31 July 2011

Catch and Release (Kelly)

I held out hope for good waves at Teslas this morning on a mid rising tide with a SSW groundswell in the water. Alas, J-Bird reported it wasn't looking much better than last week. She and Jacob surf-checked from Pacifica through Half Moon Bay. There were good waves at Montara but it was crowded, so they told me to come to Kelly (Francis Beach), which was the best of the rest. We had it to ourselves for a while before a few other guys paddled out.

The bane of our meager serving of south swells this summer has been concurrent south winds. They were light this morning, but still textured the sea with chop. Many of the waves were closing out, and I caught quite a few but declined to commit to the smashing drop, engaging in a sort of wave catch-and-release. You gotta know when not to go. I tried to practice some of Friday's surf coaching lesson, following the wave's cues and paddling left or right for better placement before going in, but the waves made this tricky by being disorganized and shifty. Easier to practice was body positioning; an inch forward on my board is starting to feel more natural, and my knees only bent up once or twice. Finally I found a shoulder on a left for a nice ride. On another left, as I took the head-high drop, a backwash mogul appeared in the face, bouncing me up and then tipping my board nose-down faster than I could react. Crash! It was fun nonetheless. Getting back out through the shorepound after that tumble was challenging and involved a holddown that found me glad when my feet hit the sand so I could push up for air. It wasn't small out there today.

As always, there was a wait for my last wave to come in. It was a right with a short shoulder, and took me close to shore. Then Jacob rode the wave of the day, and I caught it on video:
Surfline: Our NW swell mix continues this morning as small, fading SSW (190-200) Southern Hemi swell mixes in. Knee-waist high+ surf is fairly common now, although the better exposures can see a few larger sets at times. Light SW-WSW wind now for generally smooth surface conditions. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.6 ft at 8.3 s NW 61 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.6 s W / WVHT: 5.6 ft / APD: 7.8 s / MWD: 305° (Met) WSPD: 6 kts / GST: 8 kts / WVHT: 5.6 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 190° / ATMP: 56.3° F / WTMP: 58.3° F. Tide: 3' rising to 4.5'.

29 July 2011

Coaching: Positions (The Hook)

After an initial assessment two weeks ago, this morning's dawn patrol was my first session with my new surf coach, Barry Green of Making The Drop. He's focusing his instruction toward my goal of becoming a decent shortboarder, one day.

Yep, that's me. Photo by Chris.
I brought my 5'4" 9:Fish Clownfish "Nemo" for Barry to check out. He took it for a test drive while I rode my 7'0" Ward Coffey "Emm". At least initially, the Hook was surprisingly uncrowded given the recent dearth of decent waves. Santa Cruz has been not-quite flat, with mostly junky windswell waves father north, but today southwest groundswell was serving quality waves to shoulder high. We found a spot to the right of the main peak, just past a section that often didn't connect, and had it mostly to ourselves for the duration. I got a slew of good drops into waves with fleeting shoulders. Woot!

Between the inconsistent sets, there was plenty of time for coaching. Barry gave me a lot of good advice, and documenting it will help me to remember, but he'll probably have to repeat some things before they sink in. He's trying to get me to think and act more like a shortboarder, positioning myself for a deeper takeoff on the steeper part of the wave. Positioning is key on a shortboard, since it lacks the glide of a longer board. My wave sense also needs to improve, so that I'm considering not just whether a wave is catchable from where I'm sitting, but also if I should paddle left or right before turning for it to get into a better spot for a longer ride. For instance, the section forming on the face of one wave should've alerted me to paddle quickly 5 yards to the right to get past it, instead of going directly for the wave and being caught behind the section. Makes perfect sense.

On paddling, Barry said to start sooner when I'm going for a wave, looking over my shoulder to see what the wave is doing and adjusting what I'm doing if necessary. I also should have "more than one gear." I've been paddling a lot like I swim: slow and steady. Sure, I go faster when I'm trying to catch a wave, but still at a constant speed. Instead, I need to paddle appropriately to get to the takeoff zone, which may be just a few strokes if I've positioned myself correctly, and then dig deep and fast as the wave reaches me. In the pool, Barry's got me doing swim sprints to build strength for those bursts.

