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

Friday, December 30, 2011

Back To Back WNW Swells

The L finally got a couple decent swells with enough west in them to get into the bight. The bigger ground swell was a nice Christmas Eve day gift that put up waist to chest/shoulder high waves and the occasional overhead bomb. These were both short duration swells, one-day swells, and while the second had some west in it too, it was much smaller, more like wind swell.

Hard to say that I didn't get all of the first swell, I paddled out at noon and rode my last wave in five hours later in the rapidly decaying daylight. I surfed just about every spot in the L41, concentrating on Sarges and Middies but also taking down a few at GDubs and all the way down to Yellow House. The SIMSUP OSX3 performed flawlessly as usual, and I am just loving this board the more I surf it. It is the best all around SUP surfboard I've ever owned by far. The fact that I helped design it with Kirk of L41 Surfboards is just icing on the cake. Rumor has it that we might get some BIG NPAC swells early in the new year and I can hardly wait to put this board into some double overhead mackers. (My personal large size limit if I can help it.) If it goes good in the big surf then it will truly be a full spectrum all-rounder.
The day after Christmas the surf was about half-size compared to the 24th. There was less juice, less energy overall and the waves were much softer. Still, in the low, low tides there were a lot of fast, zippy walls and sections to negotiate. I love those quick burst speed runs, steering the board along the energy lines, swooping under the falling crests and jamming off the top on the other side. Gotta love it.

Maybe I'm surfing more this year but the holiday crowds have been thick. Without a doubt I've never surfed with more people in the water at the same time than these past two swells. Even though it's packed it's kinda hard to complain. There are so many moms and dads with their kids out surfing, and everyone is having such a great time. Smiles are all around and hey, there's always another wave.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 12, 2011

L41 Surfboards Original SIMSUP Online

One of the most rewarding things I've been able to do in my journey along the SUP trail is to help design and bring to life my own unique SUP surfboard. I didn't do it for financial gain, but for the satisfaction, fun and knowledge I've gained along the way.

So I'm happy to announce the L41 Surfboards Original SIMSUP website, now online. There is lot's of information, videos and still pics for everyone to enjoy. The SIMSUP is a design that has it's roots back in 1949 when Bob Simmons was designing original and creative surfboards to ride big waves. Fast forward to our current era and Joe Bauguess, who adapted Simmons ideas and created the mini-Simmons. It has been my privilege to work with another great shaper, Kirk McGinty, who has enthusiastically put his energy, progressive mindset, prolific shaping skills and knowledge into the SIMSUP series.

The SIMSUP is fast, maneuverable, short and stable. The fastest and funnest SUP I've ever ridden. Once ridden, the SIMSUP has been known to be mind altering. You'll never see SUP surfing the same. Check it out.
L41 Shaper Kirk Rides the SIMSUP OSX3 from Srfnff on Vimeo.

Long Period Mid-Month NW Swell

Surfed Simmy 3 at the usual spots in dropping long period NW swell. As big as it was in Hawaii (think the Pipe contest), it just didn't translate here very well, especially in the L41. I surfed it in the afternoon, in the low tide where it was fast and racy with a fair number of closeouts. Surfed for an hour and a half before I got smacked in the jaw by my board punching through some whitewater. It hurt and at first I thought it might have broken my jaw. But it only opened up a small compression laceration which slowly dripped blood down on the deck. It partially nailed my throat and I felt like I'd been strangled so I decided that it was session over. I'd actually taken down a large number of waves, chasing down a bunch of insiders in between sets so I was tired. Fun session not including the injury.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Two Days at the Beaches

Nothing like a shark attack to clear the water of crowds. Then add in early morning temps in the mid to high 30's and a solid 3-8 mph offshore wind dragging the chill factor down even lower. The only takers these last few days have been the SUP brethren. And in all honesty the sand bars aren't as good as they could be, but there have been plenty of waves on offer...enough to wear me out to the point of taking a day off from the barrels, the poundings and the vigorous workouts.

Monday Al, Paul and Mike were already out in the water by the time I rolled into the lot. It was cold, 38 degrees. I arrived in my new Hotline integrated hood Reflex which has been keeping me toasty in the line-up ever since Winter set in. Add in the three mil gloves and booties and I've been staying amazingly warm. Funny how a brisk offshore wind in 3-something degree air temps will give you an ice cream headache when it hits you in the face. It's making the 54 degree water feel almost warm.

This stretch of beach faces the open ocean and even when it's small it never fails to deliver the juice. Back wash, side chop, rips, littoral currents, double ups, pitching lips, apex predators, late drops into a freezing's all here. It gets almost manageable when the surf drops into the 2-4 foot range like Tuesday. But even then you'll get held down in the places that just don't look that wild.

The sand bars are not nearly as symmetrically placed as last years, but it never ceases to amaze me how the bars usually reform in about the same places from year to year. This year seems more shifty and beach breaks being beach breaks what looks like a channel for one set, is the next sets close outs. Wait long enough though, and it's bound to change.

Paul got some of that Monday after we all left the water, having had enough for one session. I had one exceptional wave, overhead with a steep drop and long racing face with a barrel section to end it. I got plowed under at the finale, and that wasn't the first time that session either. But Paul soldiered on (his day off) and was rewarded by about 45 minutes worth of screaming, lined up lefts (see the slideshow) with the occasional tube. He surfed wave after wave after wave, all by himself. Then, it just stopped. The peak he was on started lining up and closing out and that was that. Not sure if it's an abundance of balls, or a lack of brains that keeps someone out in the landlord's neighborhood alone, but I did it Tuesday and I've got neither. Well, maybe I'm not even as smart as I think I'd like to be.

It must have been my turn to get the blessing on a right-hander. Mike, Bob and John had their fill after about an hour and a half, but I stayed out just as the little sand bar pile we were riding came alive for 45 minutes or so. I rode the wave merry-go-round until my legs were aching. I finally paddled in, pretty much exhausted after almost two and half hours but absolutely invigorated. The air and the water were crystal clear. The sky was deep blue and the hump back up the steep sand dunes had me gulping some of the cleanest air on the planet. Not that I don't think about it, the toothy ruler that betrays the beauty we can see on top of the sea surface. But if we let our fears dictate our lives then we really wouldn't be alive in the deepest sense of the word. But for today, it was another good session and the landlord left me alone....again.

Monday, November 21, 2011

SIMSUP 3 - First Paddle & Surf

SIMSUP #3, the third in the series of high performance SUP surfboards is by far the most radical of what is already a radical concept and design in stand up paddleboards. The SIMSUP series tends to bend the term "paddleboard" into a form that may not look quite "right," but when surfed transforms the mind vis a vis SUP surfboards.

The Original SIMSUP was a collaboration between L41 Surfboards Kirk McGinty and myself. The idea was to design and build a fast and maneuverable SUP surfboard that was also stable. The Original SIMSUP succeeded beyond our expectations. Each successive SIMSUP has been tweaked with performance enhancements in mind. SIMSUP 2 surfed better than #1, and was a bit less stable. SIMSUP 3 surfs better than #1 & 2 and is a bit less stable than 2. Any competent SUP surfer who has their 9'+ SUP chops down can ride SIMSUP 1 and be blown away by how the equipment will radicalized their surfing. The ability level must increase to take on SIMSUPs 2 & 3. But the awesomeness of what can be done on the advanced SIMSUP designs will never the less alter the surfers consciousness forever. At least this is what happened to me. Frankly, I'm as surprised as anyone that the SIMSUP series works as well as it does. But I am genuinely stoked and looking forward to many fun sessions in the future.

