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

Saturday, October 30, 2010

One-Day Rideable But Wind Hacked Ground Swell

Friday October 29, 2010

I was hoping for a little less wind bump and a smoother sea surface, but I wasn't disappointed in what I got given the circumstances. This little one-day swell was transiting down the West Coast very near shore. It was part of a storm system that dumped a fair amount of rain on us the next day, Saturday. It showed well on the buoy, peaking at 12-13 f,t at 15-16 seconds West, but the outer waters were blowing 10-20 mph from the south and that was enough to put a hefty wind bump on it, all the way to shore. Even the early morning offshores weren't enough to groom the chop out of it.

I paddled out dawn patrol with the usual suspects in the line-up. I surfed for a couple hours and it seemed better early, even though the swell increased in size throughout the morning. A couple long rides across the pocket beach were had, but on the waves I got the faces were bumpy. Hanging on to the deck pad with my toes took precedence over throwing off balance maneuvers, so it was pretty much point and shoot and hope you don't get thrown off.

One incident stood out in my mind. After about 45 minutes a SUP surfer paddled into the line-up...local guy, lives a couple blocks away from Sarges. There were more than a few waves that broke wide, severely limiting the people who were taking off at the point from making it through the big mid-reef section. On one wave a very good, local longboard surfer took off on one that looked iffy. As I was rising up and over the swell he was riding, I could see him make a beautiful, arcing bottom turn that was as smooth as you could ever ask for. But from the back, the big section reared up and I thought he was toast. So did the other SUP surfer, and he took off at the end of the section, in front of the longboarder. On his way out the back after the wipeout, the longboarder was madder than cat in a bath. Which begs the question about when one should take off in front of someone else. My answer to that is never, especially if the first up surfer in question has any skills at all. Hate to say it, but it's incidents like this one that give SUP surfers the bad mojo. Don't do it.

I finished the two hour session in a dropping tide but conditions continued to devolve. Incoming waves looked ripe for a steep take off, but would then fade, or throw an extra lump just when you think it would rise up. And the bumpy surface was tough to stand on too which added greatly to the fatigue factor. My hats off to the Hawaiians who almost always SUP in bumpy, windy conditions.

The rain came late, well after dark and with the swell dropping and the south winds not getting any better, this morning's surf was better than nothing, and worth the few, hard earned rides that were there.

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