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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Happy Birthday Amor!

Our newborn baby grand daughter, Amor Dulce (Sweet Love), is one day old today! Mom and Dad are thrashed, having gone through a sleepless last 28 hours. Both are ecstatic but I'm sure mom is ready for a week of zzzzz's. It's been kind of a rough go for the last week. Daddy on the other hand, is a melted blob of blubbery love. Momma says she chose the name Amor because that's her grand mother's name, but I think she named the baby after my son, who is a very sweet, kind and loving man. Either way, or both is more than good! Thank you Lord for your many, many blessings. Amor Dulce indeed!

The baby was born at 8AM this morning as my wife and great grandma were heading to the hospital. I on the other did the selfless thing (again) and went surfing. Which in 20/20 hindsight was wise because no one got to handle the baby due to some very minor medical issues. My girls got home from the hospital just about as I was putting my custom Gu back up into the garage rafters.

Yesterday's swell has dropped off a lot, leaving small, wind swell at the beaches. The tide was ultra low this morning revealing the scallops and sand banks/bars that have been giving shape and form to the incoming waves. Two guys out on the better peak, surfing the long lefts and reforms that were pealing in. There was a marginal right slider next to a chopped up deep water hole with no one on it, so I surfed there for the first forty minutes by myself. Got some fun waves in bumpy conditions, even though the sea surface was glassy. Near shore wind swell conditions prevailed.

Herbie and his crew paddled out after I'd been out for a while and gang tackled the left. Why not, it was definitely the better wave. A giant rip tore through my take off zone on a diagonal march out to sea and pretty much ripped it to shreds and choppy pieces of mixed up wavelets. So I paddled up coast a bit but couldn't find anything I liked. Eventually the rip washed through and I headed back to my original right to finish off the morning.

Again the weather was gorgeous. A good day to surf, and an even better day to be born!

Mar 31, 2009 (Tu)
In: 0905
Out: 0920
AT= 53.7F to 53.2F
WT= 50.7F
Wx: Clear and sunny
Tide: -.7' Rising to .3'
Wind: Calm to light from the southwest
Sea Surface: Glassy with near shore wind swell bumps
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom 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)
0900: 2.0 feet @ 10.5 WNW (2 - 3 ft. faces)
0930: 2.3 feet @ 10.5 WNW
1000: 2.0 feet @ 10.5 WNW (2 - 3 ft.)
1030: 2.0 feet @ 11.1 WNW

Monday, March 30, 2009

Waitin' For Amor

Everyone was down at the hospital waiting for our first grand daughter to be born. My son's wife is Mex-Am so she has a big family. All her cousins, uncles, mom, sisters, etc. were there...about a dozen or so and of course my wife and her mom. Me? I had a noon appointment and decided to go surfing in the morning. After all, I can wait on top of my board and see the baby for the first time when there's less congestion and I can hold her. Life is good!

Surf was better than I thought it was going to be. I was just out for some exercise in pristine conditions. It also turned out to be old home week. Andy and Nancy were out for Nancy's birthday surf. Dean and his buddy were out enjoying the day. I paddled over to where Daniel was snagging a few knee slappers at Casa. And Keith was down from the City, surfing GDubs on his 9-3 PSH Ripper which I immediately swapped out for my Custom Angulo.

The 9-3 Ripper is the best short SUP I've surfed yet. At 28 and 3/8ths" it's remarkably stable, and at 9-3 it's very loose. The board was hardly tippy at all for a short board and I think the added weight of a production board is what a short SUP needs. Even still, the shorter SUPs (we're talking very small waves I got to ride it in) don't want to drop in like a more longboard SUP shape. Overall, this board was fun to ride, stable to paddle, stable in the whitewater and loose and maneuverable on the wave face. This would be an extremely fun shape when the surf gets bigger and more energized. After all it was designed by one of Hawaii's foremost SUP surf shapers, for the beefier Hawaiian waves. But the 9-3 is not an all-arounder which PSH readily admits. They have the 9-2 and larger boards and shapes for the AA classification. But I was impressed with the 9-3 and have been wanting to surf one for a long time. For anyone who is looking for a production, short stand up paddle surfboard, the 9-3 would be well worth checking out. Thanks for letting me take it for a surf Keith!

