Many thanks to ‘Gong Sup’ the home of SUP innovations.
Summer’s almost here! Okay it’s officially spring, but these days that may be as good as it gets. So it’s time to take stock of what equipment is left after the harsh winter. Personally I snapped my only purchased paddle, flinging me back at a ‘wood and carbon’ one that I made three years ago. And you know what? it was just as good – light, buoyant to push off of, particularly when requiring balance on low volume SUP’s. But I think I can do better!
So here’s a recipe for an all wood paddle using what I’ve learnt from two previous builds. The shaft uses a denser wood, as do the external laminates of the paddle face for strength and resistance to wear. In the comparison image with my wood/carbon paddle you’ll see I’ve put some tape on the old paddle, to better protect the wood and board. Given this paddle is three year’s old – it’s done well, delivering thousands of strokes. And that’s what’s useful about these self-made paddles, you can repair knocks, splits and scratches. I’ve recently re-varnished my old paddle after a particularly punishing day in the surf. Now it’s as good as new.
The latest paddle will have increased rake with the same 23 cm width across the face – a higher gear that sacrifices usefulness over distance, for quick acceleration in waves. I’m going to plane in a dihedral face for more power, to help scoop, grip and thrust. Oo! That’s a first for me, thanks to the boffins of ‘R & D’ at the million pound firms of the North Shore.
Essentially, you will need waterproof glue to clamp sections of wood together for the blade. They need to be deeper at the trailing edge, so you can plane in ‘rake’. That way, for each paddle stroke the blade remains vertical in the water for the longest, possible time. This particular paddle is going to get a light coat of fibreglass, for a thinner blade and to assist with overall lightness.
Once the blank is made (See image) the rest is just planing … and paddling. I’ll post an image of the finished article
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.