13 December 2016

One December Day

A dolphin surfing in the face of an unbroken wave. My longboard gliding over countless shiny anchovies. Finding the flow to ride nearly to the beach; rinse and repeat. Sunshine on a December day. Stoked!

11 November 2016

The Female Titans of Mavericks

Finally, women will have the chance to compete at Mavericks. I wrote an article about it for Grind TV: These are the female Titans of Mavericks.

29 May 2016

South-Central Double Session and Moda Surfboard Demo

A quick trip down to SoCal gave me the chance to try a radical new surfboard design by Moda Surfboards. In a nutshell, it's a long bodyboard with a snowboard core.
Just before I left San Diego, I met with the designer and founder, Brenton Woo, at a Pacific Beach coffee shop. He showed me one of the early prototypes, a 4'10". This time, he brought a newer 6'0" too, sized for bigger surfers and also better for a small-wave day.
My best ride
In the early morning, I picked my way across the exposed cobblestones at Tourmaline and hopped on the surfboard as soon as the water was deep enough. It had nice glide and paddled fast, so I reached the lineup well ahead of Mike and Jessica.
Just before a wipeout
Alas, Brenton had not thought to bring a leash, so it there was more swimming and bodysurfing and less board surfing than I would've preferred in the short time I had available. I'd never surfed without a leash before and it requires a different mindset – taking fewer risks, grabbing for the board immediately – that didn't gel in a hour. Still, I caught one nice left with a lot of face to play on, and got in a few swishy turns on the twin-fin Moda board. Having experienced a little taste of what the surfboard could do, I'd definitely say it's worth a look if you're in the market for a new board and not afraid to step outside the box.
Swam almost all the way in chasing the board
After many hours on the road, Brad and I were back on the Central Coast in time to paddle out for my second session of the day in water that was ten degrees colder.
Back home on the Central Coast

05 May 2016


Hennemans served up fun longboard waves for my final San Diego surf before I move up the coast to start a new and better life. Mike, Thais and I had the break to ourselves, and the sea was glassy for much of the session. After surfing the cold ocean at Three Mile with Brad on Monday – and before that, skydiving! – the 62-degree water felt nice, even in my leaky old 4/3.
I rode a bunch of long, carvy lefts. Two were with Mike hooting behind me, party-wave style, including the last, last wave.

Last for a while, anyway. I'll be back to visit.

22 April 2016

Review: The Chawel Hybrid HD

Bonus: looking like a Jedi
When I reviewed the Chawel last summer, I concluded that it offered a nice 5-in-1 package (towel, neck pillow, blanket, sleeping bag liner, changing room) for those traveling light or with limited space in their gear bags. While it did nothing perfectly, it handled its multiple functions well with exceptional portability.

The company made improvements to the design and sent me a Hybrid HD Chawel to try out. This Chawel addresses minor complaints I raised in my original review. The side pocket is now big enough to stow it instead of using a separate included carry bag, although I couldn't zip the pocket closed. With a larger neck hole, I was able to change fully under the Chawel, slipping out of my swimsuit and into a T-shirt and shorts.

The back panel of the Hybrid HD is a thick fleecy material, making it more useful as a blanket and providing greater warmth while changing on chilly days. This Chawel is also longer, almost too long for me (I'm 5'3"), but that increases its utility as a blanket or sleeping bag/liner.

I had some concern that the large arm openings would enable passersby to glimpse more of me that I care to show in public, but my surf buddy assured me nothing private was visible.

The Hybrid HD Chawel is a step up, and it's now my changing room/towel of choice for surf trips.

05 April 2016

Central Coast

Saturday I caught a ride up to Ventura with Hilary and Cori, and we surfed C Street. I got frustrated trying to catch soft waves, scraps left by the longboarders, on my 5'2", but then a grom on a shortboard shared his stoke with me and I finally got one ride – those things made it a lot better.
C Street
On Sunday, I surfed with the rest of the San Diego Surf Ladies team in the Rincon Invitational a.k.a. Sharing the Stoke contest, an un-competition that awards points for party waves and having fun. Jimil loaned me her 7'8" and I rode one wave in between two other Surf Ladies, hooting all the way.
San Diego Surf Ladies at Rincon
Brad watched the contest from the beach and then drove me north. We surfed Pismo Beach Monday morning near the pier, and watched the sun go down from the water at Wilmar on Tuesday. The water was much colder than San Diego, and I felt every leak in my best but old 4/3.

