Happy Reflective SUP Birthday to me
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Tuesday, 12 October 2010 11:48
I just got back from an early Sunday morning 'nothing to shout about' session and re-read my first ever post on this blog http://csx355.blogspot.com/2008_01_01_archive.html and realised that it was pretty much three years ago to the day that I bought my first Stand Up board a Jimmy Lewis 11'from Tim at the Longboard house, and started down this road. Seems longer somehow.
I cant quite recall the exact web info that made me decide to buy one but I do seem to remember an article about Olaus Mcleod
and his original SUBCULTURE website that was pretty inspirational.
The first post on the blog was on the 28th of January following a holiday in Mauritius where I got to know an ULI 11' travel board prompting me to start writing the blog in the first place. Clinton Yap a.k.a. 'Steamroller' was the initiation of that with his amazing video clips surfing 'Ovah Rocks' on his ULI. Other videos followed like driving over the boards with his 4x4 and generally having a ball and not taking anything too seriously. Fantastic stuff. Still keep in touch with Clinton, Chris and Jim at ULI - great guys all of them, genuine and helpful.
The first person to comment on the blog was 'Stoneaxe' from the Standupzone, it's always been the comments that have made the blog worth writing sort of still comes as a surprise that anyone actually reads this.
Hooked up in the real world with Gavin another Jimmy Lewis user in December 2007 and we surfed every available Sunday through the winter and into Spring 2008 before both realising that we needed more from our boards. So by March we had both bit the bullet and had bought Starboard Extremist's, me a 9'8" and Gav a 9'0. Again as I write this it does not seem that long ago but the board choice available at the time in the UK was probably fractionally less than the number of Catholic priest's that didn't have multiple facebook accounts.
There were a few C4's and 3 or 4 Starboards, the Jimmy Lewis' some windsurfy crossovers but that was pretty much it. We tried the 10'6 C4 but that felt a little beyond us at the time and so the flat rockered call of the 30" wide Starboard's were the way that we went. The whole appeal of 'shorter than 10' was a big draw and thanks to the amazing stability of the boards and John Hibbard's willingness to let us demo them, we were of and paddling.
Re-reading the old post's the change from the Jimmy to the Starboard was not an easy transition and took a bit of acclimatisation. I would love to go back now and have a go on one of those boards just to see what they are like with the passage of time.
I can see a Starboard joining the family again soon - just not sure which one.
So we surfed our tit's off on the little red and white SB's and began to hanker for 'something' I'm not quite sure that at the time either of us new what that was, it was as if the Starboards had opened a door for us but were just that bit too wide to let us through. That's actually a pretty good metaphor for what was happening although strictly speaking it was not simply the width of the boards it was more a combination of our low skills level, coupled with the wide, flat, stable boards and a moderate increase in our ability to push harder each session on open beach breaks that started us looking for that extra 'something'.
The Starboard encouraged me to start to think about what and how the actual shape of the boards affected their overall performance, not just surf performance but paddle, static and wave entry sort of stuff. Deep ehh? But it was an eye opener and educational.
If the Starboards opened the door, the purchase of a 2nd hand 10' C4 BK pro showed me how to go through it, at warp factor five. This board was such a handful at 27" wide it scared the shit out of me every time I took it out, but what a surf board. Totally uncompromising, totally focused and the first time that I thought 'This sport has no limits'.
Time spent on the BK was well spent BUT there was no resting, no stopping and plenty of flailing and falling. It had to have decent pucnhy conditions to get going but I liked it.
What next? Easy, the C4 classic 10' slightly less aggressive and a little more stable but still very surfable with the bonus feature of being able to stop and look around. Glide was good too allowing early wave catching BUT it was still 10' long and the Starboards had shown us the promised land of 9' something.
I had been following a blog online http://ncpaddlesurfer.blogspot.com/ written by and starring Dwight and Jackie Fisher, I had left a few comments on his blog as he had on mine, there was a little network of surfer's following the same path. Eric Linter's 'How to' collective site amongst many others.
DW's blog was always much more visual and Dwights technical expertise and board manufacturing experience offered great insight as volumes and rockers were compared when new boards finally surfaced in real life.
Gav then bought a 10'6 Naish (he still had his 9'0 Extremist). The Naish was an amazing fully rockered board which surfed so well, problem was it was a foot too long to be really practical, on the strength of this however I ordered a 9'6 Naish Hokua only to have a rush of blood at the last minute and swap it out for the 9'3". That was 18months ago and although I spent 3 or 4 weeks thinking that I had made a mistake it would take something truly special to prise it out of my dying hands now.
It was about this time that C4 had launched the Sub Vector and DW was extolling it's virtues as a one board quiver option. I have yet to ride an SV but Dwight has since picked up the Naish baton and not only run with it but cleared the stadium.
Since having the 9'3 Hokua I have bought an ULI Lopez inflatable such a good board, similar shape to my Naish very surfy, super light and loads of fun. A 7'8" Nah Skwell fish founf it's way into my boadroom that proved beyond doubt that smaller SUP's can be easy, stable and fun. The convenience of living with a sub 8' board is a revelation and the ego boost is stellar, however for me the board was a 'one peak' product. My Naish has little glide but I can paddle it a mile or two up and down the beach while I patrol the break. This is something that you give up a little of with the Nah Skell, and I would venture with other boards that are as short, not a problem, but not for me at the moment. I also had a Bonga Perkins 9'6", Very pretty, very surfy and were it not for the Naish very keepable but no point in having both. Bloody good value though.
So, to what was meant to be my wish list board, the Mctavish 9'0. What a total disappointment. I ordered it early, it turned up late and totally out of balance on the handle - call me a ponce but it really matters, and it was heavy, at least I thought so. Construction looked ok but come on ok for a board costing well over a grand - nah!! Fortunately the guys at TIKI were good as gold and did not hold me to it, they sold it on very quickly. I notice that it has sold on again twice since. MMnn.
So my Naish - it's the longest that I have kept a board and is now my only board other than my ULI's. It always delivers and realistically I should just order another but there is a 9'er somewhere out there with my name on it. The Naish Mana with a slightly wider nose might just open some more doors to me. I have plans, who knows . . . been fun this.