Paddling Perspective – 2014

As a another brutal Noreaster Bears Down on Eastern Long Island it gives me pause to think back on the 2014 Paddling Season. For many of us it started back in April, as we assembled our first ever Main Beach Stand up Paddle Race Team.

RaceTeam

Training began in earnst as a colder than normal Spring and an Early date for the “Paddle Race for the Bays”, May 10th, got everyone fired up. Team training paddles took place on Sundays while individual training and paddling took place as the weather permitted. For the most part it looks like Starboard, Bark-Surftech, SIC, NSP and Hobie are the SUP brands of choice for most local racers. Quickblade, Kialoa and Werner Paddles seem to have a lock on the SUP paddle market for the local race scene. By the way, anyone interested in racing is welcome to join our team race training sessions. In addition to the workout, these training sessions are also great opportunities to interact with other racers and demo the latest gear. Please contact me at the shop to be put on our race training mailing list for 2015.

BsyKeeper Race

As far as the “Race for the Bays” goes, we were blessed with a great day on Saturday, May 10th and the race was well attended. James Rothwell from Connecticut took 1st place in the Men’s Elite division and Stephainie Shideler from the Main Beach Team taking 1st in the women’s Elite division. The friendly team rivalry with the Connecticut racers added some spice to the race, but the team concept proved tough to fully implement and the jury is still out for 2015.

PaddleRace

While the Stand up racing and training scene was going on, I found myself distracted with the rumblings of Striped Bass and Weakfish turning up in the Peconic Bay and I went into paddling over drive, Kayak Fishing at dusk and dawn, Race Training after first light and then off to the surf shop to support our mission of getting folks on the water. A delicate balancing act at best. Springtime on the Peconic Bay is magical, as the local flora, fauna and fisheries come to life somewhat simultaneously. It quickly became clear that I needed to be more efficient if I was going to keep up this crazy schedule, so on work days, I would fish from one of my SUPs, creating a style of fishing that involved interval sprints to a certain hot spot, working the spot for a few minutes and then moving on to the next spot at as part of another interval session. While probably not the most effective approach to maximizing my fishing results, I was on the water paddling and training every day. Not to mention, I had a few good days of fishing from the paddleboard, which is a lot of fun. I have successfully tricked out a few SUPs for fishing so be sure to speak with me about this the next time you see me at the shop.

Fish_Yak

As exciting and challenging as SUP fishing is, I still find a well designed fishing kayak to be a better all around fishing platform. On my days off, I was at one of my favorite launch sites with either my Native Watercraft Slayer or a Wilderness Systems Ride X. Both great boats that warrant a complete write up on their own merits. I almost forgot the tried and true Malibu II XL from Ocean Kayaks, for taking out guests in a tandem boat. Fishing kayaks have evolved considerably over the past few years as they have become the fastest growing segment of the Kayak industry.

werner_lighthouse

Spring time on the Peconic Bay means Striped Bass, Weakfish, Bluefish and Fluke, all of which are challenging to catch and quite delicious table fare. While the Striper bite was off a little, a strong showing of Weakfish, Fluke and hard hitting Bluefish made up for it and overall it was a rewarding and fruitful Spring Kayak Fishing Season.

Now I do not want to sound like it was all fun and good times this year, but it does get better. June not only provided great weather and our Friends in Connecticut put on a great race at the Sound Surfer event, but we also had some windy days. Now some people might ask why someone would want to go paddling on a windy day? Well, let me tell you, windy days, make for great conditions to plan out down wind paddles. Down winders as they are known, are probably the most fun type of paddle that I have ever done. I would go as far as to say, they are almost as much fun as powder skiing. A good down winder requires some planning and team work, and perhaps the biggest effort of a down winder is the jockeying around of some cars and trucks, so that there are enough vehicles at the destination point for the planned paddle route. If gliding down the face of countless waves as you cruise across the flats and sand bars of a beautiful estuary sounds like fun, you are right, it is a lot of fun! We enjoyed several great downwind outings this year, primarily running East and West routes on the bay and along the beautiful Hamptons ocean beaches, and when we had a stretch of strong southerly winds we charted out some runs starting at some popular South Fork Launch sites and paddling north across Gardiners Bay to Orient Point, good times.

BLAST-DOWNWIND-SUP-

The summer hit hard with the surf shop being busy and our camps, rentals, lessons and tours were keeping the outfitter crew busy. Just as we thought things couldn’t get any busier, the “Paddle for Pink” in support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation was upon us. The BCRF crew did a great job and a fabulous event was planned out at Havens Beach in Sag Harbor. With a great turnout of around 175 paddlers the race was a huge success. We ran a 3 mile recreational Race and a 6 mile Elite race on a beautiful course set out into Northwest Harbor. Taylor Resnik Took first place in the Men’s Elite division and Mary Scheerer in the Womens division.

bcrf_race

Sometimes things don’t quite go as planned, and sometimes they do. My good friend Billy and I spent the better part of a year planning out the Great Peconic Race in 2013, only to have the Coast Guard pull the plug on the event with only a month to go until race day. Ouch! Roll the clock ahead to September, 14th 2014 and we are at Wades Beach on beautiful Shelter Island. With 82 racers on the beach prepping Surf Skis, Outriggers, Kayaks and SUPs for a 20 mile circumnavigation of the rock. The forecast was on the edge with 15 to 20 knot winds forecasted through out the day. Awesome conditions for Surf Skis but not so much for Stand up Paddlers. By 9am all racers were off the beach heading in a westerly direction towards Crab Creek and Jennings point. I think the arial photography of the race tells the story of just how amazing this race course is around Shelter Island. As challenging as the conditions were the race was super fun and challenging.

