Saturday, December 31, 2011
Tyson or Tyson-adjacent: 3
Oceanside Harbor: 1
20th St Del Mar: 1
15th St Del Mar: 1
North Tamarack: 1
This month wasn't my most prolific. The cold climate makes one ratchet up the threshold at which one paddles out. If it's summer and you can trunk it, you won't be too bummed it's 2 foot and mush, but it's too much of a production in 40-degree air.
With this in mind, I had four no-go's, leaving me with 63.33% for the month.
Wave of the month: 12.11 almost vertical lip bash
Bail of the month: ?
So, back to text only blogging until I figure out a way around it...
Forrest and I got to Oceanside and didn't see much. North of Tyson revealed a relative nug, but because of the low tide, we pressed on to check Harbor.
Harbor was more textured and more crowded. There were no nugs to be found, so we circled back around, suited up and paddled out.
We paddled out just north of the Tyson stairs and I immediately caught a right. It hollowed out quickly, but too quickly. I performed the first part of a standing-island pullout but wasn't able to hold through to the other side, though I don't know if it's possible to do a no-grab backside standing-island pullout...
I had a few close ones, waves that I thought were going to break, but I couldn't catch or they hit a deep spot and didn't break.
Then, I caught a nice lined-up left which I pumped like crazy on. I saw the oncoming section and hit it, but didn't keep my weight over the board and slowly collapsed on to my back, missing a solid finish that would've looked great with the speed I'd amassed.
The waves just stopped. We liked where we were sitting (alone) but the longshore current was sweeping us south.
We stayed there a good thirty minutes before we decided to go in and try our luck more towards the pier.
Because of the current, we were going to paddle as close to the pier as possible to give us the maximum amount of play as we drifted back south towards the Tyson stairs and the car.
I caught a small, quick right and crab-grabbed so as to get in there a bit earlier. I was excited to check the footage the GoPro had captured, but there wasn't much. The water hit the board and created so much turbulence that it blocked the view. Not a big deal, as I was in there for maybe a second.
I caught a mirror image of the above wave and crab-grabbed switch. I didn't get much of a view, but did see a nice frame grab of the lip curling over me.
I then caught a left which was similar to my second wave, but not quite as racy. I lined up for a whack but approached it too laterally and fell. Bummer.
Forrest was catching a few waves and was a little deep on one. For some reason, I decided to burn him on a right. He's burned me a lot over the years so I think I was trying to even the score. I took off about a second after him, twelve feet or so inside of him. I looked back and saw him doing a double-grab and going straight. My attention turned back to the wave which let me do one quick pump before unceremoniously closing out.
While paddling back out with a huge smile on my face, I could hear Forrest protesting. I hit him with the arsenal of SNAKE excuses I've heard over the years:
1. Oh, were you on that wave? I didn't see you.
2. I thought it was a party wave!
3. I thought you were going left?
4. I wasn't in your way, I looked back and you were going straight! (This one I made up on the spot)
The last one provided me with the most amusement.
I got into another quick crab-grab, no switch this time, but was in there for about a second and a half before detonation.
I got a whackable right and did so, but the section ended up having a lot less steepness and power to it than I was hoping for and I just faded off the back...
I had to get on with my day so that was the end of that session.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
12.27.2011 Crappy 15th Street with Forrest EVENING SESH | First Sesh with the Go Pro Surf Hero Camera
I was very excited to try out my Xmas present, the Go Pro HD Surf Hero 2. I'd stuck it on last night and tried to go out this morning, only to be turned away by closeouts or crowds everywhere I checked.
Forrest and I parked south of 15th Street and took the shortcut down.
A couple of notes about seeing yourself surf on film:
I'm not as hot as I thought I was. I figured myself for a 9.8 out of ten but now I've revised my number to a 9.65, possibly a 9.7 with excellent lighting.
I get deeper in my duckdives than I thought I did. Having a thin board, of course, helps that quite a bit.
I caught the first wave of the session relatively quickly. I was able to get four pumps out of it, hoping to connect with the oncoming section but it faded relatively quickly. Here is some footy from that wave, followed by a quick duckdive shot:
Not too long after that, I caught a meaty left. I wasn't able to get around the section and it detonated on my board. I feared the worst, thinking that the camera was dead, but no, it survived. It's kind of interesting thinking that this little camera is worth twice as much as the board! Here's some footy:
About ten minutes after paddling back out from the thick left, I caught a quick little nug and I was able to hit it. It's hard to tell from the video, but it was a decent bash. Here's the footy:
On my way back out from the lip bash, I saw a nice (relatively speaking) right forming to the north. I paddled over there, just missed some tweeners and sat. I caught this wave and had a good look at it. Unfortunately, my back foot was too far back and I blew it. It would've been a sick bash, maybe bash to floater. Footy is:
The waves slowed WAY down. I sat there watching the beautiful orange sunset's side effects on the cloud, about to decode the meaning of life when another right eventually came and snapped me back to something more important. I did a little mini-cutty and faded off the back. Here's video evidence:
Then we sat until after the sun was long-gone and we were the last two in the water.
Monday, December 26, 2011
My wife got me the new Go Pro HD Surf Hero 2 and it will definitely add a new dimension to the blog!
I will have to fiddle with the software to see how to integrate it on this page. I'm hoping it's as easy as an upload to YouTube and an embedding here. We shall see.
One month ago today, I updated the blog with the Panama pictures. The page views were at 285. The blog had been in existence since mid- August and I was averaging 2.78 views a day.
As of this writing, they're at 624. In the last month I've averaged 11.3 page views per day. The most viewed blog post is the Pipeline (9.23) session, followed by my first Bocas session (11.17).
My shoulder is doing better but it's by no means 100%. I've been taking it easier at the gym and being more conscious of which arm I use, hoping to rest it. I almost surfed this morning but at 2-3' it just wasn't tempting enough for me to betray my resting period.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
After having not surfed for a week and a half, due to a combination of lack of swell and a lingering injury, I was ready for some action. I knew the tide was going to be extremely high (close to 7').
