29 September 2011

Mixed-Up Mutants (HMB Jetty)

Another pop-up NW swell filled in the night before last and is on the fade today, plus there's a small SW swell in the water. The combo produced some mixed-up, sloppy and shifty peaks at the socked-in Jetty. While Jenn worked on the basics in the whitewater, Luke joined me in the lineup with a few other guys. We both aborted paddling for one wave that Luke said "just went all mutant on us," contorting into an unrideable shape.
I caught and rode a lesser mutant, taking off right, turning left as the wave re-directed and not making it down the stair-step. Fun! Amidst a handful of other rides, I got a nice left and then a chest-high right in to the beach, both with shoulders that held up for a bit.
Any day that begins in the ocean is a good day!

Surfline: We have a mix of mainly easing NW-WNW (280-310+) swell and some small SSW groundswell running this morning. Better exposures are good for waist-shoulder-head high surf, with sets up to 2-3' overhead for standouts early in the morning. It's hard to get a look at most breaks with patchy dense fog settled in along the coast. Winds are light/variable from the South, so conditions are likely pretty clean. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.6 ft at 12.1 s NW 79 / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 4.5 s WNW / WVHT: 6.6 ft / APD: 7.6 s / MWD: 305° (Met) WSPD: 12 kts / GST: 16 kts / WVHT: 6.6 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WDIR: 150° / ATMP: 57.7° F / WTMP: 56.7° F. Tide: Less than 2' rising to 2.5'.

25 September 2011

Salad with Loggers (Linda Mar)

Sunday services at the Church of Surf were scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Scott and I arrived a bit late at the south parking lot, where he detached his bike from the MINI's roof rack and peddled off on the bike path. This being Linda Mar, many congregants were already gathered in the water, but my buddies were nowhere to be found. I suited up but was not looking forward to paddling out alone on the south end; the bigger, emptier waves to the north looked more enticing.
As I texted Luke for his ETA, he pulled into the lot in his shiny new blue Subaru WRX, and said that Emily and Max had followed him but turned into the north lot. Finally, I would get to meet a couple of Twitter friends I've been conversing with online for over a year. Sure enough, as I walked to the beach with my board under my arm, Emily appeared on the sidewalk. Odd that, meeting someone in real life for the first time, you'd hug like old friends, but that's how it is in the internet age.

Emily, Max, and Luke, who's wearing seaweed
I paddled out alone at the extreme south end by Boat Docks. The seaweed was heavy just off the beach, but for strength training purposes I paddled halfway out towing a pile of it on my leash. It's amazing how much drag a small hunk of kelp can create. I soon found my place well inside and closer to the peak than the few longboarders who'd taken up station there. The rest of the beach, except for the north, was clotted with surfers and closeouts, but happily Boat Docks was less populated, and I was the only one not on a log. I was perfectly positioned to pick off the waves the longboarders let slip by, especially as most didn't seem to notice the current kept pushing them too far outside. I was ever on the move, staying lined up with the deck of the last house on the hill and the sloping wooden boat ramp extending from a beach house. Goofyfoot joy, it was all lefts, and I caught a bunch. I rode the first too far inside, falling off flat into what seemed a watery salad of chest-deep loose seaweed. I towed my heavy leash outside of the vegetated zone before clearing it from my board and body. After that I tried to turn out before reaching the salad bar.
Emily and Max
Luke, and then Emily and Max, paddled out some time later. Max's board is a 10-footer and weighs 60 pounds! (That's 3 meters and 27 kgs for my friends outside the USA.) The waves were more suited to longboarders, waist-high+, mushy and slow, and the offshore was working to push me off them before I could get over the lip, but I challenged myself to be in the right place to ride on my 7'0". For sure coaching has increased my wave count; I'm getting better at predicting the peak and moving to that place, and I'm turning up my speed to get into waves. As I paddled for one next to Emily, I was closer to the peak, looking over my shoulder to see how the wave was forming up. I said, "I don't think I'm going to get this one - it's too mushy," assuming she would take it on her longboard, "but I'm going to try!" I kicked it into high gear, catching the wave, pushing the nose down against the wind, and popping up with my weight forward - surprising myself that I was riding. Later, as light rain began to fall, Luke repeated something our buddy John had told him, that when you get to a certain skill level, you can ride anything with anything, i.e. any wave with any board. (My surf coach disagrees, saying that while you can more quickly adapt once you reach a high level of wave judgment and body/board awareness, you'll still kook it up for a while on a new wave-riding device.) I've a long way to go, but I feel that I'm moving toward that place.
It was a fun morning, all the better for the presence of friends and for low expectations that were more than fulfilled.
Lining up on a boat ramp
Afterwards, Scott and I stopped by J-Bird's booth at Fog Fest in Pacifica. I'd forgotten to bring a t-shirt to put on after surfing, and she hooked me up with a nice one from her Birdswell line.

