28 January 2012

Bye-Bye Bikini, Hello Wetsuit (HMB Jetty)

I loved surfing lefts in a bikini last week in Nicaragua. Today it was back to rights in a wetsuit. Sigh. On the plus side, I didn't have to apply so much sunscreen, and my booties were actually dry when I pulled them on.

While we were far south enjoying the sun, a winter storm hit Nor Cal and tore out a lot of the sand at the Jetty, exposing more clay and rocks than I've ever seen there. But it built some nice sandbars.
Unlike the clean, single-swell waves of Nica, the waves at the Jetty were jumbled and shifty as usual. No matter, it was good to get wet again after a week out of the water.

Paddling out, I felt fat and encumbered by my 4/3 wetsuit after eight sessions in tropical water. There was already a sizable crowd come to play in the warm sunshine on a Saturday. A left was working on the second peak, and I caught a bunch of nice rides there. As a sluggish wave I was on sputtered to an end, I heard "nice one!" and saw Luke paddling up on his Harbour longboard.

We stayed on the left for a little while, but regular-foot Luke wanted to hunt down rights, so we moved over to the main peak, where he found some. We both paddled for one wave, which he caught, and I did my damndest to back off and keep my board from hitting him as it was pulled forward, but I felt the nose contact something. He rode on though, and when I followed him inside, said it had just tapped his shin. Thankfully, Rocket has a nose guard, which lost some of its tip keeping him from greater injury.

If you surf with me as much as Luke, and are very patient, eventually I'll get a good video of you surfing:

Luke says my serial monogamy with surfboards (currently all Rocket, all the time) costs me waves, and indeed he rode more than I (in part because he's also a better surfer). But it's not just about wave count for me; if I get a few decent rides, or on difficult days, maybe just one good one, I'm satisfied. I need to be challenged though, and riding a more technically demanding board like my 6'2" fulfills that. For me, it's more meaningful, more stokeful, to get a good ride on my shortboard than to get several on a board that requires less effort and precision.

On the main peak, I blew a couple of head-high drops and got rolled. The cold water seems to tire me more than the tropics, where I stayed out for three hours (though other surf campers were doing 5-hour marathon sessions). And when I get tired, I make more mistakes. I got another rolly left, staying on the face and negotiating a slew of moguls in to the beach. Then Luke announced he was going in after one more, which brought on a long lull (jinx!) before we caught our last waves. A fun session!

Surfline: WNW swell continues to fade this morning, but solid surf continues at the decent exposures. Expect head high to overhead waves with generally clean conditions thanks to light NE wind. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 7.5 ft at 12.9 s NW 11 / WIND WAVE: 3.0 ft at 5.6 s NW / WVHT: 7.9 ft / APD: 8.0 s / MWD: 318° (Met) WSPD: 16 kts / GST: 17 kts / WVHT: 8.9 ft / DPD: 13.0 s / WDIR: 40° / ATMP: 54.9° F / WTMP: 53.2° F. Tide: 3' rising near 4'.


  1. That's cool it's not about wave count, and you enjoy the challenge of your 6'2" in different conditions.

    Of course, a longer board doesn't have to be just about wave count. Nothing like watching someone who knows how to trim. Talk about technical mastery.

  2. The best way to really learn a board is to keep riding it in everything. I've pretty much ridden my 9'4 for 3 solid years, in everything I can. I know that board inside and out, which has helped serve as a base for learning other boards and for learning more advanced moves. Sure, someone could argue that I wouldn't have taken beatings as bad if I were on a shortboard when it's HH, but the board is reliable and I'm confident on it. Each beatdown is another lesson.

    I'm trying to learn a 7'0 (mini log) and a 7'4 (shortboard shape.) I consider those low wavecount days to be practice. Each semi-skunked or 2 wave day is one more day of me finding center, building paddling muscles, and feeling out where I need to sit.

    When I've mastered a handful of boards, then I can start thinking about wavecount or which board is the right board for the job. Honestly tho, I'd rather be able to have fun with what I've got more than spend my session filling out a mental spreadsheet.

    Good luck on that 6'2!

    1. Thanks, Tracey! I think I can ride the 6'2" in pretty much everything, except for the really small mushy days. At least I'm going to try. And fun is the ultimate goal!