26 October 2008

Capitola, 26 October 2008

I've been feeling stoke-depleted of late, that is, I needed a high-wave count session, and I needed it bad. So I loaded up the big blue longboard and headed to my favorite longboard break in my favorite local beach town. An overhead NW swell meant some fun waist to chest high waves for Capitola. I found a spot on the inside, first at the main break and then farther east where the entangling speed-bump kelp wasn't so thick. After some initial re-adjustment to being on a pearl-prone Cadillac instead of driving a responsive Mini, I got in more rides than I could count, including a couple nice longs rights and a short but sweet left. It would have been a perfect afternoon, but I'll skip discussing the consequences of taking store-brand generic Dramamine which apparently lacks the active ingredients of the real thing.

As stoke-restorations go, it was just what the doctor ordered. I think I could be a pretty good longboarder in short order if I stuck with it, and I'd surely be getting a lot more vertical time. But that's not what I want. Despite the greater challenges and frustrations, I want to get good at shortboarding. I want to carve the face of the wave, do cutbacks, get shacked. I want speed, I want to rip. And someday I'll get there.

Next sesh: Australia!!!

Surfergrrrl endorses Obama for President! Now he'll win for sure.
Happy Halloween!

22 October 2008

Linda Mar, 22 October 2008

At first I thought I'd be reporting "same shit, different day." But then I found a sweet spot in the lineup, well inside the longboarders at the south end. I caught my first wave in what at least feels like weeks - YES!!! - but in my excitement forgot what to do next, or rather what not to do, and locked my knees straight to make a snap right turn into a back-flop. Bad knees, bad, bad knees! I caught three more chances to redeem myself, but all quickly ended in falls, including one stinging belly-flop. In my defense, the waves did all close out on my heels, and the fish is squirrelly to control in the turbulence. Maybe I should try adding in the center fin? Still, since I surf only once or twice a week, and often in less than favorable conditions, it seems I'm frequently having to re-learn parts of surfing, not progressing but just treading water to stay in place. I hope Oz serves me up some nice waves on vacation so I can bump up my skills a bit.

This may have been the last summery day of surfing for this year. Unusually, the winds stayed down for an evening sesh, and I watched the sun set behind Pedro Point, staying out until it was almost too dark to see the shore. Linda Mar is about the only place I feel comfortable lingering until dinner time for the man in the gray suit, since I do have shark camo on my board and, even at dark, he still has a big selection of black neoprene-clad morsels to choose from. Though I must confess to a split-second of fear when a seal popped his head up 15 feet from me in the gloom.

Sydney's Newest Loan Shark

Lurking outside a bank in Darling Harbor

18 October 2008

Montara, 18 October 2008

Narrative will have to wait. After I got wet, S and I drove to the City to meet up with a friend we haven't seen in a while. Soon after we said goodbye, S and I heading for a relaxing evening at home, and he and his family for the airport, our friend phoned to say that he'd mistaken their arrival time in Seattle for their departure time. Consequently they had seriously missed their flight, and he's showing up shortly to spend the night at our house his with his wife, mother, baby and toddler. So I'd best get on with the mad cleaning/child-proofing frenzy...
Ah, back to normal. And also back to work. Where'd my weekend go? Now to the session report:

We got to the coast much later than I wanted, with conditions degraded by rising tide and wind. To avoid Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival traffic, S and I drove to Montara via Pacifica. The swell had dropped and there wasn't a lot happening at Linda Mar, but still the water was speckled with surfers like a heavy shaking of pepper just off the beach. The crowd was lower at Montara with only a dozen out at mid-beach, but it's never a good sign when a wet longboarder heading back to the parking lot describes it in a word as "mushy."

Getting in and out at Montara is always a bit tricky with the shorepound, which is why I only go there on smaller days. I picked a reasonable looking entry point and paddled out with a few ducks dives. Once a pair of waves came almost on top of each other, and I could see a larger wave just starting to close out right behind the one I was duck-diving - no fair, how do you get under two in one shot? - but I made it out, breathing hard. Unfortunately it was as described, with waves starting to form up and then rounding over into uncatchable mush. Rarely an outside wave - set would be a misnomer, they were coming as random singles - would break more suitably, but if you weren't in position, and I wasn't, too bad and get ready to duck-dive. And despite the partial sunshine it was cold, with chilly water soon numbing my toes and a cool breeze. The wind chop was bobbing me around like a rubber duck in a kid's bath, and I'd forgotten to take Dramamine until I got to the beach, so it was only partly working. Ah, well, try again another day. Though it's been too long, I need a good ride.

The shorepound also makes getting out a bit scary, and I didn't time it just right. But I treated a fisher on the shore to one of my famous 360-degree board roll tricks before setting feet in the sand and running like hell to get to the dry beach before the next closeout crashed down in the shallows. Back in the dirt parking lot, another surfer summed it up perfectly: "Still just good to get wet."

15 October 2008

Sick and Surfless

Home sick today. No, actually sick, not faking to go surf. If it's any consolation, the swell had dropped a lot by this afternoon, which is the earliest I could've been on it. Now I have to wait for the weekend. Sigh. But here's a cool pic I found while web-surfing.

