Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas... 2011!

Go to the beach, surf, boogey board, body surf or just build sand castles...

Christmas Morning

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fun surf today

Check it out:

Long, long rides...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Surf holding in the waist/chest high range... waiting for more

Nothing spectacular today but still damn fun. There's surf- nothing over chest high but it's just been so glassy and nice. This is a different time of year for me to be here, typically I'm down in summer or spring this is my first winter trip. The water's mellower- not as stormy/crazy as the summer and the evenings are comfortably cooler. Different weather but same mosquitoes!

Surf spot up the road... fun but a little too high tide. We'll try it again later in the week.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's kind of like coming home...

I love coming down here. I've been down enough times that I've made friends with some of the local people and I have to tell you, it makes a huge difference. When you pull up and you see a familiar smiling face and you're greeted with, "I was wondering when you'd be back... Merry Christmas!", it just feels good. The wave may not be the greatest but when you can come back to a place that you feel good about- when you see people that truly make you feel happy- it's worth it. I love this place.

It doesn't hurt when there's waves... first day, fun lefts and super, super glassy.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Always the same... the night before is a pain in the ass!

I'm always up way too late the night before a trip. No matter how much I plan and coordinate there's always a million things to be done and the list doesn't seem to get shorter. Here's a big one- fins. When you know you're going to ride lots of waves (for long distances) you start getting ideas. You decide you're finally going to try out all the different fin combos you've been holding all year. 

At least that's me- I have all these beautiful fins I've been dying to let run and damn if I'm going to leave any of 'em at home. So a biggy on the list is to narrow down the fin quiver- I really, really can't bring them all (my bags too heavy already). Check the shot below, that's my short list- tell me who you'd cut. You see it's a pain in the ass- it really is (BTW: thank you Future Fins for making this conundrum possible): 

Okay- remember this is the short list so who gets the cut from these guys? The Laird Thruster set? The Nectars? The tried and true Gerry set, the Jamie Mitchell quads, the one-of-a-kind buttery smooth G10 keels or the crazy hatchet, the Albacore or the 6 and 7" surf fins... Give me you best shot and I'll tell you who I really did leave behind.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Break? Go south...

Every year it's the same thing here in Southern California: The surf get's good but everything else get's cold. I know we're soft compared to you guys who are paddling and surfing in the ice and snow, dodging mini icebergs and cracking icicles off your nose hairs but, shoot, cold is cold and when it's 40 degrees on the beach here in San Diego, the best thing to do is head south. 

Does it look warm, fun and inviting? That's what happens if you go far enough down...

We're fortunate to have a couple escape valves. The biggest one is our southern neighbor. For me, Baja is just three exits down the freeway, cross the border and you are basically on another planet. The rules are different, the language is different and everything is just a touch more wild- I actually feel a little more free down there than I do here in our good old United States of America (don't get me wrong I love this country and would never trade residency. I'm just saying that all the rules, regulations, codes, paddling zones, lawsuits, nanny-state bureaucratic nonsense has really taken away some freedom from us. You don't know that until you hit a spot like deep Baja where the thinking is that if you're dumb enough to try riding a motorcycle drunker than a skunk and you run into a cow and kill yourself- it's your own damn fault. Don't even consider trying to sue the rancher.... wow, I think I just got off on a little rant). The feeling of loading up the 4x4 for a three week surf mission down past the Tropic of Cancer never get's old for me. The surf gets cleaner, the water gets clearer and, almost magically, you're back into an average daily temperature somewhere in the mid-seventies. Warm is good, and you get that in southern Baja. 

This year, I'm trying something a little different. I'm heading even further south down into mainland Mexico to my little surf hidey hole. The spot is one I've written about before- it's basically a goofy foot fantasy land. The wave isn't exactly a high performance dredger but it's such a long, fun ride that you don't exactly care if you're battling grannies on long boards for a couple runners. I've surfed it Spring, Summer and Fall but not in December so I'm excited to see how it looks this time of the year. The only thing cold down there are the margaritas other that it's a big, warm surf playground a few quick hours (by jet) to the south.

