24 April 2010

Please, Sir, I Want Some More (Sharks/The Hook)

With a couple of Coastsiders advising to head south for better surf, I made the trek to Santa Cruz Eastside once again. Pleasure Point was taken over by the Log Jam Surf Contest (old longboards, no leashes, meh), and while access at 38th wasn't a problem on the near low tide, it was decidedly windier than around the corner at the Hook and Sharks.

I started off on the shoulder at the crowded Hook, but wasn't getting much joy. Then as I paddled back to the lineup, calculating how to stay out of the way of a longboarder on a wave, a shortboarder dropped in on him, right in front of me. Collision apparently imminent, I dove under and rolled my board over as a shield, in the process having my first hard snog with Magic. All three of us ended up in the water but fortunately the only damage done was to my lip, bloodied once again. Too bad my helmet doesn't have a mouth guard. I got in a few more little rides at the Hook before I decided to try my luck with the smaller and mellower group of longboarders at Sharks.

There were only three or four of us at Sharks who knew what we were doing, sitting in a small kelp-free zone in the midst of some hapless Japanese tourists. We took turns on waves by unspoken agreement; much nicer than the paddle-battle, party-wave environment at the Hook. With the tide at almost a 0' low, the rides were not at long as on Thursday, but I had bunches of fun ones nonetheless, and got in some good practice landing late-takeoff steep drops. Woo hoo!

Just inside the takeoff zone it was shallow water surfing, often gliding just a foot or so above the seaweed-covered rock reef. Controlled flat falls were key, and happily neither board nor body got too close to the bottom. (Only one injury per surf session, please.) However, I noticed the stitches securing my right knee pad to my wetsuit were unraveling, and then suddenly the pad was gone. The suit's only a couple months old, so Hotline will fix it under warranty. I feel bad about the littering though, and hope no poor sea creature eats it.

On the way in, I indulged my inner photographer and took some shots of the reef life. Olivia Otter wasn't hanging out today, but there were many starfish.

After dropping off my wetsuit at Hotline on the Westside for repair, I took the scenic route home along the coast. The west-facing breaks were messy with wind. Kitesurfers were out in force at Waddell and windsurfers flew like half-submerged butterflies past Davenport. 

Surfline: Clean, workable waves on tap this afternoon. Expect waist-chest-shoulder high surf on average, while top spots hit head high on occasion. Wind is light with generally smooth surface conditions. Buoy 46012: 7.9 ft @ 16.7 sec.

22 April 2010

Take Your Surfboard to Work Day (Sharks)

I'd completely forgotten, but today was Take Your Child to Work Day. When I couldn't find a shady parking spot to protect my surfboard from the heat and attendant risk of delamination per the shaper, I had to bring my 8'3" Magic inside, where it protruded proudly above my cubicle wall. Facing the inevitable comments, I told people I'd thought it was Take Your Surfboard to Work Day.

Today was also Earth Day, and what better way to celebrate than by jumping in the ocean? I intended to surf at 38th Ave...
...but I didn't like the look of the bottom of the stairs, which are covered in slippery algae and were being smashed by waves already with the tide still rising on its way to a 4' high around 7pm. I went down the Hook stairs instead, and walked east on the beach a bit to go out at Sharks.
Unlike the Hook, the crowd at Sharks was light, and populated by surfers who, for whatever reason (inexperience? busy chatting with a buddy?) were letting good waves go unridden. Ah, well, more for me! I was paddling back up to the lineup after a long ride when I saw one of those waves incoming, thought "why isn't anyone going for this?!" and turned around quickly to catch it myself. I got a lot of fun, and often long, rides. Stoked!

I wish I'd strapped on my waterproof camera, because the local wildlife was out in force on Earth Day. I was able to get within 6 feet of an otter for several minutes, and watch as she floated on her back, crunching on her dinner. Later I paddled near a young seal or seal lion (darn, forgot to check for ears), who turned a wide suspicious eye to look at me before diving out of sight.

Surfline: WNW-NW wind and groundswell mix slowly eases this afternoon as minor SSW swell continues to mix in. Better breaks are good for waist-shoulder high surf as well exposed NW spots pull in some head high to overhead+ sets. Light WSW winds are putting some bump/texture to the surface at most breaks but aren't affecting overall conditions too much. Buoy 46012: 14.4 ft @ 12.5 sec.