Great_peconic_race3

Everyone who registered finished either the full or ½ course. Stand up Paddler times range from 3 ½ hours up to 7 hours. A great post race party capped off a memorible day of paddling, racing and friendship.

gpr_map

The season finale race supporting the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue squad a Fall tradition was cancelled due to wicked weather conditions. This was truly a bummer as these great guys and girls do so much for our East Hampton community supporting countless local charities and running the local Junior Lifeguard program. Rest assured, the race will be back next year better then ever,

Ocean Rescue Crew

Ocean Rescue Crew

So where is Stand up and Paddling Heading for 2015? Personally I can’t wait to get a look at the new boards and paddles that will start shipping in April. Please contact me or stop by the shop with any questions regarding new gear. Of course I cant wait for the first signs of Spring to honeysuckle me away from the wood stove and out onto the water in force. Look for a great Hamptons SUP Race Series next year (4 races), lots of Clinics (I think Candice and Anthony Vella are coming back), Demo Days, Gear Swaps, Kayak Fishing Adventures, Downwinders and more…

sup_racer

For now it will be selective on the water sessions chasing surf, weather permitting paddling sessions, fat tire bike rides, cross country skiing on our local Hamptons trail network and hopefully a few trips up to Vermont chasing some POW.

Hamptons Winter Sports

Hamptons Winter Sports

Happy Holidays and Safe Paddling to All.

Rick

Main Beach Surf and Sport

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Sandbar Stripers and the Artful Dodger

Sand Bar Stripers and the Artful Dodger (Part 1)

Being a lifetime paddle sports enthusiast and avid saltwater fisherman, it was only natural that I would some day get into Kayak Fishing. After giving it a try, I must say that Kayak fishing has become a much bigger part of my regular fishing and paddling routine than I ever imagined possible.

I think what hooked me on Kayak fishing early on, was the night that I paddled out from our neighborhood beach, on the advice of a local old timer. I took a few casts along the edge of a beautiful sand flat and caught a nice keeper striped bass. I was fishing a Gibbs Top Water Plug all-alone under a waxing gibbons springtime full moon. I cant tell you how dumfounded I was when I pulled that fat 32” bass into the Kayak after a fun light tackle tussle. How could I have overlooked this spot, so close to home, so accessible, so conducive to fun, light tackle fishing? If I could catch quality fish at the end of the road, imagine what I could do in other well-established spots that were easily accessible to the kayaks and stand up paddleboards that I was already paddling on a regular basis?

After getting the Kayak fishing bug. I set my sights on purchasing a high quality, functional fishing Kayak. My initial goal was to get a boat that would serve as a good platform for sight fishing on the bay and allow me to stand up and stretch my legs when either casting for Stripers or drifting for Fluke. Launching into the Surf along the South Shore beaches would be a secondary consideration as I had access to a good surf kayak and several Stand up Boards that were somewhat suitable for fishing and very good in the surf zone.

Werner_Kayak_Paddles

In addition to being a lifetime paddle sports enthusiast, I work in a local area Kayak shop, Main Beach Surf and Sport. As you may surmise people who work in the paddle sport industry, typically have access to lots of boats, paddles and gear. Now this can be both a blessing and a curse. When you truly need gear it is great, when something cool arrives at the shop and you really do not need it but you want it, not so much. I will say that I love water sports gear, and having the opportunity to see and try the latest and best offerings is pretty cool.

The year that I started my search, several new fishing kayaks came on the market and they quickly caught my attention. The Slayer from Native Watercraft, and the Ride X from Wilderness Systems, were two fine fishing kayaks that were at the top of the list. I was very comfortable with my Werner Paddles, Cyprus 210cm, high angle performance kayak paddle, but I was interested to see how a wider fishing boat would impact paddle length. Both boats had great seats and well thought out accessory tracks, convenient tackle storage, large open storage wells and the stability necessary to allow an angler to stand up and take a few casts when the conditions were right. How would I make a decision between these two fine boats? I would have to delve deeper into each boat by getting on the water and take them fishing.

Fortunately, our Kayak shop gets semi-annual visits from our kayak manufacturers representatives. I reached out to our Wilderness Systems and Native Watercraft reps, and requested a demo opportunity of their new boats. Both reps were eager to get their new boats on the water and we decided that a Hamptons Kayak fishing trip would be the best way to give the boats a proper sea trial.

Native_Slayer_Floating The summer season was way too busy to consider this personal research project, but I knew that September would soon be upon us and I set the calendar for our demo outings. Let me start by saying September in Montauk is legendary for inshore fishing, insane Striped Bass Blitzes, Screaming schools of Albacore, hard hitting bluefish and then some. On September 17th, Zach from Wilderness and I planned to meet at Camp Hero State Park and start our outing with some early morning surfcasting and then launch the kayaks up around the North Side of the Light house. I liked this plan since we would be fishing 2 distinct bodies of water, (South Side and North Side of the lighthouse) and in addition, the Launch on the North Side is a little more sheltered from the prevailing ocean swell.

TheRide Arriving at Camp Hero Pre-Dawn is usually an interesting endeavor with campers and trucks parked about with waders and boots hung to dry like a ragtag yard sale on wheels. Some fisherman will be heading out to start their session, while others are returning from their twilight outings in need of food and rest. Everyone is hyper focused on one thing and that is putting a bend in the rod with a trophy striper.

In addition to the transient fisherman who set up camp for one or more days, the Montauk Point area is frequented by a hard-core crew of local surfcasters that typically look down their noses at anyone who is not from the local community.

Fishing the south side of Montauk, “in the coves”, is truly an art form. Often taking countless days and nights spread over many seasons to really learn the secret to unlocking its magical bounty. Having fished Montauk since the mid 1960’s I have had the benefit of many seasons chasing stripers through the boulder fields, south and west of the lighthouse and I had high hopes for putting us on some nice fall stripers. Zach and I met at 4:30am in the upper parking lot and readied for our descent along the rugged footpath to the surf zone. As we approached the beach I recognized the faint silhouette of a local fishing legend, “The Artful Dodger”. Anyone who fishes Montauk knows just how challenging fishing the boulder fields can be. Between the slippery rock perches and the numerous underwater obstacles and hangs, it truly requires one to be “An Artful Dodger”. Montauk tackle shop owners love the boulder fields, as anglers are know to lose literally dozens of buck tails during one trip to Montauk.

The pre-dawn hour brought moderate surf and light southwest winds, a nice scenario for the south side. I positioned Zach along a nice rocky outcropping with a drop off to the right along a nice sandy cove. This topography creates a desirable location blending both rocky structure and sandy bottom, which attracts and holds baitfish such as sand eels, while providing a good ambush spot for hungry stripers.

