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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Good NW/WNW Swell; Poor Conditions

I surfed the Yellow House for two and a half hours yesterday from about 2:45 to dark. Surf hts. were 3-5 ft. (bigger up coast) and conditions were entry.

Conditions had been poor all day long. But when I got to the stairs at about 2PM, lot's of regulars were gathering around, checking it and bantering about how much it sucked. But still, we waited for the tide and waited for the wind to change.

The swell(s) were a mix of NW and WNW with a horrendous short period SE wind chop on top, almost completely destroying whatever shape the incoming bigger waves were trying to deliver. Even at 2 ft. the tide seemed much fatter, it was weird. There were a handful of people out, no regulars as best as I could tell.

Finally the dropping tide got near enough to right, and the waves began to look better while everyone imagined that conditions were "improving". So folks, including myself, started paddling out.

I headed straight to my spot as I knew the crowd was going to thicken quick at the usual places in the L. Upon arrival, it was a choppy sea surface mess of a nightmare. I felt like I was doing an open ocean downwinder on a very small board, my 8 foot Original SIMSUP S3. Wave faces were bumpy and like riding the wild bronco that always wants to throw you off it's back. Take offs were in double or triple lumps, never a clean face. I was beginning to think I'd lost my marbles for being out there but...."hope springs eternal."

(I continue to be stoked beyond measure with my S3. It's never let me down no matter what kind of waves or conditions I paddle into with it. I've ridden other short so-called performance SUPs and none compare to the L41 SIMSUP. Lot's of other folks are seeing it that way too.)

It was perplexing out there because the wind was right off the Dark Hill, but the wind chop was coming from the Concrete Boat. As the tide lowered the waves became better defined and (Hallelujah!) the wind started dying down and shifting more straight offshore and the sea surface began calming down some. The wind chop bump never went away completely, but it evened out enough so that right around 3:45 things started to get fun.

Surf for the entire session was consistent and I looked forward to the occasional lull so I could catch my breath. I roamed a lot of the playing field, taking down waves from two primary take-off spots, Yellow House and Apartment House Point. The best rides averaged 200-250 yards. It didn't get crowded until about 4PM, and 75% of the surfers out were less than average ability. Around 4:15 the waves really started firing and it was becoming glassy (with much smaller and flatter wind generated bumps on top). With the two northerly swells in the water not all waves were equal with some just sectioning into impossible to make lines. But the good and lined up waves were fast and steep with smackable walls.

I was the last guy out and came in on a super fun, 240 yard zipper to end the day in almost complete darkness. Instead of paddling, I walked back on the beach made possible by the low tide. By the time I got to my car it was dark and cold. (Props to the East Coast surfers, I can only imagine your pain.) All in all the session was salvaged in the last hour and a half. Not outstanding, and not really big. Waist to shoulder high. Not the best shape and not the longest rides but finally, waves at my favorite Winter spot. I was happy with that. First time I've surfed there since January this year. I hope it's not the last.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Good 3-5' Waves on the TIPSUP

Wednesday December 19, 2012 - L41 TIPSUP at Sarges -  Two hours in the best waves since Thanksgiving. Although a south wind had been blowing in the outer waters for a while, putting some lumpy bump on the sea surface, wave faces were glassy and clean. And to top it off there was a light offshore wind in effect. This was my third outing on the TIPSUP, and first surf in good energy 3-5' waves. This board is truly meant to be ridden on the front half. That's where it trims up, and that's where all the speed is. In essence it rides almost completely opposite of my SIMSUP S3 which, like most surfboards (especially shortboards) is ridden off the back half, with feet just forward or over the fin cluster. Where this is most noticeable initially is on the take-off. The S3 gains speed almost instantly as the wave energy lifts the tail. The TIPSUP is slow to gain speed unless you step up to the front half of the board, i.e. the nose, as soon as you feel the wave energy under your feet moving the board into the wave. So timing is different on take-off between the two boards, in short, the TIPSUP is much more like a traditional longboard.

But once the TIPSUP moves into the wave energy and you're forward of center, the board trims up and charges down the line. In today's enhanced wave energy I was unprepared for the startling speed runs on the nose that this board is capable of. Three times I was on the first three feet of the board when I entered a speed pocket and was throw backwards by the unexpected acceleration. So now the problem is, how to make the board slow down. What? Totally unexpected.

The next unexpected result of riding this decidedly "dedicated" noserider is how fatigued my quads and glutes are from two hours of non-stop wave catching, paddling and nose riding. I just wasn't ready for how much I use my legs walking back and forth to the nose, doing cutbacks, sliding the whitewash and steering the board from the tip. It takes more muscle energy than I thought would be necessary to hold the nose into the face of a steep pocket. As the wave face loses steepness I release the weight on the inside rail, slow down, set up and as I climb back up into the next steep section, re-weight the inside rail. All this while in a "bent knees" posture, stressing my quads and glutes without much relief. I know what Kirk meant now when he wrote in his email....."thigh burning 5's for days".

My friend Steve was out surfing today and was paddling out the back, watching me ride one in. After the wave I asked him exactly where were my feet on that noseride. He said, "both feet were in front of the vent plug". The vent plug is 2'10" from the tip so I was standing on the front third of the board. He said I was riding a steep, high line and he couldn't believe the tail didn't blow out until I flipped the board over and showed him the fin. Rainbow (RFC) 9.5" Noserider fin works good.

That and the 50/50 rail contours and round bottom which literally suck the board into the wave face. I first heard about the "spoon test" as told by Tom Wegener. It goes like this: "To see how suction works, take a spoon and put the rounded end under the faucet. If you have never done this, you may be shocked by how much a spoon is sucked into the stream of water. The same forces make hanging ten possible." When I tried it, true to Tom's statement, I was shocked. And to see and feel it work in surfboard design is a total stoker.

I've said it before but I feel almost overwhelmed by how successful this Simmons inspired and evolved SUP design and board are. I really wasn't expecting how easy it is to ride the nose...easy, stable and maneuverable. It is truly a testament to Kirk McGinty's skill and knowledge as a visionary and shaper. All these performance and paddling elements are combined in what is truly a niche board, a dedicated noserider. This is not an all-rounder. You are not going to ride this board off the tail or do sweeping bottom turns or turns off the top. It will turn from the tail to be sure but you will be spending little time back there. To the best of my knowledge this is a unique board that has never been seen before in the SUP world. And it works as planned, as designed, as shaped and made. I can hardly wait to get to know it better.

(Click here to read this post on my blog.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

L41 TIPSUP - Worlds First Dedicated SUP Noserider

Thursday December 13, 2012

Thank you Kirk! Congrats on another design coup and first of it's kind breakthrough in the SUP surfing world.

The L41 TIPSUP was conceived and designed to be a dedicated noserider in the genre of the Pearson CJ Nelson model and Tom Wegener's old school Paulownia noseriders. The vision was for it to be an addition to the SIMSUP high performance S-series boards, that would round out the Simmons inspired SIMSUPs in my quiver. In Summer swells or lesser swells, or when the waves are small and weak and my high performance board would not be the best choice, the TIPSUP would be the go to board for noseriding fun. This vision has become reality thanks to the L41 McGinty designed TIPSUP.

Full Disclosure: This review is based upon Kirk's initial TIPSUP surf and report and my 2.5 hour session yesterday riding 1-2 ft. inconsistent but surfable waves at Sarges, Sarges Wide and Casa Roja. It was in fact the perfect test track because the board is meant to take out and surf (and have fun) on those days when the surf is far less than stellar.

Dims: 8'10" x 29" x 4 1/2" x 129.5L

#1 Design Criteria: The TIPSUP trims and is meant to be ridden on the front half of the board. Kirk's shape has accomplished this goal beyond what I thought was even possible. The lift generated in the front half of the board and on the tip is nothing short of phenomenal. Imagine this: catching the wave is like stepping into the elevator. Walking forward is like taking the express lift to the top floor. The feeling is uncanny and one I've never felt before except in a less radical way on the CJ Nelson prone noserider.

