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

Thursday, June 9, 2011

South Swell #3 Rumba

Tuesday and Wednesday June 7 and 8, 2011

Think back for a moment about the most fickle girlfriend or boyfriend you ever had. I know mine (I've had more than one) weren't around long and you definitely couldn't count on 'em. That's what south swells are like on the L41.

Now Southie #3 was something of an exception but in order for us to see a super high quality, dependable south swell it has to have impeccable cred, so much so that if it were human, he/she'd be a saint.

The L41 is a safe harbor, there's one practically in the line-up. Therefore it's not known for it's booming XL surf, and it rarely gets any size up in that category, especially during the Summer south swell months when it's Winter in the South Pacific. At the south end of our bay is a landmass that when viewed from the L41 is on the compass at 180 degrees. No front line in the NFL can touch it when it comes to blocking. It's safe to say that nothing dependable can rinse our shores in the 180 to 185 degree angle either, still too much blocking or shadowing action going on.

South swells have to travel hundreds of miles through island archipelagos and underwater mountain ranges that scrape the guts and juice out of those highly sought deep water swells. And I have a theory that the deep water canyon located in the middle of the bay, eats up a lot of deep water energy that may or may not re-emerge from it. But if the angle is just right, and there's enough wave/swell energy entrained, we get our fickle girlfriend or boyfriend in the house. And like anyone who is helplessly in love, we put up with a lot to get just a little and still come back for more. You know it's true.

My Kodak Playsport Zx3 malfunctioned on my first clip Wednesday, the superior wave riding day. I missed a lot of very good shots. It's now in for repair.



South swell #1 made us wait, but the dancing was good. We partied, we had some fun. South swell #2 made us wait and then showed up without taking a shower or using any deodorant. Basically, he stunk the place up and was a bit of a mess. South swell #3 however was friendlier and more reliable. She showed up right on time and for kind of a plain Jane type, she was looking good and could rumba too. I spent some time with her yesterday and today.

Tuesday #3 was walking in the door. I played with her at the low tide, and rather than paddle up to GDubs where she was shining most brightly (and playing the field with all her buddies) I stayed downcoast at Sarges and hung out just with her in the fast paced, low tide zippers. Basically it was surfing a beach break, short fast and walled up, over a kelp choked reef. But the two hour session was fun and I thought of it as a warm-up for Wednesday's date.

Wednesday I'd have been better off following my own advice and getting out there at first light. Kirk did and scored some of the best waves of the morning in the just right and dropping tide. I watched him take down more than a few long, fast walls on his new 8-6 split tail SUP. The man can surf (here and here) and he builds boards that can keep up with him and vice versa.

But it wasn't a total loss for me, I just lost out on an hour's worth of waves. I started out at GDubs around 0715 and basically took the tour. I surfed every spot on the L41 from GDubs to the Yellow House during my four hour session. I gotta admit #3 more me out.

Tuesday night the swell began filling in and Wednesday morning it was as booming as it was gonna get. Well populated sets of 8-12 waves charged in at very acceptable intervals for a long period southie. Waiting for the right wall that bent in over the multiple reefs could offer the rider a long and section filled thrill ride from GDubs to Sarges. They were relatively scarce, but when dropped into, it was one unbroken ride for one good surfer.

As the tide dropped I headed down coast, not necessarily because the waves were any better, it was still good at G's on the right wave, but now the low tide exposed kelp was getting insane. Take-offs and drops were in a thick carpet like layer of kelp. Sometimes the wave would give you room to make a bottom turn and gather speed, but usually the strategy was to just drop over the steep lip and turn at the top, staying high in the speed line using the waves power to amass velocity, and staying out of the kelp which was abundant mid-face and in the trough. But that kind of surfing is SimmyD's specialty.

I too often paddled into the first or second wave of a multiple wave set which gave me a good ride but closed me out into the rush of the set's remainders. You don't be duck diving a SUP. You don't be log rolling a SUP, even a short one like the 8-0 SimmyD. My tactic if the whitewash isn't too voluminous, is to throw the paddle on the deck longitudinally and hang on to the back half of the board and the paddle shaft. This way I can time it so that I weight the tail and bring the nose up and over the incoming line of wash. This works OK most of the time. When it doesn't there can be consequences. Like one yesterday that shot a fin into my right thigh. I thought for sure I'd see a gash in my wetsuit. But there wasn't one. Instead a got a deep bruise that hobbled but didn't end my session.

That one set washed me through Sarges and into Middles where I saw several perfect peelers wind through at Brown House. So I headed there, joining Barry on his shortboard. First wave was a screamer that yielded a steep and fast take-off, backing off for a second before setting up for a speed run through the bowl (and usual take-off spot) at Yellow House. That was fun so I finished off my session there.

Today as I write everything is sore. But that's one of the things I love about SUP surfing. You get this amazing whole body workout and (the most important point) you're having fun doing it. As much as I lament my fickle south swell friends, I hafta say #3 showed me a good time and I'll miss her.

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