We have had an amazing time on our East Coast tour.  Charleston put it on for us, Mex1 and Morgan did it right and the film played to a packed house.

It’s tough to evaluate how good something is in reality when everyone tells you it’s great.  I’m a natural contrarian and if everyone is saying the same stuff I get skeptical.  If we’re looking through the lens of deliberate practice that isn’t actionable feedback.

The metrics I’m looking at during the film are smiles, laughs, hoots and engagement.  From that standpoint I do think folks are enjoying it.  And from a personal standpoint, it’s getting harder and harder to watch as more time passes since I’ve surfed a real wave.  The countdown to Cali is on, and the swell is looking solid for our whole first week.  I hope Colin’s ready because the froth is frothing over right now!

Charleston SUP Surfing

Yesterday I attended a JP demo day on Isle of Palms.  Charleston has a vibrant paddle surfing scene.  As it should, given the amount of surfers and lack of quality waves.  It’s a natural progression and I’d guess that as surfers in towns like Charleston realize the amount of fun possible on paddle boards we’ll have massive conversion.

I used the opportunity to borrow Corey’s 7.2 x 25 at 82Ls JP.  I’ve been wanting to paddle that board for a while given I’m a fan of the 7.4 (too wide and fat in the nose) and the 8.0 (a great board, just long).  I’m about 4kg from where I normally paddle, 3 weeks in the states will do that to me, and on this trip I’ve actually be trying to pack on a few pounds.  I get cold in Costa Rica and think having an extra few natural millimeters on the body won’t hurt in Cali.  Water temps are about 62 from what I’m seeing online and I haven’t put on a wetsuit since 2006.

Even with the extra kgs the 82L JP paddled great.  It’s a definite sinker, I was at my thigh, but the grip is so good that I was able to hold.  She’d be tough in choppy surf, but in clean conditions it would be no problem.

I can’t comment on how it surfs because the waves were about knee high and lacked any power.  I did get into a couple and it has that JP feel.  I’d expect a smaller feeling pro model.  It’s all going to be in the bottom turn.  The 7.4 lacks drive off the bottom, the 8.0 has it, but it requires a lot of rail which then limits you off the lip.  Maybe the 7.2 is the one.  I’m going to talk to Garry to see if there’s a way to test this board in some waves in Cali or back home.

My second objective was to drill on the paddle technique Larry Cain talked about on the podcast.  I use a very similar stroke.  Where we differ is in leaning forward and getting your weight on your paddle.  My contention during the show was that it would be difficult in riding smaller boards.  I felt that yesterday.

I tested it on two boards – first the 7.2.   I could get the weight forward on the toes, but every 2nd or 3rd stroke the nose would bury and require a massive shift to the tail, at times a correction back-stroke, and all momentum was lost.  I fell a number of times.  While the stoke may be faster, at this point I don’t think it’s possible on sinker boards.  I’m sure there is also a component of nose surface area, and that JP has a small nose.

The second board I rode was the 8.6 pro, pretty sure it was at 29 wide.  It was a big board but surfed much like the 8.0.  My wife shot this photo on an iphone.

Drilling on paddle weighting on the 8.6 was 100% different.  The board felt stable in the water and the nose volume, rocker and surface area held the forward weight with no issues.

At this point there is something to explore further in the stoke and the final decision may come down to the size board you’re riding.

Just like in surfing, techniques that apply to large boards don’t necessarily apply to small boards.  It’s one of the reasons why I advocate racing to the bottom ASAP.  No sense in learning techniques that won’t apply to where you want to end up.

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