New Board: Coil Blur with a general ride review

As I’ve alluded in a few posts here and a few listings in the classifieds section, I’m up-sizing my quiver due to age, injury, and reduced water time.  A number of you picked up on that and have sent me PM’s discussing the issue since you are in the same boat, so I’ll lay it out here and add a pic of a board that was the result of the same conversation with MD.

The issue:  I aged a few years since I first started riding Coils, gained a few pounds, and developed a tricky hip (labrum tear with some arthritis).  While I insisted I would be the first guy to beat the aging process, I’m accepting quiver modification is now justified.

I always rode under-volumed boards (at least 0.1 ft3 under what was recommended), or at least boards with thin rails to engage in the rampy beachbreaks I usually ride, because I could actively generate speed on the thinner, submissive boards to my liking.  But now, with reduced water-time and cardio conditioning, I’m welcoming a little assistance and glide-and-trim, particularly when the waves are not at their best, or when I’m not at my best.  In fact, a friend of mine shipped his old WiderWiderboard (at 1.0ft3 volume) up from Virgina Beach to me top sell locally for him and I’ve ridden that with great results in more marginal surf and keeping it in my quiver instead, but I definitely wanted something to bridge the gap between OK surf and I’m-riding-my-stepup surf, so I started talking to MD about some modifications to keep me from submarining and fatiguing on my tiny 0.85ft3 boards.

I heard a lot of good things about the Blur, so I contacted Mike with that idea in mind.  We honestly discussed my dilemma and I left him with little guidance besides general length (my height or a little longer), a few thoughts on width (suggested mid 19’s), a small swallow tail, and thruster configuration.  I’ve learned to not get so hung up on the numbers as much as just talk through my capabilities, what I want out of the board, and suggest he proportionally fit the shape to the design and to not obsess over the volume number.

The board here is the result.  6’1″ x 19 1/2″ x 2 3/8″ x 0.96ft3, which is a bit more than my go-to 5’11” x 19 1/4″ x 2 5/16″ x 0.85 M80slim.

Coil Blur kick with color

At first I did not quite believe this board had that much more volume because it is aggressively-foiled in the rails and through the tail (the famous “coil foil”), but the foam must be hidden well because it definitely felt much easier to paddle than my lower-volume boards when making my way out and battling the bitch of a current while trying to hold position against the drift in the lineup.  My first wave was arguably the set of the day on which I air-dropped late, pulled in, and drove for a looong time before getting compressed and worked over by the rinse cycle (all waves were freight-trains this day and most were over-walled but there were moments of glory to be had among the carnage); not successfully ridden, per se, but on that particular beast I considered making it to the bottom and driving through it for that distance in full control to be a feather in my cap, and the hoots and post-ride comments from the crowd suggest so as well.   Found my stride after that one and locked in to a few successful barrels before frozen feet drove me out an hour or so later, but I kicked the tires enough to know I’d be comfortable and confident on it next time around.  A very similar swell a week or so later confirmed those suspicions; it was like Groundhog Day paddling into shallow-water heaving walls that either handed your ass to you or gave you a great barrel that you could just escape before the wall detonated on your tail.

I wish I could tell you how it turns but both sessions afforded very little opportunity to do so, but I can tell you this is a super high-performance design on which I feel very confident to reel in late, weightless drops .  Of the two opportunities I had to turn it, I can say it sliced through both turns like a hot knife through butter and the rockers felt spot-on, but admittedly it’s a small sample-size with which I’m working.

For some, the Qualifier might be their ultimate high-performance board, but to be honest with you this Blur is probably as high-performance as I’ll ever need locally, at least until we start hitting the +1.5xOH to I-really-need-my-step-up category.

P.S.- yes, that is the Kick build with an orange accent; for those in the know, this may be the first time you are seeing Kick in Color.

Wetsuit Boot and Glove Drying Rack

It may be a bit late in the season for this how-to, but we may still have a few more weeks of boots and gloves, and you will likely want to give yours a good drying before storing them away, so maybe it is more timely than I think.

Constructed of 1/2” PVC pipe, T-fittings, and caps.  I find this diameter pipe provides plenty of support; going with a heavier pipe would likely restrict circulation and reduce air exchange (stagnation of moist air is what fosters fermentation and the growth of mold and bacteria that results in stinky bootie syndrome).  The fittings are pretty tight as-is, but I take the time to use PVC primer and cement to fix each joint in place and make them air-tight (more on that below).

 

I will spare you the detailed measurements as your needs will vary based on hand/shoe size.  You may want to consider making it so that it fits inside a plastic bin so you can relocate the entire setup while still dripping wet.

 

Finally, if you really want to soup it up, tap a brass hose barb (this one is a Watts 1/8” ID x ¼ in MIP; part number LFA-85, available at Home Depot) in the center of the rack, drill one hole in the end of each pipe ending inside the boots and gloves (you may be tempted to go crazy with the drill and make each pipe look like a Wiffle Ball, but that would actually reduce the airflow to the toe and fingertip areas; one ¼” hole as high up on each pipe as possible will maximize the flow from fingertip/toe to cuff).  Finally, hook an aquarium pump up to pressurize the system and get some air flowing through the system.  The airflow does not have to be forceful; just a little bit of flow will carry dampness out of the wet items.

Finally, I sometimes get asked for advice on how to de-funk boots and gloves.  For the most part I just keep up with rinsing with fresh water and drying them completely after every use, but for best de-stinking results, you can wash them in a rubber-safe soap; there are a number of commercially-available wetsuit shampoos, but when the smell starts to get bad I add a little Simple Green in a bucket of warm (not hot as it can damage the rubber and adhesives) water, soak them for a bit, rinse generously with cold water, and dry them out using this pressurized drying rack.