SIMSUP 3 (Simmy 3) first impressions:
  • Definitely tippier, I'm guessing due to a little less volume overall, especially in the rails. Perhaps it's light weight contributes in that the ocean can throw it around a bit easier. Anyway...I'll get used to it but it does require more energy to balance at rest, paddling through breaking waves, etc.
  • Surfs better than SimSups 1 & 2. Performance is impressive. For the stability it loses paddling, it gains it all back surfing. It's fast, sticks really well on top to bottom transitions in steep waves, does directional changes (180 turnbacks) like it's on a hinge (absolutely amazing) and handles foam better than any SUP I've ever ridden. I was able to ride a couple bigger waves from takeoff in front of the cave almost to the beach below that staircase at In-Betweens....a real Energizer Bunny, it just keeps going and going.
  • Waxed deck. I like it because it has the feel of a traditional surfboard, I feel more rooted to the board and connected to the waves. No slipping issues re paddling or surfing. I don't like it cuz it's kinda messy like wax can be. When I got out I had wax all over my paddle blade and handle...not bad really, but I had to wipe if off. (Maybe a less anally retentive person wouldn't be as perplexed.)
  • Weight. At 15.2 pounds, a real seems to paddle faster and it has to contribute to how easily it responds in the waves. A game changer and a great option to "weigh" for future boards. Kudos to the boyz at the Stretch factory who did the glassing and the vacuum bagging. (Glassing sched: 6+6oz. deck, plus deck patch) and 4+6oz. bottom.)
Video: Length 3:25 (no surfing shots)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The "Real" Sharks

Pulled into the "Shark Park" early and it looked doable, smaller than yesterday but lumpy due to the high winds in the outer waters. At first glance I didn't see SUP surfers Michael and Paul taking down quite a few rides in the waist/head high shifting peaks. Most rides were short and as befitting this place, there was a lot of water moving around.

Al hadn't arrived yet which gave me an opportunity to hang out and shoot some still and video with my new camera. After the obligatory research, I picked up a Canon Powershot SX40 HD with a 24 by 840mm optical lens. (The 840mm zoom is incredible. While the image stabilization feature is amazing, I found that for tight surfing video clips a tripod is an absolute necessity. Otherwise following the rider leads to wild picture wagging, and the subject goes in and out of frame constantly.) But the camera is really perfect for my use, which is primarily taking surf pics and vids. Since I didn't know much about the camera I put all settings on "Auto". What better way to test it down and dirty...and simple. I'm happy with what I got today and the camera will work well for my needs. (All the vids and still frames in the video are right out of the camera. No editing whatsoever.) You be the judge and if anyone out there has one of these, please feel free to send me any tips and tricks you might know. Thanks in advance.

Al arrived and gave me a short tutorial on the camera as he has a Canon very similar to it. Lots of the buttons do the same thing. So after fooling around with the camera we suited up and headed down the long sloping sand bluffs to the shore pound. I found a decent little channel and pushed through the ever present washing machine conditions shore break, out past the main pounders and into the line-up. With the rising tide it was starting to slow down and after picking up a few nice little right hand sliders it just stopped.

I paddled south where it was a bit smaller and breaking closer to shore. Wave choice was essential because there were a lot of close-outs the primary downside of which was a vigorous workout paddling back into what for lack of a better name was the line-up.

Not many people surfing this morning, just stand-ups at first, then a few prone paddlers trickling into the water after the sun heated things up. The surfing population has decreased here over the last several weeks due to a near fatal shark attack (Great White) that occurred recently. Things were really quiet immediately after the attack, but now most of the locals have returned and are undeterred by the predators that are natural to this environment, which is their hunting grounds.

We SUP surfers like to take some refuge in the thought that we are more protected from Sharks because we're standing up, offering a much smaller fleshy target than our lay-down brothers and sisters. But it's also interesting to note that Eric was hit paddling out, near shore and paddling through a breaking wave. That is the preferred method of paddling out at this beach break for both surfboards and SUP surfboards. Perhaps the size of the board has a bearing on the issue, but there's no "free pass" when it comes to Whitey. They just come with the territory and if one is afraid of sharks to the point where relaxing in the water is impossible, perhaps other spots less frequented by the alpha predators are the places to go.

After four waves (two of which were fast and fun, two of which were near perfect barrels that lined up 50 feet down the line and broke all at once) I decided to call it a day. Another beautiful morning on the Central Coast.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

New Brighton/Sewer Peak Channel Round Trip and a Little Shark Talk

Monday November 9, 2011 - Paddle session. Still feeling the effects of the cold virus I've had for over a week but after reaching the Hook, I elected to head up and out the Sewer Peak channel adn back. Headwinds outbound and inbound in famous New Brighton wind eddy form. Fought a side chop outside the big kelp bed, but it all cleared up across the Capitola Gap in the outer waters. 6.5 miles at around four and a half mph. I'll take it. Video link.(Time: 2:55)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Small Surf Day in Cool Fall Weather

Monday November 7, 2011
It's really the best weather time of the year. While Spring is windy and Summer foggy, Fall and Winter provide lot's of clear, sunny days with spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Well yeah, it's a bit chilly, but nothing like New England. And yeah, we do tend to have a small great white shark population swimming around in our water from August to January but....what me worry? You've got a better chance of being killed or injured in your car....or on your bike.

Buried deep within this ongoing La Nina pattern have been several decent swells. A couple late season south swells have paid off big time with overhead surf and all the spots going off. And even though the storm track so far this year has been pushed way north, and the swells we've received are pretty steeply angled northwests, we've had one that put up some bombs at Mav's and several others that have delivered consistent head/overhead waves for those who are paying attention.

Last night's surf was one of those small windswell sessions that can be frustrating but fun. The tide was drained out when I paddled out and most of what was on tap was small, too fast and closing out along the reef. Wave quality improved as the tide came in, but by the time it got consistently better, it was almost dark. My best ride of the session was my last ride of the session. I call it a day as soon as I can't see the incoming waves very well. Conditions were rapidly moving in that direction so I gambled on getting a bigger wave by edging outside a bit, floating out past the main peak pack. It paid off as a two-wave set rolled in. I took the second and larger wave that just happened to peak up right where I was. Good timing, good luck.

Kirks (L41 Surfboards) Wave of the Day Last Friday

Shallow water over the reef caused by the low but rising tide caused the wave face to jump up quickly but let me turn down the line mid-face. SimmyD is no laggard and never lost a beat as I accelerated down the lengthening half-pipe like, stretched out line of wave face. It was a speed run that felt even faster with the easterly offshore wind blowing up the face of the wave and straight into my smiling hooded head. My board, the second iteration of the Original SIMSUP is made for this kind of surf. It's fast and loves the high line on steep and pitching sections. This wave put up three or four before I got into the flats where instead of closing out over the uneven rock piles in the reef, the wave just kept going. So did I, almost all the way to the beach at Middies.

That was definitely my longest ride of the day, and the longest ride I'd seen anyone get in the session. The SIMSUP is that perfect combination of speed, maneuverability, stability and high performance. It surfs like a shortboard but can still get every ounce of energy out of a wave, like surfing a much longer board.

