Saturday, May 14, 2022

Batting 750

 When you have a pre-teen, you need breaks. A nice paddle out of the Westport river on a pleasant day is a perfect way to wind down and get some perspective.

Hopefully it is also a good way to burn some adrenaline surfing and dodging rocks.

Oh and this time I made sure I had my helmet…

We paddled out of the river and made sure we crossed the mouth in a tight pod.

The current formed a small race at the mouth, so we all took a warm up run. Then we rounded the nubble and headed south in search of rock formations.

Our first stop was a set of rocks with a nice big slot to run through. Everyone took a few good rides through the slot both with and against the current. On one run I was trying to be cute and instead of taking the straight shot was going to go through against the current and bang a sharp turn through a little side slot. I moved into position slowly and while I was scoping things out a not very big swell washed through with just enough force and at just the right angle to push me backwards and off balance. Next thing I know I’m upside down in the cold water feeling like a fool. Fortunately, it was an easy roll back up.

I did make the cute run a few times after that. You gotta love an Aries in the rocks.

We then moved onto a different rock formation for some more playing. The swells were just enough to make things fun without being dangerous.

Before lunch we headed to the point to surf the break. It was setting up fairly nicely along the outside edge so one could stay clear of the rocks and catch some rides.

The bigger wave were breaking further out and more to the inside. Taking a ride on one of them meant paying attention and peeling off before the rocks.

I caught a few small rides along the edge before deciding to head out into the bigger stuff.

One of the things I struggle with is timing waves. I often either get out in front of them and miss the break or I don’t get up enough speed and the pass under me. Some times they also just trap my stern and breach me - or as the cool kids say “I get windowshaded”.

I waited for a bit and caught what I thought would be a good wave. I paddled hard to get on it and started to have a good ride. I was focusing on using forward strokes to steer without dropping speed. At some point I must have gotten to far in front of the wave as it was breaking. My stern got pinned and spun around. I tried to correct with forward strokes and then a really hard prying rudder with no luck. I managed to get a good brace as I side surfed; until the wave sputtered out… I mistimed easing off the brace and wound up hanging upside down in the water. Not a problem… Set up, sweep out, hip snap, paddle out of the zone, and go look for more waves…

We all got some sweet rides. I caught a few nice waves. I spent some time missing nice waves due to bad timing or lack of giddy up. Just as we were getting ready to break for lunch, I caught a nice wave, rode it in a ways and once again got windowshaded. This time, however, I was pretty close to the rocks and didn’t have much water under me. I tired to roll and got smacked down.

I pulled the plug and did my best to make sure the kayak was between me and the rocks and that I had hold on my paddle and the kayak. Tim and Brenda swooped in, pulled me and the kayak out of the, and plopped me back in the kayak.

Not content to break for lunch on a failure, I caught one more small ride on one of the edge waves before heading to the beach.

At lunch I talk to Tim G about how to up my surf game. He pointed out that one of the tricks was to keep the wave from grabbing your stern. Once the wave has the stern, the wave is in control. This is particularly true with a kayak like and Aries that has a planning bow for surfing. The bow just glides around as the wave pushes the stern sideways. So, one thing to do is to keep forward in the cockpit to help keep the stern up. The other trick is to keep the peak of the wave just behind the cockpit and not any further back.

I focused on trying using this knowledge on the point after lunch. I spent some time on the edge trying to catch smaller waves and getting small rides. It was a bit frustrating because they were hard to time, but it was a good learning zone.

Then I headed out to the bigger surf and caught a few big rides. There were a few times where my stern started to get turned and I was able to correct with a good rudder - less often with a good sweep or draw. It was tricky using a rudder without leaning back. The trick really is timing. Maybe you are too far in front of the wave and leaning back burns enough speed to put you back in position. Sometimes burning speed sends the wave under you and you fall off the back. Sometimes a forward stroke will keep you on the wave. Other times, it will pull you forward just enough to keep the stern trapped or pull you right off the front of the wave.

It was great until it wasn’t. I caught a wave and after a short ride I was breached and upside down. Set up, sweep out, hip snap, and see a big wave waiting to push me right into the rocks…. Paddle very fast to clear the zone, and go looking for one more wave… (no I do not know when it is time to quit)

After a few more runs, we made our way back home. The paddle up the river was a nice cool down to end an exciting day.

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