If you are one of the very lucky people who are visiting Merimbula for the school holidays, make sure you take advantage of our crazy Autumn SUP sale! Don't forget that you are very welcome to try out our range of boards if you are interested in making a purchase. Steve would love to meet you at the Merimbula Lake with any boards you would like to test out, so call him today!
Steve: 0407 420 496
Have you ever been out on the water and experienced a complete glass off? What I mean by glass off is this, completely smooth water without a ripple on it. Well if you haven't, picture this. You are paddling on a crystal clear estuary with a very light wind blowing. The sun is shining on the water, you're totally in the present moment without a care in the world and everything in life for that moment is about as good as it can get. All of a sudden the little bit of wind that was blowing totally drops off. The surface of the water turns into a complete sheet of glass without any disturbance of any kind on the surface. As you look down, it almost appears as if there is no water under you at all, it is so clear it is almost invisible. It feels like you are just hanging there, suspended a few metres above the estuary floor. At this point the visibility is as good as it gets and you can see even the smallest features on the estuary floor. All of your senses are heightened to an amazing new level. For those of you who have experienced this, you will know what I'm talking about. Every time I experience this it is just as good as the time before. I experienced it yesterday, and for half an hour or so, everything in the world stood still. This is why SUP is so damn addictive!
So why do I do it? It’s like doing a gentle full body workout and seeing a psychologist all at the same time.
It’s my fix, it works for me.
Now, it’s about time that I wrote a piece about surf etiquette. I am writing this because a few people who have purchased boards recently have asked me how surf etiquette works, which is great, as it shows me that they understand that there are rules in the surf zone that need to be followed. Secondly, as I am the guy who sells SUP’s, I feel it is my duty to try and explain this as my way of attempting to help make the surf zone a safe and happy place. Please be aware that this piece covers the very basics of etiquette and to understand surf etiquette totally takes many years of observing how it works and listening and learning from surf veterans.
So, what is surf etiquette and why should I be concerned about it? Well as the Oxford dictionary states, etiquette is the rules of correct behaviour in society or among the members of a profession. In this case, in the surf. Now, when I am selling boards I am regularly hearing this, "I want a SUP for a bit of family fun and when I get a bit of time I hope to slip out and get a few small waves". This is all good and can be pretty exciting, but my main concern is that some of these people have spent very little time in the surf environment let alone on a board and even more to the point, on a very big board such as an all-rounder SUP for example. So, I guess I am writing this to start the educating process and to help to develop the awareness of the dangers involved in SUP surfing.
I am aware that most first timers when they hit the surf, find it very hard and tend to pick a spot with very small waves spending most of their time falling off the board and getting smashed by the white water or even the board. I am also aware that a hell of a lot of these first timers leave it at that and never enter the surf zone again as it is all just too hard. But there is a group of determined people that don’t give up and stick at it until they improve and once the penny drops they get horribly addicted. This is fantastic as there’s nothing like the buzz of riding along the face of a wave and it’s incredible to think that I can help people find this buzz which can be a very powerful life changing experience. So, to me, trying to teach a bit of surf etiquette is very important in assisting to keep our local breaks happy and enjoyable places moving into the future.
The thing to be remembered about SUP’s, is that they are so damn big. You a riding a seriously dangerous weapon out there when you are rocketing along a wave or getting smashed by a wave. The result from a huge sup or a small one for that matter hitting someone or yourself at high speed could be catastrophic to say the least. To help you understand this, a standard surfboard that the average person is riding would be approximately 30 to 40 litres in volume, where as a SUP at a beginner’s level averages around 175 litres, let’s just say 4 to 5 times the size! Pretty dangerous hey. Now the way SUP has taken off, the surf has become quite congested of late, so I feel what I am about to talk about is hugely important to keep everyone safe and happy in the water.
Firstly, it is extremely important to get to know your SUP before you hit the surf. By this I don’t mean to pull your SUP out on the lawn at home and caress it and admire it, I mean to spend some serious time in a flat-water zone and learn how to ride the board properly. I cannot stress this enough, it is hugely important if you are serious about SUP surfing. You need to learn the board on flat water until the board feels like part of your body. You need to be totally in control of that board and not under the control of the board. You may be thinking shit that sounds like hard work, well yes, it is! but so is sitting by a hospital bed looking at old mate with 50 stitches in his head because your SUP, which was in control of the situation tried to kill the poor bugger.