By the time I hit the beach darkness was descending. Still plenty of time to get back up to the car and change out for the headlighted drive home. That last ride redeemed the entire session. It only took one wave. Only a surfer knows the feeling.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Perfect 10 Paddle Day

Saturday October 22, 2011 - We've had some pretty good weather on and off this October. And the beauty about a stand up quiver is the flexibility it gives you when there's surf, and when there isn't. Ron and I enjoyed a beautiful day paddling a six-mile route from New Brighton to Sewers and then back the low road through all the surf spots. We launched at 10:45, temp in the mid-60's and rising. It was boardshorts and ball caps all the way. The wind was light enough to keep us cool, while basking in the sun and paddling easy. On days like today you just have to say...THANK YOU! Every Trail track. Video (Time: 1:48)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

HUGE Covewater SUP Sale & Swap Meet

Don't miss out on the huge second annual Covewater Used SUP Sale and Swap Meet on October 29 & 30. There will be 35+ used boards for sale, AND a SUP Swap meet on Saturday. Click here for all the info. Do yourself a favor and check out the list of boards for sale. If you're looking for a new board, or to expand your existing quiver you've got to stop by and look it over. Oh yeah, NO TAX on used boards! Like Covewater on Facebook and be privy to the super secret pre-weekend sale. See ya there.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Jay Moriarity Paddle Out Memorial Re-Enactment

Friday October 14, 2011 - Flatwater Paddle to the Jay Memorial Re-Enactment. On this most beautiful day the weather and the sea came together in balmy warm and calm agreement. It would be the perfect day to shoot the substratal scene in "Of Men and Mavericks," or, The Jay Movie. Every Trail Track link. Video link. (Time: 4:04 )

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Simmy3 At The Cutters

Sunday October 2, 2011
The next design iteration of the SIMSUP series is complete and the file's been emailed to the cutters. There are now three in the series: The Original SIMSUP; SimmyD (for Deuce as in #2); and the obvious next step, Simmy3. Each new board has yielded an increase in performance and a step forward in reaching the goal of creating a better board than the last board. The truth too though, is that each board is really an excellent stand alone SUP in it's own right.

The original SIMSUP was an idea I had after researching hull shapes and surfing craft that could provide speed and maneuverability in combination with stability. Stability could only be achieved by using a wider outline, but this usually at the expense of performance. Studying the early Simmons boards and the Baugess "mini-Simmons" boards, along with paipo boards which have been around since the beginning of surfing made me wonder if a SUP could be crafted using similar dimensions which would deliver what I was looking for: speed; stability and performance.

In collaboration with L41 shaper Kirk McGinty, the original SIMSUP was born. No SUP like it had ever been made so we didn't really know if it would work. This first SIMSUP was really all about plan shape. Would the paipo like, Bob Simmons inspired hull work on a short, 8 foot SUP? In spite of it's weight (resultant from it's overbuilt glassing schedule) the board was a huge success. It worked! The most important combination of criteria had been achieved, high performance maneuverability and stability.

After a number of months surfing the SIMSUP, I was anxious to move forward with the next version, SimmyD. Where could we take this design? How far could we move up the performance aspect of the board, and still maintain stability? We speculated that we could tweak the board in a couple ways and make improvements. One was weight. A lighter board would be more maneuverable, but would it lose drive and speed on down-the-line speed runs? I vacillated with this question, unable to decide between vacuum bagging or a conventional epoxy glassing schedule. In the end I took the half-step and went with a new and improved SUP glassing schedule Kirk's glassers had come up with. Materials were a consideration too. Instead of using two lb. eps, we went with one pound stringerless eps. The weight savings was substantial at four pounds. Kirk gave the design an update by adding more vee in the bottom and creating K-rails (s-rails) in order to reduce rail volume, making the board more hydrodynamic and more flexible transitioning rail-to-rail. Total volume shrunk by three liters (127L), an acceptably timid downsizing in my book. SimmyD was a major leap forward in performance with only a small loss in overall stability. Turning moved from a bit sluggish with the SIMSUP to quick and responsive with SimmyD. Perhaps most noticeable was the ability to slash turnbacks and re-entries. 180 degree hacks were no problem.

The primary volume savings was achieved with the k-rails which enhanced performance. There was though, some cost in stability. The reality is that there is always some cost in stability when you go smaller on a SUP. But the idea is to minimize the loss and maximize the gain. With reduced flotation at the rails, SimmyD is a bit more tippy than the SIMSUP, but the performance gains far outweigh the loss in stability which has been easy to overcome with time spent on the board. It's amazing what open mindedness, enthusiasm, commitment and adjustments in technique can achieve.

Simmy3 is what SimmyD could have been had I been a little braver. Being conservative by nature, I am most comfortable with small steps instead of recklessly gambling with a big leap. But who knows what we'll learn once Simmy3 is in the water? We've continued our fine tuning efforts by adding in several more performance characteristics and going even lighter. This time around we'll vacuum bag in an effort to achieve the lightest and most durable fiberglass shell available. We're pulling out another two liters of volume (125L for SimmyD) via the double winger tail re-design. Each wing will take off 1/2 inch, but total width at the tail block is only one inch less than the original plan shape. Again we're hoping this has minimal impact on stability, but prompts another maximum gain in performance. Kirk has also designed in a tad more vee in the tail, making it even easier to roll the board over on rail. I'm now convinced that the lighter in weight a board can be, the better it will paddle and surf. Simmy3 will forgo the conventional SUP deck pad in favor of a surfboard-like waxed surface. This board should then be "state of the art" in weight savings re conventional production.

Creating the SIMSUP and fine tuning the design in versions 2 and 3 has been exciting and fun. It's also satisfying to imagine something, then see it become reality. I would urge anyone who wants to give this board a try to contact me and we'll set something up. If you like it half as much as I do, you'll love it.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Bark Paddle Workout, EveryTrail App Info & Dry Case Update

Thursday September 15, 2011
I checked the surf at the dawn patrol only to find that the south swell was pretty much gone and the northwest swell was pretty weak. A nagging onshore wind crumbled the tops of what waves did come through, it was overcast and gloomy and looked like a better day for a paddle workout than a surf. So that's what I did.

I paddled up to Sewer Peak and back from New Brighton, taking the low route. A distance of about 5.3 miles. I didn't push it, stopping to talk with Boots, take a little vid, and just enjoy the soul centering physical rhythm, cadence and work of a steady paddle on the rolling sea, the wilderness that is 50 yards offshore.

NB-SP Low RT 9-15-2011

For EveryTrail app (or GPS) freaks I learned something interesting. I upgraded my smartphone from an LG Vortex to a Motorola Droid X2, a much better Android OS phone. But the EveryTrail tracking app constantly malfunctioned, and would not track my paddles on the new phone. Long story short, I found out that if you keypad in *228 and then select option 2, you will update roaming. (Verizon is my carrier.) This puts your phone in contact with the best cell phone signal available in the area, which your GPS needs in order to work. Which it seemed to do because I had no trouble tracking today's paddle. This might be a trick one could use in areas with chronically bad cell phone reception, although I haven't tried it yet.

Finally, I bought a Dry Case for my phone in May and it has slowly deteriorated over the last several months. At first it wouldn't hold a vacuum, then the top of the case tore at the latch seam, then finally the body of the case grew a pinhole that you could see through and I could not use it. Long story short, the warranty process was unbelievable simple. I contacted a rep through their website phone number. All I had to do was send a copy of the receipt/invoice to an email address. The next day I got confirmation of a replacement case shipping. Voila! Good service, I hope the new case lasts a lot longer than the old one.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Solid Southwesterly Swell

Tuesday September 13, 2011
A solid southwesterly swell filled in putting up 3-5 ft. peelers with some genuine push. I paddled out from the pocket beach at Sarges headed to GDubs at first light. I like to paddle around the point and through the back washed bump and toss just to get my sea legs under me. At the slightly greater than one foot tide and rising, there was a lot of action, but I only got tossed off once.

