Monday, July 30, 2007
This Week: I'm getting excited to head north this Wednesday. I'm going to make a day out of it and paddle San-O early in the morning and then head to Seal Beach to hook up with my friend Tim Stamps. In addition to building some unreal surfboards, Stamps has been crafting some sweet looking paddleboards (check out www.surfboardsbystamps.com). If I get my way I'll be test riding some of his new boards that afternoon. You'll get the full report and lots of photos so check back for that one.
Mid-August: I'll be loading up the truck and trailer and pointing it further north to see what kind of flat water and surf paddling central California has to offer. Once again lots of photos and information to come.
Also: Paddled La Jolla Shores this morning- waves were small but fun, leopard sharks in full effect at the North End. If you haven't been out to see these guys and you're in San Diego make sure you set aside time for this run, it's worth it. I may have to return for some photos of these guys.
And: I jumped in this evening down the street (here in Imperial Beach) and it looks like that little S. Hemi. bump is starting to show up- definitely some size compared to the last two days. Kind of a fun little session on the Sean Ordonez Big Blue (yes, borrowed from the wife) which is now my board of choice- this brings a whole new set of problems to my household. Happy problems I guess, but problems nonetheless (look for the Big Blue's review coming up!). Regardless, I'm getting excited at tomorrow's early a.m. options.
Finally: Hey fin experts, give me some feedback on what you see in the photo above.
The first fin is an FCS "Fatboy". I just had it laying around so I threw it in my wife's board (10'10"). The fin was laying around because I don't like it. I'm a fin idiot but to me, the fin doesn't like to be pushed unless it's up to speed. On the first bottom turn, I can get the fin to "catch" (stall?) when I push with my back foot like I normally like to do. After you get it going down the line it works better- but that first turn needs to be nursed. Am I wrong here? I have a feeling that running it with the two side biters is not how it should be used- but hey, I don't know... so I'm asking you for feedback. What do you know about these type of fins- what are they all about?
Next up is the big Greenough Stage 6 fin, anybody else got one or used one? Give me your impressions of the fin- I'm going to reserve my feelings about it until I hear what you've got to say... so don't let me down!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
We poached a few waves, shared a few laughs and called it a day. Term of the day: Wave A.D.D. this is the condition that occurs when you're leaving a peak for the next spot and you get distracted by an incoming wave to the point that you forget what you were doing. As in, "Dude I was going to paddle over but a wave came through and I got Wave A.D.D."
New to the scene is my water camera the Sanyo Xacti waterproof digital video recorder. I'm still figuring it out so as Axl Rose would say, "Have a little patience..." Video to come.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
To the left is our good buddy Tex with his new Ron House 12' x 29" x 4". We surfed it this morning at Tourmaline (really small, pretty gutless waves) this board should be called the El Dorado, it cruises like a Caddy. I saw Tex get his first wave on the board. The kid's got some natural ability- I think he's hooked! Now we just need to get a little micro-paddle for his boy who is dying to hop on Pop's board.
Next up, the latest Sean Ordonez creation: Big Green. These boards were at Wardog's (www.surfingsports.com) house when we went to Santa Barbara to pick up my wife's new board. If I had Magic Wallet (you know the guys who can open their wallets and money keeps jumping out) one of those Big Green's would've been living in San Diego. They look so fun: 10' x 27.5" x 4" , I'm developing a paddle board problem, I made need some type of intervention.
Tex's buddy (below, left) drove all the way down here from Long Beach to snatch up a 10'6" C4 Waterman (he may have done some sit ups and pull ups while he was down here too). He surfed Tourmaline with us this morning too and I was amazed at how the board gets moving. I'm standing by my assessment, these boards snap to and accelerate very well.
Finally, Tex's mom Edith was out West visiting, hopped on a board and will now be bringing one home with her. She loved the flatwater paddling down here in the Cays and wants to paddle for fitness. Hooked.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Family beach day is kind of a non-formal tradition down here in the South Bay. It's usually held on a Sunday. A bunch of us get together, unleash the dogs (it's a dog beach) and throw down the paddle boards for anybody who wants to hop on them. Sometimes there are kayaks, Hobie Cats and even some wake surfing behind Gary T.'s Whaler. I've been known to slice up some watermelon and last week there were cupcakes. Beers have been passed around. Of course there's a lot of hanging out and shooting the breeze.