Given the high tide, the reefs would be drowning, so I didn't even consider some of my favorite west-facing reefs. I bee-lined to 20th Street in Del Mar and parked the car in my usual spot.
While walking for the surf check, a guy got out of his car and put his feet on the ground. He was a double-amputee. I assumed he was military and a quick glance at his dash confirmed he was DoD-permitted. He was also wearing an Operation Rebound shirt.
We both arrived at the check spot next to the lifeguard tower at the same time. A set reared and my eyes bulged. He looked at me, I looked at him and I said, "I don't need to check it any more, I'm out there!". He laughed.
I threw on my suit and booties and walked up the sand. He'd left his metal legs leaning against the concrete sea wall. As I walked to the water, I saw him with his fish, dragging himself. He was on the wet sand, so I didn't offer to help.
We both paddled out and he took a couple of small but thick shorebreak waves to the head. I looked back to him to make sure he was cool and I heard him say, "That'll wake you up!". I hooted and smiled and made it out past the breakers.
I sat for a solid twenty minutes without seeing a rideable wave go by. I paddled in a ways. Nothing. A little more. Ni mierda...
Finally, a relative macker poured in and I caught it. It looked a lot steeper than it actually was and I set it up for it with that in mind. Unfortunately, my misread lead to me doing my all-too-common-on-high-tide-days front-foot flamingo. I was able to recover but there was just nothing there.
A HALF HOUR LATER (!) another wave came through that I was in excellent position for. It was a peak and its shoulder was lining up. I caught it and it had some steepness to it. I pumped as heftily as I could and kept an eye on the oncoming section. I cut down hard then back up, smacked it and threw TONS of spray (the offshore wind certainly helps). Halfway through the turn , I realized I was not going to recover as I'd failed to keep most of my weight over my board. I kicked my board out behind the wave (to lessen the chance of it coming down on me) and took my drubbing.
In my mind, I'd decided to bail. I sat on the inside for about ten minutes. I spotted a guy with closely shaved hair and a big scar from what could have been stitches. He looked at me and I said hello. He said something I couldn't hear, all I could make out was "board". I asked him to repeat himself and had the same result. So I did what I always do in this situation: I smiled broadly and said, "NICE!"
A wave came shortly thereafter. I had a hard time getting speed going and rather than my usual choke-up on the board strategy, I invoked the Huntington Hop. It worked well and I was able to get some speed going just in time to decisively life my board and smack the approaching wash. I did a fist-pump as a goof, claiming a maneuver that is rarely seriously claimed and fell backwards onto my face (yes, on purpose. No, I don't know why).
As I walked to the showers, I saw the double-amputee again and spoke to him. He couldn't have been older than twenty-two. He was super stoked to be out there and it will serve as a reminder to not let any excuses get in the way.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
After my last session on 12.11, I managed to aggravate it. I for once was pleased the weather killed the surf as it also killed my temptation to paddle out and start the whole recovery process over again.
I've been doing some rotator cuff exercises as well as applying a heat pad to the affected area. If anyone knows of any other remedies that may help, I'm all ears.
As of this evening, I'm happy to report that it's feeling much better. Though I am tempted to get out there tomorrow, I will wait until Monday to do so with the hope that it will be ok.
I will report back at that time. In the meantime, GO CHARGERS!
Monday, December 12, 2011
We paddled out and the conditions were the same, just smaller. The good news is, every ten minutes or so, a set would come through. It wouldn't look like much, but when it hit the reef it would steepen up and start "throwing".
I caught a nice left, but it turned out to be fatter than I thought it would be. If you've had this happen to you on a blind date, having it happen to you while surfing is only slightly less tragic. I faded off the back after being too aggressive with my pumps.
A girl paddled out and sat deeper than me. Another left came through and she paddled for it. She looked like she was going to be too deep for it so I paddled for it. I kept looking towards her to see if she would go, obviously planning on pulling out if she went. She didn't, but the look on her face made me feel like I was being an a-hole. She made a face like she had just realized someone had waxed her board with dog poop.
I popped up with some speed. The wave didn't offer much, but I got a nice float out of it.
The girl paddled away immediately after the wave and we had it to ourselves again. A right came through and I was on it. It turned out to be super fast. I pumped a couple of times and did a floater but I somehow blew it. While underwater, I realized I should have did a cutdown and go for a high speed/low percentage (for me, at least) vertical lip bash. I would have had the speed and the power was there.
My shoulder began to really bother me and I lost my mojo. We saw a HUGE (shoulder-high) set roll through and briefly thought about planting ourselves out there waiting for one last one.
Ah, I forgot to mention how amazing and vibrantly red the sunset was. The waves weren't great but the scenery was amazing.
Thankfully, the swell sabbatical allowed me to take some time off to recuperate.
My shoulder was feeling 95%. Forrest wanted to hit it in the morning, but I had an appointment at my second job: Airport Bitch. He cruised over during the second round of football games and was raring to get out THAR. He wanted to go to Carlsbad as he thought it looked good. I wanted to go to Oceanside because of the steep S swell direction. I made my case and he was convinced.
We shot up there and made our usual rounds. The seas were smooth, but the waves were smaller than SurfLIE had claimed they would be. We saw some set wave nugs come through, especially just south of the pier. We debated checking Harbor but were so smitten by what we saw that we passed.
We got our stuff on and headed towards the pier. We walked quite a ways, then decided we weren't in the mood to sit in a pack and fight for waves when there were empty ones just a couple of hundred paces south.
I jumped on my DHD and started paddling after a chest-high set rolled through. Forrest was close behind on his ancient Stewart longboard.
A left came through and I paddled hard. I popped up and did a quick pump to floater and blew it.
