Thursday, September 29, 2011

Still here- having trouble uploading... have faith, dear readers, have faith!

Dear Readers,

I've got the goods for you- but can't upload! Internet really wacky. Have surfed, eaten marine snails, tongue, rib (and watched my friend eat an eyeball taco... really). Waves have been fun- not great, but fun. And empty- which makes fun waves into great waves.

Swam with a whale shark six miles offshore in 80 degree water- sucker towed me around like a piece of toilet paper stuck to your heel. It's all coming- photos of hot flight attendants, wacky Mexican car stuff- all the things you love. Will post when I can. Heading further south in two days. More to come.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

A backpack and a duffel bag

Just got done packing for my two week surf trip. Feeling a little weird- this will be the first time that I don't bring any type of board with me- I feel slightly naked. My down south connection, and close friend, Tim Hatler at Palapas Ventana has been watching the numbers and swears that this next week will be a good one for hitting up a couple mysto-point breaks (we're talking islands in the Sea of Cortez here folks... surfed those? I didn't think so) so I'm going for it. Walking across the border Sunday morning with just a couple bags, a wad of pesos and an open mind. I do have a few boards (standup and prone) stashed down there but they're from three years, and several design changes, in the past- a little heavier and longer than I'm used to but you can't beat the convenience. Don't worry, I'm also bringing a camera and a laptop- so check back for updates of my barebones southern surf adventure.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Finish line in sight.... a million steps still to take!

Man- funny how things get piled on just before you're about to take a surf trip. I'm fighting my way through last minute changes, paperwork snafus, a lost debit card and a convoluted itinerary... but I'm getting there. And coming my way is a big ol' south swell... let it happen! I'm ready to get the eff out of here!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Do-able on a stand up board? And if so, why?

Check this clip out of a spot in Africa.

I actually don't think this wave could be surfed well on a stand up board. Make no mistake, I think a stando would be fun out there- I just don't think a stand up paddler would be able to pull into and ride the tube as deeply and as cleanly as these guys are doing on conventional boards. I might actually consider it a waste if your stand up board was going so fast (common on steep, powerful waves like these) that even hanging everything you've got out to slow down (paddle, ass, arm... kitchen sink) didn't put you deeply into those insanely throaty, grindily-perfect left hand tubes. I recall reading that this wave is very difficult to get to- so why go to all the hassle if you're only going to get the blade of your dragging paddle shacked while you sit barely in the mouth of the thing?

I'm not saying I wouldn't give it a shot- it's just that I think the best choice of equipment for that wave would be a nice, narrow board that can sit tightly in the pocket and that can be accelerated and, more importantly decelerated quickly. The simple fact is that even the 24 - 26" wide boards out there that we stando surfers call narrow are barges compared to the 18 -19" wide thruster that I'd probably ride out there. This begs the question- should you do it anyway? Garret McNamara recently attempted to ride a stando out at maxing Cloudbreak- every shot I saw of him had him skipping down the face, on his back, paddle in hand heading for a two wave hold down. Sure, he could paddle into one of those monsters but for the most part the equipment limited him. So why do it? 

My feeling is that as your skills as a stand up paddler develop, you should also consciously develop your abilities in the other surfing disciplines: prone short and long board, windsurfing, kitesurfing, body surfing and let's not forget body boarding which is insanely fun on those super hollow, offshore days. As stando surfers we are continually seeking understanding from our prone brothers- wondering why they are not more open minded about our choice of wave riding equipment. Well, I'd like to challenge you: How often have you expanded your surfing horizons? If it's good for them to open their minds to stand up paddling, then you should open yours too. When was the last time you paddled out on a shortboard? Hopefully it was when your local break was going off its face with six foot, reeling left hand tubes... kind of like the video you just watched.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Come Compete! Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival... Stand Up Paddle Surf Division!

Want to stand up paddle surf in your first non-threatening contest? This is the one for you! WildCoast the world's premiere coastal conservation organization is once again holding their annual surf competition with a division just for us. Come on down to my town and let's get out and support WildCoast and their causes- and let's rip some turns too!. REGISTER HERE

Click here for more information.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

What a difference a year makes: Back to racing... and feeling good!

