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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.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

Southern Baja Paddle Surf Adventure: You don't know hot- like I know hot!

When you step off the plane in late September Southern Baja, it's like jumping into a Mexican sauna. The humidity is so off the charts that I formed an instant batwing. You know what a batwing is right? Allow me to explain. When it's hot and humid your skin gets really gooey and pliable. Imagine your ballzack sticking to each side of your inner thighs and then being stretched out into a thin, membranous batwing-like appendage each time you take a step- nice eh?. It's brutal- but it's also the wave season down there and knowing that makes it bearable- especially when there's a cooler full of cold Pacificos waiting for you in the pick up car.

We had slight car problems in La Paz- but hey, as long as there's a gaggle of cold, freshies in the ice box.... it's all good. Lucky for us there was a backup/upgrade plan that got us into local boy Santi's plush, 4x4, Tacoma with custom Baja expedition trailer... all I had to do was sit back and enjoy the first class ride out to the point.
Santi's sweet Baja surf trailer- I definitely want one of these things! We rallied that little trailer, full speed over all kinds of nasty dirt roads- since it's got it's own suspension it didn't bounce all over the road. I was told that I could have one made for around $200... I see one in my future!
Loaded up and ready to hit the point.
I love Baja dirt roads... there's a pot of gold at the end of most of the westward bound tracks.
Santi's friends had been surfing the point since morning and, as usual, it was much better earlier. How often have you heard the old, "Should've been here an hour ago" line? We still paddled out and surfed some fun, high tide wedges. The consensus was that it was going to build over night and be even better in the morning. Here's a few of the local La Paz surfers and ferocious guard dog hanging out with beers and a little evening snack in the that milk jug you see there. Want a peek?
Looks like octopus for dinner.
Speaking of snacks, Tim brought along a dozen empenadas from his restaurant in La Ventana. I love empenadas and these were a type I'd never had. The empenadas were filled with a sea snail called caracol burro- a big, deeper water snail that's only available part of the year. Every had abalone? These tasted very similar. Yum.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Race Review: Battle of the Paddle and Catalina SUP Festival

I ran into Starboard Team racer EJ at the DogPatch this weekend. EJ was cool enough to send me these race reports from two of the biggest races happening here on the California coast. Check 'em out and if you get a chance, check out EJ's blog at: johnsonbigstick.blogspot.com

EJ Johnson's Race Re-cap of The BOP & The Catalina SUP Festival.

The BOP was bigger and better than ever, with the largest number of paddlers to date. The open age group saw 334 paddlers on the water at one time, and was a sight to behold. The weather this year was more typical of June with a thick marine layer in the morning, which gave way to sunny skies in the afternoon. This year elite racers had to qualify for the main event, by being in the top 50% of their heat. I managed to get 37th of 63, which meant I will be board handling for another Starboard team rider, and by the way was very challenging to not get run over by competitors or other handlers. Super exciting being right there in the mix/ pit.

Elite Course Qualifying Heat # 1: 37th of 63.
138 Johnson, Ej Dana Point, Ca M 48 MElite 37 00:37:23

Sunday 9/25.


The distance race is more my thing, liking open ocean conditions and not having to run with a bad left knee. The count was 226 paddlers attempting to win or just finish this challenging 10 mile coastal run.

Conditions were very mild, with little wind and not much bump in the water,and these water starts are always a bit sketchy with people jumping the line in anticipation of getting a hole shot. It was a grueling race, with many groups of drafting trains, I fought my way past some of the packs, to get to the one with my direct competitors. I stayed with this group until we hit the last right shoulder buoy, and then it was a all out 200 meter sprint to the beach. I was stoked to hit the beach with such great athletes as Jim Terrell and Chuck Patterson, but was edged out on the beach run. I got 4th place in my age division, which was the largest group in the 14' class, and was 15th overall out of 93.

Congrats to fellow Starboard team mates.

Connor Baxtor 1st Elite and 9th Distance.
Bart De Zwart 20th Elite and 8th Distance.
Dan Gavere 34th Elite
Annabel Anderson 3rd Elite and 2nd Distance.

Distance Race 10 mile (14' Mens 40-49 age group 4th place out of 33.) ( 15th overall 14' out of 93.)
727 Johnson, Ej Dana Point, Ca M 48 4 33 01:28:36

The 1st Annual Catalina SUP Festival (Oct. 1st & 2nd 2011)


We disembarked from our home port of Dana Point on our 38' Morgan sailboat named "Librada"to the beautiful island of Catalina on friday, and were greeted to a nice smooth 39 mile crossing, seeing many Dolphin along the way.