Surfline: NW-WNW (280-310+) swell on tap along with small SW groundswell. Decent exposures see shoulder-head high waves, while standout areas get overhead+ sets. SW-WSW wind early for some very minor surface texture (S wind protected areas offer up some cleaner waves). Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.5 ft at 10.0 s WNW 78 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 3.7 s W / WVHT: 7.5 ft / APD: 9.1 s / MWD: 296° (Met) WSPD: 8 kts / GST: 10 kts / WVHT: 7.5 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / WDIR: 160° / ATMP: 57.4° F / WTMP: 56.3° F. Tide: 4' rising to 5'.

24 September 2011

Shortboard on Order!

This morning I met with shaper Ward Coffey in Santa Cruz to order my new shortboard. Barry joined us to offer his observations. I mentioned that I'd like to be able to duck-dive the new board, but judging by the look that passed between shaper and coach, I think it'll be a while before I can ride a board I can completely duck-dive. I'm just such a lightweight.

The discussion produced a scaled-down version of my 7'0" Emm, which Ward shaped last year. The 7'0" is itself a smaller incarnation of my 8'3" Magic. After the latest shrinkage, here are the numbers:
6'2" long
13.5" x 20.5" x 14.5" wide

2.5" thick
The new board will be a squashtail thruster in epoxy with a matte finish, "Albert Blue" on the deck and "Lady Fern" on the rails/bottom. It'll have Future fins, Pro Tecks again, but this time the stiffer Performance fins. Like Emm, the new board is designed to work in a variety of wave conditions. And it will fit in the travel bag I already have, so I'm set to take it to Nicaragua in January.

After settling on the parameters, Ward took us back to his shaping room, where he drew the outline of my new board on a blank. Then he placed it in his to-do stack, and told me the board will be ready in 3-4 weeks. An early birthday present, to myself. Ward said that "on a shorter board, you're more intimate with the wave." Not just gliding along the surface, but really feeling what the wave is doing and responding to it. I can't wait!

22 September 2011

Coaching: Poaching (The Hook)

Our first WNW groundswell of the fall season filled in overnight. With the buoy showing 12' @ 16s, I thought the waves would be much bigger than they were, and so did a lot of people. The Hook still had nice size, shoulder to overhead, but the crowd had turned out for more. Barry led me around from the second peak to Sharks and back again, looking to poach some of the smaller waves from the pack.
On a spacecraft, there's a mechanism that's used to position the reflectors. It has two components, one coarse to get the reflector in the vicinity of the desired location, and another for fine-tuning to the exact spot. Barry helped me to be in the right general area, and his break knowledge and experience were invaluable in the crowded conditions. But then it was up to me to be in just the right place at the right time, when traffic would allow me to get a wave.

For a while I wasn't having much luck, but ended up with four solid rides. On one, I was following Barry right to correct our drift, when he said, "Are you going to go for this one?" The wave was almost upon me and I sat up quickly, slid back, spun around and paddled right into it for a nice drop and ride. Woot!

Barry noticed that I'm paddling stronger back to the lineup, so all those swim sprints must be doing some good. My wave judgment, timing and positioning are also getting (incrementally) better; today my ratio of waves paddled for to waves ridden was high with no takeoff crashes like the last coaching session. There were a few I missed because I wasn't deep enough, but I didn't go for any that were clearly too steep/deep.

There was a bold sea otter in the lineup, putting on a show between sets just a dozen feet away. When he bent forward to scratch his upper back, he curled into a spinning otter-ball, rolling head over heals, 'round and 'round in the water. I don't bring my waterproof camera out on coaching sessions because I want to focus on surfing, but I wished I had it then.

When it was time for just one more, I stroked into a nice head-high right and turned quickly on the shoulder for a little face time before it sectioned. I kept riding, all the way to the beach. Stoked!

