction, similar to that ULI used prior to the Lopez X1 models. My old 11' and 10 Steamroller were totally BOMBPROOF, and this newer version feels like it's one tough board. I believe it has been designed with river running in mind where it needs to shrug off boulders and rocks in the rapids. From my point of view as a fishing board this was comforting.

So how did my intended fishing platform surf?

The FAQ (FAT ASS QUAD) is as stable as a planet (at 33" wide it should be!) yet it still retains that amazing super skatey, loose feel. The pulled in nose and rocker dealt easily with the white water there was just no way that I was going to fall off this one.

The 33" waist and superwide tail makes for an interesting combination in late breaking, going no-where, beach mush - you don't fall, but you need to get your paddle-in angle bang on square or the tail gets kicked around.

Bigger waves with more shoulder and entry speed and I reckon the board will fly. One things for sure - at 9'3 I have got a very short, stable stand up fishing board that surfs well and I can carry on my bike, and it don't get much better than that.

Sunday, March 6, 2011



The amazing run of swell over the last few weeks finally petered out in time to coincide with my day off. So whilst everyone has been coming in and telling me what bloody good waves that they have been slicing up I have been keeping an eye on Magicseaweed and hoping that the swell would stay Northerly, the Easteries would drop to a manageable sub 20mph and I would be able to get my sorry ass out of bed in time for a morning session. BUT the evenings are getting longer and the mornings lighter so before and after work sessions should be on the cards soon.

It wasn't looking overly promising. Swell was levelling off at a dizzying one and a half feet at 10 seconds thankfully Northwesterly and with the wind between 12 and 17mph from the East we were in with a shout of getting wet at least.

Pitching up at the car park at 8:45 and I could see that Gary was already fully testing the Glide characteristics of the 9'Hokua. I think this was his 2nd outing on it and it looked like he had the little Naish firmly under control. I find that when it's small the more performance orientated boards are harder work, they need 'juice' to get them locked in and tight but my 9'3" Hokua actually copes really well with small conditions and from the clifftop it's 9' replacement was picking up everything that Gary was paddling for. My old 10 C4 BK Pro was an amazing surfboard but a total mare to catch waves in small swell and if it was at all choppy - forget it. Naish have certainly got something special going on with these boards.

Changing quickly and fitting the GoPro to the nose of my board I trogged off down the cliff track. The recent combinations of rain/freeze/thaw had seen off some major portions of the cliff face slipping away down to the cove - it can only be a matter of time before this way down to the beach is going to be off limits.

Finally managed to get my head into gear enough to work out how to turn the GoPro on to shoot video - not sure but think that the stills slideshow may look a bit better, anybody out there actually reading this care to leave a comment and let me know, I wont charge. The whole self-picture thing does feel a bit odd and feels faintly like I might be somewhat up myself but the blog's going to be pretty dull with just my keyboard drivel.

Conditions were hardly 'EPIC' knee high with the sets almost towering over our waists! But it was clean and apart from a soul longboarder who was practising some pretty nifty footwork we enjoyed endless amounts of waves to ourselves until 10:30 ish when the wind started to pick up and mess things about. Credit to the boards though, the only time they felt at all unhappy, mine anyway, was at the end of the wave when the speed had dropped out leaving a slightly nervous feel as the dynamic changed from planing to displacement. Bigger swell makes kicking out of the wave whilst carrying some speed easy, slow it all down and it begins to wobble, but it was fun.

A decent session in conditions that were at best less than average and you could get a tan off Gary's stoke! That's why we do it! Because it's fun, and it levers the best out of the least.

Playing around with some heavy editing on the video makes it all look good, well I think so, but apart from all that it gives me an excuse to play 'Give up the Ghost' as the soundtrack. Amazing stuff from the new Radiohead album King of limbs, it's a slow burn album but I reckon it's every bit as good as OK Computer, well almost.

IF you are a Radiohead / Thom Yorke fan you may have already seen this but it's always worth checking out again. It's a live, solo performance of Give up the Ghost played at Cambridge - absolutely mesmerizing - treat yourself and give it a go - trust me!!

How good is that - of course it might just be me - I played it to Charmaine who said

'I'm bored now' and got up halfway through to turn the TV on. AArrrgh!!

Anyway the ULI Fat Ass Quads have pitched up - looking forward for some inflatable fun time.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

New Boards In New Boards Out Sunday's Session

What a week!! The new ULI Fat Ass gets officially launched and I think - that's got to be worth a wiggle - a 9'3" x 33" that looks like it surf's reasonably well and with a few 'D' rings added to the front should take a fishing box and at 33" wide ought to be stable enough to double up for that task. Theoretically that means I can get away with just taking one inflatable away with me regardless of conditions and maybe make some use of it through the summer at home as well. The fishing is something that I have been meaning to play around with a bit more and the heavier built FAQ should lend itself nicely to that.

