05 November 2012

Not-Really-Cold Water Classic (Pleasure Point)

Today I journeyed south to Santa Cruz to surf on the eastside and watch the O'Neill Cold Water Classic on the westside. The ocean is at its warmest now, 62°F/16°C per the strip thermometer on my surfboard, not really cold at all. And to top it off, we're having a late-season heat wave so the air was 80°F/26°C. They should hold the contest in January to better fit the name.
The eastside was dismayingly crowded for the middle of a weekday. As I'd snagged the last open parking space at the Hook, I was loathe to leave to check Capitola. I asked the usual question of a surfer returning to her car next to mine, and she said, "Not very good. The Point actually looks a lot better."
Blurry surfer, blurry otter
Oh, what a beautiful day!
I paddled out at 38th but it was too soft on the high tide, so I kept going toward Pleasure Point, where better waves beckoned in the distance. I thought to try for some of the closer inside waves, but they always backed off. More paddling, then, to get closer to the main peak. Getting a bit frustrated with the mushy waves and the crowd, I rode a few from whitewater after their riders had passed. Then I paddled some more toward the Point proper.
At last a wave swung wide toward me and I caught it green, turning midface, having a nice stokeful ride until it started to lose speed and I cut back toward the peak - then a longboarder who was riding straight down the line behind me in the whitewater called me off, and I let her have it. Not the time to quibble about right of way, but darn. It was nice while it lasted.
Another wave came close behind it and I rode energetic whitewater farther in till it fizzled out, paddling over the deep section to exit at the new stairs. Then I had a long walk back to my car along the cliff top, the blue bay below sparkling in the warm sunshine.
Over on the westside at Steamer Lane, the last heat of the day was underway. (Too bad I just missed Kelly Slater's heat; maybe I shouldn't have stopped for my surfer's lunch of a vegan donut from Whole Foods.) Matt Wilkinson (red jersey), Adriano De Souza (black), and Damien Hobgood (yellow) were in the water. I politely squeezed up to the fence, climbed over and even found a spot on a bench next to the stairs.
Damien Hobgood and Adriano De Souza
Matt Wilkinson, the winner of the heat
Not that warm
As soon as the contest ended, "recreational" surfers (the announcer's word) were allowed back onto the peaks. A really talented grom shredded a long wave and the crowd gave him a big cheer. Then a woman paddled out on a longboard wearing a bikini and I saw her get a good ride, but she didn't stay long. The water's not that warm.

Surfline: NW-WNW (290-310) swell holds the most size through the morning, before slowly easing later in the day, and mixes with minimal Southern Hemi energy. Better exposed breaks are running chest-shoulder-head high+, with sets in the 1-2'+ overhead range at good breaks. Standout focal points are even a notch better on the best sets. Conditions are nice and clean. Buoy 46026: (Wave) SWELL: 5.9 ft at 10.8 s WNW 98 / WIND WAVE: 2.0 ft at 5.6 s WNW / WVHT: 6.2 ft / APD: 7.9 s / MWD: 297° (Met) WSPD: 10 kn / GST: 14 kn / WVHT: 6.6 ft / DPD: 11.0 s / ATMP: 64° F / WTMP: 58° F. Tide: Just under 4' rising to 4'.

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