Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Santa Barbara... score!

Wow- the California coast lit it up today. Here's some photos of what I was sampling today up here in SB/Ventura:

Photo: Daylight right outside my door, coffee in hand, truck fueled, ipod loaded (new Steeldrivers), 9'1 in the back... ready to ramble down my favorite stretch of coastline in the world.

Photo: First stop, first surf... this is a super easy wave with a mellow crowd. I surfed it with six or seven others- paddled off to the side of the main peak and scored head to head and a half high lefts all morning long.

Photo: Sunny, glassy and hot, even the water was warm- I wore my 2mm long-sleeve spring suit (thanks Emerald City!) and was perfectly comfortable. This is the Rincon carpark- that weird land of trailers all in a row inches from trucks whizzing by at 60 mph- peaks all over the place.

Photo: If you've grown up surfing the Ventura/SB coast, then you definitely know this spot. This is the best spot to learn how to catch a wave on a stand up board on the whole California coast (in my humble opinion) and today it was looking super inviting. The wave up at the top was firing (guess where I'm surfing tomorrow morning).

Photo: This is the first spot I take paddle groups- everyone loves it because everyone catches waves here- it's a fun little spot if you've got a big board and the right attitude.

Photo: Had a killer lunch at Cold Spring Tavern (the one and only- a must see if you're in town... killer beer, killer tri-tip, don't miss it) chased that with a nice two hour nap and then jammed up to this little bend in the coast. It was small but fun- I passed on the surf session for a three mile paddle down the coast (got the Battle of the Paddle coming up) but it did look fun.

Photo: I'll leave you with a close up of that little point- how about that one-look-take-off? Be good to each other out there.

I even snagged a few... Thanks!

Monday was great. The day went well for me: 6am - 10am, stando surf with Sean Poynter, Wally, Manny V, Kevs and Pat- northside then southside. 11am, Cays Club Sandwich, Pacifico and Nap. 3pm, back out there for some low tide mackers at the Rivermouth.... cranking! 6pm, Rutherford Ranch '07 Cabernet, a good friend, my backyard in the cool of the evening... perfect! Here's a few shots:

Photo: Fun in the sun- actually this was a tough day for stand up paddling, especially if you were a goofy foot. The west swell was pushing more rights than lefts and it was sucking out and pitching- tough on a big ol' 9'0 stando... but still fun. All Photos:

Photo: Like I said, lots of rights. This one came from way out the back- I was really scratching to try to catch it- all the while listening to Poyntee and Manny whistling and yelling at me to go... pier/peer pressure.

Photo: I did manage to push it over the edge- but, man, it got steep right there and at that point everything was kind of moving in a blur.... I knew I couldn't hold it together. 

Photo: And once that little kernel of doubt gets into your mind, it's just a matter of time before it comes to fruition. Like now.

Photo: Here's what I learned from this wave: When the water photographer tells you to pull in... you better do it! Sorry Manny- you know how I am! 

Monday, September 27, 2010

Well, the surf was KINDA good today.... hope you scored, I did.

Some good surf in California today... hot, sunny, GNARLY. Check it out:

Photo: Just down the street... below sea level and ready to snap your neck, your board and your desire to surf.

Photo: Who da guy? 

More photos to come- but not too soon because I'm chasing these next couple of swells up the coast. Santa Barbara Part I... here I come. Hide your beer and your women (just kidding about the women).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Hennessey's International Paddling Championships: What A Day!

What a killer, stomach churning, shoulder burning, huffing and puffing, mad-scrambling... day! The Hennessey's race was straight-up awesome. The event was well organized, timely and most of all, super fun. Here's a hit list of my thoughts and experiences:

Photo: Early morning... check in, eat a Clif Bar, drink some water... try to keep the butterflies in check.

1. Practice pays off: Two weeks before the race (starting the day after the Chainsaw Massacre) I paddled four miles every day, timed, for two weeks. Man, am I glad I put in that water time! I was cashed out at the finish line- but coming around the last corner, I felt strong. Not strong enough to catch the guy on the Starboard race board in front of me (or Kevin- you little 25 year old dirtbag) but strong enough to finish six seconds behind Mr. Starboard, pass another competitor and fend off two fast guys on good looking yellow race boards. Practice is where it's at- and, with the Battle of the Paddle coming in five days, I'm back out there tomorrow!

