Hey there folks! It’s good to be back. We’re back at home in Nosara, the movie is finally out and the new site is finished. So, that’s a lot off my plate and the focus can be put back where it should be, understanding paddle surfing.
Before I dive in to meat of today, I’m sure a lot of you are wondering about the switch from paddlewoo to progression project. I’m going to be putting out a complete statement at some point, but the gist is that I came up with paddlewoo before I knew where all this was headed. I just wanted a generic term that encompassed paddling, and that it was. But through the evolution of this past 2 years of paddle surfing focus I’ve realized that these seemingly disparate endeavors, the podcast, journals, video contests, coaching, retreats and movies, all do have a singular focus. Progressing the sport and athletes in paddle surfing.
Progression Project aligns 100% with the mission and future of what we’re doing.
Ok… Let’s get back to talking paddle surfing!!!
I brought some some new boards from Cali. The L-41 and a Hobie. Both are 83L and that’s all they have in common. The L-41 is a 6.10 x 26.5 and the Hobie is a 7.7 x 24. Volume in both boards is pack in the middle and both board have thin rails, but the L-41 uses a step-rail and the Hobie has a domed deck. The Hobie has the smallest tail I’ve had on a paddle board, almost a shortboard tail, while the L-41 is the widest. Hobie is a thruster, L-41 a quad. If you want to equate the boards to popular shortboards the L-41 with be a Rob Machado quad fish, like the fishcuit and the Hobie would be an early 2000’s Channel Islands Kelly Slater model. Apples and Oranges.
Today I’ll break down my thoughts on stability as it relates to the shape. This is an accurate comparison as both boards have equal volume.
First, on either board, at my current weight of 188lbs. or 85.5kg, I’m well under water while not paddling. I sink both boards to my knees if the board is horizontal. If I keep the nose up, which I’ve found is much easier and we’ll explore that later, I sink my back leg to the thigh.
I came into this experiment with some preconceived notions. One was that the L-41 would be much more stable given the 2.5 inch width difference; and wider tail. And, yes, it is more stable in clean conditions, but the advantage is quickly overridden by chop. The low rocker profile and short length (6.10) make front/back balance as challenging as side-to-side. The margin for error front/back is minute. Too far back and I lose speed and sink back into a hole and too much weight up front and the nose buries and I’m squatting, waist underwater, waiting for the recoil to give me enough momentum to pop back up. This compounds in chop where with forward velocity and chop over the nose, the board gets buried. I’ve paddled the L-41 now in choppy conditions about five times, and I’m getting the hang of front/back balance. Here’s what I’ve discovered:
- Surf stance is a must and as conditions deteriorate, wider is easier.
- As stroke hinges forward more weight needs to be on back foot than other boards.
- Weak side wave entry difficulty is a 10/10. Any little chop, combined with wave push usually results in a fall, catching toe rail (also tough on the hobie, but for different reasons, rails up front are like a shortboard, so margin for error is extremely small)
This said, I didn’t buy the L-41 to surf in choppy conditions. I envision her being perfect in waist to chest high, light offshore surf – the same days that I’d favor a quad or twinnie retro fish. And on those days she’ll be stable as can be.
The Hobie is a whole different feel. At 7.7 wide and with lots of rocker, front/back balance isn’t much of an issue, in fact, once up and paddling she feels stable. The difference between the two boards is that even when paddling the Hobie at a good clip, my feet are still under water. And when you stop paddling the sink rate is much faster. I find that in choppy conditions I can relax more on the Hobie than the L-41, here again because of length.
I’m sure a 7.4 popdart at 83L wouldn’t have the same issue. I’m only discussing the length of what I wanted shaped. I’d also say that for 120% V/W ratios and up, the L-41 would be a much more stable shape.
Of my whole quiver, the Hobie has the least amount of float. The F-One, 7.5 is 82L and the Starboard 7.4 is 78L. But both feel to have more float than the hobie. My guess is that’s where you feel the width.
Paddling the Hobie is surf stance to pop up, but then I can go into my normal chambered back foot right behind front foot stance. There’s no real tricks, just more focus needed. As in paddling any small board, it’s all in the transitions, which I’ll be writing about a lot more in near future.
Good to be back folks! Enjoy your day!