Meet the Boss…

2 01 2013




Naish Surf…

28 12 2012




Tofino Kitesurfing Guide…

24 12 2012

Photo: Kyle Touhey

I found a nice guide to kitesurfing over at the BC Kiteboarding Forums.





Naish TV – Maui…

21 12 2012




Iron Mend Wetsuit Repair Kit Review…

7 11 2012

My Promotion wetsuit…

I’ve been using this Promotion wetsuit for 4yrs of kiteboarding. It has seen better days for sure. I haven’t found a good local option for wetsuit repairs in Victoria BC. I can send this suit back to Promotion who will do a great repair at a reasonable cost, but the $25 shipping each way makes even a small $20 repair costly.

A tear starting on the right sleeve…

In general this wetsuit has been wearing evenly and has served me well so I hope to get another full year out of it before retiring it. I recently noticed a tear starting at one sleeve which is a high stress area every time you put the suit on or take it off. I wanted to fix the problem before it ripped all the way through and made matters more challenging.

Iron Mend repair kit…

I saw a $10 wetsuit repair kit at MEC.ca called Iron Mend and decided it was worth trying out. It’s basically a large iron-on patch with some heat shield paper to protect the wetsuit.

Patch cut to size and instructions…

The repair process is very simple:

  1. cut patch to size
  2. heat iron [not too hot]
  3. place patch over area needing repair
  4. place heat shield paper over patch
  5. 2 x 10 second applications of iron with firm pressure
  6. check patch
  7. apply iron again if needed

My iron didn’t have any temperature indications so I started low and bumped up the heat when the first attempt wasn’t gluing the patch down properly. You can keep applying the iron as many times as needed if it’s not hot enough, but you’ll ruin your wetsuit in one attempt if it’s too hot. So err on the side of too cool.

Patch applied…

The repair seems solid and unlike my usual ghetto Shoe Goo repairs it looks almost professional! ;) I’ll report back after 20 sessions in Baja and we’ll see how it holds up to daily use. I only used 1/8th of the kit so there are several more repairs left in it. I’m optimistic I can keep this suit rolling for at least another year.





Tofino, BC…

17 09 2012

Wipe Out!

Rental cottage…

Heading in for another chilly serving of Pacific Ocean…

Staying on the board…

Who turned off the waves?

 

Walden Magic Model…

Close up…

Part 1 of the commute home…

Part 2 of the commute…





Quick Fix Surfboard Putty…

13 09 2012

Surfco Quick Fix Putty – Surfboard Repair Kit…

I was given a partially used Surfco Quick Fix Putty Kit a few years ago by a kind SUP shop owner on my way to Baja so I could repair any board damage on the beach. I didn’t need it that trip, but when I rammed some floating wood with the rail of my surfboard while kiting at Lake Nitnaht I figured it was a good time to see how well this stuff works. It’s simple to use. You cut off enough 2 part epoxy putty to fill the damaged area. You knead it together so the chemicals mix and then you apply it to the board to fill the damaged area. It hardens quickly and then you sand the excess off. The result is a strong repaired board that’s watertight. I hit the area with some white spray paint and the repair blends in with the rest of the board quite well.

Fixing my kite surfboard…

After the repair [we also fixed some damage in Kurt's surfboard while we were at it] I didn’t have a lot of epoxy repair putty left so I bought a new kit for $10 at MEC. That’s a great price and I really like being able to fix surfboards at the beach and being able to get back in the water the same day.

Repair close up…





Epic Stand Up Paddle [SUP] and Surf Company – Victoria, BC…

7 08 2012

Epic SUP and Surf Company…

The Epic SUP and Surf Company in Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island is a hardcore surf shop that specializes in stand up paddling. They sell production boards from companies including Naish, McTavish, Walden and NSP. Their in-house shaper, Jason Heinz, will build you a custom board to meet your unique needs.

Surf and race SUPs…

I was impressed with the high quality boards, paddles and fins in the shop. This isn’t one of those surf shops with more bikinis and flip flops than wave hardware. In fact besides a few wetsuits Epic is pretty much all boards, paddles and fins.

Essential SUP gear…

One thing you won’t find at Epic is a whole bunch of all rounder stand up paddle boards that most shops peddle. When I asked Jason Heinz about the absence his response was that all round SUPs didn’t do anything well and weren’t a good investment once you got past the lesson stage. So Epic stocks dedicated surf SUPs and flat-water/race boards which are excellent at their specialties.

Lots of fins…

Besides all the sweet gear Epic has 4 certified stand up paddle instructors to help you get the most from your time on the water.

Naish SUP and O’Neil wetsuits…

I’ve been thinking about a Naish board so it’s great to find a local dealer who carries their product. It’s nice to be able to kick some tires before buying.

