18 August 2014

There and Back Again

My initial plan was to surf Crystal Pier at dawn, but Steve suggested Birdrock a bit later. It's been a long time since I've surfed there, or any reef break, so I was in.

I was already suited up when Steve texted that he'd just left his house. Since I was ambling instead of rushing to La Jolla to meet him, I stopped by the pier on the way up there. It didn't look great, but there were waves to be had, and the manageable crowd included some of the regulars I know.
Google+ gets artistic
So on to Birdrock. It didn't look all that appealing: lully, textured with a steady breeze, and 3 guys out getting short infrequent rides on chest-high+ waves. The water at the bottom of the stairs sloshed around noisily. Meh. I made the call to go back to the pier. Steve, who arrived after I'd driven away and half an hour late (his first surfing buddy demerit), saw something more promising and paddled out there.
Birdrock
My 6'2" isn't the board I would've chosen if I'd gone directly to the pier, but it turned out OK. Although there were a lot of closeouts, I got a few decent rides and some teachable moments, most notably the closeout drop I should've charged forward on but instead leaned too heavily on my back foot and fell off tailward. It's the same fear obstacle I have to overcome to successfully drop into the bowl on a skateboard.
With that wave in mind, I paddled for the next one. It was a right that jacked up more than expected, to nearly head-high as I landed the drop and made a small backside turn up the face before turning down with an oncoming section. Woot!

Back atop the bluff, a few dolphins swam past. If you look closely, you can glimpse them in the video.
Off of San Diego, the ocean temperature has dropped from the low seventies to the upper sixties. For the rest of the week, I'll be surfing in the warmer waters of Oahu.

12 August 2014

Surfing Under the Pier

Since I was already suited up (in my sleeveless 2-mil Billabong Salty Jane - the water is now 74ยบ!), Steve said he'd meet me in the water. "I'll probably surf under the pier," he told me. Over coffee, as we talked business and waited for the tide to fill in, he'd explained that he didn't mean literally under the Ocean Beach pier, but right next to it.
Out in the nicely uncrowded lineup, I heard someone call my name, and turned to see Angela paddling over on her shortboard. I hadn't surfed with Steve in a while but it had been much longer since I'd seen Angela, and it was nice to be out in the ocean with both of them. Mostly we shortboarder girls sat inside of Steve, who was riding his yum-yum yellow longboard. As I stroked into a left, he caught it early and swooped by me so I had to back off. Returning to the lineup, he said with a smile, "Those damn longboarders!"
Although the chest-high- waves were lully and broken up, I rode some fun ones on Kat and left smiling.

09 August 2014

Inspiration and Education

At the Supergirl Pro yesterday in Oceanside, one of the few names I recognized in the Round of 96 was Felicity Palmateer. She's a goofyfoot like me, and I'd admired her down-to-earthiness in the short film So It Goes:
I snuck away from volunteering at the Surfrider table to watch her heat, first from the beach and then from a better vantage on the pier.
After quietly contemplating the ocean, Holly-Sue Coffey went on to win the heat.
As I wrote last year, it's always inspiring to watch the pro women surf. And I'm lucky to live close to the venue for a three-day women's contest, since I learn a lot from seeing their heats in person. The pier offered the chance to better observe how they paddle (a lot of arch in the back) and duck dive (effortlessly with spot-on timing) as well as select and ride waves. I wish I could've spent more than one heat soaking it in. (Scroll down for more photos.)
I've also been learning much from watching video tutorials by Surf Simply, even the beginner-level ones like "Catching Unbroken Waves" which I previewed for a novice friend.
The coach explains maneuvers in detail using a whiteboard so that they really make sense. It's more analytical than most surf instruction, and it helps me to understand the mechanics - the why underlying the how - so I can better put the advice into practice.  I'd love to go to the Surf Simply camp in Nosara someday.
Post-sesh, from the Surfline cam
All that was in my mind during this morning's surf at Crystal Pier. It was a short session (since unfortunately my neck is still not quite right), but I caught more waves because of it. Nose down, fast power strokes plus a few extra, and commitment, culminating in a fun chest-high left with a one-second face. Stoked!
Too slow to catch their post-heat overhead double high-five 
Most of the competitors were blond
An inspired fan, after getting her photo taken with the surfer in red
Alex is a super girl - she picked up beach trash to win a Surfrider calendar in our bingo game
Holly Sue (1st) and Chelsea Roett (4th), before the heat
Chelsea Tuach (2nd), paddling strong with a proud chest
Felicity Palmateer came in 3rd
Timing the duck-dive - maybe I need to go earlier
After the heat
Paige Hareb? So many blond surfers, it's hard to tell them apart.
They weren't all blond though. And she was stoked!

07 August 2014

Marshmallow Fluff on a Toothpick

Lack of surf and an inland Central California road trip kept me out of the water for the better part of a week, so I joined Christina for dawn patrol in Del Mar, sight unseen. There's a little south swell running which gave me hope, but if I'd waited to check the cam, I might've bailed like Nicole.
A pod of dolphins swam through the lineup as I walked out, and I waited in vain for them to return. I also waited in vain to ride a proper wave. The lulls were long and the waves too soft and mushy. Christina rode a few when I first arrived but eventually she had to do the paddle of shame in to the beach. Even longboarders were having trouble getting into waves - when they weren't hogging them. On my 5'2" Firewire, it was like trying to scrape marshmallow fluff from a nearly empty jar with a toothpick: frustrating and ultimately unsatisfying.

And now for something completely different. Can you spot the bear?
Brown bear in Sequoia National Park, taken from a safe distance

25 July 2014

Making the Best of

When the forecast looks like this, barely changed from the past week:
then, yeah, it's time to go surfing, even if the slight swell bump is short-period windswell and my neck's still inexplicably troublesome and radiating a headache.

Due to the aforementioned neck issue, my wave choice was extra selective to weed out the too-frequent under head-high disorganized closeouts near Crystal Pier. Yet when a likely shoulder formed up, I had trouble getting into the softish rising-tide waves. Probably I should've brought my 6'2" Rocket instead of 5'4" Kat. I paddled for a bunch of promising waves but they slipped away, unridden.
It was roughly an hour (my watch is in a drawer since I stopped working for The Man) before I caught my first wave. By that time, I was getting a bit pissed off. Dammit, I would have a good ride! As I paddled for this right, my inner coach yelled encouragement: "Dig deep! Keep the nose down! Commit! Gooooo!" Finally I was up and riding. 

Yeah!

23 July 2014

Lake, Etcetera

Although the Pacific hasn't been quite as flat as Lake Tahoe - still pretty close, most days - that's not the only reason I haven't blogged lately. A couple of afternoon sessions last week reminded me why I don't like to surf past midmorning, despite the warm summer sunshine - two-foot chop amid whitecaps puts a definite damper on already small surf closing out on a bad swell direction. It was nice to join other San Diego Surf Ladies in seeing off Laura before she moved to France, but ugh, the waves were pretty darn awful. At least a few dolphins came through the lineup to bid her adieu.

Today the windswell perked up a little and I would have been on it at my home break, but I tweaked my neck Sunday while trying to bodysurf dumpy little waves. It's not recovering fast enough for my liking, but I hope to at least get in the ocean for a snorkel/swim tomorrow in La Jolla. And I'm itching to go back to the skate park to work on drop-ins, since I had my first successful (instructor-assisted) ones last weekend. It's a hill I'm determined to climb - or fall down with control, more like. And although the forecast looks bleak for the near future, hopefully Lake Pacific will rouse itself soon and serve up some decent waves.