How Does It Paddle?
The board is more stable paddling than my S3 so getting used to it was a cinch even though TIPSUP is one inch narrower than the S3. After 20 minutes I was marveling at how stable and well it paddled. With the big center fin there is less tendency for the board to yaw left and right. Paddling in a straight line is no problem. Yet, from a dead stop in the line-up, I was able to do a full 180 to catch waves with a minimum of effort. From a parallel stance, one back paddle to get started and a couple forward strokes was all it took to come around. Another expectation exceeded. Paddling out the back from inside the surf line held another unexpected surprise in that the board punches through the incoming waves so smoothly and with such incredible stability. Again, I've never been on a more stable board in this situation.

How Does It Surf?
First, and by way of review, here are Kirk's comments.
first impressions: definitely a point and shoot board. don't try to lean into a big bottom turn -- it won't do it. also wants to be ridden on the front half of board. otherwise you're standing on all that tail kick and bleeding off speed. there's a nice sweet spot from the handle forward. you have to switch into "noserider" mode...staying in pocket and scooting along with the speed of the wave. no quad down the line speed here. board is stable to paddle and rest between sets.

as the morning wore on, the tide got lower and the waves starting lining up much better.

noseriding report: holy friggin' crap. this thing is beyond stable on the nose. i was getting full on toes over, thigh burning 5's for days. and this was in crappy waves with no real pocket. it works on the nose on flat faced waves. i think in good, line up waves in the waist to chest range it'll be a dream to nose ride.  

I agree with everything Kirk said and his comments gave me the opportunity to prepare for what is definitely a different experience than the S-series SIMSUPs. I was able to paddle and catch waves forward of center! This was somewhat disorienting at first because the board wouldn't pearl. The drag aspect of the tail kick is most palpable mainly on take-off. The S-series boards gain lift and acceleration very quickly. Not so the TIPSUP. You just have to be ready for that and keep paddling. It's a good paddler and wave catcher and once you get used to that feeling of less acceleration when catching the wave, you've adapted and the noseriding is about to begin.

I am not by practice or default what I would call a good noserider. I'm not in the same league as Kirk or Brad who I've personally watched get 5's on their S4's! So you can imagine my utter delight and excitement when I could ham foot it up to the tip and cruise the wave face and section on the first 2 feet of the nose. (In all honesty I never got a toes over 5 or 10 but I came close and got better at it the longer I surfed the board. Practice, practice, practice.) There is so much lift and stability on the tip that you can just park up worries. Well almost, but you get the picture. This board will make a decent noserider out of me yet. It's only a matter of time spent on the board. (Finding and drinking from the fountain of youth wouldn't hurt either.)

Stability while surfing in all kinds of wave shapes and faces and white wash: Exceeds ALL expectations beyond my wildest dreams. I have never ridden ANY board that is as stable as the TIPSUP in all the wave variables I experienced. It is rock solid on the tip. I pushed the board into everything I could find from high tide rollers (tides were 2.5' dropping to minus 1 ft.) to low tide closeouts and everything in between. You know how Sarges can get at low tide where you'll be in the take-off section, riding on the face in the pocket and a bowled out unmakeable section pops up in front of you? I could take a couple quick steps back from the nose to standing right about midships, take the drop diagonal to the wave face and slide through the super steep bowl section and into the white wash, or let the whitewater crash on me, while still maintaining speed and full control of the board. It was just uncanny and completely unexpected. After the first time of doing this I thought it was an anomaly so I put the board to the test over and over again, steering it into completely unstable, bowly collapsing wave sections and achieving the same stable results. In some of the whitewash sections and slides, the board would actually lift up onto the white wash and gain down the line speed into the next clean section down the line. Let's see, what's the word I'm looking for? Ah yes. MAGIC! And in the TIPSUPs case, replicable magic.

Another adjustment comes when you're up on the nose and trimming down the line. As the wave backs off a bit and another section starts to form on the other side of the soft spot, my tendency is to walk back, trim up, gain speed and prepare for the next section. But on the TIPSUP you can pretty much hold your position. This means you are on the nose forever. Maybe one step back, trim, and step forward for the next section and an extended nose ride. So much fun!

Turning was not as difficult as I expected but Kirk is right, the board doesn't want to be easily laid on rail while swooping into a big bottom turn. I took his advice and almost all my take-offs were angled, point and shoot style. But there were a couple times when I had to paddle left (to go right) or I wasn't going to catch the wave. In those instances the board came around well enough to catch and surf the wave with no real problems. Re-directing the board on cut backs was also accomplished by heavily weighting the tail and using the paddle to force stroke the board around. The board will do this, just not elegantly. It is a flat turn and somewhat clumsy looking I would think.....but that's probably me. A different surfer could have different results. Where I had the greatest difficulty was in kicking out or exiting the wave in a closeout section if I didn't want to ride down the falls. The board doesn't want to turn off the wave smartly and head out the back. The wide tail which provides the incredible stability and counter balance to the rider on the tip, will not pivot easily. The solution is to anticipate the wave closing out early enough to ride with speed over the top of the wave. The problem is you'll be getting a fan-freaking-tastic nose ride at the time and you won't WANT to get off. Ah, such problems! 

The board has k-rails which allows for a more conventional surfboard-like rail in the water. The rail shape is traditional noserider, soft and pinched (50/50) from nose to tail. No hard edges anywhere. Statement of Fact: Kirk shapes the best rails of any shaper whose boards I have ever ridden. Period, end of story. The rails are a major, major contributor to the board's stability and exceptional surfability. To get the foils right is an art form of the highest degree. And Kirk is the master artist. The DaVinci of rails.

Kirk selected the RFC 9.5" Noserider fin. It worked incredibly well. I was never once knocked off the board by the kelp or impeded by kelp for the entire session. I had brought some other fins with me just in case (of kelp issues) but there was and is no reason to change out the fin. It's perfect. In kelp free waters a bigger size fin (like the CJ Nelson has) would be fun to experiment with, but for around here the RFC is the solution.

Smaller but important items
  • Handle placement is superb and very well balanced allowing for easy carrying of the board
  • Two leash plugs for versatility....nice. I use a calf leash for longboard style surfing and had no trouble with tangling, tripping, etc.
  • Love the color.
  • Glassing and finish is as good as it gets and Kirk has spent a lot of time making sure he has the right people do the job. (That said, I did put a little teeny crack on the nose rail. But whadayah think is gonna happen when you surf minus tide Sarges? Surprised I didn't do more damage as hard as I was pushing the board. I put two cuts in my feet as is.)
  • Really like surfing a waxed surface instead of a pad.....personal preference. Only slipped once in over two hours and I was walking around a lot.
SUMMARY: I'm looking forward to hours and hours of fun on this board. I can hardly wait to get back on it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

UPDATE: Harbor Launch Fee Meeting Dec. 13

Santa Cruz Harbor Small Boat Launch Users Meeting to Provide Input on Launch Fees 
  • WHEN: Thursday, December 13, 2012, 2:00-3:30 p.m. 
  • WHERE: Santa Cruz Harbor Public Meeting Room 365A Lake Avenue Santa Cruz, CA 95062 
Port District staff will give a presentation on existing programs and fees for users of Santa Cruz Harbor facilities. Staff will also provide information about current US Coast Guard regulations, California Boating Law and Port District ordinances. Harbor users and other members of the public will have the opportunity to provide input regarding changes to the current fee structure.

Harbor Schedules Fee Issue Meeting for December 13

The Port Director has schedule a meeting to address the fee issue for December 13. The time of day and place is TBA. Send an email to Port Director Lisa Ekers ( and ask to be notified about the meeting time and place. If you want to maintain free and safe harbor access please be there.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Please Sign the Petition!

On Monday, November 5th, the Santa Cruz Harbor unexpectedly posted signs at the free, public hand-launch platforms near dock FF and dock A on the west side of the harbor declaring a $10 launch fee per vehicle would be instituted for all watercraft beginning November 17th.

These historically free public, hand-launch docks are utilized by thousands of members of the public each year, launching kayaks, small sailboats, one-man outriggers, stand-up paddleboards and more. This $10 fee would end free, safe public access to the harbor and to the Monterey Bay via the harbor. 

