Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter Not Going Away

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This morning's fresh snow/sleet and its still going...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My Best SUP Surf Day Ever

The last couple of years of limited SUP surfing prepared me nicely for today's excellent conditions at Cocoa Beach, FL - light offshore wind and waist to chest high peeling waves. My best SUP surf day so far and I had it all to myself. Only thing missing was the NC Lake SUP crew. Wish you guys could have been here. Now we'll just have to be patient for the same conditions in NC this spring. Here are a couple of video grabs...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Have Board, Will Travel (but next time, take them all)

On a family trip to FL...doing the Disney thing. Did some exploring on the way down...checked out some Georgia beaches that I had never been to. I'll get to that in a moment. Lets start with the on-the-water time...

Luckily, I got in some windsurfing on Sunday...started out in Cocoa Beach in front of our beach rental home for light wind wavesailing on my SOS 10'10" SUP board (with mast insert) and 5.4. Wind was side-on 15-20mph with waves that were head high (some bigger). I immediately caught a nice outer bar head high wave for a long back side ride and connected the ride into an inner bar chest high wave all the way in to shore. Went back out for more and got denied on the way out in some big breaking whitewater on the outer bar. The whitewater carried my gear and I all the way into the inner bar....I thought it would never stop. I got seperated from my gear and went for a swim. I found out how I'm not in good ocean swimming shape. Made it to shore...luckily nothing damaged, but was worn out already and the pride was a little hurt. I don't think I could have taken another pounding and long swim.

So I packed it up and headed for Kelly Park/Merritt Island for some intracoastal/sound side windsurfing. Got there and it was blowing 25mph+! I had only packed 2 boards for the SUP board and my 135lt HiFly Madd because all the earlier forecasts said 15mph or so (DOH!). I was wishing for my smaller board. Tinho (Calema Windsurfing - the local shop on the water at Kelly Park) was all out of smaller rental boards. So I rigged my 5.4 again (didn't bring the 4.6 either) and stuck it on my 135lt board (oh my) and pretended I was training for slalom or formula or something. Anyway, overpowered but still very grateful.

My 5.4 handled the overpowered gusts like a champ ('09 Ezzy Wave Panther...loving this sail). The intracoastal water was very warm. I was in a short sleeve 3/2 but could have been in boardshorts. The ocean was colder but I was fine in the 3/2 there. High air temp was almost 80 on Sunday (has been everything from mid 60s to mid 70s rest of the time here). There were a bunch of other windsurfers at Kelly Park (as opposed to a bunch of kiters out in the ocean). Sorry, no pics of the action. I guess it wouldn't have killed me to bring one more board...but I was trying to travel light and nothing indicated stronger winds in the 25mph range. Guess I need to start treating winter in FL like we treat the Outer Banks...bring everything!

Took the family to Disney on Saturday and Universal Studios today (Monday) and was herded like cattle. Actually, it wasn't crowded at all today at Universal...jumped right onto every ride without any waiting. Kids were smiling and having a great time so that was cool. Tons of Brazilians here...I think there was 1 American for every 3 Brazilians at Disney on Saturday and a bunch of them were at Universal today too. Must be their summer vacation.

Anyway, tomorrow maybe SUP surfing before heading home...looks like light offshore wind and thigh to waist high waves.

Now for Georgia. No one in my family, including myself, had ever set foot on any Georgia beaches before, so we decided to check some of them out on the drive down. We stayed in Tybee Island overnight and checked that place out. Then we hit St Simons Island and Jekyll Island before heading on down to FL. All three beaches were very nice with each having its own distinct personality. None had any waves that I saw...but I think it was a flat swell hopefully they see some decent waves now and then because I'd like to spend some more time there.

Tybee Island - felt like what a beach town must have been like in the 50s. Very old school. is winter and was pretty much a ghost town, so I wonder how crowded it gets in the summer. The beach itself was maybe only a mile long. The waistress at the restaurant we ate at, Fannies, told us the town's citizens are all "characters"...sounded like my kind of beach town. This attraction has also brought a bunch of Hollywood folks there...several such as Sandra Bullock, John Travolta, Tom Hanks, and more have houses there. Lots of history there with forts and a lighthouse...Civil War battles over the route to Savannah...interesting stuff.

