30 August 2012

Salted Magazine: A Review

Women's surf magazines have not had an easy time, briefly burning bright and then disappearing. Some tried to broaden their appeal by focusing on topics with no relevance to surfing (and no interest to me), like fashion and makeup. But none lasted long in the U.S. and for years we've had only the sporadically-published online Jetty Girl.

Sadly, mainstream surf magazines give almost no consideration to female surfers, unless they're doing a frontside bottom turn in an itsy-bitsy bikini.

When Surfer Magazine announced the upcoming release of a women's surf mag, I was cautiously optimistic. The day Salted: A Surf Magazine for Women hit newstands, I stopped by a bookstore to pick up a copy. I was not disappointed. In fact, it exceeded my low expectations by a lot.

Glossy and uncluttered by the ubiquitous ads of Surfer itself, Salted seems to aspire to the format of The Surfer's Journal or Surfer's Path. There are plenty of photos of girls in bikinis, but many are actual surfing scenes, and they are generally tasteful rather than prurient (for example, there are no headless body shots). Although Laura Enever talks about her favorite foundation and a handful of pages near the back highlight terrestrial clothing, the main focus is on surfing.
Can it be? A woman surfing in a wetsuit!
There is even a full article on Canada's best female surfer, Leah Oke, who most definitely does not go out at her home break in a bikini.

It's not clear to me what Surfer has planned for its new women's surf magazine. I can't find any way to subscribe or information about when the next issue will be released. But I'm looking forward to seeing more of Salted.

29 August 2012

Three Feet Shorter (Linda Mar)

Yesterday I rode my 8'3" hybrid longboard, Magic. Just for grins, today I lopped off about three feet and rode my 5'4" fish, Nemo. It's 3" thick, 21" wide at the center and 16" at the nose and tail. I've got it in a tri-fin setup, for now.

It took me until the third wave to get my feet on the board, and until the fifth to position them correctly to get a ride without stalling. Clearly I need to wax farther forward on the board, since my front foot wants to be over the logo which is only half covered. It took effort to overcome a mental block about landing it there, and I did better when I didn't look at the board while popping up.
Eventually I caught a green wave and made the drop into a brief ride. I count that as a success - I went from total kook to semi-kook in just one hour!
So here's my surfcation goal (besides finding a new job): To get competent on the fish. I've had it for years but wasn't capable of riding it, until now. If new opportunities take me to SoCal, I'll want Nemo as an active part of my quiver.

Surfline: Knee to waist high [with plus sets], poor to fair conditions. Nothing great, but there are semi-consistent and rideable lines working through with smooth surface conditions and some occasional plus sets. Just looks a little on the weak/gutless side overall. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 6.2 s WNW 68 / WIND WAVE: 2.3 ft at 4.2 s NW / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 5.4 s / MWD: 301° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 14 kn / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 6.0 s / ATMP: 54° F / WTMP: 55° F / 09:50a PDT. Tide: 4.5' rising to 5' high.

28 August 2012

Countless (Linda Mar)

With the tide almost 5' high at 10am and windiness forecast as the day progressed, I'd hoped to meet Luke, J-Bird and Beanstalk at 7 for the best conditions. But poor stress-addled sleep kept me up during the night, then made me sleep in until almost the appointed time. So instead I joined Karen for the second shift in the late morning. Thankfully, the forecast was wrong, and winds were still calm. Indeed, it was a gorgeous sunny summer day at the beach.
The waves, however, were not terribly gorgeous, yet offered tiny shoulders before they flopped onto the sand. On J-Bird's advice, I'd brought my 8'3" Magic, and got countless little rides, although I think I would've done OK on my 7'0" Emm with perhaps less occasional pearling.

On one sectiony wave, I took off left, and Karen took off right. Trouble was, this put us on a collision course. Un/luckily, my hand prevented our boards from colliding. There are times when I'm glad the water is cold and provides natural immediate icing.
Partway through the session, a nearby dude asked if I had the time, to which I replied, "I'm unemployed. I don't know what time it is." No need to worry about the temporal parameters - just surfin'!

