18 October 2009

Seal Beach

Seal Beach was a good spot to be this morning, with south and west swells groomed into shifty peaks and the wind blowing mostly offshore.

It was another gorgeous sunny morning on the coast that would have served as a fine backdrop for pix and video. Sadly, the Surf Camera Case, which I've been using for a little while to secure my waterproof Pentax to my wetsuit, broke apart in the parking lot. (It's a bad design, but more on that later.) Better to fail there than in the water, but the camera had to sit out the session.

Luke and I made the hike into Seal Beach with our shortboards, and I was looking forward to getting back on my 5'8" Xanadu Rocky after too many recent longboarding sessions, fun as they were. The waves were mostly under head high, but some larger ones were coming through at times. Ideally we would have hit the break more on a mid-tide, instead of almost dead-on a high high that was swamping many of the waves into amorphous mounds while others retained steep drops. There was a small but manageable crowd on the three peaks, with some fun-to-watch good shortboarders in the mix, including a couple other surfer girls for a change.

I sat on the left shoulder of the middle peak and caught a couple of waves, but got blown off the backside by the wind. Offshores are esteemed but I failed to account for them properly; probably I needed to paddle another one or two strokes and force the board more downward. It's always a learning experience, so next time. Luke got one nice ride and I keep trying to get mine. A curly-haired young shortboarder apparently decided that he didn't want me to have any waves, as he twice moved directly into my take-off zone. The first time I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but when he later saw me paddling for a wave, then took himself directly into my path, stopped and sat there, not even trying for it himself, I got a bit peeved and said "Dude, you keep paddling right in front of me!" He just looked at me, then looked away, saying nothing. The guy did it to Luke once too. Seriously uncool.

When the overhead closeouts rolled in periodically from the outside, it was time for duck-diving practice. I was doing well until I hit one right in the pocket, not pushing deep enough, and got sent through the spin cycle, pulling up my leash to get back to the surface. Another followed on its heels and tumbled me again, this time holding me down for an uncomfortable couple of needing-air seconds. In a perverse way I kind of enjoy little hold-downs, as it makes me feel more alive, and glad to be so, when I finally take a breath again. Later another bomb came at me and this time I pushed the nose as deep as I could, coming out cleanly on the other side, followed quickly by a second success. Yay! But had a third duck dive been required just then, I think I would have blown it because I was getting fatigued.

Since my little-better than weekend-warrior muscles sometimes get tired before I tire of surfing, I read with interest this article in the NY Times about quercetin, "a flavonoid found naturally in apple skins, berries, red wine, black tea and some leafy vegetables," that some studies have shown to be a performance enhancer. It gave mice substantially more endurance when they were forced to run on tiny treadmills. Alas, studies in people showed it didn't do a damn thing, leading the researcher to say that “you can’t generalize from mouse studies to humans.” Hmm, but that's how all of our drugs are tested for safety and efficacy...


  1. Nice report. Hey, who is the lucky bugger who lives out on the rock at the back. Poor taste in architecture but a cool place to live. They should have built a lighthouse to live in!

  2. It used to be a light station, but no one lives there anymore... except the seals and sea lions.