18 April 2010

Same Spot, Different Day (HMB Jetty)

My plans to surf someplace out of the ordinary went awry, and I ended up at the Jetty once again. It had more tide, which it needed, but also a little crowd. I snagged a few fun rides, including one long, great right.
But I can't decide which I liked better: Friday's solo session, or today's with competition for better waves.

 Spring flowers in the parking lot.
Surfline: Slowly fading WNW(295-305) wind/groundswell mixes with old S(175-190) swell and peaking SW(200-215) energy. Expect generally small-scale surf in the knee-chest high range, while top spots occasionally hit shoulder-head high on the better sets. Buoy 46012: 4.6 ft @ 12.5 sec.

"Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D" Review

Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D isn't playing very near San Francisco; you have to drive to the Cannery Row IMAX in Monterey. Since we were heading south on a day trip yesterday, I wanted to check it out. I bought tickets online, after googling the collective mind for the best seats at an IMAX (center, of course, and in the upper two-thirds). As it turned out, I needn't have worried; it looked for a time like Scott and I would have a private showing in an otherwise empty theater. But they held the movie a few minutes for six stragglers. Unlike at other IMAXes, the screen didn't extend over the ceiling; it was more like a regular movie screen with a bit of curve. The theater smelled disgustingly of toilet bowl cleaner and the cheap 3D glasses were dirty and scratched, although they proved adequate when the lights went down.

The 45-minute movie showcases the famous wave at remote Teahupoo, and the acclaimed best surfer in the world, Kelly Slater. Some of the best 3D-time is spent under the clear blue water, where colorful fish and coral heads burst from the screen. There are scenes of fire dancers and odd bits with floating masks drawn in white chalk. The formation of waves generally is described, plus the details of what sculpts the "ultimate wave" at Teahupoo. The wave itself actually looks quite fun and doable on the smaller days - it is a left after all - but it turns into a toothy monster when the swell's up, the teeth being a shallow reef just below tons of crashing water. That's when Kelly shines, being towed into one giant wave... and another... and another. Non-surfer Scott was a bit sleepy by the end of it, while I was near the edge of my seat.

There are a couple quotes that stuck in my mind. One, I think by Kelly, was that you are never more real than when you might die. The other was from the Tahitian shepherd of the wave, who said there is no need to travel far, just be patient and the perfect wave will come to you.

16 April 2010

Reflections (HMB Jetty)

I intended to surf yesterday after work before the sun went down, but alas, the traffic gods cursed us, and we were denied access to the coast by 511.org's gloomy prognostication that the 20 mile journey would take nearly an hour. The MINI was already packed with gear, my Magic surfboard secured on the roof, and I was eager to surf, so I resolved to try again this morning, when we wouldn't be racing the darkness and the traffic could only impede our journey to work.

With only an hour to surf, I had to pick my ultimate destination in advance and hope for the best. Waves at the Jetty just past dawn were small and shifty at a slightly negative low tide, and there was no one out. I spotted some shoulders amidst the closeouts, so I suited up (in my 5/4, packed by mistake) and paddled out. There was a weird reflection wave off the riprap jetty, moving almost perpendicular to the incoming swell. It was interesting to be the only surfer in the water, having to rely solely on myself for positioning, without worrying about what anyone else was doing. Despite the mixed-up conditions, and the patience required to sort the good waves from the bad, I got a passel of short rides, and latched onto one sweet shoulder for a decently long right. A flock of pelicans in V-formation buzzed the top of a waist-high wave as the warm sun and barest breath of wind greeted the start of a fine summer day in California.

Surfline: 1-2 ft. Semi clean conditions on tap again this morning as WNW (295-305) swell drops further and S (175-190) groundswell holds. Better breaks are seeing surf generally running in the knee-waist-chest high zone, as standout exposures pull in some shoulder-head high+ sets. Shape is peaky at the well-exposed beach breaks, with a fun little mix of surf on tap this morning as we come off a negative low tide just before 7am. Buoy 46012: 5.2 ft @ 14.3 sec.