Surfline: New NW groundswell peaks with chest high to 1-2' overhead waves at good spots. Standouts go 2-3'+ overhead on sets. Small S-SW swell blend mixes in with 2-3' sets. Light winds early. Patchy, dense fog possible. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 14.4 ft at 13.8 s WNW 77 / WIND WAVE: 2.3 ft at 4.8 s NW / WVHT: 14.4 ft / APD: 11.3 s / MWD: 302° (Met) WSPD: 12 kts / GST: 16 kts / WVHT: 14.4 ft / DPD: 14.0 s / WDIR: 300° / ATMP: 54.1° F / WTMP: 56.8° F. Tide: Peaking high at 4'.

18 September 2011

Sunshine and Smiles (HMB Jetty)

My extended surf posse met up this morning at the Jetty: Luke, J-Bird, Jacob, Nikki, Darren, Heather, John, Adrian, Noah, and Denise.
The posse owns the peak
The waves were small, only knee- to waist-high, but we were out for fun and friendship.
Talking story in the lineup: John, Darren, J-Bird, Nikki and Denise
And I finally got a surfer nickname: Water Flea!
J-Bird, leaving the dirt parking lot with her longboard under her arm: OK, longboarders, let's go get some waves.
Me: I brought my 7'0". Can I come too? ;)
John: "You're such a little water flea, for you that 7'0" is a longboard!"
Jacob on an epic wave
It should be noted that John's nickname is Low Tide, for the way his wetsuit allegedly smells. I didn't get close enough to verify.
We hooted each other into knee-highs and there were many party waves. Just after I took this video, J-Bird claimed the wipeout of the day, shooting Luke's new tanker high in the sky. I was definitely runner-up, but no one saw mine so it doesn't count.
John demonstrates the look on J-Bird's face as she went over the falls
Abstract Luke
Lots of fun with friends on a summery sunny day!

Surfline: NW windswell eases as reinforcing SSW (195-205) Southern Hemi energy mixes in. Average areas run knee-waist high, while top breaks see occasional 3-4' sets. Light southerly wind early for generally clean conditions, although openly exposed areas see some light surface crumble (S wind protected breaks stay cleanest). Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.0 ft at 10.8 s WNW 76 / WIND WAVE: 4.3 ft at 5.9 s NW / WVHT: 5.2 ft / APD: 5.1 s / MWD: 311° (Met) WSPD: 16 kts / GST: 17 kts / WVHT: 5.2 ft / DPD: 6.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 55.6° F / WTMP: 55.2° F Tide: 3.5' rising to 4'.
Fall is coming. Pumpkins in a field near Half Moon Bay.

17 September 2011

Extra Spin Cycle (Rachel's Point)

I wasn't expecting to surf today, but when the opportunity arose, I pounced on it. The Jetty was tiny so I met up with Luke and J-Bird at "Rachel's Point." The waves were shoulder- to head-high+ with just one or two other surfers in the water.
At this spot, there's a fine line between being (a) in the right position, (b) too far on the shoulder to get into the wave, and (c) too deep and getting rolled. The wave was also folding back on itself as it broke, adding to the difficulty level. Sadly, I couldn't find the sweet spot (a), although both of my buddies rode a couple nice long lefts on their longboards. To my credit and unlike prior sessions here, I wasn't erring on the side of caution (b), which meant I went through the spin cycle quite a few times (c). There was just one wave I felt that I caught at the right place, but I wasn't quick enough to my feet.
Luke and J-Bird heading out to the point
Tumbled to the inside again and feeling a bit frustrated, I caught outside whitewater which reformed into a fun little left with moguls, successfully navigated. I rode a few more like that, enjoying a sunny bonus surf with just my friends.

Surfline: Small NW swell and SSW swell mix is good for mainly 2-3'+ surf with occasional chest high+ sets at top spots. 5-11kt SW to WSW wind through the day. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 6.2 ft at 7.7 s NW 75 / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 4.2 s WNW / WVHT: 6.2 ft / APD: 6.3 s / MWD: 324° (Met) WSPD: 10 kts / GST: 12 kts / WVHT: 6.2 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 330° / ATMP: 54.7° F / WTMP: 55.4° F. Tide: 3.5' rising to 4.5'.

14 September 2011

Damn You, Dirty Kelp! (Indicators/Middle Peak)

This is my 500th blog post. Wow.