Everybody is welcome to join in so come on down next week (caveat: if the surf's cranking Beach Day is canceled) and meet some good people.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Quad finned, tough flames, speed to burn; meet the LowRider. The board was shaped by Stu Kenson, it's 11'0" x 28" x 4", totally laminated in carbon fiber and painted in a hot rod shop. Check out the green metallic flake in the second photo- that's why I call it the LowRider. This board is full custom, you'd have to be on the A-list to get one of these made. The thing's got enough carbon fiber on it to cover the airframe of an F-16 and that stuff's hard to get these days.
Check back for more information about this board and about Stu's other, soon to be released, stand up boards.
Also: If you haven't stumbled upon it yet, go check out www.standupzone.com a great place to post questions about every thing that has to do with SUP surfing, boards, fins and anything else that you're wondering about.
I made the instantaneous decision to drive north. I could've hit the Cliffs, or checked out Tourmaline but for some reason the idea of a run to La Jolla Shores popped into my head. For the record, I'm like a tick; my head's buried in my own three mile stretch of beach down here. I'm almost impossible to extract. I never go to the Shores but this morning I was feeling a little adventurous; what did I have to lose?
Pulling into the parking lot was a bit of a shock- there were a lot of people here for an early Saturday morning. Lots of big, beefy, equipment huffing divers rigging up on the lawns and smoking cigarettes on their tail gates (I know, funny). I grabbed a spot and ran across the lot to check out the conditions.
The surf was relatively clean. There were quite a few heads out there of various ability. It looked like your standard closeout beach break but longboarders were taking off and getting more tip time then I would've predicted from just looking at it. I jogged back to the truck, threw on the trunks and grabbed my paddle and board. Seeing those little, clean waves was enough to inspire me; I'm on it!
I always get the eebie-jeebies when I surf a new spot, especially when I'm the one most highly visible object in the water. I wondered, as I was walking across the lot, if there were any unwritten (or written) rules about paddle surfing the break here at Shores. I know that other beaches (San-O comes to mind) have designated spots for SUPers (watch out! we're dangerous). I didn't want to be "the guy" who paddles out to a spot forbidden to us and gets the lifeguard bull horn focused on him and other local stand up paddle surfers. I had my questions about the spot and I didn't want to screw up. Luckily there was another stand up guy heading north just as I was getting into the water, I hoped he'd have some answers for me.
The guy turned out be Mike Pollard of the International Waterman (www.international-waterman.com), I was lucky to meet him, not only did he know the spot he also turned out to be an ambassador for the sport and a real fun person to surf with. Turns out, he was heading to Black's Beach, "Would I like to go"? Are you kidding me? We pointed the boards toward the Scripp's Pier and started paddling for Black's.
One of the great things about this sport is that you can chat as you paddle along. It turns out that Mike's got some interesting plans that go beyond his daily grind (the guy's a physicist who specializes in optics). Mike's working on publishing a magazine that focuses on all those activities that us amphibians love: surfing, fishing, stand up paddling, diving to name a few. I'm interested to see how the magazine project comes out for Mike and I'm sure we'll feature it when the first issue hits the stands.
As we pulled up to Black's the first thing that struck me was how clear the water was- you could easily make out the rivulets of sand on the sea floor below; stunning. It reminded me of a picture I'd seen of Robert August surfing a clear blue wave at Blacks in what had to be the mid '50's. The water in the shot was so transparent that the wave seemed to just blend into the rest of the sea. Secondly, the tide was rising and the surf was looking really fun; little wedges bumping up out of the submarine canyon to form neat little right and left peelers. We found a peak that nobody seemed to care about (a common theme with SUPs?) and went to work on it.
Looking out at the surf in Imperial Beach that morning I had resigned myself to a day of flatwater paddling. What a bonus it was to score such fun waves. All morning I had to shake my head in disbelief at the wave playground that developed as the tide filled in. It was a magic day.
The unanswered question left in my head: Is it always like this? Who knows and who cares, really; for that little moment in time and tide, we had scored. I drove home that day, knowing that I'd be back- that little piece of coastline will always be worth risking a run out of the neighborhood.
