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

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

Saturday, July 23, 2011


July 23, 2011
The Pier2Pier (Santa Cruz to Capitola) Race went off this morning in nearly flawless albeit gray and somewhat chilly conditions. Thanks to Dave, Jane, Lars and all the other "behind the scenes" folks for putting on the most organized "unorganized" race on the Summer schedule.

Da Bark Boyz were in attendance, minus one of our usual suspects who has to be in Hawaii. (Collective "Awwwwww!" goes up from the gallery.) Andy put on his race hat and was out of the gate like a shot, chasing down perpetual SUP paddle speedster Tony. No chance at catching him though. But that put Andy way ahead of Sam and I. 99% of the pack took the low route through the kelp, while Sam and I got more for our monies worth by paddling an extra half mile or so outside mother nature's seagoing vegetable garden.

After the finish Da Boyz paddled back up to Privates for the take-out. The Big Burb transported all three Barks and we ended up at Paula's for grinds, cheapest little palatable breakfast at the beach.

Andy's off to Connecticut for his annual Summer east coast madness, so with Dana in the Islands it'll be up to me and Sam to hold up the weekly paddling tradition. Where we goin' next week bro?


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Harbor Tour

July 21, 2011
Took a short paddle early this afternoon before going to pick up the dog from the groomers which is located very near the Harbor. It was the perfect setup to take a quick 40 minute paddle and do a little nautical sightseeing too. Saturday is the 5-mile Pier to Pier, which really isn't a long distance, but I'd like to try grinding that one out, just to see how the old body holds up. But without 50 people to chase I'm not sure how much motivation I'll have to linger at the pain threshold. Life's little challenges are interesting, no?

Nice Covewater Classic Pro Video

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Paddle One Day; Surf the Next

Monday July 18, 2011
I saw the morning sun for the first time in 11 days at my house. No fog at the beach either. Time for a paddle to work out the kinks from the Covewater race on Saturday.

I hadn't really intended to "race" but once one is in the water with all the other people who do want to race, "race mode" becomes somewhat irresistible. To qualify, racing for me is keeping up a steadier and quicker pace and cadence than I would if I wasn't "racing," and taking no rest stops. Sounds easy enough, but after seven miles I was needing the rest I had shunned for the previous almost two hours.

I took Sunday off and felt pretty sore, my feet being the aching-est part of my body. Feet? Go figure. By Monday I thought a short and relaxed paddle would feel good and help to stretch out some of those tired but recovering muscle groups.

I launched from New Brighton and paddled a diamond shaped 3-miler which turned out to be just right. No problems, no issues, just a beautiful paddle on a pristine Summer day. Looking forward to the Pier to Pier 5-miler wit da boyz this coming Saturday.

NB 3 Mile

Tuesday July 19, 2011
There was a little swell in the water yesterday during my 3-miler which I figured was the Fijian swell and I hoped that it would stick around through at least this morning. So I waited a bit on the tide and paddled out to the usual spots with SimmyD at around 0945.

The thick fog had burned back quite a bit and it was warm and sunny. Unfortunately, the swell had dropped off quite a bit and there were only leftovers being surfed by a huge group of surfers including a surf school that descended into Middies about 45 minutes into the session.

I surfed three or four different spots, poaching a few here, then there and taking down quite a few mediocre waves. Occasionally a sweet little sleeve would roll through, but it was mostly small and sectiony in the rising tide. Maybe the coolest thing about this morning was poaching a half dozen waves at FP's. Usually SUPs are heavily frowned upon in that neighborhood but since there wasn't a lot of wave action, and even fewer people surfing there I got away with it. This is how it all starts. (Insert winking smiley face here.)

After I changed out, I headed for fro-yo in the rapidly warming late morning. Can't get there too early cuz they don't open until 11:30. Bummer, no fro-yo for the dawn patrol. I motored over to my favorite overlook and shot some video. Again, it was packed but there were a ton of people having a ton of fun in the little longboard waves that were streaming through. It was the perfect transition from morning to afternoon on a perfect Summer day with roils of laughter drifting up and over the edge of my cliff-side perch. Man, I love Summer!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Inaugural Covewater Classic Astounds

The inaugural and first ever Covewater Classic SUP races was an astounding success. Mega kudos to Scott and Leslie Ruble for creating this event which was enjoyed by over 80 participants in one of the best venues our state has to offer.