As I paddled for the wave, I saw he was almost right in front of me. I thought about aborting but was lined up and wanted it. Besides, he should know enough to get out of the way. I popped up and made the drop, angling away from him, and he duck-dived (seal-dived?) into the wave just several feet from my board. I thought, how lucky am I, to live in a place like this?
J-Bird and I met up at the Rip Curl Outlet in Westside Santa Cruz after work to look for new wetsuits. My 4/3 Rip Curl Insulator was nice while it lasted, but after a year is giving me the shivers even in summery-warm (55F/13C) water. Alas, they had only half a dozen size 4 women's wetsuits in the store, none of them chest-zips. The sales guy tried to steer me toward a guys' XS, but I didn't bother trying it on. As J-Bird noted, it would have had "an extra-low crotch." When I asked the Twitterverse for wetsuit recommendations, many surfers were raving about Xcel, so I'll see if their size 4 fits me.
J-Bird did score a new 5/4 wetsuit, and was hot at first when we paddled out at Indicators. The tide was low and there was exposed kelp everywhere. On the plus side, it was surprisingly uncrowded, with only a few other surfers in our vicinity. By contrast the main peak was pretty packed, but then the waves over there looked really sweet, slightly overhead on the bigger sets, with the usual show of hot surfing.
J-Bird waiting for her last wave
Waves were fun-sized and more inconsistent where we were, and then there was the kelp. We were both getting flung off our boards on pretty much every wave at various points of the ride, when the kelp didn't hold us back from catching them in the first place. Starting from a clear zone to get enough free paddling space, I got halted at the top, midway through the drop, while making a turn onto the face, and partially down the line. Kelp fingers would ensnare my fins, stopping my board and flinging me over the handlebars. Superman! I did manage to escape its clutches for a few decently-long rides, and J-Bird got some nice ones too on Tweety P. My best wave came near the end of the session as the sun was setting, with one of the guys on the inside hooting my drop. Stoked!

Surfline: SW groundswell, although slowly easing today, continues to provide plenty of waves throughout the region this afternoon. The better spots are mainly in the 3-4' zone, while standout breaks produce occasional sets around head high. Conditions are staying rather clean for most spots, especially the spots with kelp and right points protected by a bluff. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.9 ft at 12.1 s WNW 74 / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 3.8 s NW / WVHT: 8.2 ft / APD: 6.9 s / MWD: 287° (Met) WSPD: 8 kts / GST: 10 kts / WVHT: 8.2 ft / DPD: 12.0 s / WDIR: 300° / ATMP: 56.8° F / WTMP: 55.8° F. Tide: Bottoming out just below 1'.

11 September 2011

An Infestation of SUPs (Linda Mar)

If a bunch of fish is a school, and a group of dolphins is a pod, what's a collection of SUPs? There were more janitors at Linda Mar than I've ever seen in one place outside of Hawaii. As I paddled for a wave I was in position for, a pair of them swooped in on either side of me from farther out, and I had to back off, a Mini Cooper about to be crushed between two trucks.
Manabu and I had waited for the tide to come up from closed-out low, but the trade-off was that there were already a lot of boarders out when we arrived at 8 am. North of the pumphouse was less populated and I spied a nice left rolling through sometimes, so we paddled out there. My helmet stayed in the car. Last Tuesday was the second time this year I've gotten whiplash on a wipeout, and I'm convinced the helmet made it worse. So I'm going to reserve it for only the riskiest times and go back to wearing a hood.
Linda Mar was doing its usual closeouty thing with a few corners in the mix. The waves were shoulder high, give and take. As part of my ongoing coaching homework (and not a bad assignment), the other day I was watching a video of a pro-surfer girl, I don't remember who. Barry to told me to pay attention to the pros' hands, and I noticed that she wasn't exactly pointing in the direction she wanted to turn, but her hand was aimed that way and her arm/shoulder/upper body followed the motion. So this morning I tried to mimic that, to some success.

Manabu commented that I was getting a lot of waves, meaning, I suppose, more than he's used to seeing me take, and more than when we last surfed together over a month ago. I've no doubt that's due to the improvements I've made since I started working with a coach. My best wave was a left that I worked through two reforms all the way to the beach, staying mostly just in front of the peak, right where I wanted to be. It's so smooth and quiet on the face. Woot!
Sweeping the sea
I'm coming to realize that I need to make some mindset changes for surfing Santa Cruz with my coach, because the waves are different from those I typically surf. In San Mateo County, rides are generally short, and shoulders are fleeting or nonexistent. I've gotten used to taking the drop all the way to the bottom and then turning onto whatever brief shoulder might exist, or just bracing for whitewater impact to ride it out. When the drop is all there is, why not enjoy the thrill of dropping the full height of it? And often I've been too hungry to let any maybe makeable wave go by, even when I know there won't be much of a ride. But Santa Cruz has better waves, with long shoulders, and I need to switch my thinking to take advantage of them while being more selective. A sunset session later this week will be a good opportunity to try that out.