Mr. Zog’s – a classic…

If you find yourself in Victoria BC looking for SUP gear or a custom longboard Epic is worth a look. They take their surfing very very seriously and that’s a good thing! :)

Catalog and magazine porn…

BTW – if the name Jason Heinz sounds familiar he built Sharon’s custom longboard last year.

Sharon’s custom Jason Heinz shaped longboard…





Lib Tech Ramp Surfboard

14 06 2012

Lib Tech Ramp Waterboard – Surfboard…

This is the model of Lib Tech surfboard I’d buy if I had the cash laying around. 5’4″ x 20.25″ is a great size for maneuverability under a kite with decent floatation. Bonus points for the cat themed graphics… ;)





Lib Tech Surfboards

31 05 2012

This video will only be of interest to surfboard geeks. You have been warned!





Vibram Five Finger KSO 2yr Review

1 02 2012

Click on image for my previous review...

Let me summarize my long term review of the Vibram Five Finger KSO booties/slippers by saying 3 things:

  • if you kite, windsurf, SUP or surf on the beaches I frequent in Canada and Mexico you either wear something on your feet or you get cut up badly.
  • these KSOs are the best footwear solution I’ve found for these sports in warm to cool water.
  • there is significant room for improvement of this product for the water-sports crowd.

If you want to read my pervious review click on the image above. I’ll only be discussing my long term experiences with the KSOs in this post.

Virtually no wear on the Vibram sole...

The Good:

  • they fit my odd shaped feet reasonably well
  • they don’t interfere with the bindings on my twin tip kiteboard
  • they provide decent board feel on my strapless kiteboards, SUPs and surfboards
  • they provide excellent traction
  • they provide excellent protection from sharp rocks, coral, urchins, glass, etc…
  • soles are very durable
  • available in black so you don’t attract too much attention!
  • reasonably priced for specialized sports footwear

Shredded fabric lets toes our and rocks in...=-(

The Bad:

  • they don’t fit some people
  • not much good in cold water
  • sole is much thicker than needed for protection or durability for board sports
  • thinner sole would provide much better board feel with no downsides
  • fabric tops are not very robust [mine have been ripped open between the toes several times now]
  • once the fabric rips small rocks and sand get in as you walk down the beach and get into the water. This really irritates the feet while you are riding for 3hrs and your skin gets soft.
  • glue is letting go between rubber and fabric along the sides

Bottom line I love how these slippers work compared to a regular neoprene surf bootie, but it’s sad to know I’ll shred the tops after a couple months of beach use while the soles are good for 10 years of abuse. I’ll keep buying them because for now there is no better alternative for warm and cool weather water-sports.

My KSO's have seen better days!

Here is how to improve them for water board sports:

  • make sole 30% thinner for better board feel.
  • they rip mostly between toes when a rock gets in there are rubs the fabric so wrap a thin layer of rubber up the sides of each toe to add to the durability.
  • change top fabric to something 50% more abrasion resistant.
  • to make the Flow neoprene model better increase size of each toe box to account for thicker neoprene material compared to KSO. Currently Flow toe boxes are too small for many people’s feet.
  • make a high top side entry Flow so you can tuck the top under a wetsuit leg to stay warm in cold conditions.

As I said in my original Five Fingers review – kudos to Vibram for brining such a novel and highly functional product to market. They rock in many ways and I’ll be buying a new pair of KSOs now that I have shredded and repaired my 2yr old pair so much they can’t be fixed further. I hope Vibram takes some notice of the concerns listed here. Everyone I’ve met on the beach who uses Five Fingers has had the same experience.





The Tao of Wow!

19 10 2011

Person, paddle and SUP - all you really need...

Over the years I’ve been exposed to a number of spiritual traditions.

  • My dad is Hindu.
  • My mom is Protestant.
  • I went to a Catholic high school.
  • I practiced yoga daily for over 3yrs when I was younger.
  • I’ve read extensively about Buddhism and other Eastern traditions.
  • And I’ve had friends that came were on many different spiritual paths.

Now that I am in my 40′s I find myself spending less and less time reading books about this topic or going to places where spirituality or religious experience is the focus. Not because I have no interest in that part of my life. In fact as I get older it seems to me that this is the whole point of life – to get a handle on your life and what it means. I’m finding that the most rewarding place to explore the experience of my life and to understand what it means to me is not in a yoga studio or in a temple, but in the everyday moments I live. There is no spiritual guide to help you down this path. Surfing and cycling don’t have a religious dogma to learn or spiritual instructional program. But, there is no reason that you can’t connect with God just as well flying through the air kiteboarding or gliding along in your sea kayak as you can in a yoga studio or church.

In fact I think that engaging in the direct experience of all that life has to offer in these ways has a benefit. Since there is no book, no manual or lexicon your mind is not being channeled down specific paths of thought. Your experience is beyond the bounds and constraints of language. Without words or a set of ideas someone else taught you you can engage with your life on a deeper level.