Keith surfed my custom 10' Angulo and really liked it. He said I could quote him that it's the best custom SUP he's ever surfed. The waves were perfect for the custom Gu as this board truly is an all-arounder. Great for everything from gutless ankle biters to double overhead bombs. I had the thruster fin set-up on the board and Keith like that a lot too. (I just ordered a Detemple MD3 "kelp cutter" (i.e. lot's of rake) from Freeline. I'm looking forward to seeing how that fin works in the kelp.) I got it because I love the feel of the custom Gu as a single fin, but the RFC Pivot just has too tall of a profile in the kelp, and is forever catching in the stipes and fronds.

Dave C. was heading out on his 10-2 production Angulo with Dave's custom paint job, as I paddled in. Nice! Great day to be out on the water.

Mar 30, 2009 (M)
In: 1025
Out: 1120
AT= 61.8F to 59.9F
WT= 51.1F
Wx: Clear and sunny
Tide: 1' Rising to 2'
Wind: Light from the southwest to calming
Sea Surface: Glassy in the kelp with some very light sideways backwash bump
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom 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)
1000: 4.6 feet @ 11.8 WNW (2 - 3 ft. faces)
1030: 4.6 feet @ 11.8 WNW
1100: 3.9 feet @ 10.5 WNW (1 - 3 ft.)
1130: 4.3 feet @ 11.1 WNW

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wind Swell/Chop Dominate

Not much goin' on. Winter is pretty much over, and it won't go down in the history books for anything except being pretty bleak surf wise. Even our first south swell was weak, missing most of the eastside, and a lot of the westside because of the steep swell angle.

Last weekends/Monday's "blast" of Gulf swell was short lived and accompanied by lot's of wind chop from the first of the many Spring time north westerlies. (There were some fun looking waves for the 23rd Annual Kayak and First SUP Contest though.) What we've got now is just local wind swell full of waves trying to be waves breaking too close together or not at all. Town is small and the beaches are hardly organized. Water temps are starting to head down as a result of the wind and upwelling. We basked in "toasty" 54 degree water almost all winter, now we're into the 50-52 degree range.

I checked three places this morning, including two beach breaks before deciding just to go for a paddle. The NWS missed the fog which was pretty thick yesterday morning, and then an overcast fog this morning until about 1030, when it finally burned off.

Set out from Sarges and paddled to the Point and back, catching a few uber-low energy waves here and there. Seemed like nothin' but surf schools and beginners out. But it felt good to get back in the water after a week off.

On the upside, I didn't miss any good waves while painting and preparing my soon-to-be-born first grand daughter's room at my son's house. So there was a major silver lining to this lack of good surf dark cloud.

Mar 26, 2009 (Th)
In: 0912
Out: 1040
AT= 51F to 53F
WT= 52.2F
Wx: High fog
Tide: 3.4' Rising to 4.2'
Wind: Light onshore
Sea Surface: Glassy to light wind ripples with some light backwash bump
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom 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)
0900: 2.0 feet @ 10.5 WNW (1 - 2 ft. faces)
0930: 2.0 feet @ 10.5 WNW
1000: 2.3 feet @ 10.5 WNW (1 - 2 ft.)
1030: 1.6 feet @ 11.1 WNW
1100: 2.0 feet @ 11.1 WNW (1 - 2 ft.)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

And Then It Wasn't...the Surf That Is

Just as I was stoked to be back on the town reefers, it stopped. The NW wind swell just slowly backed down to bloated, pondish lumps. Oh well, maybe something next week. Yeah, right!

Mark Sponsler over at Stormsurf confirms the season as one of the worst. Usually we have 15 to 18 genuine Winter groundswells that produce real overhead waves during the season. This year we had five, (5) yeah, 5. On a good year we'll have up to 30. La Nina delivered nothing. For all intents and purposes, the big wave season is over. Now we head into the time of wind swells and cold water upwelling. Wouldn't it be great to have a good summer? Right now, things look doubtful. During La Nina the southern hemisphere tends to follow the northern. One glimmer of hope though, SoCal just had a nice five day south swell. The angle was too steep to get in here, but...hope Springs eternal!

