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

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Last Hoo-Rah B4 the Rain

I figured this morning might be the last time to get some decent waves in good conditions so I hit the beaches early. At 0806 as I was paddling out, the west northwest wind was already on it. The swell had jumped up from Tuesday, sideband energy from a Gulf windswell, and sets were breaking hard in the four to six foot range. Three separate rips were in the water in the vicinity of my sand bar, but worse yet, swell direction was different from the prevailing direction of the last week, and everything but the smaller waves (3-4 ft.) was closing out. Worst of all, no channel. Anything but the last wave of the set (or the smaller waves) led to a beating while floating around inside waiting to paddle back out. Hanging out too far inside was a sure guarantee that you would not make it out the back in time to paddle over the incoming bigger sets. And the bigger sets all had waves that just closed out, no tapering shoulders, just crashing walls. On the upside, the smaller, rideable waves inside were fun with longish rides into a jumbled up and washboard shorebreak six feet from dry sand.

After an hour and my final wave, and bouncing around in what seemed like a hundred incoming white water rollers, I convinced my self that an hour's surf was good, a bonus even in the face of the incoming rain storms. While I was standing in thigh high water I talked some surfer stuff with a longboarder who was headed out to take his beating for the day. I unleashed and pushed my board into the shore rather than deal with it while trying to have a conversation. When I wadded in to retrieve it, much to my surprise I found one of the side fins bent over and laying flat, broken off at the base and hanging by a few fiberglass strands. Should have taken a pic but didn't. Later in the day I headed over to Freeline and showed it to John (that would be Peter's Dad) who was as surprised as I was. It didn't seem to me that the shorebreak conditions were vigorous enough to bust off a fin but John made a couple good points. 1) This particular fin was designed for a six pound shortboard, not necessarily a 24 pound SUP. 2) The construction of the fin is probably the weakest, or most vulnerable to damage. I agreed with both points, and as usual the most honest and fair surf shop owner in NorCal made me a great deal on a set of replacement side fins.

Surfing beach breaks on a SUP is definitely a challenge when all the avenues of easy access to the peaks are taken away. So I am learning to cope by: 1) Accepting it and learning how to negotiate mounds of white water. 2) Being patient. So what if fifteen waves in a row wash you back into the beach? There has to be a break in all this sooner or later....doesn't there? (I'll have to remind myself of this when I'm feeling cold salt water draining through my sinuses while racing to swim for my paddle which has been ripped out of my hand by the whitewater and dodging my board which just flipped over and hit me in the head, all the while cursing every animate and inanimate object ever created...) 3) Sometimes it's easier to sprint for the openings by: laying on your paddle and prone paddling like mad; knee paddling using a short stroke while choking up on the paddle shaft and paddling like mad; standing back up and paddling like mad when it looks like you can actually crash the white water or make it over the breaking waves and still remain standing. Falling off while trying to punch through incoming waves from a standing position is a huge time waster, and you often fall too far behind the pulse of the action to recover any gains you made while sprinting prone or on your knees. In the end it's all judgment calls, the success of which is determined by your experience and physical fitness. But the "doing" is so freaking cool. Success is the icing on the cake. SUP addiction.

Postscript: Hats off to Buzz and Keith (two top of the line Norcal SUP riders who have made the beaches their own) and John and the IB SUP riders...I feel your pain brothers. (And me likey!)

Feb 4, 2009 (W)
In: 0806
Out: 0910
AT= 45F to 51F
WT= 52F
Wx: Partly clear with high clouds to rain storm cloud cover moving in
Tide: 3.2' Falling to 1.8'
Wind: West northwest 2-3mph
Sea Surface: Approaching storm, light wind mottling with rip current chop
10-2 Angulo SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddle
Fin set-up: Thruster with K2D2 4.75" center fin (fourth mark up from back) and Future Fiberglass YU (actual fin not shown)
Bathymetry: Sand bars
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Nearshore)
0800: 3.6 feet @ 13.4 WSW
0830: 4.0 feet @ 15.4 WSW
0900: 3.6 feet @ 14.4 WSW
0930: 4.0 feet @ 12.5 WSW
1000: 4.0 feet @ 14.4 WSW


  1. Yeah, welcome to our world too!

    I'd rather have my fin break, than my box. Nice to know your box is tougher.

  2. Yeah, you beach break guys are my new heroes. If I ever grow up I wanna be just like you! I'm beginning to love the feeling of salt water mixed with sand grinding it's way through my sinuses.