It is also becoming clear that the excessive fee is not just a revenue issue. The high fee is being used to discourage SUPs, kayaks and other hand launchers from using the harbor as a result of a few, undocumented complaints made by some disgruntled harbor users. Don't let the District and the haters take away our harbor access!

At the last Port District meeting Save Harbor Access members presented 568 signatures. But we need another 500 to show them we are here and we're not going away. Please sign the petition if you haven't done so already. And come to the next Port District Commissioners meeting on December 18. 365A Lake Avenue. Santa Cruz CA.

Please join the public users of the Santa Cruz Harbor in politely and civilly protesting these new fees. Here’s how: TAKE ACTION

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Port District Meeting Yields Tentative Success

I attended the Santa Cruz Harbor Port District meeting last night. It was gratifying to be part of a large group of paddlers (kayak and SUP) who were there to protest the (possibly) illegal and certainly outrageously exorbitant and unfair $10 launch fee.

The meeting got off to a dubious start with current chair Dennis Smith demonstrating what appears to be a pattern of disdain for public input by arbitrarily limiting public comment from three minutes (as agendized) to two minutes. The excuse given was the large group of speaker cards submitted to the Commission Secretary, would cause public comments to be too long. In other words, the Commissioners were more interested in getting out of the meeting 15 minutes early, than in hearing from the public in their fully allotted time to speak. For this reason and for the track record of the Commission on this issue, they have not proven themselves worthy of our trust. We therefore cannot relax our efforts in this issue.

At the end of the public comments, a petition was submitted to Board Chairman Smith signed by 568 people who are protesting the unfair car top launching fee.

Send Port District Director Lisa Ekers either a letter or email asking her to notify you regarding further public input re the issue of Car Top Launch Fees. A copy of the email I sent, as well as my comments from last night's meetings are included in this post.

If the Commission fails to act in a fair, responsible, democratic and equitable way by soliciting further public input and directing Port District staff to partner with all stakeholders, we will need to become more aggressive in our actions to achieve our goal of a fair and equitable resolution to this issue.
Email to Director Ekers (

Request for Notification - Car Top Launching Fees
Director Ekers,

I attended the Port Commission meeting last night and it is my understanding that the Commissioners have directed staff to investigate this issue for the purpose of making appropriate changes. It is also my understanding that public input will be solicited.

I would like to be part of that public input process, and to be notified when and how that process will be addressed.

Attached are my comments made during oral communications for the commission's as well as the public record.

Thank you.
My comments during Public Comments

Harbor Hand Launching Fee Issue

My name is Gary Niblock. I am a retired firefighter and an active member of the Stand Up Paddleboard community. I have lived in Santa Cruz since 1973. I am here tonight to address the car top hand launching fee issue.
  • The fee as currently imposed is unfair, has been improperly levied and is possibly illegal for the Westside, lower Harbor. The Ordinances as written, address parking and the eastside launch ramp ONLY. They do not address car top launch fees and they do not address launching locations other than the launch ramp. (FROM THE HARBOR ORDINANCES)
Santa Cruz Harbor Ordinances
Section 405 – Launch Ramp Parking (one sentence)
Section 406 – Launch Ramp Use (one sentence).
Section 412 – Parking Meters (with seven subsections).
Section 413 – Parking Space Indicated
Section 414 – Handicapped Parking

  • Since user fees are the Harbor’s only form of revenue for maintenance etc., a fee from a political entity such as the Port District is in essence a tax. The arbitrary, so called “re-implementation” of the car top launch fee (or tax) could be construed as a classic case of “taxation without representation.” This is an inappropriate action for a government entity like the Port District to take without public hearings and review.
  • According to the Port Director, the fee was not collected for 18 months while the District addressed “tsunami damage” before it was then arbitrarily “re-implemented”. But I have been hand launching from F and FF dock for many years and have never been charged a launching fee. Additionally, within the last five years an entirely new community of users started using the Harbor for paddling and can testify that they have never paid a hand launching fee. Parking fees, yes. Hand launching fee, especially at F & FF docks, NO. Therefore the fee was not “re-implemented” it was imposed. The Districts management of this issue, i.e. the shockingly sudden imposition of the excessive and controversial fee with almost no warning, (which unfairly targets a specific minority user group) reminds me of the way PG&E handled the Smartmeter issue. If you wanted to strike the wrong note in the paddling community, you’ve succeeded. The District needs to stop its current practice, stop collecting the fee, and provide public input to address the issue of car top launching fees in a fair, equitable and democratic way for all stakeholders.
To be clear, there are three things that need to happen tonight:
  • 1) Immediate suspension of Westside lower harbor “car top” hand launch fee collection. 
  • 2) A commitment to acknowledge and partner with all stakeholders regarding the creation of a new or revised ordinance that addresses car top hand launching at the eastside launch ramp and at the Westside lower harbor public access docks. 
  • 3) A commitment to acknowledge and partner with all stakeholders on the fee structure to include one-time fees; annual passes; family passes; business fees, etc. that are fair and equitable for all stakeholders. 
Thank you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

SUP Launching Fees To Be Implemented At The Harbor

The following are a series of emails between me and Port Director Lisa Ekers. I will continue to publish them here as a resource for any of you who want to weigh in on this issue by corresponding with the Harbor District.

Tuesday November 13, 2011
Dear Harbor Master Izenstark and Port Commissioners,
I am writing to ask you to repeal the proposed $10 hand-launch fee for access at the free public launch docks near Dock FF and Dock A. Harbor staff recently posted signage stating that the new fee would take effect 11/17/12.
This fee is bad for the local economy, the harbor, local businesses, and the boating and paddling public that utilize these free docks.  In addition the fee was improperly implemented without public knowledge or hearing, unfairly discriminates against the (small) recreational vessel community, and will not solve the “traffic” issues in the harbor it is attempting to address.  Negative consequences of the proposed fee include:
  • Safety:  the fee eliminates Santa Cruz’s only safe access to the Monterey bay that is not a perilous “beach launch”.
  • Safety:  those who go to the Harbormasters Office to pay the fee, will simply go ahead and launch from there – increasing the number of dinghies, kayaks and SUPs launching from the actual boat ramp area – a busier and more dangerous area that does not need more hand-launch traffic
  • Public Recreational Access:  The fee would eliminate the only free, safe public access to the harbor’s waters and the Monterey Bay beyond.  Frequent users that include retirees and low-income boaters and paddlers would no longer be able to afford safe access to the harbor and Bay.
  • Economic Impact:  Users of the hand-launch docks regularly patronize harbor businesses before and after their access to the harbor.  This benefits the harbor and its businesses.  Those patrons would be drastically reduced as would their economic benefit.
  • Neighborhood Impact:  Rather than paying a $10 per vehicle launch fee, many boaters/paddlers will park in the Seabright neighborhood then carry/roll their watercraft down to the hand-launch dock near Dock A.  This will significantly increase the harbor’s parking burden on the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Lack of Public Notice:  There was no public notice or public outreach regarding this new fee – a major public policy decision with a significant impact to the harbor’s users.  The Port Commission’s goals include the following goal: “Provide timely information to the public relating to Port Commission meetings and actions”.
The Santa Cruz Harbor, its employees and Port Commissioners have for many years, with great dedication and time served the community well. But this is a step in the wrong direction.  I ask that you consider the fee’s negative effects on a huge segment of harbor users and repeal it altogether, or table the fee until such time as a public meeting can be  held to discuss the fee.
Thank you,

Response from Port Director Lisa Ekers, Tuesday November 13, 2012
Dear Mr. Niblock:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I want to address a few of the
points you raised so that you'll have an appreciation for the District's
costs and revenue sources, as well as to dispel any misconceptions about
public processes observed by the Port District.

The Port District is entirely self-supported by user fees. We receive
no tax revenues from any sources. The costs of providing, maintaining
and managing both waterside and landside facilities is entirely borne by
harbor users. Parking fees pay for maintenance of the harbor's parking
infrastructure and labor for managing parking. Slip rents pay for
maintenance, management and utility service to docks, concession rents
pay for building maintenance and utilities, and launch fees pay for
launch ramps, docks, jet float, etc. In addition, revenues derived from
user fees pay for harbor security and safety staff, patrol boats and
vehicles. The burden of providing all the facilities and staff to
operate them must be shared by all the various users who enjoy them in
order to be fair.

