Location: West Wittering
Conditions: High neap tide, F3 cross onshore, 2-4ft waves @ 8 seconds
For once the forecast was pretty much spot on. Sun, scattered cloud, some wind and some rain, all over a sea of waves between two and occasionally four feet tall when breaking. Beautiful.
I started out on the a left hand break, trying to judge where to catch to get a good run down the line, with mixed success. I was soon joined by more SUP boarders, but with the constants supply of reasonable sized waves there was enough for everyone and the atmosphere was very chilled.
Later I moved eastwards along the coast and began trying to ride the righthand breaking waves. It turns out that I am not nearly as skilled riding in this direction and often found myself bongo sliding in the white water after the wave broke, as well as a number of pearling or edge catching wipe outs. Clearly I need more practice. Looking at the video footage I also see I spend a lot of time applying the paddle behind me with bent arms. I think my technique could be improved radically by straightening my arms and placing the paddle in line with my hips. I’m going to work on this in future.
Towards the end of the session a large rain cloud appeared on the horizon, making a dramatic background to our playground. We also had two world war two Spitfires fly low and fast over our heads, en-route to or from an airshow no doubt. I had my camera running first person view at the time and filmed the fly by, but a drop of water dead center of the lense obscured the nearest plane throughout!
Also the wide-angle of the camera made the planes look tiny, despite them actually being close. It does the same with the waves, particularly in first person view, where the camera is mounted on top of my helmet. The camera can still just about see over the top of a three-foot tall wave, where as I’ll be looking up at its tip. I’ve looked into other camera mounting options, but I think in the end I’ll just have to live with the fact that the GoPro makes the waves look smaller than they really are.
As a finale the rain cloud reached us bringing with it squalling winds. They must have been around F5, possibly gusting to F6. Most of the SUP riders sensibly headed in, but I stayed out for a bit longer, padding into the wind while looking for the next set. It was only when I tried turning side on that I truly began to appreciate the conditions, as a gust caught me a made me capsize. I decided it was time for me to head in too, but instead of moving out of the surf zone first, I just headed for shore. Needless to say a wave caught me, rose up, lifting me with it and presenting a steep drop down its slope. As I leant back to try to prevent another pearling incident I took a deep breath (or possibly a big gasp), not really expecting to make it, but the kayak woke up, shot forwards, leaving the wave crashing behind and a mound of white water chasing me in. An apt end to the day.
Quite a long video this time, a little indulgent at 7 minutes, but since it was such a good session and it’s mostly me that watches them, it felt justified.