Barry thinks my stance is good, natural. But my paddling position is conservative, a bit too far back on the board. He had me shift forward an inch (which lines up my nose with the green bubble under the dolphin in J-Bird's design) and lower my feet. When I paddle, I've been keeping my knees bent up to shift my CG forward, but instead should use my upper body for that, arching my back and head upwards while paddling and then dropping them toward the board to get into the wave. It's going to take conscious thought to break the habit and keep my feet down, but I caught some good rides with my new paddling position.
Until the next coaching session in two weeks, I'll try to put these ideas into practice, and out of the water I'll also be doing exercises on an upside-down Bosu balance trainer. Barry thinks the fish will be a good board for me eventually, but I'm not there...yet.

When I arrived at work, my coworker said he could tell I'd been surfing not because my hair was wet but by the big smile on my face and the spring in my step. Stoked!

Surfline: Clean, lined up peaks working through with some fun looking corners on offer. Inconsistent at times. New small to fun size SSW (190-200) groundswell provides mainly knee-waist high sets at good exposures. Top southern hemi spots produce chest-shoulder high and occasional larger sets. Minor NW-WNW swell wrap mixes in. Light winds early with patchy fog possible. Conditions are mostly clean through town as the tide builds in from a predawn negative low. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.2 ft at 11.4 s WNW 60 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 2.9 s SE / WVHT: 5.2 ft / APD: 8.4 s / MWD: 293° (Met) WSPD: 8 kts / GST: 12 kts / WVHT: 5.2 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / WDIR: 190° / ATMP: 55.2° F / WTMP: 58.5° F. Tide: 0-1'. 

24 July 2011

Drop, Trip, Flip (Teslas)

Back to booties (boo-ties!) today, and to poor waves, as compared to the awesome warm-water SanO session last Monday. But sharing a break with just a group of friends made it a good morning surf.

I met up with J-Bird and Jacob near Kyle's sweet four-houses-from-the-beach place in Half Moon Bay, a spot I'll call "Teslas". (I give it a pseudonym not because of the waves today, but because of the way Kyle said they get on a certain tide and swell direction. Hope for good sessions to come.) The Js had brought surf-starved shortboarder Chris and newbie Jay plus his wife Rachel (who couldn't surf), and Kyle joined us for a bit. Manabu reported that Montara had small waves though crowded already, but I opted for what was on offer in Half Moon Bay at an empty break with just my crew.
The waves were sloppy under a south breeze and often closing out, but sometimes shoulder-high on Jacob. With the reports and forecast calling for small surf, I'd brought my 8'3" Magic, but I regretted that choice almost immediately. Mushy waves pitched when they broke, and I kept tripping over my board's nose with an extra 15" in front of me. Drop, trip, flip, and do it again; arrgh. Chris said I should count 3 of those as one wave, so by that count, I think I got three waves. On the ones that didn't close out, my error, I believe, was not making the bottom turn fast enough; it had to be quick to avoid the pitch and trip. With that in mind, and thinking "Turn! Turn! Turn!" as I paddled for a wave, I managed to drop and sharp turn on one wave before it smashed over and threw me. On another wipeout, I felt a pointy edge of my surfboard hit near my eye, and was glad that I have nose- and tail-guards on my board to prevent serious injury from such impacts.
Jay, Jacob and J-Bird
Chris offered up his "boggie-board," a 6'4" Walden CD4, to anyone who wanted to try it, so I swapped with him. I felt more comfortable on the shorter board, although it was oddly wide and round-nosed.  I caught one wave on his board and made the drop, into another closeout tumble. Since my surf coach wants me to bring my 5'4" fish to our next session on Tuesday, I may just end up riding four different surfboards this week.
It was good to get wet with friends, but I'm tired of this short-period NW windswell. Where are the south groundswells of summer?!

Surfline: Weak NW windswell and trace/leftover SW and South swells keep the surf pretty marginal across the region this morning. Most areas see 2-3' surf, with some larger chest/shoulder high peaks for top NW exposures. Light SW winds make for pretty sloppy conditions at exposed spots. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.9 ft at 12.9 s S 59 / 4.3 ft at 8.3 s NW / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 3.8 s WNW / WVHT: 4.3 ft / APD: 7.6 s / MWD: 175° (Met) WSPD: 2 kts / GST: 4 kts / WVHT: 4.6 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 170° / ATMP: 56.5° F / WTMP: 55.6° F. Tide: 3'ish.