Now, once you have spent the time on the flat-water it’s time to find a wave. You need to find a nice wide stretch of beach, preferably with no one around for your first experience of SUP surfing. Don’t pick the local main swimming beach because I can guarantee, that when you fly down your first wave uncontrollably, it can be like ten pin bowling except the skittles are people’s heads (very nasty!). We are blessed here on the far south coast to have access to perfect, quiet stretches of beach, so there is no excuse for not taking advantage of this. Now I am not going to get into the specifics of how to catch waves in this piece, just let me say that when you finally work it out and feel the thrill of paddling into your first wave and riding it to the beach, life is pretty damn good. But please hang on a minute. You are still nowhere near ready to enter a more crowded surf zone. You need to practice, practice and practice some more. Remember I said when you train on the flat water you need to work until the SUP becomes part of your body? Well now you need to reach that level in the uncrowded surf zone.
OK, let’s just say you put the hours in and you reach this level. The next step is to find a nice clean wave face to ride. So, let me just quickly tell you about the basics of how waves work. Up until this stage in your sup surfing career, you have probably been catching what are known as close outs. A close out is a wave that breaks along a whole beach in one movement, in one straight line. To ride a wave face we need to find a peeling wave which are known as right or left handers. Now to explain this as simply as possible, if you are standing on the beach looking out at the breaking waves, a wave that is peeling from your left to your right is called a left hander and a wave peeling from right to left is called a right hander. Now you are really playing with the big boys because when you find a location like this everyone else has probably found it as well which results in a crowd. Now, this is why you need to pay some serious attention to spending the time getting step one and step two right as you will need very good board control to safely navigate the crowd.
OK, now it’s time to talk about dropping in. Dropping in is one of the biggest no no’s in surfing, so listen carefully. For the sake of this exercise we will imagine we have found a right hander, so this is a wave breaking from right to left when you are looking at it from the beach. Now the basic rule is that the person who is sitting the deepest, which means the furthest to the right, gets priority to the next wave that comes (unless they signal that you can have it). So, if a wave comes and that person paddles for it, you should not paddle for the wave and just let them have it. If you are next in line, then you become the person with priority. If you paddle for the wave as well, and you take it and the person with priority has taken it, you have just dropped in on them! If you don’t take their head off with your board, you are sure as night follows day, going to cop a mouth full of abuse. So, now I want you to think about this situation. Let’s just say the person who has priority takes the wave and is dropping into a beauty, now, you are paddling for this wave as well and the wave catching process has begun. You look to your left and you see the person who had priority flying down the line towards you and you think shit, I didn’t see him (or her) I better pull off the back of the wave. Now, let’s just say you haven’t spent the time learning the first 2 steps we previously spoke about and the board is still controlling you. Try to picture what is going to happen. Firstly, most SUP beginners just continue on and destroy the wave for the person who had priority or even worse just mow the person down (OUCH!! This will make you extremely unpopular). The second scenario is that you try to pull off the back of the wave and get caught in the lip and get sucked over the front of the wave (this is called getting sucked over the falls) onto the horrified surfer who had priority. This is a recipe for disaster. This sort of behaviour will make you very unpopular in the water very fast as you will be known as extremely dangerous!
Please be aware that this is a very basic view of what happens in the surf zone. If you want to get out there and experience the buzz of surfing, you need to watch people who know what they’re doing and learn from them. Be very respectful and listen to any advice that you may be given. Finally, don’t enter the critical crowded zones until you have done the hard yards and mastered step 1 and 2.
So, to conclude, SUP surfing isn’t just a case of getting out there and having a crack. There are a lot of rules you must heed. Please remember, your very large board with its long leg rope can be extremely dangerous. Just to leave you with one last scenario, imagine this, you are half way out at your favourite break and a bigger wave appears that breaks in front of you. You have an abundance of swimmers behind you and you jump off the board and dive under the wave to protect yourself from your board. The result of this action is a 10-foot board on a 10-foot leg rope dragging around behind you, once again treating swimmer’s heads like skittles. So please remember, if you want to take the surf on, be smart, be safe and spend the time learning the basics before entering a busy surf environment. This way you will enjoy your time on the water much more and gain respect from the other water users.
