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

Friday, February 4, 2011

Straight West + Low Tide=Down the Line Speed

Thursday February 3, 2011
Apparently a straight west swell at 16 seconds is a real blessing for the usual spot, or as my buddy Sam calls it, "spot X". The usual take-off was moved upcoast and outside and still allowed for some screamingly fast and long rides across the pocket beach, past Naked Ned's and almost to the new mansion. I surfed for three hours from about 3PM to dark in the lowering tide.

Size seemed about best at the 2 ft. tide mark, but overall waves were consistent in the 3-5 ft. range all afternoon. At paddleout the crowd wasn't bad, maybe 15 surfers, but all good surfers. No one missed on their chosen wave. With the waves lining up so well for such long rides, the afternoon glare became somewhat problematic in that it wasn't always easy to see a rider up and carving. I pulled back twice when attempting to paddle in as I saw a surfer pushing down the line, coming directly out of the sun. One guy, arguably the best surfer in the water, longtime shaper, etc. blatantly dropped in on me as I was entering the middle bowl on my first good wave of the day. I can only think that he truly didn't see me for the glare.

This same guy got some of the best rides of the afternoon, one of which was an insane recovery from a slight miscalculation on a super fast and walled up spinner. He took off at the middle peak on a bigger wave which immediately jacked up and started freight trianing to the inside. He dropped in and turned at the top of the wave before pointing his board down towards the trough to gain speed. He then realized that he need more speed, needed to take a higher line which he did...but too high. As the wave pulled him up face, almost into the lip, his board just fell out of the wave. The tail, rails, edges, fins, everything fell out and his board started to spin tail first down the face of the wave as gravity without fetters took over. The next move happened so fast, and was done with such exceptional reflexive athleticisim one's mind found it hard to believe. But however he did it, he found his footing and was able to re-seat his board in the wave face and continue down the line. I was videoing his ride and just as he lost it I had to drop my camera and paddle like a madman for the shoulder lest we collide. It was as magnificent a feat of surfing prowess as I have ever seen. (It almost made me forget that he burned me...maybe he DID see me?) At any rate, my only regret is that I couldn't capture the whole thing on video.

My first hour in the surf was adjustment and failure. I was concentrating on strategies for videoing with my new camera and wasn't fully focused on surfing. Therefore I found myself struggling for position. It seemed that no matter where I was, there was someone else in a better position for the wave I (we) wanted. Then a fully wave populated set would pour through, everyone would go, the line-up would be clear of people, and it was the end of the set leaving me sputtering into the void like Donald Duck with Tourette's Syndrome. Grrrrrr! Frustration. Then I finally got a good one taking off right in the main peak, clear to go and the aforementioned burn took place. I was beginning to think this just wasn't my day.

But right about the one hour mark I picked up a swing wide bomb that was one of the best waves of the day. The take-off allowed me to drop in, turn hard off the bottom and set-up for a steeply high wall and hard falling crest which nipped at my heels all the way across the pocket beach and into the gap where it backed off a bit before walling up again and throwing another long section almost to the new mansion. Stoke and praise! That was the first of a half dozen almost just like it until dark.

The crowd thinned at low tide, primarily because of the kelp is my guess (which has now become my friend since switching to lower profile Future Controller fins). It seemed that wave size dropped a bit, and it became a little less consistent, but there were still plenty of quality waves to be had until darkness called the game on account of itself.

I've decided to keep the Kodak Zx3 PlaySport video camcorder. Today was the first day I started experimenting with it seriously. Video is a different experience than shooting stills and I'm finding that a definite strategy is needed to get anything worthwhile or maybe I should say close to worthwhile. For one thing, it's really difficult to do both, i.e surfing and videoing. You pretty much have to do one or the other. For now the plan is to sit inside for complete sets instead of trying to get a quick video shot while paddling back out from a wave surfed. It's too difficult to retrieve the camera, turn it on, set it up then shoot. I find that I have to be ready and even then it's no guarantee that I'll get what I want on the memory card. The PlaySport takes stills, but only at 5mp, not very high quality. And it has no continuous frame shooting with slow reload time so you have to get somewhat lucky (or very well practiced) to get the shot you want. I bought the PlaySport online from Amazon and wrote a quick review. It's fun playing around with the new toy though, and I'm diggin' it.

NOTE: The first two stills in this story are screen grabs from the PlaySport video of each respective sequence. The final sunset shot of the SIMSUP in the water is taken with the PlaySport on the 5mp still image setting. For the screen grabs I used the Windows Vista "Snipping" tool, selecting .png file type. I edited all three shots with Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.

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