25 July 2014

Making the Best of

When the forecast looks like this, barely changed from the past week:
then, yeah, it's time to go surfing, even if the slight swell bump is short-period windswell and my neck's still inexplicably troublesome and radiating a headache.

Due to the aforementioned neck issue, my wave choice was extra selective to weed out the too-frequent under head-high disorganized closeouts near Crystal Pier. Yet when a likely shoulder formed up, I had trouble getting into the softish rising-tide waves. Probably I should've brought my 6'2" Rocket instead of 5'4" Kat. I paddled for a bunch of promising waves but they slipped away, unridden.
It was roughly an hour (my watch is in a drawer since I stopped working for The Man) before I caught my first wave. By that time, I was getting a bit pissed off. Dammit, I would have a good ride! As I paddled for this right, my inner coach yelled encouragement: "Dig deep! Keep the nose down! Commit! Gooooo!" Finally I was up and riding. 


23 July 2014

Lake, Etcetera

Although the Pacific hasn't been quite as flat as Lake Tahoe - still pretty close, most days - that's not the only reason I haven't blogged lately. A couple of afternoon sessions last week reminded me why I don't like to surf past midmorning, despite the warm summer sunshine - two-foot chop amid whitecaps puts a definite damper on already small surf closing out on a bad swell direction. It was nice to join other San Diego Surf Ladies in seeing off Laura before she moved to France, but ugh, the waves were pretty darn awful. At least a few dolphins came through the lineup to bid her adieu.

Today the windswell perked up a little and I would have been on it at my home break, but I tweaked my neck Sunday while trying to bodysurf dumpy little waves. It's not recovering fast enough for my liking, but I hope to at least get in the ocean for a snorkel/swim tomorrow in La Jolla. And I'm itching to go back to the skate park to work on drop-ins, since I had my first successful (instructor-assisted) ones last weekend. It's a hill I'm determined to climb - or fall down with control, more like. And although the forecast looks bleak for the near future, hopefully Lake Pacific will rouse itself soon and serve up some decent waves.

15 July 2014

Surf Craft

On Residents Free Tuesday, I joined a few San Diego Surf Ladies to see the exhibit Surf Craft: Design and the Culture of Board Riding at the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park.
Hannah and Gitta checking out the hulls

12 July 2014

Switchfoot and the Green Team

Every July, local band Switchfoot hosts an unusual surf contest to benefit disadvantaged kids and then performs for free on Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. It wasn't until shortly after last year's Bro-Am that I discovered the band - my current favorite - so I'd been waiting nearly a year to attend the 10th annual event. Seeing their film Fading West two months ago only stoked my anticipation. Finally the day arrived and we biked to the Old Town train station to catch the Coaster to North County.
Del Mar beach from the train
Crossing San Dieguito Lagoon
We arrived by late morning and ate our PB&J sandwiches, then watched a bit of the kids' surf contest at D Street.
Looking north from the D Street stairs
The surf jousting contest, which is pretty much what you'd guess, looked pretty fun:
I lingered a bit too long at the jousting and had to dash up the beach (relatively speaking, in view of the crowd and soft sand) for my shift as a volunteer with the Rob Machado Foundation's Green Team. I was tasked with weighing sorted bags of garbage and recyclables, to track the trash diverted from landfills (886 lbs of recycling from 1572 lbs of waste created!).
View from the RMF booth
Several bands played early in the afternoon and the crowd grew dense ahead of Switchfoot's appearance.
Waiting for the main event
When I heard a cheer and then the first notes of Dark Horses, I was out of the booth and into the throng.
Switchfoot on stage! And nobody liked the tall guy in the big hat.
When the crowd completely cut off my view of the stage, I tried to weasel my way through to a better position. I was thwarted by a tangled thicket of tan half-clad bodies, beach chairs, and sandy blankets.
My actual eye level. It sucks to be short at a beach concert.
This was the band's view
Luckily Scott had secured a spot atop a fire ring and somehow I was able to find him. The sound wasn't as good off to the side but at least we could see the band from there.

(Dare You To Move sounds better here. Or you can watch the whole concert here.)
Their show was over in a short hour and we were off home on the train. Can't wait till next year! Maybe I'll bring a ladder.

09 July 2014

What Nemo Likes

My last couple of surf sessions have been nothing to write about, although it was nice to hang out early yesterday with a couple of the dawn patrol regulars at Crystal Pier - and a pod of less-regular dolphins. By this morning the swell had dropped and thankfully so had the overstayed holiday crowds. Although infrequent head-high sets still rolled against the pier, the waves were smaller just up the beach. They looked languid on the Surfline cam, and with the tide cresting almost 4' high, I decided to take my fish out for a rinse.
From the Surfline cam, hours later. Because I don't take my phone when I bike to the beach.
Just as I reached the sparse lineup, a wave formed up and I was in the right spot. I turned, stroked a few times and was in, riding right, then back toward the peak as the energy faded. It reformed as a left and I took another small drop, riding in to the shallows. Yes! This is what I've been needing.