Day #1
The race on Saturday took place at the beautiful Descanso beach club, complete with cabana's, palm trees , cobblestone beach and the clearest water on the West coast. My elite course race consisted of three one mile qualifying laps, which were totaled up for a final score. I ended up in tenth, out of 22 which they let 16 through to the final. The final was at 3:00 p.m., with a two lap course around the bay, having 7 buoys per lap. The seas were nice and lumpy, getting extra chop from the big boats coming and going from the mainland. I ended up in 9th, after having a horrible start, being in 15th at the 1st turn. It's always cool to be on the podium with such great athletes and ambassadors to our great sport of SUP.

Top 10 Men (Elite SUP Individual)

Competitor Class Gender Overall
BIB Name Hometown Age Class Rank Rank Rank Time Pace
10
Ching, Danny Redondo Beach 28 MElite
1 1 1 00:27:18
26
Trout, Slater Lahaina 16 MElite
2 2 2 00:28:02
23
Terrell, Jim Newport Beach 46 MElite
3 3 3 00:28:33
15
Pelkey, Rob Dana Point 44 MElite
4 4 4 00:28:45
24
Armstrong, John 40 MElite
5 5 5 00:28:47
11
Kahn, Mitchell San Clemente 51 MElite
6 6 6 00:28:53
7
Maximus, Thomas San Clemente 42 MElite
7 7 7 00:28:55
29
Patterson, Chuck Dana Point 42 MElite
8 8 8 00:28:57
18
Johnson, Ej Dana Point 48 MElite
9 9 9 00:29:00
25
Fielder, Chance Dana Point 39 MElite
10 10 10


Day #2
The distance race was from Descanso Bay to Long Point and back, which is right around 10 miles. It is typically downwind from the point, but due to tropical weather it was all over the place. It was a mass start, with open racers joining us for part of the journey, but turning back at mile 3. I took my own line the whole race not getting involved with the typical drafting packs, and felt strong. The scenery is so beautiful, that your mind starts to wonder a bit, but when you hear the splashing of another board, it sends you back into overdrive. And if you don't know, SUP racing is always a full out sprint, with no breaks unless you count switching your paddle from side to side. Mitch Kahn and I had a great race trading positions a few times, and a sprint to the finish.
Once again, stoked to come in 7th against these tough competitors. I will put this event at top five of the season, and looking forward to this one again in 2012.

Top 10 Men (Elite SUP Individual)
Competitor Class Gender Overall
BIB Name Hometown Age Class Rank Rank Rank Time Pace
10
Ching, Danny Redondo Beach 28 MElite
1 1 1 00:27:18
26
Trout, Slater Lahaina 16 MElite
2 2 2 00:28:02
23
Terrell, Jim Newport Beach 46 MElite
3 3 3 00:28:33
15
Pelkey, Rob Dana Point 44 MElite
4 4 4 00:28:45
24
Armstrong, John 40 MElite
5 5 5 00:28:47
11
Kahn, Mitchell San Clemente 51 MElite
6 6 6 00:28:53
7
Maximus, Thomas San Clemente 42 MElite
7 7 7 00:28:55
29
Patterson, Chuck Dana Point 42 MElite
8 8 8 00:28:57
18
Johnson, Ej Dana Point 48 MElite
9 9 9 00:29:00
25
Fielder, Chance Dana Point 39 MElite
10 10 10 00:29:10

Top 10 Men (Elite Distance SUP Individual)
Competitor Class Gender Overall
BIB Name Hometown Age Class Rank Rank Rank Time Pace
31
Ching, Danny Redondo Beach, Ca 28 MElite
1 1 1 01:36:25
45
Trout, Slater Lahaina, Ca 16 MElite
2 2 2 01:42:34
24
Armstrong, John New Zealand 40 MElite
3 3 3 01:43:19
46
Maximus, Thomas San Clemente, Ca 42 MElite
4 4 4 01:44:08
35
Pelkey, Rob Dana Point, Ca 44 MElite
5 5 5 01:44:58
36
Kahn, Mitch San Clemente, Ca 51 MElite
6 6 6 01:45:13
34
Johnson, Ej Dana Point, Ca 48 MElite
7 7 7 01:45:21
38
Patterson, Chiuck Dana Point, Ca 42 MElite
8 8 8 01:46:25
43
Fielder, Chance Dana Point, Ca 39 MElite
9 9 9 01:49:04
50
Gallager, Thomas Long Beach, Ca 51 MElite
10 10 10 01:50:52