Friday, July 20, 2007
My wife Kathy and I made a ten hour round trip to Santa Barbara yesterday to pick up a brand new stand up board. The board is a birthday gift to my wife Kathy who tried out my board (and the whole sport of stand up paddling) and decided it was something she'd like to do.
Although I gave her free choice of any board she wanted, I was happy when she asked about the Sean Ordonez Big Blue. We had seen the Big Blue six months ago at the Surfing Sports compound (which will be a future entry; going to visit Wardog is like walking into a candy store- visions of sugarplums definitely begin dancing in your head!) it looked like a board that would really surf well. Kathy liked it because it was blue. The decision was made, Kathy would have a Big Blue. I was ecstatic. If it sounds like I have my own plans for the board, you're right I do- I can't wait to get the thing into some good waves!
Kathy, being more intelligent then me, made a preemptive strike. She put flowers on it. Check out the little flowers ornately arranged on the deck, cut from the left over scraps of her deck pad. She really didn't want me poaching her board. I've since heard that there are even more "flower plans" for the board; am I worried? Hell no! It's going to take more then a few little daisies to keep me off that board.
Check Back for Big Blue's first paddle.
And: I have to send out a huge thanks to Wardog, Debbie and Annie at www.surfingsports.com. I was in a pinch, hadn't preordered the board (a must if you're trying to get a Sean-O board, the boards are usually sold even before they arrive in Santa Barbara) and needed it before Kathy's bday- Wardog went out of his way to ensure that I'd get a board, one of the cool Sawyer composite paddles that he's raving about these days and a well made board bag to protect Kathy's new baby. If you stand up paddle you need to know about these people; they talk it and walk it- a gracious, fun loving and knowledgeable couple. Thanks a bunch!
PS: Lilly says "Hello"!
Michael Ashley here, checking in from Santa Cruz, with a short video of my son Ethan paddling my Angulo 11'9". Ethan jumped on my board today while we were at the beach and wouldn't get off! Now that's what I call father-son bonding.
I picked up this board, shaped by Ed Angulo, from Andy at Ski Shop Santa Cruz. He has been helping guys in town get into SUB's for a couple years and has a great relationship with Angulo. My board is his 11'9" and I'm super happy with it. At 31 inches wide, it is stable and easy to paddle. I was concerned that the thickness, 4.5", would be a problem when it came to surfing, but it is very responsive and fun.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Kelly Kraus of Emerald City (619 435-6677), in Coronado, Ca was willing to let me hop on his brand new 10'0" version of the board (the board line also includes a 10'6" and an 11'6").
Setting the scene: I paddled this board in the ocean on a moderately choppy day, the surf was a small 2 - 3' wind swell. I'd call the conditions "semi-challenging" due to the pop-up nature of the wind swell peaks and the amount of south wind, cross chop. We surfed the board at a local beach break, no channel cheating here.
Paddling: I have to say, I was a bit apprehensive about the how I'd do on such a small stand up board. I'm currently riding a board that is just about 12' by 29.5"- the dimensions on this board put its width at 28" with a thickness of 4". I weigh about 210lbs and I honestly didn't think the board would float me.
I was completely wrong. The board handled me; the deck wasn't awash. In fact, I found the board surprisingly stable for it's size. I could paddle around, back paddle it and even pivot turn it with a foot on the tail. Undoubtably, paddling it did require considerably more thought then my other board but I have to say that my preconceived notions (see the article about the Craig paddleboards) regarding paddle-ability and board size have been put to rest. A guy my size can definitely paddle boards in the sub-11' range.
Surfing: Scott Bass wrote a great article ("Got Paddle? A Preliminary Look at StandUp Paddle Surfboard Design" at www.surfermag.com) about stand up boards that discusses the trade offs in a board's design. There is evidence of this in this board. The board does not possess the glide of the big 12' tankers and I'm reasonably sure it was never meant to compete with them in this area (however, the 11'6" C4 may have been designed for this purpose). What the board does do extremely well is surf. Form definitely follows function with this board- the thing surfs really, really well.
