30 September 2012

Beautiful Bookends (HMB Jetty)

When I got to the Jetty not too early this morning, there were already 20 surfers on the main peak (swelling to 30 by the time I left), with good reason.
I didn't want to fight for waves, so chose the less-popular and slightly smaller second peak instead. After a well-timed dry-hair paddle out, I chatted with one of the two guys nearby for a couple minutes before a head-high left swung to me and I got my wave of the day. Woot! Back in the lineup, the same guy said "That was a nice one!" Grinning, I replied that it was a great way to start the session. 
My last wave was a head-high right that was almost as good as that first left, and I took it all the way to the shallows. In between those beautiful bookends were mostly closeouts or short sections with a few memorable moments. On a shoulder-high left, I dragged my hand in the whitewater to hold the frontside turn down the line. And I was stoked to land a 4' drop on a closeout, coming down with the lip and riding it out.
I wanted to give Rocket a great big hug when we left the water and was smiling from ear to ear. Woo hoo!

Surfline: WNW (295-310) groundswell continues to move in, blending with fun-sized SW (200-220) Southern Hemi swell. Good exposures run head high+ to several feet overhead, while standout breaks see larger sets as we move through the day and the WNW'er fills in further. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 6.9 ft at 13.8 s W 82 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 4.0 s WNW / WVHT: 6.9 ft / APD: 9.5 s / MWD: 278°  (Met) WSPD: 2 kn / GST: 4 kn / WVHT: 6.9 ft / DPD: 14.0 s / ATMP: 49° F / WTMP: 54° F. Tide: 4' rising to 5'.

27 September 2012

Crowdfunding the World Tour

The 2012 ASP Women's World Championship Tour ended in August, four months ahead of the Men's. Paige Hareb from New Zealand finished the year ranked 10th, and in late September, she started to raise money for her 2013 bid using a novel approach. With a video posted on a new Kickstarter variant called Sportfunder, the best female goofyfooter makes a plea for grassroots support from her fans:
As with most Kickstarter projects, you get a little something if you donate or pledge - from email updates or t-shirts to personal surf coaching with Paige or your logo on her surfboard during contests. Her target is NZ$30,000 (around US$25K) by November 20th, and so far she's raised over $2000.

The hard truth is that it's not easy to finance a shot at the world title, even if you're considered the 10th best female surfer on the planet. The top women struggle to make ends meet while competing for prize purses which aren't that lucrative, especially when compared to the men's. While the best male goofyfooter, Owen Wright, is comparably ranked on the men's side (currently tied for 9th), he's hauled in $77,800 so far this year while Paige took home just $48,100. Owen's already earned more this year than the female champion Stephanie Gilmore ($72,600), but significantly trails number one Mick Fanning ($221,950 and counting). That the guys have three more events doesn't account for the big disparity in prize money.

Female surfers have to pay travel costs and other expenses just like the men, but aren't rewarded the same. And of course they can't count on winning enough to fund their world tour efforts in the first place. That's where sponsors come in. As Tetsuhiko Endo explored at length in (Surfing), Tits, and Ass, it can be hard to get those sponsors. So Paige is trying something different, a method that has been used to fund projects from video games and albums to electric skateboards and 3D printers: crowdfunding. While companies like Kickstarter have brought the idea to the fore, it's not really new; way back in 1997, fans underwrote a British band's U.S. tour.

Remember that old bumper sticker, "It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need and the air force has to hold a bake sale to buy a bomber"? Well, maybe someday all the great pro surfers will be fully sponsored. But for now, best of luck to Paige in crowdfunding her world tour campaign.

An edited version of this post appeared on The Inertia.

26 September 2012

Tripping (HMB Jetty)

Although the first northwest swell of the fall season surged in a few days ago, my non-surfing life kept me out of the water until today. I figured the Jetty would still have something to offer even with the swell fading. There were only five guys out on two peaks when I arrived, and lots of loose kelp torn up by the earlier big waves. The shape was wonky with backwash of the riprap walls just past a high high tide, but expected to improve as it fell.
I thought he'd make that one
I was back on Rocket, as the conditions deserved. But who would've figured that after spending so much time lately riding my 5'3" fish on weaker waves, I'd have a lot of trouble keeping the nose up in stepper surf with a board 11 inches longer? Let's just say I did a lot of tripping this morning, so much so that a body-boarder remarked on my great wipeouts when he paddled out, using it as his excuse for surfing prone instead of upright.

