4 02 2013
Warming the body and feeding the stoke before hitting the waves...

Warming the body and feeding the stoke before hitting the waves…

My interest in SUPs hasn’t been as strong the last couple years as I had hoped it would be. Even when I showed up in Baja this winter I unloaded my two SUPs and they sat next to my camp unused for the whole time I was in La Ventana. I had actually begun to think I should sell them as they seemed one interest too far removed from the kiteboarding and cycling that got most of my free time.

I’m really glad I didn’t!

Heading out into the waves...

Heading out into the waves…

I decided to spend a week camped on a bluff over looking a point break on Baja’s Pacific Coast with a goal to dial in my SUP surfing. First chance I got I unpacked my SUP and headed out into the waves. The results were not pretty at first, but I stuck with it and by day 2 I was catching waves and having a blast. SUP surfing was super duper fun! ūüôā After that I was SUP surfing everyday that conditions were suitable.

Paddling to catch a wave...

Paddling to catch a wave…

Looking back on the SUP part of my life what’s causing the lack of participation is that I have other interests in Victoria [mainly MTBing] that are easier to do and more satisfying than going on a flatwater SUP paddle. I guess that’s not terribly surprising since my interest in going for a chill road ride or a hike is also pretty much zero.

My buddy Clint showing me how it's done...

My buddy Clint showing me how it’s done…

I’ve tried my hand at SUP surfing before, but never quite gotten far enough along to really do it or enjoy it fully. Being a¬†beginner¬†who is just below the threshold for¬†competence is frustrating and the surfing world [in general] does not make a kook feel welcome. Combine that with the logistics of driving to a surf break from my house and having my arrival coincide with suitable newbie SUP surfing conditions. The result was not enough traction to get over the “hump” so to speak.

More Clint SUP action...

More Clint SUP action…

Spending a week camped right at an uncrowded surf break that had perfect SUP waves was exactly what the doctor ordered. My buddy Clint who camped with me is an accomplished SUP surfer and he gave me the tips I needed to make a break through. By the end I was paddling around with confidence and catching a¬†reasonable¬†amount of waves. I feel okay calling myself a bonafide SUP surfer now – albeit a kooky one who still has lots and lots to learn. ūüėČ

My new old surf SUP...

My new old surf SUP…

When I bought my first two SUPs used from The Easy Rider in Edmonton one of them was the 9’8″ surf oriented SUP shown above. I’ve never really used that board because it’s not suited for flatwater paddling and I was happy trying to surf on my bigger SUPs – not wanting to make things more challenging than I had to. Now that I can actually catch waves the smaller size and enhanced¬†maneuverability¬†of this SUP is appealing. In fact it’s the same board Clint was riding so I know it can surf really well. It’s nice to have paid off your next surfboard upgrade several years in the past!

Starboard Extremist 9'8" surf SUP...

Starboard Extremist 9’8″ surf SUP…

I’m going to take advantage of my less than full time contract hours and head to Jordan River this winter when conditions look decent for my skill level. I figure if I hit the break early on mid-week days I should have the place mostly to myself. Especially considering the modest swell size that I’ll be shooting for!

This is what it feels like to me even when the waves are only 3' high... ;)

This is what it feels like to me even when the waves are only 3′ high… ūüėČ

I’m really glad I stuck with SUP surfing and dedicated a week in Baja to making it happen. ūüôā

Safety makes me sad…=-(

17 07 2011

This what I love about SUPing...

When I saw my first stand up paddle boarder [SUPer] down in Hood River OR I loved how simple an activity it was. You just needed a board and a paddle. You could use it on a lake, river or in the ocean. You could paddle for distance or catch waves. So simple. So much fun.¬†I got a couple SUPs and have enjoyed them in Canada, the US and Mexico. It’s a great way to get some exercise and so easy to teach someone that it’s an awesome way to get your friends out on the water.

Sadly my days of SUPing like in the photo above have come to an end – at least at home….=-( The local Coast Guard has decided that a SUP is a small boat and must have life jackets aboard. There is some uncertainty if a SUP also needs a throw rope, a¬†signaling¬†device¬†and other¬†safety¬†gear…*sigh*! Trying to SUP with a life jacket on is hard and not much fun due to the paddling motion. The rules don’t actually require you to wear the life jacket so if you can figure out a way to attach it to the board you can paddle without one on, but now it catches the wind and makes staying on course harder.

What’s really dumb of course is that a SUP is a personal flotation device! A much more effective one than a life jacket – especially one you don’t have to wear. SUPers have tried unsuccessfully to argue that the rules¬†should¬†require a SUPer to wear a leash which keeps them attached to their board rather than requiring a PFD. Under the current rules a SUPer could fall off their board and watch it sail away out of swimming distance with the PFD legally secured to the nose acting like a sail! Unfortunately this is far too rationale an approach for the authorities.

I’ve heard¬†arguments¬†made that SUPers need a life jacket because they could fall off their board and hit their head on it rendering themselves¬†unconscious. It sounds reasonable, but upon further examination this is just more safety illogic. First off the rules don’t require SUPers to wear a PFD. They just have to have one aboard their vessel. Secondly the approved PFDs a sea kayaker or SUPer would wear do not support the head out of the water so an¬†unconscious¬†person¬†will drown – it will just be easier to find the dead body!