A similar left rolled through within five minutes and I did the exact same thing, EXCEPT I ollied off the lip and on to the flats. I landed flat with considerable speed and tried to do an extreme backside fade bottom turn so that I lay down just in time and with enough speed to propel my head and upper body underneath the rolling foam. I was somewhat successful.
A waist-high right came and I paddled for it. It was slow, so instead of doing the Huntington Hop, I choked up on it, putting most of my weight on the front half of my board by shuffling my feet towards the nose. The wave seemed to like that, as it let me in to its surprisingly speedy pocket. I shuffled back, but was disoriented by my newfound velocity. I meekly attempted to hit the section, but it turned into a weird wash bonk/floater rather than a solid lip bash.
A nice steep left rolled in and I sprint-paddled to meet it. I slammed my weight on the back of my board to make the half-turn more quickly. I paddled hard towards shore. As the wave lifted my board up, I popped up and pumped from the get-go. While I was immediately disappointed in my decision to not bash the first section, I salivated as the oncoming lip approached.
I didn't have enough speed for an air, so I turned up hard from the bottom to the point that I rose up the wave face at about a 60-degree angle. I rotated my head and shoulders, then my hips and legs and SMASHED the lip. I have a tendency to fall backwards after this move. This time, I managed to drag my hand in the water and recapture equilibrium. NICE!
Forrest caught a wave and about halfway through his subsequent paddle-out, a clean-up set came. I was in a good spot, but Forrest was not. When this happens, I have an annoying habit of yelling, "Bye BYE!" followed by a quick wave just before initiating my duckdive.
After three waves, the thrill of escaping a slight beating withered. I couldn't see Forrest until the last wave washed over him. I noticed he was paddling weird and when I got a liquid "culata" from the wave, it allowed me to see why. I could see a nice white cross-section of foam surrounded by the long-ago yellowed glass.
I immediately started laughing, which is an a-hole move. I wasn't laughing at his misfortune so much as I was laughing at the conditions in which his log snapped. A longboard isn't easy to break, but it's difficult to break a log in these small waves ESPECIALLY considering he wasn't even riding the wave who did this to his board.
I told him we could go in if he wanted and we went in shortly thereafter.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Looks like my skills are rubbing off on the guy! As you probably remember, I surfed with him at this very spot a little over a year ago. Check out how far up he pops out of the first pit!
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
On the way north from Forrest's Tamarack-area pad, we checked assorted Carlsbad beach breaks and we saw NOTHING. I've seen Lake Tahoe this big (and with more juice). The brunt of the swell was coming from the SSW so we figured Oceanside would be better.
It was, but not by much. We paused at Wisconsin Street and thought about doing the ultimate in no-go's: taking off a dry wetsuit. We decided to check Harbor and call it a day if we weren't convinced. I silently made mental plans as to what to do with the extra time I'd have from not surfing.
While going over the new-ish bridge southeast of Oceanside Harbor, we saw something that excited us. This is all relative, mind you. If we'd just had a week of mind-blowing surf, we wouldn't have slept in based on the forecast. Since we were groveling, any ripple became titillating.
We pulled in to the parking lot and decided to go for it based on just the two-wave set we saw from the road. After much ribbing from both Forrest and Missed-It Mike, I elected to leave my gloves in the car. This was in an effort to see if I really was being a pansy.
We got to the water and waded in. I made my best effort to not get my hands wet as the stiff offshore would make them shrink with frigidity. I succeeded until I made the difficult to decision to mount the board and begin paddling. Normally this time of year, the water will be comforting as it's warmer than the air. But with the strength and direction of the wind, today would be different.
We both made it out with dry hair and I caught two right away. I made sure I'd caught both before standing up, putting in an extra couple of strokes each time. All I accomplished is going straight for maybe ten yards before each one petered out (Man, it must suck to have the name Peter. First the phallic interpretation and then the verb).
I caught a right into the risen sun and was able to pump to keep pace with the wave, but not much else. Both times I faded off the wave in such a way so as to no get my face wet as it was still a virgin from the evaporative freezing effect of the offshores.
A nice set came, but I was out of position for it.
I sat for about twenty minutes and I started shivering a little. My hands were really cold and I consciously kept them underwater to shelter them from the wind.
A left came and I caught it late. I pumped twice, aware of its speed-killing fatness and attempted to lay into a cutback. I opened my shoulders back to the wash while twisting my gaze to meet it and aborted halfway through. What was meant to be a roundhouse cutty turned into a classic EddieP hack. Not bad, considering.
Within five minutes, another left came and I was in a great spot. I took off, pumped and met the oncoming section with a hit. Unfortunately, I blew it. I'm still not sure which bad habit of mine made me go underwater.
I hinted to Forrest that we should think about going in. He agreed and we walked into the gaping maw of the warmth-robbing offshores. As each second passed, my hands became number and more pained. When we got to Forrest's car, Forrest said he couldn't tie his board down as his hands were too cold. We huddled in the car (without touching, you pervs) to escape the wind for a few minutes. Forrest got out and we went back to his place with the faith-restoring space heater and hot shower.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
About three-fourths of the way there, we realized I'd left my board in my car. We doubled back and checked Tamarack on the way there and it was TINY. No one was out. We stopped back at my car, I grabbed my board and back up to Oside we went.
I transformed into Neoprene Man (only my head was unprotected) and paddled out a bit north of Tyson Street. Being the festive guy that he is, Forrest brought along his Santa hat to add some flair to the session.
We saw a couple of (relative) bombs. Clean, though a bit slow, three-footers. It took a solid fifteen minutes for me to catch my first wave. It was a left that I struggled to stay on. I silently wished for my fish.
Forrest caught a right and on his paddle back out, he told me he had to pump to stay on it. A couple more weak ones rolled through, one that couldn't carry me on its face even just belly-boarding it. I started to get frustrated. The water was really cold and I was freezing for this?!?