The Port District long ago established a fee ($10) for hand ("car top")
launching of small vessels such as SUPs, kayaks and sailing dinghies.
Revenues derived from that fee contribute to maintenance of the launch
ramps, jet float, restrooms, rinse water used by launchers, and other
demands placed on infrastructure and staff resources. The courtesy
notices were posted to make hand launchers aware that the existing fee
will be in force starting November 17 and to allow them time to adjust.

We understand there are impacts of collecting the existing fee, and are
in the process of determining whether an annual permit would be
appropriate, or if there is another rate structure that would work well
for hand launchers. The existing fee will be in effect in the interim.

Thank you again for contacting us. Your letter will be included as part
of the Port Commission's packet.


Lisa Ekers, Port Director
Santa Cruz Port District
135 5th Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 475-6161

Counter response from me on Tuesday November 13, 2012
Dear Director Ekers,

Thank you for your prompt reply to my concerns.

Since you state that the "existing" fee is now going to be enforced, and in light of the Harbors fiscal needs, why has the fee not been enforced, for how long has it not been enforced and why is it being enforced now? While I can understand the necessity for, and limits of the harbors funding resources you listed, it seems odd that these small vessel (hand launchers) launching fees were not being collected all along. And now, with no real public notice, or chance to possibly restructure the fees or provide for an annual fee, the old fees are somewhat arbitrarily being enforced or re-implemented.

Further, in regard to your intention to consider a one time annual fee, you presented no real plan or timeline to discuss much less implement such an annual fee. Therefore that idea, as presented by you, with all due respect seems disingenuous to me. If nothing is on the agenda, then that's what will get done...nothing.

As part of the stand up paddling community I know that several existing businesses that provide sales of equipment and SUP lessons will be negatively impacted by the fees thus causing an economic hardship in the local business community. One of the most adverse trickle down results of limiting use of the harbor to stand up paddlers will be the real lack of a safe haven for novices as well as the more skilled paddlers. This will either force people out of the market or push them into more dangerous locales.

Perhaps it is useless to argue for no fees, or even drastically reduced fees. The Harbors position, stated by you, is one of passing along the cost to the consumer. But you must know that a difficult economy such as we have experienced for the last four years and which we will continue to experience for some unknown time into the future, is shared perhaps more acutely by the less economically fortunate than the Harbor as a corporate entity.

Therefore I urge you to prioritize this issue by setting real dates for real public hearings, and to do it soon. You could also consider ways to help the consumer by looking at reduced fees for seniors; family fees whereby a family could purchase a reduced rate annual pass or one time use fee; a business fee whereby a company in the business of selling hand launcher small vessels, and/or providing lessons could purchase a discounted pass; off hour, low use passes (low impact use hours could be ascertained and reduced fees could be allowed for those times). These are only a few ideas and I'm sure that the community at large could be used as an excellent resource to brain storm even more ideas that would benefit the Harbor District and the harbor user equally and fairly.

When I first moved to Santa Cruz in 1973 my wife and I lived right across the street from the District office on 5th Avenue. Over the years we've seen the harbor grow and adapt to many circumstances, events and issues, perhaps none more trying than the tsunami you and the District employees responded to last year. I think everyone gives you and your team very high marks for your performance and service and we would give you our heartfelt thanks for a difficult job well done. I think the issue of hand launcher fees is not nearly as difficult as those you have solved in the past and I trust that you and the Commissioners will address this in a timely manner and fairly to all the many harbor users who will be affected.

Thank you,
Gary Niblock

Response from Port Director Ekers on Thursday November 15, 2012.
Dear Mr. Niblock:

As described in my earlier email, the Port District is public agency
but receives no tax revenues and is entirely supported by user fees. It
is true that launch fees have not been consistently enforced on the west
side in the recent past (they have been on the east side and launching
is not allowed in the north harbor). District staff has, by necessity,
been focused on tsunami recovery over the past 18 months. During that
time, a growing number of west side launchers has been able to enjoy the
harbor without sharing in the cost of the facilities and services they
have used.

The Port District's car top launch fee was enacted in the early 1980's.
The fee allows launchers to park in metered spaces (i.e. not in permit
parking spaces). Both the existing fee and the launching ordinance
(enacted 1974) were adopted through a public process.

There is an annual fee for cartop launching in the current fee schedule
($137.50 daily, $87.50 for Monday through Friday excluding holidays).
The annual program ends each year on December 31, with a new permit
required January 1. We are making the annual permit available at a
prorated cost to cartop launchers who wish to purchase one. We are also
evaluating the current fee structure, considering stakeholder input and
planning for a discussion item with the Port Commission at an upcoming
meeting. You may wish to sign up to receive Port Commission agendas
automatically, or you can view them online on our website to see when
this item will be discussed.

Thank you for your ideas and suggestions, and for your kind remarks
about the Port District's staff. Please feel free to share this
information via your website.


Lisa Ekers, Port Director
Santa Cruz Port District
135 5th Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA 95062
(831) 475-6161

My response back on Thursday November 15, 2012
Director Ekers,

Thank you again for your prompt and informative reply.

I will post your email on my website as many people are interested in this topic. I will also sign up for the agendas and I look forward to discussing this issue with you, staff, the commissioners and the stakeholders in what I hope will be the very near future.

Gary Niblock

Santa Cruz Harbor Port Commission Meeting Information Page (Click here.) 

Any member of the public can bring forward a discussion item during the "Oral Communications" portion of the meeting. I wasn't able to find the request page for receiving meeting agendas automatically. The next meeting is on Tuesday November 27 at 7PM. Harbor Public Meeting Room 365A Lake Avenue.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

East Coast's Nightmare While California's Dreamin'

Sunday October 28, 2012 - Shaka Paddle from New Brighton to Sewer Peak and out, downwind to Sponge Bob and New Brighton. While the east coast evacuates and prepares for what is being billed as possibly the worst hurricane in years in Sandy, we are basking in the glory of our impeccable Fall weather inheritance.

 One of the most beautiful days of the current season for sure, maybe the year. Warm and sunny with light winds to start that increased out of the southwest the nearer I got to the Point. Just out of the gate I ran into Matt and we continued a discussion that started on Facebook about the Shaka and his next board. Then as I pulled into Sharks Jean Michel was out on his 10' PSH. We had a long conversation about the SIMSUP and he paddled up to the channel with me. Once in the channel the wind was up, at least 10-12 mph+ with lots of chop and bump in the channel. Outside it was capping up a bit and made for a halfway decent downwinder for about a mile and a half before the wind started fading. From there is was a warm and calm paddle in a rolling sea to Sponge Bob where the wind shifted to offshore for the mile back into New Brighton. Water vis was very good at about 5-7 feet in jade green water. The parking lot was hot and the wind was at a whisper. Just an overall spectacular day in the Bay. (Sports Tracker.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Covewater 3rd Annual Used SUP Sale!

The 3rd Annual USED SUP SALE & YEAR END BLOWOUT sale begins Saturday, October 27th!  More than 40 Used SUPs from the leading manufacturers will be on sale.  If you have been waiting for a used SUP - this is your chance!!  In addition, 20+ new boards are on year-end clearance sale, as well as many accessories including GoPro cameras, Kaenon Sunglasses, Maui Jim Sunglasses, Thule Rack Systems, Rainbow Sandals, used paddles and more.

EARLY BIRD SALE:  As a recipient of our monthly email newsletter, you are invited to the Early Bird Sale on FRIDAY, 10/26!  We'll be open 10:30 am to 6:00 pm that day.  This is your opportunity to grab the board you want before the weekend!

WNW Swell with a Little SW Underneath

Monday October 15, 2012 - If the weather is drop dead gorgeous, and it's warm and the wind is still or offshore, it must be Fall. It is, it is, it is all of that. It also means it's usually time to focus on the afternoons and evening for a surf, when the tides are best. Fall morning tides are usually pretty high and all that water tends to erase any swell that isn't big and booming.

