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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Travel Quiver and a Catalina Race Report

How hot of a travel quiver would this be? An 8'0" SUP and a 6'2" quad fish. One bag, two boards- a world of opportunities.

As soon as we get through the wind storm that's screwing up our surf I'll have that little Biscuit out and about- might float me, might not... but it'll be fun finding out!

Catalina Island-Dana Point Race: Just got a phone call from Tex and the Cali Kite team fresh out of the water from the Catalina to Dana Point race. Nine hours of heavy water paddling in very rough conditions. Tex told me that from the chase boat, you'd lose sight of your paddler in the trough of waves coming out of the north-west. Congratulations to those guys for even showing up for the thing- definitely ballsy. Check back for pictures and maybe even some video clips coming soon!

Thanks Chris for the correction!

Another correction: Stamps' alaia board is six foot and change and three-quarters of an inch thick- not the four feet and inch and a half I posted- duh. Sorry Stamps.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kook Patrol: Just to remind us what we really are...

This is what happens if you don't drop a buck into Camera Grom's can: posted so the whole world can see.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Here's another road trip photo... and something else

Another spot from our run up the coast. I call it Nooks and Granny's and it's lot more difficult to figure out than it looks from this shot. Lots of water moving around and a wicked bit of bounce chop off the rock groin.

The alaia board. Tim's made one in carbon fiber. I guess this is about as diametrically opposed to stand up paddle surfing as you can get. The thing's barely four feet long, about an inch and a half thick, no fins, no rocker, lots of belly and a good amount flex. You won't be able to ride it. They're made for super surfers or just freaks. Stamps tells me that Thomas Campbell's new video "The Present" the will feature some alaia board surfing. Tom Wegener in Australia's posted some cool footage of alaia surfing, check it out- but don't even kid yourself.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A good run, but nice to be home.

Had a great trip up the coast. Shacked up at a cool little hotel with a bunch of crazy Canadians- these guys would go to town on the complimentary wine that the place served up each night. They must've gone through eight or nine bottles, just killing it. But it was fun- must be a cold winter back in Calgary.

There were a couple of swells in the water but the direction wasn't just right for the area's window. Still, a little hunting around payed off- we scored some fun, uncrowded surf at some really beautiful spots. A good friend also came up and we managed to get in a couple of cruises up the coast. Funny how twenty minutes of paddling will still buy you waves all by yourself.

Nice to roll back into town and find that those two swells that were missing up north were pretty much lighting up the beach break in town and that the water's warm enough to trunk it. Lifeguard Hans and I surfed the north side this morning after peak high tide- fast lefts but good fun if you've got quick feet. I'm really digging my board more and more- turns well, goes fast and wraps sweet cutbacks, it'll even go up into the lip if you've got the legs to get it up there.

Big Catalina race coming up for those brave enough to go for it. Start carbo loading now!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Heading Home: Fun trip

Paddled up a point this morning, surfed some really small waves under bright, sun filled, Santa Barbara skies and dinged two boards at the same time. Interesting day.

The point's a big one up here, not a high quality spot (so, no, I didn't stink up the 'con) but a nice run. A tip: Watch the tide on runs with breakwalls and rip rap- a high tide backwash can make a mess of what could be a pleasant walk in the park paddle. Now about the dings: Damn bungee cords. This one even had a carbiner type hook on the end (you know like the kind Stallone broke in his corny climbing movie) and it failed me. Snap, smacked the rail of my friend's board and the rail of my own ride above it. One bungee, two dings.

More to come!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Mobile Surf Blog

Greetings from the road. I've got to pull my head out of the sand- there's a lot of cool tech stuff that's evidently happened without me knowing much about it. Some of you are going to laugh at me but check this out: Here I am on the road, sitting at a "hotspot", linked up to the 'net, logged into my blogger account getting myself ready to tell you about my surfing day. And, oh yeah, I'm sipping one of those giant blended coffee drinks that's really just a caffeine milkshake. Now that's progress!

Notes from the road: Had a fun morning of surfing with Tim Stamps. Funny, how I can remember to bring three paddles, two stand up boards, three wetsuits, five leashes and my toothbrush but I can remember to toss in my camera's upload cable. If I had remembered to bring that little piece of wire you'd be looking at what I surfed this morning instead of just forming a picture of it in your mind's eye. (Don't worry I'll post some photos once I'm back home.)

Let's just say it's a relatively new spot. I won't name it out of respect for the small handful of guys who've got it dialed (including the guy on the yellow fish who was ripping it) but I will say that sometimes a man-made bump in an otherwise stretch of straight beachbreak can produce little magic peaks. I'll call it Nooks and Grannies. Heres why: there's a couple of little, hidden, tucked in peaks (the nooks) and there's a couple of SUPerfect outside sandbars (the grannies). The trick at this spot is to link the Grannies into the Nooks.

