14 March 2010

I Heart My Gath Surf Helmet (Cowells/Indicators)

Today I had a fun 3-hour session on the Magic with Luke, Tracey and Veronica, plus Jen, but it would have been a much different afternoon if I wasn't wearing my Gath surf helmet. Cowells was ridiculously crowded on a sunny Sunday. Early on, a kook on a SoftTop launched his board right at my head when he tried to catch a closeout. Though I put my hands up to fend off his board, it still conked me hard on the side of my head. But I was able to yell at him and paddle on, instead of falling unconscious or bruised and bleeding, thanks to my Gath.

Jen at the end of a ride.

At Cowells, I was surfing with 100 of my closest friends (video) - 102 if you count the surfing dogs. In the course of the long session, the head hit was followed by a softish neck blow from a gromette's small SoftTop, which ended up resting sideways on the nose of my board. The little girl just minutes before had said admiringly, "Nice helmet!" but the Gath does not offer neck protection. Toward the end, when Tracey and I were taking off on the same wave, I ran into her rail with my fin and dinged it - D'oh! - but not too badly though I felt bad for taking out her board. Good thing also that I have Pro Teck fins, or the damage would've been worse. She sprinted back to Luke's truck, in which the four of us had carpooled, grabbed the Petty from which my Magic is cloned, and came back for more.

Tracey going for it.

There were fun moments in the pack, like the time I was forced left by another rider to my right, and threaded the needle between two grom spongers screaming "Aaaaah!" With the Magic 8'3", I'm much more comfortable in a mob of surfers. I have confidence because I have control, and so long as my takeoff zone is clear, I can turn my way through the obstacle course in the water. And I managed many fine rides, including a nice long one all to myself, out on the smooth shoulder.

Tiring of the slalom, Tracey and I for a time sought out some shorter and kelpy but emptier rides at Indicators (video). Though I got a good long ride there as well and a handful of quick ones, it was windier and cooler around the corner, so we came back for a last round of surfing in the chaotic camaraderie of Cowells. Then, famished, we all quietly scarfed Mexican food followed by fro-yo (no-dairy Rocky Road for me). A heartily satisfying half-day of surfing!

Surfline: A fading, but solid WNW-NW groundswell is on tap across the region. Many of the better North Hemi exposed locations offer head high to 2-3' overhead waves this morning with calm to light offshore winds for most of the region, whereas a seabreeze prevails this afternoon. Buoy 46012: 7.2 ft @ 12.5 sec.


  1. Crikey, how does anyone get a wave in that crowd!? I think I would have stayed at Indicators, looks more like what we would be surfing here.

  2. Its normally referred to the Santa Cruz Giant Slalom. You paddle like hell with 30 others, about 5 of you on average make it, you then weave through the old guy on the SUP, the 6 year old on the bodyboard, the middle aged fat white dude on the 5" thick yellow raft and the kook on the foamy turning to catch the wave in front of you and cut you off. You do this while trying to go right to get out to the shoulder, for one of the longer right longboard waves on the planet. The rules of 1 rider per wave do not apply at cowells, I wish they did, but since it is one of the best beginner waves out there with a sand bottom, you end up with chaos. The rides if you get a good one make it so worth it. I have caught one from the outside to the beach, over a 3000ft ride!