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

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Westerly Swell Ramps up with Raging Winds

The westerly swell that started filling in yesterday, jumped up today, sending in consistent chest/head high waves (occasionally overhead) from first light on. The south swell has backed down for now. Winds, which the NWS predicted to be near gale force, started out light from the north, and pumped up as the day wore on. I thought they would swing around and turn side shore at some point, but they never did. They blew like a hurricane straight offshore starting around mid-morning.

I paddled out at 0615 and was fourth at Sarges main peak. Jamie, Sean and Johanna were already out, taking down some nice, fast peelers in the draining tide. Tide was pretty low to begin with and as it dropped it got shallower, faster and steeper. It never really got crowded until just before I got out of the water after a six hour session. It was the best waves I've had all year without question, and probably the best lower tide waves I've ever had at Sarges. Definitely classic because it very rarely blows hard offshore like it did for hours on end this morning, with a good swell in the water.

The wind was really interesting to deal with. Many times I just sat on my knees, maneuvering with the paddle to stay (try anyway) in one place. Several times the wind just blew me off the wave as I struggled to drop in. Paddling back out was a "breeze" (sorry, had to do it), as all I had to do was stand still and the wind blew me out the back at about 3-4 knots. Then the work began to try and stay on the line-up. But I'll take the wind any day. Usually at low tide the reefs are just section after section, usually a short ride then kick out as the next section comes over. But today the wind held up a lot of sections which made for screaming rippers into the next wall and section.

Today, I again surfed the circuit from Sarges to Casa's, outside Gdubs to YH and back again. I finished up at Sarge's in fast and steep zippers that yielded long rides from either the Main Peak or the Wall, to past the nudie beach, almost to Prow Point. What an incredible day!

The biggest hassle was the kelp which was almost all encompassing. But I only got tied up badly once, when I got caught inside on a pretty big wave. When I came up I was completely tangled in kelp and couldn't move my legs or the paddle. It took a couple minutes to free myself. Maneuvering was tedious so what everyone was doing was either trying to find a clear spot in the forest, or sit on the edge of the kelp line. That worked great except for the waves that broke in the kelp bed. Those were tough to catch because they just stop you in your tracks mid-paddle. A shallow fin set-up, or a fin with a lot of rake is highly desirable in this stuff. No one expects it to get better, and almost everyone wants to form a kelp cutting party. But because we live in a marine sanctuary and many are environmentalist types, I kinda doubt it will happen. James at Freeline says we need a giant West swell to clean it up. Come on big West!

Really a cold April day today with low temps and wind chill aided by the heavy offshores. Because of the wind the water is cooling down again. It looked and felt like a sunny winter day.

Wouldn't ya know it my camera stopped working I got zip, zero, nada in the way of visual images. Too bad because I saw some great, great rides. By the time I got out I was almost late for a meeting so I got no land based shots either.

The Angulo 10-0 custom worked it's magic, trimming through section after section with waves pounding on my shoulders and back, but the Angulo was having nothing to do with wipeouts. Nothing but fast and well controlled surfing. What a magic board this is!

Postscript: Thanks to Big Al who sent me some pics of a few waves I got which he took from the landing.

Apr 14, 2009 (Tu)
In: 0620
Out: 1220
AT= 40.7 - 59F
WT= 51.3-50.5F
Wx: Low clouds to the east with high thin clouds above to sunny with some cumulus
Tide: .9' Falling to .1', Rising to 2.0'
Wind: Light offshore to heavy offshores up to 13 mph with gusts up to 17 mph
Sea Surface: Light wind ripples to heavy chatter
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: Rock reefs
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Nearshore)
0600: 8.5 feet @ 11.1 WNW (3 - 6 ft. faces)
0630: 6.6 feet @ 10.5 WNW
0700: 7.9 feet @ 12.5 WNW (3 - 6+ ft. faces)
0730: 7.2 feet @ 11.8 WNW
0800: 8.5 feet @ 11.8 WNW (3 - 6+ ft. faces)
0830: 7.5 feet @ 10.5 WNW
0900: 7.9 feet @ 10.5 WNW (3 - 6 ft. faces)
0930: 7.9 feet @ 12.5 WNW
1000: 7.2 feet @ 11.1 WNW (3 - 6 ft. faces)
1030: 6.9 feet @ 11.8 WNW
1100: 6.9 feet @ 11.1 WNW (4 - 6 ft. faces)
1130: 7.5 feet @ 11.8 WNW
1200: 9.8 feet @ 11.1 WNW (4 - 6 ft. faces)
1230: 8.2 feet @ 11.8 WNW


  1. Sounds like a great session, wind, kelp and all. My folks are in town so I'm reluctant to bolt to the ocean right after work, and mornings, well I'm at work. Looked at the west side tonight and it was full on Victory-At-Sea, and it's still howling at nearly 9 p.m. I had a similar session at Sarge's about a month ago, minus the great waves. Kneeling in between the sets was the key to staying somewhere close to the take off spot.

    Just in case, is your spare paddle still in the last place you mentioned?

  2. Re the paddle: I thought you had it, so if you don't it must be at Daves.