Surf Competition Checklist

OK, so this weekend, I’m attempting my second go at a surfing competition. My first try-several months ago- was fun. I didn’t place, but I did catch a good wave in that one, so I was happy, and I got to watch my friends surf, which was really the best part of the day.
Since competing is new to me still, I decided to compile a checklist of things to take with me to make things a bit easier. Plus, having a checklist helps me avoid the “what did I forget?” feeling that I get when trying to wing it. Of course, don’t forget to take your surfboard…..

Large Zippered Canvas Tote– I found this is the best way to schlep my junk to the beach. The zipper on top is the key. Otherwise, all the crap dumps out onto the sand and gets lost. Don’t invest a lot of money in one- go to Goodwill and find one. Honestly, they give these out like candy at a lot of trade shows and expos and end up at thrift stores- you’re going to be hauling it to the beach, so it’s going to get nasty, salty and sandy and eventually replaced anyway. Plus, if you win something, you’ll have room to carry it back without having to carry it back in your hand.

Waterproof Watch– This is handy for keeping an eye on the time left in your heat. They’re giving us 15 minutes to get at least 2 waves, and for me, that’s going to be tricky, so I’ll need to remember to not screw around looking for dolphins. Again, don’t spend a lot of money on one with all the tides and crap. I’ve had high end ones and low end watches and they last about the same time. I know someone will swear they’ve had one twenty years, but, I haven’t found that magical brand yet.

Printed Heat Schedule– OK, I know the heat schedule NEVER goes off on time from talking to people who do contests a lot, but mostly the order doesn’t change. At least you’ll have an inkling of when you’ll be coming up. Print out the schedule the night before and put the schedule in one of those plastic sheet protector sleeves and seal up the open edge with tape so you don’t smear the ink with your wet, sandy hands. Bonus points for printing out the tide table for the day and putting it on the flip side of the page before sealing it up. It’s old fashioned, but beats risking taking your expensive iPhone to the beach.

2 Leashes– I’m only surfing a longboard, so I’m taking two longboard leashes, one to use, and one as a backup. Not that we get crazy heavy waves around here, but you never know when the velcro strap on the tail decides it’s the day to tear through. If you’re surfing other types of boards, take back up leashes for those boards as well.

Leash String/ Loop– I’m taking an extra little nylon leash string/loop just in case that decides to break. I’ll be keeping it in my boardshorts pocket just in case.

Fin Change Out Kit– This may involve having a small screwdriver, a fin key, single fin nuts and bolts, fin screws (here’s a handy thing to make), and additional fin changing tools (see my tool kit). I’m not expecting to bust out a fin doing a wild air, but I can certainly see myself busting a fin while in the parking lot on the asphalt.

Extra Fins– For me, I’m riding a single fin longboard, so I’m taking an extra single fin for the reason stated above in case I need it. Obviously, if you’re riding a thruster, quad, etc. take a spare set with you. It’s worth the money to at least have a cheap back up set. If I have to change out a fin because I broke it, the punching bag stays home for use after the event.

Wax and Scraper– Yeah, this is a no-brainer, but after having done a bit of research, I learned it’s good to also keep some Tropical Wax in your stash, since it’s good for a wide range of conditions, according to some.

2 Towels– If you’re not bringing a chair, one’s to sit on, one’s to use to wrap around yourself after getting out of the water, since even’s if it’s a nice day, the wind can still give you chills which can zap your energy. Speaking of which…..

NEW Bottle of Sunscreen– Go ahead and splurge. Chances are, you’ve been trying to keep using that same nasty bottle you’ve kept in your hot car all season. The effectiveness of sunscreen declines when you leave it in a hot car- just like if you left medications in there. Really, if you get a burn and have to surf again later in the afternoon, you’re going to hurt. Bad. Not to mention the chills that come along with a burn, zapping any energy you had to compete. Use it.

Crunchy Granola Bars– Yeah, they’re not for everybody, but they’re one of the best things to pack on a hot day if you get the munchies. Energy bars and Clif bars may be good, but become a mushy mess come high noon. Stick with the little cardboard brick variety as a just in case.