The Chainsaw Massacre is a local 6.5 mile prone/stand up race held annually here in Coronado. It's a fun, open water out-and-back type race that takes you to the buoy off Point Loma and features a bit of downwind action for the return to Coronado Shores. Importantly for me, the race marks my racing "birthday"; the Chainsaw was the first race I competed in one year ago. 

I was a bigger boy a year ago- a little more than thirty pounds heavier than I am today and a whole lot more inexperienced with racing than I am now. I was looking forward to the race- hoping to better last year's time of 1:33. Unfortunately, I was also dealing with a mysterious shoulder injury that limited the movement of my right arm. It wasn't until my friend Kiwi heard me complaining about my arm and commented about the strange smell of kitty litter that was following me around that I fully committed to the race. He had sufficiently shamed me- I was in. 

There she is... The Poison Arrow- pointing the way. Major thanks to my sponsors: Stamps surfboards- Tim makes unreal surfing standos and, of course, my Poison Arrow- which rocks! Emerald City Surf Shop in Coronado who keep me in wetsuits and gear and Future Fins who hook me up with great fins for both racing and surfing. Here's a no-brainer if you want to get faster, pick up Futures Weed Fin for racing- that thing works great!
I ended up really happy with my result. I was the fifth stand up paddler to the beach (behind the two Shoemakers on their unlimited boards, Kiwi, who took 1st place in stock SUP and Mike Richards who grabbed second in stock SUP) and third in the Stock SUP division. Best of all I beat last years time by 13 minutes with a time of 1:20. It was the first time I'd paddled my new Stamps 12'6 Stock Class stand up board (I call her the Poison Arrow) on the open ocean and just like I thought- this board is a performer- she blazes downwind! At the turnaround buoy I was even with a paddler on an unlimited prone board- once we pointed downwind, I never saw the guy again. I was able to catch and pick off two other stock paddlers who had passed me going upwind- that's a great feeling, reeling them in and passing them. Revenge!

Game day with the Poison Arrow- not your average race board.
Just a comment about the design of my board. The Poison Arrow does not resemble any other board on the water. There's no dug-in cockpit, no canoe type bow, her bottom is radically contoured- I haven't seen a bottom like it anywhere, and she's wider by an inch than most raceboards out there (30") wide. Most telling- her tail is very wide, voluminous and boxy. I'm telling you this board is unconventional. Which is exactly what I wanted. When Stamps went about designing the hull I stressed that I needed a board that was scale to my 210 lb frame- I was tired of dealing with balance issues that were robbing me of power. I was finding that if I couldn't be comfortable on the board in moderate sea states- I could not lay down the power that I knew I was capable of. This was very frustrating for me because I knew I could produce better results but was wasting energy just staying upright. At this level of experience I needed a board that was stable- and here she is, I really like this board and hope that the importance of communicating your particular needs to your shaper comes through here. Be honest with yourself and get a board that you're comfortable on. 

A year ago I set a goal for myself to lose weight, complete ten races and improve my performance. So far, I've got all three checked off. Now it's time to reevaluate and set new goals for the coming winter race season. I've got the board, the time and the water... now all I've got to find is the will. That's the tough part. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, September 12, 2011

New Stamps Custom 8'4: Check the tail on this one... my new freshy!

Well- here it is: 8'4, light, stable and floaty enough for big guys like me (210lbs)- that's the plan and this weekend we'll find out how she goes. CANNOT wait to get her in the water. Like the shape? Check out Stamps' other stando shapes at

If you've been following this blog since the beginning (wow- four, five years ago... something like that!) the color scheme I have going on here will bring you back. Get it? It's the same colors as the original 10'6 Mahi Stamps made for me way back when- if you told me I'd be surfing an 8'4" stando as my go-to board I'd say you were smokin' crack... well who's been smoking now?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

