Starboard UK 2017 Product Launch at Surf Snowdonia
We recently attended the 2017 Starboard UK product launch at Surf Snowdonia. This is a place where SUP Store has been itching to visit and the 11 hour, 647.7 mile return journey taking in some serious junk food was worth every bit.
We arrived a day early to cope with the immense journey and to see if we could get a session on the wave. As we drove up to the gates it was quite an eye opener to see a peeling right and left hander coming through which was being torn apart by 2 short boarders on either side of the jetty - in a field in northern Wales! Surreal is the only way to explain it but very exciting at the same time. It made us feel like when you pull up to the beach and you know it's pumping and you know you are going to score. We watched a few go by and were frothing to get in. Unfortunately only the intermediate wave was available but who cared, we were going surfing. In the Surf Snowdonia Water Academy you go through a talk on where to be to catch the wave and pick your stick/foamie. They have loads of carving skateboards which are great for a warm up. Was kinda weird catching broken wave but it reforms on the inside so you get a sweet waist high right or left hander which will put a huge smile on your face. Although I just wanted to jump on the advanced wave, I had so much fun on the intermediate..
So after a few pints of Shed Head and some ribs in the Surf Snowdonia restaurant we stayed in the on site Pods which are very basic but do the trick. They sleep 4 people and if you're staying with the lads, make sure the door and window's are open as it could get quite toxic after plenty of beer and ribs.
In the morning the conference started with Mattieu Rauzier and Ollie O'Rilley from Starboard International giving an overview on the 2017 Starboard range. It was great hearing about the new environmentally conscious technologies and partnerships which Starboard are creating to reduce the impact to the environment that board production has. They are sourcing bio-resins aswell as organizing littler collection paddles throughout various parts of the world. Read more detail on this here.
The days were split into flat water paddling and surfing and we started with a flat water paddle on a stunning lake in the Snowdonia National Park. This was a great opportunity to test the touring and race shapes. Being a keen racer I grabbed the 27" All Star in carbon and took it for a spin. It's always been an awesome board and still is and for 2017 they have tweaked the bottom to allow great glide on the flat. I also tried the Astro Racer which was phenomenal. The Astro inflatable construction from Starboard just gets better and better and is hard to tell you are on an inflatable board.
After our flat water paddle we headed back to Surf Snowdonia for lunch and surfing. The wave was fantastic - 37 hours per hour and each one is perfect. So here are a cuple of tips on SUP surfing Snowdonia:
- When getting in position, stay behind the 'Advanced Wave Take Off Zone' sign. Due to the water flow pushing you away from the zone, you can be pushed ahead of the takeoff zone and therefore when the wave reaches you, it will be to critical and you'll wipe out. Try to be in line with the green dot on the fence and gradually let yourself drift down to the advanced zone. Everyone was generally on the wave a few meters before the takeoff zone due to be able to paddle faster when catching the wave. When prone surfing, this is not an issue because you simply hang on to the fence which stops you drifting.
- Make sure that when you are paddling for the wave that you keep close to the fence. Paddle on the opposite side so that you are heading towards the fence. Try to ensure your board is facing forward.
- Going backside is much harder than frontside. I simply couldn't get my round going backside and wiped out each time and wasted quite a few waves. I seemed to never be close enough to the fence. Next time :)
- Depending on how much you want to spend, book at least 2 hours a day. On your first time you'll need an hour to get your head around it.
Once you get a couple of waves you'll get to grips with it. We spent about 3 hours in total on the wave with more people on it than normal. I tried the Hypernut 8'0, 8'6 and 9'0 in Starlite construction. The 9'0 was superb - very stable holding my 100kgs and buckets of performance. Highly responsive and a great deal of fun. The board which I found the best though was the Wide Point 11'2 x 32". This glided down the line like a gun! Buckets of stability but turns really well and is surprisingly responsive for a big board.
Whether you're prone surfing or SUP surfing, a great element to Surf Snowdonia is that every wave is perfect and you can start to really think about progression. There was one guy we watched for his whole session riding a 9'0 Hypernut and he started off just getting down the line with small turns. By the end of his session he was smacking the lip!
A huge thanks to all at Starboard UK for an awesome couple of days.
Ps, if you skateboard (especially longboard skate) make sure you take one with you as the surface around the area is perfect for cruising and seems to the main form of transport around the site.