Water– While you’re at it, bring some water, preferably cold if you can manage it, but at least a bottle or two even if you don’t have a cooler. Some of these events have water, some don’t, or may run out. You don’t want to miss a heat because you made a 7-11 run and can’t find a parking space when you get back. I avoid sports drinks when surfing or when I’ve raced in paddleboard events- being in the salt water combined with the artificial flavoring just makes me nauseous. I’d stick to water unless you really want to clear a barrier between you and your competitors with undigested granola bar leavins in the water.

Gallon Ziploc Bags– Just handy to have to sort your stuff, like your tool kits, fins, etc. They’re clear, and it keeps sand off stuff and things from landing in the bottom of the tote.

First Aid Kit– Just something smart to have with you. Here’s a little pocket example project I made I’m probably taking. You may just help out someone else too.

Of course, there’s a lot of other personal items you could add, but that’s a bare bones list I could see covering 80% of the problems a competitor may face during an amateur event, and something I’m hoping to use as a sanity checklist for some of these fun competitions in the future.
As I was writing this, it made me think of a story. When I was a teenager, I competed at a figure skating meet in Miami, Ohio. During my routine, I went to perform a maneuver that I had performed a thousand times flawlessly before. Somehow, I ended up on my lycra skirted ass. I got right back up, and finished my routine as if nothing had happened. For the rest of my routine the crowd was applauding wildly as if I had done something so admirable, and I felt wonderful.
Afterwards, I found out that the 6 year old that skated right before me had fallen too, but stomped off the ice in a fit of tears. Comparatively, at 17, I was Miss Super Brave for not succumbing to a fit. Umm…..embarrassing. I only hope I can keep from having a fit if I fall off my board tomorrow during the contest.
Because there’s no stomping off in the ocean.

Surf Wax Dispenser

I’ve had couple of requests for a surf wax dispenser. I can understand, since the stack to wax tends to fall over into a big messy pile. For this craft, I picked up 2 small cardboard containers from the craft store that were about the circumference of a Sex Wax bar. They have square boxes for those inclined to Sticky Bumps.

Next, I needed to remove the lids and cut away and bottoms from each cylinder using an Exacto knife along the edge:


First, I took one of the cylinders and marked a rectangle along the bottom, the height of the wax bar (with the wrapping), and about half the width of the bar, so it will slide into and out of the bottom.

I then used the Exacto knife to cut along the bottom, even along the bottom edge:


At this point, I needed to join the two cylinders together. I used Duct Tape to make a join around the middle:

By keeping the lid of one, we’ve got a nice cap for the holder.
After that, by taking some clear drying glue and painting it all over the cylinder, I can put cut out surf images from my favorite magazines!

Good way to keep the pile organized, in a corner, out of the way.
Kinda looks like a PEZ Dispenser. I used to collect those, but since it took about 10 PEZ to get any sugar rush, I kept breaking the little heads off. I sold the heads to someone a while back. I think I saw him on the news recently.

DIY Wet Bag

When I was back at school….again….I took the opportunity to surf before heading to class like many of my classmates. I also surfed up until the moment I had to be on the road so I wouldn’t be late for class. I’d do one of those quick changes in the parking lot, stuff my wet gear into a humble plastic grocery bag where it usually wouldn’t be remembered until the smell would alert me to the errant bag in the corner of the trunk. Of course, at that point, the plastic grocery bag had to go. There goes my contribution to the environment.
I figured it would be nice to have something that could hold my wet stuff, be a little more permanent, stand out and be seen, and be worth keeping. So I made my own simple post surf wet clothes bag.
I started off using an old clear shower liner I had, but never used. You can use one that’s been used, just give it a good washing prior to doing this project to remove any soap residue.

Save those magnets!!!!