I don't know how you guys and gals in the really cold regions stay sane- maybe you just dream and plan for the summer. For me, I look forward to Christmas Break and when that last Friday bell rings, I know what I do, I head south- maybe you should too.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

La Ventana Classic: Candice Appleby/Anthony Vela scheduled to compete!

Last year, Tim Hatler's La Ventana Classic pulled in close to 18k dollars for the Southern Baja community of La Ventana/El Sargento. The money (click here for more info on where the money goes) funded projects like extra bathroom facilities for the elementary school, a shade structure for another primary school, air conditioning for the students as well as new infrastructure for the local clinic, trees and paint for a local playground and a foundation for the new police station. This year, Tim's shooting for even more money- hoping to bring improvements to even more parts of this Sea of Cortez fishing community. 

Here's the website for the Classic- want more information? Click here.

If you've got the opportunity and you'd like to race your stand up board in a beautiful setting for a great cause (and get in some kite or windsurfing) you've got to get down there for the Classic! This year the 11 mile Isla Cerralvo to La Ventana Crossing- the main event for the contest- is drawing some serious competitors. There's rumors of a Vela/Appleby two pronged attack- which will undoubtedly present a major problem for the three time crossing champion, Mark Field (aka Kiwi) of Imperial Beach. Click here for specifics about the races.

Too much of a skin flint to help out the kids and want everything free, eh? Well get oot and aboot and do this free race... part of the classic... the Chop Hop!

Regardless of the level of competion, there's always loads of fun planned for the whole three day event. This year Tim told me he's going to bring back the Lucha Libre wrestlers with an appearance by the small people wrestlers... what??? There will also be reggae bands, high level kiteboarding competitions, food, dance presentations, sunshine, sand... and plenty of cold beer. Sign me up.

Monday, December 5, 2011

There are still secrets out there...

And I'm going to make it my job to figure them out. On moto, stand up board or 4x4- one way or another I'm going to get there. Here's a couple shots to fire you up too:

Nope- not Tahoe. No reservations required, no campsites... in fact, nobody around. Hoping to paddle this one in the Spring or early summer.
More hidden flatwater... wave spots too. Gathering data, preparing gear- getting ready for a Spring time combo trip.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Offshore, cold and clean... California winter paddle surf wonderland

Woke up this morning to clear skies and cold water. The wind was out of the north east which means it's offshore- pretty typical for us here in the winter time. Offshore winds clean up the surf and usually make it hollow- so if you're a tube rider, you get fired up on these kind of days. I'm a little out of commission with a screwed up left hand but that didn't stop me from checking out the clean surf at the end of the road. It looked so fun- too bad I had to head home, tail between my legs and roll out the lawnmower. Next time.

Parking lot journal

You know it's good when all the usual faces start showing up.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Surf trips, Motorcycles, shark infested waters and a gruesome injury!

Wow! Lot of things going on with me lately- sorry to have neglected posting for such a long time. I'm gonna have to warn you- don't scroll down to the last pic if you've got a problem with looking at finger joints bending in an unnatural fashion. 

Other than that, things have been kind of hectic around here. To start off I made a killer road trip up to Northern California and hooked up with Team Boga for a photo shoot at a spot that sketches me out- Davenport landing. Davenport is the site of at least two confirmed white shark attacks, the water's cold and it just feels... out there (yes, San Diego surfers are wussys when it comes to this type of stuff- we've definitely got it easier down here). Check it out: 

The Team Boga fun machine...

