My Surfing Report Card…

7 10 2010

Photo: Starboard SUP

By the time you are reading this I’m on a ferry headed towards the mainland on my way to the  Yukon.  I wish I was off on some epic late season bike tour, but in reality I’m just road tripping to a project site for work.  I enjoy long drives in beautiful country and I’ve never headed north from the coast through British Columbia.  I assume it will be lovely and I’ll be rocking out to my iPod in a caffeine fueled frenzy of adventure planning as I eat up the miles.

One of my future adventures will be more surfing lessons and practice.  First I need to assess where I am at and what I need to do next. I managed to get in 1hr of SUP surfing lessons and 5hrs of longboarding lessons on Mon/Tues. So here is my report card from my recent lessons in Tofino, BC:

  • I can get through the impact zone okay on my SUP and on a longboard.
  • I’m pretty good at paddling a SUP in the waves.
  • I need more practice catching waves on my SUP [conditions were too windy this time for good SUPing]
  • I need to work on my arm strength to longboard better.  I was getting tired too easily just paddling out through the breaking waves.
  • I can catch most waves I try for on a longboard, but I need to work on my pop up so I get up on the board more easily.
  • I’m doing pretty well at spotting the waves I want to ride.
  • I’m doing pretty well at spinning around and getting into position to paddle onto the wave.
  • My longboard swimming [paddling] technique sucks and I am not getting good power transfer to the water which is tiring me out unnecessarily.
  • I’m okay in a small lineup and understand the right of way rules in the waves, but my spatial awareness isn’t great since I’m so focused on what I doing when I’m trying to catch a wave.

The first question is whether I should spend my time SUP surfing or stick to a longboard until I get better and then go back to the SUP?

  • My SUP skills are more advanced and a SUP is more efficient so I don’t get as tired.
  • It’s easier to catch waves on a SUP.
  • SUPing is warmer since you are out of the water and the water on Vancouver Island is cold.
  • I own some surfing SUPs.
  • Longboarding is fun and a better workout for me in a weak area [arms] than SUPing.
  • Longboards are ubiquitous so if I travel I can always rent a longboard cheaply.
  • Longboards are easier to use on windy days.

I think working on both makes sense.  I can’t really SUP surf if it’s windy and I don’t have the arm fitness to longboard for 3hrs+.  I own the SUP gear and I’m further ahead in that area so I’ll prioritize that, but a used longboard can be had for $100-$200 so I’ll get one next time I run across a good deal.  If it’s windy I’ll longboard and it it’s not I’ll SUP for a few hours, longboard until my arms hurt and then if I’ve still got some energy left I’ll SUP again.

I found a surf instructor [Adam @ Pacific Surf School] who teaches both traditional longboard surfing and SUP surfing – very handy!  I’m at the point where, as long as I am conservative about the conditions I paddle out in, I can practice safely without further lessons.  That will let me take my time and go for the best waves and also let me take a break on the beach without a clock ticking.  I expect if I put in another 6 or 7 more days in the waves I will be ready for some lessons to hone my technique.  For now I know what to do I just need some time making it happen and getting a bit more fit in the process!

I’ve never enjoyed swimming in a pool, but my appalling swimming skills and fitness may just force my hand and convince me to get a few lessons in the pool so I’m not splashing around like a wounded seal in the water!…=-)

In the meantime I’ve got a few surfing books and videos to absorb. Something I’ll do a bunch on this trip to the Yukon during any downtime.



10 responses

8 10 2010

For learning to swim, Terry Laughlin at Total Immersion is the man…..the Bruce Lee of learning to swim like a fish

10 10 2010

Hi, off topic. How was the Thorn Nomad to ride? I am looking for a high quality touring bike for looong touring and off-road use and I know that the Thorn Nomad is a robust bike. Was it heavy to ride (weight wise)? Do you think it will work to ride off-road with the steel fork? etc 🙂 Would like your opinion since I don’t have the option to try one.


10 10 2010

@Jack – the Nomad is a very tough robust touring bike. It can certainly handle some heavy duty offroad touring. The downside to that is the fact it is quite heavy and with some decent rubber on it it will ride like a truck.

If I was going on an offroad tour I’d take my Surly Big Dummy rather than buy another Nomad. The Dummy rides “lighter”, but is just as tough as the Nomad and can carry more.

11 10 2010

Thanks for answer, is there any other bike you would recommend? The Surly Big Dummy is so long 🙂 How was the Thorn Sterling if you compare it to the Nomad?

11 10 2010

@Jack – for a shorter bike I’d try the Surly Troll…comes with adjustable dropouts for a IGH. I have a Surly 1×1 which is similar and it would make a great offroad touring bike as long as you aren’t a clyde and you don’t go crazy on the gear.

11 10 2010

The troll looks really nice!! but how was the Thorn Sterling compare to the Nomad?

11 10 2010

@Jack – I can’t give you a useful comparison as I barely rode the Sterling before selling it. Having bought a Nomad I didn’t see the point keeping it since I also had a mountain bike.

It will be lighter than the Nomad and carry less weight.

22 11 2010
Steve Jones

Jack, I have a Sterling for touring and it’s a solid bike, very comfortable for long days in the saddle and up to the Himalayas if need be. I’m considering building up a Surly troll as an everyday commuter / all weather ride and I’d expect it to be just as capable.
One big difference though is the Sterling is built from higher grade heat treated steel if you care, where as the Surly is plain CroMo. and of course you have to like Orange if you want a Troll. They both are great bikes with a lot of potential and should provide years of use. Big dummy is great but I can honestly tell you, you don’t want a bike that long for touring. I’ve HAD to lug my sterling upstairs into motel rooms in the USA and there’s no way I’d want to do that with a big dummy! Probably do myself some serious harm. For serious touring, don’t get anything fancy like discs which are easy to get bent during transit. Keep it simple and get good quality parts. A suspension fork will let you do a bit of MTBing if you can tour with a light load but choose a basic coil one instead of an air fork for reliability. You don’t want the Nomad if you plan to do off-road, as Vic says, it’s not agile enough. Get the Sterling or the Troll.On the former The rear wheel can easily be removed with a Rohloff hub. Not sure about with an Alfine. Something to think about.Read the while out riding site on the internet to see what the Sterling is capable of.

22 11 2010

@Steve – the only thing I’d add is that Big Dummies and similar cargo bikes were ridden from AK to the tip of SA without issue. There is little difference between the weight of a Big Dummy and a Thorn Nomad S&S for example.

10 12 2010
Steve Jones

Yep, no doubt about it. The big D is more than up to the task of touring. i think what I was getting at is just the extended length
of the Dummy being tough to maneuver when you get into tight spaces in urban areas.Depends of course on where you stay or if you are camping out. The huge load carrying capability of a BD is a plus of course!

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