So - I need to sell an inflatable and one thing for sure - it's not going to be the MUNOZ. Having tentatively punted the prospect of letting the Lopez go Gary, a recent SUP convert expressed an interest in trying it, he currently rides a Starboard Element. I got the impression that he was quite impressed with it, so impressed in fact that he opted for a FAT ASS as well - bugger!! Fortunately at the same time Jussi, who we met in Costa Rica asked if I knew where he might get a used ULI. Sometimes things just fall into place.

So that was that - I was selling the Lopez, getting an ULI FAT ASS and had sort of resigned myself to stepping up to the mark regarding the HOKUA 9'0 that I had just bought before Christmas. I mean the board is ace and with the bigger fins and thruster set up I knew that it would be fine with time and patience. Having said that I got Whippet from Willis surf boards to put the FCS plug needed for the Go Pro on my old 9'3 Hokua.

Email from Naish Sales Heaven -

"Hey Fatboy - the Mana 9'0 has just arrived - make up your mind cos if you don't have it someone else will"

Double Bugger - There is no way that I'm getting that past the shed door - in fact now that I've got a Fat Ass I don't need it anyway - so you can stuff that in your HOKUA board bag that doesn't fit - what do you think I am STUPID? How many boards do you think I need?

Reply to Naish Sales Heaven

'Ughh yeh ok - I'll have it, can you give me a few weeks to move on the 9'0 Hokua first?

This is going to cost me - but if I keep the 9' Hokua and don't use it that's just daft! Better to take a hit while it's new and get what I wanted in the first place.

Quick add on the forums - SupGlobal and Standuppaddlesurf UK and I reckon it must have taken all of 20minutes before someone who is obviously as afflicted, affected and patently SUP sick as I am sent me that magic "I'll have it" email. We can work out the finer details later.

As I said sometimes things just fall into place, got to say it though decent kit pays off in the long run.

So - the surfing?

We have had an amazingly consistent run of swell recently - must be at least two weeks straight with waves that have been lighting up all the sheltered 'secret spots' - trouble is there aren't that many secret spots any more, last Sunday we were out house hunting and counted 50 surfers tucked away in a little corner that 5 years ago you could guarantee having quietly to yourself and a few mates when the big south westerlies kick in.

All week I was watching the forecasts and although it was consistently showing at 10'+ with looooonnnnggg swell period (for us) 12 - 17 seconds the winds were banging through at 20 - 40mph on the Sundays that I was up for it. That's half the problem with going away and getting three weeks of solid perfection - I just don't feel too inclined to get up early on a Sunday morning to get a full sinus rinse with 9-10 degree water. Jeez I must be getting soft!!

This Sunday was different - wind was going southerly - big spring tides with a 7am high and it was all looking good for a bash at Hayle rivermouth. This mark used to be capable of insanely long rights up the river when everywhere else was closing out. Just going out the door thinking I ought to text Gav but spookily I don't have a board to lend him when I got a text from Phil -

"Just heading to the Bluff (Rivermouth)"

Fumble fumble -

'So am I'

Not really much of a conversationalist me!!!

Quick change - bolt on the GoPro - sort of a bit embarrassed about doing that - hope nobody sees me - don't expect fireworks - I'm a bit shit - What??

Down the path with Sam on her Sup and Phil who took his longboard out - they swapped about a bit you can spot them in some of the slides later - yeh I know more slideshow stuff - to be honest I thought I had it set up for video but being a bit of a milky eyed old codger I still don't really know how it's menu works yet.
Long and short of the session was I paddled out in the River to the Bar took a couple of steep ones and paid for it paddled back in to where everyone else was and wished that I had stayed outside. Chest to head high closeouts beating the crap out of everyone in cold grey shallow water - not ideal, certainly not the epic session that I thought it was going to be but good fun and a filthy good excuse to listen to the Verve Lucky Man as sound track to my slideshow, unfortunately there is an issue with the track with you tube so . . . . Have some Radiohead.

