Srfnff

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

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Two Training Paddles & A Surf


Saturday May 12, 2012 - Two weekends of downwinding, plus the good weather motivated me to get in shape for the ramping up paddling season as well as the quieting but sure to be coming smaller south swells of Summer. Monday and Wednesday were small surf days and conditions were sweet for a couple six and a half mile training paddles.

Launching from New Brighton is perfect for paddling a number of routes, which keeps the training and the scenery varied. Monday I put in at the state park and paddled the low course up through all the eastside surf spots and out into more open ocean through the Sewer Peak channel. There was a small and very inconsistent south swell still poking in but the waits were long and the training took precedence. Wednesday's training run was similar but instead of taking the low route all the way, I peeled off at the Capitola Pier and hugged the kelp bed into the outer water and up to the channel. There was a low chop and small headwind which worsened the further away from land I paddled. The whole thing turned into a slog in short order, but it's good to paddle in less than perfect conditions. I was glad and relieved to turn the corner and head down the slot into Pleasure Point though. The wind shifted and put a cool breeze on me that felt good and my spirits as well as my cadence picked up.

At last years Covewater Classic paddling clinic I learned a stoke that I call the "oil derrick." This because it's what you look like when you paddle. It's a bobbing up and down motion while bending at the waist that strives to keep the paddle shaft perpendicular to the sea surface. The idea is to pick the blade up straight out of the water and reinsert it while eliminating as much of the feathering action as possible to minimize wasting energy and maximize efficiency. That's the way I understand it anyway. It feels pretty good and definitely uses your core muscles instead of mostly shoulders and arms. Since your core is much stronger than your upper extremities this should add power and increase stamina. I had to cut an inch off the paddle shaft though, because I couldn't pull the blade out of the water without it catching going forward into the reach. One inch less worked better but I still need to take another inch off. That happens later today.

I thought I'd take a fitness break on Thursday but unlike paddling, surf is where (and when) you find it. I found some in the form of a steep gulf swell that somehow found enough west in it to push into the bay and my local spots. I knew it wasn't going to be much and that it wasn't going to last long so I hit it early, trying to avoid the crowds by surfing at the minus tide rising when I knew it would be sparsely populated. A couple other surfers had the same idea and because the county was paving the main parking lot for the L41 spots, there was almost no crowd until way later in the day. So I surfed for almost two and a half hours with only four or five other guys until I was tired out and bereft of blood sugar.

The surf wasn't epic but it was good. The low tide and west influenced swell pushed peaks and sections down the line so lots of waves were short rides into close-out sections. But occasionally there were those gems that just ran down the line at mach 10, letting you out over a rare for the day sloping shoulder. It was consistent enough that everyone got a lot of waves. Gary the longboarder surfs the place as well (or better) than just about anyone, and clearly got the best waves of the day. I really enjoy watching a good surfer who knows the wave and where to sit to get the best ones. I'm gonna have to Velcro myself to him next time so I can see what he sees. Nothin' wrong with that eh?

Two Training Paddles & A Surf from Srfnff on Vimeo.

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