Pismo Beach from the pier, earlier on Tuesday
Again, I struggled to catch waves on my shortboard, and Brad graciously swapped me for his wide Firewire quad fish. He sank up to his chest sitting on my Firewire Spitfire and I was starting to feel guilty about keeping his board too long when I finally got a short ride. After we switched back, I caught a couple more waves. The best was last, after the sun had disappeared behind the cliffs that line the stunningly beautiful coast.

01 April 2016

Adventures in Baja

Jason picked me up after sunrise and in less than fifteen minutes we were in Mexico, heading to a house Roger is renting with his friend Mario. By 8 a.m. we passed through the guarded gate into a community near K-55. When we couldn't rouse anyone in the house, we drove a little farther south to check the surf at La Mision. Everywhere it was jumbled, a mix of swells that unfortunately included short-period.
Mario, his rescued puppy, Reyna, and his friend were awake when we returned, and the four of us humans suited up. I followed Jason down the long flight of stairs from the clifftop to the sand and a short distance into the ocean. Then a sideshore current caught me and pushed me far south while I paddled and duck-dived my way to the outside through overhead waves. Almost 15 minutes later, I made it past the whitewater and stopped to rest. My shoulders were burning, but I don't accept denial easily. It took a little more than 5 minutes to paddle north to rejoin the guys, past the only two other surfers out along the sandy and stony beach.

I failed to catch several waves I paddled for and within ten minutes got caught inside by a set. Pointing my board shoreward, I caught whitewater and popped up to ride for a second or two, so yeah, I can say I surfed there. I tried for another five minutes to get back out, cussing the ocean, then acknowledged this wasn't fun and let the ocean spit me out onto the beach.

On the ride back, I listened with a bit of envy as Jason told his wife on speakerphone about his fun rides. But the adventure wasn't over yet. The low tire-pressure light was illuminated on his car's dashboard, and we found there was a screw in one of his tires. Fortunately Jason is fluent in Spanish, an a Mexican operating the air pump at a Pemex directed him to a mechanic.

Although it's illegal to plug a tire in the U.S. due either to the influence of tire manufacturers or safety issues, that's not a problem south of the border. In less than 15 minutes and for only $2.50, we were back on the road. The SENTI line had only a handful of cars ahead of us, and we Trusted Travelers crossed back into the States after waiting just a few minutes.

24 March 2016

Moonset in Mission Beach

Jess needed to surf early today, and Kevin suggested the jetty at Mission Beach just past sunrise. A full moon hung in the sky on its way to setting into the ocean. The air was cold for San Diego, with the sand like burning ice on bare feet. After a dash across the beach, the channel next to the jetty made for an easy paddle out in water that felt a few degrees colder than earlier in the week.
The waves were bigger than forecast, overhead on the sets. Since there was a lot of current, it was hard to be in the right spot to catch one of the peaky lefts. I only rode one on my 5'4" and my feet landed a bit far apart, but it was fast and fun. Kevin got a few but unfortunately one of his fins whacked into his leg, cutting it. With four of my fingers too numb to cup while paddling, I caught a belly-ride in to the beach. The moon was gone but the sun was up and a little warming. Great way to start the day!

20 March 2016

Accidental Twin-Fin

Entry and exit are tricky at my home break, except on the smallest days. This morning the cobblestones at the base of the cliff were in a steep pile, and shorepound sent them tumbling up the slope. I mistimed my approach and was pushed back to the shallows while paddling out. The fins scraped the bottom ominously and I rolled off, took two steps forward to deep water, and continued out. Past the shorebreak, I flipped Rocket over to look for damage. The deck was unharmed, but then I saw something was missing – my center fin. Crap! The fin box was fine with the screw still in place, but my 6'2" had only side fins now. I told Jess about the loss and went back to the beach to search the shoreline in vain, peering into the murky green-blue water. My fin was gone, forever. There's no way I could feel worse about littering plastic into the ocean.
I rejoined Jess on the secondary peak, shaking my head, and she graciously offered to swap boards with me after a while. Nah, it would be an experiment. On the first wave I caught, I made a cautious bottom turn, but the tail slid out on the top turn. Squirrelly! 
The waves were up to shoulder-high on the off-peak, which was far less crowded than the better main peak on a late Sunday morning. The functional stance I learned at Surf Simply once again proved its magic, as that first wave was the only time I lost control of the board. It was sensitive to the most subtle adjustments of weight and positioning, but I worked it out. Really, I think I could surf a door, just like Kelly Slater. 
I rode a lot of fun waves on my newly-minted twin-fin before I had my fill. Now I'm curious to try my fish as a twinny again. Stoked!