On top of that, the wind was offshore and the tide seemed right. If only some swell would come in and it would turn into a sick session!
More gutlessness whimpered in. Frustration levels grew.
It was at this point I suggested we become our alter egos: The OAG's (Overly Amped Guys).
From this point on, every ripple became a macker; every morsel became the wave of the day. This made the session a lot more fun as it created some competition as to could be the more amped between us. If you asked the other people surfing around us, though, they would've sworn it was a contest to see who could be more annoying.
About an hour into the session, some sets started rolling through. I caught a right and smacked it gently so as not to overdo it on fat sections, as I tend to do.
I kicked out and saw the rest of the set come in. It was starting to get close to decent!
A left came through about ten minutes later and I pumped a couple of times and did an off-the-lip with speed. Had I put more weight on my front foot, I would have had a nice finish (if you can call the only maneuver you complete on a wave a finish) to it. My back foot hogged my body weight and so I landed wrong and splayed out onto my back.
The wave of the day came through, a nice right that was maybe four feet high. Forrest decided it would be a good time to call "Party Wave!" and so I ended up eating his spray and bailing. Oh well.
We were both over it, so in we went.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Here are the stats:
Playa Larga: 3
20th Street Del Mar: 2
Panamanian Secret Spot: 1
Red Frog Beach: 1
Tyson Street: 1
No-Gos: 3 leaving me with a C- in terms of consistency for the month
Wave of the Month Honors this month go to TWO waves: The barrel I made on 11.17 as well as the big barrel that led to the head smack.
Wipeout of the Month: No question on this one, the head smack on the sand on 11.22. It may be the bail of my surfing career thus far!
I met Forrest at his pad in C-bad, transferred my gear into his Subaru and we shot up to Oside on the 101. We turned left on Cassidy, then right on the frontage road. Buc Beach looked surfable and my stoke-level rose quickly. Even lowly Oside Blvd showed signs of life!
We passed the lookout at the stop sign at Wisconsin Street and I was ready to suit up. We briefly debated checking Harbor but I was frothing too hard already. I transformed into Neoprene Man (4/3 suit, booties and 4mm gloves) and we got out there.
In our fervor, we realized we'd paddled out TOO far and right into the rip. Forrest was on his new log and wasn't amped on his board choice. The wind was strong from the northeast, blowing directly into the waves: a classic offshore day. Forrest's board had so much foam on it that it made it difficult to paddle into waves that steepened so quickly on a board with little rocker. The reminders about the board would continue throughout the session so keep that in mind...
After paddling in for some time and fighting the current, a nugget left came through. I caught it late (offshore) and dropped in cleanly. While setting my line after the initial take-off pump, I miscalculated where the lip would land and it decked me in the ribs just below my arm pit. I went flying down headfirst into the water and the ride was over.
Keep in mind that on south-facing beaches, the daybreak sun will wash out all rights as it hits its riders with full sun-to-the-face.
About ten minutes after my first wave I caught quite the right. The sun disoriented me and I leaned into a reflexive backside cutback to get it out of my eyes. I succeeded and, extending my body by unweighting my board, was able to smack it around to complete a solid backside roundhouse cutback. This is probably my best execution of that maneuver. YEOUH! (Onomatopoeic hoot transcription)
About a half-hour later, I caught another right and did some quick backside turns on it, though I blew my second one by going too far out on the shoulder and trying a turn too fast for the slope of the section.
I faded off the back just as Forrest was paddling out next to me, relishing his first successful ride of the morning on that beast of his. He kept commenting on the board being too big and impossible to ride given the conditions. As I paddled next to him we both looked west and saw a logger take off on a nice steep right, carving up and down it surprisingly well. Without much thought, I said, "See? He seems to be doing ok". I wasn't sure Forrest heard me so I repeated myself and he replied with a stern "F- you, Eddie."
I laughed my ass off for close to a minute.
I then caught a left where I was pumping too aggressively for the slope of the wave and ALMOST lost it. My weight was almost all on my front foot and I felt myself about to fall on my face. My back foot instinctively lifted off my board. I recovered awkwardly, pumped once, and smacked the approaching section. ...And I didn't make it...!
Another left came that was similar, but I fell back on my bad habit of attacking a wave too vertically when it itself is already too steep for that. The foam was rolling over and I cut my snap short. It probably looked pretty cool from the beach but I was nowhere close to making it.
About a half-hour later, I caught my last wave of the session. It didn't have much open-face, and I meekly went up onto the lip for one of my famous fall-down floaters. The lip detonated under me and I dropped down and onto my back.
We hoofed it back to 20th. Missed-it Mike made it clear he wasn't interested in surfing, but we were able to strong-arm him into it. Thanks to my years of feedback, as well as this blog, MiM has become more self-aware about his complaining. His new game is to complain and keep us guessing as to if he's seriously uncomfortable or if he is just trying to be cute.
I suited up into my 4/3, straining to remember if my wetsuit was this stiff before Panama or if I was just being a pansy, coddled by the tropical waters of yesterweek.
Gauging by the wind's chill, I decided to go ahead and RUBBER UP! Booties came on, and I slipped into my virgin 4mm gloves I picked up months ago at the Rip Cur Outlet northwest of Lowers in San Clemente.
MiM was giving me grief over the Panama pictures, saying that the crab-grab was wack. While I can't say I disagree, EVERYONE* in the water agreed that he was just jealous he hadn't invented a new barrel-riding technique.
He briefed Trevor on my tendency to crab-grab and they were cheering me on to my first wave, a sick right that was quick to develop (unlike the author). Hearing calls for crab-grabs, I tucked into my old familiar stance and got barreled. The wave dumped over and I zoomed through the barrel fast, tucking my leading (stalling) arm behind me and went quite a ways through the spinning hydro-tunnel.