While the surf was small this morning at the beaches, the weather was superb. It doesn't get better...just like summer. I went straight off to my favorite down coast sand bar to find that it wasn't really there anymore. At least not like it was for the past couple months. The sand has moved, and the rights were almost all closing out, especially as the tide dropped. I managed a few fun and fast rides before the tide just killed it. It was about twice as big as the up coast bars, but that meant that for the most part I got twice as hammered on the inside. No channels meant no mercy, and I got caught inside multiple times. Still, the endorphins were working their magic and I was feelin' good!

Surfed the thruster 2+1 set-up just for fun and comparison with the other fin set-ups. The board doesn't nose ride as well, but turns and redirects are buttery smooth. And the board, she is fast with that set-up.

My experience in the kelp on Tuesday caused me to finally bite the bullet and buy a "kelp" fin, which in this case meant a longboard fin with the most rake I could find. That turned out to be the RFC Detemple MD3. I gave Tara a call at Freeline and she ordered it on the spot. I don't see the kelp situation getting anything other than worse from now on, and it's already bad. As soon as the tide drops below two feet or so, the kelp catching, body lurching, getting launched gracelessly off the nose of your board as it comes to a dead stop trouble begins. This kelp fin won't eliminate it, but it will go a long way towards smoothing out the bumps and grinds.

Mar 19, 2009 (Th)

In: 0837
Out: 1040
AT= 53F to 56F
WT= 53.6F
Wx: Clear and sunny with some high cirrus
Tide: 2.7' Falling to 1.2'
Wind: Offshore to very light onshore
Sea Surface: Bumpy down coast to light wind rippling up coast
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom 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 @ 12.5 WNW (3 - 4 ft. faces)
0830: 2.6 feet @ 12.5 WNW
0900: 3.0 feet @ 12.5 W (3 - 4 ft.)
0930: 3.0 feet @ 12.5 W
1000: 3.3 feet @ 12.5 WNW (3 - 4 ft.)
1030: 3.3 feet @ 12.5 WNW

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Surf Returns to My Favorite Town Spots

Paddled out this morning at 7:07A. Sean beat me usual. Conditions were perfect with a light offshore breeze blowing into the faces of three to five wave sets at two to four feet. Waves were pretty consistent. Sean paddled down to Casas and I rode Sarges alone for about 20 minutes before he paddled back and a slow IV drip of stand up paddle surfers washed in and out of the line-up for the next couple hours. Finally it was just down to me and Sam and Andy, riding low tide zippers in the thick weave of ever present kelp.

I eventually paddled over to Casas and rode there for over an hour by myself. Waves were much smaller, but there was a nice little set-up where I could take off behind the peak and ride through two steep sections before it closed out on a shallower part of the reef. Short rides, but lot's of fun and a good work out too.

Everyone said it was good yesterday (some said better). A little bigger perhaps. But I was still fighting off a cold. So I tucked in until today.

I ran into all kinds of people in the park and ended up chatting away for another hour after I got out. What a great day off.

I'm really feeling the absence of my water camera. I could have bagged a number of shots this morning in great light. I should have taken a sunrise shot with the Canon but I was in a hurry to get into the water. After, the light wasn't right so the pics would have been too bright and contrasty. It'll be at least two more weeks before the camera is back from the shop. (I put this kite surfer shot in that M took last Sunday. Sweet air!)

The Angulo 10 Custom Performance Noserider continues to please and amaze. John S. rode it today for the first time and totally dug it. A surfboard you can paddle, imagine that.

Mar 17, 2009 (Tu)
In: 0707
Out: 1110
AT= 46F to 59F
WT= 54F
Wx: High wispy H1 cirrus clouds
Tide: 2' Dropping to .7' and rising
Wind: Calm to offshore to light prevailing southwesterlies
Sea Surface: Glassy. Some very light wind skitter after 10A
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddle
Fin set-up: RFC LB Pivot
Bathymetry: Reefs
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Nearshore)
0630: 4.3 feet @ 10.5 WNW
0700: 4.6 feet @ 11.8 WNW (2 to 4 ft. faces)
0730: 5.2 feet @ 11.8 WNW
0800: 4.6 feet @ 11.8 WNW (2 to 4 ft. faces)
0830: 5.2 feet @ 12.5 WNW
0900: 4.9 feet @ 11.8 WNW (2 to 4 ft. faces)
0930: 4.6 feet @ 13.3 WNW
1000: 4.6 feet @ 12.5 WNW (2 to 4 ft. faces)
1030: 4.6 feet @ 12.5 WNW
1100: 4.9 feet @ 12.5 WNW (2 to 4 ft. faces)
1130: 4.3 feet @ 12.5 WNW

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Conditions Worsen At The Beaches

The swell dropped a bit but chest to overhead waves continued hitting the beaches this morning. I waited an extra hour for the tide to reach two feet before paddling out. From the lot it looked decent. I stopped and talked with Chris for a while, watching smaller waist to chest high waves fill in. Ominously, every once in a while a multi-wave close-out set would pour in, but it looked manageable.

