The forecast said the swell was strengthening throughout the day. It was calling for 3-4' with 5' sets for most exposed spots to the SW swell (Oside!). My buddy Eric was itching to go, but I was concerned about the wind. The forecast said it would go from 7 knots W to 5 knots W by sundown. We shot up there. The pier looked ok, but it was packed. I told Eric (Moondoggie) Wisconsin would be better and less crowded. We checked it briefly, saw a set and paddled out around 5:30.
Oceanside was still doing its latest fad. A wave would break and literally get chopped up. It looked as though someone had taken a giant steak knife and sheared the faces sideways, leaving speed draining potholes on the waves. This, coupled with the bump the onshore had been laboring at creating all day, made for challenging conditions for a shortboard.
We zipped out there, going approximately 100 paces south of Wisconsin. The current started dragging us immediately, confirming that this was a new swell.
I caught a wave and did the Huntington Hop, doing my best to pop multiple mini-wheelies so as to squirt water through the tail (doing this helps move water underneath the board, thereby creating speed in flat sections). Some sections were so ugly and had such big chops that I bypassed them and shot out the back.
As the session wore on, I caught a left and had a nice look at an oncoming section, I went up to smack it, did so, kept my board under my legs while my body was splayed behind. I came oh so close to pulling what probably would have been the sickest frontside turn of my life. When things like this happens, it makes me think I should paddle out in crappy surf more often instead of turning tail.
A set came through and I was on it. I caught it late and got hung up on the lip. I made the drop with the lip but the wave was over. As I'm hurtling myself over the foam, I realize I missed an opportunity to try foam climbs.
I caught a couple more waves and I was feeling really good about my equipment and the way I was surfing (even though I didn't pull that turn, I felt like I was surfing aggressively and efficiently in the choppy stuff). I started imagining being at different breaks from around the world and envisioning me dropping into some STEEP spinning lefts. I placed myself paddling for a late one, dropping in just under the lip.
Almost as though to give me a reality check, a macker comes through, one of the 5' sets they were talking about. I paddle and am so excited to get a steep one I P E A R L E D!!! Bummer. So much for my fantasy of dropping in to just about anything!
I blame my insistence on harnessing as much speed upon takeoff, even on steep drops. While stomping on the back can save you in a situation like this, it tends to look weak and can leave the rider in the pocket of the wave without speed. Granted, if this was Hawaii or El Salvador, where the waves are MUCH juicier, a different method would be employed (or at least until I got cocky).
I caught one right all session, did an ok turn but was too aggressive for the steepness of the wave and was left behind at the maneuver's conclusion.
A long lull came as the sun flirted with the horizon and we paddled in. The shorebreak was HEAVY. I saw some sick, mini-The Box style ugly ones. I tried to catch a couple but pulled back both times because of the shallowness.
The next morning I made the trek up to Oceanside and the waves were a little different, breaking fast and sectioning off quickly. I was racking my brain as to why the waves kept doing this and then it hit me! It has to do with that big swell we had that started to hit 8/31. It must have screwed up the sandbars. Given enough time, the sandbars will return back to normal but it's a shame.