That lets paddling a SUP become a moving meditation. A consciousness expanding voyage into your reality. An appropriate metaphor when you picture a tiny SUPer floating on a vast ocean.

Your bike can be rolling along on two big prayer wheels as you pedal.

The wave that rises up behind you and pushes you along on your surfboard has travelled from halfway around the planet to interact with you in this one brief moment which makes it easy to appreciate the infinite connections we have with everything else.

Just to be clear I’m not down on churches, yoga studios or any other spiritual tradition. I figure there are so many flavours of humanity out there not everyone is going to get turned on to the same thing. Find what makes you passionate and embrace it.





What I like about surfing?

14 10 2011

If the chubby superhero look was hot I'd be on fire...=-)

Surfing is an odd sport. Everyone knows about it and most think they understand what it’s all about. They are wrong of course…99% of what people learn about surfing from popular culture is wrong or misleading. I think this is illustrated by the number of people who are uber stoked to take surfing lessons vs. the number of people that actually become surfers. I bet the % that do actually become surfers is less than 5%. That’s not just because it’s hard or that you need to live by the ocean. Kiteboarding is equally hard, requires very specific conditions to be possible and lessons cost more than 10 times what a set of surf lessons cost – yet I bet the % of kiters that take lessons and become kiteboarders is something like 30%-45%.

I chalk up the huge difference in success rates to two  things:

  1. most people know little about kiteboarding until they get interested in learning and what they do find out is closer to reality so there is no disappointment or unrealistic expectations to deal with.
  2. out of a 3hr kiteboarding session you spend 2hrs and 45mins kiteboarding – out of a 3hr surf session you’ll spend 15mins riding the board on a wave – if you don’t suck!

Now if you are an expert surfer at a world class spot without too many other people that stat may improve, but it will never get remotely near closing the gap with kiteboarding for % time actually riding the board. So that begs the question why surf at all?

  • well the short answer is the challenge and simplicity of surfing a wave on your board results in a sublime feeling of connection with the ocean and through it the planet. It’s satisfying on a spiritual level in a way that nothing else I’ve done for sport has come close to.
  • on a more pragmatic level surfing is low cost, simple in terms of equipment and it’s easy to learn the basics while difficult to become an expert.
  • it’s a great workout for your whole body.
  • surfing is democratic in that wealth/status on land don’t matter in the water although there is a meritocracy in the surf based on skill, but anyone that can ride a wave gets a shot.
  • you can surf anywhere there is a wave which makes it more accessible than kiteboarding.
  • surfing is much safer than kiteboarding.
  • like earning a degree or passing a professional certification exam becoming a competent surfer earns you cultural respect due to the challenge.

Keep in mind of course that my perspective on surfing is strictly based on my experiences here on Vancouver Island where we have so many world class waves they simply can’t get used by the few surfers that live here. I’m not interested in battling for a wave. I just wait until it’s winter in the North Pacific on the remote far west coast of Canada and all the fair weather folks are safely in their homes leaving the waves empty and waiting for anyone who wants to ride them…=-)

Surfing has a huge benefit for me in that I can take anyone out in the surf and with 15mins of instruction they can be catching waves – poorly, but nevertheless riding a wave! You can’t causally kiteboard due to the cost and danger.

One thing I try to do when introducing folks to surfing is get away from the Hollywood image of surfing and let them know that just being at the beach hanging out before your session is surfing. That putting on your wetsuit and studying the break is surfing. Paddling out and getting pummeled in the waves is surfing. Floating on your board out past the break breathing deeply while you scan for a set wave is surfing. If surfing to you is only popping up and riding the wave you’ll be terribly disappointed since that happens so little in a surf session. If you can see the beauty of the whole sport and connect with all of it from waxing your board at home to the drive to the beach to the struggle to pull off your wetsuit when you are dead tired then you’ll love it.





Tofino we missed you…!

12 10 2011

Cox Bay...

I had hoped to post something about our surfing trip to Tofino last weekend, but I’ve been sick and crazy busy so that’s just not going to happen. Here are a few pics. As you can see I need a more functional waterproof camera to document our surfing antics as well as a convenient way to carry the camera as we are getting pounded!

Sharon grabbing her longboard...

We had a great time as expected and convinced a few friends to join us on the first day. That was a lot of fun…=-)

Mmmmmm....salty...

Sharon got to try out the Clear Grip we installed on her board – it worked great as expected. My Clear Grip sheets from last year are going strong. I had 1 corner peel up a bit, but it’s not getting worse so I think I’ll just leave it alone for now. I rounded the corners on the sheets I glued to Sharon’s board to prevent peeling. If you are sick of waxing your surfboard and aren’t an extreme surfer give some Clear Grip a shot.

Life and blogging will return back to normal next week…=-)





NSI Clear Grip Redux

7 10 2011

Sharon's pink longboard...

