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

Monday, January 11, 2010

3 Days of Good Surf

Sunday, January 10, 2010
Finally! I was beginning to think I'd never see another good day at the Yellow House, but that all changed today. It was a day, a spot, and a swell meant for SUP surfing. I was out from 11:30A (as the tide was draining to just the right level) to dark, 5:30PM. I figured I had to have caught and ridden at least 75, maybe even a hundred waves during this six hour marathon session, and they were almost all, good waves. (I had to make up for the fact that I didn't surf the good waves on Friday and Saturday.)

I never would have been able to pull off a six-hour session on my lay down surfboards. Two things: my back wouldn't hold up; and cold water (even with full rubber) takes too much out of anyone physically, especially in 55 degree water. Only the teeners and twenty-somethings have a chance of pulling a six-hour crawler session.

It started out a bit slow as the tide was lowering. Even though the swell was still strong, and would remain that way all day, YH is so tide sensitive, too much water will just swamp the place. Instead of steep take-offs into walled and makeable sections, you get swollen lumps of water moving ponderously towards shore without morphing into good waves. In addition to that, conditions were poor to fair, with a pesty southwest wind blowing the tops of the breaking waves into crumbly feta cheese look-a-likes. In my sorrowful state of self-pity I was cursing the wind. Am I ever going to get any good waves again in my whole entire life. Oh woe is me!

Then, about a half-hour into the session the wind turned, slightly at first, and then with more authority. A gentle northerly offshore began to blow, the clouds parted and the sun came out, it got glassy and the party was ON! From then until dusk waves came pouring through in all the various spots along the reef. I surfed three separate peaks along this section reef depending upon where the sets were looming up, and where I was after I kicked out from the previous ride.

Up-reef, Sarge's was going off, maybe the best it's been this season. It was bigger in wave size and crowd size. YH is not the best wave around and it is definitely a longboard/SUP wave. It can be slopey and soft, adamantly tide dependent, too small and closing out, or it can be a fun steep drop into a long wall with multiple makeable sections. Long rides are probable on the best waves, with section to section hook-ups that will yield 300 to 500 yard fun zone peelers. Climbing and dropping, long turn backs into steep troughs setting up into fast sections and plenty of turning, stalling and trimming are all on offer with the right swell and the right wave, and the right board (read SUP here).

Overall, the crowd came and went. For an hour I was at my spot in the line-up alone, with no real competition for any wave I wanted. In fact, there were only a few good surfers out, the rest falling into the beginner to average category. So many good waves were available elsewhere, that the better surfers were surfing the better (higher quality, bigger, more demanding) spots. Works for me!

Even the kelp infestation was no major hindrance or interference today. There was enough energy forming the incoming waves that the kelp would be submerged in the surge, leaving a clear take-off and wall to ride. Although it was sometimes best to let one or two waves roll through, ensuring the additional cushion of water over the rapacious kelp stalks.

And YH is a big board surf break. The bigger the better, and the SUP is perfect for it. To get the longest and best rides, you have to be able to make it through the flats, the holes in the reef where the wave just drops away, leaving only a part of the wave energy left to carry the surfer forward. Even longboard riders can have a hard time with this because they only have the inertia of their board to help them negotiate the decreased wave energy. Here's where the SUP "engine", the paddle, can be put to use to power through and into the next and meatier part of the wave. Over and over again, I could reclaim the wave, and add another hundred yards or more to my ride. While I think that SUPs definitely have surf spots where they shouldn't be, there are also spots that are meant to be SUP surfed.

After the session and in the growing darkness, as I was changing into my street clothes, Dave C. walked past, headed to his home (and hot tub) just down the street. He said, "2010's been pretty good so far." I'll hoist a pint to that!

January 10, 2010
In: 1130
Out: 1730
AT= 56.5-58F
WT= 55.2-55.6F
Wx: Partly cloudy all day.
Tide: 1.14' Falling to -0.27' Rising to 1.76'
Wind: Variable, southwesterly early to northwest to easterly late.
Sea Surface: Some adverse wind ripples early, then glassy
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddle
Fin set-up: Thruster with K2D2 4.75" center fin (first mark up from back) and RFC Speedwings
Bathymetry: Rock reefs
Deep Water Swell CDIP Archive
Wave Hts. (Faces): 2-4 ft.

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