18 July 2011

Near Trestles (Old Man's)

San O' is there to remind us that in this crowded world, 
there's still a spot where we can all ride together with smiles on our faces. -Surfline

For me, the highlight of the SoCal surfari was to be surfing at Trestles. Originally we’d wanted to camp nearby but no spots were available, and the rest of the posse thought we should stay in San Diego, 50 miles to the south. We had most of the day Monday, and I thought we’d hit Windansea early and then surf Trestles on our way back up the coast, missing the weekend crowds, before Luke drove home to the Bay Area with our surfboards in the back of his truck. But after Luke planned lunch with a friend in LA, the window narrowed to just the morning. To meet schedule, the crew rallied to get on the road northward around 7 am. On the plus side, Windansea wasn’t looking too surfable, so another spot was the call anyway.
J-Bird looks like she knows how good it's going to be
There was some confusion about the precise location of Trestles and the difficulty of access. I’ve never been there, and it turned out the others hadn’t either, although they’d surfed nearby breaks. When Luke paid the $15 day-use fee to enter San Onofre State Beach with all of our surfboards, the die was cast to surf elsewhere. We followed, parking in front of Old Man’s, which looked pretty sweet and not too crowded.

The bottom is cobblestone with ubiquitous sea grass, and I had to take care walking out on soft naked feet. Although the vibe was friendly, the main peak had too many surfers on it for my liking so I hung on an emptier inside section. The rides were amazing and I lost track of my wave count. Even from the inside, many rides were quite long with lots of shoulder time for turns and for feeling the board and the wave’s energy through my bare feet. I was grinning from ear to ear. Sooo good! I would’ve surfed for hours more if I could’ve.
But in less than an hour and a half and far too soon, the clock spun around toward Luke’s planned departure time with our surfboards. I saw Nikki on the beach and came in but the rest weren’t back yet, so I handed her my camera and went out again to mess around close to shore on tiny waves for a few more minutes. When the posse emerged onto the beach, it was time to pack Emm into her boardbag for the ride home, and then while away the rest of the day before our evening flight.
I still want to surf Trestles. So there will have to be another SoCal surfari soon.

Surfline: Glassy, inconsistent low tide peaks working through with a few okay little corners at times. Small scale surf from a mix of very modest Southern Hemi swells and a little local windswell. Most breaks are waist high and below. Buoy 46231:  (Wave) SWELL: 1.3 ft at 14.3 s SW 58 / WIND WAVE: 3.3 ft at 7.1 s WNW / WVHT: 3.6 ft / APD: 6.1 s / MWD: 286° (Met) WVHT: 3.6 ft / DPD: 7.0 s / WTMP: 70.0° F. Tide: 1.5' rising to 3'.

17 July 2011

Weird Waves (Windansea)

This morning brought not hoped-for glass but an onshore breeze under a cloudy sky. Still, Windansea was cleaner than last night’s sunset session, and it was great to be able to walk to the break from our rental house in only two minutes.
Luke, first into the water
A pair of dawn patrollers had departed, leaving the waves empty when Luke and I paddled out. After a bit we were joined by a local woman, then J-Bird, and lastly Jacob and Nikki. Fortunately I'd completely forgotten (or intentionally blocked out) news of a great white shark sighting just north near La Jolla cove.
Again the waves were shifty and hard to read, coming in from one direction and then veering off in another with no pattern that I could discern. The friendly local said the break is usually more predictable, peaking left and right from a small takeoff zone. No matter; we took what we were served, and at least it wasn’t crowded.
Jacob, Nikki and J-Bird waiting for waves
I did better than yesterday, riding a couple of nice rights and a left, along with some shorter ones, and taking some breath-sucking tumbles when I ended up inside during a set. The reef is shaggy with sea grass interspersed with kelp, which frequently entangled our leashes and even somehow caught in my helmet. The feeling of my bare feet on the board was delicious. But by the end of the session I was shivering in my old 3/2 wetsuit.
We hoped for a second session later in the day, but the onshore wind rose and held steady, blowing out the surf. Instead we toured Mission Bay on a pirate ship that sadly lacked hot buttered rum but had cannons that loudly belched mist at landlubbers watching from shore.
Nikki, Jacob, J-Bird, Captain, me

Tomorrow, Trestles!