I had quite the thrill going quite that far. When I pull in to a closeout, I have a certain expectation as to how far/how long I expect to go. For every half-second I go beyond that expectation, the euphoria increases exponentially.
I surfaced and let out a hoot.
On the next wave, I pulled a proper pig-dog and did my damnedest to stall hard. A stranger paddling about 20 feet inside of me who had just snagged a good one gave me a long hoot as the lip finally cascaded over me. I don't remember what happened, but I didn't make it (I'm pretty sure I over-corrected into the wall).
I caught a very similar right, tried it again, and in my burning desire to get barreled with a proper pig-dog stance while NOT going into the wall, had the lip drive my throat into my knee. OUCH! Painful and a little scary, but no long-term damage. Swallowing left me sore for a few hours afterward.
I later caught a left and, upon first pump, I was reacquainted with my glorious DHD board and the speed its rail generates. Though I kept pumping, the beautiful curves of my foam masterpiece were not enough as I slowly lost the race to the speeding lip.
The waves' consistency slowed down and the likelihood of closeouts increased. MiM, having an eight-hour day ahead of him bailed. I waited about ten minutes before a belly-boardable wave came (!) and hit the sand.
Rather than deal with the long boat ride from the Red Frog docks, we opted to paddle from the beach to the boat, which saved us a half-hour in the boat. We made it out without incident and headed east towards Playa Larga. It was amazing how much more quickly we got there with our new plan.
The waves were bigger and heavier than our previous two sessions at this spot, nearly a week prior. We anchored pretty far out to compensate for this, but well west of the mysto reef, which would warn us when a set was coming by breaking, then quickly foaming out.
Seeing as to how this would be my last boat sesh for a while, I wanted to be the first one out. In my haste, while tossing the Sharp Eye (same one I surfed on my second sesh here) overboard, I didn't check to see if the leash was clear. It was pinned under other boards, so the board went flying out but then rubber-banded back. Luckily, it stayed over the rail of the boat and the board and boat didn't collide.
After a little ribbing from the guys, I dove in to the beautiful Caribbean water, grabbed the board, and paddled towards the waves. Once there, I paddled for the lefts in front of the dead tree lineup marker, but they weren't working right. I went back to my sweet, sweet rights and within fifteen minutes, found my first ride.
I pig-dog-tucked into the barrel and it quickly decimated me. I gently glanced off the bottom and got back on my board.
I watched as Daf, still paddling in from the boat, was in the perfect spot for a set wave and hooted him into it. That was definitely a sick one, but from my vantage point, I would never see the post-takeoff wave.
About twenty minutes later, I caught a nice, really lined-up right. Rather than stalling and trying to get barreled, I stoop up straight and dropped in. I banked off the bottom and hit the top of the wave, coming down and gaining a little speed. I repeated my actions, though not quite as powerfully this time, then kicked out next to DJ, who told me, "Nice ride".
I was having trouble catching waves on this session. The waves would be there, but I would paddle and pull back because of the too-racy or utter-closeout nature of my chances.
Finally, I caught a good-sized right late and crab-grabbed into the barrel. As I was dropping, my leading hand was in the wall but I realized that I was going to need all of my speed so I tucked it back, parallel to my trunk.
Within fifteen seconds of my coming up, I heard from DJ (regarding my crab-grab), "I can't say I've ever seen that before, but it seems to be working for him". I said to him, "Keep it between us, bro".
The wind came up hard and I was over it. Joaquin and I paddled towards the boat and got in, followed ten minutes later by DJ and Daf. We started back west towards Red Frog Beach and it was a brutal ride in the panga. I elected to stand and use both arms to stabilize myself by grabbing on to the overhead supports for the shade. No one in our crew got seasick, despite the back-and-forth tumult. We dumped out somewhat far off Red Frog Beach and I kept my hand to my sunglasses so as not to lose them in the water. My sunscreen floated up from my boardshort pocket and, wanting to get out of the way as quickly as possible, I stuck it in my mouth end-first and paddled in.
Friday, November 25, 2011
The journey there had been a rough one and I had my doubts about the conditions. Keep in mind I'm not used to surfing the Caribbean, where the isthmus and/or island set-ups create a multiple coast reality. What's terrible for one coast (solid onshore) is on the opposite side of the spectrum for the other coast (solid offshore).
Once we got within earshot of the waves, I started to get excited. My pace quickened.
The first view revealed makeable-only-by-pros windswell barrels. I was content to surf there and play my luck there (it had been a long journey and I was itching, in a good way). I asked Scott if he usually surfs or he walks down the beach to try it there. He affirmed the latter option and we walked. The waves started getting better and better the more we walked. I slapped on some sunscreen and, with Scott's blessing, affixed the leash to his 6'2" Merrick Tangent (I realized later it was a board Kelly Slater rides). It was just a tad wider and thicker than I would have liked, but definitely in my breadbasket in terms of familiarity with dimensions. Scott said to me. "You break it, you buy it, and this place breaks A LOT of boards". After a little ribbing by me, he added, "It's a new Tangent, you know what those cost". I don't know what these cost, but judging by the Merrick + Kelly Slater insignia, I figured easily $650+. Yikes.
As I continued to walk down the beach, I realized we were the only ones on the beach. The jungle was extremely lush and looked like it could have been from prehistoric times.
The first wave I remember was a quick drop I made backside, but raced off without me.
If you've read the previous blog posts, you know I have a habit of getting into my "crab-grab" in anticipation of backhand barrels. On crab grabs, my front knee hits the deck in lieu of my front foot with my back leg elevated to put even more leverage on to the board's flat spot, leaving me in a position to blast through the barrel (or at least that's the theory).
Which leads me to my second wave...