2. I know where I suck the most: The start. The whole bust-out-of-the-gates-as-hard-as-you-can and fight your way to clear water madness has got me totally confounded. I lose seconds (probably minutes) handling the mixed up water right behind the fast guys- the water is so torn up by fifty competitors all paddling at top speed that I can't get into rhythm and I find myself just hacking along trying to get into some type of groove. It's the worst part of my whole game. Stamps and I are looking at some design changes to add a little more stability but really, it comes down to more practice, and a whole hell of a lot more conditioning- I need to explode off the line!

Photo: This is always a bad time for me. Check out the messy water in the back and the clean water out in front- next time, I'm out there in front!

3. I know where I suck... Part II: Man, I need to keep my head in the game. Especially if I have a strategy- which I did. Listen to this: Some of my really fast prone paddler friends clued me into the fast routes through the Bay- describing how the incoming tide swirls through the basin and telling me where to be. I'm coachable, I followed their advice, I was in the right spot and, to my amazement, I was doing pretty well on the first leg of the race. Problem is, I didn't verify if there were required buoys to follow on the course- I assumed (we all know about that word- right?) we just had to get to the turn around mark any way we could. So, when I found myself cutting a corner while everybody else was taking a twist in the bay to the left of a set buoy, I was suddenly in a bad position.

Photo: Here I come, digging for all I'm worth- I almost had that guy in front of me. How cool is it to hear your own name over the loudspeaker as you pound it in to the finish line? I'll tell you: It's extremely cool.

I had two choices: keep going and possibly get disqualified. Or, stop, turn ninety degrees and round the buoy- all the while watching eight or nine fellow competitors go zipping by me. I am sure I was the topic of a few post race conversations that started with, "Did you see that guy who had to backtrack the course around the buoy at the bridge... what the hell was he thinking!" Yep, that was me. I should have verified the course before paddling. That mistake probably cost me twenty or thirty seconds.

Last time (Chainsaw Massacre), it was the finish that snarled me up- this time it was the course that got me. Never again- I hope!

Check back for more race reminiscing!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Let the surfing begin...

Stoked to compete in the Hennessey's International Paddling Championships today but even more stoked to get back into the water and rip some turns tomorrow!

Check out Birthday Boy Kelly Kraus killing it on his new 9'0 Rusty stand up board:

We've got our homegrown surf contest coming up after next Saturday's Battle of the Paddle- let's hope for some clean mixed swell conditions.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In His Own Words: Starboard Pro Stand Up Paddler Sean Poynter Charges Big Puerto

Stoked to hear from my friend and pro stand up paddler Sean Poynter. It turns out that Sean's been up to some serious gnarlyness- stand up paddling into some mackers down in Puerto Escondido at the Central Surf Pro. This contest, limited to stando surfers, is held at Puerto's infamous Playa Zicatela. Zicatela translates roughly into: "Go ahead and paddle out gringo- I will f&%# you up!".

Seriously, this isn't a place that you just show up to thinking you're going to score a Stand Up Journal cover shot. This spot takes preparation and experience. I suggest filling your washing machine with warm water, crawling in, putting it on the spin cycle and closing the top. Now breath hold in there for three or four minutes at a time. In about a year, you'll be ready for Puerto's dredgers. Seriously, get caught inside here and you'll change your underwear along with the way you look at life.

Poyntee's definitely got the know how- he was a traveling pro surfer before he figured out that the act is meant to be done with a paddle in hand. Here's how it went in Sean's own words:

Hey John, 

Got back last night from Puerto. There turned out to be some really good waves, pretty sizable. Since missing the winter in Hawaii due to an injury, I missed my intake of big waves. Going into the event in Puerto I was hoping that the waves would show. I wanted to get a little redemption for the missed winter. I was going too long without being scared. I had a couple moments in Puerto, there's nothing like it, makes you feel alive. 