R&D SUP testing 8'0 Squeaky and 8'6" channel bottom

1st I will tell you guys about Squeaky. This board was built for our crappy average Florida conditions here in New Smyrna Beach inlet. It is meant to grab whatever wave power is there and collect it for maximum speed for maneuvers in conditions that would other wise dictate you just glide and grovel. Curvy fishy type outline, a blown up prone fish basically single wing diamond tail 9" point to point on the diamond. The rocker is low but of spherical design and almost equal nose and tail. 4.5" in the nose and 4.25" in the tail. It has vee nose to tail to add rocker on the rail line and also make it possible to go rail to rail easily. I find the forward vee with the nose widths of SUPs really gets that nose out of the way without going narrower in the nose width. There is a single concave in the nose coming back to the front foot area. Edges are hard from 1' from the nose to the tail. The rails are full. The thickness is 4.675" and for my current weight 190lbs I could take .5-.75" out of the thickness. But it does what it supposed to do it rides crappy waves like no other board. Allowing me to bang the lip cutback and even pull little airs on very weak conditions. It craves sloping waves with a little base to them. It is awesome for our shallows at the inlet. I would love to ride this thing at dog patch, or Cardiff.

Now on waves with a little power
it becomes a handful, skipping, sliding, and reacting somewhat violently when pushed up into a pitching lip. I find it hard to keep the board down to its prime maneuvering speed on decent waves with a bit of power. On some powerful waves it feels as if you take off like a bottle rocket shot across the ground hopping, skipping, jumping, and out of control. Its crazy and a challenge. But what a fun little SUP I have been riding this thing quite a bit and its a blast for everyday so so weak waves.
Got the next one on the shape stands already that will be a bit more friendly to some juicier conditions. It will be thinner and a bit more nose rocker and a little less tail width with a winged round tail. It will be done soon. I can't wait of course it will be the first one done at the factory this week as I cannot sleep or do any thing else when I have my own new board drawn out.

Squeaky smacking it...

Foot work...

The 8'6" below is made for surf and it handles it like a fine surgical instrument. Seriously Its as if squeaky is a machete and the 8'6" trench bottom is a laser scalpel. I have some time on this board and know it well but from the first ride, first wave on it, I knew it was magic. It will go vertical with ease and really likes steep pockets allowing for some interesting maneuvers and recoveries. The outline is pulled in a bit nose and tail. From the tail to about 3' forward it is almost a normal prone board with a 15.25" tail width round pin. HEAVY VEE all the way through and really heavy vee off the tail, it goes rail to rail better than a lot of prone boards I have ridden. With the channels and outline it is exceptionally controllable and quick to respond to where you want to be on the wave. The reaction time is very quick and responsive.

The rocker is some what extreme even for a SUP. 10.5" in the nose and 4.5" in the tail. It actually is not a even rocker throughout, but kicked in the nose and subtle through the mid with a heavy kick tail last 6 inches or so. Just my way of getting the board to fit on a vertical reentry. Its hard to stuff the nose on this board. Yeah I can say on so so weak waves its a bit slow and hard to get going but what channel bottom isn't. On a wave with a little power it is a dream feels much smaller than it is. If I am getting on a plane to go surf somewhere where the waves are good this is going in the board bag first.

This sequence is backwards but you get the idea... Pic 4

Pic 3

Pic 2

From here go UP. Fitting it in a little late...

Thanks blogger this would be pic 5.

Nice angles on this lip smack...

And then Swish and water goes flying. I love throwing CHUNKS!....

I am Really Stoked on surfing SUPs and building them, what a blast... It pains me to see guys and girls struggling with their giant sups out in the surf, specially when they get hit by them. Smaller, lighter, more maneuverable SUPs does not necessarily mean they have to be unstable.. I am not telling anyone this is the way everyone should go with there next board, as there are millions of ways to skin the proverbial SUP surf cat and a lot of good shapers who can put you on the next level. My advice to everyone as a shaper myself is be honest about your overall ability, and clear of what you want the board for and what you want it to be able to do.
Peace and Share the Stoke,
Capt Ron

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Check it out: Tim Stamps in SUP Mag!

Stoked to see my shaper Tim Stamps get a shot in the new SUP Mag- grab a copy and see what he has to say about SUP design and construction.

