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

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.)

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