I paddled into the sand bottom flats where it's usually calm, and one can suss out the situation and wait for a lull to paddle through the low spots in the reef that tend to flatten out the incoming waves. Size wise it was about what I was expecting from the buoys and the CDIP forecasts. And without much other swell in the water to break up the lines, the waves were typically lined up across the breaks, but it was much more consistent than I imagined for a southerly swell. I found this out when I sensed a lull and paddled hard for a spot out the back. I paddled right into a 15-20 wave set which had me sitting on my board just inside the white water line, bucking over the foamy ledges and waiting for it all to be over.

When I finally did break through to the outside it was a relief to see only two other surfers in the line-up. Maybe the crowds really will thin out now that Summer is over. I spent the rest of the 2.5 hour session riding wide until the tide came up and it pushed me into the cave line-up. By then the biggest sets had dropped down in size from overhead to head high, and the number of waves per set seemed to ratchet down a bit. But there were still a lot of juicy rideable waves. It was overall pretty lined up. But every once in a while you'd get that gem with the fast late drop and speedball through the bowls into the inside flats. What it is!

The swell hung in there although smaller all day Wednesday, but I had eaten something that didn't agree with me and spent the morning on the can. Diarrhea and wetsuits are not a good combo. (I know, thanks for sharing...)

By Thursday the south was all but completely gone and a small but unenergetic Gulf swell was trying unsuccessfully to do its thing. I checked it at the DP but opted out. Too weak, too inconsistent at all the spots I checked. I'll paddle the Bark later this morning.
Video: 2:56

6.5 Mile Flatwater Paddle in the Sunshine

Monday September 12, 2011
So that's what it looks like around here. The sun I mean. Finally got a sunny morning in the Bay and I took advantage of it. Almost two weeks since I paddled the Bark so I did a leisurely cruise up to the Sewer Peak channel and out, then back down to Sponge Bob and into New Brighton, my point of origin. It felt good to get back on the Bark.
Video: 3:57

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Catalina SUP Festival

Tim from the Catalina SUP Festival asked me to post this. It sounds like fun and a good time.

The Catalina SUP festival is poised to go off in a big way at the end of this month, from Sept. 30 – Oct 2nd. The event will feature the top names in the sport, competing for a $15,000 purse. In addition to two days of races in the calm waters off Descanso Beach, the event will feature demos, an SUP film festival and a full docket of other festivities.

We were hoping you might be able to post some info about the event to your blog. Registration is currently available for SUP racers interested in competing in both the open and elite divisions. We're also offering a package for those interested in checking out the event as a spectator. I've attached a press release that contains additional information about the event. Let me know if you're interested in participating, be happy to help coordinate. Photos/ interviews etc. are also available upon request.


Chasing the Big South Summer Swell of 2011

August 31 - September 9, 2011
Big, well advertised swell + Labor Day in Santa Cruz = Mega macking hewmungous crowd scene. I didn't wanna be here even though I knew it was gonna go off. So for the first time in my life, I chased a known quantity down to a relatively unknown quantity.

I'd been to Punta de Mita before, in March when M and I spent a couple weeks in Sayulita. I saw and surfed El Anclote when it was small, and when it was 4-5 feet and nearly perfect. I knew it was holding some good waves and with the swell of the decade bearing down on a coastline 1500 miles closer to the swell's origin, how could I go wrong? Here's how, the weather. No matter how much I tracked the weather, there are no guarantees of good weather in central Mexico in the Summer. What the...I'm goin' anyway.

In short order I booked a pre-holiday flight to PV on Alaska, secured a one bedroom condo across from the break and locked in a ride to and from SFO five days before departure. It all went down like clockwork. Swell, check. Condo, check. Weather, check. Weather? While sitting in SFO waiting to board I logged on to the National Hurricane Center to make one final check. On Tuesday there was a 10% chance that a tropical depression would form 125 miles south of my destination. On the morning of my departure though, the NHC had upped the percentage to 60%, and the storm tracked right over my surf spots. Nooooooooo! A quick call to my condo landlord. Should I cancel the trip? No way he says, it'll track out to sea and you'll get swell from it. Cool. (It didn't, but I still got a lot of good waves.)
No one goes to Mexico in the Summer. It's too hot, too humid, too wet, to which I say...too perfect. I spent nine days at Punta and it rained hard once, in the middle of the night. The rest of the time it wasn't an issue. Except for the few days when the downgraded tropical cyclone cruised over my location, showing itself to be dark and brooding, spitting out streams of lighting in the miles away distance, it was warm and sunny with broken billowy cloud cover. Add 87 degree water, paddling and SUP surfing two to three times a day and you have Eden. (Adam and Eve didn't wear wetsuits, and neither did I.)

The big south hit right on time. Within 15 minutes of my arrival at the El Anclote Condos Wednesday evening, I was in the water surfing the first of the 4-6 foot long interval swell waves. Waits in between sets were long and sets were populated with seven to nine waves on average. Smaller sets in between offered up waves in the 2-4 foot range. A good ride was about 300 yards long. The weather had not yet interfered with the conditions. The swell pumped for three days but conditions from the slow moving tropical disturbance chopped up the sea surface Thursday night and Friday morning. Still surfable, but not as good as Wednesday evening/Thursday morning. Friday night and Saturday morning the wind blew it all out. Saturday evening it was surfable again, but choppy. By then the swell was dieing out.

There was always something to surf at El Anclote, but on small days, the key is to rent a panga and do morning sessions at one of the several nearby breaks. Horacio at the Hotel des Artistes del Mar hooked me up with boats, drivers and other surfers who were fun to surf with and helped defray the cost of the panga rental. I didn't rent a car for this trip and when I do this again (which I will) I'd opt to save money on a car by sharing rental costs for a boat. But that's me. I was by myself and on the economy plan. A fellow traveler or two can help with costs.

In the off season this normally bustling tourist town is vacant of people. The travellers that are there are friendly and social. I found this to also be true of all the Mexicans I met. Coincidences abounded. I met Frank and Michelle the second day, both SUP surfers. They are the owners of Adventures By The Sea in Monterey. We're neighbors in Cali. Through them at dinner one night, I met Federico who turned out to be good friends with Horacio at the Hotel. Federico has a very cool travel blog with lots of good tips. Horiaco's boss' name is Greg. Via another coincidence I discovered that Greg and I went to college together in San Diego many, many years ago. It is in fact a very small world.

I stayed at Tom and Joanie Ogg's condo in El Anclote Condos. Tom has created a comprehensive and fully informative website which I devoured when planning my trip. If you're looking for a comfortable and very secure place to stay, the perfect surfer's lair, you will do yourself a favor by checking them out.

I ate a few meals out, mostly dinner, and when I did, the portions were so large I always ended up taking home the next nights dinner. A tienda was a couple blocks up the street so for basic breakfast food, fruit and snacks I shopped there. It was one of the only places where the vendors didn't speak English which foreced me to abuse them with my Spanish. Although too polite to say anything, I'm sure my utterances are hilarious to the native speaker. No matter, I actually enjoy trying to communicate. And again, everyone is so friendly I always came away feeling good.

After nine days I really didn't want to come home. The set-up was just too perfect. I like surfing in boardshorts and I found no need for a rash guard or my little goofy sun hat before about 10AM or after 5PM. I'm a dawn patroller so I surfed or paddled every morning early. Evenings can be tricky and I found that the majority of evenings were windy. It only glassed off a couple evenings so morning surfs were essential for guaranteed good conditions. Several days and one evening in particular, the wind went silent and the sea surface calmed into wrinkle free sheet glass. After the big south subsided water clarity went off the chart. They say there's no snorkeling but La Bahia was perfect for it. I had plenty to look at from my stand up perch while surfing the smaller 2-4 ft. waves at the cove.