Taking off on this board is a different experience then gliding in on the 12 footer. The board has a snappy acceleration (think a twitch of the wrist on a rice burner) and an easy entry into the wave- there is some meat in the nose of the board allowing you to really lean into the paddle over the front of the board. Kelly Kraus goes from zero to ripping in about three strokes, I've seen him get into waves he had no business catching.
Another clue regarding the board's purpose? Check out the tailpad (the board comes stock with a deck pad and a cut-in tail pad). Like your favorite short board, the board was meant to be surfed off the tail. Get your foot back there and the board goes rail to rail down the line very nicely; it's "pump-able". The board makes speed easily and feels like a much smaller board then it is. I didn't get a chance to disfigure a fat reef break shoulder but I have no doubt that thing would carve a cutback very nicely.
Summary: This board would not be my choice for a long distance (10 mile or more) coastal cruise, it just doesn't have the waterline and weight to match the speed and glide of the big boys. I would use this board for a two or three spot go out; the kind of session where you roll up, see the peak you want to poach, surf it and then hit one or two adjacent spots. The board has an extremely "surfy" feel that will appeal to shortboarding cross-over surfers. At my weight, I could see myself eventually getting used to a board of its size, realizing that I'd have to climb the SUB learning curve again. I'd be interested in trying out the C4's bigger brother the 10'6", given my dimensions and experience I think this larger version would be a better fit . Overall, I can say that riding this board has expanded my paddle surfing world a little bit- and I've begun to realize that I may have to make room in my shed for more then one stand up board. Ouch.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Well we're getting a little eclectic here with our photo collection but there's a reason for it.
MOFO (the guy on the right in the photo to the left and stand up paddling into the wave below) decided to merge his origami skills with his hidden Martha Stewart to create a camera neck "holster" for his waterproof Olympus point and shoot. He used scraps of wetsuit material, glue and hand stitching to put together a really functional and robust camera housing. The water photos were his first attempt with the new camera rig.
I'm going to talk him into letting me photograph his new camera holster and will post it soon. The other photos are of Kelly Kraus surfing Cliffs (photo to the left) on his new C4 Waterman 10'0 a board we'll be reviewing soon. I'm the screwfoot fading left to go right at the Cliffs. Conditions were pretty meager yesterday (7-15-07) but we were able to get into some fun waves once we paddled far enough south.
I'm excited to get into the water photography game. Last week I ordered a Sanyo Xacti waterproof camera that will allow me to videotape and photograph in the water. I think the MOFO housing will make it user friendly by keeping it close at hand but not allow it to dangle all over the place. The camera should arrive next week and I'll have it in the water as soon as possible. Be sure to check back for the shots and video.
Note: The other two gentlemen in the top photo are North kiter John Klinger (Klinky) on the left and Kinsley Wong of Xtreme Big Air in San Luis Obispo. Klinky is a Strand local and has been stand up paddling a Mistral Pacifico when he's not lofting himself over the Cay's overpass.
Also: Kelly Kraus is the owner of Emerald City surf shop in Coronado on Orange Avenue. If you're interested in checking out the new C4 Waterman boards you should go to Emerald City. Kelly's the only guy I know of that has the whole range of C4 boards and he rides one everyday so he knows what he's talking about. Go check'em out!
Friday, July 13, 2007
The Cliffs holds just about any swell and it's reefs form the energy into a playground of fun peaks. There's always a corner to be found somewhere out there. MOFO (my good buddy and a Cliffs local) and I were able to hop on the last few days of a southern hemisphere south swell. The water was a ridiculous 72 degrees- easily trunkable and with the SUB we were set to cover some yardage.
Our hop in spot was at Osprey- slippery but probably the easiest way in when hauling a 12' epoxy plank. Paddling south we played hit and run on any peak that looked fun. We were at a wave just long enough for everyone to realize we'd just snagged a good one and then we were gone. The routine was straightforward, take a left if you had to but try to get a right if you could; the rights got you further south which was our goal. Rights all the way south, Lefts all the way north- simple.
I'd rather paddle out through channels. Yes, it is satisfying to learn the skills needed to punch through line after line of whitewater and breaking wave- but I'll take a channel any day. It's almost unfair how perfect the Cliffs is in this regard for the stand up surfer. The channels might as well have green interstate signs on them that say, "Easy way to more waves!" Surf a wave, paddle through into the channel and repeat about thirty times- not a bad way to spend a few hours.