Update: NSI got us the missing 4 sheets of Clear Grip ASAP and I was able to install it today so Sharon can use the board in Tofino this weekend. If they hadn’t rushed the traction sheets I would have had to wax a part of her board and then strip the wax next week to install the Clear Grip. That would have been a big hassle. Thanks NSI for sorting out the problem so fast – you guys rock…=-)

I used North Shore Incorporated’s [NSI] Clear Grip stick on traction sheets on my longboard last year as a wax alternative. I liked it a lot as it provided excellent traction [while wearing booties] with almost zero maintenance. I had couple corners peel up after a lot of abuse, but I was able to glue them down and expect many years of use from these traction sheets.

I rounded the corners this time...

Sharon wanted the same type of traction sheets for the surface of her new custom longboard so we ordered up a another package of sheets from NSI. They sent us a 4 sheet package instead of the 8 sheet package we ordered, but they sent out another 4 sheets as soon as we told them – thanks! Having some experience with installing the Clear Grip on my surfboard I did a better job this time. I rounded off the corners of each sheet to prevent them from catching on my wetsuit or booties and peeling. I also just did a better job of applying each sheet in the right position without spending a ton of time messing around.

Looking good!

I didn’t use the application pattern NSI suggests on either of our boards. My method uses less sheets and puts traction everywhere you need it. I had a spare sheet left over from my longboard which I donated to Sharon’s surfboard. By efficient application of sheets we almost covered the entire area we needed to. We probably need 1 more sheet to finish things off. Although neither Sharon nor I are hanging ten at the nose so neither of us need traction at the nose of the board. When we get to that stage we’ll finish off the job with a few more Clear Grip sheets.

Note: that we do use a small amount of wax on top of the Clear Grip where we place our hands when we pop up. The palms of our gloves are not sticky rubber so it doesn’t give as much traction on the Clear Grip as our rubber booties. I had to wax this small area on my board twice last season for a total of 30 seconds each time – YMMV…=-)





Sharon’s Surfboard…

11 08 2011

Sharon's custom longboard...

With surfing season coming up in September we pulled out Sharon’s longboard and made sure it was in good shape for some wave riding. She had it made custom for her by Jason Heinz a local shaper in Victoria BC.

Graphic detail...

Jason was great to deal with during the building process and the board was completed on time and as ordered. Strangely after that we couldn’t get a hold of him to get a few last details taken care of. His website has since gone offline as well. Not a huge problem as Sharon got everything she had paid for.

The waterside of the board...

The main thing Sharon wanted was to get the board covered in a traction material like the NSI Clear Grip I’ve been using on my Walden Magic Model longboard. Jason said he could buy it in a roll so she would have a really nice clean install on her board, but since he’s gone MIA we ordered the same NSI Clear Grip sheets that I used. They work well and are hassle/maintenance free which is nice.

Limited edition?....

If Jason is out of the surfboard business for the longterm I guess Sharon has one of the last boards he made. Sharon is stoked to have a custom board and it cost her less than 2/3rds of what my mass produced Walden cost so the price was right.

 





Hang Pro Wetsuit Hanger

25 05 2011

Hang Pro wetsuit hanger...

In the winter I’m surfing and in the summer I’m kiteboarding. Since I don’t live on Maui that means wetsuits all year round. Since I spend so much time in my wetsuits I buy quality items that fit me well and are made specifically for the water sports I enjoy. So naturally I’m interested in protecting my investment. One issue is drying and storing wetsuits on normal hangers puts a lot of stress on the suit as it is pulled down onto the sharp edges of the hanger by its own weight plus the extra weight of any water when wet.

How to gently hang and dry your wetsuit...

My friends Sean and Deanna gave me a couple of the Hang Pro wetsuit hangers shown above that they picked up on their globe trotting travels this year. These hangers let you easily hang your wetsuit by the waist and have a very wide curved edge the suit hangs from to ensure it’s not damaged.

Hang Pro in action...

The hanger is a robust product that’s made in the US. For the cost of a decent 6 pack of beer you can get one and it should last pretty much forever. Hanging your wetsuit this way is easy on the suit so you can store it like this for as long as you need to.

Hanging a wetsuit on a normal hanger...

You can see the same wetsuit on a normal hanger in the photos above and below. Keep in mind the suit is dry so it’s pulling down less than a suit that’s wet.

Eventually you'll stretch out the shoulders and damage the seams...





Sharon’s Longboard Update

5 02 2011

Surfboard blank has been shaped to 9' of wave riding goodness...

Sharon’s board has been shaped and the paint/graphics are underway.

Classic lines...

It will get glassed next weekend and be ready for her to surf two weekends from now.

Pretty in pink...

That’s the weekend I’ll be back home in Victoria – so naturally we’ll unload the Baja gear and then load up the surf safari gear for a run to a local break – if there is any surf that weekend.

Border done & ready for deck graphics...