To be sure, there was some pretty funky waviness going on out there, so a good share of those wipeouts were not entirely my fault. With all the backwash, the waves were as hard to read as the label on a record spinning on a turntable. (You kids who are wondering "Record? Turntable? What's that?" go look 'em up on Wikipedia.) As I paddled for one left, sidewash surged in and I found myself at the corner of two straight walls, looking down to the floor at least six feet below. This is not going to end well, I thought as I fell over the cliff.
I nevertheless thoroughly enjoying playing in the ocean and getting a taste of its fall power. I did nail the drop on a good head-high right with a short section - woot! - and rode a smaller left in close to the breakwall. For a time, I was blissfully alone out there, just me and the chilly sea.

As I paddled back out after another of my great wipeouts, I closed my eyes as whitewater hit me and before I could open them again, a rogue backwashy wave unexpectedly slammed Rocket into my face. Whoa, where did that come from? I could feel a bump rising above my right eye, but I kept on paddling out. "Low Tide" John doesn't call me "Timex" for nothin'. 

Clearly it was time to go in though, but I wanted to ride in, not make the paddle of shame. I caught a sectiony right, my brain yelling, "Nose UP!" and landed it, riding to the shallows with a smile.
Goodbye Summer
Surfline: Easing WNW-NW wind/groundswell mix combines with small and inconsistent SW southern hemi swell today. Waves are generally hanging in the chest-head high range with sets running 1-2' overhead at top exposed spots. Winds are onshore from the West to WSW so many spots do have some texture/bump. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 6.6 ft at 10.0 s WNW 81 / WIND WAVE: 1.6 ft at 3.6 s WNW / WVHT: 6.9 ft / APD: 6.9 s / MWD: 294° (Met) WSPD: 2 kn / GST: 4 kn / WVHT: 6.9 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / ATMP: 51° F / WTMP: 54° F. Tide: 4.5' falling to 3'.
Hello Fall

21 September 2012

Quantity Not Quality (Linda Mar)

Despite careful evaluation of the forecast and available reports, I wasn't expecting Kelly to be shortboardable this morning. Alas, I'd brought Nemo and not Rocket.
The Jetty was sucking sand and breaking near shore, and Montara looked choppy as I drove past.
I ended up at Linda Mar. After riding some weak waves at Boatdocks that fell apart in uncomfortably shallow water over seagrass-covered reef, I moved more northward, where I picked up some slightly more energetic lefts and rights.
Linda Mar
Paddling a bit farther north on my way to a different peak (since the next one always looks better), I turned quickly and caught a left, getting a short shoulders. As I came up to a section, the whitewater belatedly revealed a kook bellyboarding on his WaveStorm, perpendicular to my path. I tried to turn up to miss him, but Nemo's Pro Teck fins ran him over, and I was dragged shoreward by my leash entangled with his as he kept on straight toward the beach. First question: Are you OK? Yes. Second question: Did you see me on that wave? No, not at all. I suggested as nicely as I could that it's always a good idea to look both ways before taking off on a wave. Fortunately, no harm was done to either of us or our boards.
That's a contaminated water sign on the right. How nice.
Unlike yesterday's infrequent quality waves in Capitola, today was all about quantity. Few shoulders to play on, but a lot of rides. As I walked back on the beach, some tourists asked to pose with me and my surfboard for photos, and then shook my wet hand. Nemo's going to be famous in Hong Kong.

Surfline: 1-2 ft occ. 3 ft, poor to fair conditions. Crumbly, soft, broken up lines working through this morning as the tide drops. Occasional marginal ends for a big board. Small mid period WNW (300-310) swell slowly eases today, mixing with old NW windswell and Southern Hemi swell. Better breaks are good for knee-waist-chest high surf, with some rare slightly larger sets for top breaks. Winds are light/variable onshore from the WSW-West with some residul texture/warble from yesterdays onshore flow, but there are still some rideable waves to be had. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 3.6 ft at 7.1 s WNW 80 / WIND WAVE: 3.6 ft at 5.9 s NW / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 5.2 s / MWD: 302° (Met) WSPD: 14 kn / GST: 16 kn / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 7.0 s / ATMP: 54° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: 3.5' rising to 4.'

