Danger Point (Jan Juc)
Conditions: 25 knots (not really accurate below)
Time: 3pm to 5pm
Today I ventured out with of Port Phillip bay into Jan Juc. The purpose of the trip was to learn how to surf a wave long board style. My boss has long been on my back about learning how to long board and for the past 6 months we had been putting it off. This weekend we had his beach house empty, the weather and swell conditions looked optimum and everything looked positive for a good session into the a first venture on a long board.
Long boarding is hard, and you have to continually work to stay in the correct spot. By the 15 minute mark I could feel muscles in my shoulders that I probably haven't used before. We arrived at the water at 8.30 (quite an early start for the day leaving from Caulfield) waxed the boards ready for use and suited up. My instructor (boss) didn't really give me any start up tips but said "you know what your doing, just watch the other people. Line your body up with the centre of the board and you'll be right!"...... Right. So I lined myself up and hit the water. Man these boards are huge (duh! that's why they call them long boards!) and maneuvering them is like doing a 7 point turn in a small street. You know its going to turn around, but it just takes its time. I paddled, paddled and paddled some more. You paddle out to get in a good position, then you continually paddle to stay in that position and when there does look like a wave that you can catch you paddle some more. So much work for a 15 second ride.
Are we spoilt as kiter's?
Much to say that I didn't catch many waves or did I manage to stand. I could get on the wave, get to my knees then attempt to get to my feet and I would get half way and top over. My problem I was told was the 2nd part to my process, going on my knees, I should try and go strait to feet. After two hours of paddling my body couldn't paddle any more and I sat on the sidelines and watched. Highlighting my need to improve my fittness.
The wind picked up in a southerly direction and I started to get excited to get on the kite.
We had a few hours rest then went to point danger to set up and ride. Clint again came out for a surf and jokingly at the start with the wind blowing westerly I said that if we get into trouble its going to be hard as it'll take a while to get back to shore and the most westerly point from here was kilometers out!
So we launched, mine first then as I had the rebel in the air I helped launch Clints. This was a little glitchy and akward but we managed to get the kites in the air. I got on the board, popped out of the water and started flying. I mean I was really going. But for some stupid reason I was riding in a horrible position and I either was thrown downwind or stalling. My problem as I have had time to reflect on it was I was trying to 'sit' on the water and edge my board to hard. I read an article earlier on last month and this is what they say about surfing upwind:
"Proper body position is the key ingredient for good power control and resistance against the kite. I like to tell my students to think about playing tug of war when edging. The winning team doesn’t bend over!
It’s all about keeping your hips forward, your shoulders back, and your head looking in the direction you want to go. Proper weight distribution over the board can be achieved by keeping your front leg straight and your back leg slightly bent."
My hips weren't forward, shoulders not back and my head was on a 45 degree with my direction (if 12 o'clock was strait ahead, my head was pointed at 10).
I was on the board literally for 10 minutes, cruising along not in complete control as I believe I was a bit overpowered and hit some big swell. I came off and the kite dragged me downwind for 10 meters or so. Without my board. No worries I'll just kite upwind and grab it. Right?
I was struggling on the water and lost sight of the board. The wind was too much for me and with the added hinderance of the increasing swell I was the mayor of Struggle Town. I probably fought it out for 20 minutes or so and I was dragged too far downwind to 1. See my board and 2. Get close enough to gab it. So I sailed to the shore and took my chances with the board. Now I was ages out from shore and when I set foot on the sand realised just how far out I was and increasingly how far out the board currenly is. I got a hand to land the kite and jumped into the water in vain swimming after my board. Needless to say after 20 minutes swimming and probably 500 meters from the shore I was not going to go home with my board. I'm lucky the fish can't understand english too well as my language was probably not appropriate for the sunday schools of fish that were swimming underneath me.
I packed my kite up and caught up with Clint. He said he'd go out and have a look for it but he is still learning on the board so most of his concerntration was on keeping upright and flying the kite. I appreciated the fact that he went out there but my mind was already thinking about what I was going to do now that I had lost my board. Seabreeze lost and found forums, a notice on the Jan Juc noticeboard, ect. Then to buying a new one or 2nd hand one. I wasn't in a good place safe to say.
Clint had no luck, I had packed up and by the time I was at my car packing the kite and wet-suit away he arrived with his kite and gear also packed. He suggested that we get his binoculars and have a scan of the beach but my brocken spirit and pesemistic attitude at the time was settled with the loss and just wanted a hot shower and a few cold beers. So we said our goodbye's and the boss and I headed home with some beers and mexican food in the boot for dinner.
Just as we arrived home my phone rang. It was Clint. "He mate what's up?"I sad unsure of the call, part thinking he might have found it but more so that this was regarding something completely off topic.
"Guess what dude!?!"
"What, you found my board" I said with a fake laugh.
"That's it buddy, I have it in my hand! I went down the beach in the car, had a quick scan for half an hour or so and just as I was about to give up this couple I initially notice walk past me when I got there were now walking back to the carpark with your board. So I ran overthere like a excited 4 year old finding his lost bike, told them the story and that it belonged to a friend and they happily gave it over".
I was in shock. I had totally given up on the board, my body was spent and that too my mind, yet I had my board back to the great gesture from Clint to stay out long after I had given up to retrieve my lost board.
Now that I have it back and have gone through this I am seriously looking at getting a leash. I have read that many people believe that it can be dangerous to have a leash as it one does fall and get dragged downwind the board is going to follow in the same speed you were dragged and its direction is going to be at your person. But the odd bruise or cork from the board I'm thinking is better than forking out for a new one when one overconfidently goes too far out and looses it.
I guess its easy to become accustomed to one's home spot. Altona is shallow and when I usually loose the board I walk back to retrieve it. Until today I haven't really thought about it.
What are your thoughts. Have you or do you use a board leash and what have been your experiances with it?