As you may be aware, we run a range of lessons all year round on the beautiful waters of Merimbula. By the end of January, which is obviously our busiest period, I am feeling quite spent from the many kilometers I paddle every morning with beginners. Although I do this daily I never get sick of doing it. I think it's the fact that I am with a new and exciting group of people every day who all have their own special needs. The other attraction that keeps me so motivated is that the water is such a dynamic environment to work on. It changes everyday and you never know what you are going to see or paddle over. Its a real blast to watch the expressions on the participants faces when I show them something magnificent!
We have a new range of Boards arriving at the start of February. We will have images of the new boards on this site as soon as possible. If you have any questions in regards to these arrivals please call or flick us a message.
We currently are giving away a Pressure System 8'6" surf SUP on our Facebook page (see image). All you have to do is go to our page, find the clip explaining the promotion and like and share it. The winner will be drawn on Friday the 16th of Feb at 6pm. The prize includes the board, carbon adjustable paddle, board bag and leg rope. Good Luck!!!!
If you are in the Merimbula area and would like to try stand up paddle boarding in an amazing location, give us a call! We also are the operators of Merimbula Stand Up Paddle Lessons & Tours
As you are probably aware with Summer upon us and Christmas approaching very rapidly, business for us has been ramping up. I have been spending a lot of time on the water discussing boards with customers of late and the same questions have been arising. The most common question is related to the best board care practice, so I thought it would be a good idea to write a post about this to help clarify the best board care techniques for your beloved SUP.
Question No. 1: Should I rinse my board off with fresh water after use?
Yes, if possible. Salt water can assist in aging some products quite rapidly so if you have access to some fresh water, a rinse is a great idea. Even once every couple of outings is good practice.
The next question is quite interesting and is a bit new to me. I have been doing some research on it recently. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment I would love to hear your experiences.
Question No. 2: Should I dry my board before I put it in my board bag?
The answer is yes, give it a quick towel dry or air dry before bagging. I have been reading about this lately. Apparently if your board is left in a board bag wet it can start a reaction called osmosis which can cause small bubbles to form in the glass on the surface of your board. This appears to be more of a problem in humid climates also on boards that are not used very regularly so are in the bag wet for long periods. It appears some brands have been having quite a few issues with this, I am yet to experience it. All our boards (except for our endurance boards) have a clear finishing coat so this may help to prevent the problem. (I am guilty of not drying my boards as I am so busy doing lessons and board trials etc, I will have to improve my practice).
Question No. 3: I have heard that you should keep your SUP out of extreme heat! What’s the deal with this as it is a product made for the beach in summer!???
Most SUP’s (this includes ours) are constructed from an EPS core (expanded polystyrene) coated in fibre glass and epoxy resin with bamboo of course. Polystyrene foam is used instead of polyurethane foam as it is a hell of a lot lighter. As SUP’s are so large, the lightest products must be used otherwise we would not be able to carry them. Polystyrene contains a lot of air. Depending on the density of the foam this can be around 70% and even more in some products! When the air in the foam heats up it expands which puts a hell of a lot of pressure on the hard-outer shell of the SUP. To prevent damage, all EPS / Epoxy SUP’s should be fitted with an air vent. The air vent allows the gases to escape from the board (allows the board to breath) to try to prevent the internal pressure build up. Our boards, and most modern boards, have a self-breathing vent which takes care of this process for you and helps to prolong the life of your board. Continued exposure to extreme heat can cause boards to delaminate which is when the hard-outer core pulls away from the foam creating a large bubble in the glass. Fortunately, we have not experienced this with any of our boards, but it could be possible. Please note that this is mainly when the board is exposed to powerful UV rays from the sun, hot cloudy days don’t seem to be too bad. Please check the following list of preventative measures that can help to prolong the life of your board.
Question No. 4: So why don’t I need an air vent in my EPS / epoxy surfboard?
This is quite simple. As a surfboard is generally shorter, narrower, and thinner than a SUP the amount of air movement inside the board is not as great which means less pressure on the hard-outer structure of the board. This smaller amount of air movement is manageable for the board. It is still good practice to keep your epoxy surfboards cool to help prolong their life as well.
In the early days of EPS / epoxy construction prior to the use of air vents, usually on wind surfers, it was not uncommon for some boards to pop due to excessive air expansion! This did even occur when the boards were taken to higher altitudes in planes for example!
Question No. 5: How should I care for all my other products? Bag, paddle, leash etc?