20 September 2012

Fishing with Janitors (Capitola)

The Hook
The waves in NorCal have been grim lately, mostly small hacked-up windslop. This morning I drove south to surf a bump of south swell in Santa Cruz. The Hook was overcrowded as usual, so I kept looking.

Although the tide was a bit high and going higher (shoulda been here earlier!), there were still fun-sized waves rolling through at Capitola and only a handful of longboarders in the lineup.

By the time I got out, three stand-up paddleboarders had joined the little group, waiting through long lulls for the groundswell sets. They weren't too greedy though, and I claimed a decent share of waves on my fish. Plus I rode every one I caught - no takeoff wipeouts - and that's a rare event. I'm having so much fun on Nemo this summer! I think my longboard will be gathering dust for a long time.
One of the janitors turned out to be Ed from Club Ed surf school, and he was giving out free advice to me and the other surfers. First, he said I should keep my knees closer together when I paddle so I'll know I'm properly centered, which will help to keep me centered when I pop up. Ed also said his forte is surfing big waves - Maverick's, Ghost Tree, etc (OK, now that's just bragging) - but one thing that's more challenging on a shortboard in small waves is getting into them. Since "you can't chase it down like on a longboard," he suggested getting into position, then pushing the board back/under and letting it pop forward to generate momentum right at the peak when catching the wave. I think I need to have one of my shortboarder buddies demo that one. It sounds a bit tricky to get the right timing and motion.
Eventually it was just me and the three janitors, who were chatting when I saw the first wave of a set incoming and began stroking into position. Ed called me into it with "Go for it, Cynthia!" and he and his friends let me have the wave, a sweet chest-high right with some facetime, a couple of turns and a floater before I bailed just inside the rocks at the base of the cliff. Stoked!
Surfline: This morning there's a primary South groundswell is mixing with some small SSW swell. Surf is 2-3'+ for exposed spots, while top breaks are hitting head+ high on inconsistent sets. Light/variable winds early for mostly clean conditions. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 3.0 ft at 16.0 s S 79 / WIND WAVE: 3.9 ft at 5.6 s NW / WVHT: 4.9 ft / APD: 5.0 s / MWD: 316° (Met) WSPD: 17 kn / GST: 21 kn / WVHT: 4.9 ft / DPD: 6.0 s / ATMP: 54° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: 3' rising to 5'.

17 September 2012

Saltwater and Seagulls (Linda Mar)

For an interminable time I was plagued with seasickness while surfing, just from the motion of the ocean, but thankfully it's been a while since I've needed to pop a pre-surf Dramamine. Whatever the cause, I'm glad my body has moved past that unpleasant phase. Yet there's one thing that still gives me the queasies, and that's swallowing the sea. Breathing hard this afternoon as I paddled through short-period whitewater on the north end, I hadn't even made it to the lineup when a wave splashed my face and I reflexively swallowed a mouthful of the Pacific. Uh-oh. Sure enough, it wasn't long before my stomach started to do flip-flops. Fortunately I got in a few fun rides on the fish (could've shortboarded today though), including a nice shoulder-high left, before I just couldn't face the churning onslaught for another paddle back out.
The middle of the beach was one long closeout, so I thought I'd try for smaller and easier waves on the south end before I felt too ill to go on. As I walked passed the bathhouse, some sort of seagull cult was hitting the beach for an odd ritual. While a few of their number entered the water fully clothed, others blew on curved horns or threw food to the gulls, who swarmed above them, swooping and diving and squawking. I stepped quickly past, glad I was wearing a hood. Perhaps being crapped upon from above is considered a blessing?*
The south end gave me little joy, as the mega-closeout extended its tendril toward Boatdocks. Now seriously sick to my stomach, I eked out a ride on small right with a shoulder that lasted barely long enough to land the drop, and went home to eat crackers and recover on the couch.
*I am informed by Anonymous (see comment), and also by Stephen on the Colbert Report, that the curved horn is a "shofar" used in celebration of the Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah. And Kaya Lucy from Cornwall tells me that "in the UK it is considered lucky if a seagull poops on you!" though this is probably just "something our mothers tell us to stop us getting upset if you do get pooped upon!"