Surfline: Ankle to knee high occ. 3 ft, poor to fair conditions. Clean, soft, broken up little lines working through this morning as the tide fills in. Minor combo of small NW swell-mix and trace Southern Hemi swell prevails this morning. Most breaks are topping out in the waist high zone, with a few rare better sets to about chest high for top exposure as the tide fills in this morning. Looking slow, but there are a few rideable ends. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 2.6 ft at 9.1 s WNW 67 / WIND WAVE: 3.0 ft at 5.3 s NW / WVHT: 3.9 ft / APD: 5.3 s / MWD: 298° (Met) WSPD: 14 kn / GST: 16 kn / WVHT: 3.9 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / ATMP: 56° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: Almost 5' falling below 4'.

25 August 2012

Something New (Rockaway)

A late morning surf session was planned with my fluid surf posse. In this summer of the wave quest, usually J-Bird checks the northern end of San Mateo County, while I eyeball farther south in Half Moon Bay. Today the duty of inspecting the northern realm fell to Heather, since J-Bird is on camping trip with Beanstalk. (That's Jacob's new surfer nickname, bestowed after he referred to me in this talk as "very short. And vegan." And a surf addict. Only the last two are true.) When Heather decided to rest her injured ankle another week, I delegated the southern patrol to Luke and checked the north myself. First stop was Rockaway. I've never surfed there, having been put off by my former surfing buddy Dwayne's singular experience. He paddled out on a particularly polluted day and ended up snorting a feather from his nose afterwards, as well as developing a nasty rash on his face. But that was years ago, and some of my friends have said good things about the place lately. At the least, it's much less crowded than neighboring Linda Mar.
There was no one out when I arrived, but two surfers were about to hit the water. The breeze was onshore yet the surf looked pretty clean; definitely doable. I was up for something new, and not in the mood for searching. Then I saw a dolphin! That clinched it. I texted Luke for the southern report but got crickets, so I told everyone to come to Rockaway and suited up. Just as I leaned over to pick up my board after locking the car, Karen pulled into the lot. After we chatted, I headed to the far south end of the beach and paddled out. The crowd had grown to about 7 by then, including some shortboarders intent on getting to the pole position on every wave. I got caught inside of some sets and caught a couple of punchy waves from the whitewater, just happy to get out of my head for a little while and ride something. The paddle back out wasn't easy, with short-period waves smashing into me in a steady train, but I was glad of them also since they made it easier to be in the moment.
I made my way eventually to the north side of the pack, hoping for some lefts. I wasn't getting into them, and saw Perrin waving from the south side, so I stroked back over there to find her, Luke and Karen. I looked in vain for BD, who it turned out was operating on Hawaiian time and missed us.
Karen, Perrin, and Luke
It was good just to be in the ocean after the stress and turmoil of the last few days, so I didn't really care that I was playing in the whitewater and wasn't getting any green rides on Rocket. Still, I was totally stoked when I launched into a shoulder-high left, hooting the drop and bouncing over a bunch of moguls for a fun ride all the way in near the breakwall. A bit later, Perrin rode a really nice right on one of Luke's boards.
Karen with Luke (your surfer hair looks fine!)
Back in the lot, a couple parked nearby and the woman walked up to ask "Are you Surfergrrrl?" She said she follows this blog and recognized me. Ha! Sometimes I forget people actually read my little wave journal. But it's always nice to meet a fan.

Karen wasn't feeling well and headed home, while the rest of us decamped to the Surf Spot for lunch. (The corn chowder is yummy!) Good friends, good surf, and good food make for a fun Saturday.

Surfline: NW windswell tops out as small Southern Hemi swell mixes in. Winds are onshore from the SSW to SW so most openly exposed spots are bumpy with waves in the 3-5' range. Top breaks see some head high+ sets. Breaks that can handle the SSW winds offer the cleanest conditions. Buoy 46026 (46012 still down): (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 9.1 s NW 66 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.7 s W / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 6.7 s / MWD: 305° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 4 kn / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / ATMP: 51° F / WTMP: 54° F. Tide: 3.5' falling slightly to 3'.