You need a Variant surfboard

Maybe this sounds familiar: Recently, the wind was onshore for over a week with conditions ranging from junk to “meh”, and once the waves finally cleaned up last weekend my schedule was jammed.  So, I was dry for almost two weeks, miserable, and going absolutely looney.

After watching the cameras from my desk at work (and anxiously watching the hard offshore winds beat down what little swell lasted into the early work-week), I finally found a window to surf last night, and arrived at the beach to dead low-tide and knee- to thigh-high conditions at best.  I contemplated running home to grab a longboard, then thought about bagging it, and finally decided to just get in since I had my Variant (by Gallery Surfboards www.gallerysurfboards.com ) and I’ve rarely had a bad session on it, even in the most craptastic conditions.

What happened next was either great luck or something magical if you must assign a metaphysical angle to it: the waves bumped up to chest-high, maybe even shoulder-high on mega-set, on the incoming tide resulting in conditions that really allowed me to generate blistering speed, let loose, clear the cobwebs, and return to a state of sanity.  Eventually the winds turned North and made a mess of the conditions, but that hour-and-change of pure fun was a bonus that I would have missed out on if not for the fact that the Variant lured me into the originally-borderline-pitiful conditions.

With summer (and summer surf conditions) rapidly approaching, I’m less anxious about the crowds and weak conditions than in past years now that I have this secret weapon in my quiver.  I know that I can only glide in straight lines on a longboard for so long before getting bored out of my skull; the Variant allows for speed, driving, and rail-turning that you may think impossible in waves that barely break, and can hold its own even when the waves approach the head+ zone.

The board in question:

 

Since this was a totally-solo session (at least until a pack of teens and early-20-somethings paddled out on top of me despite there being miles of empty beach and peaks in either direction… what’s up with that?) there are no photos from last night, but here are some past photos in similar conditions (All action photos credited to Gina Petruzzelli) .

Sak on a Variant by Gallery Surfboards

And a little proof that the board can handle bigger conditions as well:

 

Friday 11 April 2012 Report and Prediction

Friday 11 April 2013

Report:  Sloppy and building from the E-ENE earlier, now (late afternoon), the winds have calmed down a bit but still blowing SE at a decent clip, keeping conditions fairly uninviting.

Prediction: unfortunately, this swell is going to be on the down-swing overnight.  Offshore winds are predicted to come up in the pre-dawn hours, cleaning up but also knocking down the fading swell.  Despite the peak of the swell not synching well with daylight hours, I still think that tomorrow should see some fun mixed-swell conditions.

Extended Forecast:  Significantly smaller leftovers on Sunday, but offshore winds should groom conditions and allow for a follow-up, albeit small-wave, session.  Looking way ahead, much of next week looks to be dominated by side-shore S-SSE winds; check back frequently for an update when I see potential for favorable conditions.

 

 

 

 

Wetsuit Drying Rack Suggestion

This wetsuit drying rack, built out of 1.25” PVC pipe, has a couple advantages over throwing it over a deck railing (splinters, exposed to UV, runs the risk of the wetsuit freezing in the winter) or hanging it in your shower (it would be in the way and might scare the crap out of you or others in your family by eliciting Psycho shower scene flashbacks) on hangers.

Made with 1.25" PVC pipe

Wetsuit drying rack suggestion

Firstly, if you use it in your shower or tub, it is easily removable.  You can see the base was made to fit a utility tub to catch the drips, so you could even locate it outside the shower or even on a tiled floor in some other room.  A good hint is to make the rack high enough so that neither the ankle or wrist cuffs touch the floor/bottom of the tub, but low enough so they hang inside the tub so no drips can escape it and pool on the floor.

 

While the fit of the pipe connections are tight enough to stay-put on their own, I glued them with PVC cement so I can lift the entire assembly all together (rack and wetsuit) if I have to quickly relocate it.   I did leave the T connection between the base and the vertical posts so I could disassemble it to adjust the height or if I have to stash it in a closet or transport in the car.

Friday 04/05/13 Report and Prediction

Report: Minimal trace background swell with offshore/sideshore NW-NNW winds.
Prediction: A small mid-period SE background swell is predicted to fill in during the latter half of the day, so hopefully we will see a building trend that results in rideable surf by evening.  Fingers crossed.
Extended Forecast: Unfortunately it looks like this brief swell event is going to peak overnight, but some of should last into early Saturday. Winds are looking like a mixed bag of N-NNW early, eventually dropping out and giving way to SE in the afternoon; you will definitely need to keep an eye on wind reports and forecasts to time it right. Sideshore S-SSE winds on Sunday may drive some hard-angled windswell for early next work-week.

EDIT: 2PM update:  Still waiting for that bump to develop…

Monday 03/25/13 Report and Prediction

Report: Choppy, sloppy, Nor’easter conditions.

Prediction:  More of the same for the remainder of the day.  Winds are predicted to come around to NW-WNW overnight, yielding cleaner conditions tomorrow.  The swell angle is looking pretty East on this one, so surfbreaks with some structure or other feature to break up the lines may be necessary to alleviate the close-out issues.

Extended Forecast: Similar but significantly smaller leftover conditions for Wednesday (perhaps mini/flat by then).  Offshore winds and minimal conditions look to be the standard for the second half of the work-week.

Monday 18 March 2013 Wave Report and Prediction

Report: Small, choppy, sloppy, but building.

Prediction:  A significant ESE swell should build overnight Monday-Tuesday.  Offshore WNW winds predicted to come into play early- to mid-morning on Tuesday, grooming the swell for mid-morning or mid-day.

Extended Forecast: Strong offshore winds persist through the remainder of the work-week, with small leftovers at best on Wednesday morning and minimal conditions for the remainder of the week.  Swell-producing onshore winds may return over the weekend once the pattern breaks.  Check back later in the week for an update.