Daf had gotten a wave just before me and I was all alone. Scott and Jaime (boat guide, ripper from Fountain Valley, of all places) were down the line, hooting me into the approaching set wave. I ceased stroking towards it, whipped around and dug in deep towards the beach. The wave was a dooz, the biggest wave of the trip thus far. This right lifted my board and I dropped down with a slight angle. I grabbed my rail to dust off my seldom-used pigdog stance comically early. I remember smiling on the wave, thinking, "I know this looks like ish, but woteva". As the wave began to catch up to my over-preparedness, I took my leading/stalling arm out and moved my weight forward as much as possible just as the wave curled over me. I was in there for about two seconds before I overcorrected into the wave.
The wave swept me up, separated me from my board and absolutely SLAMMED my head into the sand. Had we not been surfing at a beachbreak, I definitely would have suffered head trauma. I've taken some nasty spills and have hit all kinds of bottoms surfing (the vast majority of these in El Salvador). I have had the wind knocked out of me underwater on sandbars. Barnacled rocks have drawn blood from my feet, arms, shoulders and back. But this is the hardest I have ever hit my head underwater. The power of the wave, combined with the extreme shallowness of the water plus a little centripetal force whiplashing the back of my head that much faster into the sand made for QUITE the slam.
I surfaced without issue and quickly assessed myself for signs of a concussion while paddling and duckdiving to avoid the last wave of the set. I wasn't seeing stars, my neck wasn't sore, my head wasn't sore and I didn't feel lightheaded.
About fifteen minutes after paddling for, and pulling back from, several waves, I found a left that wasn't too racy. I dropped in and got barreled about a second after my soles hit the deck. Alas, I pulled up too high on a barrel with no room for mistakes and I got clipped and sent over the falls. This time there were no scares though!
I then caught a lined-up right and I dropped in, pumped quickly and did a quick slash. I was in a hurry as these waves weren't the type to allow you to sit at the top of the wave, recovering from a maneuver. I was able to gain some speed from it and did another quick one. Both times I heard the sprays' satisfying splash. I kicked out next to Scott and he was amped.
The waves then got more inconsistent. All of us had a hard time finding waves. I found a quick right on which I did a quick crab-grab and was in there for quite some time, but I got shut down while in it.
The next wave was a big left that I was really late on. I was jonesing for another wave and decided to go. The offshore pushed against me and I went over with the lip. Thankfully, I was able to land on my board on my feet, wax-side up. The board's tail washed out. Daf told me he thought I started bottom turning before my fins engaged and so my body turned, while the board stayed behind. Bummer.
I caught another, smaller left on which I tried to do a steep bottom turn and seemed to check myself as the section wasn't as steep. I did a weak top turn, then the wave disintegrated into mush.
On the way back, part of our party stopped at the schoolhouse to do a presentation on water filters he was donating to the town. I'm including a picture of the presentation below as well as some of the little kids.
I made a friend that day. I asked him what his name was (in Spanish) and he said, "Mariel". I asked him to guess what my name was and he said, "Gringo" (True Story).
For the record, I didn't initiate the hand-holding. That was the OLD Eddie...! I'm better now.
After at least a dozen and half bails, I was over it. It's a lot harder than it looks. I'd like to say that now I respect the sweepers, but by and large, my experience with them has been resentment towards them for being wave hogs. Let's just say I now respect them one modicum more than I did a week ago.
After I handed off the SUP for someone else to have a go, I got on a 6'3" fish, as I'd noticed some tight little right-hand barrels coming off the rocks. I got in position for two and they were markedly similar. I leaned forward hard and the fins and tail were pulled out of the water, making me pearl just as the lip was cascading over me.
I did catch a pretty sick right that I got to pump and throw a little spray on (twice), but that was as far as this session went.
Today we got on the same boat with the same people, plus a new arrival from Western Australia named Daf. The wind was a little better, but the swell was a little down from yesterday.
This time I was on a Sharp Eye Board. I believe it was a 6'2" and a little thicker than I'm used to.
We stopped to get gas. The side of the building said "Gasolina No se Fia" (No credit given):
We threw our boards in to the water once we arrived at the break. I was the first one in the water this time. I set up to the right of the big dead tree just as I had yesterday, but quickly discovered it just wasn't working.
I paddled east a bit and found some juice. The first wave I caught was a left. I rode it ok, but stalled on a floater. Had I made that floater, it would've been a more complete ride with a finishing stamp. I decided to forgo the lefts in favor of the barreling rights.
I caught a right that was a screamer. I grabbed my outside rail with my left hand and stuffed my right hand in the wall to slow me down. The lip threw over me and I was threading it. Unfortunately, the wave decided to explode all at once just after my entry inside it. I was rewarded with a nice view but punished with water up the nose.
I had a couple of similar waves, none of which I made.
The wind switched from side-offshore to side-onshore and I caught a slightly more open right. I pumped up and down trying to figure out the sweet spot on this new board (third board in two sessions). I semi-succeeded, made it around a small section and went up to hit it. I over-estimated the steepness of the section and over-committed to the turn. I completed the turn, but never recovered.
So, what went wrong? First off, the turn I committed to requires more speed and/or a steeper wave face. Also, I didn't set my shoulders right. Your shoulders should almost always be facing where you're looking to go and this isn't the case in the above sequence.
With the wind coming up, the wave was being sliced up a bit. I managed to be in position for a tall sliver of wave. I tucked into it and while I don't think I got barreled, I had quite the sensation going down. It felt like I was dropping in sideways down the vertical section of a halfpipe. I made it, but there was no reward.
About twenty minutes later, I was in position for the biggest wave I rode that day. I caught it and tucked into my stance. The wave was close to twice the size of the waves I'd caught all session. The wave steepened up and I locked in my line. The lip pitched over me squarely and I made it quite a ways before getting smashed by the wave. My shoulder hit the sand with enough force to rub some sunscreen off my shoulder, but nothing more.
Check out how artsy this cropped close-up of me in the barrel is:
The wind kept coming while the waves remained inconsistent. The surf forecast isn't good, but I hope the beginning of next week will have something in store...