23 August 2012

Out of the Blue and Into the Blue (Linda Mar)

Like a lightning bolt from a clear blue sky, yesterday I was laid off without warning in a mass firing from the company where I've worked for more than six years, replaced by someone younger and cheaper.
While I'm still in a bit of shock at the loss of what was my best job ever, the silver lining is that I now have more time to spend in the deep blue sea. For the next 60 days, I'll get my regular salary but am forbidden from showing up to work. So in a sense, I'm now being paid to surf.

Poor sleep made me miss almost-dawn patrol with Luke and J-Bird, and by the time I pulled myself together, the wind had come up a lot at Linda Mar. I walked toward the far south believing that the hill would block more of the breeze, but the sand was blowing at that end too. No matter; I needed to take the saltwater cure. (The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea. -Isak Dinesen)
I found an emptyish peak that had potential and paddled out. I caught a couple of fun chesties, going left with the wind, not caring much that they closed out quickly. It was good to wash off the tension of the last day, at least for a little while. Another woman on the peak got to chatting with me, relating that she'd mostly surfed warm water spots around the world (lucky!) and had only just recently decided to don a wetsuit. Karen hadn't surfed Linda Mar before so she'd followed me out. I gave her a little rundown on the break and enjoyed her cheery company during the lulls. When I mentioned my still-stinging layoff, she said, "Good for you, getting right out here to surf!" And it was good, for Lindy; I found some fun waves on my 7'0" Emm. And a new surfing buddy too.
When you see this, it's time to head in.
C'ya soon, Mother Ocean. Thanks for the surf.
When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so regretfully on the closed door that we don't see the one that has opened. -Alexander Graham Bell (via Karen
Surfline: Ankle to waist high [wrong - it was bigger], poor conditions. A bit more size with rising NW windswell. Small Southern Hemi swell blend is also occasionally mixing in. Winds are onshore from the SW to West so most spots are bumpy with weak waves in the 3-4'+ range at best. Buoy 46026 (46012 is still down): (Wave) SWELL: 4.9 ft at 9.1 s NW 65 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.4 s W / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 6.8 s / MWD: 305° (Met) WSPD: 6 kn / GST: 8 kn / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 53° F. Tide: 3' rising to 3.5'.

19 August 2012

Do You Believe in Magic? (Linda Mar)

The forecast for this weekend was dismal: inconsistent and small south groundswell, with little northwest windswell remaining. The groundswells of summer have been aimed too southerly to bring us much joy in NorCal. Windy spring slop has morphed into weak summer slop, and has me wishing for fall already.

It was with such low expectations of a mere maintenance session that I arrived in Pacifica this morning. I'd packed my handplane, just in case the surf was unsurfable standing up. As I changed without bothering to check the waves, I thought that the drizzle falling from low gray clouds well suited my mood. With 1-2'+ reported, I'd brought my 8'3" Magic. I wasn't going to hunt for better surf, perhaps something to ride on my shortboard; I was giving in to the lackluster conditions of this disappointing summer.
Sometimes low expectations are a good thing. And it always helps to have Magic.