Almost as soon as I paddled out things got worse. The easterly wind never calmed, it just shifted to the south east, never a good sign. The sea surface blew into a wind chopped wash board and most of the rideable waves lost their shape. Sets started coming in at an angle that just set up unmakeable walls and peaks down the line. The smaller waves were bloated and rolling in, fat with water and hard to catch. I paddled up coast to search for another bar, but found nothing. When I paddled back four or five guys had paddled out, but no one was getting much. There was kind of a channel with a rip in it, but the bigger sets would break right through it.

I could not put myself in the right place at the right time. If I paddled in a bit to catch an insider, I got cleaned up by an outside set. If I paddled out to wait for the sets, I either got nothing, or paddled over every wave in the set as I watched it close out down the beach. And I was getting fooled by a lot of the waves I thought wouldn't break, and then did. One time, as I paddled over the top of a booming comber, the top third of the wave pitched and carried me backwards over the falls. I spent a lot of time in the water being slapped off the waves, or just getting caught inside.

Of the last four days, this was my worst for catching waves. I just didn't get much, and spent a lot of time fighting with the ocean. She won. Not complaining though, at least I got four days in a row of surf. Today I just couldn't find a rhythm, pace or comfort zone.

As testament to the beating I took, my Olympus waterproof camera cracked a small leak in the battery hatch cover. When I opened it to re-snap it closed up in the lot, a small drop of water was visible just inside the housing. Fortunately I bought a two year warranty with the camera, knowing that something was bound to happen sooner or later. Water always has a way of getting in, even though I take really good care of the camera. It's out of service for a couple weeks, in for cleaning and repair.

I put the Pivot fin back in and set it one inch back in the box from all the way forward. On the few waves I got it still felt a little stiff, so when I got back home I moved it up a half-inch.

Mar 12, 2009 (W)
In: 0845
Out: 1045
AT= 43F to 49F
WT= 54F
Wx: Partly cloudy
Tide: 2' Rising to 3.8'
Wind: Side shore easterly to south easterly
Sea Surface: Some light bump with developing wind chatter
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddle
Fin set-up: RFC LB Pivot
Bathymetry: Sand
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Nearshore)
0830: 2.6 feet @ 13.3 WNW
0900: 2.6 feet @ 13.3 WNW (3 to 4 ft. faces)
0930: 2.6 feet @ 14.3 WNW
1000: 2.6 feet @ 14.3 W (3 to 6 ft. faces)
1030: 3.0 feet @ 14.3 W
1100: 2.6 feet @ 13.3 W (4 to 6 ft. faces)
1130: 2.6 feet @ 14.3 WNW

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Tale of Two Swells - W and WNW

A solid long period swell mixed in with a NW wind swell to put up some decent sized fun waves this morning. Again it was cold, 35 degrees at launch. But the water is a nice and toasty 54 degrees so who can complain?

I headed down to White House to paddle out from there, then down coast to the Brown House sand bar, betting that it could be good with the additional juice. Tide was a bit low but coming up. There was a nice bar at White House but I wanted to get to Brown. I spend two and half hours surfing solo in some on again/off again fun waves. It was smaller where I was than up coast. There were five or six nice bars working and conditions were better there than where I was. But there were still plenty of chest to head high waves, although it wasn't as consistent as it could have been.

I switched out fins last night and put the 2+1 9.5 inch cutaway and Future quad 340 sides in. I slid the center fin two inches back in the box. The difference was amazing. Much, much stiffer. I really had to romp down on the tail to bring the nose around, and the board was much harder to turn and as a result, felt sluggish. All because of the fins. Live and learn. When I got home I put the Pivot fin back in, only I moved it a couple notches back. It'll be interesting to see how the board responds. Hopefully it will still be really loose, but the tail will hold in better on hard rail turns. The cutaway worked fine, I just really like the feel of the other fin. I think the cutaway would be a good choice in double-o size surf where the additional stability would be appreciated, and longer lines would be drawn.

