The Porto

The misadventures of a weekend kook


Posts 1 to 10 of 13

Stepping down to a shorty board

After my New Years trip to Costa Rica, I decided it was time to finally step down from my longboard and learn to ride a short board. A couple of things led up to this decision. Having camped at Roca Bruja and used a 7'2" hybrid shape might not have been the smartest choice, but I really didn't know any better until I tried it there. To make a long story short, later towards the end of my trip, I got to rent a board of the same length, but with a short board shape. Wow, what a difference. I got a taste of what it was like to ride a short board!

Back in the states, I hit up my favorite shop Greenlight Surf Supply. Having taken their mentor class the year prior, which I highly recommend. I decided that I would build my first short board. I spoke to them about my experience and what I was looking to ride. After some chit chat I got myself a blank and got to work the weeks following.

Low and behold after much sweat and tons of elbow grease, I finished my board a 6'5" x 20" x 2.75" shorty dubbed "Big Cock".

My "Big Cock" Short Board

I was pretty pumped to use it, having had good success with the bigger shape in Costa Rica, I thought it would translate pretty well with this board. Boy was I wrong, not even close by a mile. This board has plenty of volume and width so it's not sinking on me. It's length on the other hand is something I need to deal with and having difficulties.

The mechanics of popping up on a short board are technically the same as a longboard. The main difference is timing and foot placement. Timing wise, you do have to catch a wave later since the steepness of the wave will generate most of the forward movement. Paddling helps line you up and put you in the proper place on the wave. Foot Placement, well there isn't much to say on this, unlike a longboard, there is only a few inches of space that your feet should be on. You don't really shuffle anywhere on a short board.

For what ever reason I just can't get the timing down. If that isn't helpful enough, popping up on my board has been hard as hell. Being on a longboard I can be lazier about popping up and it's much more forgiving about where my feet land. On the short board it's been a bad experience so far. I haven't gotten a proper ride yet. I've literally stood on it twice for all of a second, only to have it run right out from under me. There have been a few times where my rear foot has completely missed the board and I fall right off. And lets not mention the amount of paddling you need to do. My back is gonna be ripped in no time!

Thankfully, between friends and what I've read online, learning to ride a short board is going to take a long time. As one friend put it, after 10 sessions with the new board, things will start to click. Well I've completed 4 sessions, 6 more to go!

Some of the things I've learned so far:

  1. When paddling, give an extra paddle or 2 before popping up, especially on mushy days.
  2. When popping up cheat a little by setting up the back foot on the traction pad, it helps to get up faster.
  3. Don't go straight. Always take off at a slight angle in the direction you want to go. This helps to set you rail into the water more easily.
  4. Always look at the direction you want to go. The body will follow.

Also, I was told recently; since my board has some volume to it, I don't need to take off so late, get a little head start, it could help me to pop up sooner and not let a wave pass me by. Lastly, switching my fins from a quad to a thruster configuration, might help slow it down a touch.

I'm looking forward to the day when I finally get up on my board and get a decent ride. Perseverance and a positive attitude is what I've got for now. Don't worry, when I finally get that first ride, I'll be sure to post about it.

Stop motion surfing

I would say midway through the clip is pretty much my surfing experience on a shortboard at this point. Funny little movie and congrats to the team that made it.

Not a local...

2-3 ft knee to chest high, with SSE windswell and some fog and rain. It's days like this that I'm reminded living an hour away from the beach blows.

Here's a gif I made watching the cam on surfline.

A barreling closeout.

It's a flat memorial day

After a very wet weekend staying indoors and having fun time with my kids, I was finally able to hit the beach on a relatively warm, but windy Memorial day. This was the forecast on surfline:

Small scale SE background swell in the water this morning. Surf appears to be knee high or less on the early incoming tide and suspect it will look near flat by the 1030am high tide. Conditions are clean with a light/variable to light offshore wind early. Look for light S winds to develop this afternoon.

Honestly, I expected no surfing and I was ok with it. I needed to get wet and get some excersize paddling. But looking at the cams I spotted a couple of knee high bumps. I figured my funboard should be able to grab a couple of those. Low and behold, thats exactly what happened. Actually, I caught a lot of waves, more then I expected, without much effort. It turned out to be a really fun day.

The wind was blowing pretty strong from the south adding alot of texture to the water, but there was enough of a swell if you were in the right spot, to catch a quick and straight ride. By the time I got out of the water it was dead on low tide and any ridable waves all but vanished.

I was glad I got to enjoy the ocean once again and was mindful to give a moment of respect to the soldiers that gave their lives to this country.

Finally rode the shorty

Yup that's right, mark it on your calendars. June 2nd 2013, The Porto finally got a handful of rides on "The Cock" the kick ass short board. I was quite surprised considering it was 3 to 4 feet of mushy; short period slop; with really strong south winds blowing.

In total, I got 4 solid rides. The board felt so small and loose under my feet. A stark contrast compared to "Lolita" the fun board, which is like a flotilla. I have to persevere so I can eventually surf top to bottom, like I've been dreaming of doing for some time.

