G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Learning To SUP - Part One

Monday, September 10 and Tuesday, September 11

Put in at Platty's on Monday and Capitola Village on Tuesday. Conditions were perfect for a beginner. Platty's was more or less flat with a very small shore break. I knee paddled out 20 feet, hopped to my feet and paddled 7/10's of a mile to Rio Flats, then back again. Working on my "sea legs." Then I worked near shore to get the feel of rising and dropping over the waves as they broke near shore. I was in the water for about an hour and a half, and did about two miles worth of paddling.

On Tuesday I put in at the Village and paddled down to GW's, about a mile. No one was out surfing and I caught a number of very small waves that most surfers would have not even bothered with. I was practicing pulling myself into the wave with the paddle, and riding the shallow, fast breaking shoulders to get the feel of the thick 10'4" Angulo.

An additional challenge was the low tide kelp beds that would snarl the fin and paddle, making balancing more difficult...good practice. I caught five or six waves and got dunked on about four of them. The buoyant 4.25" EPS thickness wants to roll over to the outside if inside rail pressure is not maintained. Tricky, and I can't say that I did very well with it...but I'll try again tomorrow. The cool thing is...if the surf is small, SUP. There are still mini-waves to be ridden that most lay-down surfers would ignore.

My plan is to work on my flat water paddling first, getting comfortable in the zone outside the surf line. Then I move into the surf zone and catch a few. I'm getting better at transitioning from paddling into and catching the wave, to "kicking out" or exiting the wave without falling off. I'm also thinking through where to "stand" and wait for waves. It's harder to pick a place and then move quickly to the take-off zone. I'm not yet able to maneuver the SUP quickly and efficiently for the take-off.

Paddling across the flats feels like Qigong Standing Meditation. All is quiet. Sounds are natural: water falling off the paddle; sea birds working for food; seals splashing away from perceived danger; wind blowing across the ear.

What an incredible find is this SUP.

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