I paddled out to Sarges at about 3PM. Ron was hammering some quick walls off the point on his kneeboard, bobbing and weaving amongst the longboards and SUPs. Kneeboard. A gutsy call, like riding your go-cart on the freeway. Still....he was holding his own. Since there was west in the swell, and a little southwest underneath it, most of the waves were sectioning. But what this does is to open up numerous take-off spots in the line-up which can relieve crowding at any one spot. My kind of situation. I found a peak and section down coast from the main spot and proceeded to catch quite a few waves in very uncrowded circumstances. Overall the surfing was fun, the waves mediocre but punctuated by a few fast, lined up walls that were makeable and smackable on the inside. Put the pristine and warm Fall day and lack of peeps on top of that and you've got the ingredients for a super fun session.

About 4:45 I picked up the second wave in a set of what I thought was maybe a three or four wave set. It put up a decent wall and when it collapsed I decided to ride the white water into the flats, picking out the little power runs as I could just for fun. The wave faded out from under me as it rolled into a deep water pocket and I turned back towards the ocean ready for the paddle out the back. Another set and wave was coming in and this had a bit of size. I could also see another behind it so I just sat down and straddled my board in the deep and calm hole just offshore from the Nudie beach. I'll wait this out thought I.
What followed was something I have never experienced or even seen in person before. From out of the vast expanse of wind blown ocean there came a set with 40-50 waves. After the eigth wave I was beginning to wonder what was going on. Eight waves in a row was the biggest set I'd seen since I paddled out. After another eight waves my mind was boggling. Dave, one of my SUP surfer buddies was standing on his board about 30 yards from my position. He had his arms spread out iron cross style, paddle in hand and yelled, "it's stacked up as far as I can see." These were the best looking and biggest waves I'd seen so far. I thought surely this will end but it didn't. Suddenly my idea of waiting for a lull didn't sound so good. I picked a diagonal line out through the surf hoping not to get too beat up but also hoping to get back out in time to snag at least one of these beauties. I prone paddle sprinted through two and made it into calm water. Turned out that the last wave I pushed through was the last wave of the set. Expletive deleted!

There was no one in sight at any spot that I could see. Either everyone had gotten a wave and couldn't get back out, or had been trapped inside like me. I can imagine what it looked like from shore. Lines stacked up out to the horizon, like those posters we've all seen of Sunset Beach Hawaii with all that corduroy out the back. Something like the picture at the right only not nearly as big.

Well shizzizzit, I missed it. That was the downside, but the upside was wave quality and consistency definitely improved after that mega set. I decided to stay at my new location, the cave at Tres Palms, and for some reason, even though I was getting ride after ride of super fun lined up and sectioning fast and makeable waist to chest high waves, no one came out. It was just a mellow and relaxing but busy surf. At 6PM, the three hour mark for me, it was starting to get dark and I was starting to feel all that activity. I was getting tired and I don't see all that well in fading light so I paddled back over to Sarges to take one in. When I arrived, where there had formerly been 12-15 folks in the line-up, there was no one but me. I'll take it. I surfed another 45 minutes in windless, glassy waves before taking one last one in. An epic Tweener of a Tweener. Yes, the surf could have been better but when all things are considered, it was an epic session.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hot Weather and A Fading WNW Swell

Monday October 1, 2012 - The steep angled NPAC swell picked up nicely on Saturday and by Sunday it was booming. And so were the crowds. The weather turned drop dead perfect with hot temperatures and light winds. All this combined for fantastic surfing in exquisite conditions (not counting the surfing hoards that descended upon all the breaks).

I usually don't surf the weekends. There's just no fun in it for me when I'm constantly worried about taking off in front of someone, someone taking off in front of me, hitting someone floating in the water and being hit by someone who is either in control or out of control. Lot's of others don't feel this way. Sometimes folks can only surf on the weekends. So be it. No animosity, no hard feelings, it's just the way it is. The Beach Boys prophesied in the late 60's that "everybody's gone surfing", and they have.

Crowds are a fact of life but they are a little less prevalent on weekdays when many are back to work and unable to paddle out, and when school is back in session, limiting the time the students can surf. This is when I usually make my appearance, even when the waves aren't as was the case today.

There was still enough swell in the water to put 3-6 ft. peelers in the water and it was not inconsistent although it wasn't what I would call consistent either. I didn't get out as early on the dawn patrol as I had initially planned, so probably missed a few waves. But I did manage to hook into some fast, steep long lines before the tide fattened it up, and the dropping swell became even more inconsistent.

But the breathtaking beauty of todays sunrise from the water was really what I was after. September has been so fog bound, chilly and gloomy, it's been like living inside a refrigerator. This burst of ebullient Fall warmth in the life enhancing sun light was what I craved. And I got it. The waves were the icing on the cake. Not really necessary, but delicious just the same.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Covewater Classic SUP Race - Sept 22nd!



The Second Annual Covewater Classic SUP Race is set for Saturday, September 22nd.  Taking place in the waters off of Capitola Beach, the Classic will feature a 3.5 and 6.5 mile race.  Best of all, this race is free.  No registration, no fee, no attitudes - this is just a free race for paddling enthusiasts.  After the race, join us for a hosted lunch at Sante Adairius Rustic Ales in Capitola featuring delicious food from Surfrider Cafe.  More details and RSVP for the post-race lunch party here.  See you at the Classic! (Assemble at 9AM; race starts at 9:30.)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

J.Riggs DW Instructional Video for 14' Boards

Jeremy rides a 14' rudderless board in this excellent instructional video. He highlights the importance of maintaining board momentum (speed) and turning to stay with the bumps.

   Maliko Downwind Training Run from Paddle With Riggs on Vimeo.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Shaka Continues to Amaze

Thursday August 23, 2012 - New Brighton to Sewer Peak Channel RT (low route out, high route back). Sports Tracker link. New Brighton, to the channel at Sewers, up and out and back to NB via Sponge Bob. First 3 miles into an 8-9 mph headwind, then downwind in 6-7 mph tailwind. No surf from NB to 2nd Peak. Only 1st and SP had any waves at all. One lone surf school class out at 1st Pk. Sun off NB and Cap, overcast up at the Point. Really good day for a paddle.

I continue to be completely impressed and stoked with the Angulo Shaka. The board paddles so well into a head wind and chop and with such stability it's just amazing. The bow just crushes the oncoming wind chop and waves, and you can push it through the waves with your legs as you pull it through with your paddle. Even in rolling back wash that puts a nasty cross hatch across the sea surface the Shaka maintains its stability. The result is that the paddler can continue to dig in and paddle steady and hard, without having to worry about balancing while keeping up a rhythmic pace that maintains board speed. Analyzing the data on Sports Tracker shows that I was able to paddle at an average speed of 3.6 mph into a brisk head wind. The wind increased during mile three and the sea surface became rougher than miles one and two but I was still able to keep up my pace.

Granted, all this is measured by me and I'm not what you would call a fast paddler. But that is really irrelevant because I am measuring against myself and the clock and the board. The point here is that compared against a flat water board design like my 12-6 Bark Competitor the Shaka not only holds it own, but exceeds the performance I could expect from the Bark in ALL conditions. The Bark should be expected to excel in flat water padding, but again, the Shaka holds it's own. Where the Shaka excels (going downwind) there is no comparison.

This is proven out in the final 3.5 miles of the run where I averaged 4.55 mph. It should be noted that the wind dropped off a bit and the wind swell was minuscule. I was amazed with the glides I was getting in the almost non-existent swells. This was proved out factually by the tracking app. It just doesn't take much swell or wind to push the Shaka downwind at a very acceptable speed.

Initially I purchased the Shaka for downwinders. But the versatility of this board makes it an solid value. I was originally going to keep my Bark but now there's really no need to. The Shaka is all the board I need for everything I do SUP, except surfing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Angulo Shaka Continues to Meet Expectations

Monday August 20, 2012 - New Brighton to Sewer Peak Channel RT (low route). I didn't have my Sports Tracker with me today, but the route was about 5.5 miles. I did the first 2.75 mile, into the wind first leg in 33-37 minutes. Calculated out that's to 4.5 to 5 mph into a light headwind averaging about 3 mph. I was working hard and steady but not really pouring on the coals and I'm happy with this time and pace given that the Shaka is not specifically billed as a flat water racer. 