Imagine taking off going left on an outside wedge, you cutback a couple of times all the while looking over your shoulder at the oncoming right hander. Time it just right and whack! You can bounce off the oncoming right and ride it all the way to the inside. Like surfing a curving bobsled course with a couple of lip whacks and a cutback or two thrown in for kicks. Good fun, but in all honesty, not an easy place to do stand up. There's a lot of refractory wave action, a big rip creating a weird, semi-standing wave and shifting peaks- the good SUP guys (T. Stamps included) make it look easy, effortlessly finding themselves in the right place at the right time.

I had a rougher time. And this is funny because coming from my home beach, which is not an easy place to do stand up, I thought I'd developed some pretty strong stand up skills. Wrong. One hour of paddle surfing at Nooks and Grannies just about did me in; I was beat! It remains a universal truth that in the world of SUP, just when you think you've got it down, you find out how much more you have to learn. A humbling, but fun day.

More paddling tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hey, it's almost Easter, spread the...

I'm off on a little central Cal. road trip- photos and more when I get back.

Some fun little surf today- trunked it and surfed some two footers. Keeping my fingers crossed for a little NW action to bring some happiness to this road trip. Stay tuned!

Photo: KF, spreading the LOVE.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Check This Out: Down the Line PodCast with Scott Bass

Check out Scott Bass' podcast of his radio show "Down the Line". I'm a newcomer to podcasts and I have to say, these things are great! I'd been wanting to listen to Scott's show but it's live here in San Diego (XtraSports 1360) Sundays during prime surf time: 8:00am! So, needless to say, I was a little bummed- I wanted to hear the show but I was too busy paddle surfing. Along the comes the "podcast"- a great idea for listening to radio programs and other audio productions that you've missed.

Scott's show features all kinds of surf personalities. Right now, I'm listening to Chuck Patterson talk about what it's like to charge the bowl at Makaha. It's a cool show and if you just can't get enough- click here and check it out!

More show info.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Toys: The Stamps Arrow

I've been disappearing into the flat waters of the bay the last couple of evenings. Here's what I've been on: The Stamps Arrow- if you try one of these downwind/point-to-point boards, you're going to want one.

Paddling flatwater with one of these is a whole new ballgame. Think effortless glide. And ridiculous speed. I'm going to have to get one of these for coastal touring and downwind runs this summer. I could envision whole classes of paddlers touring flatwaters on these, they're such sweet paddlers.

Stamps built this board to be fast but manageable- I've paddled it three times now and haven't fallen in. Granted, I haven't gotten her out into chop and swell yet but I think she's going to be fine, the board actually becomes more stable as it tips to a side. Kind of reminds me of a dory, the lower it sits the more stable it becomes. It's a beautiful board, if you get a chance get on one of these!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Surfed Out: Here's some pics

You just never now what's going to pop up at a beach break. I'd heard rumblings that there was a fun wave draining into the rip at a certain street end. On the hunch I jammed over at noon to find the place just going off.

Dead glass, winding lefthanders, racing into the hole blown out by the rip. One guy way to the south. Three hours later it was still doing it's magic but I just couldn't do it anymore- I was beat.

So here's a few pics of what it looked like- like every surf photographer always says, "These were the 'tweeners, you should have seen the set waves". But, seriously...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Magic Baja: I'm seriously preoccupied!

Now I've really messed myself up. I'm starting to get "Baja Dreamy", all I can think about are the waves that are peeling off right now somewhere down south. Mike Ashley, my brother, put together this little clip of the Baja Paddle/Surf/Kite trip we completed last summer. If you haven't had the time to go back and read about it, you'll have to click all the way back to the very first entries of this blog. Or maybe you just want to check out the video and imagine yourself fishing, kiting, surfing and paddling your brains out for two weeks all the way down to Cabo San Lucas. Free me!

Camera Grom Thanks You! For everybody who stuffed a little cash in Grom's coffee can this morning (and Gabe who dropped a twenty spot!) the video will be up tomorrow. If you don't know Grom is saving up for a new camera- so it's going to a good cause, how many kids do you know have the ballzack to save on their own? As for the clips, all I can say is Kiwi and Kraig Surplus exceeded their wave count. And, upon further video review, yes, Kraig- if you weren't right in the pit I would have been barreled. Foul!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Daylight Savings Time's Coming: Summer's Knockin'

I can't wait to Spring forward. It means that the warm season is just around the corner. The after work session can be extended and I can start making my summer travel plans. I'm already trying to figure out how I'm going to pull off the paddle surf adventures that are floating around in my mind. Here's a preview:

1. I want to paddle the East Cape of Baja. Talk about wide open. There are so many little spots to poke around down there. I'm fired up to lay some tracks and document some reliable runs around the tip. Trip Probability: 90%

2. I'm all messed up on the idea of paddling mainland Mexico, specifically a giant left point break, described as Malibu in reverse. The place is fat and long enough to be perfect for a stand up board. Trip Probability: 60%

3. I need to paddle up and around the voodoo ridden Northern Baja region- my gut says no but my board says yes. Trip Probability: 50% (if you drive, I'll cover tolls and tacos!).