BoulderFields

After setting Zach up on his perch, I pushed deeper into the boulder field and waded out to an outlying rock, a tricky but potentially lucrative proposition. Zach was casting a S/S pencil popper on the surface and I was working a white buck tail deeper in the water column. In spite of the favorable conditions, we were unable to raise any fish over the course of about two hours. While mid-September is typically the start of the Montauk surfcasting season, this year, it did not happen for us. Zach and I re-connected at his rock and we started the walk of shame back to the truck. We both commented on the amazing beauty of the area and how clean the water was on this awesome September morning. As we approached the parking lot we met up with none other than the Artful Dodger a local Montauk fishing legend. He was holding court with a handful of locals, commiserating about the ominous lack of Striped Bass, but that a friend had seen large schools of sand eels along the 50-foot shelf while spear fishing earlier in the week. The mere mention of Sand Eels amongst hard-core surfcasters is like the talk of a big snowstorm to powder skiers or big waves to surfers. Upon gaining some new fishing intelligence, we quietly broke ranks with the circle of locals and headed to our trucks. Over bananas, granola bars and chai tea we discussed our next move. The talk of sand eels had my head spinning. Should we stay the course and launch on the north side or head southwest to the nearest sand beach for a potential surf zone launch. Following the bleak prognosis of surfcasting by some of the better local surf casters I made the case for exploring the 50-foot ledge on the Southwest side of town. If the sand eels had in fact set up, there would surely be fish on them sooner or later, the question was, would it be today?

Surf conditions were running at about 2 to 3 feet with a medium period swell, just on the edge for launching our kayaks. Montauk is renowned for great waves a result of a rocky, gradually sloping bottom contour, that creates great sand bars.

Blitz

After a brief 10-minute drive, we arrived at our South Side Launch and we were greeted by a scene that resembled something out of a National Geographic Nature Special on PBS television. Flocks of birds, Bait balls and fish exploding on the surface. The most amazing thing about this scenario was that there was no one here. The word was not yet out on the sand eels arrival. Now, I’ve humped a lot of Kayaks in my day, but I have never unloaded boats so quickly, as we did this September morning. It certainly didn’t hurt to be working with an industry professional as we slung boats like tacos onto the sandy shoreline. Handling boats quickly is one thing, and big blitzes like we were seeing off shore can create quite a surge of emotions to rush into the abyss with reckless abandon. However, with a technical launch being eminent you need to keep your cool and follow procedure. Furthermore, it is exponentially easier to rig up your rods on the beach than once on the water in hot pursuit of migrating pelagic game fish.

We readied our crafts dogging down rods, tackle and provisions in preparation of an exciting and somewhat challenging outing. We located a channel in the break along the beach and Zach lined up his Yak a Wilderness Systems 12 ft. Tarpon Sit on Top. Launching into our local shore break is never easy, but Zach did a great job, timing the entry and got off clean punching through a friendly 2-foot swell. Once outside the break he made a b-line for the nearest pod of birds. I got the short end of the launch having a series of set waves roll in as I waited in the wash doing my best to steady the Wilderness ride x 11.5. Nothing is more frustrating than watching fish breaking on the surface just out of casting range while you are pinned on the inside waiting for your opening to launch. Finally the swell ebbed and I thrust the kayak over the backside of the next small wave and hopped tail first into one of the most comfortable kayak seats that I have ever sat in. I dug my Werner Paddles Cyprus high angle paddle into the trough just ahead of the next wave and pulled hard to pop over the on coming wave. Reach, catch, repeat and I am outside and pulling for open water.

As my focused shifted from getting through the surf break to locating a nearby school of fish I saw Zach hooked up on a what appeared to be a solid fish. Sand eels mean fishing tins and I cast my 007 into a swarm of birds with fish crashing on the surface. My first cast and retrieve went untouched and I settled down and made sure the next cast was more calculated and my retrieve a little slower. Let it sink a twitch of the tip and BANG, solid hook up, a nice fish that quickly pulled the nose of my Ride 11.5 dead center and I was pulled forward on a modified Nantucket sleigh ride. Fishing a 7ft ugly stick matched with a Penn slammer reel with 30lb braid is a lot of fun on 15 to 20 lb fish. The Wilderness Ride X handled nicely in the moderate sea conditions and I felt stable and in control through out the 6 minute light tackle tussle with my 18lb striper. I saw Zach grappling with a wild 10lb blue fish and after he was able to perform a release he was moving up current to get back on the fish in his Wilderness Tarpon 12. I took some time with my fish as we wanted one for the table and looked up to see Zach hooked up again.

Fast forward, Zach and I each enjoyed tangling with several nice stripers and bluefish over the course of about 2 hours. All good things must come to an end and as the tide waned and the intensity of the blitzes subsided we looked up at each other, somewhat disheveled but grinning like a pair of Cheshire cats. Surf Zone launches are exciting and fishing a good ole Montauk blitz is a blast. Once out on the open water while having fun catching fish one can quickly lose sight of the fact that you now have to get back onto the beach safely.

Yak_and_Fish

Fortunately, the surf conditions remained moderate through out the morning and we readied our boats for our landing. I am not sure which is more challenging, the launch or the return? Timing, balance, focus and good paddling skills are required for both. We briefly surmised the break, looking for the channel that we used for our launch. Zach dialed in on the channel at the end of a small surf break and positioned himself to paddle on the back side of the last wave of a good sized set while I hung back giving him some working room. Zach nailed it, edging his kayak along the face of a small wave before turning perpendicular to the shoreline and hitting the beach clean. I followed suit paddling at a 45 degree angle across the face of a smaller swell then turning into the beach and leaned back hard into my seat to prevent the boat from pearling.

A quick pop up out of the seat, grab the front handle to get the boat out of the wash and pull it up to safety. We had successfully accomplished our mission, safely launching and returning through the surf zone while catching some nice fish on light tackle equipment. In all the excitement and fun, I almost lost sight of the fact that we were doing a sea trial of the boats in open water conditions. Both the Tarpon and Ride X handled great in the surf zone and on open water. The ride X was stable while angling and the seat was super comfortable. I was definitely impressed with the boat and was very appreciative for the opportunity to have taken it fishing. Next up my outing on the Native Slayer.