Conditions were bizarre at Brown House. Often sets would arrive with all the waves in pairs, separated only by about 15 feet. And there was a big rip that ran down coast, then up coast and finally right in the line-up. Winds were offshore all morning, and then very light onshore until I left at 11:30A. All in all conditions at the up coast bars were pretty near perfect. I was less fortunate.

The Angulo 10-0 CSC Stand Up paddle Surfboard (SUpS) continues to impress. It's light, strong, very maneuverable and is truly an all-around board. It is a surfboard I can paddle. It's fast and reliable in the white wash, capable of riding the energy in front of the foam with stability and without bogging down. It's fun to nose ride and has a sweet spot that once you find it, just picks the board up and puts it into trim, all in the front two feet. Highly versatile would be a good description. It would be hard to get bored on this board. It does so many things that it takes a while to go through the bag of tricks. Hard to ask for more than that from a SUpS.

Tide is low in the morning, but there still might be a few out there for us early birds tomorrow.

Mar 11, 2009 (W)
In: 0810
Out: 1040
AT= 35F to 46F
WT= 54F
Wx: Partly cloudy to partly sunny
Tide: 2.4' Rising to 4.6'
Wind: Light offshores to calm to light onshores
Sea Surface: Some light bump, double waves and rip
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddle
Fin set-up: 9.5 Inch Future Cutaway with Future 340 quad sides
Bathymetry: Sand
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Nearshore)
0800: 3.6 feet @ 16.7 W (3 to 5 ft. faces)
0830: 3.0 feet @ 16.7 W
0900: 3.6 feet @ 16.7 W (4 to 6 ft. faces)
0930: 2.6 feet @ 15.4 WNW
1000: 3.0 feet @ 16.7 WNW (3 to 5 ft. faces)
1030: 3.3 feet @ 16.7 WNW
1100: 3.3 feet @ 15.4 WNW (4 to 5 ft. faces)
1130: 3.3 feet @ 15.4 WNW

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More of The Same Only a Little Better

This morning was what I thought yesterday was going to be like. Waves were a little smaller and conditions were a whole lot better. 28 degrees in my car when I left my house. 33 degrees when I paddled out at 0800 in full rubber.

Seas were a lot less bumpy and the channel rip was no where to be seen. Basically it was just a lot smoother than yesterday morning. Offshores were blowing the tops off the waves at 1-3 mph. I surfed by myself for the first 45 minutes before anyone else joined me. Days like this morning are great here. Surf is way manageable and the place is more or less gentle and benign. No butt kicking today.

I've been running with the pivot fin all the way forward and today it slid out a couple times on hard bottom turns coming out of the pocket. I think I'll move it back a little although I'm liking the looseness of how it feels now, and I've been able to get up on the nose too. But tomorrow I think I'll change it out for the 2+1, 9.5" Futures cutaway and the regular longboard sides, just to see what happens.

While I was out the new dateline swell started to fill in. It ran 2.6-3 ft. at 20 secs. WNW for three data reports, but it didn't seem too different than the 2.6 at 13.3 readings to me. The only difference I could tell was that it dropped a little in size with the higher tide. This afternoon I stopped by the C-ville lookout and watched Dave C. and two other SUP guys at Sarge's picking off waves from the newly arrived west swell. Small and inconsistent, but a ton of waves when the sets came.

This morning's session stayed cold although there was some solar gain. Air temps never got above 46 degrees which really wasn't too bad. Sea temp is steady at 54 degrees. As it warmed the crowd picked up but it never got real crowded. Conditions stayed nice for a long time. The wind never went sideways and the onshores never really picked up while I was there. I left about 10:15 for brunch with Jay.

Got some pics of Herbie and Lee on their longboards, and Eric on his new 6'4" Pumpkin Seed. There were a couple young guys shredding at the peak right off the lot. A nice A-frame was putting up a ton of waves down the line towards the White House. If it doesn't get too big tomorrow could be really fun.