It was a completely new experience. There were a lot of first's for me: first time to Puerto, first time surfing a stand up on waves of that size, first time going for real barrels on a stand up and my first time on the boards I was surfing. I'm stoked how it turned out. I ended up with a second place result, with some good waves under my belt and a couple of even better beat downs. 

The format was really cool. You surfed two three hour sessions. The first was on Friday, the next on Saturday. The results were determined by the highest total the scores from the best wave from each 3 hour session. 

Three hours sounds like a long time, but in conditions like that it was a necessity. The reason being you can't paddle out where the good ones are breaking, you would have to catch a ride down to the harbor and then make a 10/15 minute paddle to the breaking waves. Since leashes were not used, whenever you fell or caught a wave and got caught inside you would end up losing your board, so the whole process of catching a wave took some time. 

To say the least, the event was killer. I'm stoked I had the opportunity to be a part of it. Big thanks to Angel from Central Surf Shop who put it all together, the judges, the locals, the lifeguards, and the competitors for giving it their all. 

I'm looking forward to competing in the event next year. I'll be back in San Diego tomorrow night, let's try and catch a surf. Hope all is good.

Thanks John
And, no- I would NOT have paddled out into that!  Congrats, Sean!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stretch Stand Up Boards: Looked hot THEN, look hot NOW

Last year at the Sacred Craft show in Del Mar (was it cooler then?) I spotted a hot looking stando board being hurried across the convention floor. The thing looked good- carbon fiber layup, quad fin, battail... I grabbed the guy just as he was heading out the door and was stoked to see that it was built by Santa Cruz's Stretch. Here's the shot from a year ago:

Stretch is an innovator, he shapes unreal shortboards, kiteboards... basically anything meant to float. When it comes to surfcraft, Stretch has done it all- and he's kicked down some doors in the process. He was one of the first guys to dabble in epoxies and exotic layups. I'd known about his work from my surfing and kiting days so I was super curious to check out where he was taking stand up boards.  But, unfortunately, it'd be a long time before I'd hear anything from the crew up north.

Until a couple of days ago when Dave, the Stretch shop manager contacted me. Turns out, a lot has been going on. Stretch has been refining his surf shapes and cranking out race boards as well. Here's a few shots straight out of the factory, check 'em out:

Photo: Rumor has it that these boards may be coming down this way- raceboards and surfing standos... sounds good to me- bring 'em on.

Photo: A new take on a stand up racer... here it is freshly mowed out of a billet of foam. The boys make 'em custom, one at a time. 

Photo: Here's the same board all dressed out in carbon fiber- war paint applied and ready to kick some ass.

Check back for more info (ride and race reports) about Stretch's creations- they've definitely piqued my curiousity.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stand Up Paddle Racing: Kiwi's New Race Board... Stu Kenson Demon

Okay- I just dropped that name on it. I thought it fit- the thing looks evil to me. Kiwi's been waiting for this one: 12'6 x 26", 100% carbon, stupidly light and just in time for the Hennessey's race coming up this Saturday.  Test paddle is tomorrow morning and then we'll hook up in the evening for another run. Full report and more photos coming soon. Check it out:

Lake Havasu Paddle Shenanigans...with girls in bikinis.

So what part of that title lured you in? Check out the Isle Surfboards crew going stando at Lake Havasu:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Now this is a cool stand up video!

Good music, cool vibe... and killer scenery. Marc over at Isle Surfboards sent this one to me- a little slice of his last stand up paddle adventure.

Click here if you have trouble opening the clip.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Somethings coming... from the south... get 'em ready!

Checked it this evening and you can see the lumps starting to show up... got a three hour window right after high tide. I'm out there. Race training goes out the window when there's surf... bring it on!

Stand Up Paddle Racing: My Mistakes at the Chainsaw Massacre

A couple of shots from Saturday's race (thanks Coronado Mike and Liza):

Photo: Getting ready to start- I got trapped in the middle of the pack at the starting line and couldn't work myself over to where my friends were starting. When you paddle from the middle, you're boxed in and the water is choppy. Mistake #1: Don't start in the middle of the pack.

Photo: There was a little too much of a westerly head wind so I phoned my buddy the Admiral and had him move one of the Navy's newest multi-billion dollar wind blocks into place. It's good to have powerful friends.