Please visit http://www.mainbeach.com for more information on fishing kayaks and tours in the Hamptons and Montauk.

Posted in fishing, Hamptons, hamptons kayak tours, Hamptons Surfing, Kayak Fishing, Kayaking, Montauk Surfing, Outdoor Adventure, Paddling, Surf Casting | Tagged | Leave a comment

November Hamptons Down_Winder

downwind_1

Ticket to Ride, The Wind is Free

My favorite gym is free, totally accessible, open 7 days and requires nothing more than the love of the outdoors.

One thing you can count on in the fall and all winter long is the wind. The wind is nature’s kettle bell class. Its nature’s treadmill if you will. My biggest challenge is finding a ride back from my destination. On the east end if the waves are not happening chances are there is always wind. Today, I made a half dozen phone calls to the hardy folks I know who may join me if the stars align. My favorite run with the wind is from Lions head in Spring to Gossmans Dock in Montauk, thirteen miles as the crow flies. The wind needs to be WNW for optimum cruising. The wind speed, 20 -30 kts with 40 kts gusts, and you should see wind blown white caps, smoke on the water as we say. It should also be very tricky to get your 16’ down wind board off the truck rack without creating a dangerous flying object.

Now the fun begins. Leash on, inflatable waist belt, whistle, cell phone in waterproof case, camelback with hydration, 2 chocolate Kind bars, and a hand held VHF radio. This time of year I wear a pair of poly liner shorts and polypro shirt under my 4mm Isurus wet suit with hood attached. I throw down my mat and pull on my suit; 5mm split toe boots and 3 mm gloves. I wax up my quick blade carbon paddle with some sticky bumps and give the wind direction one more check. The tides are important too, you want all the advantages you can get; 40 kts wind directly at you stern, the tide going with you, flowing strong with the wave action creating a following swell that is your ticket to ride.

When all the elements come together you become a human flying machine ready to ride an endless wind wave for 13 miles.

Downwind_2

First stop, out past Lions head rock, I head straight north towards Gardiners Island. This is to get some distance up wind to align your vector and then you can become one with the wind. Now I’m about ½ mile off shore and I look east to my right, I steer my toe rudder my right. The board turns on a dime and now I’m ready to synch with tide and wave action, the wind is directly over my back pushing me down wind.

I relax my legs, my arms, my neck, and start to pull with short efficient, rapid paddle strokes. I time my pull so that the carbon paddle blade catches just in front of my longest reach. I feel the tail of my board lift as the nose drops down the swell line. Now I’m starting to pick up speed. Just as I get to the bottom of the trough of the wave and my nose of my board drops very close to the surface of water ahead of the swell line, I heave with all my force on the paddle and pull my self down the swell line. My toe redder directs the board away from the breaking wind wave. I’m now on a plane. The lift is magic. The board is my magic carpet and I feel the acceleration. This is the free ride, the payoff, and the reason for my addiction.

The only additional cost of this lift ticket is core strength, amazing balance, leg stability, and a constant drip of adrenaline and release of dopamine in the brain! Not bad fro a free year around membership. Let face it, there is no excuse for not paddling down wind- it is amazing cross training for surfing. At 53 years old I’m surfing like I’m 23, my endurance in the waves is amazing. My stability on my board and feel for the ocean has grown exponentially.

The sport of down wind paddling is virtually undiscovered in the northeast. It’s hard to believe but there have only been a couple of us doing this sport for the last 10 years. With the exception of a couple of fellow waterman it’s very hard to fine people to paddle with when the conditions are so extreme. Jeremy who is always game to be my wing man on his OC1 (outrigger canoe) or Mark on his surf ski, or the Rhino on his down wind SIC board, they are a hardy crew to say the least, who like to play in the icy wind waves of winter.

Downwind_3

Now I’m about 30 min into my paddle heading due east and start to find long sculpted lines. The bottom is getting shallow and here she comes, the Cartwright Shoals. What a magical place, pristine, with seals, cormorants, diving ducks, and the only sound, wind on water.

This is my chance to check in with my equipment. I tighten my toe rudder system; adjust my camel back, check phone case, and drink! I slam down a kind bar too. I notice my one big toe is a little numb so I shake the blood into it and do a few down dogs to loosen up the shoulders and align the back.

As I walk across the sandy spit of land I take in my surroundings. Not a boat, a person, or any signs of humanity for miles in all directions. My mind is clear and the sound of the wind howling across the shoals is like a symphony of nature.

It’s now time to get going again. I slip into the cove on the east side of the shoals and point my board up wind towards Gardiners Island. I use this opportunity to gain a better vector on the wind, as I want every advantage to plane my board with ease. I want to get to the top of Tabaco cove so that the wind will take me directly to Montauk.

I turn hard right and push off the shoreline and head out into the middle of Gardiners bay. The tide is ripping now; she’s going out strong flowing around Montauk into Block Island sound. I gaze over my right shoulder; the walking dunes are majestic on the east side of Napeague Harbor. Next stop is Fort pond Bay, then the inlet at Montauk Harbor about 8 miles due east from my location. Over my left shoulder Gardiners disappears and Orient point is in the distance beyond Gardiners slowly disappearing from site. I’m now about 2.5 miles out to sea with just a few diving ducks around and the howling wind at my back. My black Isurus 4/3 wetsuit absorbs the heat of the sun now starting to get low I the sky. I still have about 2 hrs. Of sunlight left. No worries, as long as nothing goes wrong! I’m using the Montauk water tower as my point of reference I don’t want to drift too far to the south and lose my wind advantage. My toe rudder is always tweaked to my right, which keeps my board on an easterly tack.

Now this is where my meditation starts. I catch the water with my paddle, pull, and glide, repeat. I’m feeling the rhythm in the moving swells as my timing starts to synch with each wave of swell. It’s not about paddling super hard. It’s all about when to paddle. The timing is everything for linking together wave after wave and staying on a plane, the magic carpet ride! You need to exercise patients, wait for the slight yawn in the hull on top of the swell, then tip your weight forward, lean into the paddle and pull. I synch with the board finding the fall line of the wave. Bingo, it’s all glide as you are now o a plane riding the following swell with ease. My eyes are focused out in front 25 yds. Looking for the next hole to steer my board into. Now that I’m hydroplaning I can find another swell line offering me another ride, so I toe rudder hard to the left following the swell and driving the board into another trough. Over the next peaking wave I ride, then down the next one, I keep planning and realized I have connected 3 full swells and I’m still riding. Wait a minute this shouldn’t be happening, this is way too much fun! I start to get giddy and find myself laughing out loud.