18 March 2016

Old Man's Reunion

Last night I hosted a gathering of five Surf Simply friends from last November's camp. Ian and other Mike flew down from cold Calgary and rainy Seattle, respectively, and San Diego locals Jess and Mike joined us to watch Point Break.

My local buddies and I are going to see Point Break Live at the Belly Up in a couple weeks so re-watching the campy original was prerequisite. I'd forgotten that it's a grom who delivers this so-true line:
"Surfing's the source. Can change your life. Swear to god."
This morning, Jess and I drove to San Onofre to meet up with Ian, other Mike, and Lauren, another friend from camp who lives in Orange County. On the beach, the Surf Network was filming the dance-like moves of a pair of tandem surfers.

The waves at Old Man's were small, only three feet on the biggest sets, but plenty of fun on longboards. With the tide low and going negative, we had a long wade across cobblestones to and from the break. Rides were short for SanO but longer than many places, and I got in some nice carving turns on several of them. There are few things better than surfing mellow waves with good friends on a warm, sunny day.
My blue 7'2" and Jess's coral one
Lauren and Mike sharing laughs
Me, Jess (back), Ian, Lauren and other Mike (front)
It's a long walk over stones at negative low tide

17 March 2016

Cynthia Needs...

I've been too sick to surf so had some fun with Google search (thanks to The Bloggess for the inspiration).
Umm, that's a bit creepy, Grandpa.
Nope, not dead yet. And I don't have fibroids. Although I'd much rather have a cute glaceon than a nasty rayquaza, I don't own either.

Still not dead. But I like to think I'm a really cool dancer.
Close on the engineer one. Farmer? In Oklahoma?! Nah, I'd almost rather be dead. Or living in Avalon.
 Who's Peter?
Not currently looking for a rug. But if I'd been born rich, I probably would've tried to become an actor. I was awesome as Babe in Crimes of the Heart years ago. If you're laughing now, then yes, I do want you to shut up ;)
In a nutshell, that's why I'm getting divorced.
Not really.
Seriously, you'd name your baby boy Cynthia? That's just mean. He'd have to learn how to use a falchion to ward off the bullies. I could probably wield one with some skill since I've trained a bit in renaissance sword fighting. Perhaps that would allow me to inherit as the rightful king, er, queen?
Dude, if you want to propose, ask Cynthia, not Google. Who's Peter again? I'll tell you what it will take if you'll finish your sentence.

01 March 2016

School of Hard Knocks

Tourmaline was pretty fun this morning, with long, carvable waves under head-high. That is, until the end when I took off too late on a breaking set wave and got rolled, the rail of my longboard hitting the back of my head with a crack that I heard and felt.
Google Photos panorama. There really weren't any clones.
I belly-rode the next wave in and waited until Mike got out. He's an emergency room doctor, so I might as well make use of that. I guess my demeanor convinced him I wasn't concussed because he said my skull is too hard to worry about it. I soft-punched him in the shoulder, and he told me to ice my head and eat ice cream.

Although I don't understand about the ice cream, doctor's orders....

28 February 2016

Functional Stance FTW

From the Surfline cam
The waves were big and meh this morning with lots of windswell messing things up, but what I learned at surf camp made all the difference in riding them. Popping up in the functional stance (see video) let me stay on my feet ahead of and atop roiling whitewater. I was so well balanced that I could adjust the board position in response to the turbulence and keep riding when I figured for sure I'd fall.

I did luck into the spot X to catch a green right, which soon closed out and then died. Jess and her friend other-Mike rode some too before we ended the short session. Still fun, thanks to my coaching at Surf Simply!