She then asked me for more suggestions. I began to throw out surf destinations: El Salvador?, "No"; Costa Rica?, "No"; Panama?, -Pause-"OK" I couldn't believe she'd agreed to it and I was amped!
We first looked into the Pacific side. Santa Catalina was a definite first choice, but after doing research, I was over it. From what I was reading, the crowds were heavy and the vibe was aggro.
I'd heard whispers of Bocas, on the Carribbean side, and how good it could get there. I looked into it and found out the swell season starts in November. BOOK IT!
We booked a stay with Scott at Red Frog Bungalows, and we were all set.
We flew SD-LA, LA-Miami, Miami-Panama City, Panama City-Bocas del Toro. While in Panama City, we weren't sure where to take our local flight and we kept getting responses telling us it was the brand new commuter terminal. The two people at the terminal I tried to confirm with seemed apathetic and just told us to sit down as the flight left at three. When I told them the flight was scheduled to leave at four, they said, wait until four. I got suspicious and went to a second information desk where I had them call up the airline directly.
The airline told us it was at a different airport so we beat feet into a taxi driven by a guy named Deyvis. He let me in on some local knowledge, including the very poor areas with tin roofs and satellite dishes were people who worked with the narco-traffickers and the rest of the neighborhood received hush money. He claimed if they squealed, they were killed.
We also passed a very interesting screw-shaped building
as well as the sail-shaped Trump building.
The local flight from Panama City to Bocas was on an older prop plane that was a little rickety. I had a lot of fun teasing my wife with lines like "Wow, from this seat we'll have an unobstructed view of the wing breaking off the plane" and "Hmm, that really shouldn't be rattling like that"
We landed (quite roughly) and got our checked bag. We went up to the whitest guy we could find and asked him if he was Scott. He said he worked with Scott and we took off in a pick-up taxi. Our taxi ride was cut short because Bocas was celebrating its 108th anniversary that afternoon and they were having a big parade with young girls in fancy outfits and makeup as well as guys beating on drums. We literally walked (width-wise) through the parade towards our water taxi, got on and headed towards the bungalows.
Scott took us around, showed us our SWEET bungalow. The surf guide said we'd be up and at 'em early and I said not to worry, I would be awake.
We ate dinner, went to bed and I didn't wake up in time. The guide knocked on our door and I got up, ate a quick breakfast and waited for the boat. Scott, the guide (Jaime) and two other guests came along, along with the guy who manages the boat, Chato.
We stopped to drop Chato off and get some gas and we were on our way. I was told on the way that this was their first time surfing Playa Larga this season, as the waves and/or conditions hadn't been right up until that point. Jaime especially was frothing.
About an hour after boarding, we got to our destination and dropped anchor. This was only my second session surfing from a boat. It can boggle one's mind, as you're so used to starting on the beach, paddling out, surfing and going in. But here you can easily catch your first few waves with dry hair.
One of the guests had a camera, so she decided to swim to the beach with a dry-pack take some surf photos.
I was on a borrowed 6'1" Merrick that was wider and thicker than I am used to. The first two waves were lefts, and I was trying to surf them like I was on my glorious DHD back home. I couldn't get the initial pump to give me speed, so I turned to cruiser mode and did the best I could to generate speed.
The rights were barreling, so I turned my attention to them. The first right I caught was developing into a nice steep one. I stood up, did a proper pigdog pivot, but my line felt high for the size of the wave and I decided to abort.
When my head came up, I happened to catch the image of my board hurtling towards me and managed to dodge it. I noticed the leash string had burned through the patch job and told Scott. He very generously offered me his board and went to the beach to check on the photog. I didn't realize it at the time, but he was on a 5'8" quad fin with a swallow/thumb tail. This was the second smallest board I'd ever ridden.
Jaime was stone cold killing it out there and I smelled barrels and started to salivate. I got in a couple of quick ones, including one during which I paused before take-off, then swooped down into it with speed, but I wasn't making any.
I caught a nice left that let me in early. I did a squirrely turn (quad fin), recovered, and ALMOST pearled. The water was capping at the nose of the board, but I leaned back and salvaged it.
I also caught this left, which I remember hitting and falling back into the wash, somewhat close to recovering, but it was not to be:
A nugget came through, Scott cheered me on and I went right. I got into my kneeboard stance and blew through it. It let me out and I let out a hoot.
I also caught a right drainer super late. Jaime was in a perfect position to watch the carnage. I made the drop into the barrel and the wave ANNIHILATED me. It was a solid eight seconds before I came up, which is a lot considering I was in chest-deep water.
When I surfaced, Jaime looked at me with concern and said, "Are you OK?"
The conditions deteriorated and about forty minutes later, we paddled back to the boat.
Saturday, November 5, 2011
25th St 1
October wasn't a great surfing month for me. It started off very well with back-to-back sick seshes (Oside and Black's) but stalled and sputtered for much of the rest of the month. Four No-Gos (where I drove to surf but it was terrible and didn't paddle out) leave me with a D+ in terms of surf consistency.
~11.3.2011 20th St Del Mar with Missed It Mike, Trevor and some other Guy~
We met at North Torrey and the waves were small and fat. We checked 20th and it looked slightly bigger and slightly steeper. I wouldn't have gone if Trevor wasn't itching to paddle out and Mike had expressed disinterest in not going. In order to pressure Mike into going, I said, "I'm out thar!"
The air was really cold, and the offshore made it that much colder (this sentence will win some sort of writing award). Going from a nice warm car to the cold air and then resigning yourself to shedding clothing so you can get in a "wet"suit to get into sub-60 degrees water is daunting.
Mike did his amazingly hilarious bit of complaining about everything. His feet were cold. His feet hurt from walking bare. I asked him if he was coddled as a child and he responded, "What's coddled?". This guy is a comedic genius!
