Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Basin Backwater & Carolina Beach



A couple weeks ago we hit Topsail Island for some SUP surfing and got 1 3/4 full days of great waves and a shot of strong side-shore wind. I was not prepared for the wind. Having now a lesson learned I packed the 84L, 4.2 and 5.2 for this trip. Of course a couple SUP boards for tasty waves and sailing as well. This minimal equipment turned out to be the perfect call.

Jennifer and I drove into Wrightsville Beach late Sat morning intending to see Mac in the Mullet Run SUP race and try for some SUP surfing. Good grief that place was jammed full of bodies and traffic. Since the surf was dumping & pounding we headed south to Carolina and Kure. This was around lunch and by then the wind was pretty strong- definitely stronger than WB. I tried catching some waves off Ocean Ave but the wind and north running current were just impossible conditions. It was a shame since the waves were pretty good size but shorebreak only. Even if they got better with the rising tide the current and wind called for sail only.

Jennifer certainly wasn't ready for the ocean sailing experience so we hit the Basin in Ft Fisher. This was my 1st time sailing the Basin and didn't really feel all that confident there was enough water to sail since it was low tide. Luckily a local sailor named Ed came just after we arrived and I had someone to show me the route. There are a couple good launch spots. I backed up to the wall on the west side and used the grassy area there. You have to walk out about 150 yards at low tide but there is enough water for smaller fins. We rigged the 4.2 and RRD Wassup to explore the place. I sailed the kit for a couple minutes and was impressed with the handling of the SUP with the 4.2. I actually got some good speed and planed the board without the foot straps. It isn't that silky free-ride board skimming but gets pretty close as best I can tell so far. With some reluctance I gave the kit to Jennifer to try out. As we mentioned before you have to stay off the nose but the board did really well in the higher wind. She had no trouble working up wind, even though this model doesn't have a center fin, and was easily controlled. I was happy to see that the board didn't seem tippy at all. One of the highlights of the trip was Jennifer learned to beach start! It gets easier to teach the more I do it but each time it is a reminder of how unintuitive it is! She picked it up faster than most so either I'm getting better at teaching or she's just good. I think both.

Lunch time Sunday I paddled at Ocean Ave again- this time for a couple hours. The waves were a little smaller, the current a little less, but the wind was even stronger. I caught 1 magical crowd pleasing wave after about 1.5 hours of trying. The reason I got shouts of encouragement and pleasure from people I didn't know was they all witnessed my plight paddling into the wind and gaining no ground. Pretty much a treadmill out there. They pitied me but folks love to see and underdog succeed- Go Rudy! He can't fail.

Hatteras has spoiled me with high wind. I'm losing my ability to tell when it is shortboard conditions. My 5.2/84L had been rigged for a while but I didn't think I would be planing. I was wrong. Turned out the wind was consistent and I was powered just enough to plane even without the pump Saturday- 99% in the straps! Sunday was pretty much the same scenario but stronger wind. A 4.7 would have been perfect but I was all lit up on the 5.2, 100% in the straps! As the tide rising the place transforms into an even more beautiful spot to sail- there are huge ships sailing off into the sunset on the waterway, unspoiled marsh with nothing but green grass and an island between you and the Atlantic. I'll definitely be heading that way again.

Summary for Paddle Surfing Carolina Beach
The SW was Side to Side Side-on and cranking up the beach. Unlike TI, there really were no sand bars that I could see even at low tide. The waves break pretty close to shore so the drop in comes late since the swell seems to come out of nowhere in the deep water. Dropping in closer to shore was also the case last December when Mac, Rob and I were there. The wind was also cranking then but more off shore making surfing a little easier. Side-shore with the wind, current and wave going the same direction is tougher than anything I've experience. Just rig your sail!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

RRD Wassup Initial Test, 10' Stinger

Leah and I have really enjoyed paddling this summer. Typically for flat water paddling at Belews Leah would get the Starboard Drive SUP board and I would grab one of the old windsurf longboards out of the container. The old longboards function but are not comfortable at all. Thanks to RRD and Wind NC we now both have a SUP!
No doubt I had to get another SUP but I was thinking that the ideal scenario for Leah would be a board that would really do it all. Tony made this video trying out the new RRD SUP boards and the Wassup caught my eye. The 8'5" Wassup was featured and I thought the 10' would be good for lake and ocean. It arrived last Friday and we hit Belews to give it a try.

The Scoop

The first thing you'll notice is the 31" width- very stable in the normal paddling position. The volume seems to be a little more centered. The 10'5" Drive has more volume toward the nose. I was shocked how easily the Wassup turns on the pivot! The board has slightly less rocker than the Drive and you don't have to step very far back at all on the quick turn. I can't wait to try this in some surf- this should really pay off on the paddle back out when a wave rolls in that is too good to miss. Using the bathroom scale the board weighs just over 26 lbs. I tried for months to get the volume and weight from RRD but still no luck. Here is a forum link with thoughts from WarDog. He estimates around 140L of volume and I would say around 150L.

Jackson is all partied out.

We tried wake surfing the Wassup behind a very nice wake boat that some friends have on Belews. The wake is sooo much bigger than my dad's boat. The extra width does take a little adjustment- the board accelerates down the wave faster than the Drive and turns with ease but a little slower rail to rail. That is until you get further back and the narrow tail kicks in. It is almost like another gear when you center your weight back. When your weight is more centered toward the carry handle you have to put much more foot pressure on the rail to get the turn you want. Again, I really need to get this in the ocean waves to see how the board does on the transitions and different size waves. Stoked!