Nemo loves those soft waist- to chest-high waves, and I rode a bunch of 'em, most with some face to play on before they closed out. And I think there's one thing skateboarding has been teaching me that translates to the water: Trust enough to let go; the board will be there to land on. I'm trying to break a bad habit of sometimes taking the drop on my belly when I'm late, hesitating to pop up for fear of going out of control if I loose my grip on the board. At our skate lessons, the instructor has us practicing this trick: turn the board face down over the tops of your feet, then flip it over onto its wheels by jumping up/slightly forward and (hopefully) land atop in the proper stance. It's a matter of trust; trust that the board will be there, that my feet will connect with it in the right place, and that my body will balance. Similarly, I have to trust that my surfboard will be there when it's time to pop up, even late. I'm learning to let go, and that led to a few fun bonus rides this morning. Stoked!

05 July 2014

Sky Mirror

The ocean was so glassy at dawn that it was like paddling across a mirror of the sky.
IB mural
That was the high point of my session at Imperial Beach. Neither Christina nor I were feeling affinity for the south swell waves, which were overhead on sets and pitching hard into shallow water. I saw guys nearly barreled, and I saw guys eat it badly. The only wave I caught closed out immediately so I bailed off the back, but Kat was pulled over the falls, dragging me along. I surfaced in water barely over stomach high, with my hair full of sand. I took it as a warning and belly-rode to the beach - that was mildly fun - followed by Christina riding her only wave in. We did a 5-minute beach cleanup as we walked back, picking up Independence Day detritus, and Christina scored a bunch of toys for her boy.

That's two disappointing surfs in a row. I need some good waves! Rather looking forward to tomorrow's skate lesson on my new board; at least the concrete waves at the park will be as they ever are.

04 July 2014

Foto Friday Fourth

The surf was nothing to write about, although it was nice to hang out with a pack of other San Diego Surf Ladies - Lauren, Nancy, Nicole, Michelle, Allison, and a little Jill at the end.
Where's that south swell?!
Michelle going right, on the left
My new Rareform boardbag and changing mat, made from upcycled highway billboards
Reef cut, ouch! And yes, I was a bit warm in my 3/2 fullsuit.
The Cardiff Kook, hangin' Hawaii style... and an American flag, of course

01 July 2014

Kelly Says Surf Pays Off

Yesterday was one of those days when I came back from a session really wanting to write about it. But ya know, sometimes life gets in the way. Things got too hectic and now it's a day and a half later, but finally I have the time to put fingers to keyboard. (Pen to paper - so quaint!)

This is the first summer I've really experienced the influx of tourists to San Diego. While a year ago I was still working the 8-4:30, squeezing in dawn patrols when I could, now that I can surf any time of the day I really see the population bump due to summer visitors. And I don't like it. Yesterday morning I waited until the negative low tide at dawn had risen to a more respectable, less closed-out level, but then found a pack of surfers clotting up my home break at the Crystal Pier. Eh, it was still walling up there anyway, so I rode my bike on farther north.

I locked my bike to the fence at Law Street (will they ever finish reconstructing the bathrooms?!) and walked north on the beach past a gaggle of surf school kids practicing pop-ups on the sand, paddling out before I got to the usual mob near Tourmaline. The waves were decidedly meh, and after a time I left the small pack at that spot to paddle south past a clot of rash-guarded surf-schoolers. I'd been scamming closeouts and stooping so low as to ride already broken waves, just to get to my feet on something, but there I found a steep head-high drop into a quick closeout that was more legitimate.

Alas, the lifeguards raised a flag demarking "swimming" from "surfing" so I had to paddle back north again. And on the inside, more surf schoolers, a whole big mob of them, so I kept moving. Ooo, but there's a wave, forming up and I'm a bit deep but well enough in position - so I caught it, threading the needle between two deer-in-the-headlights kooks. As I turned to head back out, their instructor smiled and said, "Nice wave!" Eh, didn't seem that great to me, but thanks, dude.

Back outside, I got to chatting with a woman on a shortboard, who marveled at all the waves I'd been catching. To me, they seemed pretty marginal - closeouts, or already broken, except the one. She was getting skunked on a 6'0" and lamented that perhaps she needed a longer board, exclaiming, "How can you stand up on that thing!" when I told her I was riding a 5'4". It's interesting to hear the perspective of others, kind of uplifting, in a sense, when I didn't think I was surfing all that well (per my own, perhaps overly harsh, standards).
Hannah and Dannie of Kelly Says Surf
In fact, the waves seemed so meh that I thought about leaving early. But then I remembered the inspiring girls of Kelly Says Surf*, and I went back out. Shortly I was rewarded with a shoulder-high left. It steepened up after I caught it, the wall rising beside me, as I set my rail and zoomed down the face, a "WOOOO!" spontaneously rising from my smiling lips.  

*11x world champion and full-blown legend Kelly Slater says you have to surf all kinds of waves (including the crappy ones) to improve.