4. Send me to Costa Rica. Will paddle and write for frequent flier miles. Boca Barranca, Pavones and Pan Dulce all need to be poached. Trip Probability: 0%

5. There's some stretches of coastline right in my backyard that I still haven't explored and I need to score, mid-week, south swell, point surf this summer. Trip Probability: 100%

6. Ian you invited me up to your zone, that big headland needs to be breeched- let me know!
Trip Probablility: 70%

Get out and get some- it's out there!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Paddle In Peace: Respect Your Prone Brother

Brewer, over at the SB paddle blog has a little piece about finally having to tell some local paddlers to mind their manners in the surf. I've been hearing some buzzing about tension in the water around our parts- so I thought I'd take an opportunity to put my feelings out there. Here's a little piece from an upcoming project I'm working on. You'll see it in June in its complete form- but for now, this piece seemed appropriate:

It’s a sad reality that all is not rainbows and unicorns in the surfing family. As stand up paddle surfing becomes more and more popular, the prone surfing population has become increasingly vocal about their disdain for us, their upright brothers. The days of open fascination have begun to give way to open confrontation or at the very least the insidious “stink eye”. And, frequently, they’ve got a point- some of us have been pigs.

The increased mobility and ease of wave catching can transform even the mellowest surfer into a wave-eating beast. I’ve watched two stand up paddlers take over a spot, endlessly looping from peak to channel, plundering every wave that even hinted at breaking and generally pissing off everybody in the lineup. Including me, a fellow stand up surfer! Unfortunately, the victims of this bad behavior transfer their ire onto the entire SUP community and the bad blood spreads from break to break.

There is good news though. There are stand up paddlers who have what I call “special immunity”, these are the guys who through their actions and force of personality are able to stand up surf almost anywhere. These surfers practice, without even knowing it, a code of surfing ethics that is more than a set of rules. It’s a mindset, a way of being.

Here are my suggestions to help build harmony in the line up. Practice these and develop your own special immunity.

1. Paddle through not out: It’s much more difficult to get upset at a moving target. Look at surf spots as targets of opportunity and hit them as you’re moving through. Don’t pull up in the parking lot, eyeball the main event peak and paddle straight out to it. Remember, you’re just playing through, so move along.

2. Charity: Give away a lot of waves. Sit down on your board and purposefully take yourself out of the action. You don’t need to make a big show of it, in fact the quieter you are, the more “in the know” you seem, the more of an impact this action will have.

3. Competence: Know your limits. If you are a beginner you should surf the worse, most abandoned, empty waves in your county. If you can’t control yourself or your board, you’ve got no reason to be near others. Surfers respect competence, ride the wave cleanly, pull out and finish the wave correctly. These little things, in the eyes of the knowledgeable, tell them all they need to know about you and how you look at surfing.

4. Never call anybody off of a wave: Vocalizing never helps, it only labels you as the loudmouth. And a stand up loud mouth is the worst kind of loudmouth. Instead, encourage prone surfers to take off in front of you. Trust me, you’ll get plenty more.

5. Fill the holes: As you paddle through, look for surfer-voids. Now fill them. Easy as that, bounce from hole to hole and you’ll never have a problem.

These are the guidelines I’ve tried to live by in my paddling life; they’ve served me well. Like all guidelines they are flexible, use good judgment, keep your cool and if all else fails…. paddle away. Good luck and happy surfing!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Road Warrior playing the sick card...

Sometimes you gotta bend some rules to get things done. I'm not going into it here but the deed is done. You'll be hearing about the new ride I grabbed a hold of soon... If you were there, enjoy.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Downwind Boards Look FUN!

Oh man, I got a peek at something that looks really fun. Kelly Kraus at Emerald City surf shop in Coronado had a 14' C4 Vortice down at the beach this morning. That thing looks so sweet! Talk about purpose built, it's more hull than paddle board. Kelly says it's ridiculously fast- I'm going to jump on it sometime this week and I'll post a full report. You're going to be seeing a lot more of these downwind boards in the water this summer. I know I want one and I haven't even tried the thing yet! Check Back.

The surf in our parts has really been fun lately. I've hit the last two days at different spots and had really great days. It's been about head high on the set waves but clean and lined up. We're seeing a building south swell so it's time to start putting the thinking caps on and figuring out where it's going to work best. Stoked.

Photos Top and Bottom: A couple of snapshots of a couple of spots a couple of days ago.