Capitola-By-The-Sea, the name this little classic beachside community has been marketed under since the town's inception over a hundred years ago, is perhaps the perfect SUP venue. Located deep in the Monterey Bay there is something for everyone. Surf? Got it. An esplanade with great restaurants and bars? Got it. Shopping for those not surfing or SUPing? Got it. A clean, huge, well groomed beach for the kids to play on? Got the ton. Deciding on Capitola for this contest (and for the Jay too for that matter) was simply a stroke of genius.

But the real award goes to Scott, Leslie and Surftech (the Jay and Covewater Classic corporate sponsor) for doing the grunt work that it took to secure all the permissions needed to use Capitola for a contest site. Just getting the nod from Fish and Game to use Soquel Creek could get Scott elected to higher office. Not that he'd want it.

From set-up to tear-down to after party, the Covewater Classic ran like a perfectly tuned machine. From registration to course instructions, a fast and furious beach start for the 7 and 7.5-mile elite racers, the run through the chicane or the beach run and creek paddle for the elites, the whole contest went down without a hitch. Smooth as Kentucky moonshine with just as much punch.

Conditions started out nearly perfect with a glassy sea surface and barely any wind. But halfway through the long straightaway from the cement ship back to the Capitola Pier, a niggling southwest wind sprang up which only got worse as the day matured. This just threw in an additional challenge by ruffling the formerly glassy water but on the upside gave everyone a bit of a downwind run at the turnaround buoys.

The sun broke through during the final legs of the race and cleared the way for a warm and sunny after party which was enjoyed by the enthusiastic and totally stoked racers, friends and families in "downtown" Capitola.

I think everyone went away happy and satisfied and looking forward to next years race. I know I am cuz the Srfnff even won a second place trophy! Will wonders never cease?

A special thanks to Surftech who have proved to be a model of what a corporate sponsor should be. Surftech is intimately involved in our local area and genuinely cares about the place they live and work and run their business. There are a lot of "mom and pop" surf shops and businesses in Santa Cruz who make up and support the core paddling and surfing family of Santa Cruz. Props to Surftech for jumping right in as an involved and equal partner in our community.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The South Swells of Mid-July

July 9 - 14, 2011

Primer Swell, South Swell #6 and South Swell #7

The weather turned Summer chilly with fog, overcast, broken clouds and cold ocean temperatures on order every morning. But with the cool weather came a series of hot southern Pacific swells.

Primer Swell - Days 1 & 2
The first swell up was the Primer Swell. I like to copy the names Mark Sponsler uses for swells on his Stormsurf website. They're not fancy or named after people, their just logical, delineated and ordered. The Primer was the first of a trio. It had less punch than the next one, Swell #6 but was a little better aimed at the L41 than the third, Swell #7.

The Primer made itself known on Saturday July 9th. It was small and inconsistent at GDubs but got better, even though wave sizes dropped some as the periods shortened on Sunday. I paddled out both days at literally 0-dark-30 (5:30AM) and for fifteen minutes shared it only with a couple other surfers. By 0600 there were 10 out and by 0615, 17 surfers vying for waves. I got a few good ones and bailed out after about an hour or hour and a half each day.

Swell #6 - Days 3 & 4
Swell #6 made an unmistakable entry on the buoys with long period runners showing at 18-20 seconds early Monday morning, July 11. Anyone watching the Surfline web cams for Waikiki and South Shore knew how powerful this southie was, putting up head high to overhead waves for two solid days in the Islands. By the time it got to us it had suffered the inevitable decay that traveling across a couple thousand plus miles will do, but it was consistently putting up chest to overhead waves at GDubs. Upcoast it was bigger as always. The crowd wasn't much better today. By 0530 there were ten in the line-up by 0530, 17. Packed.

Day Two of Swell #6 saw the periods drop off a bit and with that came mostly smaller waves but very consistent. The rap on it for the dawn patrol was low tide and very racy, sectiony walls. The crowd was in effect again and really, surfing these weekday mornings was not any less crowded than hitting it early on the weekends. Welcome to Surf City.

Jacob was with me this morning. He hails from Oahu and surfs Ala Moana. He's my next door neighbor's nephew and he got a few fast corners on his thruster. He held up well in the cold water too. Thanks to Freeline for a good rental board and warm wetsuit.

The usual suspects were all pretty much on scene and I surfed with L41 Kirk for the fourth morning straight. He even grabbed my camera and videoed a couple of me surfing. Thanks Kirk. Dan was also surfing an L41 performance SUP and I got a video clip of him on one of the best waves of the morning.