I kooked up my first couple of waves, getting re-used to the extra 2 feet of length on my board. But when I dialed in on Magic, I got a nice long left. The waves were indeed small, yet they sported shoulders more often than not. I shared a peak near the north end with a guy riding a finless soft-top with a wide square tail. He said he'd bought it for his kid before taking it over himself; he related that it slid out easily and took some getting used to, but I saw him get some good rides.
This being Linda Mar on a weekend, other surfers soon joined us, including the clueless beginners who annoyingly park just inside, right in the takeoff zone. Luckily there was a southward drift, so I kept leaving the pack by paddling north to stay on the peak. I got a bunch of long waist-high lefts and one decent right. When the crowd got too much, I moved to a funky-looking empty peak just north, and rode a fun left to the inside. After paddling toward the horizon for several minutes with short-period whitewater constantly splashing me in the face, I got knocked off my board by a more energetic little wave and was surprised when my feet touched sand. Looking behind, I found I'd been pushed to not 30 feet off the beach. Crap! Back to the rip for me. Just a short distance south, I felt the outward tug, and almost didn't need to paddle to get to the outside.
I surfed my original peak and one even farther south with fewer people on it. Coming off of low expectations, I had a lot of fun on the longboard, although it is significantly harder to steer than my responsive little Rocket. I hope to take Rocket for a spin on some windswell later this week.
Surfline: Poor conditions. Real small-scale and weak with waves running waist high and under. Inconsistent South(175-190) groundswell continues as old WNW swell fades and small NW windswell blends in. Waist high and under is generally the story, while select exposures see slightly better sets on occasion. Onshore Westerly wind early. Buoy 46026 (46012 is down): (Wave) SWELL: 2.0 ft at 16.0 s SW 64 / WIND WAVE: 3.3 ft at 5.9 s NW / WVHT: 3.9 ft / APD: 4.5 s / MWD: 313° (Met) WSPD: 16 kn / GST: 17 kn / WVHT: 3.9 ft / DPD: 6.0 s / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 54° F. Tide: 2' rising to 4'.

14 August 2012

Too Polite (Linda Mar)

On a solitary hunt this morning, I found Kelly too fogged in for a comfortable solo surf, as well as breaking too near shore and not looking very rideable. The Jetty was lake-like as I drove past. Montara looked workable but too desolate without a buddy, so I drove on. This time, I remembered Rockaway, but alas, it had no waves to ride, just dribblers flopping over lethargically. And I was running out of time to surf before work. Sigh.
Foggy shorebreak at Kelly
Back at Linda Mar with low expectations, I paddled out via a rip north of the pump house to a peak which had one guy on it before I suited up and now held five. Two were beginners on longboards, stoked to be catching anything. One even hooted me into a waist-high wave. The surf was mostly weak without much length of ride, and the crowd continued to swell. I clocked some cumulative upright time on my shortboard, working a bunch of short wimpy lefts that fell apart over a deeper section partway to shore.
Linda Mar, last resort
Heading back out after one of the mushballs ended, I decided to try a more northern peak to the right of the rip instead of the left. With a handful of young male shortboarders on it, the vibe was palpably more tense. I sat at the edge of the group until one of them paddled around me. After a few minutes, I was in right spot to catch a nice shoulder-high left right at the peak. Pop-up and drop - woo! - and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw that shortboarder approaching fast from behind. Instinctively I got off the wave and let him have it. In retrospect, I should've held my ground; he was trying to come around the whitewater while I was in the pocket. It was my wave, and I ought to have claimed it and taken the ride. So many things in surfing happen fast, and my first thought is to get out of the way, lest I violate etiquette. But some people, especially the aggros who seem to make up an unfortunate share of shortboarders, will take what they don't deserve if you let them. I need to learn to surf more aggressively - or shall I say, assertively. Then I won't have to mourn the wave that got away. Still, as Darren tweeted, I started "the day at the beach, instead of on a 730am conf call! #dontworrybehappy" Amen to that.

Surfline: Knee to chest high, poor-fair conditions. Lightly textured/mostly clean lines with workable sections in the mix. Modest blend of SSW groundswell and NW windswell prevails this morning with slow 2-3'+ waves at better spots. Standouts hit chest-shoulder high on sets. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 9.1 s NW 63 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 3.3 s WNW / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 7.0 s / MWD: 307° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 6 kn / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 200° / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: 2' rising to 3'.

12 August 2012

Frustration to Fun (Montara)

Yet another hyped-up south swell fizzled down to small longboard waves by the time it arrived. Will we ever see a decent-sized groundswell from the south? Summer's not over yet, but time is running out. I'm itching to surf the Lonely Coast and still hopeful for another day like this.