Surfline: Drained out dribble peaks. Old, inconsistent SSW swell (190-200) leftovers and trace NW windswell with 1-2-3' surf at well exposed breaks. Light/variable winds early. Wind gradually increases into the afternoon, turning WSW-West around 7-11kts. Buoy 46231: (Wave) SWELL: 1.3 ft at 13.3 s SSW 57 / WIND WAVE: 3.0 ft at 6.7 s WNW / WVHT: 3.3 ft / APD: 5.6 s / MWD: 282° (Met) WVHT: 3.3 ft / DPD: 7.0 s / WTMP: 69.6° F. Tide: Near 0' rising to 1.5'.

16 July 2011

Waited All Day for That Wave (Windansea)

Bare feet, so sweet
Surfari! Luke and Nikki drove down to SoCal in Luke’s truck with all of our surfboards, 10 boards for 5 surfers, including my 7’0”. J-Bird and Jacob flew to Orange County last night and Scott and I followed this morning. The plan was to meet up at 3pm at The Grand Kahuna, our rented triplex less than a block from the Windansea break in La Jolla. I’d hoped to surf someplace on the way down, but Luke wanted to hit Topanga in north LA County, so Scott and I meandered down the coast toward San Diego. In Laguna Beach, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at one of the original BJ’s (which still retains some uncorporatized charm), and then walked on the sand, dipping our toes in the warm ocean.

With traffic we didn’t reach La Jolla until 4 pm, but learned the rest of the posse had surfed late at Topanga and wouldn’t arrive until around 6. We strolled into town, which was much farther than I realized, and got some Thai food for dinner before our long walk back to Windansea. The crew had landed and was just heading out to surf. I hastily waxed my naked board, applying basecoat and warm-water wax, pulled on my 3/2, and darted to the beach as the day started to fade.

It was so nice to surf barefoot. But the waves were mushy, disorganized and shifty under a light onshore breeze. I had trouble being in the right spot and getting into them. When I caught a left, my foot slipped off the front of the board; I hadn’t waxed far enough forward. Doh! Finally an energetic right came directly to me, and I popped up and made the drop for a long ride. Woot! I waited all day for that wave.
The sun set into the warm ocean in a blaze of color, a nice start to our long weekend surfari.
Surfline: Just a weak mix of small NW windswell and leftover SSW (190-200) energy for mainly waist high and below surf this afternoon. Top breaks occasionally see an inconsistent waist high+ set. Building westerly wind now for some minor surface bump and texture @ most spots. Buoy 46231: (Wave) SWELL: 1.6 ft at 13.3 s SSW 56 / WIND WAVE: 2.6 ft at 5.9 s WNW / WVHT: 3.3 ft / APD: 5.5 s / MWD: 193° (Met) WVHT: 3.3 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WTMP: 67.6° F. Tide: 3’ rising to 4’+.

12 July 2011

Hey, Coach (Drainpipes/Sharks)

This morning I met up with my new surf coach, Barry from Making the Drop. There was a sweet south swell firing all the eastside Santa Cruz breaks, but a dismal lot of surfers already in the water at 6 am. We paddled out toward 38th but ended up just east at a peak I learned is called Drainpipes. Miraculously we had it to ourselves for a bit before a light crowd joined us.

Last night I thought about tweeting "Who wants to bet I kook up my first wave in front of the surf coach?" but decided against it, trying to think positive and not jinx myself. As I dug the nose and wiped out, I remembered that silent tweet. Ha ha! But I redeemed myself on the second one which was my wave of the day, a long right about head-high that reformed for another drop and took me in close to the beach. Woot! I caught another nice one at that peak before Barry said the incoming tide was beginning to swamp it and suggested we stroll down the beach past the pack at the Hook and over to Sharks.