It was a lot like surfing fast and quick beach break this morning. Nice speedy walls with short rides. At one point I surfed from Gdubs all the way to Yellow House on about a half dozen waves. YH had the longest ridable walls but it was so deep into the bight, it wasn't really firing and tended to be soft, especially over the inside hole. So I paddled back up to G's and finished our two hour session there.

Swell #7 - Days 5 & 6
Swell #7 was less distinct, smaller and dished up fewer waves per set than the previous two swells. Swell angle was also tight, coming in consistently at around 180 degrees, right at the edge of the swell window. I was hoping for a bigger uptick in swell size according to the models, but after I woke up at 4AM and checked the buoys, I decided to go back to sleep and check again at 0630.

At daylight, it still didn't look all that great on the webcams, but the tide wasn't into minus footage so I loaded up and headed out. I arrived on scene near Herby's house and surveyed all the L41 breaks as well as the Toes region. It was small, inconsistent, still very sectiony and sets were poorly populated. After four days of dawn patrol surfing my motivation was lagging. It would have been more attractive if I'd had my 10-0 Angulo instead of my 8-0 L41, because the best waves I was looking at were longboard waves at Toes. But I didn't, so I headed wait.

It has been an intense week of feverishly checking all my internet resources for information both general and specific re these three Summer swells. My sources indicated that there would be a little jump up in the swell Wednesday (July 13) afternoon sometime around three. I was in the water at 4PM paddling out through the glassy lagoon and just taking in the 180 degree weather change from this morning. It was warm and sunny and windless. Still, I was in my 4/3 as water temps are hovering around 55 degrees. Getting hot is not a problem. I know how to cool off.

Brother John paddled out just in front of me on his performance SUP and we proceeded to catch a lot of waves in what started out as a somewhat lackluster and small session. But about a half hour into it we got a nice burst of consistent although small, mostly waist with a few head high waves. A lot of other surfers were out with us, but the sudden consistency gave everyone a chance in the rotation. I was pleasantly surprised and surfed some fun ones in my 1.5 hour session.

Back on the land it had turned downright hot. I changed out and drove home with Stevie Ray and Albert blasting "Overall Junction" through the car stereo. Barefoot in boardshorts and shirtless. Amazed and happy.

Thursday the 14th saw the swell angle really steepen. It wasn't uncommon to see the CDIP data calling it in the 170's which is pretty much in the southern end of the Bay swell shadow. But overall it's been one of the best south swells events I can remember. Yes, it wasn't the highest quality, but no one can complain about quantity. I'm pretty much on the edge of surfed out (unless it gets really good this afternoon).

This will be a July to remember and I'm gonna guess we'll all be talking about it, and jonesing for it in July 2012.

New Brighton-Sponge Bob-Cap Pier Triangle

July 8, 2011
Got started a bit late due to the lingering fog this morning. Tired from the 7-miler on Wednesday, but didn't want to skip today's workout. So I planned a short 3-miler doing the New Brighton to Sponge Bob, Capitola Pier turn right and back to New Brighton through the kelp beds and the nearshore shallows.

Looks like we might get some waves this week in which case I'll be off the 12-6 Bark on on the L41 8-0 SimmyD. Can't quite figure out what's not to like about this SUP thing.

New Brighton-Sponge Bob-Capitola Pier Triangle

Free 12-6 Bark Competitor From Covewater

As part of the Covewater Classic weekend of SUP events, (July 15th & 16th) Covewater is raffling off a new 12'6 Surftech Bark Competitor courtesy of Surftech! This is probably the best chance you will ever have to win a Bark Competitor (value $2,215)!

And check this out...the board winner need not be present at the Saturday, July 16th drawing to win.

Enter the raffle online at Eventbrite & your email address will *not* be added to any email list!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Brighton-Point-Sewers Channel RT

July 6, 2011
I was just gonna paddle to the L41 from New Brighton, taking the low route and maybe surf a few small rollers somewhere along the way, but the closer I got to the Point the more I kept thinkin' I just might as well keep going. At the Point a few small waves were waitin' on a small crowd and Sewer Peak was capping over nice and easy, no one on it.