I really didn't want to be in the water that much (and the surf looked really small) so I grabbed the biggest board the boys had on the rack- that's me with Boga's 12' plus El Rey heading out to the feeding grounds...
I was impressed with that Boga- it paddled great and it was actually really fun to surf.
While I was up north, I got a chance to visit my brother Mike who lives in Santa Cruz- and the Ramble Machine was curious about Stanford so we stopped by to see if we could see Chelsea Clinton- guess we missed her by a few years. Trees were rad though.
I think I'm gonna start another blog called "Mid-life moto Idiot"... as you can see, I'm know kind of hooked on motorcycles. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't most people get dirt bikes out of their systems by the time they're thirteen? Guess I missed out- I am messed up on these things... in a positive way. Anyway, here I am at my dirt bike class at the Honda Rider Education Center in Colton, Ca. so much fun! You know- I think I'm really going to start that other blog... I've got a lot to tell you about what I'm learning with motos!
I had such a fun Thanksgiving break- two weeks of road tripping up and down the coast and then a couple days of dirt bike riding. I did have one mishap that happened the last day of my vacation- on my third dirtbike trip. Kind of nasty- but I messed up while riding and dislocated my finger. If you've never done it, you're not missing anything. It's nasty. Especially when you look down and see your finger bending the wrong way. Like this: 
No, that's not my finger- but I did look down and see my digit bent like that. It freaked me out. And it hurt like hell.
So now I'm sitting here typing in an awkward fashion (fingers taped together) wondering when I'll be able to grip my paddle enough to go for a surf (the Becky Stuart Memorial Race this weekend is out). The weekend surf report is looking promising so I know I'll figure something out... and I just HAVE to fire up my bike and go for another ride- finger be damned!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday surf session...

Decided to bypass half off toasters at WallMart for a low tide stando session at Patch. Got cans of chili, turkey dogs and the Kraken (google it)... Glassy and looking fun think I'm not the only one with Patch plans:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

San Diego Outrigger Club Race: Kiwi takes 2nd place in tough conditions

Just heard that my good buddy charged to a second place finish in open stock class stand up paddle board! Stoked for him. Kiwi told me that conditions at the race were the toughest of any race he's been in with lots of nasty cross chop and big, six foot open ocean swells. Kiwi borrowed my 30" wide Stamps Poison Arrow, paddling it for the very first time ever. According to Kiwi the board's stability was a huge plus in the mixed and stormy seas. Kiwi also went with one of Future Fins new race fins from the soon to be released 2012 line- these things are radical blending speed with weed free performance. Oh yeah, the two new Laird boards that were there got smoked!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New Boards/New Ideas: Kainoa McGee Stand Up Boards and Plus One... a new Racer?

Just got these shots from my friend Manny Vargas (check out his awesome surf water photography at Some really cool stuff happening here in Southern San Diego. First of all Mike Pilgrim of SurfCraft International (click here to see more of what Mike's got going on) is teaming up with Hawaiian hellman and pipeline charger Kainoa McGee to get Kainoa's new stand ups out here in So. Cal. - from the buzz around town the boards are sweet and there's five or six local guys waiting in line to get there chance on the demo boards Mikey's got stashed somewhere (pics below). Also, it turns out that the mad scientists at Plus-One are putting together race boards and jumping into the game with stock class boards as well as fourteen footers. All of this dutifully recorded by Manny V., check out his shots below.

Here's a peek at one of Kainoa's boards- love the diamond tail. I'll hop on one and give you a rundown of how it goes as soon my colon decides to stop hating me. That's Mikey in the foreground, gray sweater with big Kainoa in the background (short sleeve teeshirt, right side). Various Plus-One board wizards checking rails and fin placements. 
Wide angle/high angle: love the perspective Manny V.!
Top-side Kainoa board... like how foiled the tail is... low volume.
Eh brah, five boxes!
Okay, on to the new Plus-One raceboard: Stock class, rounded tail. As you know I'm a big fan of the high volume wide-assed race board (but what do I really know- I'm a middle of the pack racer, remember?). I just get the feeling that for most of the conditions we're in here in California a really pulled pintail isn't the way to go- the tail sinks with each power stroke and you can here the gurgle of vortex turbulence off the back. I like what the boys have gone with here- I'd like it better if I got a chance to actually paddle the beast.
If anything, from what I know about Plus-One, the fit and finish (read glass job with tricky carbon fiber) is probably A+ on this thing. And, if my little spy resources are correct, the glass job is probably some exotic, multi-material layup that's ultra-light and damn strong. Check those boxy rails... hmmmm.

