In which your blog correspondent continues his SUPer surfing adventures

(I’m hot on the trail of tracking down a historical event, but in the meantime, another SUP account as filler)

Well I’ll be.

I’ve been diligently SUPing in the flat Serangan/Sanur lagoons, keeping to myself because if there is nobody to watch you, then you never look like an idiot.

Then I went normal surfing when the swell came back up. Observing one SUP guy in the lineup (more on him later) I realized all this time I’ve been holding the paddle backwards. The blade is angled, and I just instinctively paddled with the blade bent to the back because it that’s how it looked like it should go, streamlined and all that. But the paddle should be held with the blade bent forward …and the physics of that make sense. You want the blade vertical in the water on the power part of the stroke, with all the force straight back, propelling you forward. You don’t want to be wasting energy scooping water up.

Plus the shape of the paddle handle should have been a real big clue, but I was too busy learning the new brain-muscle balance thing to be paying that much attention.

Other lessons learned:

1. If there’s a strong offshore wind in the lagoon, easy to paddle downwind, but can be a bear paddling back. One’s body acts as a sail. In my case, it’s a spinnaker.

It can especially bearish if the tide is turning and the current is moving out the lagoon breakwater. Since one is upright with a clear view of the channel bed, one can be paddling all one is worth and watching the coral underneath going away from you, ie you are going backwards. Rather disconcerting, as if the laws of motion have been reversed. So I lowered the spinnaker, got on my belly, and paddled like a turtle with hands flapping to the side of the beast.

2. Fairly confident of balance in somewhat lively water, it was time to get in some white water, an occasional one foot dribble at a Sanur reef. Now, the place is notoriously shallow, and one foot is breaking in about one foot of water. Since one is upright, falling off the board from a height adds momentum to the plunge. Hence, next time swallow my “no booties” pride and wear the damn things.

3. Since the object is to remain upright OUT of the water, black is not the best color for surf trunks and sun guard vest. One bakes.

On the plus side, I get to wear my prescription sunglasses while SUPing. I have bad vision and can’t recognize faces in the line-up at more than ten feet, so if I know you, I’m not ignoring you– I just can’t see you. (I don’t have the kind of eyeball shape suitable for laser surgery, and I don’t wear sunglasses while surfing because I have a tendency to forget they are on my face until I am a microsecond away from a face plant – I know of a guy who lost an eye to a lens shard that way).

4. On surfboards, even longboards, one can see a wave and whip around. Not so for a SUP learner. The thing turns around like an aircraft carrier. I did notice how the SUPer (mentioned above) stomped on his tail, back-pedal the paddle, and spin about, but I haven’t gotten the hang of that yet.

5. Being more adventurous, I paddled out to a more distant reef where two footers were breaking. After engaging in various aircraft carrier maneuvers, I finally got in position to stroke into one and successfully caught it. Triumph! But I’d been out there too long in said maneuvers, and on the half kilometer paddle back to the beach, my back went on strike.

6. But I was out there a couple days later. A high tide, two footers breaking at crest and rolling along. Caught one right and one left. Double triumph!

A rogue wave (all of nearly three foot) rose way out the back. I was going to get caught. I figured I’d lay flat and arm-paddle through the white water.

Well, on a SUP, one can’t. I punched into the foam…and then the beast started going backwards! I surfed prone backwards for about twenty meters, watching the foam right in front of my nose pushing me, wondering when the fins would catch and spin the board around, but they never did. It was quite enjoyable, to be honest. A new surfing sensation. Wonder if there’s anything in it.

7. One last two footer, rode it as far as I could into the lagoon. However, when the wave stops pushing the SUP, the board also pretty much stops dead, like a runaway truck in a safety sand pit. However, the superstructure, AKA me, keeps going. Remembering the sunglasses on my face, I arced my back with head held up and belly-flopped over the board’s nose in a most spectacular fashion.

Back to that SUP guy in the lineup. One of the Sanur Side locals was surfing. I’ve known him since he was a grom out in kiddieland, and now he’s one of the alpha males. He wasn’t happy with the SUP and told him so in no uncertain language. Lesson there, too. The SUP opens up a new playing field, with lots of exercise, and you get out to spots where you can be alone. That itself is a throwback to days of old, and I was stoked like the kid I was once to be solo in those dribblers.

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