10 April 2010

Blown North by a South Wind (Linda Mar)

When the south winds blow, there aren't too many local choices for sheltered spots. I'd hoped that the breeze would be still be light early in the day, but the Jetty looked as choppy as a toddler's bath tub. So I continued north with the wind to Pacifica. Linda Mar is my least favorite break, ever since she permanently injured my back throwing me over the falls a few years ago. It's almost always crowded. Closeouts are the norm. And I've had far too many skunkings there.
Perhaps I shouldn't hold a grudge though, since this morning Lindy was surprisingly fun. I had a left nearly to myself on the far south end by the boat docks. The stiff breeze was blowing nearly offshore, making it challenging to get over the lip. Triangulation was key to maintaining a good position, since everyone was being pushed outside. I had a lot of short rides, and a nice long one, linking an outside wave through a closeout into an inner reform that I took almost to the beach. Stoked!
The wind kept strengthening, deteriorating conditions and adding to my chill in the cold water. By the time I was ready to put the 8'3" on the MINI's roof, I had to enlist Scott's help lest the wind yank my precious Magic board from my grasp and hurl it across the parking lot. There's a high wind advisory for the rest of the weekend, so I'm glad I found some good surf before it got blown out everywhere.

Surfline: 3-5 ft, fair conditions. Overhead on the sets with walled-up lines occasionally staying workable on the shoulders. Southerly wind early, overcast skies. Buoy 46012: 8.9 ft @ 11.

07 April 2010

Worth Waiting For (HMB Jetty)

When you're driving to a break, it's never a good sign to see people kitesurfing in the same bay you plan to surf. Although it was breezy at the Jetty, the sideshore wasn't wrecking the the chest- to head-high waves. Some shoulders peaking between closeouts offered hope. But forty minutes into my surf session, I'd caught zip, and was starting to console myself with the usual platitudes: "at least I got wet," "it's a beautiful day, just nice to be out here," etc. Then I caught a great right, followed in quick succession by two more fine rides. Interestingly, Luke had almost the opposite experience on his shortboard. A few more waves later, I rode one in with a big stoke smile.

Surfline: NW-WNW swell easing further today with small S and SW swells in the background. Good exposed breaks are in the chest-head high range while standouts are up to 2-3' overhead on sets. Buoy 46012: 7.5 ft @ 12.5 sec

03 April 2010

Crawling Through the Weather Window (38th Ave)

Winter doesn't want to let us out of its grasp just yet. It rained yesterday, but with more showers and strong winds forecast for tomorrow and the next few days, I had to get in a surf today, even though it meant another lengthy drive south for decent conditions. I usually wait longer after significant rain to let the storm runoff dissipate, but this time it was less than 24 hours (hopefully enough).

Eastside Santa Cruz was a lot more crowded than Thursday, but I managed to claim some fun rides from the pack, although no super long ones like the last time. I had a spectacular wipeout on a head-high wave, when I didn't turn my board enough onto the shoulder and the wave pitched just as I started the drop. The nose tripped on the bottom of the wave and flipped me into the air, flinging me at the water so hard my check stung and I thought for a moment I might have lost a contact lens. It's interesting - and good - that I'm not so fearful of head-high waves as I used to be; the Magic board and my (somewhat) improved skills have given me more confidence. Although it seems it's still best that I don't know I'm taking off on a head-high wave.

Surfline: A new/building NW groundswell on tap today with plenty of well overhead waves across the region for the exposed locations. Wind remains mostly light with semi-clean conditions. Buoy 46012: 16.7 ft @ 16.7 sec.

01 April 2010

Surfing Santa Cruz in a Bikini (38th Ave)

Due to a downwelling, the ocean was really warm today, almost tropical. Since the afternoon was also sunny and hot, I was able to lose all the rubber and try out my Ola Chica "wipeout-proof" bikini. Though I didn't really give it a good test, since I never wiped out, not even once! Conditions were epic on the Eastside, perfect shoulder- to head-high waves that peeled forever, gently groomed by light offshores scented with spring flowers. And I don't know where everyone else was, but it was just a few friends and me in the water, trading awesome rides. When Luke and I arrived, Manabu had just finished warming up the waves at the Hook, and we had 38th Ave to ourselves until Steve drifted down from Pleasure Point. It must've been an unusual swell angle that made my waves all break left, and I got one amazing ride after another. Stoked!

The great surf session took my mind off the unfortunate decision of California to fill its coffers by taxing surfers with a permit fee, $100-500 per year per surfboard, with longer boards costing more. Guess I'll be shortboarding from now on.

Surfline: Our WNW-NW wind/groundswell mix continues to slowly fade this afternoon as trace Southern Hemi energy mixes in. Onshore flow has a slight texture to the surf at the more open exposures. Better breaks are running in the chest-shoulder-head high+ zone, with solid 2-3'+ overhead sets for standout spots. All in all it's looking fun across the region this afternoon. Buoy 46012: 13.1 ft @ 14.3 sec.