Been Experimenting a bit. My New Board and paddles

Here he is... My new board. 8'2" x 29" x 4.5" with some crazy stuff going on. The board it is sitting on is one I love dearly a 8'4" x 29.5 fish shape wing diamond with spherical rocker (basically the bottom curve is a piece of a giant circle or sphere and equal nose and tail). It rides junky, mushy waves unreal. But when it gets decent with the low rocker it will stuff coming down off a vertical lip and care is needed.
So I built a new updated one to ride decent surf. This one has rocker lots of it. I did not want a water plow so I put a very deep single concave through the whole thing stopping just before the fins and veed the hell out of it nose to tail. Also the tail rocker last 6" is flipped considerably. The fins, Yeah buddy we got em 7 FCS fusion boxes in there. I set it up as a Twinzer, Quad, Tri, Twinzer+1 and a 6 or 7 fin if you want. I have not built myself a twinzer in many many years and after the last 3 days of surfing it I must say, I NAILED IT... This thing is MENTAL.... Very fast very loose, did I mention its fast, It comes down the line like a rocket is tied to its ass then redirects as good as any prone board I have ever ridden. Pretty cool I am STOKED... Its funny this board was intended to be a 7'11" but when I drew the outline it looked so good where the outside curves met I just left it and it came together at 8'2" as it was intended to be a more rounded nose. Crazy how things come together sometimes.



Profile bottom

Deck with a arch bar, always...

This Is my prototype paddle
. I have finalized the blade design and finished the production molds. The production paddles are a bit different top blade shape than the one off in the pic below. Also the new paddles have the type of carbon fiber that is in the next picture. Now to be clear this is my favorite paddle size and shape. Its huge 130 square inches. With my paddle design the paddles outline shape is customizable. Yep we can make any shape blade anyone desires, and any size. I have 3 prototypes I have been testing the last month and I must say I have the blade contours down it is unlike any paddle out there and every concave and dihedral has a purpose and comes together with no flutter, no slip or vibration just pure solid pull no weirdness. The top face contour is intended to be steerable it has quite a bit of a bonzer style vee and when you do a paddle slash turn it tracks like it has a fin. No Slipping like flatter faced paddles. I have been working out different shapes of blades they will be up soon.

Oh yeah I took the paddle in the pictures and put it in my dads 10 ton press with a scale attached and I unknowingly bottomed the scale out at 550lbs trying to break this paddle. It did not even creak and I am currently using this paddle. Pretty sick....

Big John Sorry to hear about the explosions and sickness. I feel for you I almost died in Central America years ago from parasites that are in the water its a nightmare. Get well soon and we will have to hook up one day for a surf or trip.
Capt. Ron Neff

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Here I sit...

Listening to my gut grumble from some piece of virally infested, bacterially swarming piece of comida I jammed into my face this weekend down in Baja. Man, I got wacked. Worse than ever. We're talking the full 3am pellmell dash for the toilet with exploding sphincter. And now it's carried on for three days. I've taken some good advice (thanks Pilgy) and have been chugging Pedialyte (stuff tastes horrible) and eating soup (when I can get it down the gullet). But anyways, here I sit thinking of plans- dreaming about firing up the ramble machine and heading somewhere warm- scoring some surf, having some fun; winter's cool but the short days and early sundowns sure do get you thinking.

The ramble machine's garage... exploding with fun. How's that Jamie Mitchell quad set? Rad set of fins- look for the full review coming soon.
Ah, some small clean ones....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Race boards: Laird's latest and greatest... hey, wait a minute!

Typically, where Laird goes others follow. I'm sure by now you've seen his new 10k dollar race board- modeled after racing yachts and heading in exactly the opposite design direction of all the other race boards I've seen out on the water here in California. Check it out:

No gurgling, sucking pintail, no ultra narrow outline- fat ass, square box rails.... kind of like...

Mine! The Poison Arrow- wide, thick, boxy, beautiful- and for me (210lbs, 5'10) it's fast and importantly stable. Interesting to see how two designs develop- totally independent of each other and the outcome is the same. It will be interesting to see how the board goes with a fit, serious racer on it. For me, this design (along with a year of racing and a 30 lb weight loss) helped me drop twenty minutes off my time in my last race (compared to a year ago- same race, same course). Thanks Tim Stamps for building me a true custom race board, a board that only Laird (and I) could love (well maybe not- there's a lot of buzz about the "new" wide tailed race boards).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Next Baja trip in the works: Motos, paddlesurf and dory... !!!