Sharks was more heavily populated but I rode a few there as well, none as sweet as wave #2. I also got creamed by a big set that came through when I was on the inside after a ride, and went through the spin cycle a couple of times. With all the traffic I had a long wait for my last wave, and then it was time for us dawn patrollers to hand the swell over to the second shift.
Barry's going to work up a coaching plan based on his assessment of my surfing today, but he already offered me a few pointers. Start going for waves sooner, moving to the right position, especially in a crowd because it will show commitment and (supposedly) the pack will be more likely to back off. Don't kick to get into a wave; it rocks the board and disturbs its glide, and is useful mainly for much shorter boards where the surfer's lower legs are off the board. Instead, to get a boost when paddling into a wave, try having my body a bit farther forward. That gives me a few things to work on during our SoCal surfari this weekend, but I'm excited to start speeding up my transition into (eventually) a good shortboarder.
Surfline: 3-5 ft. Clean, inconsistent surf working through with some okay corners. SW-SSW (215-190) groundswell holds, mixing with small scale NW windswell wrap this morning. Good breaks through town are in the waist-chest-head high range with some overhead sets for standout exposures. Winds are out of the NW so most spots through town remain clean. Buoy 46012:  (Wave) SWELL: 3.3 ft at 16.0 s SSW 55 / WIND WAVE: 3.9 ft at 6.2 s NW / WVHT: 5.2 ft / APD: 5.8 s / MWD: 194° (Met) WSPD: 14 kts / GST: 17 kts / WVHT: 5.2 ft / DPD: 16.0 s / WDIR: 300° / ATMP: 54.5° F / WTMP: 53.6° F Tide: 1'- to 2'+.

11 July 2011

Staying Fit for Surf: Video Reviews

I previously reviewed the Yoga for Surfers DVD series, and YSF:V2 continues to get a lot of use in my house. Since then, I added another regular, Surf Stronger: The Surfer's Workout, Vol. 1. I've also tried two more exercise DVDs that are now gathering dust.

I got the Surf Stronger Vol. 1 video as a digital download rather than a DVD, and play it on an old iBook tied to the TV. The workout has three segments: a pre-surf warm up, a main workout, and a cool-down stretch. The pre-surf warm up is designed to be done on the beach, and starts off with a light jog down the sand followed by exercises to warm up surfing muscles and get them ready to move. I've incorporated a few of these into my regular pre-surf stretching. For the main segment, creator Scott Adams is joined by another guy and a couple of girls who go through the exercises with two levels of difficulty. A fitness ball, dumbbells and a yoga mat are required. With the sea in the background, Scott first performs each exercise and explains how it will improve your surfing, before having his crew start the set. My only complaint is that his demonstration, and the introduction of his crew, can't be skipped, so repeat users either have to do extra repetitions or wait through some downtime until he says "let's begin." It's also unfortunate that the crew doesn't include a guy half as attractive as the girls. Those minor complaints aside, the exercises themselves are quite useful and relevant, and I often find my muscles are a bit sore later, but in a good way. The final segment incorporates a number of yoga poses, plus some stretches involving a fitness ball that I've found are great to do after a long surf to relieve tension in paddling muscles. Surf Stronger: The Surfer's Workout, Vol. 1, is strongly recommended.

I tried Taylor Knox Surf Exercises just once. These exercises are advanced and I was not prepared for the high level of difficultly.some involve. Taylor launches right into the tough ones without warmup, and unlike Surf Stronger, there is no option offered for a lower level of intensity. I shied away from a few of the exercises because of my lower back problems, and a friend told me his physical therapist cautioned him to avoid some due to their potential to cause back injury. Unless you're already in great condition and have worked your way up to a high level of strength and flexibility, I'd stay away from SE.

My hopes were high for Surf into Yoga with Rochelle Ballard, as I greatly admire her surfing. Unfortunately I just didn't click with this DVD. While the filming took place at or even in the ocean (on a barely-submerged reef), it's missing the connection to surfing inherent in Surf Stronger and Yoga for Surfers. There is no explanation of how the exercises are useful for a surfer. This is a pure yoga DVD, complete with the mystical mumbo-jumbo that doesn't interest me and some rather irritating gong music. Rochelle has been shelved next to Taylor Knox.

Surf-specific exercises can help you to surf better and surf stronger. Fortunately there are a growing number of videos available to guide you at home. Find a program that's right for you, and stick with it. See you in the water!