The kiddos on the Tybee Island pier

Tybee Island lighthouse

St. Simons Island - a bit more upscale and surrounded by golf courses. Nothing against golf, I used to hack the little white ball around myself...still do on occasion...but you get the picture with all the hoity toity crowd there. Still, a very nice village, with a very nice park on the water facing the inlet between St Simons Island and Jekyll Island. It was probably the nicest waterfront park (with kids playground) I've ever seen. The beach was as small as Tybee Island. We happened upon the First St beach area where the "St Simons Surf Sailors" are based. I had heard about this windsurfing club and their private storage area...but didn't know where it was and just happened to drive right up to it by coincidence. I may have to return one day to sail there when the conditions warrant.

WooHoo!! (St Simons Island beach)

St Simons Island Lighthouse

Jekyll Island - Costs you $5 just to drive onto the island. Very quiet and remote. This is probably because of the $5 fee. This apparently used to be the place for millionaires to play back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The old Jekyll Island Beach Club still stands and is some place...and must have really been the place back in the day. Saw the "JP Morgan Indoor Tennis Facility" that was built back in closed and in much need of repair. Not a lot of development and a lot of open beach. If you want a quiet beach...this looks like the place.

Georgia has tons of other beaches and islands but most of them are not developed and only reachable by water, which makes it more interesting and attractive...some potential places to explore in the future perhaps?

Good trip so is having fun enjoying the parks and the beaches, we're having an adventure exploring new places, and daddy is getting some water time too.

Backyard of our beach front rental home for our entire FL stay - not too shabby


Walk from the kitchen into this

Surfs Up Dude!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

2009 Water Shots

A brief collection (2.5 min) of the best on-the-water images from 2009's adventures...

Best Water Shots of 2009 from WaterTurtle Productions on Vimeo.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The NC Lake Crew represents at the Cold Stroke Classic

A bunch of the NC Lake Crew raced in the Cold Stroke SUP Classic in Wrightsville Beach, NC on Sat Jan 9th. There were 6 of us from Lake Norman (Mooresville/Denver area), 1 from Jamestown Lake (High Point), and 1 from Belews Lake (Greensboro). And to cap it off, we took 4 of the top 10 spots in the Recreational 12'6" & Under Division (out of 36 racers). What an awesome race. Congrats to Fred, who after falling in at the crowded start line (Brrrr), smoked us all to lead the NC Lake Crew with a 5th place finish.

The Lake Norman (and Mark representing Belews Lake) Crew - Matt, Nick, Tom, Mac, Travis, Mark, and Fred - photo from Tom, taken by Mindy.

Coastal Urge put on a great event. They were very smart in scheduling the race just before the Orlando Surf Expo so that all the pros would attend. There was Team Hobie - Chuck Patterson, Byron Kurt, Colin McPhillips, Tommy Lloy. There was Team Starboard - EJ Johnson, Dan Gavere, and Brandi Basawitz. Jimmy Lewis, Naish, Tahoe SUP, YOLO, and Kialoa team riders were also there. Coastal Urge also thought of many other details - from the music, the food, the expo/demos, the Polynesian Fire Dancer for the opening ceremony, all the way to the winners podium. Go ahead and mark your calenders for their next race on May 15th.

Saturday's race lived up to its name with temps in the low 30s and a 10-15mph NW wind putting a wind chill in the 20s. Byron Kurt from Hobie won the Elite Mens Division and is probably the fastest stand up paddler in the world right now (has won big SUP races in Australia, Netherlands, U.S, etc). EJ Johnson from Starboard came in 2nd place. Both are from California.

The Race Course

Race start - that's me in the foreground to the left with the yellow/gray sleeves and black cap. That's Nick and Matt 5th & 7th from the right, respectively. I lifted this photo off of Distressed Mullet's excellent SUP blog - I think his wife may have taken this photo. Thanks John! It was very nice to meet you in person after the race.