Mike and I were the first to hit the water. Mike had to turn around as he left his wedding ring on, so I had it all to myself. I caught a left and did a weak, but extended, off-the-lip and came down smoothly.
Another left came and I thought it would be a doozy. I bypassed the first hittable section (Mistake 1), pumped way down the line (Mistake 2) and tried a cutty (Mistake 3). This wave should've been hit from the get-go and the rider should have stayed close to the curl, the power source of the wave. Upon the wave ending, a sick slash would have ended the ride nicely.
A right came just as the rest of the crew was paddling out. It looked steep, so I got into my kneeboard barrel stance. I put too much weight on my too far forward stance and ended up sliding over my board and bodysurfing as the lip pitched over me. Bummer, but still a cool view.
Once Mike paddled out, the waves shut down and we drifted south. The water has dipped below 60 degrees, which makes it booty and glove territory for me. I made a mental note to bring those along next time.
I did catch one wave that was a pretty sick barrel. Mike enlightened me as to my sick facial expression just before and in the barrel. Apparently, I open my mouth pretty wide as I'm in there, giving the audience the impression that the barrel is sicker than it is. Pretty funny! The wave barreled all at once, as it was a closeout, and I saw a good twelve feet in tunnel ahead of me.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
My cousin Tom was in town from D.C. and, because he doesn't get to surf much (one session in the the last fourteen months) I decided to give them the most intense surf experience by taking him out before the sun. I grew up in El Salvador with him and we are very close. He was the best man at my wedding after a close vote (HA).
He came in on the late-ish flight on Thursday night and I talked to him about it. He was in. I chose Lowers at this time as it's less crowded and we were somewhat close to the low tide.
I woke him up at four and we left the house at 4:17. We got there at 4:50 and parked. As soon as I opened the car door, I was hit with a stiff offshore breeze. The car said it was a brisk 50 degrees outside. We geared up and started our walk.
I had purchased a waterproof headlamp on Amazon and was itching to try it out...!
While we were the first guys on the trail that morning, we were passed by a two-bike party after the bridge. Once we got to the dirt road portion of the trail, the kneeboarder passed us. If you're an avid reader of this blog (and chances are you're not) you may remember that EVERY time I've surfed Lowers this year that kneeboarder has been out. He was as friendly as he usually is, though he is a wave-catching beast once he hits the water.
The walk to the break was bitterly cold. My hands took the worst of it, but I took solace in the experience/hope that the water would be warmer. While on the walk, I told Tom that I wondered if I would get any beef for having a headlamp.
We leashed up and I turned my headlamp on high. I knew there were at least two guys in the water due to the bikers, but Victor (kneeboarder) was still gearing up and was taking his time doing so.
My headlamp was still on as we hit the water. This was my first time surfing with one and I was enjoying the experience. I could see the sea mist whirling in its beam and it was a cool feeling. While paddling out, a set came and I thought a guy was on it. I instinctively looked to see the wave and quickly realized I was shining my bright 14 lumens beam right in his fully-dilated eyes and face.
I sat there for five minutes, paddled for a couple when I sensed a set on the horizon. There was a boat way out on the horizon which had lights that became obscured when a set came. I heard a "What's with the light, man!?", to which I replied, "I'm trying something out. Is it f'ing with you?". I didn't get an answer, so I switched it off.
A jacking wave materialized at that point and I duckdived. The wave immediately ripped the headlamp from my head, never to be seen again. Had I not turned it off, I'd have had a shot at finding it. I was a little bummed, but I couldn't help but smile... Goodbye $14!
I was forced to adjust to no light and it happened more quickly than I expected. A few more waves came and I paddled like hell and missed. The stiff offshore wasn't helping things.
I finally caught a screamer of a right. I caught it late, as happens often with strong offshore winds, pumped a couple of times and watched in horror as a ten-foot (horizontal, not vertical) section in front of me collapsed. I tried to flop over it and salvage the paddle but I failed and got pounded down into the trough of the wave.
It took a good half-hour before my next wave and it was a left. I thought about doing a snap but I wasn't feeling the more vertical part of the wave as it was rather fat. I did a slash on it, pumped a couple of times and laid into a little cutty. Nothing special, kicked out.
I caught a left less than five minutes later and did a cutty, then a pretty good roundhouse cutty.
The crowd started pouring in as the sun made its existence known this morning with just the edge of its light shining against the backside of the high peak behind the nuclear plant off Camp Pendleton.
It took quite a bit of time before I caught my next wave and I had to ditch the main peak to get it. The high tide was fast approaching at this point, and the fatness of the waves showed it. The outside sets were coming in insconsistently and there were twenty guys I had to beat to get one of these beauts. I stayed on the inside and hoped for some mid-sized ones coming in.
My cousin went in and I knew he must have been freezing his ass off after coming out of the water and being hit with that wind.
I caught two quick lefts. One sectioned off on me quickly and the other fattened up to the point it was unsurfable. I bailed and we faced the stinging cold air together. Within five minutes, parts of my hands were purple. Taking my wetsuit off was an exercise in mental fortitude as my hands stung from the cold. It felt oh so good to get in the car and partake in some Pipes burritos.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
While getting an oil change at Ray's Automotive today, I wandered into Hansen's upstairs area and saw these boards. The front truck rotates all the way around thanks to its springs. I thought the tail pad and stringer with measurements were very clever. I watched a video on the official website and was disappointed by the board's performance. It looks like a different kind of trick skateboard with more surf functionality rather than a full-on surf trainer.
Click HERE to watch. Congratulations to my ex-stepbrother-in-law and renowned wave thief Fernando Salverría for breaking an event record in the Grand Masters Category with the lowest combined wave score of 1.3 of the event thus far. AHAHAHAHA
Conditions are iffy, but that's to be expected due to the torrential downpours Central America has been experiencing. There are still some barrels to be had, though!
I'm not sure why the guy in the logo is going left...