Surfline: 2-3 ft, poor to fair conditions. Textured, crumbly lines with short sections. Slow easing but still fun size SSW groundswell and NW windswell mix continues today while some minor SSE tropical swell sneaks into exposed spots. Waves are in the knee-waist high range mostly with occasional chest-shoulder high sets at top spots. Winds are onshore from the WSW and surface conditions are textured. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 3.6 ft at 8.3 s NW 78 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 4.0 s W / WVHT: 3.9 ft / APD: 7.3 s / MWD: 305° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 6 kn / WVHT: 3.9 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / ATMP: 56° F / WTMP: 58° F. Tide: 3' falling to 1.5'.

14 September 2012

Left Overs (Linda Mar)

Only had time today for a quick surf just past high tide. The waves were small and weak, but it was still a lot of fun going left on the fish at the north end.
In the parking lot after, Nemo and/or I got a whistle from the passenger of a car that was driving by. Kinda think it was a "Wow, you ride that" sort of approbation, though I can't be sure.

Surfline: Weak little mix of NW windswell and SSW groundswell continues. Waves are in the 1-3' range with occasional waist high+ sets at top exposures. Winds are light onshore with some texture/crumble on the ocean surface and the tide is dropping through the afternoon. Buoy 42026: (Wave) SWELL: 2.3 ft at 7.7 s NW 77 / WIND WAVE: 1.0 ft at 2.7 s NW / WVHT: 2.3 ft / APD: 5.4 s / MWD: 305° (Met) WSPD: 8 kn / GST: 10 kn / WVHT: 2.3 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / ATMP: 55° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: 4.5' falling under 4'.

13 September 2012

Please Pass the Fish (Linda Mar)

Falling swell, rising tide, and an invite from friends got me to the beach earlier than my new slacker schedule would dictate. Darren, J-Bird and Beanstalk were already riding waves in front of Taco Bell when I headed out with Rocket. After I caught a couple meh ones, Darren asked, "So where's this fish you've been getting such awesome rides on?" I told him it was in the car. I'd actually been thinking of getting it, so when another mediocre wave took me partway back to the sand, and I got out to swap boards.
Just as I rejoined my buddies in the lineup, a right came toward me and I turned quickly to catch it, drop and ride. "OK, now I believe you weren't making all of that up!" Darren said with a smile.

I offered to let Beanstalk, the consummate longboarder, try my 5'4" fish, and was a bit surprised when he took me up on it. J-Bird wanted to give it a go next. (I wish I'd had my waterproof camera, but it's in for warranty repairs for trouble staying focused.) First I passed Nemo to Beanstalk and he gave me his 7'6" mini-mal, then I took J-Bird's 7'8" hybrid Tweety-P while she tried Nemo, and finally Nemo came back to me while J-Bird and Beanstalk swapped boards with a cute watery kiss. I struggled at first to adapt to all that extra nose but rode a couple of waves on both of their boards, while they got some wobbly rides on the fish. Having Nemo under me again felt "so much easier, without all that unnecessary extra board length!" I don't think they agreed with me but it was a fun experiment.
Indeed Nemo was a better choice for this morning's waves than Rocket, as I was able to get into a lot more of them. The ride of the day was a left that held a shoulder open for me to turn up to the top and then bank right off the incoming section. Yew!

Surfline: 2-4 ft, fair conditions. A little tough to see with the fog but surface conditions are smooth and there is still a little windswell running. Surf quality will likely improve a bit with the tide push. NW windswell is down from yesterday, but still showing decent size in the 3-4' range at exposed spots with a few plus sets at best breaks. It's very surfable, although some breaks will worsen with the incoming tide. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 4.3 ft at 10.0 s NW 76 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 3.8 s W / WVHT: 4.6 ft / APD: 7.6 s / MWD: 314° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 8 kn / WVHT: 4.6 ft / DPD: 10.0 s / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: Just over 3' rising to 4.5'.