The day before, pro Chuck Patterson gave a race clinic, which I attended. Chuck was very nice and excited to be there even though he was missing out on some big swell hitting California (he caught a flight right after the race back to CA to catch it). In the clinic, he worked with everyone individually on stance, stroke technique, race strategy, and answering any questions we had. At the Friday evening dinner, he gave a video presentation that made you want to go out and hit the water. He's been focusing so much time in the big waves recently, that he entered the Recreational Division and just paddled around back & forth, talking to racers giving tips and just having fun. Chuck represented the aloha spirit well. I also met and talked to Kialoa and Naish team rider, Karen Wrenn and her husband John...along with Dave and Meg Chun, owners of Kialoa Paddles...all very nice people.

Chuck Patterson and I (photo by Tom May...thanks Tom!)

After the clinic, I demo'd a couple of SUP race boards - the Naish Glide and the Jimmy Lewis Slice. Both were big departures from my "all around" SOS Big Blue 10'10" and really cut through the water much more effortlessly. I wanted to demo more but was too tired after the race. If I intend to keep racing, I may have to get a race board built for the lake and inland flat waters. And another specifically for SUP surfing. Sigh...more equipment.

The biggest thing I noticed at this event was something that has been a constant and consistent theme with stand up paddling - everyone was smiling. It was very cold...and everyone was smiling. The SUP community is a very vibrant, healthy, and positive community...not only in North Carolina, but also everywhere else. This was evident in all the ocean and lake people I met at the race all the way from Hawaii, California, Virginia, South Carolina, Michigan, Florida, New Jersey, and other states that showed up.

NC Paddle Surfer has a good race report with pics here.

Local newspaper article about the race here and here.

Travis added race photos here.

More race photos here and here.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Kids Skiing

Took the kiddos skiing over the holidays...big smiles.

The Girls

The Boys

Daddy gets in a few runs

Friday, January 1, 2010

Winter Surf

Winter Surf from WaterTurtle Productions on Vimeo.

Hope you enjoyed the video...

Rob, Ralph, and I ventured out for a 2 day coastal road trip last Monday and Tuesday. Monday was real nice and sunny with air temps in low 50s and water temps in mid 50s. We were covered head to toe in rubber and felt very comfortable in the water. We settled on north end Carolina Beach with nice waist high waves, some higher, and you could find a nice peeler once in a while. We're still learning to work the wave but had a blast. The wind was straight offshore and approx 20mph. It was a new challenge paddling into the wind to catch a wave but they were clean waves for the most part. The spray coming off the back of the wave was pretty intense and made some fantastic rainbows.

After a couple of falls, I realized the wind was catching my board and flipping it high up into the air. This scared the crap out of me because you never knew where the board was going to land. So I went in and grabbed my helmet. In the video and pictures, you'll notice some blue things sticking of my shoulder. That's my Sanyo Xacti waterproof camera I had strapped to my upper arm. The blue things are little floaties attached to the camera in case I drop the camera in the water, it will float.

Late in the afternoon, we met Stan from High Point, NC and Zo from Virginia and surfed with them for a while. Always good to meet new SUP'ers. We were on the water from 11:15am to 5pm. Needless to say, we were worn out. After a big heavy Mexican dinner, it was tough to keep my eyes open as we were watching Brett Favre attempting a comeback in the 3rd quarter over the Bears on Monday Night Football.

The next morning, we ventured out to Wrightsville Beach for more SUP surfing. But the wind chill was 19 degrees and we chickened out from getting into the water. We scoped out some nice wave spots and definitely plan to return there.

Rob has some good pictures here.

Here is one he took that I lifted off his blog. Its me coming out of the water and taking my sweet time in the shorebreak...not realizing what was getting ready to hit me. This is the moment that shorebreak wave hit me from felt like someone ran at me with a full speed tackle right in the back. I was momentarily stunned but somehow didn't fall and lose the board and paddle. But that hurt and I can still feel the sting of that hit.

Here are some GoPro images including a couple of falls...

More pics...

Sunrise from the hotel room

Carolina Beach pier

Ralph, Rob, and Mac (thanks Stan for taking the picture)

Ooh...nice wave

Rob and the waterturtlemobile