Next up new board stuff - and hopefully I should be back on plan to sort my quiver out with my cunning masterplan. Boards that are easy and fun to surf in most conditions and don't make me wish that I was on something else. Used 9'3 Hokua anyone ?? - Only kidding

Mana Fat Ass Mana Fat Ass Mana FatAss - Twat!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

ULI Munoz Nicaragua Costa Rica

So long story made short - here goes - we fly into Managua in Nicaragua, rent a 4x4 drive to our beach, stay a night, drive to the border drop the 4x4 off, get totally ass raped by touts at the border, hand our passports over to some unknown quasi official, get them stamped with exit stamps, walk across the border to Costa Rica Immigration, drive to Nosara, drink a beer and think how lucky we are to be at Casa Romantica and then start to worry how the hell we are going to fly out in three weeks when we have non transferable Continental tickets from Managua. Fun Fun Fun.

So back on familiar ground, woke up at 5:00 am and trundled down the path half an hour later with the ULI Munoz 8'11" - it's still dark and I can hear the surf even if I can't see it. I got to admit I'm a little bit scared. Last year I was pretty much always first in the water but all I could think about this morning was sharks and stuff I was really rattled. Weird how the mind messes with itself. Anyway as I gingerly knee paddled out, got some steam up and popped to my feet I began to get my first feel of the new ULI with some proper water moving under it's fins. Fortunately it gets light as fast as it gets dark here - and that's very fast - so the heeby jeebies were soon left with dawn's dark.

I'd love to say that I picked up exactly where I left off last time but that would not be the whole truth. There was a LOT of water moving through and I was definitely a bit sketchy, once on the wave however the board just lit up. It took any drop without fear of pearling, snapped back to the curl like a short board and hung in perfect trim for the longest nose rides, any worries that the fin placement was wrong were soon dispelled.

(Disclaimer : obviously these descriptions and any others that follow have to be applied to and taken in context with my own personal standard of surfing - average is generous - Shane calls it geriatric - which I'll settle for!)

Between the waves however it was another story I had not quite dialled into the conditions which were a steady head high plus at 16 seconds and double that on the sneaker sets. Maybe not huge for some but still challenging when you had a bit of a wave drought for a month or so. (Roughly translated into Cornish reads as a tad munchy)

For the evening session which is always a bit busier I took out the LOPEZ and immediately got it wired, the LOPEZ is a lot more stable and very forgiving in comparison and for the next few sessions the LOPEZ was the board of choice. I hate falling off the board at random and the Lopez was rock solid. The swell was still building.

The signal for my last session on the LOPEZ came as the tide dropped back and the swell built creating steeper faces, I pearled two or three waves on the trot and found the ragged mid beach rip a little more difficult to paddle into, so I swapped out in favour of the more rakish nose rocker of the Munoz again. This proved to be a good move and the couple of days board time that the Lopez had given me stood me in good stead as I felt much more comfortable on the 8'11" than I did on the first day. There was no more pearling.

Me and Mr Munoz just got down to business for the rest of the trip.

I'm not going to bore you all with a session by session account - here's the figures:

17 days - 36 sessions - 74hours give or take - I was and am totally shagged!

I'll stick up a few slide shows which naturally will be the smaller days- they always say that (it's the fisherman in me), - and thanks to DW over at ncpaddlesurfer I'm messing about with my daughters MacBook and my GoPro in order to liven up the blog a bit.
Dwight has been brilliant with encouraging email's and messages like -

"Jeez Steve - give the keyboard a rest will you - life's too short to read all that shit - just give 'em pictures"

So here is a little slideshow of a mix of pics taken from the one session that I did with the GoPro clamped to the paddle. Its all a bit sycophantic but what the hell this blog is my SUP diary as much as anything else and with the sorry state of my memory I need all the help I can get, besides I needed an excuse to mess with the Mac's picture stuff.

This is the Arty one with music combining some GoPro stills with some of Jeff Logans beach pic's.

My last session of my last day was probably the most memorable. The swell had started to build again and the full moon had brought the hide tides to the evening sessions. The back wash off the beach was noticeable 200 yards off shore and could still sweep the board from under me if caught unawares. The waves were held up by it creating some magical left and right handers of biblical proportions (length if not height). All we had to do was dodge the logs and trees that had been washed off the head of the beach. The vibe in the water was amazing - such a cool place - I even got hooted into waves by some local Tico short boarders who were obscenely good.

I finally got to meet and surf with Scott Allen a mate of Glen GJB Atlantic Paddle Surfing whose blog I follow. Scott's a great guy and was taking some time off the paddleboard to get in touch with his longboard again, I was tempted but I was having way too much fun to .

Made loads of new friends Jussi,Hanna, Pete Wickistone, Dick Hilmer and reacquainted with some old ones Pete and Pam, Alan and Pam, Brian and Pat and of course Reimo and Sylvia at Casa Romantica along with the guys at the Guilded Iguana and Jeff Logan whose efforts to make my surfing look good via his big lens was much appreciated.