Wetsuit Review Roundup

I'm beginning to think all wetsuits are semi-disposable. Although a few buddies have told me theirs lasted a year and a half or more, at around the one year mark, mine all seem to start failing to perform their primary purpose of keeping me warm in the cold waters of NorCal. I typically surf twice a week, not a lot but not a little. And I rinse the suit in fresh water after use, hanging it to dry out of the sun with the midsection over a wide plastic hanger.

Here's my take on the wetsuits I've used over the years, plus one I'd like to have.

4/3 Xcel Infiniti X-Zip, size 4, purchased November '11
I had high hopes for my Xcel since a friend told me her suit lasted two years. But after 10 months of keeping me warm and partly dry, I had to send it in for repairs. I was starting to shiver in the warmish (55°F/13°C) summer NorCal ocean, because some of the suit's seams were cracked and splitting, and the neck and leg openings were frayed. Xcel's door-to-door time on the repair was pretty good at 11 days, most of it in shipping since they were done the day after they received it. However, I would have preferred that they kept it a bit longer and actually fixed all of the problems instead of just some of them. I'm still having a bit of cold water flushing so it's time to bust out the neoprene cement and start looking for another wetsuit for winter. Durability aside, the Xcel Infiniti doesn't measure up design-wise against the Rip Curl Insulator. The legs are too long, so the suit bunches around my knees. The key pocket is located under the chest-zip flap, instead of Rip Curl's more convenient placement on the side of the leg, although the longer elastic string loop is nice. The chest zip goes awkwardly from right to left and is quite difficult to fasten with gloved hands. I have to start the zipper before I put on a glove, then lock the car and attach the key, stuffing it with some difficulty into the tiny pocket, before closing it all the way. When a sprained wrist made zipping myself impossible, other people enlisted for help had trouble with this zipper. But the biggest omission compared to the Rip Curl Insulator is the lack of an integrated hood. At a comparable cost, it's a glaring lack, and leads to cold-water flushing through the neck opening, not a good thing in the cold of spring upwellings.

4/3 Rip Curl Insulator, size 4, purchased September '10
For features and design, Rip Curl is top of the heap. And it fits the best of any suit I've owned. Sadly, it doesn't last. It kept me warm through the winter and spring, but after a year of twice-weekly use, it was giving me the shivers in summer. The main cause was major flushing through the neck/shoulder area. On close inspection, I found thin spots at the shoulders and an actual small split in the neoprene; I've patched the spots but it's still chilly. Unlike the Xcel, this suit didn't start to fail within the 1-year warranty, so I'm left to my own devices to keep it reasonably together. The Insulator is user friendly, with a zippered key pocket easily accessible on the outside at knee level. On extra-cold days, Rip Curl's design zips in a hood under the chest-zip to secure it firmly within the suit, keeping my hair mostly dry and blocking water flush through the neck opening. All around, it's a nice design, but they forgot about durability. Factory repairs take a long time, over a month after a fin cut through the top layer of neoprene on my thigh, and unfortunately they didn't make the effort to fix any of the other leaky seams.

4/3 and 5/4 Hotline, size 2, purchased '06-'09
B.R.C. (before Rip Curl), I had several Hotline wetsuits. I'd been wearing size 4 O'Neills that were too big for me, so was happy to find Hotline made a suit that fit better without extra length in the arms and legs. I won't go into details on the models, because Hotline has severely sliced their selection of women's suits. They're a local company, and in the past offered good deals and wide selection at their Santa Cruz outlet. They also have fast turnaround on repairs, generally within a week if you drop it off at the store. The last mid-line 4/3 I bought on clearance was only $100, so I couldn't gripe too much when it self-destructed in about a year, despite repairs. (I can complain loudly about the Rip Curl and Xcel discussed above, since both were full price at over $300.) The 5/3 Hotline was a top-of-line hooded wetsuit which is toasty warm although seldom used; I dislike the added bulk and have gotten acclimated to surfing in a 4/3 even through most of the coldest days of winter. Hotline's size 2 seemed to fit me well enough, until I tried the Rip Curl in size 4, which is much better. When I recently pulled the Hotline 4/3 from the depths of the closet as a backup, it felt too small and too short in the legs.

