Tuesday, August 10, 2010

LDP: Lay Down Paddle Surfing

This is what I wrote lately in a thread on the standup zone forum:

IMO, what is great about SUP surfing is the paddle and what sucks is the board.

The paddle helps with:
- generating speed
- pivoting turns
- balancing

The boards suck (relatively to regular boards), because they have the extra volume needed to make you stand up on them when not moving. Once on the wave, that extra volume becomes unnecessary and you have to deal with thick rails, wide tails, etc...

So I thought I should try to use the paddle on a regular surfboard! First though, I had to figure out how to carry the paddle with me...
First idea wasn't too successful.

Then someone on that thread posted that a French guy tried to achieve the same goal by building a belt with a clip where the paddle would be hanging. After a $1.50 investment at ACE hardware and one hour of work, I had mine ready.

That's what I posted on the thread after I tried.

The test was a success and a failure at the same time.

The failure was the system. Sorry Patrice, I don't think it works.
- too much drag
- too hard to turn 180 degrees when there's a wave coming
- too dangerous (the leash can get tangled between you, the paddle, the board...)

The success was that those couple of waves with a workable face that I managed to catch on my 8.6 were an absolute blast. Just like Patrice said in that article, I could generate speed, pivot turns and go for moves way more radical than usual, thanks to the HUGE aid of the paddle.
What an incredible feeling it was to have a board that you've had so many times under your feet and take it to do things you never even tried before.
It's like improving your surfing tremendously from one day to another.

The good news is: I have a better idea. I even know it works. I did it already back in 2004 on the SUP board number 4 in Maui... mine!
Not sure it will work on a shortboard, but I think it will on my 8.6.

In fact, on my good old 12.6 Timpone, back in the days I put a strap of velcro (counterparted with some velcro on the paddle) where to put the paddle when:
- it got windy and standing up was too difficult
- my legs got tired and I wanted to do some regular surfing instead.

My Timpone, in fact, was only 26 inches wide and it was totally surfable as a regular board. I remember catching some decent size waves with the paddle stuck on the front. In particular, a beautiful overhead right at Lowers that went on forever...
I'll never forget the look of the other surfers paddling out of the way of that huge board with a paddle magically stuck on the front of it and looking like an harpoon gun on the front of a whale ship! :)

Anyway, a bit of velcro on my 8.6 and here's what I was able to do.

In this last clip, you can see how slow my paddle switch is. Kai Lenny does it so fast that you can barely see it.

Oh, by the way. Now that I don't have to use the paddle to catch the wave anymore, the lenght of the paddle can be considerably shorter... that paddle is way too long.

And here's the feedback I wrote on that thread:
The system worked (even though it needs better attachments) and I got plenty waves. Surprisingly, I'm not as excited anymore, because even though you gain a lot in all the points I listed in the previous posts of this thread, you also lose something by using a paddle on a regular board: the complete freedom of moving your arms/upper body.

So, I think LDP surfing has a place to be, specially for waves that tend to close out and/or have sections that close out, but it's not going to replace regular surfing in my world... thank god!

Next, I'll build stronger attachments to install on the board to hold the paddle in bigger surf, but I doubt that I will do a whole lot of LDP surfing.
It's fun though to experiment and to mix it up.

Check those couple of photos of the recently held US Open of surfing that I grabbed from this Harry Wievel's album, and imagine how impossible it would be to do those kind of things with a paddle in your hand.

By the way, Brett Simpson is my new idol. He works hard a week a year and that week earns him 100 grands... not too shabby!

PS. Today I did two things that I didn't do since March 28th (that's when I broke my foot). Both were awesome and I'm very stoked!
Guess what they were?


Lano said...

Well, one would have to be windsurfing.......the other...hmmmm, went for a run?

Fernando said...

Veeeery good post. Shorter paddle, hummm, I will try it to.

Good waves, italiano.


Paddle Surf said...

It's like improving your surfing tremendously from one day to another