I'm already thinking about my next trip in 2012. Now I've got the airport, the taxis, the ATM's (for pesos, you get the best rates), all the hassle travel stuff wired. Travel days are always kind of a grind so it makes it easier if you have a plan based on reality.

For this trip I was able to stuff everything I needed into a carry-on backpack, so the only item I had to check was my board. ($75 each way. I wouldn't leave home without it.) Again, Joe's custom board bag protected my L41 SimmyD in bulletproof style. I avoided all the niggling terrorist induced TSA requirements re toiletries, first aid stuff, etc. by filling a small valise with the items and securing the valise in the board bag. Hassle free. Yes!

For my own record I've included a daily record which I kept on my tablet PC. Thank goodness for that and a good and reliable internet connection at the Ogg's condo. Unless you want to pay through the nose for cell phone service turn off data roaming. Also, lot's of American internet services don't work in Mexico. Kindle didn't work for me so if you're going to bring e-books, download 'em first in a format that will run on your machine without the internet. All the surf forecasting websites work so that's not an issue. I found that for this trip, no matter how much the swell dropped off there were fun surfable waves either north or south if El Anclote was flat.

Depart WEDNESDAY August 31, plane almost two hours late. Almost
canceled, NHC storm, Tom talked me down. Taxi to EA, $50 (600 PESOS),
$10 finders fee, $16 tip. Nice condo, unpacked, finned up,in water in
15 minutes. One hour session until dark. 2-4 and 4-6 ft sets, inconsistent. Water
temp 87F. Cut foot. Chaise lounge good bed.

THURSDAY Sep 1- Up early. In water at first light. Two hour session,
4-6 ft on best sets, fairly consistent, at 0900 it died and got much
smaller in the high tide. Ate at El Coral, huevos, not very good. 100
pesos included tip. Knocked around, explored the grounds talked with the Mexicans,
went shopping at El Cuarte and the OXXO. Mango across from tiendas $1.
Ate tortas bought from street vendor Flavio. $2.50 each. Evening session in bumpy, crumbly onshores. Still 4-6 on the best sets with some rides going 300 yards. Frank and Michele from Monterey.

FRIDAY Sep 2-Dawn patrol in slightly better but still onshore wind
conditions. Surf a bit smaller. Went for a stroll, checked out EA, not
much going on. Almost got glassy around noon, but then deteriorated
Into 20-30 MPH onshore winds. Whitecaps, unsurfable. May not even
clean up overnight. Had fantastic grilled huachinango at El coral for dinner. 200 pesos
included two beers and the tip.

SATURDAY Sep 3-Dawn patrol onshore from S/SW. Unsurfable and small...blown
flat. Surfline the only site to get the wind forecast right. Next
surfable moment may not be until Sunday evening. Onshore all day but it died down enough for a choppy, bumpy one-hour evening session. If nothing else, good balance exercise.

SUNDAY Sep 4-Dawn patrol. Surfline forecast continuing onshore but I grabbed my
board and checked it anyway. The onshores had backed down
substantially, but it was still onshore. Surfed a one hour session in
2 ft semi-junk in a sea that is still unsettled from almost three days
of stormy onshore winds. Best thing about this morning was a fine
sunrise and then real early morning sun. After surfing I paddled down
to the Marina and back. Love the weather, even the humidity and the
water temp is heavenly. The surf alone would have been worth the trip, but
tropical disturbance Eight E took it's toll on about half of the big south swell.

Surfed again with Frank and Michelle around 11AM. The day had
blossomed into this gorgeous tropical postcard from El Anclote. An
hour and a half session in 2-3 ft waves that occasionally put up a
bowly wall across the middle section. Lots of rides all the way into
the beach. Had beers after and a pool swim at their fancy digs (4 Seasons) on the
beach across from the break.

Surfed a third session in the balmy and warm offshore evening breezes.
The surf has become very small, but every now and again a fun
pulse. After, a long ride to Nuevo Vallarta for a very late dinner with
Kurt, Federico, Liza, Frank and Michelle.

MONDAY Sep 5-Slept in for surfing, but up early to document and enjoy
a magnificent sunrise. Surf is small, but the weather is making up for
the lack of waves.

Surfed a mid-morning session in small EA's with a couple quick bowl
sessions. Hooked up with Horacio and arranged an afternoon session to
Bahia by panga. Surfed the Cove for three hours in windy 2-4 ft peaks
in crystal clear water over a boulder and rock strew bottom. Wore my
booties just in case. It was the most challenging sea surface
conditions I've ever experienced. I musta fallen off 20 times just
trying to stand. After the Cove we opted for some quieter water around
the point at El Faro. Small clean right handlers over sharp rocks in
shallow water. Really glad I had the booties now.

Surfed for about 3.5 hours, everyone tired at the end. Finished off
with beers and good conversation with Horacio, Frank and Michelle,
Federico and Enyaqui (my new local friends), Leela from Houston and
Daniel our boat Captain/surfer on the rooftop bar at the Hotel des
Artistes courtesy of Horacio. In bed by 930.

TUESDAY Sep 6-Up early and down to the beach for the sunrise with my
cuppa. The dogs like me now after a barky beginning. Met up with
Horatio and sketched out another panga propelled session to the cove
after he gets off work around 4. The swells are fading so even if its
windy we need to jump on it.

WEDNESDAY Sep 7 Mid morning session in small EA's with Frank and
Michelle. Windy and bumpy afternoon session at La Launcha.

THURSDAY Sep 8 La Bahia two hour session with Kelly. Super fun 2-4 ft. glassy peelers with three separate peaks to choose from. No such thing as a crowd. Fish dinner at El Coral.

FRIDAY Sep 9 Early session to La Bahia with Joaquin. Gotta go home day.

I've got a video in the works, but it's gonna take me a while to get it edited. As soon as I'm done I'll post it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

3 Paddles Before The Trip South

Friday August 26, 2011
Today's workout was a short 3-mile sprint from New Brighton to the Cap Pier, out the line of vessels to the end, right turn to Sponge Bob and dig for home. I got a new phone and my tracking app doesn't seem to want to work so nothing was getting timed very accurately. It was a good paddle and I was working hard. I think I clocked around 4.8 mph. All I know for sure is when I landed I felt like puking for about five minutes. Always a good sign.

Saturday August 27, 2011 - West Cliff Challenge Practice Run
The Boyz and I met at Andy's house and launched from Natural Bridges. Dan, a fellow paddler I met at New Brighton joined us. Today's mission was to recreate the September West Cliff Challenge put on by the Ghost Ryder's Watermen Club. I've never paddled this race before, but Andy and Sam have. The tricky parts of this race are: 1) The late start. At 1PM we'll be padding into a brisk headwind for the first mile or so if prevailing conditions exist. 2) The straightest lines to the waypoints are the shortest lines. If there is surf on race day, this puts one almost right in the line-up at the Lane. Not an enviable place to be caught inside on a big set. 3) Picking the best line through the copious kelp beds will be a trick, especially on the leg from the Lane back to Mitchell's Cove. The competitive paddler will have to take the inside line. A dubious track if the swell is up.

It was a fun paddle and the Hawaiians capped it off with a vigorous body surf in the 57 degree water. They are the real men, we haoles are the weenies.

