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″
Nose Rocker @1′ 4″
Nose Rocker @ Tip 6″
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 http://ncpaddlesurfer.blogspot.com/ was getting impatient, email from Dwight. –
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,
‘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.