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

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.

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