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 there...no 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.