Now it’s all coming together. It’s taken me about a hr. to really dial in this rhythm. The better my timing the better the glide. Relax, pull, glide, and repeat. Its key to stay lose, flexible and be ready to steer the board into another opportunity to stay o a plane. Paddling is an opportunist sport. You cant let the ocean pass you by you must be in synch with her.

The wind is picking up and the gusts are now well over 40 knots. This is like hitting the jackpot! You’re all in synch and Mother Nature just comes along and gives you a massive power boost! The inner laughter bubbles up!! Now connecting rides that are 100-300 yds. Long.

Just before I reach the turn of the coast that folds into Fort pond bay in Montauk the swells hit a sweet spot for about a half-mile. They jump in size, get close together and get twice as steep. Now it really feels like free surfing when you drop in and free fall with your board into the belly of the swell. All the energy of wind, wave and tidal flow come together to create ramp after ramp of pure bliss.

I suck down a few more water infused chia seeds anticipating bigger seas as I approach Culloden point. I can see how the SS Culloden went down here as the bottom comes up out of nowhere and the shallows lure you in unexpectedly. I have been in the zone now for a solid hr. and a half. I start to feel a tinge of sadness as Montauk inlet is just up ahead and my journey is coming to an end. I’m sad because I’m I the zone, the wind is increasing, swells are increasing, but I’m out of run way unless I want to continue to Block Island another 23 miles to the east. Not an option for today as I’m out of sunlight. I have paddled to Block about 20 times it is an epic paddle!

I slow down just to survey my landscape. Not a soul around for miles. This is where someone will usually spot me and call the coast guard. I try to let marine patrol know my route ahead of time so they don’t send out the coast guard cutter. They do love the training but I don’t like all the explaining I have to do. They just don’t believe I’m doing this for fun.

The last few waves of my session are now in sight as I line my board up for the beach entry. The marine forecast is for small craft warnings all week and thanksgiving is always windy! I look forward to our turkey shoot out down winder on Thx giving morning! I thank my outdoor gym one last time. I feel so blessed to live in this ocean environment with 50 plus miles of world class paddling all yr. round! No lift tkt required.

I invite anyone who is reading this to join me on a paddle anytime! Safety is always my number one concern and your equipment is number two. I will teach you the rest! This is my 12th yr. doing down winder’s and I have been surfing my whole life. I have paddled the roughest channel In the world called the valley of bones from Molokai to Oahu in the Hawaiian islands, a 32 mile wind and wave challenge.

Please join us on Thanksgiving Day for the turkey shoot out down winder. Check out hhtp://www.mainbeach.com for the go or no go on wed. Evening.

Downwind_5

 

 

Posted in Hamptons, hamptons kayak tours, Hamptons Kayaking, Hamptons Surfing, Stand Up Paddleboards, Stand Up Paddling, SUP RACES, Surf Boards, Surf Camp, Surf Lessons, Surf Report, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Hamptons SUP Race Series Recap 2013

Hamptons SUP Race Series 2013 Recap

SUP and water sports in general got off to a slow start in 2013, in large part due to cold, rainy weather that stuck around right up until the 4th of July weekend.

This effectively put “on the water” training on hold for many folks on eastern Long Island. In fact, many athletes reverted to cycling, yoga, swimming and other forms of training to get ready for the SUP race season.

Candice_Training

We did catch a break for the Race for the Bays, on Saturday, May 18th. Sunny skies and light Northeast winds graced the course, as 60 plus paddlers took off around a 3 / 6 mile course. Havens Beach and Northwest Harbor make for a great early season course providing shelter from our Spring time easterly winds.

In spite of the short runway for training, respectable times were posted in both the Mens and Womens divisions. Race Sponsors Werner Paddles and Surftech Paddleboards generously contributed great race prizes and raffle items which were greatly appreciated by all.

Baykeeper_Race

The weather slowly improved in late May and early June and local racers did get more time on the water and the Hamptons paddling stoke improved dramatically.

June 22nd, Beach Lane, Wainscott. 55 racers lined up to enter the surf and commence what would be the East Coasts first Surf Zone down wind SUP race. Racers stretched out on the soft sandy beach as the East Hampton Volunteer Ocean Rescue Squad readied the course. Kialoa’s Marc Angililo and PR Timing’ s Greg Sauntners held the line and counted down the start and racers charged the surf zone and rounded the first turn Buoy to the East.

Guided by light Southwest winds and an incoming tide, racers stealthily got through the break and headed east paddling along East Hamptons beautiful ocean beaches.
Surf conditions were moderate providing a comfortable ride for racers as they worked their way down wind towards the finish south of the Promised Land. I do think some participants would have liked to see a little more push from the light West winds that graced our race. The course ended at Atlantic Avenue in Amagansett, close to 7 miles in all. The final turn buoy, set on a sand bar break, made for an interesting final leg and a few participants caught some sweet waves, providing for a super fun glide into the beach and finish. Sponsors Kialoa Paddles, Land Shark Lager, Vita Coco Water and Hobie Paddle Boards added a lot of stoke to this first ever event.

Main Beach Start FullRes

The summer soon kicked into high gear with some local racers venturing to Connecticut, Vermont and Cape Cod to participate in various regional races.

Just as we thought, it would be impossible to create any more Hamptons energy during the busy summer of 2013, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s “Paddle for Pink” was upon us. Special Guests Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece made quite an entrance the morning of August 17th greeting racers and local kids eager for an autograph and photo opportunity. With over 150 racers signed up to participate, the race start was split into two heats. One for elite (6 mile) racers and the other for recreational (3 mile) racers. It was great to see so many recreational athletes on the water supporting the good work of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation of the Hamptons. After a lot of Hamptons fan fare the race was on with a hotly contested Elite Division. Up and Comer Taylor Resnik bested local favorite Scott Bradley(2nd place) to take first Place and Main Beaches own Lars Svanberg took 3rd. In the Womens Elite division Stepanie Schindler took first, Mary Scheerer second and local tri-athelete, Sinead Fitzgibbons third place.