I started off with a good sized rectangular piece (13″ by 21″) that I cut with my rotary cutter and a straight edge:

This bag is going to be like a simple envelope- I’m going to fold up the bottom, and fold over a small section to make a flap to close with Velcro.
I wanted to make this kind of girly, so I picked up some Duct Tape that had girly colors- for the guys, they have plenty of manly prints too, plus boring silver, of course. I used this as stabilizer to go under the Velcro strips I’m going to put on the flap for the opening. I found pink Velcro which was AWESOME:

First, I took a strip of the duct tape and ran it along each edge, front and back. I trimmed off the sides of the duct tape to neaten it up.
Along one edge, I chose this as the bottom Velcro strip- this is important- I put the hooked side on the bottom. This keeps the hooks from snagging on my gear as I’m sliding it into the bag. I used a 70 weight Microtex (sharp) needle on this material and a 3.0 straight stitch. I lined it up around a quarter inch down from the top edge and ran the line of stitching down the edge of the Velcro:

I stitched lines down both edges and repeated this on the other edge on the top:

Next, I used a duct tape sheet (they sell these in big box stores and craft stores) to cut a 2.5″ wide strip to make a wrap to join the sides together:

I peeled back the adhesive backing and lined the sides up to make the pocket:

You can leave it at that, but I reinforced it with a line of stitching.

I didn’t want the top flap corners to stick out and be pointy, so I trimmed off the corners:

I wanted to hide my stitching line, so I cut a narrow strip from another sheet of colored duct tape to put over the line:


Finished with bikini, rashguard, and boardshorts inside!

It really holds a lot! I also throw in a couple of desiccants from shoes or pill bottles to help cut down on some of the moisture in the bag.
Now I can try to keep the “stank” to my surfing.

DIY GoPro Case from a Wetsuit

Yeah, I’m officially one of those people who broke down and bought a GoPro. I’ve been enjoying it, but I haven’t been using it to demonstrate my “heroness”. It’s a great learning tool, to show me what I’m doing wrong- or occasionally right- when I’m surfing or SUPing. I also can’t wait to take it diving.
The thing’s so small, much improved from the old video recorder waterproof cases, but didn’t come with a stinkin’ case. $300 bucks and no case. Really? So I’ve taken to removing the camera after my surf, wrapping it in a towel in a clean, sand free beach bag to transport it back to the car where I hopefully don’t drop the camera when I unwrap the towel to rinse the thing off.
Being that neoprene is so useful, and is plentiful since most surfers can plow through a wetsuit in a couple of seasons, even around here, it’s always good to make the most of that expensive material if you can’t sell it or it got ripped.
For this project, I’m going to use a much loved vest I’ve had for 6 or 7 years but has been replaced. I wanted to breathe new life into it by using it for this project.

My surf vest (I cut the sleeves off- got to be different, ya know?)

First off, I needed to make I pattern for my case. I decided I wanted to make a cylindrical case, that has a drawstring closure at the top. I needed to make sure I had enough space to put the camera in even if I put the special floaty back on it, so I set it on my gridded cutting table to look it over:

Side view
Top view

This gave me an idea to make the bottom of the case a 5″ diameter circle. I took a compass, set it to a 2.5″ radius, and drew out a circle on plain paper, then cut it out. It seemed to fit the case pretty well, without a lot of slop:

Within the pattern bottom

Next, I needed to figure out how tall I wanted my case to be, keeping in mind that this will drawstring closed, so I’ll need a little extra at the top.

Determining height of the case

I settled on a 5″ height, since the bottom will be sewn to the side with minimal seam allowance by a blanket stitch. I also had to calculate circumference to make sure the side would go all the way around the outer edge of the bottom, to make my cylinder. To do that, I multiplied Pi (3.14) by my diameter of the bottom (5″) to come up with about 15.7″. Since I’m not making wheels for a Beemer, I rounded up to 16″ (significant digits anyway, remember those? Blech.) So I made my rectangular pattern by taping two sheets together and cutting out those measurements.

Side pattern

Now if you’ve read any of my other projects with neoprene, I like to pin the pattern to the neoprene with staples. They lay flatter than traditional pins since the neoprene’s so thick. For the bottom, I decided to keep the “GoSurf” logo, and use the back of the vest for the side.

Laying out the pattern
Laying out the pattern
Pattern stapled down and cutting around pattern

Once everything was cut out, I was ready to start sewing. I used 4 lb fishing line and a heavy SHARP needle- now’s a good time to use a thimble for work gloves, trust me.

Pattern pieces and Fireline (fishing line, 4 lb)

I started with a blanket stitch to join the side seam together of my rectangle. If you don’t know how to blanket stitch, check this out.
Once I had made the spine, I kept the same thread and kept going to attach the bottom. Note that the seams are on the OUTSIDE of the case, and it will not be turned inside out.

