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

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.