28 November 2010

Kicks (Hook/Sharks/Privates)

After about a week of flat surf and/or bad weather, and on a holiday weekend to boot, the Hook was predictably loaded with surfers. As I paddled around the pack on the outside, looking for a more open spot farther east, a nearly head-high wave started to wall up behind me. I wasn't intending to try for any in that crowd, but the wave was aimed right at me and the takeoff zone was somehow clear - an opportunity too good to pass up. I spun quickly and paddled for it, making the drop beside a swarm of surprised shortboarders, who were milling about like juvenile koi in a pond, wondering where I came from. Forced left to avoid them, my ride was short but oh so sweet.
I continued to make my way east to Sharks, where I found Luke in the lineup on his longboard. The waves were smaller and sluggish, so we moved inside and then even farther east close to Privates, where we had a little peak all to ourselves, except for a seal and an otter. I was getting some rides but other waves were passing me by, and Luke again suggested that I kick my feet since I'm now on a shorter board. As I paddled for my next wave, I felt it starting to move on without me, so I kicked fast, felt the wave grab my board, popped up and rode a nice right. Woot! Thanks for the advice, buddy.

It was great to have a private peak, though that's not why they call it Privates. We got lots of waves, small but fun and all ours. Part of the cliff had collapsed shortly before I arrived, so we paddled back to the new Hook stairs instead of walking along the narrow beach and rocks at the base. Stopping on the far side of the lineup in front of the stairs, I caught one in for a stylin' exit. Stoked!

Surfline: NW swell mix provides head high+ to well overhead+ surf at well exposed breaks today although steady NW winds kept conditions poor for exposed spots. The more South facing breaks were much cleaner but much smaller as well. Weak Southern hemi energy continues to limp in also. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 8.9 ft at 12.9 s NW / WIND WAVE: 6.2 ft at 7.7 s WNW / WVHT: 10.5 ft / APD: 7.7 s / MWD: 317°

25 November 2010

Iced Coffey (Melon Camp)

Frost on the beach
We're having record low temperatures now, and today was the coldest I've ever surfed. When the air hovered just above freezing on the Washington Coast, I couldn't bring myself to make the 5-hour roundtrip drive from Seattle. Here in NorCal, I've gone out a few times in just below 40 F, but never this cold before. As I drove over the hill to Half Moon Bay before dawn, my car thermometer briefly displayed 31 F (less than 0 C). It wasn't much warmer at the beach. There was frost on the plants alongside the path, and even on the sand. Brrr! The 53-degree water was noticeably warmer than the air. I added the detachable hood to my 4/3 Rip Curl Insulator wetsuit for the first time, and it greatly minimized flushing, helping to retain my body heat longer.

While the less (fool)hardy burrowed under their blankets and slept in, Luke and I had the break to ourselves. It's a locals spot, which I'll call "Melon Camp." The waves were glassy, waist- to shoulder-high and peeling nicely. But the swell has dropped considerably since yesterday, the tide was rising from a fat low, and the waves were unenthusiastic and lazily ambling toward shore. I found I needed to be quite close to the peak when it broke to get onto the wave, which was good practice on Emm. I'd brought Magic just in case, but the 8' stayed in its bag while I rode the new 7' Coffey. After Luke found himself cross-stepping on his 7' Coffey, he made the switch to a longboard and started getting more waves.
The rides were long when we could get them, and I found my way onto a couple of good lefts and a nice right, working them close to the beach. A handful of other waves didn't carry me so far, but one let me stick a fun drop. Surprisingly, I lasted about an hour and a half in the cold, before I was shivering and couldn't feel my hands or feet. Dawn was again beautiful and the sun brought a little warmth as I changed out of my wetsuit in the frigid air. Adding the hood had kept my hair, arms and upper body partly dry. I was thankful for my jug of hot water and the seat heater in my MINI Cooper, and for fun waves surfed with only a buddy. And especially for my husband, who was home cooking me a big tasty post-surf breakfast. Happy Tofurky Day!

Surfline: A clean combo of NW swell-mix and minimal SSW energy prevails this morning. Most breaks are good for knee-waist high+ surf, with some larger sets working through at top NW exposures to shoulder/head high at times. Conditions are nice and clean as the tide comes off a 3'+ low tide. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 8.3 s NW / WIND WAVE: 2.6 ft at 5.0 s NW / WVHT: 5.2 ft / APD: 5.8 s / MWD: 316°

22 November 2010

Bonding (HMB Jetty)

Full moon at dawn
On our third session this morning, I really clicked with Emm, my new 7'0" Ward Coffey surfboard. The waves at the Jetty were fairly clean and chest- to shoulder-high (waist- to chest-high relative to Luke), but a bit jumbled and funky after the stormy weekend. We shared the break with only a shy harbor seal who peered at us from a safe distance. I rode a bunch of fun lefts as close as I dared to the rip-rap wall bordering the road, and a couple of rights as well. Once Luke and I split a peak; it's always nice sharing a wave with a buddy.

