30 March 2009

Mavericks Contest Window Closes...or Does It?

The Mavericks contest window closes in a couple days. Too bad they didn't open it earlier to catch the great swell at the end of November. At least we have memories of 2008.

But wait! Now there's talk of extending the window into April. We may get lucky yet.

Update: April is breeding season, when a young seal's fancy turns to love. So the Gulf of the Farallones Marine Sanctuary is off-limits, and rightly so, to droves of spectators and roaring jet skis that would disturb nesting birds and baby marine mammals. Better luck next time, when contest organizers hope to open the window on November 1st.

29 March 2009

Toga Beach Changing Towel Review

Once I saw my old surfing buddy D change into his wetsuit in the rain while simultaneously holding both an umbrella and a towel around his waist. I still don't know how he pulled that off without dropping either.

Jamie models a Toga Beach changing towel in hot pink.
In a pinch I can manage the towel-changing act, but I prefer a hands-free, less-risky robe. The blue hibiscus changing robe I've used for several years has worn out, so I just got a new changing towel from Toga Beach (motto: "Don't get caught with your pants down"). "Robe" is a loose description; it's basically two towels sewn together on three sides with openings for head and arms. Very handy for drying off and changing apr├Ęs-surf, and a pretty good deal at only $16 from Swim Outlet. I got a hot pink one since S talked me out of getting a pink Gath helmet, but it also comes in blue and tan.

28 March 2009

HMB @ Jetty, 28 March 2009

I met up at the Jetty with L and some of his Coastside Surfers Meetup crew. There were a lot of other familiar faces in the dirt parking lot and on the water, since it seemed that was the place to be on the Peninsula coast this morning, although conditions weren't the greatest and the water was c-c-cold.

With the crowd and a southward drift, I lost the rest of the group within half an hour. I had some success catching the waist-chest high waves on the fish, but kept stalling the board on the lip and slipping off backsides. The waves were slow moving, and I think perhaps I needed to push my weight farther forward right away. Next time.

Halfway through the session, I had an unfortunate encounter with a blind surfer. At least, I assume he was blind because when I was paddling back out, and he was far enough away to avoid me, he took off on a wave and aimed right at me with a slight turn. I could swear we made eye contact and I paddled like hell toward the whitewater to get out of his way, but he didn't bother to change course and ran his fin across my leg. Dude then tried to blame me for the collision! Hello?! I'm grateful for the protection of 4mm of neoprene, since the damage was limited to a couple big bruises, which I'm icing as I write this, and some surface cuts in my wetsuit. Nemo also took a superficial scratch. My leg's pretty sore and is going to look a little scary when I do Swim 4 Life next week, but it could've been worse.

I didn't know the GoPro Hero camera was capable of special effects.

27 March 2009

The Hook, 26 March 2009

Neptune smiled upon me today. When L and I reached the Hook, it was small but glassy, with hardly anyone out. In contrast, the view toward Pleasure Point showed the usual crowding. I borrowed L's ugly beautiful 8' longboard again, which is similar enough to my own to feel pretty comfortable.

I also took the opportunity to try my new Gath helmet, a long-delayed purchase I finally made after a woman died from hitting her head in a little fall on a ski slope. Knowing my history of hard snogging with my short boards, the first thing L asked when he saw it was "Did it come with a mouth guard?" Ha, very funny, but no.

We made an easy paddle out to our very own peak - a rare find in over-popular Santa Cruz. It was L's first time, and I think now he's got the wrong impression of the place. My long ride-less drought was soon broken. Stoked! I lost count of how many waves I caught, and had about four very nice rides, getting in some turns before the low-tide reef rose too close to the surface.

We stayed out until well into shark feeding time, watching the rippled silk water reflect blue sky and sunset pink clouds. Re-stoked, I raced the curves of 17 home in my Mini with a lingering smile.

Where is everybody?L waiting for waves.Alien surfer sighting.

