Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Playing with the zipper

I am not talking the trousers' one, but the one that closes when the waves coming from opposing sides of the reef (or beach or whatever is shallowish) crash against each other. If you manage to time it and position yourself right in the spot of the colision you are sort of launched into the air. That is a hard trick to pull though. It is not only timing but also the precise point in space you need to 'estimaguess' in advance. Regardless, it is a very fun and chanllenging area. You have to be very awake because you may be watching one wave coming from behind to surf it and another coming from the front brakes on top of you. Then, when you think the wave is gone another rebound comes from somewhere else. In one of those zippers I know a good kayakers who broke a paddle and another one who capzised and wet exited to discover the water was just above his hips. He just walked out instead of swimming. The most fun for me is to surf a wave and use the one coming from the other side as a launching ramp, with the speed of the surf and the ramp you may get a short airtrip.
Another wave in the zipper, white in front and white behind.
The other day I launched with the idea of surfing but after spending 1 hour trying to catch a runner and only succeding in getting smashed by dumpers I decided to quit the spot. No wonder the beach was all for me with no surfers around. It was good though, because I kept paddling to a spot near by where a short reef coming from the cliffs forms a small rocky outcrop, almost like a tiny island of rocks that is covered at high tide. The part linking the coast and the island is filled with lots of rocks submerged, forming a shallower sea floor. With the right swell and tide it gets interesting to play on it. If the swell outside is big enough it gets around the island and comes onto the shallower floor from both sides forming a zipper. The catch is that the floor making the waves to break is hard if you go down.

With that and the fresh trashing in the dumper at the surf beach in mind I went in and after I got used to the rithm it was a really fun session. At one point trying to stay straight on a wave another one came from the front. However I was not straight on the ride, almost about to broach when the other one hited me. I thought I was going over (1.25 in the video) and was half way down thinking 'oh no, I will definitly scratch the helmet here'.

It is funny, during the last few outings I capsized 3 times that I remember when I didn't go straight down. I put a brace to avoid having my head upside down in the water. When the brace is not enough I go over but slowly and half way through I realize I am about to capzise. When that happens I used to just give up and set up to roll up. However, after the fact I realized I could have done something to prevent the capzise, like a sculling or turn the body like during a balance brace. That is what happened at that point the other day. I realized I was about to go over and because of the previous experiences and the rocks at the bottom I did a sculling that kept me up for another microsecond. When I was about to start to reverse the sculling another wave came from that side and gave me the small extra support and push to come back from the no return point.
Later, while waiting for another wave to come I saw a bird dive in front of me and fly away with a fish half its size. I got it in camera but unless I tell you the black thing at the feet of the bird is a fish you wouldn't recognize what it is. It was an awsome afternoon that I only abandoned because I discovered one of the attachements of my spare paddle was broken.

Enjoy the video and leave some feedback to know what others think.

Saturday, 19 October 2013


The weather observations read wind close to 20kn with gusts in the high 20s. However that was in the coast. My intention was to go for a paddle just inside the bay so the wind should be a lot weaker than that... except the wind was blowing from the land. Anyway, I have been in high winds before, ritht?.... but not in a K1!

I have known that Cahomin had a K1 and I have been asking him when I can go for a paddle, to see if I remember anything from last time I paddled those thin boats over 20 years ago. Finally a few weeks ago I had the opportunity and we went for a gentle paddle in the lake. He in his TK1 and me in his K1. It all went well and no rescues or swims were needed.

Since I have moved, I have been wondering if I would use a K1 during the week for training paddles in the bay near my new home... if I had one that is. The Saturday I met with Cahomin, after the test paddle and after reasuring him I would not sink his K1 nor take it near the rocks I took his boat home while he doesn't use it. The Tuesday after that, I was working from home and at 5pm I put the kayak on my shoulder and walked the 500 meters to the water. It is a small pebble beach in the bay but the wind was creating small waves. I sat in the kayak and started to paddle towards the protected side of the bay. I kept going pushing against the wind until I reached the end and then I turned to follow the coast with the wind from the side now. It wasnt easy and more times I can remember I did an emergency brace to stay on top of the kayak. When it was time to turn with the wind behind it was releif. I was going faster than the waves near the coast. As I was feeling ok with the kayak I went out of the protection of the coast and there the wind waves were a bit bigger and I started to ride them... and brace like crazy to stay up right. I landed ok in the end and very pleased that I had not have to swim.

On a calm hot day.
That was the first of many more I did. Since the day light saving kicked in I ride my push bike back home from work and by 6.30 I am on the water paddling, not everyday but once a week or so. It is not the most exciting paddle when it is not that windy but it keeps me wet and as some very wise paddler once told me: "a day in the water is better than a day out of the water"... or something along those lines.
With the light, in this photo it looks as if I had big dorsals muscles

A thing about the k1, it shows every defect in the tecniche.