The Tim Stamps Experience.... building THE BEST stand up boards out there!

Sup surf Design R&D

As many of you guys know I build these things here in Florida and after 5 years of riding SUPs and building 100's of them. I have come to some conclusions. We are all getting better at surfing SUPs and in turn the shapes are getting refined in to actual surf friendly boards that are allowing for some prone surf style maneuvers and feel.

I have played extensively with size, outline shape, bottom contours, and rockers and have come to the conclusion that I want to surf. What I mean by this is we have so-so conditions here a lot of wind chop and multiple swell directions at the same time. Which makes it difficult to stay on top of a micro SUP. I seemingly spend more energy zapping time balancing on a short sub 8' SUP than actually riding waves on it. Unless the conditions are like say the pacific side long period swell well defined glassy conditions which seem to be common place out there. I would ride a micro SUP all the time if that were the case here in my back yard. But its not the case.

SUP surfing is starting to finally take off here and guys are getting better and going shorter on boards all the time. From all the boards I have made myself I ask is shorter in the micro range sub 7'10" really better?

Yeah they seemingly surf better but I find it difficult to say that they will take SUP to the next level. A refinement is taking place in SUP surf design. I have been refining the sizes and shapes I really like and enjoy the most, slowly turning them from a stock sports car into a proverbial fighter jet. Its working, much like how prone boards have undergone a 30 year period of refinement, SUP design is happening much faster than that. Those prone board design lessons are playing right into the SUP design with some wave ski and surf kayak design plays a role in SUP surf design. The differences are things can work in a SUP that do not work well on prone boards, like excessive Vee and extreme rockers flips and kicks.

Here are some of the things I have found are good to a point. Lighter is better until the offshore wind gets over 10nts then you get blown out a lot and spend more time trying to stay on the wave than actually surfing it. When I say light I have SUPs down in the 11lb range. I found 14-17lbs is ideal all around. You will find the same shape size SUP at 17lbs will have more glide and projection than the 14lb SUP but the lighter SUP will be easier to flick and throw around and feel looser.

Vee verses con caves, quad verses tri fin, hard rail edges verses soft rail edges, rocker variations, balanced foil and unbalanced foil and combinations of all this stuff. I use variations of all the design characteristics I mention above so are any one of these things perfect uh no, but all are necessary. In what order and placement just depends on your personal surf style. With all these variables is there any one perfect board? Apparently no that board has not been shaped yet, when I show up to the beach there are usually 2 or 3 boards on the car for any one given day. BUT there is a perfect board for a certain condition. So does this mean we all should have a quiver. No but those of us whom surfing is our life we will have a quiver and the search for that perfect board will never end.

In the end it all boils down to "The Most Fun" with that ask yourself what board is the most fun for me? And ride that one and have a blast... Find yourself a good shaper there are quite a few out there building AWESOME SUP's. From my experience I firmly believe that is the only way to dial your board in. It may take a few boards to get that perfect one but it will happen.

Peace and go surfing have a Fun time,

Ron Neff
Absolute Trip

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Getting Closer: Sept. 9 - 11th U.S. Open of Stand Up Paddle

Big Cash Prize- if you're fast go win some coin!   Check here if you're interested in signing up now.

I can see it now: Miami Beach, crystal clear water, beautiful people- killer food, stand up boards... sign me up, I want to go!

Monday, September 5, 2011

SUPer fun at DogPatch

Spent the weekend surfing my brains out at DogPatch... love that spot! Where else can you have a stand up friendly zone inhabited by a surfer-friendly white shark with a beach scene unmatched in all of California (you wanna see cool surfer vans... this is the place). Thanks to the DogPatch locals for the friendly vibe and welcome and thanks to the big New Zealand swell for making it interesting. By the way, if you want to see some real stand up paddle ripping (in a word: CD Kinley... homeboy kills it) get yourself down to the Patch- these guys make somethin' out of nothing (Patch is pretty soft)- it's pretty inspiring.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The world around me is swirling like the closeout section on the inside of my toilet...

