Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lumpy Waters 2012!

Lumpy Waters Symposium this autumn was a really nice progression in the 4 years it's been held.  I saw significant evolution in not only the choice of courses offered, but also in the caliber of coaching, and in skill level of the students (including the most accurate self-assessment and matching of students to courses).  Paul Kuthe keeps raising the bar--showing us all how to get a large group of folks even more psyched than they already are, helping everyone find the right fit regarding classes, juggling coaches and courses as weather and swell change, and keeping a stellar attitude the whole time.  Well done (yet again!), Paul...

As logic would dictate, one can only luck out with the weather for so long....and the previous two symposiums had coincided with nearly ideal conditions.  This year, the week prior to Lumpy Waters, I was fortunate enough to be asked to coach at BCU Week, held in various venues near Astoria, Or.  When I showed up, the first nasty low-pressure system of the year had arrived--after nearly 80 days of zero precipitation.  Judging by the small lakes in the campsites, we were all in for a wet one.  Lumpy was no exception--we had big, sloppy swells and winds from the SW to NW at small-craft advisory strength.

With good timing and positioning, some were able to surf distances like that separating Jeff Laxier and Matt Palmariello.

The coaches adapted with smooth grace, and the students at the event were very understanding of the need to keep things safe and fun for everyone.  It appears that a combination of 1) A small number of students being involved in preventable incidents (and not wanting to make the same mistakes twice), and 2) a general increase in personal responsibility and risk assessment process, have contributed to an improvement in group "mode of operation" within the general paddling community.  I'm hoping I won't be proved wrong on this through the winter and coming season.

Out of necessity, we utilized some new venues (at least to me), which were quite good--and will be used in future events, even in better conditions.  I coached two days of "Long Boat Surfing" with both Sean Morely and Rob Avery, a short boat surfing session with Chris Bensch and Cate Hawthorne, and closed with one day of co-coaching/leading a short journey near the mouth of Tillamook Bay.  We found some fabulous rock-gardening around some rocks near the entrance, and had a great time on the way back running some slots and pourovers.  Nobody really wanted the paddling to end, and it didn't--for some....

Everun' cep' me...

A post-symposium tradition seems to have developed of the coaches (who can stay an extra day) getting together for an evening of libations and blowing off some steam, followed by a short day of rock-gardening and surf, before everyone must get traveling home.  Conditions this year were a bit nastier than in the last few, but out we went anyway.  Good friend and fellow coach,  Jeff Laxier, was celebrating his birthday today, and what better a way to celebrate than going boating!

We had fun doing a little rock gardening, but swell size and direction were pretty inconsistent, the short period also made timing a bit more tricky.  Gusty winds from the southwest damped down the spectator  appeal--we didn't really hang around any on spot, but paddled around the two outermost islands, through some caves, and then we found ourselves at a very challenging steep arette angled steeply into the swell.  A rock exists about 6-10 feet (depending on swell size) out from the arette.  The swell would sort of wash through, but would be lateral just as often, and when so,  it was washing/breaking through from either side.  Sean ran it on the fly, seeing a beautiful window, and timed it perfectly.  Then the rest of us held position while Jeff L. waited patiently for his moment.  He kept at it, almost going for it a couple of times, but clearly treating it with respect.  I wasn't even considering running it, but had fun close to Jeff as the big sets came through.

On bigger sets, one could catch a decent surge through here towards viewer.
We found a fun reefy zone on the S. side of the rocks, with some fun breaks allowing us to short for maybe 80 feet max, over the rest of the reef.  Patience was required waiting for a swell of the right size and direction, and we were catching them very close to the exposed rock.

Bowling up behind Nick Scoville.
At this point, we had a short group chat, and ended up splitting up into two pods, one going up the headland a short bit for more rocks, and a few of us heading back to the launch area to do some surfing.

Rob Yates has hooking some good waves, it was difficult to exit off at the end of the ride, we all got creamed every so often.
We had some meaty rides, which were short and usually ended well if you could make a hasty exit off the wave.  I didn't always succeed, and got a bit of a thrashing for it.

We all had a good time, but the weather was such that it lessened our sadness to get on the road and head home.