Friday, November 19, 2010

Winter Surfing on the Oregon Coast

Dave Eveland Surfing at Otter Rock
With the first few in-town snowfalls of the season and winter well on its way, Bend’s snowboarders (Chip included) are filled with glee that they’ll be carving the big white wave of Mt. Bachelor very soon. However, for a few hardcore Oregonians the approach of winter also generates excitement about another, wetter board sport.

“Winter swells on the Oregon coast can be huge with 20' and larger not uncommon,” says Stand Up Paddle Flatwater founder Randall Barna. “It can be pretty dangerous,” says Central Oregon Community College Surf Club president Shelby Merrick. “I don’t recommend it for people who are new to surfing.”

For some though, these conditions are a huge attraction. Take my friend, Dave Eveland (who is a phenomenal personal trainer by the way). Dave relished the “thumping” he received in the “violent mess” of surf at Otter Rock last weekend.  For Dave, winter means ”smaller crowds, bigger waves.” And those aren’t the only positives. “Winter storms have surprisingly mild temperatures while summer winds are surprisingly cold,” says Randall. “Surf spots protected from south winds become favored, the opposite of the summer spots.”

Stand up surfing is fantastic for the infamously chilly Oregon waters, primarily because it's warmer being up out of the water. Randall also points out that “the paddle-out can be longer and more arduous on big winter swells. On a stand up board, you can get out quicker, catch waves earlier, and even catch waves that are in that window between paddle-in and tow-in.”

Many SUP converts say stand up surfing is even more fun than regular surfing. “To me, surfing stand up is the funnest thing I’ve ever done,” says longtime surfer and SUPBend team rider Tom Burke. “It’s the visuals, seeing everything in the water below you. Also, once you develop the skill to stay standing between waves, it’s a more constant experience.” In case you’re wondering, Tom’s personal record for continuous surfing without falling off or sitting or lying down on his board, is 32 waves.

Listen to Gerry Lopez and Laird Hamilton talk about the coolness of the non-stop stand up surfing experience:

For those who want to try stand up paddle (SUP) surfing, Stand Up Paddle Bend offers a wide range of SUP surfboards for both purchase and rental. 

Stand Up Paddle Bend is also a great place for surfers to pick up staples like wax, earplugs, and booties here in town. “When I get to the coast, I want to maximize wave-time, not spend it buying stuff, so being able to pick up what I need before I go is super-convenient,” says Shelby. “Also, if I already have everything I need, I’m open to go somewhere where there might not be a shop.”

A tip from Randall: "I recommend a slightly bigger board for Oregon surf than you'd use in non-wetsuit conditions. You weigh more with a wet-wetsuit - easily 30 pounds. Also, with a bigger board you fall in less."

For more information about surfing the Oregon Coast, visit the Oregon Surf Guide.

Happy Thanksgiving to our Fantastic SUP Community!
Please be sure to check out our Stand Up Paddle Gift Guide
From stocking stuffers to show stoppers, you'll find SUPer gifts for everyone on your list!

We love hearing from you. Why do you like stand up surfing? If you were a prone surfer before, were you skeptical about SUP at first? What won you over? Any Oregon winter surf stories to share?

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