One area I really need to work on; is my pop up, it's supper sloppy. There were other opportunities, but I kept messing them up. When I popped up; both of my feet would land close together on the deck, right on the traction pad. I don't know if I was tired cause I surfed 2 days in a row, but either way, it's a pop up mess.

Later that afternoon, I hit up a different beach with some friends. I was a bit apprehensive, since I was tired by that point and a thunderstorm was developing. But my friend insisted, that after the storm would pass, it would be magical. So, we waited out the thunderstorm. And conditions completely changed from how it was earlier. Instead of mushy slop, it turned into clean; sometimes glassy; 4 feet swells, with minimal wind. To add to it all, a rainbow decided to show up and prove my friend right; It was magical.

I was pretty exhausted from the earlier session, so I decided to ride "Lolita" my 7'6" fun board. She held up quite well and made for some fun rides. But there were some waves I would have liked to have gone shorter.

At the end of the day I was stoked, not only to have finally ridden my short board, but also to have caught a great swell on the 3rd day of surfing mushy conditions. Ohh one other thing, the day before this event, I got the longest ride on Lolita I ever had on a small knee biter, go figure...

Frustrated weekend

I was pretty excited about the past weekend. Big head high swells a couple storms here and there to smooth things out. Also to add a little spice to the weekend I committed myself to only using the short board.

My frustration began 5 minutes into my first session. I'm not sure if I psyched myself out, but I didn't catch one wave. And if I'm being honest, I think I was fearful. The waves at the point were about chest to head high with some chop due to the wind and I was on my short board.

Maybe it was my lack of experience on this new board, maybe it was the fact I was tired from working out at the gym all week, maybe it was because I was stressed at work all week. Regardless of what it was, my mind was not there and my body followed suit.
The second session of the day went much better. A storm passed and really cleaned things up. I still didn't catch any waves, but I came close. By that point I was just exhausted and was starting to panic a few times when I was kept under for and extra second or two. Got thrown over the falls onto my board two times. I called it quits for the day, feeling defeated and a bit broken.

That Sunday a big swell came through again. This time we had the added charm of heavy fog rolling in. I didn't know you could play Marco Polo while surfing.

So another four hours of frustration. Not a wave caught. Well, actually, I did catch waves, I just didn't get to ride them properly. I would say a solid 6 waves where ridden on my belly. and another two I made the drop but could make the wave. My friend asked me what I thought my problem could be. I surmised it was the timing. I just wasn't popping up at the the critical moment. Either I was too late or too early.

At the end if the session we all decide we were beat and took in our last waves. And that's when it happened. I dropped down a wave going backhand, popped up and rode it on in. I think I had an orgasm. My friends that were waiting on the shore to leave where hooting and hollering. My personal cheerleaders. They understood the grief I had all day.
Since my buddy hadn't taken his last wave in I decided to paddle back to see if I could catch anything else. And sure enough, I caught another wave. By that point it was done.

We left and ate at surf taco.

A fun little weekend

So I don't know if it was my trip to santa cruz a couple weeks back, more on that in a later post or if the swell in jersey this past weekend was just the right size. But finally something is clicking in my head and I'm riding more waves on the short board. Legit rides, none of the 2 second stuff.

Loch Arbor July 28th

I still need to think and figure out what is working right, but I think my timing with the pop up is getting better. I used my short board for over 2 hours yesterday and eventually switched up to the fun board since the swell was just getting smaller.

Thanksgiving Eve nor’easter at the Jersey shore

The east coast was predicted to have a Thanksgiving Eve nor’easter. And boy did we get one.

Check out this amazing photo from Bill McKim of Shuan McGrath dropping down the face of a 12+ foot wave in Belmar.

Shuan McGrath sliding down a 12 foot plus wave, in Belmar NJ. Photo by Bill McKim.

On Thanksgiving day we still had some strong swell with head high breaks. The bad part is was 20 degrees with a strong off shore wind (25mph). If you could bear it, you would have caught some amazing waves. You just needed to be at the right spot, otherwise it was the ususal jersey close out sale.

Surfline has a great feature of the east coast's Thanksgiving swell. It's a good read with great photography and a few videos.

UPDATE: Seems has put up a ton of photos and videos. It's pretty epic.

Pregnant and still surfing

Recently I read an article about Kristi Olivares  from about how she surfed while pregnant. It's a facinating read and I'm impressed that she was able to do it for the full 9 months. I'm pretty sure she's had her baby by this point and I'm curious about how quickly she returned to surfing. The human body is amazing.

Northern east coast surf tip: Wax your rails in the winter

It's winter up here in the east coast and surfing can be a bit of a bear with the recent Polar Vortex blowing in. Recently, I was talking to a friend about their winter surf session. The take away from their story, their hand slipped when gripping the rail to pop up and busted their face on the deck. Lucky no trip to the doctor, but some bruising to the ego.

It's cold and wearing mitten or gloves while keeping you warm, can be slippery on an unwaxed portion of the board. Do yourself a favor and wax those rails. It's also helpfuling during the summer, unless you're a pro, wax those rails.

Oh in case you wonder what it's like to nail your head on the deck of a board, Check out Sunny Garcia slipping off his board. 

Have fun, stay warm and wax those rails!