Video: A little over six minutes with a new tune from Blitzer Trapper & Dawes. Kind of alternative country. Worth a listen.

Monday August 29, 2011
I was gonna take it real easy today so as not to hurt myself or do anything to screw up my trip down south Wednesday morning. But that conservative impulse passed as soon as I hit the water. Not that I burned it up, but I kept a strong, steady rhythm up for the entire 6.6 mile paddle. Once again the freakin' app didn't track so my guess is that I did the run in about one hour 27 minutes. That's a pace of about 4.5 mph over the entire distance. I'm happy with that especially since the headwind was in effect for the entire paddle up to the Channel and the water surface was as bumpy and confused as I've ever seen it that close to shore. It presented some challenges that made the paddling just a shade more difficult. Out past the kelp bed the wind died and it was glassy with about 20 feet of water depth visibility. Off the Cap Pier the south wind came up and it was sideshore to Sponge Bob. The only good news is that the wind lightened up for the one mile run into the beach and the usual backwash off the cliffs was minimal.

The Trip South
If you've just emerged from your cave or from under some flat rock, then you probably don't know about the large south swell headed our way, scheduled to make landfall near the end of the week and over Labor Day weekend. Also with the south we'll see a combo northerly ground and wind swell and the surfing should be pretty good around here for a while. The crowd over Labor Day will make it something of an over populated nightmare. So I decided to get out of town.

On the spur of the moment a few days ago, after following the SPAC storm since it's inception and chewing over all the surf and weather forecasting resources I could find, I booked a flight to Puerto Vallarta, leaving Wednesday morning early. I'm taking my SUP surfing performance board, the 8' SimmyD, a couple paddles and my backpack packed with surfing essentials. (Up early: surf, surf surf. To bed early: recover, recover, recover. Etc. etc.) I arrive Wednesday afternoon late, and hopefully can make it to Punta de Mita in time to catch an evening surf in the rising opening salvo of what hopefully will be nine days of non-stop surfing in 4-8 foot waves.

If I can post updates on my blog I'll do it, but I will probably do a big blog post sometime after I get back on September 10. Wish me luck. Your prayers are always appreciated.

Viva Mexico!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Monday and Wednesday Workouts

I've pretty much settled into a regular paddling/workout schedule. It's four days a week, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. The plan is to make Monday a minimum 7-mile hard workout where I'm on it the entire distance. Wednesday I pull back the throttle and paddle steady but not for speed, working on technique. (Actually I'm always trying to work on technique.) Friday is a short and hard anaerobic paddle in the 4-5 mile distance category. And Saturday is paddling wit da Boyz. That could end up being almost anything. Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday are rest days. This isn't iron clad. If I'm tired or my back hurts or whatever I'll switch things around, maybe take a couple days off. It's not a real demanding schedule but it addresses all the elements I think should be included at this stage.

Monday (August 22) Covewater Classic Replication. I want to be able to practice for the Covewater Classic so I laid out a 7-mile course divided into two parts, just like the Covewater. The first part, a 5-miler, starts and ends at New Brighton. I threw a beach run in just for grins. This covers about 25 yards and then I finished the last part, a 2-miler. From NB I sprint out to Sponge Bob, hang a u, and sprint back. It's a good course and if I want to add distance so that the course replicates the Covewater 7.5 mile elite, I can do it. Check it on the EveryTrail app below.

Covewater Classic Replication

Wednesday (August 24) 7-mile moderate but steady workout (except for all the chatting that is). New Brighton is the easiest and most convenient access for me for regular workouts. The surf is usually very small so launching and landing are a breeze. I can also pick a variety of waypoints and lay out a number of different options for courses. Today I knew I wanted to do about six or seven miles so I headed upcoast after chatting with Chris on the beach for a while. Boots and his brother-in-law Mike paddled in and we had a chat too. It was a pretty yakitty today all around. Then I launched and caught up with Suzanne on her traditional prone paddleboard. We hung out for a while off Capitola and chatted up a veritable storm. If chatting was wind we'd a blown up a hurricane. Then I headed upcoast and made a new friend with Casey (another brother firefighter) on his new 12 ft. Angulo off Privates. We paddled up to 1st Peak together and ran into Steve who was surfing some small ones on his Angulo. Chat, chat, chat.

We all parted company and I headed out the Sewers Channel while Casey took the inside route back to Tola. The rest of the paddle was uneventful, calm, light wind and a bit foggy. It was burning off in the surf zone but hanging fairly heavy further out off the kelp beds. About a mile off the Capitola Pier, even though I couldn't see him, I decided to head for Sponge Bob. I figured he'd pop into view. In another half mile, he did. I made a left shoulder turn and headed for the beach. Visibility had dropped to about a quarter mile. I couldn't see land but hey, it's only a mile away. That's when I got lost in the fog.

I swear I was paddling straight to NB, aiming for the familiar looking kelp beds and paddling wide downcoast. As the fog lifted a bit I saw that I was almost halfway back to Capitola! I was about 45 degrees off course. So I made a 90 degree turn and skirted the edge of the kelp beds back to the take out at NB. Interesting experience. I was so sure I was headed in the right direction. Food for thought. Grist for the mill, etc. etc.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Back Into The August Gloom

After a brief respite, the upper level low pressure trough has reinstated itself with a vengeance. The marine layer increased from less than 1000 ft. to 1500 ft. to 2000 ft. this morning. All this accompanied by gray and gloomy skies so heavy with moisture that the drizzle drenched streets and cool temperatures give the impression it's January, not August. The effects of climate change and La Nina no doubt.

Wednesday (August 17, 2011)
was the longest paddle I've made without a rest while keeping up a steady pace. It tracked at 8.6 miles and took an hour 56 minutes. Average speed, 4.4 mph. I decided to go the extra distance on the spur of the moment a mile off Capitola. I don't usually carry water with me on the shorter (less than about seven mile) paddles. In retrospect this wasn't the end of the world but it would have been better had I had some hydration with me. The sea surface was perfect for paddling, calm with a light bump and at the end I was happy with my speed. Paddling the longer distance with more time between waypoints gave me the opportunity to really concentrate on paddling technique. This is one of the reasons I don't listen to music while I'm paddling. I want to think about and be aware of what I'm doing and what's going on around me.

NB 8192011

Contrasting the 8-miler with Friday's (August 19, 2011) 6-miler was interesting in that I was able to cover the 5.6 mile round trip from New Brighton to Sewer Peak in an hour 13 minutes at 4.6 miles per hour. This was a surprise to me because I felt more relaxed on the shorter trip, i.e. wasn't trying as hard so I thought I would be slower. It could be that my efficiency has improved, but that doesn't make sense, it had only been two days. Or it could be that I slowed way down at the end of the longer distance paddle due to fatigue, loss of form, stuff like that. That seems more likely. At any rate, it does appear that the paddling practice and time spent on the water coupled with paying attention to good technique as I understand it is improving my speed and efficiency.

8.7Mile NB-Sewers-SB-CemShipNB-RT

Jeff Ching's advice to keep your paddle in the water and your paddle shaft vertical make a lot of sense when you think about them, especially out in the water as you "watch yourself" paddle. Those two statements probably sum up the entirety of good paddling technique. Add in his third statement, "the faster you paddle the faster you'll go," and that's all you really need to be a good and fast paddler.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Finally, Some Morning Summer Sun

Monday August 15, 2011
After the fog that is. But at my house it was the first morning of sunshine in almost a month. And it was a welcome sight.