I don't want to make this blog seem like a commercial for ULI - cos it's not. I take ULI paddle boards with me through choice because they don't cost me anything to travel with, (Pete got charged $100 each way for his 5' fish and they dinged it!), they wont hurt me or anyone else if I loose it, you can't hurt them, and although they may cost a bit more to buy when you factor in postage and tax I can sell them dead quick second hand after a year or two for decent money to help me finance the next one, but the main reason is that I have got no reason to take a hard board - I get all fun with none of the fuss.

One thing that does make me smile above all else about the boards though, there was not a single moment when I thought

"I wish I was on a Hard Board"

I mean come on these things have no rails - or hull concaves - or 'v' channels or fin options, and the fins that they have are so flexible that they could easily be made from recycled products taken out of the Anne Summers warranty returns bin. So whilst I accept that at my standard of surfing (best described as mediocre to average) I am unlikely to appreciate or test the finer points that some of these design features offer, and a lot of this stuff is probably lost and waisted on me anyway - I don't think that I could have had a better time than I did. Makes you think?

ULI PROTOTYPE 8'11" Sshh you ain't seen me right!

I'm always pestering ULI for new boards and Jim,Chris and the guys being the nice people that they are sent me a pre-production prototype to shut me up for a while.

As I started writing this (Late November) I still do not know how much of it, if any is going to be published. As mellow and easy going as the ULI guy's are when a board comes with a warning like -

'Ride it and enjoy it - but photograph it, forum it, it or blog it and we will send the Steamroller around for some personal correction therapy!'

- well you just don't argue with that - do you? Jim finally gave me the green light following some customer requests for shorter boards and some 'spyshots' breaking cover on the Standupzone relating to a thread started by alap - another avid ULI fan. Reading this thread makes you realise how strong the vein of ULI brand loyalty runs through their customers. ULI make you feel like one of the boys.

The thing is the inflatable standup market is becoming quite a crowded place and although some of the raw products may originate from the same factories the subsequent work and tuning that is done on the boards does make a difference, resulting in the endorsements and inputs from shaper's that ULI have been involved with, like Gerry Lopez and in this case Mickey Munoz - there I've said it. Thats the sort of thing that sets these boards apart from the others and in the pre-production stages creates the need for an element of secrecy in order to maintain a commercial market advantage.

So whats with the board? - My sample measured 8'11" with a 28 1/4" width and just a smidge under 4" thick. The nose and tail are both pulled pretty tight and there is 4" of nose rocker.

Those figures would make pretty exciting numbers for a hard board I was worried that the board might not even float me. My fag packet maths put the volume at around 100 - 110 litres - pretty much borderline for my weight at 90kgs.

First time out was during that long spell of Easterly airstream that we had during November - barely any swell and glassy. I struggled to find anything more than a lazy knee high bump but you know what it's like when you have a new board and desperation sets in.

The board floated me - some of the deck was just above the water but I was definately on the dry side. The side to side 'tip to recovery' point was incredibly sensitive and although I thought that I was used to fairly small tippy boards this one was going to be a challenge for a while. The board is unbelievably light, 16lbs on our shop scales and this was also noticable on the water as the boards reaction to paddle strokes was instantaneous.

Don't get me wrong the board tracked straight and true and I could easily paddle half a dozen or more strokes on each side but dig the paddle too deep or too wide and she would either tip or turn - no messing. Stationary stability was hard to judge given the conditions, absolute glass, however get the board moving and she felt fine.

The 4-5" of nose rocker made light work of the knee high wash that was pushing through the inside section. Waves were tiny with barely enough power to tighten the board up however I caught a few ripples and was stunned at how easily the little inflatable accelarated and caught the bumps however the waves were so slack I was struggling to work them to any degree and fell frequently. The nose, although narrow, held firm and was stable paddling in and did not show the tendancies of my Naish boards to 'dive away sideways' if I got the entry wrong. The session was too short and lacking in any significant wave power to come to any significant conclusion about it's surfing performance however, if anything it felt a bit lack lustre in the tiny slack conditions.

Just got back from my second session on the MUNOZ. Managed a little session last Sunday in tiny clean ankle slappers, I thought then that the board was a bit tippy and that it was fairly hard work even in super clean conditions.