So what am I going to do?

  • I haven’t SUP’d near home in Victoria this year and I’m not highly motivated to given all the stupid rules being enforced for my safety.
  • There is no Coast Guard presence up at Nitnaht Lake and SUPers can paddle their boards with sanity prevailing at this remote lake.
  • Mexico doesn’t have any Safety Nazis enforcing goofy rules so SUPing there is still sensible and I’ll bring my SUPs south of the border when I can.
  • I’m looking at an¬†inflatable¬†PFD at MEC. It costs $150 adds nothing to my safety given my 200L SUP flotation device, but it would get the authorities off my back so I may have to get one.
  • I won’t modify my SUPs to strap a life jacket to the nose because 1) that’s a stupid place for a PFD and 2) I take them into the surf and any thing that can catch on your skin/wetsuit when tumbling in the waves is a safety hazard for real!
  • Bottom line I’ll just SUP less than I would have last year when they didn’t enforce these rules.

Prior to the enforcement of these¬†idiotic¬†rules I was really hopeful that SUPing would be a game changer as it’s the simplest and cheapest way to get folks out on the water for some fun¬†exercise. However, making people wear a PFD which hinders their ability to paddle or forcing them to spend $150 on an inflatable PFD will just add another hurdle to the process which will simply mean less people getting exercise and being a bit healthier.

I think we should start a new safety¬†campaign¬†– “Be most saferest! Stay at home in front of your TV and order a pizza. No helmet or life jacket required!

What really makes me laugh is that kiteboarding is way more dangerous than either biking or SUPing and no helmet or PFD is required. Not to mention that I can skateboard around Victoria without a helmet, but if I want to ride one of those dangerous bicycles I have to strap on a skid lid ’cause the can kill you….LMAO!

If our goal as a society is to make getting exercise outdoors a pain in the butt we should congratulate ourselves – we are succeeding!

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.

Wave Progression

3 10 2010

Surfs up...

I spent just about every free moment this summer kiteboarding. ¬†I’m addicted for sure. ¬†For the most part I’ve been kiteboarding on wind swell on lakes and oceans. ¬†That’s fun, but it’s not the same as surfing. ¬†Surfing is when you use the power of the wave you are riding to move you forward vs. using the power of the kite.

I’m stoked to kite in the waves, but it’s a bit¬†intimidating¬†because the consequences of¬†crashing¬†are much more severe when you are¬†attached¬†to a kite. ¬†You can of course ditch your kite and swim to shore, but that gets expensive fast.

Tofino and area...

I’ve had one day of SUP surfing lessons which taught me a lot, but it also made clear the fact I need to learn a lot more before I can play in the waves with ease. Calling around Vancouver Island it seems SUP surfing lessons are not popular so I’m headed to Tofino [Long Beach] on Monday and Tuesday of this week to get some straight up longboard surfing lessons.

Ultimately surfing on a longboard, a SUP or a shortboard w/ kite is all about making friends with the waves and finding your balance on the board.  So I figure any time I spend riding waves will translate across all three flavours of wave sports.

Long Beach...

I’ll be bringing my SUP and my kiteboarding gear just in case there is any extra time to mess around and conditions seem right. ¬†I expect that I’ll be pretty tired after 3hrs of surfing lessons so I probably won’t get to use them, but who knows?

Starboard Windsurfing Porn…

8 09 2010

Starboard 2011 “The New”…

31 08 2010

Starboard 2011 SUP Porn...

Starboard has several new race boards out for 2011. ¬†I’ve been enjoying my Starboard The Ultimate Blend SUP, but have been yearning for more speed. The oddly named The New race board from Starboard looks like just the ticket for¬†high speed¬†paddling around Victoria.

Since Bellingham Kite Paddle Surf is a Starboard dealer [and just happens to have one of these boards in the showroom] I think I may have to have a chat with them…=-)

Sharon gets her Victoria SUP on…

23 07 2010

Two 11' SUPs and paddles....oh ya!

Sharon and I rode down to the Gorge with a couple stand up paddle boards. This was her first SUP session in Victoria and her first ever bike powered SUP session…=-)

Sharon paddling her pink SUP...

We cruised east towards the inner harbour…the opposite direction to my solo SUP paddle a couple of weeks ago.¬† This meant we headed into a moderate headwind which made for harder paddling, but an easy return trip.¬† Surprisingly the waterfront between the paddle club where we launched and the inner harbour was very very industrial.

Sharon SUPing with a cement factory in the background...

We paddled past a cement factory, a car wrecker, a couple of ship building yards and some construction sites.¬† It wasn’t too hard to make it to the dock below the Ocean River Kayak shop…which is also a handy place to access MEC and other downtown stores.¬† I’m hoping they’ll let me lock up my SUP on their dock so I can do some SUP powered errands instead of biking every time.

Sharon takes a break at the Ocean River docks...

We turned back before getting to the inner harbour since this was Sharon’s first SUP paddle in months we didn’t want to overdo it.¬† On a good day I should be able to paddle the whole Gorge.

Sharon doing some 70's themed SUPing...

Sharon had a great time, but we had a flat tire problem on my Surly Big Dummy when we rode home…=-(¬† *sigh*¬† It added a long hot delay into our return voyage.¬† I’ll be making sure I’m fully stocked for tools, pump and supplies in the future.