I got started later than I like, and by the time I arrived at New Brighton it was after ten. I was greeted by thick, pea soup fog...visibility about 150 ft. I hesitated for a moment on the beach because of the poor visibility but the water was smooth and glassy, the wind light and swell small. What could happen?

NB Sewers Channel RT August 15, 2011

My route was determined by the poor visibility. I knew at the very least I could hug the coast up to Sewers and back. But even if it never cleared up I could always paddle out the channel and stay close to the kelp bed, following it back to the land. But it did clear up and turned into one of the best paddling days of the Summer so far.

At Sewers, I headed out the channel as the fog was rapidly clearing. Huge irregular patches of clear blue sky were emerging though the tufty billows of fog. About a mile off the Capitola Pier I headed for Sponge Bob, who soon popped into view watching over a crew of fishermen in a red rental boat.

Left turn at Bob and sprint for home. In this flat water there is plenty of time to work on my stroke. I've been watching lots of You Tube video, Danny Ching mostly (there are a few good tips in this one), and reading up on efficiency. I'm trying to get the paddle shaft as vertical as possible as I pull myself forward and making sure that the blade is in the water as I pull through. Seems obvious and the proof is in how fast you're going and how straight. My goal is to track a straight course and take an equal number of strokes on each side of the board while maintaining glide and speed. You can really work on this in flat water, whereas in bumpier seas just the act of balancing can interfere with your technique. But more on all that later.

My overall speed was probably a little faster than 4 mph as I ran into Suzanne just out of NB and we chatted for about five minutes about stuff. I really tried to pour on the coals on the final 1.1 mile leg from Bob to NB. It felt good, I hurt a little and sweated a lot.

The video is about 4:17.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

3 Paddles; One Surf in Mid-August

I haven't been posting after every session for a couple different reasons so this post includes my last four, three paddles and one surf session.

Wednesday the 10th I did the New Brighton to Sewers Channel round trip at a relaxed but steady pace. I figure it was about 6.5 miles or so but the GPS Essentials program didn't track it so I don't know my time, mph or the actual distance. Kind of a bummer because I find the info helpful for gauging my progress.

Friday the 12th I laid out a five mile course from New Brighton to the Capitola Pier and out to sea following the line of vessels moored there. At the last vessel a left turn to Sponge Bob and on to the Cement Ship, then back to the start at New Brighton. I've got it in my mind to replicate the Covewater Classic course and try to improve my times. I'll need to lay out a 2-mile and a 2.5 mile track cuz the Covewater has a 7-mile course and a 7.5 mile course. I'd like to do the 7.5 mile course next year and hopefully Scott will be able to pull the permits that would allow paddlers to access the creek. When I lay out the 7.5 mile course I'll add a board carrying beach run which will be easy to do (layout that is) on the long sandy stretch at New Brighton. I switched back to Everytrail today and it worked fine, recording a nice 5-miler.

New Brighton 5-Miler

Friday afternoon I realized that I hadn't been SUP surfing in about three weeks. The surf has been small and inconsistent for weeks but it's been rideable so I grabbed the SimmyD for an hour of afternoon surfing at GDubs. As per usual this summer it was packed at the main peak, around thirteen out, the vast majority beginners along with a couple of excellent and skilled surfers on noseriders. And also as usual I staged downcoast of the main peak, taking the wide ones that would be close outs for the main peak surfers. I surfed a lot of waves but only got three what I would call "good" waves, riding high and side slipping through the fast peeling sections into the deep part of the reef where the wave backs off and goes soft for an easy turn out.

Sam surfed early Saturday (13th) morning in the thick dense fog and then I joined him for a paddle after his session. He picked up a 14 ft. Bark Dominator from Joe that he'll use as an everyday board, not wanting to risk his Bark custom carbon race board. We paddled out from "Spot X" as Sam calls it, up to Sewers Channel just chatting and cruising, out the channel and back down to Capitola. The wind was light, sea surface glassy with some light bumps outside the kelp line. Just a relaxing and leisurely paddle, digging the whole Zen meditation of it.

Back at Spot X, Paul was out on his OC1 surfing the teeny little high tide bumps that were rolling over the reef and into the pocket beach. My longtime friend and brother firefighter (now retired) Calvin was out with him. Calvin was recently introduced to the OC1 scene on a trip to Hawaii and was having a ball, even though he is admittedly in the learning stages. From my perspective it's definitely not as easy as Paul makes it look. So I paddled out and had a long chat with Calvin about this and that and mostly answering his questions about the Bark SUP I was on. Calvin is a lifelong surfer, lifeguard, traditional paddler and waterman so SUP would be a natural for him. He's also got the firefighter back injury thing going so SUP would be the perfect exercise to keep his back in shape.

The weather around here has been like the movie "Groundhog Day". A persistent low pressure trough is just embedded off the coast and we awaken to gray and gloomy overcast or fog every day, over and over again. This has been going on for the last three weeks. The good thing about it is that this weather makes for perfect paddling conditions with light winds and smooth seas. But really, I'm ready for some morning color!

The video is a few shots of surfing over the last couple weeks, some clips of Sam on the "new" Bark 14 and a bit of OC1 surfing.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

2.9 Mile Semi-sprint

August 8, 2011

After a two-day layoff I thought I would take it easy. But after I got out on the water I felt pretty good and decided to do an accelerated paddle workout, not quite a flat out sprint, but not a conversational cruise either.

Boots was in the parking lot getting ready for his SUP workout which I think is really creative. Basically Boots is a lifelong surfer, somewhere in his 50's I would guess and still hard at work as an independent contractor/carpenter. His involvement with SUP is primarily for the cross-training benefits provided, and he has been very creative about making workouts that essentially keep him fit for surfing his longboard. I love this kind of out-of-the-box thinking/training. He mixes stand up paddling with prone paddling during his workouts. He's even added a "kelp crawl" (my words) where he prone paddles through the heavy kelp beds, grabbing thick handfuls of kelp as he propels himself over and through the dense veggies. In this way he is inventing the ways a SUP can be used to enhance and augment one's training regimen. Yeah, he's an "old guy." Yeah, he's the future.

Either I (most likely) or my Everytrail app malfunctioned and didn't optimally record the day's data. It survived on my phone but not on the upload. So here it is: 2.9 miles at 4.2 mph. That's within my target range for this kind of workout. But because of the app error I started looking around for other tracking apps.

I downloaded the free GPS Essentials app and started playing around with it. It's pretty incredible, the amount and kind of data it records. Too bad there's no user manual that goes with it. So as I play around with it, I'll either use it or stay with Everytrail or something else. The recorded tracks convert into files that can be opened, viewed and saved on Google Earth. I've added a screen shot of my first test run.

Friday, August 5, 2011

New Brighton-Point-Sewers Channel RT

August 5, 2011

A 6.5 mile conversational cruise up to the point, out the channel and back down to the inside route through Capitola to New Brighton. Persistent marine layer stuck to the bay like glue. Colorless but cool, perfect for paddling.

Stopped at Trees to chat with Greg, he hadn't seen the big Bark. I gave him the full 411, then up to the channel. The raft of otters sleeps in the thick kelp beds at tip of the left turn back to NB. Had a short chat with a traditional paddler on a fully ruddered board, heading toward the channel in the opposite direction. Passed one other paddler on a big SUP surfboard as I pressed into the straightaway for Capitola. Busy today. Caught one little roller on the inside almost to NB. The 12-6 chased it down with ease.

Just another day in paradise.

NB Sewers RT

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

New Brighton-CementShip-SpongeBob Triangle

August 3, 2011
I was thinking that this was going to be more like a 3-miler than the 4-miler it turned out to be. The wind was light but in my face on the first and second leg. Sea surface was glassy at times with a small but consistent wind swell coming in from the WSW. I just didn't have the juice to push hard this morning but it was still a good workout.