Mar 10, 2009 (Tu)
In: 0800
Out: 0930
AT= 33F to 49F
WT= 54F
Wx: Mostly sunny with some scattered cumulus
Tide: 3.7' Rising to 5'
Wind: Light offshores to calm
Sea Surface: Some light bump
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddle
Fin set-up: RFC LB Pivot
Bathymetry: Sand
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Nearshore)
0800: 2.6 feet @ 13.3 WNW (4 to 6 ft. faces)
0830: 2.6 feet @ 20 WNW
0900: 3.0 feet @ 20 WNW (4 to 6 ft. faces)
0930: 3.0 feet @ 20 WNW
1000: 2.6 feet @ 13.3 WNW (2 to 4 ft. faces)
1030: 3.3 feet @ 20 W

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring Wx Preview and Wind Swell

The day didn't exactly start off great seeing as how I locked my keys in the car just as I finished suiting up. But on the bright side, I was ready to go surfing, I had everything I needed, and I hadn't been out for over a week. What the hey! I'll take care of the lock out after my session.

Surfed for an hour and half almost by myself. Surf was bigger than I expected, and a whole lot messier. Swell was predominantly a near shore wind swell blown up from a northerly wind blowing down the Oregon coast, and a five millibar pressure gradient from ACV to SFO. Sea surface was really bumpy with waves spaced very close together. It look a little like Victory At Sea without the music or the white caps. Surprisingly, I got a lot of waves and very few close outs, I tried to avoid most of those. Only a couple sets yielded nothing but close outs, and the incoming tide held up a lot of the walls. After a week out of the water I'll take it.

After the session I dropped my board and paddle at the car and trolled the parking lot for a cell phone to borrow. Fortunately I was in luck. Nat Young's mom was videoing Nat out surfing. She graciously loaned me her cell phone and my wife brought me another key in short order. Problem solved, thanks to a couple of good people.

Mar 9, 2009 (M)
In: 0825
Out: 1000
AT= 40F to 52F
WT= 54.1F
Wx: Mostly sunny with some scattered cumulus
Tide: 5.1' Rising to 5.4'
Wind: A mix of offshores from the east, and northeast then light onshores
Sea Surface: Bumpy, uneven sea surface
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddle
Fin set-up: RFC LB Pivot
Bathymetry: Sand
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Nearshore)
0800: 2.6 feet @ 14.3 W (2 to 6 ft. faces)
0830: 3.0 feet @ 14.3 W
0900: 2.6 feet @ 14.3 WNW (2 to 4 ft. faces)
0930: 2.6 feet @ 14.3 WNW
1000: 2.6 feet @ 13.3 WNW (2 to 4 ft. faces)
1030: 2.6 feet @ 14.3 W

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Product Review: Infinity Ottertail CF Paddle

Infinity Ottertail CF Paddle

When I first started SUP surfing, I knew very little overall about the boards, or the paddles, or the new sport I was getting into. My first board/paddle combo was the Angulo 10-4 and the Kialoa Kole paddle. Both were excellent products to use in getting started. But because of learning and changing within the sport I have moved to another board (an Angulo 10-0 EPS/Epoxy custom SUP) and the Infinity Ottertail paddle.

I am not a big, powerful man. I weigh 153 pounds and stand 5'9". After about six months of steady SUPing, using the Kialoa Kole with a 9" wide blade, I started developing chronic shoulder pain. One can attribute this to a number of other things beside the paddle, and I want to be quick to say that it wasn't the brand, Kialoa, that was suspect, rather it was the blade size. So I began to do a lot of research on different types of paddles. A year ago, there wasn't a whole lot out there, now there is much more. (For a good read on paddles check this info on Ke Nalu.)

My research led me to believe that a narrower paddle blade would be easier to "pull" through the water, it would offer less resistance and therefore place less stress on the shoulder joints and muscles. This seemed logical in that paddle stroke theory seemed to revolve around two accepted schools of thought. High cadence and low cadence. Since SUP paddles have evolved from canoe and outrigger paddling, these schools of thought have been around for a while. Since the narrow blade is easier to pull through the water, one can do more "strokes per minute." Conversely the slower cadence available with the wider blade brings more raw energy with which to propel the board forward. (For more on this read a paddle maker's thoughts here.)