4/3 O'Neill D-Lux, size 2, purchased '07
Sadly, like many of the major surf brands, O'Neill doesn't make good quality, warm wetsuits for petite women. Off the rack, this was too cold even for summer, and I sold it right away.

5/4 O'Neill, size 4, purchased '04
Way back when I moved from Florida to Washington, I bought a hooded 5/4 O'Neill wetsuit to wear while surfing Westport. It was a bit big, but I couldn't find anything that fit better. Fortunately there are a few more choices now.

4/3 Women's Isurus, to be purchased someday
Unfortunately, women's wetsuits are not yet available from Isurus. I've heard very good things about this local Montara-based company, but they only make men's suits. I'd be first in line for a women's and was eagerly awaiting their rumored 2012 debut, but the company recently told me that "unfortunately we will not be coming out with a women's line this year...we have not yet been able to catch up with the demand from our men's line."

So what's my next wetsuit purchase? Honestly, I don't know. None of these suits have been as durable as I'd expect for the retail price, so I'm hoping my mostly-repaired Xcel will hold up a while longer. Meanwhile, since it fits me the best and has nicer features, I'll keep an eye out for a Rip Curl Insulator on clearance.

12 September 2012

Having a Blast on Rocket (Linda Mar)

A bit more juice in the water today, and oo-la-la, I had fun on my shortboard! It was a lot better than it looked from the beach.
Once again, there seemed to be more shoulders on the south end, both rights and lefts, with fewer smashing closeout sets. I even got in a couple of turns on the best right. Stoked!
Surfline: 3-4 ft occ. 5 ft, fair conditions. Clean surface with a mix of lines and some peaky corners. The tide push should help shape. NW wind/groundswell mix continues today and will ease through the afternoon. Surf is in the 3-5' range at many exposed breaks, while standouts are seeing some plus sets. Conditions are decent with light SE/ESE wind, although there is a little leftover crumble on the water. Buoy 42026: (Wave) SWELL: 5.3 ft at 10.8 s NW 75 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.4 s S / WVHT: 5.3 ft / APD: 7.3 s / MWD: 311° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 8 kn / WVHT: 5.3 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / ATMP: 56° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: Less than 4' falling to 3'.
Cool print at the cat dentist's office (yes, there are dentists for cats)

10 September 2012

Fishrider (Linda Mar)

 Nemo and I are bonding over sun-kissed fun-sized waves at Linda Mar.
Surfline: 2-3 ft occ. 4 ft, poor to fair conditions. Clean, crumbly, sectiony lines working through. Rideable but it looks kind of mushy/weak overall. NW windswell is on the rise all day as old NW groundswell drops out. 3-4' surf is the norm while standout exposures hit shoulder-head high on the best sets. Larger surf due in the afternoon as the windswell gets stronger. Light SW winds early but conditions are looking pretty clean early on. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 5.3 ft at 8.3 s NW 74 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.7 s WNW / WVHT: 5.3 ft / APD: 6.2 s / MWD: 311° (Met) WSPD: 4 kn / GST: 6 kn / WVHT: 5.3 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 54° F. Tide: 4' falling to 3.5'.

07 September 2012

Rip It, Roll It and Punch It* (Linda Mar)

After cresting the hill on the road to Pacifica, the road sweeps along the edge of the ridge, affording expansive views of the ocean below. Today there were no corduroy swell lines marching in from the horizon. Clearly it was a little-wave longboard day, which in accordance with my surfcation goal meant it was time to play with my fish.
Overlooking Pacifica and the pier
I had low expectations for myself given last week's performance, but as soon as I reached the lineup near the south end, my brain yelled "Incoming!" and I turned to catch a waist-high right. Much to my surprise, I not only caught it but rode it out. Yeah! 
In quick succession, I logged several solid rides on my 5'4" Nemo, including a left that let me get in a turn on the face before closing out (inevitably, since this is Linda Mar). Stoked!
Although the rest of my waves weren't so great and I need to put in some more time on the fish, I really thought reaching my surfcation goal would be more challenging. I don't know if it was waxing farther toward the nose of the board that did the trick, but something just clicked this morning and I am riding a board that's one inch longer than I am tall! It's just as well though, because there may not be a lot of fishable tiny surf days left. An early northwest groundswell is forecast for this weekend. Winter is coming.