Starting to join the bottom

Here’s the cylinder when complete, you can see the spine at the top:

Finished cylinder looking inside

Next, I needed to make my drawstring. For the holes, I used a regular hole punch, but you may need to clip the holes if the punch doesn’t go all the way through. I punched 10 holes, evenly spaced, about 1/2″ from the top edge. I’m not using grommets for a couple of reasons: first, they will rust (EVERYTHING does), second, I don’t want to scratch anything. Besides, I am making a handle for this so I will not be using this drawstring as a carrier that will put a lot of stress on the holes. The edges of the neoprene won’t fray.

Punching holes in the top edge

For the drawstring, I used a regular shoestring, and I got a locking fastener for drawstrings that you can pick up in any craft or fabric store, or take one off of an old drawstring bag.

Shoestring and adjustable fastener

Thread the shoestring in and out of the holes, making sure that the ends come out to the front of the bag (in this case, I made the seam the “back” of the bag). Thread the ends through the locking fastener, open the bag as wide as possible, and knot the ends of the string! If you don’t, you’ll be threading over and over again.

Drawstring threaded

Next, for the handle, I used some nylon webbing 1″ wide and cut 18″ long to make a loop. Don’t forget to singe the ends of the nylon webbing where you cut for it will fray out.

Making the handle

I’m going to baste this folded piece together on the sewing machine, then I’m going to sew the handle end onto the OUTSIDE of the bag, about 1-2″ down from the top edge, making sure I don’t catch the drawstring at the top of the bag. Of course, you can also do this part by hand, but use a strong needle and a small rubber mallet may help push the needle through all of the layers. On the machine, I used a Denim weight needle (100). I used regular poly thread to sew with, but you can use fishing line if sewing by hand.
First, I sewed the bottom edge of the handle loop (make sure the drawstring is out of the way!) by making some passes back and forth on the machine. You can use a straight stitch, but a zig zag is always good, especially along the bottom edge.

Sewing on the handle along the bottom edge of the handle

I did this again, but at the top edge of the bag (again, stay clear of the drawstring!) to make it doubly secure.

Sewing on the handle along the top edge of the bag

Next, I wanted to stiffen up the bottom of the bag a bit so the camera wouldn’t make the bag droopy, so I used the same pattern circle I used for the bottom of the bag and cut a piece of an old plastic placemat out. You can also use plastic folders, anything plastic that can be cut with scissors and has a bit of stiffness. I did cut the circle a hair smaller than the original pattern to ensure it would lay flat in the bottom of the bag.

Super cool placemat!

So that’s it. Here’s a pic with my GoPro inside the case:

My precious….

Here’s a couple more from the outside, hanging by the handle, and then just sitting on the table:

Hangin’ out
Bottom side!

Now when I rinse off my camera, I can rinse the case off too and let it dry. As a bonus, a black case made from old neoprene doesn’t exactly scream “come steal me!”. Well, that is, except the people who know me and I just gave myself away on here.
I’ll let you steal my flip flops, ok?

Surf Equipment Wall Organizer

I can’t take credit for this one- this was a surprise present by my Husband while I was horribly sick with the flu and couldn’t surf. 😦
Meet my new garage wall organizer!


He took a scrap piece of plywood, about 1″ thick and used PVC pipes to make pegs and even holders for our SUP paddles. The PVC pegs look to be around 3/4″ ID, and he drilled a hole into the wood, and epoxy’d them in place to ensure a solid hold. These can be used to hold my wetsuits in the winter, vests in the summer, towels, leashes, etc. They are long enough to hold quite a few things on hangers, as you can see.

Next, between the pegs, he cut some short pieces of larger ID PVC pipe, turned them vertically, and cut a notch large enough for the paddle shafts to lay into so they wouldn’t fall over. These were secured into the wood with two screws, one on top of the other:

SUP Paddle Holder

From the above picture, to the right of the paddle holder, you can see the blue concrete screw, one of a few he used to mount the rack in the garage to maintain a strong hold.
I hope I don’t get the flu again, but being married to another crafter sure has it’s rewards! 😉