12 October 2008

Too Much Work, Not Enough Play

My work schedule this week is crazier than usual, with early meetings - one at 7 am! - precluding any dawn patrols. So after junky conditions this weekend transform into a nice swell with morning offshores early in the week, I'll be stuck indoors miles from the ocean. I plan to sneak away for a midweek late afternoon sesh though, and hopefully the waves will wait for me.

Meanwhile, here's some interesting stuff from Surfrider's blog.

08 October 2008

Linda Mar, 7 October 2008

Closed-out wall of whitewater

I met up with A at Linda Mar at barely dawn and brought my Xanadu and low expectations. Planning surf around work obligations had pushed my dp sesh this week from Monday to Tuesday, and then to Wednesday, when Surfline was calling for poor-fair and 4-7'. Still, it was just ahead of the predicted gusty winds, and I needed to get wet. Plus I wanted to finally surf with A, who's at about my level in shortboarding but whose schedule had never meshed with mine until now. Linda Mar didn't disappoint, offering up mostly unrideable waves much like the last time. And also like the last time, I didn't get lucky enough to catch one of the elusive shoulders, only managing to ride a little whitewater on the way in, blah.

One thing I realized (for at least the second time, guess I'm a slow learner) is that I need to be more patient in assessing conditions before I get in the water. By the time A and I were on the beach, I had less than a hour to surf, so with little evaluation, we plunged in for the paddle out. With still a ways to go to the lineup after a bunch of short-period duck dives (which A's about as good at as I am, meaning we both need more practice), I noticed an easier path, a gap in the walls of whitewater, about 30 yards to the left. So we belly-rode back to the beach, walked to the better spot, and got out quickly with only a few duck-dives. Next time, I'll take a few minutes to assess beforehand and not waste precious minutes. Although we did need the practice.

02 October 2008

38th-35th Ave, 2 October 2008

Update: Here is the only news I've found online; the comments fill in some additional details. And Surfline has this. More on Tuesday's memorial paddle out is here (scroll to bottom). R.I.P. Mike.

I think a surfer died at the Hook today. When I walked past on my way back to the car, an ambulance was open at the side of the road and a fire truck blocked the parking lot. The crowd on the clifftop was looking intently down the beach instead of at the surfers. From the overlook, I could see a guy on his back next to a surfboard, a paramedic kneeling in the sand beside him, rhythmically compressing his bare chest. Twenty-five minutes later, after I'd changed, there were half a dozen emergency vehicles on the scene, and they were just closing up the ambulance. They weren't hurrying, and the siren didn't blare as they pulled away.

I can't find anything on the news yet. Was it a heart attack? Did he hit his head on a rock and drown? What if it had been high tide, with the beach underwater and access tricky? Could it happen to me out there? It's not often we have to confront an example of our mortality. I do hope he died happy and stoked by a nice last ride.

After that, it seems a little strange, perhaps too trivial, to write about my surf session. So here's an abbreviated form. Oh, and full disclosure, the photos are all from the Hook.

New wetsuit and the Xanadu. Paddled out at 38th. Yellowed fishy-smelling scum patches on the water. Sea otters, SUPers, spongers, dude wearing only boardshorts. Crowded. Nice set waves going overhead but all taken. Non-set waves mushy and moundy, breaking wherever they damn well please. No good spot to sit away from the pack. Tried right, tried left, tried 3 blocks farther west. Sideshore breeze pushing east, so paddle paddle west. Back hurts, better go. Caught one on the way in, but slow and hesitant on the pop-up, blew it. Kept heading in - but wait, caught one back there! Turn around, paddle back out. Caught another, too far inside, whitewater but what the hell, popped up and rode it - yay! Better ending, time to go.

01 October 2008

No Bra Girls?

Last night I finished watching the Bra Boys DVD I got from Netflix. It's not the usual surf porn since it has an actual plot, focusing on the Bra Boys surf club from the hardscrabble Sydney neighborhood of Maroubra, in particular on the lives of the Abberton brothers. The "club" is a tight connection of disadvantaged boys, some grown into men, who with limited success avoid falling into crime and drugs by surfing.

I hadn't watched for very long when I was struck by the absence of girls and women. As an engineer, I'm used to being one of a few or even the only woman in a room, but this was notable. The surf footage was only of guys (not surprising in itself), and long shots of the club members posed at the beach showed a sea of only male faces. Other than "Ma," the elderly matriarch whose home was the de facto club house, plus a brief scene with a couple of grommet mothers and two girls playing pattycake, there were no females in the film. (I'm not counting the few seconds of a stripper and the faceless girl in the car during the shooting.) Can the Bra Boys' lives really be so male-centered, so focused on the brotherhood? Are there no gidgets in Maroubra who also want to surf the break in their backyard? Or is this just filmmaker bias?

Coming on the heels of making hotel reservations for our trip next month and finding Ms. unavailable as a title choice, I am wondering if I'll find Australia a more chauvinistic place than the US. And curious about what that would translate to on the water.

Cyclops... Koby Abberton is crazy to surf this wave.