The sunrise and moonset were lovely in the cold dawn air. Just as recent studies have shown, wave-riding greatly improved my mood. Stoked!
Surfline: NW (290-330) swell mix eases, with some reinforcing NW swell moving in later in the day, as small SSW (185-210) energy continues to mix in. Most exposed breaks are good for at least waist-chest-head high surf, with top NW spots pulling in some head high to 2-3' overhead sets at times. Conditions are an issue in most areas with plenty of residual lump and bump to the surface, as well as steady onshore flow. The tide hits a 6'+ high right around 10am. (Wave) SWELL: 7.9 ft at 11.4 s WNW / WIND WAVE: 1.6 ft at 4.0 s W / WVHT: 7.9 ft / APD: 7.4 s / MWD: 301°

18 November 2010

A Couple of Coffeys in the Morning (HMB Jetty)

Luke found his narrower and thinner Coffey (left) on Craigslist around the time I ordered mine.
Quite a difference in climate from my surf sessions last week in Hawaii. It was only 48 degrees at the beach, with the water slightly warmer than the air, and darn it, I forgot my gloves. Just after I paddled out with Luke in the growing daylight, I rode a sweet long right on my new board. J-Bird and Jacob soon joined us, and waves were caught by all, with Luke even seeing the inside of the green room from a low crouch. The tide was quite high, making for a bounce off the riprap wall that was sometimes helpful and sometimes funky. I got a passel of passable rides, but the first was the best.
Surfline: WNW groundswell holds up inconsistent waist-shoulder high+ sets at top exposed breaks. Swell is strongest in the morning but the big high tide slows many spots for the dawn patrol, best on the dropping tide through the morning. SSW swell offers occasional knee-waist-chest zone sets. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.6 ft at 11.4 s NW / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 4.0 s NW / WVHT: 5.9 ft / APD: 7.9 s / MWD: 309°

14 November 2010

Birthday Present (Davenport)

My birthday present to myself this year was a new surfboard. After I met with him just over a month ago, Ward Coffey designed and shaped a transition board to help me move down more smoothly from my 8'3" hybrid (which I surf well) to my 5'8" shortboard (with which I've had only random successes). Basically, he scaled the 8'3" down to 7' and added performance features such as a speedier concave. And so, Enhanced Mini-Magic (Emm) was born.

Ward phoned the day before my birthday to say the new board was ready, but alas (!), we were in Hawaii. So I picked up Emm today, and since Ward assured me there was no need to wait for it to cure further, we were off for a surf. But first, Ward took control of putting on the traction pad, using a few tricks not listed in the instructions (lightly abrading the board surface and wiping it with acetone, and heating the pad's adhesive with a hair dryer before mounting it). Then Scott and I drove up the coast, since it was too small and crowded in town. A surf kayak contest was being held on the north end of Davenport but the south end was empty with occasional rideable waves. It seemed the onshore wind was rising and likely that farther north would have worse conditions, so I ended my surf search and finished dressing my new board with nose and tail guards, a leash, and layers of basecoat and cold-water wax. It was unusually warm for November - near 70 degrees - and by the time I finished, I was ready to jump in cold water.

Design by Birdswell
Two guys and a girl paddled out to the empty break just before me. They were a smiling, friendly lot, but as one of the guys pointed out, conditions were "challenging." The chop was 1-3 feet, making it a little hard to see the shoulder- to head-high waves approaching, and I was a bit uncomfortable out there on an unfamiliar board. But after a getting-to-know-you period with several mini-rides and a handful of wipeouts, plus getting caught inside disconcertingly close to dry reef, I nailed a solid head-high right on Emm and called it a day. I think we're going to be very good friends. Woot!
Surfline: Fading NW swell and rising NW windswell combined to keep good breaks in the chest-head high+ range while standouts were a couple to a few feet overhead on sets. Tiny SSW swell was in the water as well. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.9 ft at 11.4 s NW / WIND WAVE: 7.2 ft at 8.3 s NW / WVHT: 10.8 ft / APD: 7.4 s / MWD: 315°

12 November 2010

Do We Really Have to Leave? (Pinetrees)

Since our flight home wasn't until 2 pm, there was time for a last surf in the morning. I skipped the paddle to the reef in favor of the closer beach break in Hanalei Bay. Every once in a while a head-high cleanup set would come through, but mostly the waves were smaller.
I rode a bunch, finishing up with a long left almost to the sand, and then it was time to go. Mahalo nui loa, Kauai, for the fun surf!
Surfline: A small-scale, fading NNW provides mainly waist-chest high sets this morning at the better spots with clean conditions. Select reefs still produce occasional waves up to shoulder-head high. Kauai Ocean Explorer: 2-4 feet.