An easier way to think of it is to imagine that the wide blade is a lower gear in your transmission, like compound low or first gear, and the narrower blade is a higher gear like third or fourth.

But for me, paddling theory, and my technique were way secondary to my issue. I needed some relief for my shoulders, and I thought that an easier pull through, with less resistance might help. It did, and it did by a lot.

Steve Bahne in SoCal was the only manufacturer/retailer I could find at the time, that made (in the good ol' USA) and sold the ottertail. He manufactures the blade in three widths: 6.5", 7" and 8". (I opted for the 6.5" blade.) In an effort to save money (after all, I wasn't sure the narrow blade was going to help) I asked for a wood paddle. But the shaft lengths were too short for what was in stock, and they weren't going with wood any longer. So I bought the heavier, fiberglass shaft paddle. (I really wanted carbon fiber but the $$$ issue got in the way).

Dealing with Steve exclusively over the internet was great. I can't say enough for his service and communication. Any time of the day or night, weekend or weekday, I would get answers to my questions. All of Infinity's ottertail paddles are made locally using American labor and materials. Unless the paddle is in stock it's a custom job (you get your choice of blade colors), so be prepared to wait a little if the paddle has to be made especially for you. (This is true of fiberglass or carbon fiber.)

Color choice was actually important to me as I had lost my paddle one dark and late evening in heavy surf. It was only good fortune that I spotted the black paddle in a black sea as it emerged momentarily in the whitewash. So for my new paddle I ordered what I thought was the brightest color Infinity offers.

My paddle arrived via UPS and I couldn't wait to get it into the water. It only took a few strokes as I paddled out into the lineup to notice the major difference between the wide blade and the narrow blade. It felt like there was practically no resistance at all, and I was worried at first, that I wouldn't be able to develop enough board speed to catch waves! Additionally, the length of the blade is a little longer than my previous paddle. This made for a long, narrow paddle blade. This absolutely did take some getting used to. But in a very short time, I was completely up to speed...pun intended.

Almost instantly my shoulder issue resolved, no more sore shoulder joints or mid-back pain. The easier pull through didn't want to pull me off the board either, so there was more stability in regular paddling and wave catching. And the longer blade gave me the ability to control even more, the resistance of the pull. I could dip the blade deep into the water for more power, or only halfway for more finesse. This gamble into the world of narrow blades had completely paid off, but there was one thing that I really missed...the ultra light weight of a carbon fiber paddle shaft.

Fast forward a year or so and I could rationalize buying a second, first line cf paddle, keeping my first ottertail as a backup. Life is good.

Again, Steve was perfect to do business with. I ordered my paddle around Christmas time, so I had to wait a little longer which I expected. Again, everything built in America. This time there was one small glitch that turned out to be the silver lining in a dark cloud. I order an 82" paddle (same size as my first ottertail) and the new one arrived at 84.75 inches. When I told Steve he was majorly bummed. I suggested he just send me another handle with instructions on how to cut the shaft down and do the new install. No problem. I got everything the next day!

The silver lining to the extra length is that I was so excited to try the new paddle I took it out as shipped. I loved the extra length. What! Yeah, it gave me more reach to the side for balance and for turning the board. It just gives me more versatility overall. For surfing the extra length doesn't get in the way at all. And, I have better reach with a longer rudder for steering, and better leverage in turns and turn backs. So that was a very pleasant surprise.

In summary: If you're looking for a paddle that will be a little easier on your upper body, but still provide all the elements you need for a good SUP surfing paddle, the Infinity Ottertail paddle is a great choice. And Steve Bahne at Infinity will give you great service and a high quality product that he'll stand behind and, it is made in the USA.

Update: Infinity has just made a deal with Werner Paddles to make the ottertail. Werner/Infinity ottertail paddles will be available soon at any retailer who carries the Werner line of paddles. Check for a dealer near you, or ask about the new Werner/Infinity ottertail paddles at your local SUP/Surf shop. Price point for the Werner/Infinity ottertail will be about $60 less than an Infinity custom built ottertail. Currently the smallest Werner/Infinity ottertail will be available in a 7" blade, but plans are being made to include the 6.5" blade size in the future. These paddles are also American made.

Custom Infinity ottertail paddles are still available through Steve and the Infinity shop in Dana Point, CA.