TODAY however was a totally different story. This board is a beast. We had a bit more swell to deal with, 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 going. The ability for it to turn both on and in front of the waves is nuts. I was in with a couple of freinds who are just starting out with stand up. Sam had a 10' x 30" fish (local home grown board) and Phil borrowed my 9'3" Naish Hokua. We swapped around boards during the session and honestly the best tool for the job was the Munoz. My Naish is a real hi-performance board lots of nose rocker and tippy as hell. I would normally ride it in most conditions but the Munoz was just a wave machine today. Even Sam who had a quick go on the Munoz found it easier than her 10' Fish. I think that ULI have got a winner on their hands with this one, they would need to pitch it at the lighter or more experienced user, but honestly it's one of the best boards that I have ever ridden, no bull I am serious. It has a real longboardy feel about it yet it will snap 'flat' turns on the wave so easily.

If I was super picky I would say that it could possibly do with some tweaks to the fin placement. I not quite sure why but I seem to 'loose it' a bit if I try and crank it around super hard on it's rails. The Naish or the Lopez will take it but this one washes out a bit soon, possibly needs the front fins pushed forward some or maybe even a quad set up?? Or maybe I just need to ride it a bit more. I had some of the longest cheater fives on it today and dont think that it would take too much for me to get the fins out and spin it, amazing. I dont think that you would need to do too much to this one to make it perfect, thats perfect compared to any board not just inflatables. Perhaps if it was a inch wider it would have a broader appeal but as it is it could easily double up as a travel longboard.

The way that short performance sups are taking off at the moment I think this would compliment anyones quiver and give them a travel board to boot. In fact thats how I would pitch it

'A performance Standup - that just happens to be a travel board as well', this puppy is a real peach and it's definetly going to Nicaragua with us. I love it

OK This was all written before January but kept as a draft until the cat was out of the bag.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Day - Glass

Had a quiet'ish new years eve, packing the kit ready for our holiday, boards, paddles rods and reels and a ton of other stuff that all needs to pack down into a couple of 23kg holdalls. No bother.

Forecast was looking great for New Year's day - and it was spot on, 2-3 foot and clean as a pin - no wind. I swapped out the rear Quad fins on the 9'0 and popped in a single 8" longboard fin hoping that it would steady up the board a bit. It did. That and a slightly shorter 8' and thinner leash and the change in the boards manners was amazing. Stable and quick to accelerate it was beginning to feel familiar and comfortable. Phew!! The 9'0 is definitely borderline for me and I would say a step on from the 9'3, the larger fin evened out some of the differences between the two boards but the nose would sink away at the first sign of incorrect weighting making foot placement more critical than the 9'3. I probably only fell about four times today when holding station - hopefully that will get better.

I picked up a GoPro HD from a chap recently - brand new, unused and unwanted. I can hear the groans reverberate around SUP'dom. Anyway it was a good price and I thought why not? Today's trip was a bit experimental and I mounted it on the paddle shaft. The effect when paddling is really comical as it gives the impression of the paddle remaining stationary and me sliding myself around the paddle arc. Dead impressed with the picture quality - unfortunate how bad it makes my surfing look. Don't worry there wont be too much of this as a board mount is being sorted.

This is the spot where I was going to post a little GOPRO video but the damn thing wont load up and I cant convert the mpeg4 file into something that Windows videomaker will recognise. PC's are giving me so much grief at the moment, time for a Mac I think!

For me the 9' is everything that the 9'3 is but with a little more chili. It has a better handle and obviously it's shorter with all the practical advantages that offers. Above all if it is going to stay it's a board that is going to keep my weight in check.

January the 2nd and I managed to snag another early morning session (without the ball ache of the camera). Again this session was so much easier than the last one, again it was like glass. I had some decent waves but the swell was dropping off and the peaks were shifting about making decent shoulders hard to find.

There was a chap out on a 10'4 (I think) Jimmy Lewis this morning, it was Gut's Griffiths old board and as we chatted during the session we swapped over boards. The Jimmy was really nice, so easy to paddle and early into waves, compared to the Naish it felt sluggish to turn (unless your Guts) but still easy as. Why am I making things difficult for myself?

As good as the Hokua is (VERY GOOD) I'm still not convinced that it's for me. It will float me I can surf it but I have to be honest I'm too damn fat and just a bit too shit to get the best out of it, and that's a shame.

I was missing too many waves and felt awkward like I did in the beginning, and I don't think that I want that anymore. The trade off, more surfability versus ease of use just was not stacking up for me today. My little Nah Skell was more stable, shorter and could surf it's tits off but you really had to 'work it'. Always having to be in the right place, always having to make the correct last paddle stroke and for me with the 9'0 never being able to relax and that's in glass. I just want to surf now, I'm done blazing my own trails.

When's that 9'0 Mana available??