Instead of fighting the masses for inconsistent high-tide waves in Santa Cruz, I hunted windswell again on the San Mateo County coast with a few friends. It was shaping up much like last weekend, with lighter crowds. I saw Kelly in person and it was my first choice, yet I drove north to check the more protected beaches since J-Bird and Jacob had beginners with them.
Luke said Dunes was closing out near shore and at Venice I saw much of the same.
I started to change in the lot at Venice while waiting for Luke's report on Montara, ready to drive either there or back to Kelly. Both he and J-Bird said Montara looked pretty decent. I feared a reprisal of last Sunday, but they asserted the crowd was fairly low. Taking a chance on it, I drove north to join Luke while J-Bird and Jacob looked for somewhere more noob-friendly.
After an almost dry-hair paddle out via a rip during a lull, I sat at the edge of the pack and got no joy for a frustratingly long time. The waves either wouldn't break or would close out hard, and I was being selective so as not to get slammed by a head-high lip. Still, one closeout wouldn't let me go when I tried to back off, and as I fell, Rocket swung around to undercut me in the chin. Oww. The cold water was clear, and twice under my board I saw a kelp-colored jellyfish. Wanting only to move away quickly and carefully from those dangling tentacles, I didn't take a photo, but I think they were Pacific sea nettles.
Paddling to the next empty peak did not improve my situation; I could not find a shoulder. I toyed with the idea of wrapping up in my waterproof Surf-fur and driving back to Kelly, and moved into the pack to chat with Luke about my so-far skunking. That put me inside of a set, and wanting to ride something, anything, I turned and caught unridden roiling whitewater into a smaller reform. It felt good to get to my feet and I took another, even enjoying being tumbled by the ocean as I made my way out again to give Montara another chance.
At long last I was in the right place at the right time, and caught a nice right with a fun drop. Yeah! I shuffled my feet forward a little to trim properly and got in a few small turns as I took the wave all the way to the beach, dropping off flat just before the nearshore trench ended in the shallows. Woot!

When I tried to make my way back out at the same spot, the short-period breakers were impeding much progress. I saw Luke on the beach, and got out to say bye and find an easier path, but then decided to end the session on a high note, content in the stoke of one good wave.

Surfline: Short-period NW windswell blends with SSW (180-205) Southern Hemi swell for peaky waist-chest high waves at exposed areas. Light West-SW wind this morning for some minor bump and crumble at the exposed areas. Buoy 46012:(Wave) SWELL: 4.3 ft at 9.1 s NW 62 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 4.0 s WNW / WVHT: 4.6 ft / APD: 6.8 s / MWD: 307° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 6 kn / WVHT: 4.6 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / WDIR: 300° / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 53° F. Tide: 4' falling slightly.

09 August 2012

Ahhh! Wooo! (Dunes)

Several bunnies hopped away into the bushes as I walked down the closed park road to check the surf at Dunes. It was clean and glassy though mixed up and inconsistent. Hey, we're stuck in the summer doldrums, so I'll take it.
J-Bird and Jacob turned up as I locked my car, having found nothing better in the northern realm. I paddled out alone and caught a few closeouts, one giving me a micro-ride, before J-Bird and later Jacob joined me. The waves were breaking shallow, and on my first wipeout, my back hit the sand bottom as I somersaulted underwater. We chased peaks to the south, and many an "Ahhh!" was heard as we missed weak waves that wouldn't pick us up. Then Jacob got a few nice rides, and "Wooo!" was the word as he zipped past.
The water was colder than Sunday - only 53°F (12°C) according to the strip thermometer on the bottom of my shortboard - and I was soon cold in my leaky 4/3 Rip Curl Insulator. It's time for that suit to go to the back of the closet as a backup, just in case my Xcel's in for repairs.

The southern peak wasn't happening for me; it had a funky shape, often breaking in a wide choppy patch. We paddled back north to the first peak, where I waited for my last wave, shivering. Jacob saw a splash in the near distance - What was that? - and then several dolphins were outside of us, the closest about 25' from J-Bird. Sweet. Plus one on the surf session for dolphins.
Where's Bunny?
At last my buddies hooted me into a nice left and I made the pop-up and drop, but my frozen legs wouldn't lift me to standing from a too-low crouch. On the beach, I felt almost numb from my knees down and my arms were slush ending in ungloved popsicle hands. Doused in hot water from my jug, dried off and wrapped in my thick Surf-fur, car seat heater on max, and it still took a little while for the shivering to stop. What month is this again?!

