Stand up Paddle Surfing from a novices viewpoint - My complete journey
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?