26 June 2014

World Cup Waves

My home break from the Surfline cam just before the World Cup game between the U.S. and Germany:
and after it started:
More waves for me!

23 June 2014

Back in the Water

It had been 8 days since I last surfed, which is the longest dry stretch in a quite a while. I've been OK with it though; skating kept the jones away, as did shopping for a new skateboard. Thankfully my Achilles tendon held up through yesterday's skate lesson, and I think it's going to be OK now. Our instructor, Andrew, said it would be difficult to do tricks on my Carver skateboard (including dropping in, which I really wish someone at the EXPOSURE clinic had told me before I fell many, many times in the attempt). So a less surfy skateboard is on its way!
Still, this morning I needed to get back in the water, despite the continuing forecast of small surf. Plans with friends to chase a too-southerly groundswell up to far north San Diego County and surf Trestles fell through, so I paddled out with Christina and new buddy Nicole at Ocean Beach instead.
Happily, the waves were bigger than reported. Next to the pier looked pretty good, but also too crowded. We found a mostly empty peak farther north, where I put some watery stoke in my tank with a handful of fun rides.
Christina photobombed my shot of a trashcan

21 June 2014

Surf, Skate, Swim

San Diego hasn't seen much swell lately, so I've been surfing the concrete waves of the Ocean Beach skate park more than usual, followed by a swim at my new pool in Point Loma.* Gliding up and down the face of the long bowly section at the back of the park, and practicing cutbacks on some of the tighter curves, has been getting me more stoked than seconds-long rides on the gutless little waves currently on offer.
Joel Tudor
Alas, there can be too much of a good thing, and it seems I overdid it with too many skate sessions in a row. Since Tuesday, the Achilles tendon on my pushing leg has been sore. I've been resting, icing, rolling, and KT-taping it, all in hopes that by Sunday it will be right as rain. That's when I start another 4-pack of skate lessons with Andrew of SD Skate Life. This time I've cajoled a couple of San Diego Surf Ladies into joining me.

While initially I started skateboarding on the recommendation of my surf coach, Barry - and was rubbish at it for a long time, until I took lessons with Andrew last year - now that I'm carving a bit, I really like it. Shockingly, in some ways I enjoy it even more than surfing. There's a real benefit, an extra satisfaction in the accomplishment, from being able to practice the same maneuver over and over till you get it right, without waiting for an empty wave. And in my experience, skateboarders are more friendly than surfers. I go in the morning before the park clogs up so there's plenty of room for me and the other few guys - almost always just guys or boys - who get up a little early. Mostly we stay out of each other's way, but after any near-collision, you hear apologies and "Are you OK?" instead of the more typical scowls and sometimes shouting that follows on the water. A couple of the guys have offered me helpful tips and encouragement. One regular, Nick, always greets me with a fist bump and a smile. The sense of community and camaraderie is refreshing.

Skateboarding began as a way to improve my surfing (and I just wrote an article for Mpora called How Skateboarding Can Make You a Better Surfer), but now I'm doing it for its own sake. I want to learn the basic, purely skate tricks, from dropping in to ollies, and get better at tic-tac-ing. And since Skater Girl told me "Nothing quite so freeing as catching some huge air on the halfpipe either. For a few moments you are flying," I must say that one day, when I'm good enough, I hope to fly as well.

*The extended closure of the Plunge in Mission Beach - now the entire Wavehouse Athletic Club is about to be shuttered until sometime next year - forced me to find another more permanent place to swim, and the YMCA is minutes from the skate park. So natch.

15 June 2014


Fun times with the San Diego Surf Ladies in Cardiff this morning. I was stoked to catch so many little waves on my shortboard!
Eva's longboard took her to the beach many times
Me and... crap, I'm terrible with names (photo by Michelle)
The Cardiff Kook, lookin' festive

14 June 2014

Double Agent

Double Agent
Firewire finally had a demo day nearby - I've been wanting to try a Sweet Potato ever since I saw Alice ripping on one in little waves at the Rincon Sharing the Stoke contest - so I got down to Mission Beach soon but not soon enough after they set up. Alas, the lone Sweet Potato was already claimed, but the man in the truck (almost) full of surfboards talked me into what he said was a higher performance board in the Potato line: a Double Agent. It was a 5'4" x 21 1/4" x 2 3/8" with a volume of 26.2L, compared to my Spitfire which is 5'4" x 19 1/4" x 2 1/4" and 25.7L.

