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.

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