Friday, May 29, 2009

SUP board for Oahu + Bart's adventure + new blog sponsor

Here's my latest take (off) on standup surfing.

As I already stated, I prefer regular surfing (unless it's one to two feet, in which case, the SUP surfing is more fun).
BUT, SUP surfing is a great alternative when I surf too much and my lower back needs some rest. While standing up and paddling with a paddle, in fact, I use different muscles and that makes other parts of my body sore, but no so much the lower back... so that's good.

The thing is that the majority of the SUP boards on the market are shaped like over inflated longboards and in fact the feel is very similar to a regular longboard. With the difference that in order to support the weight of a standing up surfer even when not moving through the water, SUP boards clearly need to be bigger (more buoyant). More volume is a good (and necessary) thing in order to be able to paddle standing up, but it's not once you catch a wave.
At the end of every standup session, mo matter how good it was, I always have this unconscious feeling inside me like:"mmm, I wonder how much harder I could have snapped that turn if I was on my regular 8.6..."
No complains, super fun, thank god for SUP, but still always a bit disappointing because the feeling is the same of riding a regular longboard...
Nonetheless, I decided to take an SUP with me to Oahu, because my back won't allow me to only surf.

So I tried a few boards to see if I could find a magic one. Ran into an 8.0 that was pretty remarkable, but couldn't get my hands on it. For all the other ones I tried I had the same verdict: too much board once you catch the wave. I can't dig that rail the way I would like to. Again, even though I know it's SUP surfing, once on the wave it feels just like regular longboarding and my body would like to dig that rail like it's used to!
SO... my choice is not to buy a new board (thank god, I really don't need another one!), but to take with me the Sea Lion.

For the ones who don't know it, the Sea Lion is a very peculiar SUP board. Designed by Bruno Andre of AHD, it's a 7.6 SUP sailing fish.
Here's the subtle reason why I preferred it to all the other SUPs I tried.
It doesn't feel like a regular surfboard. It's a completely different animal.
I'm not saying it's better or worse. It's just completely different.
And so, when I am on it, my body doesn't expect to dig that rail the way it does when riding my 8.6. My body actually doesn't know what to expect! It's a hell lot of fun to try to find out different ways of making that thing work. And I know that thing works. I saw Bruno ripping on it. So it's a whole new experience and it's more fun - for me - than the other SUP boards.
And I can put a sail on it. And it's only 7.6: easy to ship it on the barge. And it's super stable on the white water so that I can try floaters and stuff.

But SUP boards can be used not only for surfing, but also for other things... like exploring. Kanaha Kai co-owner Bart, for example, is up to a big adventure: standup paddle around the island of Maui! Check his blog for updates.
I wish he asked me for advice since I have a limited but significant experience of "long distance" paddling in Maui. About four years ago, when the number of standup boards were on Maui were still less than 10, with a bunch of friends (they all were on kayaks) I paddled from Hanamanou to Maliko.

There was a no wind forecast and only a couple of feet of N swell, so I figured I could do it... mistake!
The coast from Hanamanou to Jaws doesn't have any reef, so those two-three feet of swell were bouncing against the high cliffs and it was just too hard to to stay up. Being on my 26 inches wide 12.6 Timpone didn't help...
So I had to do Hanamanou - Jaws, alternating between sitting down and kneeling down paddling... make that five hours. Once at Jaws, finally the water became a little more stable and I could standup for the final part to Maliko. Still, my back was not happy. Hey, maybe it's when I fucked it up! Whatever, all I know is that that night I slept from 6pm to 6am...
Anyway, back to Bart: paddle hard brah, there's a N swell coming on Saturday and I hope you'll be back before that, otherwise it's going to get wobbly...

Hey, talking about my 12.6 Timpone, look what I just found: a vintage footage (June 2005) of a wave at Launiupoko. I took off on that one with the paddle stuck on the front of the board with some velcro. You can see at the end how I pick up the paddle to paddle out again. Nowadays SUP boards are way wider and a bit hard to paddle when laying down...

Last, but not least, I'm happy to introduce a new blog sponsor. A standup website called You can see their banner in the banners' section on the right. They bought a year of advertising in advance: thanks a lot!
Current banner prices are $50/month, or $45/month if you order 3 to 5 months upfront, or $40/month if you order 6 months or more upfront. Buy it now, they may go up anytime...

PS. I chose the sequence of the first three photos to illustrate a paddle side switch while riding. I took off with the paddle on the wrong side (first photo), but it's still possible to switch it on the correct side mid-way in the bottom turn (second photo) and give a strong stroke in the top of the wave that will help the board snap the top turn (third photo). I'm writing this because I often receive questions on how to use the paddle while surfing. Well, next time I receive that question I will tell them to look for the SUP label on my blog, where this post is going to be classified...
PPS. I'm now testing paddles, so be ready for another SUP related post soon...

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