Went out and picked up a toy for riding trails down in Baja. Check it out:

My first moto! It's a Yamaha TW200 it only weighs about 250lbs, electric start with kickstart back up- big ol' fat tires and 100% badass! Now I've just got to learn how to ride it- ooops, got that covered too- going to Honda Dirt Bike School in two weeks and now I'm getting crazy about my next Baja trip: Boats (my hand made wooden dory), Bikes (my TW200), boards (8'4 Stamps Stando, 9'0 Stamps noserider) and bros (my brother Mike who I'm convincing to get a bike too). Yes!!! Preliminary plan is to charge it down to Cabo- paddling when there's waves, riding trails when it's blown out and generally just using as many toys as we can. Yeehaw- I love plans!!!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cranking off shore winds today

I love the fall in California- the winds start blowing offshore and the surf starts showing up. Like today- check it out:

My buddy Kelly snapped this (and the other photos) with his camera phone- that's me racing down the line.
There were some nice peaks out there but the tide was dead low and these things were breaking hard- and it was TOUGH to paddle against the offshore winds and push my stando over the ledge. I definitely got swatted on a couple of those things.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ripping: Ted Robinson shots by Peter Brouillet board by Tim Stamps

Got these a couple days ago from an unnamed, deep cover source... tack sharp and radical. All shots by pro photog Peter Brouillet. Clean stand up paddle surfing courtesy of Ted Robinson. It looks to me like Ted's on a Stamps Ninja Bump- in the 9'0 range- a good all around size and shape for smaller, beach break days. Check 'em out:

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yesterday morning... some good ones out there!

Cold mornings, cold water... cranking surf... well, at least there were a few out there. Take a look:

Had so much fun this morning surfing my new 8'4 with a new set of fins from Futures... board went well and the fin set made me change my mind about quads... super fun morning of surf.
I was happy to get the chance to get in the water and surf some fun little lefthanders. I shot this after standing around for a couple of minutes in the parking lot- after snapping this one I had no problem pulling on my cold fullsuit. Waves like this get your blood pumping.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Future Fins goody box.... STOKED!

Check out what came in the mail a couple days ago:

Yep- a little test kit of race fins and surf sets for my new 8'4 and for the Poison Arrow... got a chance to flat water/downwind paddle the keel fin and surf the Jamie Mitchell Quad set... my mind is blown!
Super happy to be hooked up with Futures... these guys are surfers and paddlers and they crave feedback. Look for a full on review of each set of surf fins and the three different race fins- I've already been out on the Jamie Mitchell Quad set and- well, I might be a quad convert now (yep- Kiwi- you were right!).

Monday, October 24, 2011

CoveWater Stand Up Sale... Check it out!

Hey Northern and Central Cal Paddlers:

Click here for more info!

Been looking for a used SUP?  Or, do you have a board or paddle you would like to unload?  Here is your chance - its Covewater Paddle Surf's huge, 2nd annual "USED BOARD SALE AND SWAP MEET", Oct 29 &30.  The guys up at Covewater will have 35+ used SUP boards for sale that weekend: race boards, surf boards, touring boards, all arounders.  In addition, on Saturday the 29th from 11 AM to 4 PM, they hold a big "SUP Swap Meet" in their parking lot.  Drop off any gear you want to sell, tell them how much you want for it, then they will do the rest, taking just a 5% commission of anything sold.  This annual sale is the largest used board sale in the state, so check it out.  Here is the listing of used standup paddleboards for sale!

Off to Catalina

Early morning fieldtrip run- up the 405. Three days, 33 teenagers, three parents- no stand up boards.... Next time.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We did get to surf down there too...

Received a moderate amount of clowning for not posting some surf shots from my southern Baja paddle trip- enough, I guess, to get me to release some of the goods. Here's a couple shots to tide you over:

Very few of you will know where this spot is... and I'm sworn to secrecy. Trust me, that left is as good and as hollow as it looks in the photo. Perfect for a crowd of three.
This was our bread and butter spot- a whole hell of a lot easier to get to than the spot above. The surf was good- not great but, once again, the crowd was right and it was sunny and warm.

Going left... a good wave, with a rocky bottom and long rides. And not windy- which is normally what happens here. Here's me- having fun on another empty day.
This is Nardo... if you know who he is- than you know where we were surfing. Semi-creepy? Yes. A lot creepy.