Photo: Here's our finish. Notice I'm the most downwind guy there? That meant I had to paddle upwind to the buoy. Mistake #2: Pick a good line to the finish buoys.

Photo: See that kid in front of me- he was one of three people who passed me at upwind mark. I chased that kid all the way to the finish- unfortunately for me, he snagged a wave and rode it all the way to the beach. I farmed it on the next little bump and the board broached- throwing me off in front of millions of screaming fans (well, maybe not millions)- how embarrassing! But, that's racing- I guess.

Photo: Mistake #3: Once you're near the beach, ditch your board and sprint for the finish. Sting rays be damned! See that guy behind me (Dave?), well he actually finished in front of me because I was too worried about getting my kit all in order. Reminder: When the finish line is in site- don't stop moving forward.

Photo: Coronado Mike- bringing it home. When it all comes down to it, you're really racing against yourself. Your head says, "Why are you doing this to me" and you've got to say, "Just keep it moving!" while your body says, "I hate you".... now doesn't that sound fun?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Deck pad surfing set up

Seeing how a lot of guys put their pads on their SUPs brings me to say a few things I have figured out to get maximum leverage on a turn.

Photo: My 9'3" pad layout. A forward smooth paddling section going into a broken up section with front and rear arch bars, and a huge kicker that's right under my rear foot.

Photo: Same turn notice the stress on my foot It is directly on top of the kicker.

Photo: a little further along in the apex of the same turn.

1st: unlike prone surfing the paddle allows us to lean more and when you brace against the paddle we can put and intensely huge amount of pressure on a turn. I guess by the way my legs feel at times maybe 3g's. With this in mind wouldn't you want to have the most traction in the spots you need for maximum pressure without sliding a foot off the board?

Photo; This is a rail turn into a slide Look at the toe hold I have on the arch bar my whole foot is on top of it. Pretty cool shot.

2nd set the pad up for reference points and train your peripheral vision to recognise where you are on the deck at all times. I am more forward on trim then in the apex of a turn. So put a center space or arch bars front and rear and put small gaps in the pad where the rear areas are. Once you feel it out and get some time on the board you will never be able to ride a solid pad again.

3rd arch bars and kickers are incredible if placed in the correct position. A kicker to me on a SUP is not to keep me from sliding off the tail. It's a secure foot hold so I can lay all my weight +++ into a turn. So put them right at the best turning spot where my rear foot will be. On a quad its right over slightly at the front of the rear fins, on a tri its right on top of the center of the rear fin. Yeah that's not right at the leash plug it is in front a ways. You bought the kicker so why not use it all the time. On a wider tailed board it can go right at center or behind the trailer fin. I use the arch bar more as a trim guide when I feel my foot on it I know I am near the right spot just forward of the fins and can drop my foot back to the kicker on a turn. I just started putting a arch bar in the front foot area and it realy helps me pull the board back in with my front foot.

Soon you guys will see what's going on here in my little crack in the eastern coastline and I am striving to take the level of SUP surfing beyond where it is today. Thinking with a prone surfing mind will not do it, opening up to possibilities beyond the prone world will. Have fun with it...

Little Parting sequence for you guys...

Yep I made it....

Peace and good waves to all,
Capt Ron

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Sneak Peak: New Custom Rusty 9'0 Stando... made for ripping!

Hot out of the shape room. Check out Kelly's new custom Rusty:

Photo: How clean is this thing. I'm going to guess at the numbers here (since I journalistically kooked it and forgot to write them down). 9'0 x 29" x 3.75", Kelly how'd I do? Up close the board is feather light and looks rippable. 

Photo: Three fin set up. We've given the quads a fair shake and we just can't seem to dig 'em. What we do dig are these fins- the do-it-all Gerry Lopez Future Fins.... and in blue.... sick!

Photo: Kelly cuts in a deck patch like this on most of his boards- stops the foot from sliding off when you step back to.... Shnaaap! Right? On my next one for sure... oops, did I say, "next one"? Yep, there's a board in my future but... shhhhh.

Photo: The man, the myth.... the van. How's that PSH 9'3 in the background? Look for a full ride report on that board when I get an effing second to breathe around here.... super busy in the last two weeks!