Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Not like the first time.

Once again, my mind is preoccupied with visions of left hand point breaks peeling through cobalt blue waters. I can practically feel the warm afternoon winds and taste the sopes con pollo that I know Saundra and the girls are warming up for me. Yep, the tickets have been purchased (First Class baby!), the housing booked and I'm stocking up on hard bricks of tropical surf wax- mainland Mexico here I come. Again. 

The place is definitely a great spot for stand up paddling but you've got to tread lightly when you come down with a stand up board. Things have changed since I first came down to surf the point, it's definitely not like the first time I was there. Surfers coming from the states have had to adapt to the "new kid on the block" and a lot of them bring their biases across the border with them. What this means is that you're more likely to get a couple of hard looks as you walk across the sand to the water and you may have to deal with a comment or two out in the water. Interestingly, it's not the locals who care too much about what you're riding as long as you obey the rules of the line up and know how to handle yourself and your board. Generally, you get the most grief from older surfers and, ironically, the loudest ones are almost always on big old long boards themselves. I don't want to bum anybody out and I don't want to ruin anyone's surf trip just by being in the water so I always try to be extra sensitive about my impact when I travel with my stand up board. Here's a couple of things I do to ease relations in the lineup. 

1. I don't stand up paddle the point in the morning. I concede the best part of the day to the prone surfers and won't surf the point until most of the dawn patrollers have come in. I make it a point to paddle out on my regular surfboard and catch a few with the "regulars" out there. I like for them to see that I'm capable of surfing prone as well as stand up. It's funny though how much more entitled you feel (and brazen) when you're out there battling it out on your belly- in most cases I think I've got better manners when I'm surfing stand up. 

2. When surfing the point on my stando, I'll paddle in if there are more than two of us out there. A point break can get clogged up pretty fast by three stand up paddlers. I don't want to be part of a continuous cycle of waves ridden by stand up paddlers at the expense of the prone surfers in the water- so I leave. 

3. I rarely paddle to the top of the point. Remember, everyone is sitting facing open water that means that inside waves further down the point may be going unridden and unseen. If you surf a little on the inside there's a great chance that you'll become the invisible surfer. Give the inside a chance, you'll be surprised at how many waves you'll nab right under the noses of the mob. 

4. Give away a bunch. Purposefully pull off a wave even when you have priority and hoot someone on the shoulder into it. Be generous and cognizant of who's getting waves and more importantly, who isn't- those are the ones you want to give 'em away to. 

5. And finally, a guideline to live by: Know your limits- if you can't control your board, DO NOT paddle into the thick of things. If you're still learning to surf- stay away from the peak. Earn your spot out there and keep it by being skillful, respectful and mindful.

Have fun and travel safely!


Matt Lennert said...

Hey John - I've been reading your blog for a while. I'm planning a 50 mile SUP crossing of Lake Michigan this summer to benefit charity. I am planning on featuring your blog to my own blog readers as a great source of SUP info on the web. Thanks for the good work keeping the blog up. Best. Matt. www.windycitywaterman.blogspot.com

John Ashley said...

Hey Matt,

Your adventure sounds great! Can't wait to read all about it- if you do a little bio/trip description, I'll post it up on my site- feel free to include links. Email it to me at john@paddlesurf.net - be sure to include photos of yourself- your gear, whatever you've got.

Sounds super exciting!

Stoked for you.