*Title is from Finding Nemo. Of course.
Surfline: 1-2 ft occasionally 3 ft [with 4' closeout sets]. Clean, but small, weak, and inconsistent. Best for a longboard. Small mix of NW windswell and trace S-SSW groundwell continues to provide weak but rideable waves in the 2-3' range at better spots. Top breaks still offer a few rare waist+ peaks. There is a very light surface texture for the more openly exposed breaks, but it really isn't affecting conditions. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 3.6 ft at 9.1 s NW 73 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 3.4 s WNW / WVHT: 3.9 ft / APD: 7.7 s / MWD: 314° (Met) WSPD: 8 kn / GST: 10 kn / WVHT: 3.9 ft / DPD: 9.0 s / ATMP: 55° F / WTMP: 57° F. Tide: Around 3' falling slightly. 

06 September 2012

Be Here Now (Montara)

A surf was required this morning, since I was already getting anxious about a phone interview this afternoon with the company at which I'd most like to work. I knew being in the ocean would settle me. There's nothing like surfing to force me to just be in this moment; everything else fades away.

J-Bird, Beanstalk and Luke were already in the water when I carried Rocket down the steps to the sand. I could've used more board this morning. The waves were mushy and hard to get into, even sometimes for my longboarder friends, but then steepened up and pitched as they broke.
After a number of false starts, including a backwashy left that bounced my board sideways on takeoff so I only landed one foot on the deck, I got into a speedy head-high right - woot! - but wasn't fast enough for it. I think I needed to turn sooner to stay mid-face instead of dropping down to the bottom - thrilling as that was - where the racing whitewater blew my board out from under my feet. I paddled back hoping for another chance, and hooted as Luke caught the next set wave, the lip starting to curl behind his head. When he rejoined me, grinning widely, he said he'd gone deep and gotten barreled although he didn't make it out. For the better part of a minute, he was all, "Oh, God, that was so good. Ooooh. Aaaah. Sooo good. Wow." I asked if he wanted a cigarette.

Tracey and Chris joined us, along with a handful of others, including some shortboarders. On my 6'2", I was already sitting farther inside than my bigger-boarded buddies, but eventually the other shortboarders moved even closer to the beach, where they were essentially catching quick rides in the shorepound. Daring the shallows myself, I launched into a shoulder-high right and this time rode it out, dropping off near dry sand. Yeah! Mission accomplished.
Still blooming
Surfline: Small mix of SSW groundswell and NW windswell today. Most breaks offer surf around the 1-3' zone, while the standout spots produce occasional waves/peaks up to belly-chest high. Conditions this early morning are fairly clean, with just a very light surface texture for many areas from the light SW wind. Mellow tide changes today, take note of the tides for your local break and what it favors. Buoy 42026: (Wave) SWELL: 3.3 ft at 8.3 s NW 72 / WIND WAVE: 0.7 ft at 4.0 s W / WVHT: 3.3 ft / APD: 6.9 s / MWD: 308° (Met) WSPD: 0 kn / GST: 2 kn / WVHT: 3.3 ft / DPD: 8.0 s / ATMP: 55° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: Around 3' rising slightly.
A beautiful day on the coast (Princeton)

04 September 2012

What a Surfer Sees (Hook/Sharks)

Surfline: Fun size blend of slow easing SSW groundswell and holding short period NW windswell. Foggy with clean, inconsistent surf working through in the knee-chest high range. Should improve with the morning tide push. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 4.3 ft at 14.8 s SSE 71 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 4.0 s WNW / WVHT: 4.3 ft / APD: 5.9 s / MWD: 156°(Met) WSPD: 8 kn / GST: 12 kn / WVHT: 4.3 ft / DPD: 15.0 s / ATMP: 51° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: Less than 3' rising to over 4'.