NB-Cement Ship-SB Route

New Brighton To Govies (SC3) RT

August 1, 2011

NB To Govies RT

Saturday, July 30, 2011

New Brighton To Harbor and Sons of the Beach

Today's paddle was planned to be a cruise from New Brighton to the Yacht Harbor where I took a coffee break at Kind Grind and got an unexpected pleasant surprise. The Sons of the Beach Ukulele Band plays on the sand at the harbor every Saturday at 10AM. I sipped my coffee and hung out with this very fun and affable group for about 15 minutes before walking back to the boat launch ramp for the return to NB. I even joined in for a lustily sung version of Dion's "Run Around Sue." Most of you readers are probably way to young to remember Dion and the Belmonts, but...I do! (I even remembered most of the words. Amazing.) OK, so much for the swing down memory lane.

The plan for today was a long cruise with a break. I figured it would be about a nine or ten mile round trip from New Brighton to the harbor and I wanted to take a break there to rest. It worked out well except that the tracking app didn't seem to pick up the outbound leg to the harbor. I caught this error at the harbor and reset it, so I did get the return trip to New Brighton. I took the same route both ways so the total mileage of 9.6 miles seems about right although the mph at 4.7 seems a bit fast. But I did have a small tail wind on the return and I was moving along pretty well.

NB Harbor RT And Ukulele Band

I paddled up to the Sewer Peak channel with Dan on his 14' racing SUP. He didn't have time to do the long route so he paddled up channel and back to NB following the kelp line. I pushed on past Rockview and the grom contest at 26th through the dead glassy water off Blacks and into the harbor entrance. I pulled the Bark out of the water at the boat ramp and walked it over to the Kind Grind. The return trip was pretty much the same, but in reverse.

Overall the water was smooth. There was a little swell running and some backwash to contend with on the return paddle as the tide was rising, but other than that it was perfect water...again.

Friday, July 29, 2011

New Brighton Sprint Training

So the idea is to work some kind of speed, sprint, anaerobic training into my paddling fitness routines and routes to improve cardiovascular stamina, overall fitness, and to increase average cruising and racing speed. This morning was my first attempt at anaerobic paddle training and I am more than satisfied with the results. I'll use today's parameters as a baseline for the future.

There are two basic components of this self-made paddling program. Cruising and sprinting. The cruising component relies upon the old "LSD" (Long Slow Distance) aerobic endurance training method developed in the late 60's/early 70's. I lived by this when I was able to jog and run. Training at this level means paddling longer distances at a pace that allows for normal conversation. This is the "bread and butter" of SUP distance paddling because it's fun, especially when more than one person is paddling. And a person could maintain a very good level of fitness just using the cruising component of the training/fitness program.

But I also used to do wind sprints for anaerobic fitness when I was jogging so I thought I'd add sprint training into the mix now that I'm paddling for fitness. And while I knew it would happen even though I didn't want it to, I find myself at the very least, wanting to keep up with the pack during the races without being completely spent and exhausted at the finish line. Sprint training also adds variety and a change of pace into the paddles which helps keep the whole exercise program fresh and exciting.

NB Sprint

Baseline data. Today's sprint paddle establishes it. Thanks to the EveryTrail app, my smartphone and the waterproof Dry Case I can monitor route distance and overall speed. I just guessed that three miles at a speed of 4 mph would give me a roughly 45 minute workout which would be a good starting point. I know how it feels to paddle hard for 2 miles (Jay Race), 7 miles (Covewater Classic) and 5 miles (Pier To Pier) so I tried to match that this morning. The results were 2.9 miles in 36 minutes for an average speed of 4.8 mph which exceeded my expectations. That's why I was so pleased after today's workout.

For now my goal is to do one sprint workout/week along with two cruising workouts/week at a minimum if possible. I know life will interfere but I think this is a good starting place. Since I'm able to paddle at 4.8 mph over a 3-mile course now, I should be able to improve to 5 mph overall speed over a 3-mile course at some point in the future. So that will be a goal.

It will be interesting though, to see how environmental variables (and the changing seasons) will affect the sprint workouts. Conditions today were almost perfect. It was like paddling on flat water almost. There was a light headwind for the first mile, followed by 1.5 miles of no wind at all. Then dead calm and glassy from the last moored vessel where I turned towards Sponge Bob to about halfway home on the straightaway to New Brighton. The only "difficult" water I encountered was about a half mile of high frequency, very small, short period backwash coming off the cliffs as I neared the finish. I really felt bogged down in it and tired. I think it was more psychological though (although some physical entered in I'm sure) but after watching the bow of the Bark Competitor peel away layers of clear sheet glass salt water so cleanly for nearly the entire paddle, I just felt like I was slogging.

If I'm going to be a better (faster and more efficient) paddler then fitness is a key component of reaching that goal, along with technique. Personal coaching is next on the agenda as the only coaching I've had is from reading and a little bit from Kyle (which really helped). But I'm workin' on it.

This paddling thing is incredible. Anyone who lives near some kind of body of water can SUP for exercise, fitness, peace of mind and fun. I'm so glad I paid attention to what Da Bark Boyz were doing. Mahalo Boyz!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

New Brighton To Sewers Channel 6.6 Mile RT

July 27, 2011
Big Dave and I teamed up for a 6.6 mile round trip from New Brighton via the low route to the Sewer Peak Channel, out and around the kelp bed and a fairly straight line shot back to NB. It was nearly a perfect day for paddling with light southeast winds and very little swell. It was probably as close to flat water as it gets on the ocean.

Paddling in conditions like today presents the perfect opportunity to work on technique and pace. There were no distractions from winds or choppy seas that interfered with the basic practice of maintaining an efficient stroke. My personal goal is to try and paddle at four mph. Hopefully at some point in the future I can paddle faster at the same physical exertion level due to improved fitness and improved paddling technique.

Dave and I were talking about that and we both agree that paddling is similar to a golf swing or bat swing in baseball or the swinging of a tennis racket. It gets better with practice and coaching so we're gonna look around for a coach. He's got a couple people in mind.

But coaching or not, it's hard not to like the place we're working out.

New Brighton Sewers Channel 6.6 Miler

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reading Water | Ke Nalu – Stand Up Paddle Surfing eMagazine

Reading Water | Ke Nalu – Stand Up Paddle Surfing eMagazine

This article addresses downwind paddling and contains some excellent insights into how to increase efficiencies in paddling and wave riding in the chaotic conditions downwinding presents. As a downwind neophyte I can relate to most of what Bill describes. He offers solutions to dilemma's I have encountered in the water. Now all I need to do is practice, practice, practice. Gladly.

Clicking on the picture link will show one of Bill Boyum's excellent downwind videos which in turn will give the viewer a visual reference to much of what Pono Bill is writing about.

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Brighton 5-Miler

July 25, 2011
Big Dave joined me this morning for a well paced 5-mile paddle. We launched at New Brighton, paddled to the cement ship and turned northwest making for Sponge Bob. From Bobby, we made a straight shot to Pleasure Point until we were at right angles to the Capitola Pier. Right turn into the swimmers buoy just off the beach and then the low inside route hugging the cliff all the way back to New Brighton.

The overcast burned off quickly as we were paddling, revealing a patchwork quilt of clouds and pastel colors reflecting off the gently rolling glassy sea. Perfection! As close to walking on water as we'll ever get.

New Brighton 5-Miler