Today's time was better than any other time I've posted ever, and any time posted on my 12-6 Surftech Bark Competitor. I rested for a few minutes in the channel and then paddled back steady but relaxed, concentrating on what I think is good technique, and paddling about 70% of maximum energy. My overall time was about 1 hour 15 minutes which calculates out to 4.4 mph. Again, a very satisfactory and acceptable time for a board that is not designed for the racing circuit.

At 28.8 pounds the production Shaka is durable and an excellent all-around paddler for rough water, (especially) downwinders, social racing, touring and family activities. An active recreational and fitness paddler could do a race in the morning, a downwinder in the afternoon and then meet the family at the take-out point beach for more family paddling and fun.

For the more serious racer, hopefully Ed and the Angulo movers and shakers will bring the all-carbon Double Shaka to market sooner than later. But my guess is that if an eager paddler wanted to buy one they could get a one-off custom Angulo Double Shaka with just a little bit of arm twisting.

If that's something you're interested in you can get the contact info from the Angulo website.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Field Testing the Angulo All-Carbon Double Shaka 14 Prototype

Tuesday July 31, 2012 - The Angulo Shaka has yielded rave reviews and a lot of positive feedback from satisfied owners (me being one). So one might think that the first thing master shaper Ed Angulo would do is take a little time off. Not exactly. The first thing Ed did was get back into the shaping room and start tinkering on what is already a proven and successful design. Not one to rest on his laurels, Ed is constantly stoking his creative fires, finding ways to make his boards better in all genres whether they be surfing, racing, going downwind or just plain old paddling. The results of his efforts this time around is the exciting and innovative prototype Double Shaka. A bit of a wag, Ed says with a perfectly straight delivery, "what's better than a Shaka? A Double Shaka!"

The primary intent of this new prototype is to enhance the board's flat water racing capabilities while maintaining or improving the excellent rough water paddling and downwind characteristics the Shaka design already possesses. The Double Shaka 14 was sent up to Kyle's house in NorCal for testing by the Angulo boyz and Jens was the first to get his hands on it. I had heard rumors about the board but didn't think I'd get to see it until after the boyz had vetted it on a couple downwinders. I was stoked to get the call from Jens inviting me to join him on his first paddle and downwind run. Of course it didn't hurt that I've been paddling with these guys and making videos for the last couple months but we were really excited to try it out. Anticipation ran high.

The Double Shaka is the same basic plan shape, or outline as the Shaka. But while the differences between the two can appear to be stark and radical, the Double Shaka amazingly maintains the Shakas rock steady stability. About the shape Ed says, "First the outline is a compromised ‘Teardrop’. The entry is a modified bow/displacement that helps keep the nose from getting sucked down into the water while still maintaining directional stability with very minimal ‘broach’. A hallmark in all of Ed's boards. While some critics pan wider boards as being too slow, Ed responds, "So here is a fact that I guarantee is absolutely true, falling off your board is NOT fast." How true. Ask anyone who has paddled a tippy, narrow board in rolling seas with wind chop.

Ed goes on to complete his thoughts on width and stability as follows. "In the beginning it was ‘wide boards can’t surf as well as narrower ones’. So the layman’s main concern was “how wide is this board?...while not much thought was given to the many other variables and their relationship to the shape and function. I believe riders are now recognizing the value of stability and are finding there are no ill effects. However, now the same antiquated thought is still being communicated, that ‘narrow race boards are faster, and width equals loss of speed’. But the driver/paddler must have the ability to maintain a stable efficient stroke without any struggle to maintain balance. Each time you falter or work to keep your balance you lose speed/momentum, and exert energy that is better suited for paddling." Somebody say Amen!

Anyone who concludes that Ed's design thoughts and/or shapes are "old fashioned" is brought up short by an examination of the futuristic and progressive bottom foils and contours of the Double Shakas hull. There isn't a flat, "conventional" spot on it. From the deep vee and flipped up nose that resemble a hawks beak (or surf ski), through the double concave vee panel just aft of the midpoint, to the re-instituted deep vee that flows off the tail, a visible vee is maintained throughout. This combined with the 30" wide point makes the board stable, fast and a genuine performance oriented competitor.

The Double Shaka nose rocker has been increased as compared to the Shaka and the nose has been narrowed quite a bit. This adds to the boards ability to ride up and over the wave in front of the one the rider is on. Pearling or submarining did not seem to be an issue when I rode the board. As a matter of fact the longer I was on it the more comfortable and confident I got that I could really push this board in the bumps with great results.
Another significant difference between the two boards is the rails. The Shaka is noteworthy for it's lack of hard edges, I mean total lack. The rails top and bottom are round and smooth. But a change was made to the Double Shakas rails in that the edge from about the midpoint flowing into the tail are much harder. This also adds to the straight up and down profile of the rails about which I was originally skeptical. High rails catch wind and chop and allow the board to be "pushed" around. This can cause unnecessary yawing or end-arounds leading to broaches, as well as making the board difficult to paddle a straight course in heavy side wind. But the Double Shaka did not respond in this way during our test run. Granted it wasn't real windy and the swell was small but there was no hint of these negative characteristics. Our thoughts are that the harder edges will allow the board to be more easily surfed or controlled when surfing the bumps.

Board weight was a major consideration in the Double Shaka prototype. I found that the lighter weight prototype was much easier to pull or paddle into bumps, especially on a multiple bump glide. When I found myself riding up the back of the wave in front of me and slowing down, a few quick power strokes were usually all it took to pull in and I was gliding again. There was some speculation between Jens and I that weight would provide more inertia and therefore prolong the glide. While this might be true, it is also true that the lighter weight allows for catching the waves more easily and therefore getting more rides which in turn makes you go farther faster. Light weight is also essential for speed and performance during flat water races and paddles.

The two videos give a good look at the Double Shaka on the water and during a critique that Jens and I did for Ed right after our five and a half mile run from 4-Mile to Mitchells. This article, along with the videos should give the reader/viewer an in-depth and candid look at this new prototype from Angulo Designs. I should stress that the Double Shaka is in fact a prototype and is not yet available on the market. But it gives an honest and open look into the mind and creative process of Ed Angulo and his company Angulo Designs.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Great Instructional DW Vid by Jeremy Riggs

Here is another really excellent downwind instructional video by Jeremy Riggs in conjunction with Justin Gordon from Sugar Ranch Maui. Check out all of Jeremy's vids at his website and while you're looking around the Sugar Ranch Maui looks like da kine place to stay on Maui.

Justin is riding a rudder equipped SIC which makes turning the board much easier than a board without a rudder. That said, rudders add quite a bit of cost to the board and the lack of rake in the rudder fins makes them difficult to use in kelpy waters like we have locally. Some of the instructional tips Jeremy gives Justin in this video are rudder related, but the bulk of the info can be used on any board, making this one of the best instructional vids I've ever seen.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2012 Pier to Pier - RESULTS

Click here for the 2012 Pier to Pier Race - RESULTS

Thanks to Dave King for once again putting on this fun family event and race. And thanks to Lars and Earlene for collecting the results.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Downwinding with Shakas and the GoPro Hero2 Surf Edition

Friday the 13th July 2012 - Friday the 13th turned out to be our lucky day and one of the most fun downwinders we've done to date. Angulo team rider Jens showed up with both the company Shakas to pick me up for the shuttle ride up to 4 Mile beach which is four miles (what else?) north of the Santa Cruz CA city limit. I was glad for three things: Jens could go, there was wind, and the "extra" Shaka was available. (My own Shaka is awaiting a customs inspection in the Port of Oakland. I get my hands on it Tuesday the 17th.)

One of the things I really wanted to work on this run was getting my GoPro chops improved enough to put together a "defintive" 4 Mile to Mitchells video that shows what the run is like. The one below is, I think, my best effort yet. Changed camera settings and a lot of good luck timing helped to make it so.