So far the work done by Jason at Island Shaper in Victoria BC looks great.  Sharon is stoked to get her new board out in the water…=-)





Island Shaper Custom Longboard…

10 01 2011

Jason and Sharon discuss longboard options...

To be honest I wasn’t sure how much interest Sharon would have in surfing:

  • it’s the hardest sport I’ve tried to learn
  • the season around here is fall/winter
  • the Pacific Ocean is cold
  • she has circulation problems that tend to limit her cold weather exposure
  • it’s physically exhausting like nothing else I do

So I have to say it’s awesome that she loves surfing and with the right wetsuit seems fine in the cold water.  I bought her an inexpensive surfboard [8'4" Bic Surf] from a surf school in Tofino so she’d have something to ride when she came out occasionally.  She ended up wanting to surf at every opportunity so we sold that board to a friend who needs a low cost way to get into the sport and Sharon decided to reward herself with a new longboard better suited to her needs and developing skills.

I figured we’d keep looking around for a deal that fit her reasonably well and jump on it when one crossed our path.  I was a bit surprised when we chatted with Jason at Island Shaper as I dropped off my Walden for repair that he would make Sharon a custom longboard for $625cdn.  That includes custom hand made graphics as well as a length and shape made to order.  Give I paid $900+ for a production board that’s a deal.

Sharon is working on her board’s graphic design while Jason shapes the foam black for her.  If all goes well when I get back from Baja Sharon will have a sweet new board of her own to ride. Besides being better suited to ger than the school board it’s cool that she’ll be on a board made by a local Victoria BC area surfer.

Jason specializes in longboards and SUPs so one of these days I’ll probably get my own custom board.

 





Paranoid Packing…

31 12 2010

It always starts so well...

I’m getting a bit freaked out.

Getting my Baja gear together...

Each year when I go to Baja I trim my gear a bunch.  I’m taking way less than last year, but…

Arrggghhh....full again!

…my truck is always full!  How can that be?  You’d think when you take 30% less stuff there should be 30% more free space, but it never works out that way…=-)

Oh well…I’m going to blame the house elves!





Merry Surf-mas!

25 12 2010

Gnarly Santa!

I hope everyone out there has a happy holidays.  Stay warm.  Stay safe.  =-)

Sharon is in Huston TX with her family so I’m flying solo.  I’ll be in Tofino from 25-27 Dec to celebrate the lesser known holiday of Surf-mas…=-)





Battle Damage…

19 12 2010

I cracked her....

I’ved used my new Walden Magic Model for 6-8 sessions so far and managed to crack the fiberglass shell on one of the rails.  Not sure how it happened, but given some of my crashes and a few knocks against hard objects while carrying the board out of the water it’s not the board’s fault.

Duct tape to the rescue!...

I’ve got plans to surf at Jordan River today so I just slapped some duct tape over the crack to limit water penetration.  Monday morning my baby is off to Jason @ Island Shaper for a proper repair. Surfboards are very strong for their intended use, but fragile when smacked into hard objects.  I’ll protect my investment by jumping on the fix ASAP.  Hopefully I’ll have my baby back for next weekend.  We’ve got a boxing day surfing trip planned…=-)

BTW – I do store and transport my Walen in a surfboard bag to keep her in good shape.





NSI Clear Grip Update

17 12 2010

Wave hunters @ Tofino...

I’ve used my Walden Magic Model surfboard a bunch more since my review of the NSI Clear Grip traction sheets.  My impression of this product vs. surf wax is growing better and better.  I’ve also lent it out to several people who liked it a lot as well.  What makes it so nice to use [besides not having to wax or deal with a waxy mess] is that it gives you enough traction to control the board, but still allows you to move around on it easily when needed.  So if you are not positioned correctly on the board you can move your feet or body [when laying prone] easily, but once you press down and want traction it’s there for you.  With wax you get a lot of traction even when you don’t want it which makes adjustments harder to make.

Board's eye view of North Chesterman Beach...

Keep in mind I am still learning how to surf so I am not doing any radical moves.  It may turn out that Clear Grip isn’t enough when I’m working the board hard.  To confirm this next time I’m with an experienced surfer I’ll let them try the board and give me some feedback.

I have used a small amount of wax on top of the Clear Grip where I place my hands when popping up.  This gives me extra grip in the one area I want it without having to use much wax.

So far the Clear Grip looks brand new after a dozen days of surfing.  It looks like it will last a long time.  So far so good!…=-)

— All photos by Deanna Enman.





SPT Lockable Tie Downs

12 12 2010

SPT Tour 13' Lockable Tie Downs

Update: I’ve had these straps for just over a year.  They were easy to use at first, but after about 10 days on my truck in rain and desert dusty conditions [not at the same time!] the locks have become very hard to turn.  Since the keys are small and thin I’m afraid of breaking them off in the locks.  I basically have some expensive non-locking tie downs now, but since they have cables inside them to prevent cutting they are a lot harder to use as regular tie downs than the typical Dakine units sold for $20 at a surf shop.  I’m going to try some graphite powder lock mechanism lube as my last resort before putting them in the “Fail Bin”.  A product like this needs to work for a year in harsh environments without maintenance for it to be useful.  As an example I lock my truck’s cap with normal low cost locks from a hardware store.  These locks see the same conditions as the locks in the straps. They last 2-4 years of constant use before I have any problems.  I can’t recommend these SPT locking tie downs.

