The call went out for the Team Fat Paddler crew to get some surf in at a distant southern Sydney break where the waves are long, green and easy (and perfect for beginners). Many of our crew are new to surfskis and have limited, if any, surf experience, so this would be a great place to get some instruction and get the feel for being on waves. With a forecast of 1.5m swell and nice weather, it seemed perfect.
By the time the day arrived however the forecast had changed. 18 knot SE winds, rain, and ocean swell that would likely be obliterated by the wind chop hitting it at a perfect ninety degrees. Almost everyone sent through the same message , reading “oops, slept in“, to the point where it felt like a group conspiracy, but after months of flat water training for the Hawkesbury Canoe Classic I couldn’t wait to get back in the lumps and froth of the surf, even though the conditions were less than perfect. TFP’s Ninja felt the same way, rolling up with his Remix white water boat, ready for action.
I was planning on bringing my Stellar ocean ski, but after a quick chat to the Sydney Hayden rep Sinkers, we agreed I could borrow his Hayden Fat Boy demo boat for the morning. The Fat Boy spec ski is my latest challenge, a ski that I admittedly have a great deal to learn before mastering it, and the messy conditions probably weren’t ideal for my third paddle ever (especially considering the last time I tried to take it out for a surf). But the best way to learn to paddle in rough water is to get out and actually paddle in rough water, so after donning a few layers of neoprene, I prepared for a surf, a paddle, and more than likely a fair bit of swimming.
When the Ninja and I finally hit the water, we understood why everyone stayed at home. The 1.5km paddle to the break was directly into the building headwind, with chop smashing into us the whole way threatening to send us into the drink early. The break itself had no surfski paddlers at all, a bad sign, but a bunch of OC6 outriggers were doing a great set of in and outs that showed them surfing good sized waves, proving there was fun to be had. Of course, side chop doesn’t affect a big OC6 as much as a skinny spec ski with a fat teetering bloke perched precariously on top.
Once amongst the waves I had a blast, battling the massive side chop but feeling the Fat Boy fly down the faces of the small but messy waves. I had a blast surfing away, linking waves and generally loving the salty spray in my face from the chaos of the wind and surf. And certainly enough fun to make up for the many, many times I fell off and had to swim after my ski, hoping to catch it each time before it blew away and into the nearby cliff, moored yachts or surfing OC6s!
After 90 mins of surfing, swimming, and dragging myself back onto the ski (and not forgetting resting against Ninja’s white water boat after he had to rescue me a few times!), I was so exhausted it was time to call it a morning. We rode the wind chop back at a cracking pace before calling it a day, eager to see the GoPro footage which, I learnt later, was largely corrupt. What follows is a few rides from what was still usable.. proof that despite the crap weather, any surf is a good surf and definitely better than sleeping in! Cheers, FP
The Fat Paddler ebook – available now on iTunes, Amazon & Kobo.