Once again, a fresh water wash every now and again is highly recommended (I must admit I get a bit slack on this when I am busy). Our newer board bags can zip right open, so it is a good practice to open right up and hose out now and again. Sand in the bag can act like sand paper on the finish of the board when sliding it in and out of the bag. Be sure to dry the bag well before returning the board to the bag for storage.
A fresh water rinse is also great for your paddle and leash etc. from time to time. Also with the black carbon paddles, it is a good idea not to store them for long periods of time in extremely hot condition. Enclosed parked cars on a hot summers day can get very hot.
Before storage over the cold winter months wash your gear out well and air dry. Wet sandy products stored for months are a recipe for disaster. There is nothing worse than gummed up zips on board bags or mould growth on deck grips and bags!
This is a very hard question to answer as I don’t know how each person is going to care for their product. All I can say is if you follow these guidelines you will get many years of fun from your SUP. Love your SUP and it will give you many years of love in return.
If you have any questions or you have any tips you would like to add, please contact me or leave a comment.
The Pressure System endurance range of paddle boards are an amazing thing. I have spent a hell of a lot of time this year using my PS storm front race for training. The main reason was that we had the Pambula surf club’s pub to club race back in September, but I also became extremely addicted to the fitness side of things and the ultimate feeling of achievement when completing a long-distance session. Another attraction has been that I have noticed a massive improvement in my sup surfing. The reason for this improvement, I think, is because 1. the race boards are so narrow that they really improve your balance 2. During a session you’re paddling in all conditions, strong wind, strong currents etc. and you need to be able to adapt to all conditions quickly, thus helping to develop your resilience. 3. As you are consistently pushing yourself to improve your time, you focus more on your stroke technique and over time develop a nice efficient, flowing rhythm which enables the board to surge through the water with greater force (in the surf this makes it easier to catch waves and allows you to paddle through larger conditions). But by far the best part of my winter training experience has been finding the zone. For those of you who don’t know what or where the zone is, it is a magical place that I would love to be permanently positioned. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of hard work to find it and it can disappear as quickly as it arrived. You find this place when everything around you, including you, is working in the same perfect flow.
Let me explain a little more about this. If you want to reach this place, it requires a hell of a lot of practice. Firstly, you need to perfect your stroke technique and get your body very comfortable on the board. You enter the zone when you’re flying along, and your stroke just feels like the natural movement of your body. There is absolutely no splash when the paddle enters the water and even less when it exits. The board is sliding through the water producing a powerful surge of curling waves off the bow on every stroke and the tail of the board is producing a fan of perfectly lined wake. But ultimately, it’s what’s going on inside your head that really counts. During this period, you are completely focused. You have no idea what is going on around you and your body is functioning like a well-oiled machine. Time appears to stand still. Your senses are performing at 100%. Dopamine and serotonin are flowing and it’s a pain free blissful ride. Welcome to the zone.
The zone is like any good thing in life, it does not come easy, but the reward is amazing and horribly addictive. Endurance paddling is like everything else in life it has its peaks and valleys and we have all heard the saying that life has its ups and downs, well that is one of the laws of the universe and this fact will never change. The zone usually appears right after the hard bit. The bit where it really hurts. The bit where the little voice inside your head is saying “I must stop now! You don’t have to go the whole 10km every time you hit the water big fella! Come on the car is just over there let’s call it a day”. Its when you push through this hard bit that the zone will appear. The tough bit is you never know how long the hard part is going to last. Anyway, I have gotten to a point where I have developed a way that I can find the zone more often and stay there for longer. I carry my phone in my pocket with my headphones on playing the album Come with Us by the Chemical Brothers, I found this music works a treat when loud! I also have my GPS tracker on so every km a voice cuts into the music and gives me a time for the km I have just completed plus a total distance time. This technique really helps me to maintain focus and gives me time goals every km to beat.
The trick in developing stamina is to remember that if you do the hard yards you will reap the rewards when you enter the zone. The mysterious thing about the zone is that it sneaks up on you very quietly and you’re usually deeply entrenched in it before you even realise it is upon you. Finally, yes, I have tried a few good drugs in my younger days, but I have to say you cannot beat a good hit from a natural high. A good session in the zone can leave you sitting on cloud nine for many hours and in some circumstances even days. The best part is that it is free and extremely good for you! All it costs is a hell of a lot of hard work and commitment!