If you need to leave big items on your truck at stops or overnight it’s nice to be able to lock them.  These SPT Pro Tour tie downs do just that.  They have two steel wire aircraft cables inside to prevent cutting and the lock also means once tightened they don’t slack off.  I’m using two sets of these at the moment and they work great.  Ideal for SUP boards and/or kayaks.

As with all locks a thief can and will get through them with time and the right tools.  This at least gives you protection from snatch and grab thieves.  I’ll be interested to see how the locking mechanism deals with saltwater in the air, dust, sand and gritty rain water on the highway.

Just a note that the manufacturer’s website lists a $90USD MSRP.  I got them for $60CDN so they are available for less if you shop around.

Features:

  • 33mm U.V stabilized webbing
  • 2 x hardened stainless steel cables
  • Soft Santoprene protective casing
  • Polished die cast buckle
  • Weather resistant lock with dust shutter
  • 4.0m strap




Tofino Girl’s Surf Weekend…

30 11 2010

Sharon and Tanya wet, but stoked!

I took Sharon and Tanya up to Tofino to kick off their surf careers with some professional instruction.  I think they had second thoughts as we climbed over the mountains in a full on snowstorm before reaching the coast.  Surfing and snow…hmmmmm!  As it turned out we had two sunny and relatively warm days in Tofino which for this time of year is a score.

Surf Sisters School & Shop...

Sharon booked two days of lessons with Surf Sisters, a surf school that specializes in teaching the ladies – although men are welcome as well.  Each 3hr lesson began with 1hr of inside classroom instruction.  For someone who knows nothing this is useful, but if you have done some basic reading about surfing you may find that losing 33% of your lesson to talking isn’t productive.  For the girls this format was good and 3hrs in the water might have been too much to start with.

Signing waivers...

The first day’s lesson was with Lisa and there were two other people in their group lesson [$75/person for a group lesson vs. $150/person for a private lesson].  They worked on the basics of catching a whitewater water near shore and popping up on the board.  Everyone had fun and Lisa was a great instructor.  I was happy that Sharon didn’t get cold in her wetsuit. She has some circulatory issues that often causes her problems.  The North Pacific Ocean in winter seemed like it could freeze her hands and feet, but through the magic of her 6/4mm neoprene wetsuit from Promotion she was comfortable the whole lesson.

Scoping the nightlife options...

After the first day’s lessons we got showered and changed into warm clothes before heading out to eat a well deserved dinner at The Shelter Restaurant.  They have a very cozy upscale vibe going on that isn’t cheap, but the quality of the service and food was worth the cost.  The girls had ambitious plans for the evening that ended up falling apart as we were all asleep by 930pm!  I guess we aren’t rockstar material…=-)

Our room with a view...

We stayed at the Tofino Motel.  At $65+taxes/night it was reasonably priced and had large clean rooms centrally located for walking around town.  I’ve stayed here twice and it will likely be my choice for future trips as well.  We ate breakfast each day at the Sea Shanty Restaurant.  They’ve got a great view of the ocean and large portions of freshly made food to fuel your surf adventures. Another great place for food is the Wildside Grill located across from Live to Surf near Chesterman’s Beach.  They have great fish and awesome tacos.  We tried the Dockside Pub, but it was a bit below average and we won’t be heading back.  For a just a bit more $$ the Shelter Restaurant is a better value for food and drink.

Looks like recess at super hero school...

Day two of lessons with Surf Sister featured a different instructor and a smaller class with just Sharon and Tanya.  That ratio should have resulted in a better experience than the previous day, but unfortunately this instructor [I won't name names in case she was having a rare off day] wasn’t very interested in teaching them.  She took off and surfed on her own while they struggled and she didn’t even notice when one of them had a problem and had to go back to the beach to regroup. Lesson learnt!  If you are booking lessons with Surf Sister I’d request Lisa specifically. I can also highly recommend Adam at the Pacific Surf School for quality instruction. The good news is the excellent instruction on day 1 gave them lots to work on so the time wasn’t wasted.  Sharon did great paddling out past the breaking waves 3 times and then working on catching waves on the way back in.

Dreaming of the surf!

Despite the poor instruction on day 2.  The girls were so stoked by the beauty of the Tofino area and the fun they had in the surf that they were already scheming about the next trip to catch some waves.  I’d call that mission accomplished…=-)

Long Beach...

