15 July 2012

My First Surf Contest (Linda Mar)

The contest was held on bigger waves toward the north end
Ready to surf (by J-Bird)
Arriving early, I got the low-down from the organizer, then warmed up on a few waves next to the contest peak. I didn't want to tire myself out; I just wanted to ride something before the pressure was on. J-Bird and Jacob arrived to root for me.

I shook hands with my competitors before we paddled out for our 20-minute heat. The other girls were half my age and riding shortboards, while I was on my 7'0" Emm. I told them with a friendly smile, "This is my first contest and I'm not very good, so don't worry about me." 

Seconds after the horn sounded the start of the first heat, I caught a beautiful long shoulder-high left. They must have wondered if I was faking them out. 
Heading out for the first heat
Taking off just after the horn at the start
Going left in the first heat (photo by J-Bird)
I rode several more waves, all decent but none as good as the first, coming in 3rd out of 4. I was feeling pretty good about my performance in the first heat. Smiling J-Bird greeted me on the beach with "High five, good hand!" (I'm still wearing a splint on my right wrist, and started physical therapy last week.) 
Stoked! With J-Bird after my first heat
After two men's heats, the bottom three of us would face off in a semi-final, including the girl who'd joined the first heat late.

Conditions and I fell apart in the second heat. As I started to paddle out behind the two shortboarders, I realized I was already tired. The side/onshore breeze was now a wind that flipped my board over whenever it could, closeouts were more numerous, and the surface was lumpy. This time, it took a little longer than the 5 minutes allowed for me to make it outside. I got a few short rides amidst wipeout mistakes but was derailed by moguls on my one left that could have been good. It didn't help that non-contestants were infiltrating our peak, or that the guys in the next heat paddled out too early and started catching waves before ours was over. I snagged another meh wave and came in, with two minutes left on the heat timer on my tide watch.

I don't like most photos of myself surfing but they are instructive (by J-Bird)
I'm glad of the experience, and if I compete again, I'll know what to expect and what to do differently. Between heats, I'd keep warm in my Surf-Fur and power back up with something more than two bites of a Clif Bar and a few sips of water. It was a lot more work surfing in this contest than free-surfing, because there was no rest; paddle out the lineup as fast as possible, through short-period whitewater and against a current pushing away from the peak, ride a wave, and do it again. I'd also train for the format ahead of time, and make sure to get all the way back outside before I started looking for more waves. And of course, I need to be ripping on a real shortboard to be on par with the other contestants. If I compete again, I want it to be with an expectation of potentially winning.

Will I compete again? The jury's still out on that. I didn't like the way I felt beforehand: butterflies in my stomach all morning that got a'flapping like mad when the coast came into view. And I'm not keen on the competitive atmosphere, which detracts from the pure joy of riding waves. But I'm pleased with myself that I did it, instead of bailing and declaring my entry fee was merely another donation to Surfrider. I'm also glad that I surfed respectably, at least in the first heat. My wave at the start got me stoked. And it was validating to have been judged to surf better than one other person, at least for 20 minutes. So, maybe... Time will tell.

J-Bird also live-tweeted today's contest (read from bottom up):

Linda Mar is possibly the worst place to have a surf contest. 1:Crowded 2:Windy 3:Close outs
3rd place in the 2nd heat and 4th place in the contest.Great job on your first !!!!!!
 LOL. I should have said wicked windy - even more east coast :)
 takes a short left and paddles back into the line up.
 just watching  I am getting competitive yelling on the beach! Haha!
 I have vowed not to do surf completions...I only surf for fun. I get waaaay too competitive and then it won't be fun for me
Wind and waves are out of control! Paddle out much harder for the surfers. No waves caught yet. 
 yep! 3 heats for the woman...if she gets 1st or 2nd she will go into the final round.
 except that non-competitors keep on surfing in the surf zone, the waves a super closed out and wind is out of control
Results are in for the first heat:  gets 3rd place out of 4 competitors! wooooot!
They added two more heats to the woman's contest since there is an extra woman competitor that arrived late. 
Red competitor gets some nice turns on a left shoulder
 takes another wave...smaller reformed wave.
Another woman competitor enters the water! Ohh the suspense!
Annnnnd  gets the first wave of the heat! A long clean shoulder high left!
My award, a yard sign (?)
Sponsored by Birdswell
Surfline: Onshore wind out of the West-SW with some texture and crumble to the surface. Rideable, but really not all that workable or much fun. It's mainly NW windswell now with some minor Southerly energy in the mix for 2-3' waves and a few + sets. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 8.3 s NW 54 / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 4.8 s WNW / WVHT: 5.3 ft / APD: 6.4 s / MWD: 324° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 12 kn / WVHT: 5.3 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 170° / ATMP: 55° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: Just over 3', falling slightly.


  1. AnonymousJuly 15, 2012

    Congrats Cynthia, at least you tried! Every contest is run differently, so don't let this ones results dissuade you from others.

    Never Give Up, Makai

    1. The results don't dissuade me at all. The other surfers were better than me, so I expected to come in last - although I'm stoked to have been judged 3rd of 4 in the first heat. It's just that I'm not sure I like competing in general.

  2. Michael RJuly 16, 2012

    Glad you got a few minutes of fun at the start!

    1. It was more than just a few minutes - I was happy with the whole first heat.