I just got out of the water and I am so stoked! Tonight, instead of paddling out on my 9'4", I decided to switch it up a bit and go with something different. The decision was based on the conditions. I'd surfed really fun waves this morning on my 9'4" Stamps but I'd been watching it as the tide came up, I could tell that things would be on the mellow side for the evening surf. Not wanting to bog in the mush balls that were on the evening surf menu, I decided to give my big board a shot. I pulled out Big Red.
Photo: Not the Big Red but running none-the-less... Kraig Kranking it around.
The Sean Ordonez Big Red is a cool board. It's a single fin, sports quite a bit of rocker and has a nice flowing template. It's width is right in my range at 29.5", the board is fairly light and it's close to 12' long. It's a lot of board but it's super stable and with the single fin it likes to run a really clean line high in the hook of a wave. It's a fun board but not one that I'd been using much since I'd moved on to custom, hand-shaped boards. In truth, I haven't surfed it in over a year.
After a quick surf check on the bike, I jammed home, threw the Big Red in the truck, slipped into a pair of trunks and jammed down to the beach. Dropping the board into knee deep water I easily threaded the breaking surf and cruised out the back with dry hair. It was amazing how much more how stable the board was compared to my 9'4". If you want to feel like a paddle hero, jump back onto a big board the difference in stability is tremendous; I almost never fell into the water.
Once outside I pointed it north. In a blink, I'd paddled three blocks up to the pier and passed underneath to the northside. It's cool how much range these things have- which is another facet of the bigger board that I'd forgotten about. I realized that, in my pursuit of high performance (generally shorter) stand up boards, I'd sacrificed a lot of the aspects of stand up paddling that had appealed to me in the first place. Heck, this big board thing was really fun! Hopping onto Big Red brought it all back. I felt like I was coming home.
The surf was pretty mushy. The main event was a slow wedge rising on outer sand bar which backed off in a deep hole. The wave muddled through a big flat section and then reorganized across an inner bar. Most guys didn't have enough board to power through the flat spot with enough speed to hit the inner bar correctly. If you came into the reform slowly, it'd just wall up and run right by you. Doing it right meant powering through the flats and swinging into the beach break wall in a swooping bottom turn that whipped you down the line. If you did it right, you could put together a fun ride from the pier all the way to the sand.
A smaller, lighter stand up board would probably not have made the wave. Tonight, the Big Red was the ticket. All that waterline and mass just carried me right off the peak and into a big, inertia-assisted turn that slingshotted me into the forming inner section. Letting the single fin run down the line, holding a high line just under the curling lip was so sweet. Boards like this are all about the "clean line"; find that line and the magic begins- you're flying.
It's a different type of game, requiring a readjustment of technique but it's refreshing and it's definitely fun. Part of the fun was in figuring out how the board liked to be treated, what you could and could not ask it to do. For example, cutbacks required a different approach. You couldn't just muscle it throught the arc, the turn required patience as you waited for the fin to pendulum under you, bite and finally power up through the turn.
What a session! I spent an hour and a half surfing a wave that was, for the most part, totally un-surfable to anybody on a prone board. I was stoked and spent the session smiling to myself, happy that I'd decided to give the Big Red another shot.
Everyone knows quivers are sweet, but they're worthless if you don't open 'em up now and then and ride what you've got. This session, on that big 'ol board has rekindled some of the sense of freedom I first felt when I started paddling. It's a good feeling- you ought to give it a shot yourself. Pull out your big boys... and let 'em run!
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