You can blame the lack of action shots on my poor preparation.  I pulled out my waterproof Pentax camera only to find not one, but two dead batteries – of course I didn’t have the charger with me…*sigh*  Being the “gear guy” this was more than a bit embarrassing! Oh well.  I assured them that next trip I’d have a functional waterproof camera and they’d be more skilled so the shots would look more impressive!

 

 





Installing NSI Clear Grip

23 11 2010

8 sheet package of Clear Grip...

One of the things I was not looking forward to when it comes to surfing is applying, removing and generally dealing with surf wax. It’s a PITA and it’s messy so I figured I’d see what other options were out there.  The obvious one was using an EVA deck pad.  EVA foam is very grippy and I know it works because I use it on my SUPs.  I was all set to get a SUP deck pad and trim it down to size for my 9’2″ longboard when I came across NSI’s Clear Grip.

Like wax just easier...

Clear Grip is a very thin [1/16" = 1.6mm] textured translucent deck traction product that can be used on any water sports board or paddle that needs more grip with minimal visual or physical impact on the surface.  Unlike EVA foam, which is springy and changes how a board feels under foot, Clear Grip allows for the same board feel as with wax.  It comes in 18″ x 10.75″ sheets.  I grabbed an 8 sheet pack [~$72usd] for my 9″2″ x 22.25″ longboard.

First sheet of Clear Grip installed...

I’m not a great surfer and I have no experience with surf wax so I won’t attempt to evaluate and compare this product, but you can read this review that states Clear Grip worked great and is equivalent to a medium coat of surf wax. However, unlike surf wax you don’t have to reapply Clear Grip and it won’t melt off and get onto your car seats or furniture.  If you want to you can add some wax on top of the Clear Grip for more traction, but my goal is ride wax free if at all possible.

Instructions...

I mostly ignored the instructions.  I did clean and dry the board throughly where I wanted to apply Clear Grip.  Working from the tail I used a pattern of sheets that required minimum trimming.  I used faint marks on the sheets and the centreline of the board to get the sheets laid down in the right spots [more or less!].  I started at the bottom edge of each sheet and pressed down along the whole width moving towards the tip ensuring there were no bubbles forming.  I paid special attention to the edges and corners of each sheet pressing them down firmly into the board.

My board all Clear Gripped...

I only went as far up the board as I needed to to ensure I’d have a grippy surface for my hands when popping up.  I’m not about to nose ride so I’ll worry about the last 3rd of the board later.  I used 7 sheets of my 8 sheet pack leaving me with some spare material.  I’d probably need about 3 or 4 more sheets to fully cover this board.  Clear Grip is easy to work with.  It cuts fine with s sharp knife and you can pull it up and start again [at least for a while] if your eye hand coordination isn’t stellar.

Clear Grip is translucent - not clear...

One obvious thing about Clear Grip is that it’s translucent not clear.  The pics above and below show the worst case and best case situations.  Depending on the light and if your board is wet or dry the Clear Grip stands out a lot or a little.  You’ll stil be able to see the graphics under the Clear Grip, but it’s not like you are looking at a board’s surface directly.

Not bad looking IMO...

Compared to a board covered in surf wax it looks great – see photo below taken from a few feet away.

Can you spot the Clear Grip?

I’ve had the board out a few times now…what do I think?

  • how grippy Clear Grip is depends entirely on what you are touching it with.  The bottoms of my booties and the backs of my gloves stick to the Clear Grip really well.  The palms of my gloves are a different material that doesn’t grip as well.  The body of my wetsuit doesn’t slide around when laying or sitting on the board, but when I want to I am move around on it easily.
  • so far I am happy with the Clear Grip…I’m going to try sanding the area where my hands are during a pop up and if that’s not enough I’ll use a bit of wax on top of the Clear Grip on just that part of the board.
  • I haven’t had any issues slipping during my pop ups, but I feel like I want more traction there.  Time will tell if I need it or I’m just talking myself into having a problem where none exists.
  • I’m not doing any radical turns at this point so I’m not testing the foot traction terribly.  It seems good so far.




Promotion Women’s Surf Wetsuit Sale

21 11 2010

It's superhero season on Vancouver Island...

Sharon and Tanya wanted to take up surfing this winter on Vancouver Island.  Sharon tried with her summer kiteboarding wetsuit at Jordan River and was too cold. Looking at new winter wetsuits in town the prices were $550+.  Then we noticed that Promotion had women’s winter surf wetsuits on sale for $216USD. All of our kiteboarding wetsuits are from Promotion, a small company in Hood River OR, and we are very happy with the fit, quality and functionality of them – plus they have great customer service.  So they ordered a couple up.  With the strong Canadian Dollar the price for both was less than the cost of 1 comparable new suit locally.  After try them on the girls were happy with the fit and are now scheming up a plan to take surfing lessons at Tofino BC with a girl’s surf school called Surf Sisters.

