This past weekend I had the opportunity to compete in The Surfing AmericaUSA SUP Surfing Championships at Huntington Beach, Ca.
It was really cool to see that the surfing Industry is starting to recognize SUP surfing and that the Surfing America Organization added it into their competition schedule for 2012.
The conditions were 2′-3′ ft waves with a couple head high sets and foggy overcast skies that burned off by midday. There was a great mix of talented athletes from Hawaii, Florida and Southern California as well as a strong youth brigade of talent that really made competing in these small even more challenging.
Stand up paddle surfing in Southern California is always a mixed bag; where in the Winter, we have a good amount of fun over head surf and in the Summer we are always making the best out of our local beach breaks to get the most out of the small waves. Don’t get me wrong; we do get some awesome large Winter swells and and solid Southern hemi’s that really light up our coast; but its usually all about getting the most out of the small waves year round.
Even though I live in Southern California; I have been very fortunate to spend the last 15 years chasing large swells across the globe and have become totally addicted to riding big waves which seems to fit my style of riding better then the small stuff. That being said; competing against these small young rippers, with bodies that stretch like a rubber band was a major challenge for a big guy like me who lives for riding the big stuff.
For the last couple weeks I have been doing some R&D, riding a super short SUP surfboard By Naish “Hokua” ( 7’8″ x 29.25 x 4.5 ). This board has become one of my favorites and has really helped me refine my small wave riding style. I have to admit; I was kind of hesitant to ride this board in this event because of how slow the shorter boards paddle and when you only have a 20 minute heat to chase down and ride 10 waves against 3 other guys, you need to be quick and on point to make sure you get the high scoring rides.
After finishing 2nd in my first heat; I had a good idea of what i needed to do to keep advancing to the Finals. My first couple heats were really tough and sometimes I had to really stop and take a deep breath to keep myself from getting too amped because as the clock ticks down and your in need of one more high scoring wave to really close the deal, you get a little crazy and just go on any wave instead of being patient and selecting a good one to finish on.
It’s funny how your mind plays tricks on you when your paddling back out and you see one of your competitors just rip a wave to shreds and you can’t help but wonder how the heck your going to beat them; but I have learned and keep learning that it is important to stick with your game plan and alway have a plan B just in case. Sometimes competing against the clock can be bitter sweet, especially after you just got the high scoring wave putting you in the lead and you wish the clock would just speed up and other times your in need of a good scoring ride with only minutes to go and wish time stood still.
We were super lucky that the fun “A” frame conditions hold up for most of the day, although the wind and low tide in the semis and finals made for very challenging drained out, bumpy conditions; making it even more important to still be patient and wait for the right waves. My board was really working great all day and even better in the bumpy conditions because the short length really worked insanely well in the pocket and was super fast going rail to rail down the line, allowing me to out race sections with ease.
I was super pumped how everything came together for me competing in this event. Its great to ride with the best guys because it really elevates your riding. Congratulations to all the men and women athletes who competed and really pushed the level of riding to the next level. Thanks to Surfing America for an insane run event. The ASP judging format with the computer print outs really made it so you could concentrate on your surfing and not have to stress on whats happening in the judges tower.
I want to Thank all my sponsors and friends for their support in making it possible to push myself in all my sports.
Thank You –
Naish, Ocean Minded, SUP Co, Kialoa, Watermans sunscreen, OnIt, NOW Energy bars, Rainbow fins, GoPro, Dakine,
Sticky Bumps, SPI Laguna, Yoga works, 2XU Compression clothing, Monster paint and MOM.
When you don’t get the big waves at home, you have to go find them. Anytime the buoys are showing 15′ ft or bigger with light to offshore winds, I’m out the door on a mission.
my phone is ringing off the hook and I’m glued to my laptop studying weather and wave models on the internet to make sure I know where to go to get the best conditions and the best waves. Sometimes it’s a gamble, but that’s what makes it an adventure.
On this particular swell, we had a ton of wind and rain moving down the coast, but there was a small window showing a break in the weather with promising conditions. My partner in crime, Eric from Towsurfer.com and photographer Fred Pompermyer.
We left at 3 am in poring rain and wind all the way up the coast and about an hour from our final destination the weather broke and everything got super calm. We had our sights on a mini slab that always gets super good with a West swell.
We got to the boat ramp, set up the skis with rescue sleds and packed our tow boards and my SUP surf board and paddle, suited up and off we went. Conditions were so perfect, we couldn’t believe it. We got to the off shore slab wave and I will let the pictures show the rest of the adventure and yes, I took a good couple beatings this day; making it that much better.