I've used several different settings on the GoPro to include: narrow, medium and wide field of vision (FOV) at 1080p 30 and wide FOV at 720p 60. Each has it's own benefits, but if I only have one camera, and one camera angle from which to shoot, I prefer the wide FOV at 720p 60 for color and resolution and the GoPro head strap mount (at right, seen in the car window reflection). My opinion is that by using the head strap, the photographer has the most options for shooting from different camera angles. Whatever you look at is what you're shooting. If you're good enough (I'm not) you can even look backwards or in my case, sit down and look backwards. The best downwind solo photographer I know of is Jeremy Riggs. His videos are fantastic and it shows what a really skilled and knowledgeable rider can get on video. They are simply the best.

Ideally you want more than one camera angle. This requires more than one camera and they don't give 'em away. But if you're really into it you'll get another. Or as the GoPro's become more prevalent, you'll go paddling with a friend that has a GoPro and coordinate your downwinder to get a variety of camera angles and shots to keep the videos interesting.

In that light I'll be experimenting with my new Shaka by installing the adhesive surfboard mount on the tail so I can point the camera backwards primarily. The looking backwards at the ocean angle, is a dramatic one and would capture more of the feeling of downwinding with that added perspective. That said, coordinating with the rider(s) behind you is mandatory.

Be advised that editing usually is a long and time consuming process. I really lucked out on the video below by getting the downwind glide sequences all in one take. So instead of going through three or four 15 minute clips and editing out the good rides, I got it all on one. That hasn't happened before and it may be a while before it happens again.

My feeling at this point is that I've now documented pretty well the 4 Mile to Mitchells Cove 5.4 mile downwind run (maybe even the Davenport to town run as the additional seven miles is in very similar coastline and ocean) in the kind of conditions that seem to be typical for this time of year. Mission accomplished. The next thing I'm looking forward to is for the conditions to change to more wind or larger swells or both.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Downwinding with Two Shakas

Tuesday July 3, 2012 - That's not completely true. Mike and Josh were with us on their Barks, but Kyle and I were equally equipped on our Shakas. The videographic purpose of today's run was to test the GoPro Hero2 headband mount with the camera set to the "Medium" FOV. I am happy with the results. I was concerend that the picture would be too distorted but it is hardly noticable and I think the overall view is just as good if not a little better. Next run will have the FOV set to "Wide". I think that setting will cause too much distortion but we'll try it out and see what happens.

Conditions were good with a moderate wind and a small wind swell from the northwest pushing up some fun bumps in the wind chop. The 5.4 mile run from Four Mile to Mitchells took about an hour. Kyle hit a high of nine mph on one of his runners as measured by his tracking app.

Today was Josh's first downwinder and he did amazing. He didn't fall once and he got some really great glides. Another addict joins the tribe.

I edited down the video on this post for the Angulo Designs website so if you're interested in seeing that, shorter vid, click here.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hickenbottom Fundraiser Set for July 21

Be there or be square.
Saturday July 21 
Santa Cruz CA

Click here to read the Sentinel article about Tommy.

The Jay: Note to Self

The Jay was the longest distance flat water paddle I've ever made, but not the longest in duration. I've SUP surfed numerous four hour sessions and I figured that I could do the 12 miles in three hours or less if I could maintain my usual paddle/workout pace of 4 mph. The big difference between surfing and distance paddling in a "race" is that there are plenty of times to rest while surfing. But really, you can also rest when flat water paddling. My biggest concern was paddling from the start at Capitola to the turn around at Cowells almost six miles distant. I had to get there in 1.5 hours or risk begin disqualified. So, that was my personal race. I was glad when I got there with about ten minutes to spare. From Cowell's it was a challenging paddle in 8-14 mph crosswind and cross chop to the mile buoy and a then very forgiving downwind/calm wind paddle all the way back to Capitola.

Here are some personal observations: 1) Hydration is important. My usual flat water paddle workouts are in the 6-8 mile range. I usually don't bring water with me. But for the Jay I slung my full (1.5 liters) hydration pack on, and I nearly drained it during the course of the race. About three miles from the finish I started to feel like I was going to bonk and drank a healthy part of the hydration pack down. Minutes later I was invigorated and felt like I got a second wind. I will not neglect bringing water with me from now on for all my three mile+ flat water paddles and workouts.

2) Nutrition. I carbo loaded the night before with my usual servings of fat and protein while heaping on the calories from carbohydrates. This seems to work pretty well for me. I eat my usual light breakfast on race day, a balanced snack of crunchy peanut butter on low carb, high fiber toast with a single slice of turkey bacon in the middle, and a big cuppa coffee.

I don't like the high carbohydrate gel/goo packets. Instead I cut a Balance Bar (yogurt honey peanut and carmel nut blast are my two favorite flavors) into quarters and put them into a plastic zip lock bag that I keep in my boardshorts pocket. 20 minutes or so before race time I ate two quarters, and left two for later. I also drank half a bottle (4 fl. oz.) of Redline (highly) caffeinated sports drink for a little extra boost out the starting gate. This race day fueling regimen worked well until about four miles from the finish. As I stated under hydration, I started to hit a wall and the only thing that brought me out of it was a large infusion of water. What I should have done, and what I learned, is that at the halfway point (the mile buoy) when I took a short sit-down break to video, I should have eaten the remaining two Balance Bar quarters. The bars liquify pretty easily while chewing and I start to feel my blood sugar rise in about 20 minutes. Next time I'll eat.

3) Race Strategy. Honestly, I don't have a real race strategy, because the only person I'm racing against is myself. The only thing a paddler has to do in the Jay is to get to Cowell's buoy from Capitola in an hour and a half or less. So my first goal was to do that, and my second, and overarching goal was to finish the race in three hours or less. I tried to pay attention to my paddling technique; keep up a steady and consistent pace; set up a series of short distance, realizable goals; keep breathing and remind myself that I can rest at any time or keep going; and stay positive. "Yes! I can do this!" I also monitored my physical condition so I could stay on mission without injury and stay within my physical limitations for the entire event.

4) Mental perspective aka Attitude. I was in this thing to have fun, which at my age (65 y/o) is the only sane view one can really take. There is no reason to overdo it and get hurt because of misplaced, unrealistic or short-sighted priorities. Winning is finishing, participating and enjoying the company of our diverse and joyful community of paddlers.

5) Results. At right is a graphic I took from my Sports Tracker smartphone app. I was very happy to have this data which provided me with confirmation of some of the goals I was trying to accomplish and it also provided a couple surprises. First, I was very pleased that I averaged 4-5 mph overall. The second lap paddled into a headwind with white caps on a choppy, rolling sea was my slowest. That's really no surprise in hindsight and it kind of justifies all my grumping until I got into the smoother water. Next year I'll take a more inside line to Cowells sooner from the green buoy. That will put me out of the wind and into calmer water quicker. I was very gratified to see that my fastest lap was my last lap. Half of lap #4 and all of lap #5 from the mile buoy were downwind or in calm wind, but the Bark 12-6 is not a great downwind board. A better flat water paddler, the Bark and I both performed well on that last calm wind lap. I really tried to concentrate on form and consistency and I think the data proves that I did a pretty good job.

6) Equipment. It all worked well. I have a 12-6 Bark Competitor, and a QB Kanaha FG/Carbon (90) paddle (Covewater has an excellent selection of QB paddles in stock). This set-up is "one-size-fits-all" for all my flat water paddling/racing/training activities. I have two hydration packs, both from Nathan. I used the Nathan backpack " race vest" for the Jay. It hold 1.5 liters of water and has two compact zipper front pockets that hold all my stuff, ear buds, video camera, energy drink, etc. There is also a nice and secure pocket with button down flap on the back where I put my waterproof DryCase smartphone accessory. The second hydration pack is smaller and worn around the waist. It holds a smaller water bottle (20 fl. oz.) and has a gel pack pocket with velcroed flap. (Check with Covewater for availability.) The backpack is heavier (water weight) but comfortable. It is made from very light weight material and has held up well with light use. The waist pack is super comfortable and I hardly even know it's on. I can wear my DryCase and phone on the waist pack belt by sliding it through the built-in belt loop on the DryCase. I'm on my third DryCase, the other two have failed and fortunately my phone wasn't damaged. But the company made it right both times and sent me a replacement "free" covered under warranty. Fortunately the DryCase is made to pull a vacuum on it prior to use. This "seals" the phone in. If you can't get a seal, it's not waterproof so the user has a fail safe.