If you are a lady looking for a warm 6mm/4mm hooded surf wetsuit check out Promotion’s sale.  They actually have the same suit in men’s XL if you are a bigger guy and want one.  You’ll notice I’m wearing a hooded surf wetsuit in my last few surf related posts.  I got a Xcel 6/5/4mm suit used for $150 at a surf school in Tofino. If you are in the area the Tofino surf schools are clearing out their 2010 wetsuits and boards to make room for the new 2011 stuff and deals can be had.





Walden Magic Model by GSI

15 11 2010

Ignore the chubby superhero and focus on the board...

One thing that’s pretty clear to me is the only way to get good at surfing is to spend lots of time in the water.  The other thing that’s pretty clear to me is that my swimming fitness is awful which means I can only put in a couple hours of surfing practice before I’m beat.  So I need to go to the waves often for shortish sessions.  This logic found me at the Coastline Surf Shop in Victoria, BC browsing their board selection and realizing I had no idea what I was looking for.   One of the helpful staff, Dan, showed me a couple longboards including this 9′ 2″ Walden Magic Model made by GSI.  I went home and did some research and it seemed like everyone loved their Magic Model.  It didn’t hurt that the same design had been successful for nearly 30 years.

As a beginner I won’t bother trying to review this board.  I couldn’t do it justice so I’ll let the designer speak for himself in the video above.  What I can say to any other new surfers out there is that this board is easy to paddle, catches waves nicely and is plenty stable when you stand up.  Based on what I’ve read it should offer lots of performance as your skills grow. So you’ll be stoked with it in 5 years.

GSI Magic Model Brochure - click to DL'd...

GSI marketing spew:

“The unbelievable Magic Model was developed nearly thirty years ago and remains one of the most widely distributed and popular Longboards ever designed. When Steve designed he first board in 1981 it was deemed “Magic” by everyone that tried it and the legacy began. From a distance the board looks fairly conventional but as soon as you grab the rail, you know this is not a conventional board! From the nose the rail is tucked and blends into a rail chine all the way back to a hard release off the tail. The concave on the bottom is set from single, to double combined with a generous vee that you can feel when you initiate a turn on these boards. These features are blended to create an acceleration and release that feels like no other design. And the Magic Model accelerates with only the slightest pump. Remarkably stable, anyone can ride the Magic Model, from beginners in knee high dribblers to professional contestants in heavy conditions (and they do). One of the design features that allow this amazing versatility is the moderate template combined with a highly defined tucked rail chine. The board is stable, yet when you get on it, whether you are pumping down the line or jamming a cutback, the board will instantly respond. You’ve got to love it! Did we mention that it noserides incredibly? It’s a one board quiver that does EVERYTHING well!”




Heading down the line…

13 11 2010

Sombrio Beach, Vancouver Island BC...





Jordan River…

13 11 2010

Happy after a productive day...

Since we had the day off on Nov 11th and I was in the army for 10yrs I didn’t feel any need to participate in a Remembrance Day ceremony so we cruised up to Jordan River.  We started the day on SUPs and I can’t say I mind how easy it is to cruise around on those boards.  You can move anywhere you think is a good idea with about 20% of the energy drain that paddling on your stomach would entail.  However, the downside is I’m finding it harder to spin around quickly and get ready to catch a wave that’s near me.  On a prone surfboard it’s pretty simple to spin around on a dime and get ready to paddle into the wave.  So they both have pros and cons.  It’s cool to have both options because when my arms are worn out from prone paddling I’ve still got lots of energy in the rest of my body and I can hop on a SUP for a while.

The bad news is I’m still not surfing as well as I’d like.  The good news is I was for sure the best of the 4 or 5 beginners in the water and I’m definitely making progress every time I go out.  If there is one thing my long hard road to learning to kiteboard has taught me it’s – as long as you are making progress each day you’ll get to your goal.  I was pleased that I caught 75% of the waves I tried for.  I’m standing up and riding them better although I need to be more fluid and more precise about my pop up.

My weakest point is my arm strength. I don’t do any other sport that requires a swimming motion so it doesn’t take long before my arms are lead and I can’t paddle to save my life.  It’s very humbling to literally not be able to use your arms they are so tired.  Of course this has the obvious benefit that I am gaining fitness in an area where I can really use it.  I just need to stick with it and surfing will be a great addition to my quiver of sports and make me more balanced.  Kurt is an advanced swimmer so I’m going to get him to give some tips and I may even hit the pool a few times to get my swimming fitness to a basic level.

I found out Sharon ate the last muffin while I was in the water!

I still have that lingering cold, but I don’t feel so weak and I’m pretty much determined to ignore it.  Life is too short to be sick!

BTW – I’ve decided that surfing and SUPing are the perfect rainy day sports.  It was raining moderately to heavily all day and frankly it made zero difference inside my wetsuit.  Victoria hasn’t been half as rainy as I thought it might be, but it’s nice to know that when it does rain we have an arrow in the quiver…=-)