Surfline: NW-WNW (295-310+) swell drops as background southerly swell continues. Waist-shoulder high surf is common at decent exposures and combo breaks, while standout spots still hit head high on occasion. Southerly flow early leaves all but the S wind protected areas semi-bumpy this morning. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.6 ft at 10.0 s NW 73 / WIND WAVE: 1.6 ft at 5.6 s WNW / WVHT: 5.9 ft / APD: 8.0 s / MWD: 324 (Met) WSPD: 10 kts / GST: 12 kts / WVHT: 5.2 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / WDIR: 140° / ATMP: 57.9° F / WTMP: 56.1° F. Tide: less than 3' rising to 4'.

07 September 2011

Women Who Surf Mountains II

"I try never to be stopped by my fears." -Maya Gabeira 

Women are continuing to charge big waves alongside the boys. Keala Kennelly was freesurfing Teahupo'o on the weekend it was too big for the men's contest, and later paid her dues to the reef. Unfortunately the only video I can find is of a wipeout, though not the one on which she badly cut her face.

And check out this article on the inspiring Maya Gabeira, who was also tow-surfing Teahupo'o last week and had a couple close calls. She gets knocked down, but gets back up again and goes right back out.
Gabeira still remembers that day at Waimea, the first time she rode a truly big wave, one with a 25-foot face. "I was high for about 10 days afterward," she recalls. "I found my passion out there." But passion is a hungry thing; it has a way of making us crave, well, more passion. 
So true. I find mine on much smaller waves, but greatly admire the skill and courage of these women.

06 September 2011

Coaching: Need for Speed (Hook/Sharks)

This morning I felt like I was doing more than my typical share of wiping out, and I collected a ridiculous amount of the Pacific Ocean in my sinuses to show for it. Sniffle. Plus a touch of whiplash and a bruise on my upper thigh from landing on my rail. I was a bit off my game. The south swell hasn't faded out completely, and was sending occasionally head-high waves through at the Hook. Barry and I started there and I caught one of those but stuck the nose at the bottom of the drop. It wasn't crowded yet but one guy was spewing anti-aloha, so we paddled over to Sharks for a more positive vibe.

Today's tips:
  • Take a last look at the wave before going. It's good to commit, but be ready to un-commit at the final moment, for example if I'm too deep. Then back off without coming off of the board, to be ready sooner for the next wave. 
  • Generate more paddling speed into the wave and and be quicker on the pop-up, cutting a third- to half-second. This will help in catching the smaller waves instead of stalling. 
  • After popping up, make a fast mid-face turn for down-the-line speed, then turn up and down on the wave. 
I caught a few other middling waves but pulled off one good ride where I felt the speed, dropping in, making a fast backside turn before the bottom and rocketing along the face, though I didn't get in much in the way of up-and-down before the lip grabbed and flipped me. Fun! I can see the potential. Now for the practice.

Barry also noted that I was slightly left on my takeoff which I need to correct. I hadn't realized I was doing it and it's good to have a coach to point out stuff like that.

Surfline: SSW groundswell continues to slowly ease while mixing with a small amount of NW-WNW swell wrap. Average breaks top out around waist high while the better southern hemi exposures still see fun size sets in the waist-chest occ. shoulder-head high range. Expect some long lulls with the larger waves on the inconsistent side. Light winds early with patchy, dense fog. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.3 ft at 14.8 s SW 72 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.7 s NW / WVHT: 4.6 ft / APD: 7.0 s / MWD: 227° (Met) WSPD: 10 kts / GST: 12 kts / WVHT: 4.6 ft / DPD: 15.0 s / WDIR: 330° / ATMP: 52.0° F / WTMP: 55.8° F. Tide: 3.5' rising to 4'.