Surfline: Weak, crumbly/bumpy windswell is showing this morning with some onshore wind. Surf quality is generally low. NW windswell is the main source for surf so expect jumbled up waist-chest zone waves at good exposures. Standouts see some plus waves/peaks to around shoulder high+, especially in the afternoon. Minor Southern hemi swell mixes in with occasional 1-2' sets. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 2.3 ft at 14.8 s WSW 61 / WIND WAVE: 8.2 ft at 9.1 s NW / WVHT: 8.5 ft / APD: 6.3 s / MWD: 322° (Met) WSPD: 19 kn / GST: 23 kn / WVHT: 8.5 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / WDIR: 320° / ATMP: 54° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: Just over 3' high falling slightly.

05 August 2012

Nose Job (Montara)

After the tide had risen from its early low, I surf-checked Kelly first. I would've stayed there if I wasn't meeting Luke, who was getting off to a slow start. Since there were twenty surfers out already, he suggested Dunes.
Sadly, there were no waves at Dunes, just a wedding party. I thought I saw something promising up the beach at Roosevelt, but on closer inspection, there were dolphins way outside but the marginally-rideable peak was breaking rarely. Luke caught up with me there and although I wanted to go back to Kelly, he had forgotten his state park pass, so I agreed to drive north to Montara.
Crazy Canadian, going sleeveless
Montara was less clean and more crowded than Kelly. I'd brought both my 6'2" Rocket and, just in case, my 7'0" Emm. Looking at the surf, Luke offered his 8'3", but I declined in favor of Emm. After we suited up, I followed Luke into the heart of the pack and watched him ride a number of waves on his Harbour. I saw a lot of folks getting nice rides, but all I managed to catch was one from whitewater, and I was getting frustrated. It's hard enough for me to be in the right spot with the right timing without fighting a horde for position. A hotshot janitor took off on an outside wave and didn't cut me any slack though he could've turned around me, instead enforcing the rule of etiquette that sent me to the whitewater to stay out of his way. He sprayed me in the face just before I got sucked over the falls into a holddown that left me kicking to the surface to gasp gratefully for air.

Back in the lineup, I'd had enough. Find your own place, I thought. I paddled to the north edge of the crowd and then a little beyond, to where I saw a peak with only a few guys on it. A shortboarder nearby was the closeout king, making seemingly-impossible drops on inside smashers and zipping along the roiling whitewash. One of the other guys caught a long head-high left, raising both arms in the air and hooting loudly at the end or his ride. The dude was super-stoked, and I congratulated him as he paddled past, wishing for a wave like that for myself. Eventually I caught a left and then another, sticking the nose on the drop each time. Dammit! It wasn't just the board - there was also some failure of technique: not angling enough, not turning fast, not keeping my weight back, etc. - but I knew a quick way to get rid of some of that extra nose length that was tripping me up.  
Back at the car, I pushed Emm into the boardbag and pulled out Rocket. As I was waxing up, Luke reached the lot and told me he'd just caught one of his best lefts ever, "right at that spot where you were sitting!" Kind of like saying, "When you went to the bathroom, I played your slot machine and won the jackpot!" I hoped for it to pay off for me too and headed back to the beach with my shortboard under my arm, past a guy speaking French who was going full Monty while putting on his wetsuit. From the moment I tucked Rocket under me to paddle out, it felt so much lighter than the other boards. Although the tide was rising and my spot was inconsistent, at last I caught a right and made the drop and ride. Yes! The shoulder was short but success was sweet. While I should've gone in on that nice wave, of course I immediately wanted another. When it came, I made the drop but perhaps didn't stay low enough; in any event, the board blew out from under me and I fell backward, getting a mild ocean enema. By then I was feeling chilled and tired after nearly two hours of water time, so I gave in and rode whitewater to shore. 

So glad that Rocket came through for me. I need to stop seeing other boards and stick with my shortie.

