Storm after storm have left the sea milky-brown like Horlicks; the Combined Sewage Outflows must have been pumping – or burst. Yet a lull in the south westerlies left smooth swell refracting around Berry Head, with the sun out, it was too tempting in the rare and light winds, and the low tide, to catch a milky-brown one.
It’s a road trip we want to do – the west coast of Fance. Here’s a little taster from Gong SUP.
Southerly winds shutting off for Monday – hoping they’ll leave some perfect, low-tide swell for preston and livermead.
With this month’s easterly winds driving swell into the Bay, then swinging offshore they demonstrate how you can get perfect, groomed little waves that are a joy to ride. Throw in winter-sun, and you got Cold Hawaii; but on a small day! It demonstrates the need for a bigger SUP for the lumpy, blown-out stuff (9’8″), and an ‘ickle performance board (7’4″) for the more groomed and ordered waves. And as usual, Preston delivers on mid to low tide.
We’ve been following Gong Sup’s website for a while now. They make some great kit and their news updates always make me smile. It looks much warmer down there in France. Here’s a featured video using one of their boards. Check out http://www.gongsup.com/
Check out ‘Positively Kai Lenny – Episode 16’ SUP video. It showcases perfectly where the sport of SUP is going in terms of wave discipline and race boards, promoting fitness. Kai, a young protégé of Robby Naish, conquers the Race World Series for 2012. And like many these days, is not an exclusive rider of any one discipline – a true waterman – windsurfer, kiter, SUP’er and surfer.
He demonstrates just how SUP is developing much like Windsurfing before it, into categories of Wave and Race … But we’ve yet to see Freestyle!
The speed of the race boards is impressive, and what stands out to me is their range and total flexibility of movement within the seascape – no more trying to get up wind. Check the riders’ ability to surf waves back into the beach.
‘Race’ is definitely a board I want to add to my quiver!
If you’re anything like me and into your SUP’ing, you’ll be on the ‘journey down’. 11’2″ to 9’8″ to … Well, where is the limit for short usable SUP’s? Gong have one at 5’9″. But the Pro’s seem to be in the 7’4″ to 8’5″ range with varying widths. Having just moved to 7’4″ and loving the portability – leaving it in the car for those sneaky, wave sessions – I’ve found the shorter boards demand better technique; but offer so much more in terms of wave riding, flow and manoeuvrability. So here are some tips I’ve gathered to help get those magic carpets into waves.
Flat water paddle just to get the balance points. Before I even went out into waves, I paddled about just to get used to my 7’4″ Starboard Pod. I found the shorter SUP’s are dynamic – they need paddle strokes and a bit of speed for stability. Stop paddling … you fall in.
Wind – avoid it. Choppy waters aren’t best suited to them, due to obvious instability. Each board has its place in a quiver. So far I’ve targeted smooth swell. Ankle bitters to start, and then build up.
Catching the wave: I’ve tended to paddle out towards them using the natural yaw of the board to turn and start the paddle in. Surfing stance has been best for the last few power strokes to get in, and bring your weight forward to bring the nose down, matching board angle to the wave. If necessary, you got to move back quickly to prevent the ‘dig in’ at the nose once you pick up the wave.
Here’s a great little video. It’s shows the above technique.
And remember, it’s a journey. If at first you don’t succeed try, try , and try again. If you don’t try … you get nothing, those are the rules! I just surf here.
In these austere, bleak-winter times, when the path to the water’s edge is ice-encrusted, and the local MP stands before the latest Closing Down Sale, the shelves picked clean,shouting, ‘You’ve never had it so good!’ – many surfers thumb longingly through surf-magazines, and trawl the pages of the inter-web, drooling over boards they can no longer afford.
And have you noticed lately, to match the falls in ozone stock, or the high street banks that melt into the sea, the price of boards? They’re up. Is there a squeeze on resin? Or has the price of sandpaper soared, to match? And all this when the neighbours are chopping up furniture for firewood, or opening tins of Kitty-Cat for the kids.
So say, ‘No more gate-crashing the Christmas party, in the hope of a square meal! The solution is nigh – the Hollow Wood Austerity Board!’ You can have any board you want…you just have to make it.
Sunday morning – about 6:30 a.m., I opened my eyes on a lounge floor; and that’s another story. But the August light was filtering in through the blinds and I knew it was low tide at Preston. The thought went through my head: Just leave it, now. Go back to sleep. But I knew I’d regret that: it would get to half-past shopping-time and I’d be in a regretful queue for the tills. So I dragged myself clear and out the door to the sound of waves breaking in the distance. The easterlies had shut off and the forecast lights had left a smoothly groomed a wave-playground to end a SUP drought with only windsurfing to show for it. And by seven, I’d surfed perfect waves before a breath of air could even ruffle a line. So here are some pics I took….as I woke up on the beach.
A fantastic little short doc about James Otter who crafts a beautiful hollow wooden surfboard from a fallen cupressus macrocarpa tree from the Trelissick garden in Cornwall owned by the National trust.