We had terrible T-storms all day Saturday but Sunday we tried some light wind sailing at Belews. Leah used the 7.5 Ezzy Zephyr on the Wassup but we didn't add any foot straps. (The Wassups don't ship with footstraps by the way). She was using the harness lines and it seems that the nose would dip a bit from the big rig. I think this board is definitely designed to be sailed well behind the mast, even when not in the straps. The rig seems to be placed pretty far forward as well. I sailed it briefly and thought it was very smooth- great pivot jibe just like the flat water paddling turns. The wind never got strong enough for planing. Since Tony is using the boards to teach windsurfing I'm hoping the board with plane and respond well to foot pressure when in the straps.

Summary for Initial Testing

We've paddled and sailed light air in flat water. Paddling it has a solid feel and good glide. On the tacks you have to watch putting too much pressure on the nose since it is a little shorter. For paddling the pivot turns are great. We surfed a boat wake and the board was easy to accelerate and get on the wave. Turns are deliberate and easy- on the tail the board is very agile.

2010 RRD Wassup 10' Stinger from r d moore on Vimeo.

Looking forward to surf, higher wind planing and surf sailing. More on this later!

By the way, I have to mention the rare July sunset sesh I had at Belews Sunday. Planing and at times over powered on the 9.5 and formula board up 'till sunset. SSW, balmy and all mine...

Monday, July 12, 2010

What in the wide, wide world of waves is going on here?

This time of year sailable wind usually means dodging lightning bolts. Even the occasional water spout like the one that moved across Buxton while we were there July 2nd. So what does it mean when a hardcore wind junkie like your humble narrator finds himself wishing for the wind to go away?

I did a little last minute weekend run to surf with my wife and sister at Topsail Beach. I've never been there and just got a wild hair. Sporting goods packed for this venture were:
  • 1 SUP board, for wave riding and general merry making
  • 1 sail, 5.2 m^2 for grins and giggles

When we got there Saturday after lunch it was mostly overcast with a light on-shore breeze. Low tide and fun easy waves. I could see some longboard surfers off in the distance trying to milk a few seconds of ride out of some shore break but we owned the afternoon surf along with the body boarders. Later in the afternoon the wind rose with the tide, turning more side side-on. The surf began to build pretty quickly and the side shore current right along the beach became downright nasty. The wind finally filled in to the point I had to give up paddling so I rigged the 5.2.

Somewhere on the NC coast some windsurfer made it out past the shore pound last Saturday. But they didn't do it in Surf City- or at least I didn't on my 10'5" SUP board anyway. The sea she said NO with punctuation. Though I negotiated with extreme prejudice I was swept sideways, pounded, smacked down, rolled and generally mistreated by the one I love. It is amazing how much you miss footstraps while trying to slip past the poundage. Each time I tried to position for the beach start the raging current rounded me upwind just in time to eat copious amounts of shit when the short period surf rolled in. I was denied outright.

The groups of surfers on shortboards kind of just appeared out of nowhere. I watched for a little while and noticed they ignored the sideshore current. They just surfed the waves as they came and cared not that they were sliding down the beach at around 7 mph. At some point a group would exit the water a few miles down wind and trek back up the beach toward the pier where they must have started. Seeing these guys catching the waves with the shortboards got me real jealous so I paddled the SUP board back out since I had no surf board. I pretty much paddled out prone eating foam and in a lull would stand and paddle for a tasty wave. I'm definitely thinking I now need a short surfboard. Those guys could punch right through those pitching waves! This went on until the storm that had been laying inland all afternoon finally hit the beach head with all that pent up aggression. The range of conditions I encountered Saturday were fun and I think I learned a lot. Not to mention the humble pie I got served.

Sunday was consistent, fun surf ALL DAY LONG. The wind was light and regardless of the tide the waves were just working. Again I was the only paddle surfer on the beach but there were tons of shortboard surfers out there all day. They pretty much migrated with the break which put them moving in on me a couple times as the tide shifted. No big deal though since the SUPs have so much wave range I just shifted over and let them have it. I could find a good break most anywhere. Jennifer and Leah both got out body surfing and later tried the SUP surfing. Leah took a rogue wave head on and walked off with a busted lip but took it like a champ. There were plenty of smiles all around so we'll definitely be heading back.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The high speed burn

As your attorney I advise you to take a very fast van with a rack on top. A tape recorder for special music. Acapulco shirts. Get over to Cape Hatteras for at least 48 hours. And you're going to have to arm yourselves with equipment... to the teeth.

Well it worked for us anyway.
I couldn't believe it. We've been discussing it for months. Eagerly watching the forecast for a week- seeing it go back and forth between epic and ehh. Friday morning Mark and I pulled the trigger 'cause it just looked too good not to try. Three guys actually had their schedules line up for 5 nights in Hatteras so we packed Mark's van and headed to Buxton. We just couldn't get over how good the conditions were every day. That is windsurfing or standup surfing every day with 0 down time. I expected to have a tough time finding parking at the hole. Would you believe we basically owned the place? Apparently everyone was waiting for the week after the 4th to vacation. This trip is one for the record books- great in every way.

Sunday to Tuesday were 3 straight days of great SW wind. No waves but the hole was cooking up some nice bump n jump- especially Monday when I ended up on the 4.2/85L hitting sweet right hand ramps punctuated with efforts to pop the kit with the Ollie. Yep I'm thinking of trying the Vulcan this year.

Meet Mark's friend Awesome Bill from Yadkinville. It was a pleasure having Bill join us. Very interesting guy that has been sailing since the 80's. Here on his first SUP waves.

Wednesday we had perfect waist high waves at old lighthouse beach.

Thursday we had some beefier waist-shoulder NE swell in Avon. Mark and I surfed all day with Ken and later with Andy, Drew, Ace & Lara. The SUP is amazing- the conditions were challenging but terribly fun. Later in the afternoon we talked of rigging small sails but didn't want to take the time away from the waves we were catching...

Mark has some video so I hope to update when we can go through it. Good times.