24 February 2016

The Many Moods of the Ocean

Monday I surfed Tourmaline with Mike and Jess. The waves were small but nicely shaped for longboarding. We all got fun long rides, although Mike dominated as usual on his 9' log. While I was waiting for a ride in after my friends left, a sea lion surfed a wave near me and no one else in the crowd saw it. Way cool!
Spring flower from the road to Blacks
With a similar forecast for Tuesday, I headed to Blacks, where Surfline was reporting 3-4'. After walking down the gated road for fifteen minutes to reach the beach, I saw that Surfline had lied. The set waves were a couple feet overhead and the shorepound was 6'. One guy got a stand-up barrel despite the poor shape of the waves. If I'd driven up to see those conditions, I would've gone somewhere else. But after hiking down, I had to go in. I managed to get out past the shorepound on a lull and a cute college boy chatted me up in the lineup. He yelled, "Yeah!" as I paddled for one of the big set waves, which may or may not have influenced my commitment. I popped up, maybe a tad late, and a split second after my feet landed, the wave jacked up vertical. My board lost contact with the water and I free-fell to the bottom of the wave before the lip crashed down on me. I got dragged and rolled to the impact zone, spinning until I didn't know which way was up. The primitive part of my brain feared drowning and I had to tell myself not to panic. I surfaced, gasping, to see the rest of the set bearing down. When the shorepound is overhead and breaking in waist-deep water, you know you're going to get drilled, and I was. By the time I made it to the shallows, I'd bashed a finger and I think my head into my board. Shuffling through a long stretch of knee-deep water to the beach, I felt a little dizzy. I sat on a bolder until it passed before making the hike back to my car.
Today, as I checked the surf at Hennemans, someone at my side said hello. It was my friend Ian, who I hadn't seen him in a while. He paddled out ahead of me and we chatted a bit before drifting to different parts of the peak. Halfway through the session, Mike joined me, also on his longboard. On the high tide, the waves were fun but soft, in between Monday's gentle surf and Tuesday's gnarly swell. The ocean has many moods.

11 February 2016

Feels Like Flying

The waves were really fun this morning and a couple provided especially good rides on my longboard.
On one left, I was speeding down the face and put my arms out like I was flying. At the end of the ride, a guy on the cliff had both arms raised in a cheer. Woot!
Yesterday I met the creator of these little guys who live in a front yard on my street.

02 February 2016

Can't Feel My Feet

This morning's fun longboard session with Mike was so chilly that my hands and feet were half numb by the time I left the water.
Someone should make a parody video of The Weeknd's song called "Can't Feel My Feet" about winter surfing in California.

30 January 2016

The Other Side of the Fence

This weekend, as the newest member of San Diego Surfrider's Executive Committee, I attended the chapter's leadership retreat. Our Chair is ex-Navy so he was able to rent cabins at Del Mar Beach on the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton.
I missed out on the first night's surf session at Trestles, and the next morning's pre-dawn surf at SanO. By the time the lunch break rolled around on Saturday, I needed to get wet. There were no other takers when I dashed across the driveway and a wide strip of sand to the big and messy surf.
It had been a while since I'd taken out my 5'4" shortboard, but I remembered my duck-diving lessons from Surf Simply and made it to the outside with little difficulty. Then it was a matter of finding a corner in the mixed-up waves. I only had half an hour, and I wanted to be able to say I'd surfed Camp Pendleton. "Feet on the the board, baby. Feet on the board," I told myself; that's what I needed to claim it.
Finally I got lucky on a right with enough face to let me land the 6-foot drop and ride a split second before the wave closed out. Yes! One and done.

25 January 2016

Full Moon Sunrise Surf

The fun surf session with Jess and Mike was well worth enduring the early morning chill.

22 January 2016

Great Way to Start the Day

At last night's Surfrider chapter meeting, I made tentative plans to meet Jon and Jason for a mid-morning session. Jon ended up surfing a little farther south and earlier while Jason and I paddled out at Hennemans.
Hennemans, and Jason thinking maybe Sewers would be better
The crowd was light and a breeze put a slight chop on the water. I rode a bunch of waves on my 7'2" although most closed out. A head-high drop on a right made me hoot, and it was one of those days when I capped off the session by riding straight to the cobblestone beach. Stoked!

10 January 2016

What Lies Beneath, Part II

After heavy rains kept me out of the water most of last week, I was jonesing. Plans to surf Crystal Pier with Mike and Steve were scuttled when I couldn't find parking – which is typically for June but unusual in January.
While I was checking conditions at Hennemans, a dude came up the path with his face covered in blood. He'd found the reef with his head after only a few waves, at high tide nonetheless. At least he was smiling about it, and a paramedic walked up to look him over.
The longboarders weren't sharing and I was on my 6'2" since I'd planned on beachbreak, but still I rode some fun waves. I got a nice drop on an almost head-high right, and my last wave was a carvey left that took me all the way in before the tide dropped too low.
Tuesday the surf is supposed to amp up to 8-12 feet plus. Time to put on my big girl wetsuit.