I think I'll find the channel I've heard so much about thinks I. Next thing I know I'm paddling up a broad opening in the otherwise prolific kelp beds, like driving a Lincoln ragtop limo on Inauguration Day. I couldn't resist. I followed the channel to a left turn at the edge of the massive kelp bed and cruised downwind all the way back to New Brighton.

It ended up being about 7.1 miles which is four miles more than I thought I was gonna paddle. So much for the short paddle. Another beautiful day in the Cruz. And I used to think straight up paddling was boring. I was missin' it. Not anymore.

New Brighton-Point-Sewers Channel RT

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Natural Bridges to New Brighton

Saturday July 2, 2011
Had we launched at the originally scheduled hour winds would have been a third of what they were when the seven of us pushed out from the beach at 1030. Instead of 3 with gusts of 6, according to the data recorded at Longs Marine Lab for the date and hour, it was more like wind at 10-15 mph, gusting to 18. The more experienced of our crew, Dan, John and Mike rounded the yellow buoy first and took the lead early on but kept close enough for the rest of us to try and emulate their skills. At the halfway point, the mile buoy, we got a quick primer in downwind surfing.

But by then the windiest part of the run was over and the closer we got to our destination, New Brighton State Park, the calmer it got and we finished up in glassy flat conditions, coasting in to a beach full of holiday revelers enjoying the first real extended taste of Summer we've had in two years.

Natural Bridges to New Brighton

The more I get into this stand up paddleboard sport the more I am amazed at the variety of experiences it provides. While I used to think that straight out paddling was monotonous and boring, I now see that there is a lot more than going from Point A to Point B. And there is also much variety in workouts depending upon where you're paddling and in what kind of conditions. For example, flat water sprinting is a whole different workout than going downwind. While your core is always involved, flat water really emphasizes upper body involvement and anaerobic cardio. But going downwind in surfable waves or bumps, along with negotiating choppy seas and whitecaps, is an intense lower body workout and balance marathon and not much heavy breathing. Either way, the benefits of SUP exercise are prolific.

This was my first "real" downwind experience in that it was possible to catch and ride bump after bump in the brisk wind and sea conditions. Downwind surfing on a long SUP brings a whole new perspective to the term "nearshore wind swell." Not that I did it very well, but I only splashed in twice (although there were numerous near misses) and I was able to stitch together a few genuine, longish rides on bona fide waves.

Since I was closest to John he gave me a couple really good tips. 1) Don't stand so far forward. I moved back about a half foot and that helped a lot to keep the nose from pearling, the board in trim and ready to catch swells. 2) Depending upon the wave you're gonna half to move your feet, step back and assume a surfing stance for as long as necessary. That was probably the best and trickiest piece of advice, and the hardest to least for me.

Parallel stance is the most stable on a SUP. And in downwind conditions you're getting hit by waves and chop from multiple directions, usually split seconds apart. Your balance is in a constant state of flux. Action, reaction. Adjust, readjust is the name of the game. Now throw in surfing and paddling. There's just a lot going on and frankly, you have to do it, practice it, and practice it some more to get good at it. The better you get, the more fun you have. Not much different really than learning to SUP in the first place.

Unlike surfing, SUP paddling is an activity you can do with a whole bunch of people at the same time. The more the merrier, especially going downwind. Imagine getting 50 waves in an hour with seven guys out and no one is even surfing the same break you're on, but they're 20 feet away. Yeah, it kinda expands your horizons.

NOTE: The video never seems to show how it felt out there, i.e. it felt a lot more gnarly. But it's a genuine look at the way it was even though I'm not able to shoot for very long while standing on my SUP. The loss of forward momentum while wallowing in the swells and troughs makes balancing and attempting to hold the camera steady somewhat of a challenge. That's why I am so blown away by watching the Maliko run on Maui. Check it here and here. At this stage of my experience it's like watching the men and women surfing Mavs. If ya know what I mean.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The New Brighton Triangle

Friday July 1, 2011
Finally....Summer! Today's paddle was planned to be a quick warm-up for tomorrow's 9-miler. I aimed for about 3 miles, but ended up at 4.4 miles, averaging around 3.7 mph in one hour and 21 minutes which included all the stops to shoot video. (Everytrail didn't record the data on their website but it's still in my phone app which won't upload. Can't figure out what to be mad at, my phone or Everytrail. I think I'll just enjoy the day instead.) The video ended up being about a five minute travelogue. For locals nothing new, but for the rest of the world (literally) a little history and some show and tell.

Yes. It does suck to live here.