21 March 2009

Kelly Ave, 21 March 2009

This morning I took my shortboard as well as the fish, and L had a spare longboard available for me as well. I've had the wrong board too many times lately, and wanted to be ready for any sort of waves. As it turned out, I ended up on the fish anyway at Kelly. Unfortunately I didn't bring a backup camera, and despite an empty memory card and fresh lithium batteries, the GoPro Hero turned balky, refusing to record anything* but this one little video clip of outward-bound L.

We made it out once through the shorepound and short-period whitewater. L drifted south and bagged one ride on his big-guy shortboard, while I worked north and briefly found a sweet spot. Sadly I blew the pop-up on the only wave I caught, as is always the case when I'm this rusty. After that, Kelly decided to deny us entry back into the green water. Starting from the beach again, we made a couple attempts to use a rip, but kept getting sucked south into the lull-less walls of whitewater. I tried one last time while L prudently watched from the beach, but with arms turned noodly from the near-constant duck-diving - must do more push-ups! - I finally had to concede defeat.

There's a storm coming later today, but I'm going to try really hard to get out for a sunset session next week. Can't keep letting work get in the way of play!

*Good customer service with a prompt email response from GoPro. My problem was: "If you are using a Mac to download and delete files, make sure you delete the files from the memory card AND the trash can before you disconnect the camera from the computer. If you do not do a complete delete, then the card will show ‘0' files but the space will not actually be cleared." D'oh!

18 March 2009

Dear & Yonder

Finally a surf flick by and about women, to be released sometime this year. In addition to great surfing in Indo and at other warm-water breaks, there are local angles. Santa Cruz surfer Ashley Lloyd shapes and rides a BioFoam board, and a geophysicist named Judith Sheridan who bodysurfs Mavericks (!) explains the forces that shaped the Bay Area coastline.

It still amazes me to see women surfing in bikinis. Even if I was good enough not to risk giving folks on the beach a topless show (and I have a ways to go before I'm at that point), I'd still want to be able to push myself without fear of indecent exposure. But maybe those women just don't care, while I was raised by prudes.

15 March 2009

Waddell Creek, 15 March 2009

I've been a bad, bad girl. In the last 3 weeks, I've only been swimming maybe two or three times, and I've done yoga and stretching exercises only several more times than that. Oh, I have great excuses for being such a slacker: travel, work, DST, frigid mornings. But it caught up to me this morning at Waddell.

S and I met M in the parking lot under threatening clouds. The wind was already coming up at late morning, and it was sloppy wind-choppy with a serious north drift. M and I headed out on the smaller north end, since the middle was running head-high closeouts, sucking up sand. Happily it was not hard to get outside on the fish - either my duck-diving is better or Waddell didn't have it in for me as usual. Of course, I should've brought the shortboard instead, although I don't think it would've made a big difference. To my chagrin, my back started to hurt from an old surfing injury* shortly after I reached the lineup, and it kept getting worse until I had to bag the rideless sesh, bidding M a fun time on my way back to the beach. But conditions were deteriorating and he came in soon too, as did most of the crowd. It was a shoulda been here earlier, shoulda been here yesterday, kind of sesssion.

*Backstory: In July 2006, I went over the falls at Linda Mar on a 4-5 ft wave. I feared landing on my funshape so I pushed it out of the way, but ended up hitting the water head first, with the lip of the tubing closeout continuing to push my feet forward. This hyper-extended my back into a C-shape reverse bend, squashing a disk in my lower back between two vertebrae. When I reached the beach I couldn't straighten up. I couldn't even sit in a chair for a few weeks and missed a lot of work. My back got better to a point but I have never fully recovered. After nearly 3 years and a series of doctors, chiropractors good and bad and horrible, physiatrists, physical therapy, massage therapy, various useless drugs (prescription, of course) and a normal MRI, I've given up hope of ever being able to comfortably slouch in a chair again or do anything that involves bending near the ground, like gardening. So I've learned to avoid any activities that cause lower back pain (on the plus side, there are many household chores in this category), and for the most part have been stable within that limitation. Except initially, it hasn't affected surfing...until now.

