Had a quiet'ish new years eve, packing the kit ready for our holiday, two 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 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.
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?
SUPGlobals man in Chile and Naish rider Arnaud Frennet takes us on board for a weekend of Stand Up Paddle surfing in Arica. Luckily he took along his camera to catch the action.
Arica is known here as the Capital of Stand Up Paddling and this is mainly due to its great conditions which are more agreeable than in the rest of Chile (a bit warmer)but also because you can find there waves for everyone, and for every level of rider. You’ll see on the video images from Chinchorro, a very easy beach with safe small waves that the « Ariqueños » surf every day just like you’d go for your daily jogging! Very cool atmosphère.
There are also more serious waves of course for more experimented like « La Isla » & « El Brazo » just a few meters from the Nautic Club and its restaurant where the families would be enjoying their time in a very familiar way.
Waterman League to hold Stand Up Paddle race in Hilo Bay
The Waterman League is proud to announce that an open race in Hilo Bay will be held on the FInal Sunday of the event (19th December). The Race will be open to everyone, with 2 different board classes (14' and 12'6) and Elite, Masters, Youth and Women Classes.
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.
Why do I do them? What drives me to compete, when we could be free surfing with friends? These are questions I have often asked myself, when I think about the best times I have had surfing and the best waves, not one of them has been in a contest. Contests put a boundary around the freedom of surfing so why on earth would anyone bother?
Watergate Bay played host to the 2010 Extreme Academy / British Stand Up Paddle Association Series Finals.
With its golden sands, clear ocean blue swells and its natural amphitheatre shape, it is clear why Watergate Bay is the perfect venue for so many ocean sports, including the sport of stand up paddle boarding. The main competitions to be run over the weekend would be Surf and Distance. Over the season there had been three rounds of distance racing completed, but no surf to date. This being the case it meant that a national title for surf would be won or lost by this, the deciding competition of the year.
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
B O O M
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'.
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 touches 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.