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Laird was an amazing M/C, paddling and offering encouragement to the recreational athletes and ensuring that a good time was had by all.

After the awards ceremony and some great prizes from Werner Paddles and Hobie Paddleboards, it was off to an amazing Hamptons Party at the home of BCRF hosts Richard and Lisa Perry. A special shout out to Maria Baum, for all her hard work networking and organizing this truly monumental event.

September was spectacular, delivering east swell and warm waters as the Hamptons mellowed into the fall season.

Columbus day weekend was soon upon us and the race for Ocean Rescue. This race has become a fall tradition on the east end with its amazing down wind course and stoke provided by paying respects to the local lifeguard crew that makes all our races possible.

The forecast for Race day advised 15 to 20 mph winds from the east /northeast and a course change was eminent. After running the course with Lars and Evelyn on Friday we were pretty confident that we could run the race from East to West. Numerous phone calls went back and forth to Ocean Rescue and after a fair amount of deliberation we were on for race day.

8am, Saturday, October,12th, 70 racers congregated at Eddie Ecker State Park to brave what would be 20-25 knot winds from the East North East. The East Hampton Ocean Rescue squad laid out the buoys, including an oversized Landshark Lager Buoy that would mark a portage site on Hicks Island that would lead paddlers to Nappeague Harbor, saving what would be a 1 mile upwind loop that would require paddlers to bang upwind at the end of a demanding race course.

At 9am we readied the line and announced that the first leg out to the first turn buoy could be done kneeling down on the boards, hence out of the wind. The starters gun sounded and the paddlers were off, banging into a stiff 20 knot headwind. Rounding the first and second turn buoy, racers fought to stay on their boards as they turned West and got into the downwind flow.

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With sustained winds pushing 25 kts the downwind leg of the race was both challenging and very rewarding. Insane rides on honest 2 to 3 foot faces sometimes gliding 50 feet or more. As racers approached the Landshark portage buoy they enjoyed the longest rides of the day skimming over a beautiful sandbar located on the East side of Hicks Island. A quick portage over the island and we were in Nappeague Harbor, sprinting towards the finish, located at the lazy point ramp.

Michael Mignone of Westhampton took first pace in the Mens 14 foot division with Lars Svanberg in second and Taylor Resnick in third. Kim Reilly took first place in the Womens Elite division followed by Mary Scheerer and Marta Downine.

The post race party was held at the Ocean Rescue Dory Barn and a great time was had by enjoying a great Barbeque and beverages from Landshark Lager.

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Thanks to all of our sponsors and participants and we look forward to the upcoming 2014 season.

Please visit http://www.mainbeach.com for more information about the Hamptons SUP Race Series.

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Fall Migration Striper Fishing

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The Fall Migration is underway on Eastern Long Island. Large schools of Sand Eels and Rain Baits are spread across Block Island Sound for literally miles.

Hungry Striped Bass, Bluefish, False Albacore and other little tuna are busting on the schooling baitfish.

An early morning launch through the surf is a thrilling start to any fishing adventure.

The sand Eel bite can be fickle and matching the hatch has been particularly important during the 2013 fall migration. Hopkins, Deadly Dicks and Cast Masters have been working well for light tackle anglers. Fly guys are using Sand Eel imitation patterns.

Rick Drew from Main Beach Surf and Sport guides anglers interested in fishing the fall migration and works with customers to build their paddling skills and confidence so they can plan their own fall migration fishing adventures.

Main Beach represents the best fishing kayaks from Native Watercraft, Wilderness Systems and Ocean Kayak.

Ricks picks for 2014 are the Slayer from Native Watercraft, the Ride from Wilderness Systems for single fishing kayaks and the Malibu II XL from Ocean Kayak for tandem fishing in surf zone waters, where a partner is required. Look for the Slayer propel in 2014 to raise the bar for peddle driven fishing kayaks.

Give a call or stop by the shop to talk kayak fishing and review the best kayaks available for fishing today. Main Beach Surf and Sport, 352 Montauk highway, Wainscott, NY 11975                        tel: 631/537-2716 web: http://www.mainbeach.com.

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2012 Fishing Recap – Fun Report

Sometimes you just never know how things are going turn out when you head out to do some fishing. This is a report from a pretty good stretch of fall surf casting and surfing.

Enjoy,

Rick

Day 1

Started the day Monday at 5am in Wainscott on a piece of beach that had bait and birds the day before and nets were being set by a downeaster about a 1/2 mile off the beach. Baits and birds were still there, but no fish after 90 minutes of casting 3 different sections of white water. After a brief review of the dismal fishing and beach breaks in the area for sutfing, I parted ways with my Surfing partner, Ari at 6:30am. Well 0 for 2 is no way to start a 2 day fishing and surfing fall holiday, but thats how it started.

After a real breakfast back at the house in East Hampton, 8am, and a quick trip to the dump, I was off to the Meca at 10am, ran into some local MTK characters along the way, none of whom gave me an accurate report, not even a local tackle shop owner whos name will not be mentioned to protect the innocent. Stopped on Old Montauk highway to surf for a while, then headed to Ditch to check out more waves and see if their were any signs of fish. Ended up Surfing again as the waves were really good. After surfing, met another Mtk local who shared enough wrong information to now deduce what was actually going on.

At 4pm I headed to Camp Hero to stake out a spot and avoid the $8 fee. Walked to a nice Rocky Point break that was frothing white water, a southeast swell was rolling in against a southwest breeze. As I walked I noticed fish piled up on the beach and guys walking up the rail with fish in hand. I wondered if I had missed it as clearly there was a blitz or mega bite earlier in the day. I Settled in on a nice midsize rock on the southeast side of the white water where there was a narrow channel through the rocks which were perfectly visible in gin clear water.