The greatest thing about getting on the stand up board is the opening up of what I call the "non-spot". It's that boil that you've watched waves mush over for years, or that outside bombora that looked to be a mile away, or that little reef that is cut off from most people by a high tide. Are you starting to put the numbers together? Let me make it easy for you: The Cliffs is full of these spots! Put together a tidebook and a paddle and you can get yourself (and in this case MOFO) into really fun waves all by yourselves, every time.
MOFO and I ended our southern run at 33's. A fun spot- made even better by the isolated nature that a high tide brings to the place. On another day we'll head even further south, eventually surfing the semi-untouchable spots at the tip of Point Loma but that's a story for another day. Until then I'll look forward to the twenty lefts I'll ride on my way back north to Osprey.
Check this out: This is a cool trailer that MOFO has for getting from his house to the Cliff's. Simple design, looks relatively rugged and costs around a hundred bucks. I'm going to have to get one now that I've seen it. The one question I have is how do you lock it up so nobody rips it off?
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Dave's been carving some stand up boards lately and they look clean. His clientelle consists of some pretty serious paddlers, guys who've got some years of experience- the shapes reflect this progression in skill. He hasn't been carving out any 12'x 30"x 4" cruise machines (I'm not bagging on these dimensions, I ride a board with a 29.5" gut) he's making 9'0" and 9'6" carving tools. As he told me, in Hawaii (where one of these boards was headed with its owner), "the shapes are evolving" even while we speak.
The board that I was invited to come take a look at was a 9'6"x 27"x (sorry can't remember the thickness) SUB with a 2+1 fin set up bound for the good and juicy waves of Hawaii. Would a board like this work in California, where our surf is just a bit different? I've got my thoughts on that but before I go popping off I'd like to try one- scaled to my personal dimensions (I'm no 145lb-er, in the words of Hendo: "I been eating". I'm at least 210lbs.). The board looked good, nice full template with the thickness just back of center along with the widepoint. Dave's idea is for surfers to paddle it and surf it pretty much from the same area on the board- maybe one small step back to the sweet spot and you're driving that thing down the line, off the bottom and back up into the lip. The board was definitely meant for lip collisions. Also, check out the green high density foam he's routered into the blank to provide extra strength in the deck- pretty slick.
I'd be interested to see how seasoned paddle surfers handle the width in the chop. In my experience, the width is the most important variable when things start to get messy. Granted these are definitely not beginner boards (my advice to beginners:"Go 30 or go home" the learning curve is so much steeper with a narrow board for a beginner). At Punta Conejo, for example, when the wind got on it, I was still able to ride. I'm going to credit this to the 29.5" width of my board. Here in Imperial Beach, I'm limited in my exposure to other more experienced riders- I have my questions about how these guys are doing on the narrower (I consider sub-28" width, narrow) boards. I'd love to take advantage of the surfing benefits that a narrower board brings but I feel comfortable with the extra width I'm on now. I'll keep you posted.
Additionally, the shop was glassing a couple of Blane Chamber's Paddlesurf Hawaii shapes- I think they were 9'0"s. Again these boards have that purpose built look of a Formula 1 car; check out the tail shapes. Somebody in Hawaii must be working out their issues on poor, unsuspecting, south shore waves. Cool looking shapes- again I'd love to try them all. What we need is the Public Board Library where we can check out the shapes for a couple of days, that or a sponsor. Any takers?
I really like visiting surfboard factories- if you've never walked in to order a custom board then you're incomplete; hollow, like some carbon fiber Aviso pop-out. There's magic in those places- visit one now while they're still accessible.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Paddling at La Ventana was a great way to end our fifteen day Baja adventure. Our schedule was pretty much ridiculous on the fun-meter.
Standard Palapas Ventana Day:
5am: Pop up out of bed, walk down the arroyo and grab the SUP out of the sail shack conveniently located 15 yards from the water. Slide into the 80 degree, smooth as glass, clear-to-the-bottom water, wave at the pangeros as they make bait at the launch, wonder how the sky can light up like that as the sun rises above Isla Cerralvo.
