Wave Magnet Torbay


You’d think that there’d be little chance of surfing in Torbay, as it faces east, up the channel and away from Atlantic swells, up to Calais – well more precisely to Le Touquet. That’s up to 200 kilometres of fetch when the winds blow in with an east component (NE, E, SE), which means – my friend – waves! Some directions are of course better than others – east and south-east are best. Even strong southerly swells can refract into the Bay sometimes. And it doesn’t take much to start the wave trains a’ rollin’, 10 mph and upwards. ‘Force 3′, I think is the term used at the Yacht Club? And when combined with dropping winds, or better still, for the winds to swing around to westerly, and become light and offshore, then it can produce some smooth, classic conditions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s one I took by the pier in Paignton.

So the trick, I’ve found, is to spot the days: use the weather sites and plan ahead to dash out for that quick surf. Windguru.com is great for guessing ahead of time, booking a day off, throwing a sickie, loading that board into the car (see our site for the link). But invaluable to see what’s actually there, even at night, is the wave buoy out in the Bay, part of a network along our coast.

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A metre on the graph translates to a metre of arriving waves. This year it’s regularly touched over 2 metres, 6-8 ft! Check out the channelcoast.org website.

The data shows whether swells are rising or dropping away, the wave period, direction and all other manner of geeky stuff … Love it!

Here’s the link for Torbay –


Happy surfing! :)

Wooden SUP Paddles

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!

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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 :)


SUP World Series

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!

Short SUP Technique

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.


I woke up on the beach

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.