10 July 2011

Pre-Surfari (HMB Jetty)

This morning my little posse gathered for a surf at the Jetty followed by lunch at the High Tide Cafe to refuel and firm up details of our SoCal surf safari next weekend. When you're chilling (literally) in 53-degree water, 70-degree water is a welcome thought.
Luke working for it, Nikki and J-Bird book-ending
Luke and Nikki
The waves were decent on the south swell but the crowd was ridiculous most of the time. I rode a couple of waves and made a few more drops on closeouts but was otherwise frustrated by oncoming traffic and especially one particular snake. Finally I moved down the beach to get some space for myself, and caught a fun wave in.

For this session, I tried out one of Clark Little's tips for aquatic photos, and coated my camera lens with dried dish soap. The results were obviously less than stellar so I'll go back to RainX. I'd rather have a clear lens with an occasional droplet than areas of distortion.

There's much to look forward to this week: an initial assessment with a surf coach on Tuesday, and surfing a south swell with my buddies in warm San Diego and Orange County next weekend. Pre-stoked!
Surfline: SW (200-220) groundswell and NW windswell mix continues with 3-4'+ surf at the decent exposures and combo spots. A new SW-SSW (190-210) swell picks up through the day. Conditions are a bit funky/crumbly for most areas thanks to SW wind early (S wind protected spots are cleanest). Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.6 ft at 9.1 s NW 54 / WIND WAVE: 6.6 ft at 7.7 s NW / WVHT: 8.5 ft / APD: 6.3 s / MWD: 317° (Met) WSPD: 16 kts / GST: 21 kts / WVHT: 8.5 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / WDIR: 310° / ATMP: 53.8° F / WTMP: 53.6° F. Tide: 3.5' falling to 3.'

05 July 2011

Coach of the Waves

In the latest print issue of Surfer magazine,  Steve Hawk (who - small world - surfs in Half Moon Bay) writes about a trip to one of Billabong's Surf with a Pro camps. From the coaching of Dave Rastovich and Shane Dorian, he derives these lessons:
  1. Widen your stance.
  2. Surf lower to the board.
  3. When you move to catch a throaty wave, paddle like you mean it.
  4. Surf higher on the wave.
Good tips, all, and I figured out just last week than I need to work on #4 in particular. But it takes me a while to sort out my surfing deficiencies on my own, which is why intermittently I have been looking for a surf coach. I've been surfing for eight years now, although consistently for only about the last four since I moved to NorCal and recovered (enough) from a back injury inflicted by Linda Mar. I got a late start as a surfer, growing up inland with only twice-a-year trips to the Jersey shore in summer. (My mother hated sand.) Then I wasted a decade living near and even on the beach in SoCal but overly worried about polluted water and ignorant of the bliss of riding waves until I stood up on a waterlogged 10' foamie in Florida. I'd like to recover those lost years with a power assist from a surf coach. I want to be a good surfer before I'm too old to be a good surfer.

Last week, cruising the web in the wee hours when I couldn't sleep, I stumbled upon Santa Cruz's Making the Drop and sent a query to Barry about surf coaching. We'd scheduled an initial assessment for today, but scratched it (wisely) due to a poor surf forecast. The new date is for dawn patrol next Tuesday, on a south groundswell arriving later this week.
I don't often get to see photos or video of myself surfing, but when a buddy happens to capture me, I'm never very happy with the image. Looking at this pic taken by Ephraim at the Jetty last weekend, all I can think is: Why haven't I turned yet for a run down the line? Why do I seem to be Iooking at my feet? And: Does my butt really need to be sticking out that far? I hope a surf coach can help me to identify areas like this where I need to improve, and push me to get better from here in less time than it would take to work it out alone.

Steve Hawk, author of Waves, having just been called into the wave of his life by Shane Dorian, concludes the Surfer article on this note:
...all of this nonsense about widening your stance and sticking post-its on your board and practicing tricks as if on a skate ramp... it's all bullshit. What matters is the miraculous gift of the waves themselves. What matters is hunting down the best ones you can find, until you die, and making sure you stay fit enough to ride them.
I'll never forget what matters, but I'll be a more fulfilled surfer with a little help from my coach.