10 November 2010

Hau`oli la Hanau (Hanalei Bay)

For my birthday surf, I returned to Hanalei Bay and made the paddle out to the reef. I arrived a bit earlier this time hoping to beat the crowd, but if anything, there were more people on it than yesterday. And I had to join the pack since my inside left wasn't working, perhaps because the tide was higher. The tidal variation is much less than in NorCal, only about 0-2.5 feet while we were there, but the small change seemed to make a difference on the reef. Surfline mostly neglects Kauai, but the LOLA forecast was totally wrong, calling for 2-3' when the waves were larger than yesterday, solidly overhead at the main peak.
On one head-high wave, I stuck the nose on the drop and sailed through the air before taking a tumble in the spin cycle. I can now confirm that the Ola Chica "wipeout-proof" bikini isn't. When I surfaced, both the bikini top and my rashguard were bunched under my armpits. Fortunately no one was nearby to take in the view.
The reef beneath my board

Although I didn't get as many rides as yesterday and only a couple of long ones, the thrilling drops more than made up for it. The best was a slightly overhead right. I hooted down the face in a fast swoop and rode for a few seconds before the whitewater crashed down everwhere, throwing me into the warm water with a big stoked smile on my face.

Surfline: Waist- to chest-high, small NW swell. Kauai Ocean Explorer: 2-3 feet.

09 November 2010

Bali Hai (Hanalei Bay)

As we drove north from Lihue Airport in Kauai, the first surfer I saw launched himself several feet into the air and did a flip. Later, in the sand-bottomed condo hot tub, I met a group of Canadians on the island for a wedding. The goofyfoot groom told me he'd surfed a 4-5' left called Grampas that day in Hanelei. I was itching to get in the water.

Memorials to Andy Irons were everywhere on the north shore of Kauai, where he grew up. The proprietor of a surf shop near our hotel pointed at the FreeSurf magazine in my hand and rued the irony that he was on the cover. The rental boards at his place as well as a few others were sad wrecks, but outside a shop in Hanalei, a particular epoxy board called to me. I pulled it from the rack and guessed its length correctly at 7 feet. It felt good in my hands, so I made it mine for the duration of our stay.

At the east end of Hanalei Bay, with deliciously bare feet, I walked out on a sandy and silty river bar, then made a long paddle to the reef break. The water flowing from the Hanalei River was cool, but the water over the reef was warm, clear and shallow. It was delightful to surf sans rubber, in a rashguard and boardshorts. The main peak was going head-high+ but was infested with janitors. It seems SUPs were invented so guys can keep surfing when they've grown to fat and/or old to use a real board, but some of them could rip.
I employed my frequent Santa Cruz strategy, taking the shorter lefts when most everyone else was going right, and sitting inside to catch the neglected smaller waves, which were waist- to shoulder-high. The 7' Channin was a perfect fit and I got many, many fun long rides. It was lovely to watch the reef speed by underneath while surrounded by steep green mountains.
 Surfline: 4-5 feet, NNW swell.

03 November 2010

"Magic Will Sing" (Cowells)

"Magic will sing at Cowells tonight." That was Luke's prediction when we chatted earlier in the day about our planned sunset surf session, and he was right. I got a bunch of fun rides, long lefts and even longer rights, with plenty of time for wave-dancing on the face. Stoked!
From the top of the cliff, Luke shot a photo sequence of me catching and riding a left, and out on the water, I took this little video of him.
It was great surfing in NorCal on a fine summer day in November, but I'm looking forward to my next session - in Hawaii!

Surfline:4-6 ft. Solid WNW groundswell eases slightly this afternoon. Most breaks continue to see solid head high+ to overhead surf, with top exposures still holding in the double-triple overhead zone. Conditions are mostly clean at all but the most exposed breaks, which are generally maxed/washed out and unrideable. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 10.8 ft at 14.8 s WNW / WIND WAVE: 3.0 ft at 5.3 s W / WVHT: 11.2 ft / APD: 9.9 s / MWD: 297°

Women Who Surf Big Waves: Baby Steps

It's good to see women making a little progress, with one spot on the Big Wave World Tour adding an exhibition: "For the 1st time ever in a big wave Event, a women’s exhibition will take place with 7 of the world best charging women coming to tackle Nelscott Reef."
But why are the women's names smaller and linkless?
Perhaps the Jay at Mavericks could go a step farther and invite the best women to compete.