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.