7:00am: Walk back to the casita passing your buddies on the way as they jump into a waiting panga, wish them luck fishing, yell at them to come home with a dodo or don't come home at all- wonder if Lance actually packed enough cold beer with him.
7:30am: Rinse off in the casita, cross the arroyo to the restaurant, sit down to a fresh bowl of fruit and some hot coffee (real coffee, not the Baja standard Nescafe, which really should be called No-es-cafe), try to figure out how you're gonna finish the huge plate of chilaquiles that was just parked in front of your face, somehow work out your issue.
9:00am: Load up the rig with paddleboards and snorkel gear, head out to paddle Bahia de los Suenos (used to be Muertos but the PR on that wasn't so great).
9:45am: As your paddling over the reef ask yourself if that lightning blue streak that just passed under you was a dorado- realize that the place is full of fish. Smile.
11:30am: Finish the four mile flatwater, reef paddle. Decide that a cold margarita and some tacos sound pretty good- remember that there happens to be a brand new Cantina plopped down on the middle of this beach in the middle of nowhere- shake your head at Baja-logic but go all Pavlov at the thought of those tacos.
1:30pm: A nap is calling- head to the casita, turn on the A/C, drift off.
3:30pm: The fishermen return, two forty pound wahoo (eh brah, tastes real ono)- dinner could be interesting. Post up at the restaurant's bar, come to the conclusion that, yes, Tim wasn't lying when he said his beer cooler kicks ass: It's bottomless and sub-arctic in there (God gave us beer to show us he loves us- God gave us cold beer because he wants us to hang out awhile).
4:45pm: Fishing stories and beer.
5:45pm: Fishing stories (was the Marlin really that big?) and a round of ping pong on the restaurant's custom beer-pong table.
7:00pm: Load up and head out to the local taco stand- fillets in hand, time to negotiate dinner. Tim works his magic (they all love him down there)-the result: endless wahoo tacos three different ways (my favorite? a la plancha) and the price, for six hungry fat guys? Something like twenty bucks. Are you kidding me??? Hot tip 1: Bring your own beer and put it in their cooler- no problemo. Hot tip 2: Don't be afraid of the Torta Cubana (aka Torta Timoteo).
9:00pm: Baja midnight- head collides with pillow.
A day at La Ventana- not a bad way to go for a few days and I didn't even talk about the spearfishing (I personally saw twelve wahoo- didn't convert on them but they were there for those with better skills).
And so our Baja trip came to an end. We packed it up and pointed it north- the border and home were waiting. This was the trip that launched a thousand stories, good times with good friends- what more could you want in a Baja adventure?
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Cerritos was small but fun, I could have spent two or three more days paddlesurfing and hanging out there. Rumors of a new swell sent us on the road to Punta Conejo which ended up being surfable (you'll have to wait for the video to see this spot) but a little bumpy with some red tide in the water. Our good friend Tim Hatler, one of the owners of Palapas Ventana (www.palapasventana.com) met us at Conejo and with reports of good fishing and diving we broke camp and headed south to La Ventana.
La Ventana is a little town about half an hour outside of La Paz. In the winter the place is world famous for the steady thermal wind that blows down the channel between La Ventana and nearby Isla Cerralvo offshore. It's a perfect spot for winter time windsurfing and kitesurfing- the water is deep blue and warm. On some winter days a different wind can blow. El Norte is a brutal wind which can sweep down from the far northern end of the Sea of Cortez and just crank through La Ventana- creating the type of small kite and small sail riding that wind junkies dream about. It also creates some interesting surfing conditions which you'd have to see to believe.
Tim and his mother Karon own and operate the nicest place in town. Palapas Ventana is a small bed and breakfast/action sport resort. In the winter time the place is packed with kite and windsurfers who enjoy staying in the unique, round casitas that dot the compound. In the summer, fishermen and spearfishermen invade hoping to land a giant wahoo, dorado or amberjack that swim in the waters around Isla Cerralvo. Tim's operation has it's own private sand beach so fisherman roll out of bed and walk fifty yards to their waiting pangas each morning. Tough life.
Thursday, July 5, 2007
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