04 September 2011

Current (Bolinas)

I want to like Bolinas. It offers a left, goofy-foot nirvana in the NorCal land of rights. And the scenery is pretty, I'm sure beautiful if the clouds would lift.
Bolinas Lagoon
But I can't. As far as satisfying surf session go, Bolinas is 0-3 for me. It must be good sometimes, but I've never caught it on one of those days. And if I'm going to spend 3+ hours roundtrip driving to a spot that I'll share with shark food (there were two seals in the lineup this morning), it has to be worth it.
Current rushing seaward
Although Emily's a regular foot, she's from the East Coast and used to surfing backside, and Bolinas is one of her favorite spots. She enticed me north with the promise of long lefts and we met up at Coast Cafe before parking at the end of the road, noting that the current was rushing fast out of Bolinas Lagoon. We paddled out at the groin, and kept paddling. All. The. Time. After the current reached the ocean it turned sideshore, pushing away from the peak. If we stopped paddling, we quickly drifted too far onto the shoulder to have a prayer of catching anything, although Emily stood a better chance on her longboard. So we had to keep paddling. And I don't mean sit on the board and hand-paddle, I mean prone paddling at a slow and steady pace so as not to lose ground. If I wanted to get anywhere, say to the peak where I needed to be to catch the mushy waist- to chest-high waves, I had to paddle faster.
Finally I made it close enough to an inside peak to get a nice ride, pumping it through a flat section, after some roll-and-tumble while I was figuring out the wave. As Emily commented post-session and I'd already worked out through error and observation, it was necessary to take off pretty straight instead of angled, and then turn. The wave bent back on itself as it broke, kind of like a small and mushy Rachel's Point (which J-Bird said was awesome yesterday).
When Emily went in with noodle-arms, I was getting tired and frustrated, looking for my last wave. I made one last push toward the main peak and drew on reserves I didn't know I had to catch another decent left in. It sectioned and dumped me near shore yet not shallow enough to fight the current, which immediately started to push me out and down the beach, but I managed to jump onto whitewater from the next wave for an assist father in.

Colorful seawall graffiti
Clearly I need to work more on my conditioning and stamina, although I have asked a lot of myself this weekend. After yesterday's surf, Scott and I went on a long bike ride, and I'm not used to surfing two days in a row. At least I have over 4 months to get ready for Holly Beck's Suave Dulce surf retreat in Nicaragua. (Who knew just a week after writing this that Scott and I would have booked a week in January? So stoked!)

Surfline: A holding/slowly easing SSW groundswell continued to provide nice size southern hemi sets in the chest high to slightly overhead range at top south facing breaks on Sunday. Some small NW swell mix was in the background with 2-3'+ waves at exposures. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.2 ft at 16.0 s SSW 71 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 4.0 s WNW / WVHT: 5.2 ft / APD: 9.3 s / MWD: 208° (Met) WSPD: 4 kts / GST: 6 kts / WVHT: 5.2 ft / DPD: 16.0 s / WDIR: 190° / ATMP: 55.6° F / WTMP: 56.8° F. Tide: 2.5' falling to 2' (not the right tide, obviously).
View from the Coast trail: Accessing this surf spot north of Bolinas requires a steep descent down a high cliff

03 September 2011

My Cheeks Hurt (HMB Jetty)

...from smiling so much. I rode an awesome overhead left and am majorly stoked!

The south groundswell continues to pump out big waves, and I only had time for a local session this morning. Since Luke told me the sets were DOmyH (double-over-my-head) yesterday at the Jetty, I was feeling both anticipation and trepidation ahead of not-quite dawn patrol. I've never surfed waves that size.

There was a time when I was afraid to paddle out if the waves were head-high. Then I rode an overhead wave, rather by accident since I didn't realize it would be so big, and punched through that ceiling. Still, DOH is intimidating. But if you don't push your limits, you'll never push past them, so I was game to try. I wanted a buddy along for moral support and Luke was happy to oblige. Nikki joined us too. I was expecting to get worked, or stoked out of my gourd.

Luke and Nikki
My tiny butterflies calmed a bit after other friends reported the Jetty was only OH yesterday. The swell height and period had also dropped a little by this morning, and in fact the Jetty was just OH. As I watched Luke ride a couple big waves, fear battled with desire: I wanted those. The main peak had only one other guy on it, besides me and my two buddies, so I paddled into position when an opportunity arose. I'm not sure what happened on the first wave I caught, but I was ass-over-teakettle underwater to the inside. While the paddle out via a rip current had been pretty easy, my return to the lineup was not. To get out of Luke's way as he caught a wave, I had to paddle into the just-broken whitewater, going for another tumble and losing ground. Then I had to eat whitewater again for the other guy's ride, and got rolled far to the inside. I shifted over to the rip between the peaks and was almost out when a large closeout crashed in front of me. I ditched my board and dove down, but the wave caught and spun me every which way, holding me down long enough for the Relax! mantra to start playing in my head until I surfaced, gasping. I got worked.