I read that on a trip down to Punta San Jose. Those words were written on the inside wall of the ramshackle outhouse that used to stand on the windblown cliff. That was until the hole below the thing swallowed it like Rosie O'donnell scarfing a KitKat. I used to wonder what the guy (girl?) was talking about. I think I know now. Piece of advice: when you feel like it's all swirling and spiraling downward- flush it... and go surfing. And that's what I'm gonna do.

Don't let it eat you alive.

September 9 - 11: U.S. Open of Stand Up Paddle

Wow- that's a lot of money for one stand up paddle event. Cool to see there'll be a cash winner in both the Open and Elite divisons. I'm all about giving the little guy a fighting chance. I'll post more info as I get it. Check here if you're interested in signing up now.

I can see it now: Miami Beach, crystal clear water, beautiful people- killer food, stand up boards... sign me up, I want to go!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Coming to a beach near you!

Super hyped, super publicized but coming to your neighborhood beach nonetheless! Are you ready? Where are you surfing the next couple of days- I'm working the California, Labor Day Stay-cation option. Hint: Look for points and reefs that can handle the size- and the crowd!

Oh boy, rub hands together.... oh boy.

Since John is Slacking on us.. Boards and BS from Fl

I call him Squeaky... 8'4" fish style SUP 20-29.5-17 single wing diamond tail quad, with a spherical rocker. 14lbs with a pad. Yeah it rides GOOD....

Its been a while since I have posted up on have had some issues plaguing me this year. I have been on the injured list for a while pretty much since late 2010. Achilles tendon issues broken foot 3 times and exposure to a toxin messed me up pretty good causing problems with my adrenals, pituitary glands and thyroid basically causing severe havoc to my state of mind. Well I am happy to say I am on the road to recovery. I gave up on doctors and their magic pills and started healing myself and am seeing a holistic DO. I also 5-6 months ago changed my diet no sugar, no caffeine only fresh vegetables and meat and I eat nothing from a package or processed and drink water I put through this super purifier I bought that is unreal. So far I am down to 185-190lbs and I feel really good probably the best in my life. Oh yeah the toxin was benzonates in my blood and fat cells as well as a few other volatile organic chemicals that were left over from many years ago when I had the surfboard factory and ended up being poisoned by isocyinates. I will leave that at that but say if you are on the east coast or gulf coast of Fl and spent a lot of time in the ocean last year and are having health issues like severe anxiety, fainting spells, dizzyness, or feeling just not right for extended periods of time. Go see a industrial doctor and get your blood tested for chemicals and get on a purifying diet with teas and lots of water to flush it out. Thanks BP you really hooked us all up with some lovely issues here in the east.

Well I opened a factory back in July. I out grew the shop behind the house. Guys say I have the worlds biggest shaping room at 14'x24' with its own private bathroom. I like it. Lots of room and with my Ipod and stereo its like a night club thumping away or in my case mostly a reggae concert. I have been doing quite a few boards lots of surf models and race/touring boards and prone boards. All epoxy construction and I DO NOT ALLOW VOC's in my shop.

Fresh planed out ready for finishing board in the shaping room.

Freshly painted SUP in the A/B room

Fresh hotcoat on a stoock 10'6"

8'0" for a friend of mine at Paddle Board Orlando

9'3" SUP basically a blown up Lopez lighting bolt 7'0" winged rounded pintail. I got to take a ride on this thing and I nailed it it draws those classic single fin lines and feels very much like its prone grandfather. This board went to the owner of RedDog Surfshop in NSB, Fl. He loves those old classic early 70's single fins. So I did him a SUP off of one.

Squeaky a while ago deck lamed up. This board opened up a world of possibilities for SUP design it is taken off these prone mini's I have been building I just blew it up to SUP size and the feel and the way it rides is so close to a 5'6"-5'10" mini prone fish its not even funny.
Here is a link to a gopro chest view clip on my face book page of me putting squeaky through some testing. Its a really fun board for small so so conditions.

Peace everyone and see you all in the water,
Capt. Ron Neff
Absolute Trip SUP and Surf