03 September 2012

Foggy Fun (HMB Jetty)

The south swell has faded down to "fun-size", under head-high. When I paddled out on the north end of the lineup, I counted 15 guys (all guys again), but two of them were Manabu and Steve and the vibe was more friendly than Saturday.
I was rockin' on Rocket today, with a few standout rides. I wish I could've surfed this swell in reverse; today first, then Saturday's more intimidating conditions.
Foggy glass
I split the peak on a bouncy shoulder-high left with Manabu before backwash from the rising tide made the left unworkable and we moved southward. There I got a wild ride on a longer right, surprised and stoked that I made the tricky drop and rode it out over moguls almost to the riprap wall.
Steve and Manabu
Manabu and then Steve caught waves in, and a few minutes later Heather and Perrin joined me in the water. After a short chat, I found one more nice right to the beach and left smiling. Stoked!
Heather and Perrin
Surfline: 2-3 ft [to 4'] SSW Southern Hemi groundswell continues along with NW windswell. Dense fog has settled in along the coast making it impossible to see the surf this morning. Expect better exposed breaks to see waist-shoulder high waves, with larger sets for top spots. Onshore Westerly wind early and thick fog along the coast. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 4.6 ft at 14.8 s SW 70 / WIND WAVE: 1.3 ft at 3.7 s WNW / WVHT: 4.6 ft / APD: 6.2 s / MWD: 222° (Met) WSPD: 6 kn / GST: 8 kn / WVHT: 4.6 ft / DPD: 15.0 s / ATMP: 52° F / WTMP: 56° F. Tide: 2.5' rising to 4'.

01 September 2012

Come Alive (HMB Jetty)

After a long summer of overhyped south swells that turned out to be duds, finally we've got the real deal. It's a Labor Day weekend special, end-of-summer 3-day blowout, filling in late Friday and winding down on Monday. Since our third attempt at night-surfing was again foiled by clouds covering last night's full moon, I was on it this morning. Trouble was, so were a lot of other people.
The south swell made the Jetty come alive, waking from many weeks of slumber. With the tide too low at dawn, I waited till mid-morning. The waves looked fun when I arrived, but there was only one peak working. Although there were a few familiar and friendly faces, there was also a lot of testosterone and greed in the lineup of 15-20 guys (yes, all guys... and me). The Jetty was doing a backwashy impression of the Hook, all pointbreaky and overcrowded.

I sat on Rocket near the right shoulder with George, where we both hoped for a section to appear in our vicinity. Even on the far end, one guy almost ran over George. Then he paddled into my path and blocked my takeoff so he could get the wave.
Self-doubt and self-confidence were my companions, and S.D. spoke louder today. I didn't want to sit in the pack to try for those big sweet waves, afraid I would wipeout or get in the way or be caught inside and pummeled, and me with a bum wrist in a brace and all. So I kept waiting for something to swing my way, even when a passing dude told me to move closer. "You surf here all the time, right? Come on over." Surfing here a lot doesn't mean that I surf well, I thought.
Eventually I saw an empty peak rising farther south, and S.D. and S.C. warred in my head:
S.C. Paddle over there! You can get it!
S.D. You'll never make it. It's too far away.
S.C. Yeah, you'll never make it if you don't try. Go now!
This time I listened to S.C. and paddled fast. And I did make it and got the wave, although after a fun drop it closed out and threw me. Take that, S.D.!
Surfline: 3-4 ft [to 6 ft]. Mix of primary/building and long period SSW groundswell (185-200 deg), secondary and shorter period NW windswell. NOTE - Most of the SSE tropical swell is missing the region. SSW sets are up to chest-head high occasional overhead for standout summer spots. Beachbreaks exposed to the SSW/NW combo are peaky. Conditions already have a little surface texture/bump this early morning. Incoming tide all morning. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 3.6 ft at 19.0 s SSW 69 / WIND WAVE: 2.3 ft at 4.3 s WNW / WVHT: 4.3 ft / APD: 5.2 s / MWD: 209° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 14 kn / WVHT: 4.3 ft / DPD: 19.0 s / ATMP: 53° F / WTMP: 55° F. Tide: 3' rising over 4'.