Started casting and on the 3rd cast a major strike and hook up, game on, big fish, big waves, good times. After about 5 minutes I can see the fish and it is probably a 40 incher. All of a suddon there are many fish 40 inches around me, in front of me, along side of me and behind me. A large set wave crashes in flooding the area around me, almost knocking me from my pearch and I now realize that my fish is behind me and my line is wrapped on rock, I try to free the line and it pops just above my first barrel. I am waist deep in water, stunned, by having lost, my complete set up, barrel, leader, teaser, snap, gibbs popper, a rig I tied and re-tied over 3 nights to get it perfect, shortening here, lengthening there. I am stripped naked and stunned! I look down the beach and guys are stirring and heading my way. I fumble to my back pack, trying to locate a replacement for my rig and quickly settling on an old white Creek Chub, grabbed the leader material and pulled out a length of flourocarbon and somehow, found a barrel swivel. While this frantic update is going on, this old dude nestles in next to me and hooks up on the first cast, he proceeds to land 3 fish before I am re-tied.. At this point I am sure that I am cursed and will be here all night wile my new neighbor has ruled the day.

I am re-tied, take a cast, then another, and then a missed strike, now I see fish every where in the wash, Mullet are exploding and fish are smashing there tails everywhere. Finally, I’m on! Nice solid fish, great fight, navigating the rocks, playing the waves and ultimately landing a 34″ / 18lb fish. After calming down from the last 30 minutes of complete Mayheim, I settled down and enjoyed some of the best surf casting you could ever imagine. My neighbor and I, “Fishy Pete” a veteran MTK surfcaster of 60 years, now probably eighty something years old and who can bearly walk out to the break, must of caught 5 or 6 fish each over the next 45 minutes. While releasing my last fish of the day a younger angler walked up and asked if he could step into my spot and kinda caught off guard by his etiquite I told him sure, I had just had an amazing session, he proceeded to hook up on is second cast. Needless to say, I left the beach after a moderate hike a little desheveled, but very happy.

Headed home at a reasonable hour for a good meal and some rest. Its amazing how much work goes into gearing up for these outings. After performing much more work on the tackle and gear then planned and coming to the realization that I did not have the lure that I really wanted for tomorrow it was off to set the alarm for 4am and to bed..

Day 2

Back to Camp Hero as the NOAA report was for fairly strong SW winds and continued SE swell through Tuesday, those fish will be pinned on that white water in the morning and I will be the first one on em. Get there at 5am sharp, ready to roll and hoof it out to the spot. 2 guys there right on the spot, hurling like mad men, no fish on the beach, bad attitudes. Come to find out they are late arrivals yesterday, PM, missed the bite and have been there since 10pm without a strike. Winds have shifted NW over night.

Take a few casts and realize it ain’t happening.. Move to other favorite spot in the area, not easy to get to, and bang away for 2 hours, Nada.. See 2 familar faces down the beach and walk down to comiserate the grim turn of events. Chat for 10 minutes and head up to the parking lot, while putting away the gear one of the 2 guys drives by and says Turtles. Drive to the lighthouse parking lot and walk down to the south side. Quite a scene with acres of bass out a ways and some small shore blitz’s to the far right and left and a ways off shore up the middle. I walk down the middle staying away from the 2 goups of casters and take a coupe of casts to no avail. Most guys on the beach are in a state of semi-panic, casting and retieving their lures at high speed, pretty funny.

All of a suddon a huge school surfaces in front of me and I am in the middle of a full on blitz. I cast and do a slow retrieve and snag a big bass which almost stripped all of my line, he gets free and I am now surrounded by 10 guys hurling and rapid retrieving to no avail, noone has hooked up as 1,000 bass are boiling within 10 feet of the beach. I cast again 25 feet off the beach and after 2 pops on a slow retrieve I am on. Now I am a little vocal and ask for a little room, trading places with my 2 neighbors to the left. One kook casts over my line, but he appoligizes, and makes every effort to loosen his drag and get off my gear without incident. After a few more minutes of fighting the fish, 33″/16lbs, a small wave rolled in and with its help I got the fish up on the beach. Taking a breath, I looked around as the boil slowed in intensity and moved off-shore, now 20 frantic anglers, were hurling and rapid retrieving as if in unison. Noone else has hooked up, except for one old dude down the beach, I look again and it is “Fishy Pete”.

Definitely, some of the best surfcasting I have ever experienced, hope it is a sign of things to come this season. See you soon.. RickOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Main Beach Newsletter Vol 1 Winter 2013

Introducing Paddlesports as a LifeStyle For 2013

We’re excited to start 2013 representing the best Paddlesport companies in the industry. Hobie, Surftech, Ocean Kayak, Liquid Logic, Global Surf Industries, Werner Paddles, Kialoa, Quickblade, Patagonia just to name a few. Living by the water on Eastern Long Island we are blessed with a bounty of paddling opportunities. I often think our local waters are greatly under rated when compared to other well respected paddling locations. Ocean, Bays, Inlets, Back Water, Down Wind, Salt Ponds, Rivers you name it we got it. Yes there are 4 paddling seasons in the Hamptons and each one has a special character and beauty. Many folks paddle only during our famous Hamptons Summer months and truly miss out on so many year round paddling opportunities. Stand up Paddle (SUP) has opened the door to the paddling season early for many folks and it is refreshing to see more and more people out on the water during the quiet seasons. Heck we even held a well represented Turkey Day Paddle Race, (cold water classic) this past November. 

Remember, it is important to dress appropriately for all watersports activities, particularly during the colder weather months. Wets suit and Dry Suit technology has come a long way with beautiful, light weight and stretchy suits being available at all price points. With Flatwater, Fitness, Touring, Racing and Training disciplines, SUP is leading the charge with the fastest growing watersport on the market. Kayaking is staging a solid comeback with strong family interest and a new interest in Kayak fishing offering a green and very nature friendly way of tackling the big ones. We usually stock a few beautiful canoes as well for the purests out there. Surf has always been the eminent domain of the hard core watersport athlete and that holds true today. Great sand bars and awesome point breaks define surfing on Eastern Long Island..

Paddles are key to any paddlesport serving as the engine to your craft. The new lightweight and superfast carbon paddles from Werner, Kialoa and Quickblade are game changers and have elevated the game of many local athletes and paddling enthusiasts. Fitness and flexibility training are important components of any paddling routine, working with a local trainer or signing up for some winter yoga classes are a great way to get ready for the upcoming paddling season. 