I reacquired the lineup and launched into a big right, making a drop that was, I'm guessing, about 7 feet. Unfortunately I didn't make the turn fast enough and Luke was right in front of me. Trying to turn sharply, I tensed up and fell, launching my board at my buddy. Aah! No harm, thankfully. And at least I got a nice video of him on a wave.
I decided to try the second peak, which was sometimes spinning off lefts with shoulders. I saw one coming, paddled into position and caught it, and it was awesome! This time I turned mid-face, and then the stair-steps appeared: another drop - Woo! - and another - Woo HOO! I was perfectly trimmed and in the zone. I kicked out near the beach as the wave closed and paddled back to the lineup with such a big grin on my face that both Luke and the other guy were smiling and sharing in my stoke.

Conditions started to deteriorate, so Luke and I caught our last waves in. I rode a nice right, maybe only head-high, which oddly enough I don't remember well since the great left is still replaying in my mind. I got stoked out of my gourd! 

Surfline: Decent long-period SSW (200-210) Southern Hemi energy on tap this morning along with a mix of NW wind/groundswell. Expect inconsistent shoulder-overhead+ sets, with some decent peaks at the better combo breaks. Spots without a view of the SSW go smaller. Light WSW wind early adds some minor texture to the open areas. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.9 ft at 16.0 s SSW 70 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 4.0 s WNW / WVHT: 5.9 ft / APD: 8.2 s / MWD: 207° (Met) WSPD: 8 kts / GST: 10 kts / WVHT: 5.9 ft / DPD: 16.0 s / WDIR: 170° / ATMP: 54.3° F / WTMP: 55.8° F. Tide: Around 2.5'.

01 September 2011

Voices (Capitola)

"Put your wetsuit on! Hurry up!"
   -Small boy, running back to his dad after checking the surf

"The waves looked bigger in the dark." 
   -Early dawn patroller in the water

   -New surf buddy Forest, paddling to meet me in the lineup

"Got a perfect stand up barrel for like two seconds." 
   -Old surf buddy Dwayne, by email from SoCal

Apparently Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry hears God talking to him. The voice in my head this morning wasn't God; it was my surf coach. "Put it in high gear," when I was paddling to catch a wave. "See where the wave is going to break. Sometimes you have to head out toward it to be in the right position." And on my way back to the lineup, "paddle fast, to build strength."
There were only two guys out when I attached my leash on the beach just after dawn, but half a dozen arrived at the lineup on my heels, and the crowd continued to grow with the daylight. Still, it was less than I heard packed other Town spots. A south groundswell has just filled in, the same one that brought tow-sized waves to Teahupo'o and the largest waves in 10 years to Oahu's Ala Moana Bowls. It's being hyped as the swell of the summer, and so far it's living up to that.
Amidst some whitewatery rides where I couldn't get around a section, I nailed 3 or 4 solid shoulder-high rights with faces that held up to the inside, and almost made the drop on a 6-footer. I kept wanting to try the left off of the main peak which had a hotshort shortboarder on it (that'll be me one day), but every time I thought about paddling over there, I'd catch another right. Twice I'd just made it back to the lineup, with barely enough time to rid myself of the kelp trailing from my leash, before moving into position for the next wave. Forest got some nice rides on his longboard too. Stoked smiles all around!
Surfline: 3-5 ft, waist to head high occ. 6 ft, good conditions. Long period SSW (200-210) groundswell continues to fill in this morning as some small NW swell-wrap mixes in. Most of the better exposed breaks through the region are seeing surf in the chest-shoulder-head high+ range this morning, with sets up to a few feet overhead at top summer breaks. Winds are light for clean conditions as the tide bottoms out. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 10.2 ft at 21.1 s S 69 / WIND WAVE: 1.6 ft at 3.6 s WNW / WVHT: 10.2 ft / APD: 8.3 s / MWD: 190° (Met) WSPD: 2 kts / GST: 4 kts / WVHT: 10.2 ft / DPD: 21.0 s / WDIR: 210° / ATMP: 53.4° F / WTMP: 54.5° F / 06:50a PDT. Tide: Bottoming out around 1'.