Surfline: SW (200-220) swell fades as small NW windswell blends in. Knee-waist high waves show with better chest high sets at top exposures. Light onshore Westerly wind early. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 3.6 ft at 8.3 s NW 60 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 3.2 s WNW / WVHT: 3.6 ft / APD: 7.1 s / MWD: 319° (Met) WSPD: 2 kn / GST: 4 kn / WVHT: 3.6 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / WDIR: 170° / ATMP: 57° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: 2' rising to 4'.

03 August 2012

Face Time (Cowells)

Courtney at the US Open
At the US Open of Surfing a couple of days ago, a women's heat was held in surf so marginal it prompted even one of the insipid commentators to wonder, "Do you think they'd still be running the men's if conditions were like this?" Long lulls were causing restarts, and the small waves that did come through made the women do the famed Huntington Hop over the deep spot when trying to connect to the inside. There was a notable exception, Courtney Conlogue. (I follow her with particular interest because she's the one pro with whom I may actually get to have a conversation one day, as she's the daughter of a former co-worker's good friend. That's only three degrees of separation!) Rather than doing the hop, Courtney said she tries to weave over the swampy section. "Hopping is sloppy!"

I'm not always effective at hopping, or pumping, on a surfboard, and am even worse at its analog, tic-tacing on a skateboard. At Cowells this morning, I had the opportunity to instead try weaving rail-to-rail, as best I understand it.
We've been on a starvation diet of mostly sloppy short-period windswell for what seems like forever, and I was really hungry for some decent waves. Once again, a hyped south swell turned out to be smaller and more inconsistent then the initial hope-raising forecast, but better half a loaf than none. I drove in the dark to Westside Santa Cruz to meet the negative low tide at the break that loves it best, Cowells.
There was already at least one janitor in the water when I peered into the almost-dark from the top of the stairs, and by the time I paddled out in dim light, ten surfers were in the lineup. Over the course of an hour, the crowd swelled to more than several dozen, and kept on growing.
I kooked up my first couple of waves as I got used to the extra board under me; from my 6'2" and 7'0" to my 8'3" Magic took some adjustment. Soon I was mostly dialed in and enjoying little knee-high waves, especially as the rides could be measured in fractions of minutes instead of the scant seconds I've been afforded in recent sessions. With all of that face time, I could think about things: moving my feet to maintain trim, keeping my torso parallel to the stringer, and getting across the flats to the inner reform. When I found myself pumping, I switched to weaving, moving rail-to-rail to keep speed. A few times, I made it work. Certainly weaving is more graceful than hopping. Now I need to translate that to my shorter boards.
The crowd got quite ridiculous by the end, with a couple of surf schools adding chaos. I'd worn my helmet for the first time in many months, but what I really needed was body armor. Midway through the session, I was struck on the upper arm fending of the soft-top of little Dennis the Menance (I wasn't his only victim). Later, as I sat in the middle of the pack, six surfers party-waved from the outside, and the middle two were close together and looking at each other as they rode straight toward me. There was nowhere for me to go. I yelled "Heads up!" and they split to either side, the girl's board whacking my hand (the good one). She was apologetic, but damn! And oww! (On reading this, John gave me my new surfer nickname: "Timex. Takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'!")
Clearly it was time to go, and the rising tide was taking the shine off the break anyway. I rode a couple more insiders away from the bulk of the pack, getting a fine one in, working the weave to the inside and pulling off near the base of the stairs.
The waves were little but, oh! The number and length of rides made it so worth it. Small stoke!

Surfline: Ankle to waist high, fair conditions. Clean, fun little low tide lines on the inconsistent side. This morning there's more SW (215-200) groundswell moving in, for 2-3-4' waves at well exposed spots and some head+ high sets at standout breaks. Areas without the good southerly exposure are much weaker. Negative low tide shortly before sunrise has shape on the drained side. Tide push helps. Light/variable winds early for clean conditions. Buoy 46012: (Wave) SWELL: 5.6 ft at 8.3 s NW 59 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.8 s WNW / WVHT: 5.6 ft / APD: 6.4 s / MWD: 309° (Met) WSPD: 6 kn / GST: 8 kn / WVHT: 5.6 ft / DPD: 7.0 s / WDIR: 290° / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 53° F. Tide: -0.5' rising over 1'.