So many paddles and so little time. I hate to run, but I have to go work on rehabing a late season Knee injury and I am determined to be back in top form for our upcoming 2013 Hamptons SUP race series. Please stop by the shop for your personal paddle prescription or just to talk about your favorite local paddling location. See you on the water..

Rick

Wet Suits Versus Dry Suits

Cold water technology has evolved to new levels in recent years. Just when you think Wet suits are so stretchy and so comfortable and so warm that you would never consider a Dry Suit, someone comes along and introduces an insane dry suit. So what is a year round Hamptons water sports athlete to do?

First Question: What water sport are you considering ? Surfing, Stand up Paddling or Kayaking. Surfers primarily use wet suit technology for their cold water needs. The tight fitting, stretchy neoprene is well suited to the dynamic nature of wave riding and ripping, while dry suits may have too much fabric to handle bigger waves and the inevitable close outs and hold downs. Kayaking has typically been the domain of dry suits and semi-dry suits, but lighter weight, stretchy wetsuits can work. Stand up Paddling which brings the disciplines of surfing and paddling together can be well served by either Dry Suits or Wetsuits.

Second Question: Are you paddling on the Ocean or the Bay? When paddling on the ocean, we must accept the fact that we will be in the water nearly as much as we are on top of it. This coupled with water temps ranging from the low 60’s down to the mid 30’s dictate that we need warm, high quality protection when on the ocean. When on the bay, the calmer, protected waters of the local salt ponds and the peconic bay estuary, allow us to wear lighter weight gear. That being said we always must dress for water temperature, regardless of how nice the day is. High quality 3/2’s, 4/3’s and 5/4’s are commonly used on the ocean, while lighter weight 3/2’s paired with a paddling semi-dry jacket are common on the bay. A good quality dry-suit can be used in both environments.

Third Question: What is your paddling season? Are you are summer only water sports participant? Do you participate in Spring and Fall? Are you a hard core year round water sports athlete? Summer only athletes will typically require a lightweight wet suit for any of the 3 most popular local watersports. During May, June and July a  3/2 mil wet suit is used by many surfers and stand up paddlers. Kayakers may use a 3/2 or a paddling jacket with pants and booties. Early May can still be chilly so make sure you are properly protected. During August, Spring style Wet Suits with short arms and short legs are popular with surfers, while stand up paddlers and kayakers may require only a Neoprene rashguard or UV top. Spring and Fall things start to get interesting with more waves sessions, amazing paddles and downwinders. Higher quality 3/2’s, versatile 4/3’s along with semi-dry suits are best for spring and fall watersports. Come winter all bets are off, heavier 5/4 or 6mil wetsuits and full dry suits are your best bet for warmth and safety.

Now after all that groundwork, we can discuss the pro’s and con’s of drysuits versus wet suits.

Dry Suit Pro’s: In spite of all the improvements to the flexibility of wetsuits, I still find dry suits more comfortable. Whats better than getting into your long johns, smart wool socks and then slipping into a beautiful Gore Tex Dry Suit. I find dry suits have a great range of motion in the shoulders and that is probably why they have been popular with Kayakers for the past few years. While some of the earlier Dry Suit models resembled something out of 20,000 leagues under the sea, some of the latest models are very stylish and super comfortable. The Soul Dry Suit from Ocean Rodeo is a great choice, buit for SUP and Kayaking. The Soul has a built in jacket with detachable hood which protects the zipper and really helps retain your heat. The jacket also has hand warmer pockets and an opening in the front to attach a tow rope, inflatable pfd, or kite harness. The suit’s plastic zippers never leaked and were easier to open and close than those of other suits. The Soul was flexible, comfortable, and was less baggy than most suits which also made it easier for swimming. Retail on the Soul is $849. As an option to a full dry suit are Semi Dry tops and Semi Dry Pants. Immersion Research offers the Zephr Jacket and the Zephr Pant for Men and Women. The Jacket is priced at $149 and the pants are $129. 

Dry Suit Cons: A high quality dry suit is a fairly expensive investment, however, if comfort and safety are high on your winter paddling priorities, I would suggest you consider a Dry suit for your requirements. In the surf zone some dry suits can be a little baggy and make it tough to swim when caught inside.

Wet Suit Pros: A wide variety of wet suits are available at a wide variety of price points. There are truly wetsuits for everyone at every price point. Wet Suits are very fitted and stretchy making them excellent choices for surf centric activities.

Wet Suit Cons: If you have too light or too heavy a wet suit for the activity and conditions your are undertaking, one can get chilled or over heat. It is imperative to have the  correct wet suit for your activity and conditions. Some people find it difficult to get into wetsuits. 

Hamptons Surf Scene Post Sandy

Hurricane Sandy may be the greatest natural disaster the Mid Atlantic region has ever faced. The Jersey shore, New York City and the Western South Shore of Long Island bore the brunt of this massive storms fury. Catastrophic damage and loss of property have over whelmed many inhabitants of long standing coastal communities. The severe environmental damage continues with enormous amounts of untreated sewage and polluted runoff pouring into the bays, inlets and coastal surf zone waters of Western Long Island and New Jersey. While the visible damage to Eastern Long Island was considerably less, many local residents experienced fairly severe erosion and flooding to their properties. Extensive tree damage, lost power, gas shortages and related challenges plagued our community for several weeks. Subtle environmental damage to local wetlands, ground water, bays and estuaries due to extensive flooding has happened and should be addressed by local municipalities.

As people come terms with the severity of this event, winter waves are enticing people back onto the water. Fortunately, the Hamptons have enjoyed relatively clean water and enough beach to get to your favorite breaks. Don’t get me wrong, the local beaches were scoured hard and the protective berm of Sand Dunes have been severely diminished. Ocean front homes stand in jeopardy and low lying communities like Montauk village are frantically working to protect themselves from future storms. 

If one can find a silver lining in all this, there are some decent sand bars that formed after the storm passed to our Northwest. After a relative shortage of good breaks through out most of 2012 the year is ending up strong with good breaks and some decent swell.

We are optimistic that 2013 will be a great year for surf. The beach breaks are working, the water is clean and the line ups are uncrowded for the time being. Stop by the shop for a current report or update and best wishes to all those working through the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.. Image

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