Monday and Tuesday July 5 and 6, 2010
Monday: While the waves were booming in SoCal and much of CenCal, our little corner of the world was lucky to see much head high surf, with the best spots going overhead periodically. Longish waits in between sets were the rule and by Wednesday (July 7), it was pretty much all over.
I waited until 11AM to paddle out, waiting for the tide to drop a bit and for the swell to start showing better. When I arrived there were a lot of people in the water, owing to the fact that it was, after all, the "official" day off for the 4th of July. Still, I was anxious to get the SIMSUP in the water in some longer period swell energy instead of the localized and weak windswell we've been getting.
The swell was big enough for Yellows to work even though it usually takes a much lower tide. That was good because all the other spots were pretty packed. I waited for a seven or eight wave set to subside, idling over a deep spot in the reef before making my move to the outside as the waves died down. Larry was out on his 9-4 Ward Coffey SUP and long story short, we traded off riding lot's of waves for two hours before calling it good. The biggest waves were walling up across the pocket beach, but offering a fast and steep section to hit before fading back into the white water. A steep cutback into the soup would put you on a course to ride over the shallow part of the reef. This in turn set you up to turn back into the beach break part of the wave which was putting up a steep and fast run into the shore. I love it when it does this, and southies is when it happens.
Using the new Tahitian paddling technique has almost completely neutralized the yawing issue I had with the short and agile SIMSUP. Now I'm able to concentrate more on riding a board that is substantially different than all the SUPs or surfboards I have ever owned.
Tuesday: L41 Surfboards owner and SIMSUP shaper Kirk and I had made arrangements to meet beachside for a dawn patrol session. We walked down from the gate at 5:30, traded boards and while I did my routine pre-surf stretching, Kirk headed towards GDubs for his first session ever on the SIMSUP. He left me his 8-10 Bat Tail Quad to try. I was looking forward to watching Kirk surf the SIMSUP and getting his feedback on the board. There is really nothing like getting info on board design and function from the surfer/shaper who made it.
In a word, he was stoked. He didn't seem to have one bit of trouble with paddling like I did. As for surfing the board, his biggest concern was with a potential learning curve in riding a board that is so dimensionally unique. But watching him surf it, and talking to him about it during the sesh, there was no learning curve. So far, his take on the design is that it is spot on. He wouldn't change anything except he's sure it can go shorter. That would produce a concomitant increase in dimension to keep the volume at 130 liters, which Kirk felt comfortable with. (Later manipulation of the SIMSUP software board file yielded a 7-10 SIMSUP with the only dimensional change the addition of 1/8 inch of thickness, making it 4 5/8th thick.)
Kirk is 6-2 and goes about 175-180 pounds so it's something of an anomaly to watch him paddle the board. It's just not like any other SUP you've seen out there surfing. His smooth and graceful riding style lends itself to what the SIMSUP is all about: carve, flow and speed. Kirk thinks the SIMSUP is the fastest short SUP he's made to date. Faster than the 8-8 rounded pin, and the 8-10 bat tail quad (the blue board pictured here).
I've ridden three of the L41 surfing SUPs and my take was slightly different primarily because I am not the surfer Kirk is. The 8-8 and 8-10 are much more conventional designs and I am used to surfing those designs, therefore my style fit them better. But the SIMSUP is different. I can't elaborate on that clearly as of now, but I'll know more as I learn to really ride the SIMSUP. That said, one thing I can give as an example is pumping the board for speed. Pumping the SIMSUP is kind of a waste of time. It's faster than the other two so placement on the wave is key. Watching Kirk ride was an instructional lesson in how this is done.
Photos: Lighting was horrible both days but particularly on Tuesday. I've included the sequence of Kirk to try and give a visual representation of how the SIMSUP surfs. Since the light was bad I tried something new, figuring that the pics wouldn't come out anyway, so what the hell. I zoomed all the way in. It worked better than I thought but I lost framing by keeping my eye on an incoming wave that was looking like it was going to take me over the falls backwards. That's why he isn't centered. (The kneeboarder got a great barrel so I had to include it just for fun.)
Overall it was an informative, inspiring and fun session. It is quite fulfilling to put together a design on faith, hope, speculation and experience, and have it yield such great results.