I didn't take the wristcam in the water since after only one session plus some indoor messing around, it was already warning "low battery." But I managed to try the video mode, although for some reason this looks much darker and gloomier than it really was:

A big glass of wine (okay, it was two), has dulled the pain somewhat. And I promise to be a good girl and swim every day and do my exercises, just please please please let me surf!

08 March 2009

Truthiness in Reporting

Waiting in line at the Safeway checkout this afternoon, the Sunset magazine cover caught my eye. Where, I wondered, was the fabulous small town warm enough for surfing in a bikini? I flipped through the mag, and to my surprise, learned that this tropical paradise is none other than -- our very own Capitola!

Capitola is indeed one of my favorite Bay Area towns, but puh-leeze! I have yet to see anyone surf there without several mm of neoprene. Indeed, unless it was one of handfuls of unchilly days in late summer, the model posing for the shot would have been shivering, especially with her feet immersed in 50-something degree water.

But of course a woman in a wetsuit wouldn't sell as many magazines. Truth be damned.

07 March 2009

Montara, 7 March 2008

It's interesting that my surf buddy M just wrote about "The Confidence Thing" as the other side of the coin from fear, and that a Western Australia surfer also thanked me for having the guts to write about fear. Because today was all about facing the fear.

It was supposed to be a small day, so I loaded my longboard and expected to be hunting for knee-knockers. Montara, I thought, would have the most enthusiastic ripples, and as I drove past the near-flat Jetty I still wasn't expecting much. As it turned out, Montara was probably the best place to be this morning if you were a shortboarder, with curling, punchy waves going near head-high on the sets. There were no other longboards in sight; it was another bout of brought-the-wrong-board-itis, and I was sorely wishing I had Nemo the fish or even my Xanadu Rocky shortboard. In retrospect, I should have driven on and searched for something more suitable, perhaps even at Ocean Beach, which was reportedly offering up weak summerlike waves. But I had forgotten that Montara always looks smaller from the cliff, and when I reached the sand, fully suited up with the Blue Behemouth, it seemed to late to turn back.

Summer conditions were absent and I searched for an accessible entry point through the powerful shorepound. The ocean quickly rebuffed my first attempt, spitting me back on the sand, so I walked a bit farther down the beach and made it out on a lull. There, looking at the backsides of waves beyond my comfort level on a big board, I had to face my fear of the consequences of failing attempts to catch them, a fear that seems to grow whenever I'm in a period, as now, when I haven't ridden even one damn wave in long time. It took a while to work up courage to try, including paddling off the crowded peak onto an empty one that looked a little mushier. I had no sooner attempted to back off a closeout that took Big Blue for a ride and me with it, dragged by my leash, that I got caught inside and had a mercifully brief hold-down. Then the rest of the set waves crashed in, one after the other, and I could only push my board away and dive down, tumbled like a bit of flotsam in the surf. Washed near the beach, I still had to make it out through the shorepound, getting rolled to the edge of a trough where I could finally touch bottom, then grabbing my board and running out of the water before the next breaker crashed down, finally safe on dry sand, panting.

At least I cleaned the cobwebs off of my longboard.

Standing on water.
Today's pix were taken with my new GoPro Digital Hero 5 wrist camera. I'll review it later.

06 March 2009

Point Break LIVE! in San Francisco

Sounds fun, especially after a drink or two.
Point Break LIVE!” features armed robbery, big-wave surfing, car chases, explosions, no less than two extended skydiving sequences and an indoor monsoon.
Described by Australia's PopMag.com, as "a cross between reality TV, a play, and all-time classic film 'Point Break,' every show features a new unrehearsed actor (selected from the audience), playing 'Johnny Utah' with the lines read off cue-cards so as to capture Keanu Reeves' raw acting talent."
Starts March 13th at CELLSpace.