It was a Firewire riding party off of Belmont Park, with the breaks along the beach clotted with surfers trying out the wares. I started at a less crowded peak near the Wavehouse and caught a fun right with a nice swish back to the peak at the end. Soon the lifeguards shooed us surfers out of the newly-flagged swim zone, pushing the crowd into a tighter clump farther south. Twice I had close calls, nearly running over surfers paddling out as I clutched the unfamiliar board through the whitewater, not daring to pop up immediately lest I lose control and collide.

Sweet Potato
Soon I realized the board wasn't for me; it had too much float so I couldn't duck-dive it, and it reminded me of my fish. Still, I wanted at least one more good ride to top the scraps I'd taken from the crowd since that first wave. I moved even farther south, tried the outside, and the inside, and the outside again, until I finally caught another fun right. It wasn't until I was in the shallows that I noticed the Double Agent was set up as a quad, making this my first time surfing with four fins.

Looking online, it seems the Double Agent may be a cousin to the Sweet Potato but they're surely not sisters. Firewire's Volume Calculator doesn't even suggest that model for me, and the Sweet Potato it recommends is 4'8" x 20" x 2 1/8" with 24.9L volume - another grom board.

I'll have to get to Demo Day earlier next time, or find a Sweet Potato tester board at a local surf shop. Till then, I'll get by with my friends Kat, Nemo and Rocket.

12 June 2014

A Good Excuse for Trestles

Attending a California Coastal Commission meeting in support of Surfrider gave me an excuse to surf Trestles on the way up to Huntington Beach. My buddy Steve joined me before he headed to a dance weekend in the OC.
We'd hoped the dawn patrol crowd would empty out by late morning, but it seems that in summer there is no second shift. Steve paddled out into the pack at Cottons but I choose a lesser peak toward Uppers with only two guys on it, and eventually the steady breeze pushed him to where I was.

The waves in my meh spot were not quite head-high, inconsistent, and often wedgy, but I still rode a few fun lefts on my shortboard. The south groundswell gave them power and speed, reminding me of Hawaii. Stoked!

05 June 2014

Snaked by a Sea Lion

Photo by my friend Heather, at the Marine Mammal Center
Two sea lions surfaced near the pier this morning, exhaling loudly, then swam within six feet of me. I watched through clear water as one glided past. A wave lifted me, unnoticed until then because I was facing the beach for the nature show. I wonder if I could've caught that? Ah, too late, I thought, but the sea lion was in position and surfed it to the inside.

Brian was paddling back out and said the sea lions had ridden the wave together. A few minutes earlier he'd shot the pier, although unfortunately I missed seeing it. There were a few other guys out, scattered farther down the beach. The waves were again waist- to chest-high, with the occasional bigger set. Fun on my shortboard!

And this is why I get up early for (almost) dawn patrol.

04 June 2014

Hello, Old Friend

I didn't think about this movie I saw yesterday
I rode my 5'4" Firewire Spitfire this morning for the first time in about 6 weeks. It was like slipping my foot into a comfortable old shoe just found at the back of the closet. Or hugging a dear friend I hadn't seen in a long time. After several days of being pushed and dragged around by my floaty 6'2" in windswell waves that caught it up even when I ditched, it was wonderful to be back on my lightweight and sinkable shortboard. And the waves? I got three solid rides - stoked!

The water was clear, enough to see a stingray swim across my path as I shuffled into the water. It was the first I've seen in Pacific Beach, and made me extra leery of touching a foot down at the end of a ride.

Sometimes I tend to think my struggles are all my own, so it was nice when another shortboarder shared his experience this morning. My second wave was a right that took me near the pier, and it seemed the waist- to chest-high waves wouldn't stop coming as I paddled back out to the lineup. I barely had time to catch a breath between some of them, and a couple seemed to aim right for me so they could break in my face. I stroked hard when I wasn't trying to duck dive and made it to quiet water, sitting up alongside him. "It's rough in there," he said. "I took a right into that pool and it took me 10 minutes to get back out!" I thought myself lucky that it had taken me half that long. After I paddled for another wave that passed on by, he continued, "These waves are hard to get into." Yeah, dude, my thoughts exactly.