Respectfully
EJ Johnson

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monday, October 10, 2011

New Stamps 8.4

Just picked up my new surf stand up- an 8'4 masterpiece from Tim Stamps. Surfed it twice this weekend - this board is giving me what I was looking for.... A really drivey, fast and responsive board- this ones gonna take some adjusting to because things happen so much faster on it. Pics are coming- I'm blogging from my iPhone so I'm still figuring out how to add photos... Don't worry, though- I'll snap a bunch!

Photo: Testing iPhone blogging capabilities - this shot was from my home beach during the last big swell.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sweating in Southern Baja Part II: Enter the Dragon- TJ's airport

When you hear that somebody is flying out of the Tijuana's international airport you usually think one of two things: 1. "Dude, are you crazy? TJ's insanely dangerous, if the cartel doesn't cut your head off than you'll probably crash on take off 'cause those dudes don't know how to fly" or 2. "Oh, so you know about Volaris, eh? Nice work." 

Response 2 shows you're a savvy traveler. Response 1 indicates you don't get away from surfing South Garbage very much, do you? Flying out of TJ's airport is a piece of cake, as long as you approach the process with the right frame of mind and a couple of strategies to help you through it all. Mainly, be flexible- be sure to smile a lot and most importantly get there early. Also, you'll find that the Mexican government is doing its best to attract foreign travel so there will be helpers around to assist you in the sometimes chaotic airport. Do what I do and when you're confused, just look kind of spacey and lost; before you know it someone will come along to help you out. 

Yeah, it looks crazy with lines snaking all over the place but, in reality, it's no worse than a crowded day at LAX- it's just all in Spanish. The airport was undergoing renovations while I was there so it was even more confusing than usual- I'm told there will soon be a pedestrian bridge over the border with secure parking on the US side and a walkway directly to the airport. Even amidst the confusion and chaos- the locals were super helpful and polite- good people.
There's a few good reasons to fly Volaris out of TJ. First of all, the fares can be ridiculously low. I paid $130 round trip with taxes to get down to La Paz- that's a great deal and it can't be matched by any US carriers. Second, the Volaris jets are brand new, the pilots highly skilled and the beer and tequila is free. Really. And finally, the help is easy on the eyes- and they have the coolest uniforms around. I present to you, the women of Volaris. Yummy.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sweating it out: Stand Up Paddle Surfing Southern Baja Part I

Had a horrible time trying to get the word out about my latest trip paddle surfing southern Baja- sorry for the delay. Here's the report:

Day 1: Getting ready to cross the border. I love donuts- and luckily I was able to bribe my buddy Pilgy with a couple to drive me to the border so that I could fly out of Tijuana. Sound crazy? It's not- the Mexican airline Volaris has brand new jets, hot attendants and cheap fares. A couple of donuts, a cup of coffee and we were off to the border. 

At the border: Once you walk through the clanker (my name for the turnstyle in the background) you're not coming back easily. 


I was tossing around all kinds of options for getting down south and nabbing some waves off the latest hurricane to spin off down there. Option 1 is to drive down.  Driving gives you lots of flexibility during your trip. For one, you're mobile which is important down there where surf and wind conditions change quickly. Option 2 is the fly-in option. Flying is really nice because it only takes a couple of hours (and a couple of beers) and you're there (driving is a 20 hour expedition). I went for the second choice. There were a couple of reasons for this: 1. My compadre Timoteo down at Palapas Ventana dropped me a note saying he was all set up to pick me up and get me right into some good stuff and 2. The round trip airfare out of TJ was $130 dollars, round trip including tax! Wow- that was a no brainer, gas is at least twice that amount each way- and with my good buddy all dialed in and set to grab me, I was in. 

Now I just had to figure out my border crossing logistics. This is what the gate looks like when you're getting set to walk into Mexico- at the last minute I decided to bring my custom Stamps 6'4- I've got boards (SUP and prone) down there- and had to planned to just use what was there- but in the end, my surfer instincts wouldn't let me leave without bringing along something and so I grabbed my trusty prone board, took a deep breath, braved the clanker and stepped into Mexico. I was in and the adventure was on- nothing to do now but let it happen.