7) Clothes. Why would anyone mention clothes? Cuz it seems like everyone wonders what to wear, especially in Santa Cruz where it can be downright cold and foggy with drizzle, or so warm and toasty you almost think you're in the tropics. All in the same morning. Oh yeah, the water in NorCal is always cold. For flat water paddling, ensemble is less a mystery that downwinding or surfing though. I run cold so I usually need more insulation than less. Usually. Flat water paddling is the exception. As long as I don't fall in too much (and I rarely do in flat water) I maintain body heat and need to shed it, not keep it. So t-shirt and boardshorts are good. I wear a visor, not a hat, to keep the sun off my forehead and face while allowing head heat to ventilate out the top. This paddling wardrobe is usually good for all conditions during the race paddling season. I keep three different types of t-shirts with me in my paddling bag. Cotton, Quiksilver synthetic polyester "bamboo" weave and Kore-Dry synthetic. I like the feel of cotton but it gets wet (from sweat or falling in) and stays wet. The bamboo weave is really nice and I scored one in the Quiksilver Jay Race swag bag. I wore it for the race and it was an immediate favorite. Unfortunately it looks like Quik may be fazing out the bamboo weave product from their website. Other vendors sell it though. The Kore-Dry is the warmest of the three and tends to be a wee bit hot in flat water with little to no wind. But for downwinders and cool mornings, it is perfect.

My goal in writing this post is to provide a journal entry for myself which I can read and refer to. Also, since I am a fairly voracious internet researcher, I hope that some of what I've written and learned can be of value to others.

Aloha and see you at the Jay in 2013!

Jay Race 2012 - POV

Saturday June 23, 2012 - I tried to capture the feel and the spirit of the 2012 Jay Race in the video. The Jay Race is more than a competition, it is a celebration and is inspired and informed by love, passion and commitment. Yes, there are a lot of big names, well known names that plan, implement and compete in and for the Jay. In my mind there is no one bigger, nor more inspirational than Kim Moriarty, Jay's wife and widow. She is front and center for all the months of planning that go into this event and without her inspiration, love and passion the Jay would be fun, but not an experience that moves into and infiltrates the heart and soul with so much goodness and completion. I hope you can join us next year, you won't regret it, you'll be inspired.


4-Mile to Mitchells Downwinder with the GoPro Headband

Thursday June 28, 2012 - In an effort to re-create some of the nearly perfect POV downwind videos that Jeremy Riggs is creating, I purchased a GoPro headband and used it for the first time today on the 4-Mile to Mitchells run. The run was fun in good wind with a lot of small short duration runners, many of which linked up for longer rides on multiple bumps. The weather was drop dead perfect. And we have a solid group of people in our nascent and growing downwind paddlers community. We are all blessed to be in this place, at this time, with each other.

The video results with the GoPro set at N (for "Narrow" field of vision (FOV) were mixed. I don't think I captured the reality of catching and riding the runners from the riders perspective. The FOV was too narrow and the viewer just can't see enough. Next time I'll set the FOV to "Medium" which should provide a better look. The narrow setting on the camera was good though for looking at others.

But if I'm going to get good shots of other folks riding it will have to be a coordinated effort. Rider and photographer will have to stay together and work together to maintain position and camera angle and distance to subject. Two cameras would be better, with one mounted on the tail of the photographers board. I don't have two cameras but John just won a GP Hero2 at the Jay so I might be able to use his. Tail mounted camera FOV and angle will need to be explored, as will changing FOV settings on the fly and then remounting the headband so that it's secure and isn't pointing askew.

Any new venture needs pre-event research and in-water application to get it right. The adventure begins.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Downwind Videos by Jeremy Riggs

Jeremy Riggs is producing what I think are the best downwind videos out there, from an instructional point of view, as well as entertainment. What I've found in learning this new SUP niche, is that the look and feel of a downwind run are very unique, especially when it comes to hooking into a glide or wave. In conventional surfing and wave riding, the rider always looks back at the wave when paddling for, and catching the wave. In downwinding, it doesn't help to look back. That's not how you catch the glides. You feel your way in and watch what's going on in front of you and to your right and left side...but mostly in front. You feel the tail lift under a bump and you watch as the nose drops down into the wave face and trough. Paddle to catch the wave. Ride it, watching the nose do it's thing either staying clear of the water in front or plowing into the next little bump in front of you, or turning your board to go left or right. Feel the loss of momentum as you lose the glide and wallow in the trough. Regain your forward motion by paddling a little and then getting into the next glide. Ironically I've had my best runs when I am most relaxed and not paddling like a mad man to catch the bumps.

Of course my comments are those of a neophyte downwinder so all I can say it get out there and do it! You'll be glad you did.

Paddle With Riggs

On the Stand Up Zone


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Downwind Four Mile to Mitchells Cove

Saturday June 9, 2012 - I thought today's dw-er was going to get canceled like Thursdays until at the last moment Jean-Michel said he was "in" and we were good to go. I met he and his lovely wife Isabel at Mitchells to load the boards when all of a sudden who shows up? Another Frenchie. Only in Santa Cruz could I go from an almost "no go", to downwinding with a small part of the French world in America. Gotta love it.

Olivier had his F-One with him again, and Jean-Michel was on his brand new (we just picked it up from Covewater) Naish Glide 14 and he was super stoked. I was on the Covewater rental Glide as my new Angulo Shaka won't be here until July now.

It was an incredibly beautiful day with a moderate northwest wind which would later turn offshore as the high pressure system moved in to stay for a few days. Already the air temp was hinting at warm days to come. A decent northwest wind swell was in the water to top things off and all this in combination was the makings for a fun downwinder.

Since it was the weekend Four Mile beach was being put to good use by sun worshipers and surfers. Waist/shoulder high surf was pushing through the surf zone but the channel was calm and the paddle out into the wind line looked routine. This was Jean-Michel's first "real" downwind run so he was excited to try out his new board and get into the game. We had a short safety meeting and route orientation, agreeing to stay together and wait if anyone got too far ahead.

Jean Michel and I elected to take a line that necessitated a hard paddle straight out from the beach, skirting the surfers and the kelp bed upwind of us, hoping to make as much progress out towards the open ocean as possible. Olivier took a more angled track which put him into the kelp beds downwind of the channel sooner, but as he said you've got to paddle through the kelp anyway.

The more experience you rack up doing downwinders the better you get. That is just the axiomatic truth of the matter. I felt pretty comfortable in the wind today, and put together quite a few bumps, even hooking into a number of multiple bumps aka "railroading". You can talk about how to paddle downwind all you want, and it's probably not a bad idea to know what you're getting into, but when it comes to learning how to do it, you just have to go do it. But it is so much fun it is definitley addictive. It also adds another event into the SUP surfing/paddling/downwinding quiver. I suppose the only downside to downwinding is that you need two people to do it because of the shuttle aspect. It's also safer and more prudent to have a buddy with you out in the water.

At 27 3/4 inches wide, the Glide is tippier than the Shaka which has 30" of width. But the real problem I have with the Glide is the tall rails and hard edges. The board just seems to want to flip over more easily, especially in a side chop which is where I took my first of four falls. The other three came because the board wants to "rail-up" and turn sideways in the trough when pushed around by several swells at once. The Shaka just doesn't want to do this and the Shaka also wants to run on the bumps. I felt like the Glide needed to be paddled into the wave more than the Shaka. But Jean-Michel was having no problems and although he may have fallen, I didn't see him fall once during the paddle. As a matter of fact, he took to downwinding naturally. Between JM and Olivier I had my work cut out trying to keep up, but I did and this was a way to measure my own personal progress.

In the end we were all stoked and fired up to do more runs in the future. And the comparison between the Glide and the Shaka may just be personal preference. Jean-Michel loves the Glide, I love the Shaka. Vive la difference!