East Coast SUP Hustle
After another ‘decent size swell’ famine for a few weeks and some uninspiring local beach break sessions, Loco boss Joe was desperate for this paddle surfing fix! Magic Seaweed suggested it might well happen at last weekend but as with all interesting forecasts they tend to run over into midweek when the daily grind necessitates doing some ‘actual work’ rather than swanning off to the coast all day.
Praise be to Neptune, Joe’s schedule was pretty clear after a few sustained weeks of hard graft but who would document the proceedings and enhance the general stoke levels? ‘Messers Dunton & Graham’ were recruited with a loose plan to max out Mon/Tues, but as with all surf plans they normally turn to shit and this time was no exception with ‘DIY’ and ‘nerding around with servers’ being the lame excuses being offered up on Monday.
All eyes were now set on Tuesday with great light, solid swell and less unhelpful wind to spoil our ‘board meeting’. Joe and Nick ventured down Monday night so there was a real chance of a 5am dawnie happening rather than missing it completely. Despite some beers and a late night SUP movie-a-thon we actually got up, gave our heads a shake and were in the van driving South by 5.30am. When we arrived at location A it felt much warmer than the predicted 3 degrees and once the sun was up it definitely felt like spring had finally sprung.
Boards out, wax applied, full gimp suits on and it was off down the hill for a scramble over some rocks and out through the channel only too conscious of some jaggedy, ‘board dingers’ under the surface! After about 15-20mins we’d managed to get out back without incident erring towards the left reef break much to Joe’s disapproval. That said it wasn’t long before ‘the big lad’ had his eye in and was cutting back to the pocket on his backhand like a pro.
After a couple of decent rides Joe paid his dues behind the lens as he was keen to test out the video/zoom on his new Nikon AW130 Coolpix action camera. Nick and Simon started putting some moves together with the left hander suiting the goofy footers’ hack and slide intentions. The reef certainly made for some easy riding and easy filming; more or less the same place every time for dropping in and Joe felt safe shooting on the inside even when the clean up sets came through! As with many dawnies the light was pretty amazing and with a limestone cliff backdrop this session certainly felt special.
It was Simon’s turn to play David Bailey so Joe paddled back out and waited for the next bomb while Nick connected a few sweet turns riding a wave all the way to the inside with a couple of stylish front-side smacks thrown in for good measure. This spot was certainly delivering the goods so far with all three riders getting their relative twists on.
Fair play to Simon and his GoPro mouth mount, he certainly took some beatings on the inside to get the boys a few keepers. It seemed like the left was getting a bit soft and crumbly so finally the goofy footers agreed to paddle over to right that had been throwing up thundering barrels all morning. However once we got there the incoming tide meant it had lost much of it’s shape and the waves position wasn’t as sheltered from the strengthening offshore wind which was the cause of much frustration and some choice expletives from Joe who’d wanted to get on it 2 hours earlier when it had ‘magazine cover’ written all over it!
After a few failed attempts at trying to drop into a hell slide with a solid F4 holding everyone back we decided to can the session and go find some much needed breakfast before heading back to Simon’s for a rest and to sort out any pressing emails etc. The only slight negative was the massive uphill walk back to the van which was a real leg burner and certainly necessitated a stop for a rest half way up. Once we’d finally scaled ‘Everest’, had de-gimped and chatted the usual post-session shit the van was packed and Sainsbury’s Cafe was confirmed as the next, much-needed stop! On arrival there was a slight problem, they didn’t have a Cafe but it wasn’t like Joe to miss a bacon butty so soon enough he’d scoped out the nearest greasy spoon which happened to be a bakery outlet just up the road who’s bacon stotties were just the ticket and all washed down with a nice brew, boom!
After what seemed like an eternity of faffing in Skelton, Simon and Nick stopped being forecast-obsessed pussies and we were finally back in the vans putting tread to tarmac. After a couple of location ideas fell flat we chanced our arm at an old and particularly toxic favourite. Joe was half-expecting to get boo’d off the wave but the other adjacent location wasn’t playing so needs must. Simon was out first and as he hit the line up you could literally hear ten surfers die inside and his first attempts weren’t selling the stood up version of ‘their sport’ to anyone!
That said the wave was smaller and less powerful than usual and the wind and outgoing tide certainly made it tricky catching anything unless you were right on the inside as Joe found out when he joined the party and caught very little trying to boss it on the outside.
As you can clearly see from the above photo Simon is only 5’6′ but 10/10 for effort as this wave takes no prisoners irrespective of size. Nick who was photographing the proceedings kept saying ‘this isn’t a SUP wave’ and dare say the hoards for proners were thinking exactly the same! That said Simon did put a couple of nice ones together but a lot of it was down to luck and having the balls to drop in.
Joe was less successful at this location, partly still working off his Xmas turkey, partly cream crackered from an early start and killer session and doing all the driving of course. That said he was soon out back, nervously encroaching on the surfers. After getting the lay of the land it looked like ‘the money shot’ would come from a super early take off some pumping down the line and a massive smack attempt. If only the reality was as simple as the visualisation!
Wave after wave, set after set he just couldn’t get the nose down the face. Much as the Aztec excels in most wave conditions the fat stubby nose doesn’t always like strong offshore wind which is normally fine as you can stand on the logo and force the issue but at this spot you don’t want to be anywhere near the nose as the wave pitches or it’s a steep drop into not a lot of water with either a board to the head or worse. It looked like wave selection was going to be key this afternoon with Joe deciding to stay deep and wait for the set wave while Simon preferred to stay closer in just down from the surfers.
It didn’t seem to matter where you positioned yourself! Unless you were on a surfboard and dropping in last minute the wind was a nightmare and the wave wasn’t steep enough far enough out to give us paddle surfers a fair chance of making the first section never mind riding out of a barrel punching the air. Joe’s session didn’t last very long at all when a set wave smited him, ripping his board clean off his ankle.
Nick certainly found this amusing watching from the shoreline so much so he captured a nice sequence of Joe’s board flailing around in the white water ahead of being repeatedly bashed into the rocks before grounding itself like a deliberately scuttled warship! Without doubt this was the primary reason Nick bottled out of getting in the water. It seemed his new Sunova’s construction testing would be for another day. Joe wasn’t expecting to see much left of his Aztec when he finally got back to rock laden shore; dirty metallic water ingested and wanting to shove his paddle down his leash’s throat but what do you know the Aztec was sat on top of cluster of rocks looking majestic. Surely Neptune was smiling on Joe today?
After closer inspection the hull has sustained a minor ding and there was some superficial scratching to the carbon rails but otherwise the board was good to go. That said Joe was beat so he joined Nick on the rocky outcrop to watch Simon failing around, totally out of energy for a few waves before everyone decided to can the session and head back to their respective homes. The afternoon wasn’t quite as epic down South as billed but the morning had certainly delivered and justified the juice money down from Tyne & Wear. Invariably one of Joe and Nick’s local spots had been cooking all afternoon but in the of absence of a swell-sensitive teleportation device you can’t be in two places at once. If nothing else we’d all pushed each other to surf better as is often the way with these trips, with Nick and Simon both looking good for next month’s BSUPA event. Whether Joe will come out of retirement we suspect not but he’s working on a new project that’s set to interest any semi-serious UK SUP Surfer.
If you like what you’ve read here and you’re interested in improving your paddle surfing skills in just one day we can recommend one of Joe’s East Coast Paddle Surfing Clinics or for those with less talent wanting to consolidate basic skills on flat water ahead of trying their hand at some easy waves Joe’s beginner to winner course continues to find favour both locally and with tourists travelling to the North East.