Photo: Jerome Houyvet. Words: Jason Polakow.
The JP 2010 SUP shoot was something I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time. I’ve been testing and riding all types of SUPs for years, so when it came to helping design the new range of SUPs with Werner Gnigler it was really easy. We wanted to design a range of boards that were easy to use in the surf but also very user-friendly in all types of conditions.
Antoine Albeau and myself were the first to unwrap the new boards at NP Maui. We instantly loved the bright colours and graphics. I couldn’t wait to try the small 9’3″ red rocket and Antoine already had his eyes on the purple 10’8″. It was late October and the north swells were already here.
A large north swell of 15 foot was predicted the next day and people were already gearing up for a Jaws session. I mentioned to Antoine that we better get some thick leashes as Martin Brandner wouldn’t want these brand new boards washed up on the rocks or drifting out to sea on their own.
The next day saw the direction a little too north for Jaws so we decided to go to a spot called Pier One which was breaking a solid 8 to 10 foot.
We both paddled out a bit nervously. They weren’t exactly ideal conditions to test boards we’d never ridden before. This is a really heavy wave once it gets over 10 feet. It hits a ledge and sometimes just barrels like Jaws. We both had some nice waves and Antoine was really charging on the 10’8″.
The boards actually worked really well out there even though they aren’t originally designed for waves that big. I later heard that Robby Naish had wiped out on a set wave and almost drowned later that morning.
The next morning Lanes was 6 to 8 foot and pretty glassy. Antoine and I jumped straight in the water and paddled out at Lanes which is a really nice left-hand wave that breaks next to Ho’okipa. These conditions were exactly what we were hoping to test the boards in. You can feel all aspects of the board working when you have conditions like this.
I found the boards to be quite stable to stand on, making it easy to catch waves. The tails are pulled in, so as you drop down the wave and transfer your weight to the back of the board, you can really feel the control. The rails aren’t too thick and the tuck line is just right, making it easier for the board to bite into the wave face and carve a nice line.
We both had a lot of fun catching all the set waves and sometimes catching some bombs together.
Later that morning I went out windsurfing on the small 9’3″ SUP. All the SUP boards have a connection to attach a sail to. It’s as simple as screwing your windsurf base to the board and you’re out on the water in a second. It’s so easy on these boards to move around and catch waves. I had so much fun! In the end I felt sorry for Antoine not catching as many waves so I let him hold onto my harness and I pulled him into a couple of waves.
Over the next few days the wind came back but the surf dropped. We both decided to test the boards in small surf at a place called Baby Beach in Spreckelsville. We got up super-early and went stand-up paddling before the wind came up. After riding larger waves days before it was just so easy and fun to ride these small waves. I had so much fun catching wave after wave. Antoine and I would catch waves together and then have a race to see who could get back out first. I think next time I need a handicap as he just has too much power.
Later that morning we both switched the paddle for a sail and went back out on the SUPs for a windsurf session. It was sometimes a challenge to bottom turn without straps but when I came off the top it felt a little like my sailboard at times. We were both having a lot of fun. When you’re using these SUP boards for windsurfing you tend to go in and out so much more. I was catching everything with the greatest of ease, always gybing just outside the break sometimes going right and sometimes going backside and playing around.
Places in Europe that have the smallest of waves and the lightest of wind will suit these boards perfectly. It’s great fun and if you really want to get a work-out, then go out without a harness like Antoine was doing. We were lucky enough to have all types of condition on this year’s SUP shoot which was exactly what we wanted. From big wave surfing to windsurfing small 3 foot waves, we had it all. I look forward to seeing you guys out on the water enjoying all types of conditions and most of all having fun with friends.