Queen of the Whitewater (Linda Mar)

That's what I had in mind to call myself for much of today's session: Queen of the Whitewater. For a while it seemed I couldn't catch a greenwater wave for the life of me. I'd paddle for ones that looked promising, but the walls would mush into uncatchable mounds, sometimes even for the longboarders near me in the water. Then a head-high outside closeout set would sweep through, so what the heck, I'd catch the fast whitewater and rise to my feet from the turbulent froth. Eventually I got a right with a short shoulder, and my last wave was the sweetest, holding up for a little while and reforming before breaking into white that took me to the shallows.
No complaints here; a random day off from work to celebrate the day after Independence Day, sunny skies, a mellow crowd and some fun waves.

Surfline: 2-3' occasionally 4'. Mostly clean, crumbly, sectiony lines working through. NW windswell and trace Southern hemi swell mix continues this afternoon with better exposures in waist-chest-shoulder high range, with some larger sets for top windswell spots. Winds are light onshore for some surface bump/texture, though most breaks still offer a few rideable corners. (Wave) SWELL: 7.5 ft at 10.0 s NW 53 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 4.0 s WNW / WVHT: 7.5 ft / APD: 7.5 s / MWD: 306° (Met) WSPD: 8 kts / GST: 12 kts / WVHT: 7.5 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / WDIR: 170° / ATMP: 52.3° F / WTMP: 53.1° F. Tide:  2.5' rising to 3.5'.

03 July 2011

State of Mind (HMB Jetty)

With a negative low tide after dawn, I had to wait until late morning for the tide to come up enough for a chance of decent surf. Unfortunately, that meant the traffic to the coast on a hot holiday weekend was bad. So bad that Jeni decided to turn back rather than face it. But bailing was not an option for me; I wanted to surf, and I knew there would be rideable waves somewhere in Half Moon Bay. So instead of getting stressed as we stop-and-go-ed our way down Highway 92, I accepted it, shrugged, and chilled.

I held low expectations for surf quality, with only short-period NW swell in the water. I tried Dunes first, but it wasn't enticing and seemed as if it would blow out soon. In my few minutes there, checking the surf and offloading Scott's bike, I enjoyed the wildflowers that were blooming in profusion. Then on to the Jetty.
The beach was packed with folks escaping the inland heat and there were a lot of surfers in the water. As I walked to the main peak, I passed a guy operating a tow-surf motor, with a line stretched from the sand to an apparently too-weak-to-paddle shortboarder in the lineup (cue jeers). Frowning, I told him "at a crowded break, not cool." I was happy to see them pack up their rig soon after, before they decapitated someone.
The waves were often weak and chest-high at best, but I scored some nice rides. The NW breeze kicked up a notch, and I knew Dunes was blown, making me happy in my break selection. Paddling north against the current, spray flew in my face and made it hard to see. The crowd thinned, but I kept getting waves, trying for a frontside left. Finally my left came. Knowing the wind might blow me back if I went for it directly, I paddled and made the drop to the right, then turned sharply and rode left. Woot! Once again, low expectations paid off in a fun session.

Thanks to Ephraim for taking a few pix of me.
In the parking lot, a couple of graybeard surfer dudes chatted close behind my car. "I'm old now, but I'm still surfing," one said. "Yeah, but you're only as old as you feel, right?" I intejected. The other guy drives a camper with an Endless Summer poster just inside the door. He told me, "I started surfing when I was twelve. Now I'm collecting Social Security, but I still go out every chance I get and have fun!!"
It's all in the state of mind.

Surfline: Semi-bumpy/funky now with westerly flow on the rise, adding some surface texture to the exposed areas. Waves continue to run waist-chest-shoulder+ high as our NW wind/groundswell mix and small SSW swell combine. Top breaks occasionally hit head high on the better sets. It's rideable, just not super good. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.2 ft at 9.1 s NW 52 / WIND WAVE: 6.2 ft at 6.2 s NW / WVHT: 9.5 ft / APD: 7.1 s / MWD: 318° (Met) WSPD: 17 kts / GST: 21 kts / WVHT: 9.5 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 54.5° F / WTMP: 53.8° F. Tide: 2' rising to 3.5'.