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Sunday, October 30, 2011

10.28.2011 Lowers Sunrise Sesh with "Sebastián"

I haven't stopped posting, but I have stopped surfing due to the dismal conditions. The morning high tides have been wave-killers as of late and it is frustrating.

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

Clever Design on This Skateboard

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.

El Salvador, Punta Roca ISA Webcast is LIVE

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...

Monday, October 17, 2011

10.17.2011 Lowers, then Cottons, Sunrise Sesh w/ Moondoggie

Moondoggie had been hounding me to do a Lowers mission and we decided today would work. The forecast looked grim for the next few days, so I figured I should surf before it turned to slop.

I met him at his place in Carlsbad just before 5:00. The walk in the dark was cold and our feet were feeling every little pebble and imperfection in the asphalt. We both were reminded of "Missed It" Mike who if he was with us would be howling in pain and reminding us with every step that his feet hurt.

After we crossed the bridge, we saw someone speed past us on his bike, effeminately yelling out, "Good MORning!". I jokingly said it was the kneeboarder who has been out EVERY time I've surfed Lowers this year. We were in the water by 6:10, the fourth and fifth guys out.

A nice set came through and Moondoggie and I were frothing for some goodness. We paddled out and sat inside of the three guys. Two of them were telling (you're not going to believe this) the KNEEBOARDER (!) that they'd been out for a couple of hours.

About ten minutes in, I caught my first wave. I thought it would be a left, but it turned into a better right. I got one hit off the top but buried my outside rail. This happens sometimes and I've never had this problem before surfing this board. I attribute it to its width being 18.125" instead of the usual 18.25"-18.375". An eighth of an inch doesn't make much sense in an of itself, but if you multiply that difference by the non-tapered length of the board and it makes a huge difference...

My second wave was better. I caught this right in a good spot and did my best turn of the morning. I was so late on the turn that I got hung up on the lip, catching the offshore as the hang time counter progressed. I made it down, recovered, then pumped. I laid into a roundhouse cutback, hit the wash then kicked out. I was a long way from the peak...

Moondoggie caught a wave, and then I caught one. I did a solid backhand smack, then Fosbury Flopped over the section as it dumped under me.

My right forearm was back to aching. Every paddle and duckdive taxed my pain receptors and the pain signals made my enthusiasm waver ever so slightly with each pulse.

About twenty minutes after this, I caught a left that I really had to paddle for. HARD. A guy paddled on it inside of me, on the shoulder. He looked right at me, and he took off. He pumped, did a small hit, and kicked out. I kicked out right behind him, super pissed. The wave wasn't worth squabbling over but I stinkeyed that guy a couple of times until he looked away.

I have zero respect for people who do this and will act if it's done more than once (so long as it's not an accident). Knowing me though, it's all talk...!

Moondoggie was getting vibed by one of those cliché guys who think they're the ish. He told me on the way to Uppers (which we skipped due to crowd/inconsistency issues) that the guy told him, "This isn't a longboard spot". What an a-hole!

We paddled out at Cottons even though the tide was too high for it. We saw one guy get a sick one and our hopes went up, but they were soon dashed. We went in within about a half-hour or so.

Friday, October 14, 2011

10.14.2011 Mo' Shorebreak, Mo' Problems!

I took my in-laws to the airport this morning and after I was done, I was able to get some waves still untouched by the sun! I checked the waves and it looked promising, so I went for it. On the way down, I saw a dependable left, but on the other side, I saw very little. I was about to solidify the left as my spot for the day but I saw a guy get a SICK barrel way down the beach. This led me to literally sprint down towards him to see if I could steal some of his magic.

I paddled out and my arm was feeling good. As soon as I sat on my board, the guy whom I'd seen pitted out of his mind gives me his report, unprompted, "It's pretty inconsistent, set waves are where it's at".

Well, none came. The waves were being huge teases in that we'd see a bump and get in position, only to have the waves not break until close-out detonation on the inside.

I took a left late and took it all the way to the bottom, starting with the nose of my board. I had pearled.

I regrouped. I caught a right and tried to get in the barrel. My decision to take a high line on this small, barely barreling wave and the stiff offshore created disaster. I went over the falls and I BOUNCED OFF THE WATER at the bottom, like a skipping stone. The wave then lovingly pounce upon me. I felt like a mouse that the wave was toying with as I gently bounced off the bottom, chest first.

My arm started sending pain signals to my brain, but nothing too bad. It wasn't an impact pain, just a muscle stress pain.

I caught what seemed to be a nice left but got hung up on the lip for too long. I made it down and just in time (read: WAY late) to line up for the barrel as it pitched over me. The heaving lip was so far ahead of me that I instinctively shot my board out ahead and away from me. I did those so quickly that my knees painfully knocked together. OUCH.

Things turned a bit when I caught a right in a good spot, found my rhythm on the wave and pumped up and down. I had a lot of speed on a diminishing wave. I tested a little cut down but the now mini-wave was so steep I felt only a different angle of attack would save me from face-planting into the foot of water. I did a flying kickout (an air over the back of the wave; not nearly as cool as it seems) and paddled back out.

I paddled out and saw an amazing set wave left roll through, perfect for off-the-tops. I was left lusting, as no others came.

I was getting sick of these waves and my arm was beginning to scream for relief from paddling and duckdiving. I took what seemed like a left but turned into a closeout. I got hung up on the lip yet again, this time on takeoff. I popped up despite the wave not being worth the risk and air-dropped tail-first. I think it's the only air drop I've had all year. I landed and rode away clean, became prone and bailed.

*Happy Birthday to my goddaughter, Emma, who turned twelve today!*

Thursday, October 13, 2011

10.13.2011 Shorebreak, Shuffle, Lame Arm Continues...

This morning I was up and at 'em early. The "forecast" said it would be 3-4'+. I checked Del Mar, but it was closing out and topping out at 2'. I checked the secret spot (not breaking), checked N. Torrey Pines and that wasn't going either. I was over Black's after yesterday's session so I doubled back around.

Seaside looked good, but I kept driving. Something about Seaside has never left me satisfied. I checked 85-60's, which wasn't breaking BUT a peak north looked awesome (I happened to catch the last of a set). There were at least fifteen heads out there, so I was over it. I made a pact with myself that if my shorebreak spot wasn't working, I would not surf today.

Well, it was working! The waves were fast and shifty, but they were there. And so was I. I had my 3/2 on me because of how hot it'd been. I was expecting to surf Del Mar, and figured the sun wouldn't be obstructed for long upon first light.

I had to wade through the peanut gallery, but bounded down the steps while keeping my eye on the waves. I had Nicki Minaj's "Right Thru Me" (don't laugh) in my head.

First light had happened, but the sun hadn't cleared the bluff yet. As you can imagine it was pretty cold in my 3/2. Upon paddling out, I felt my right forearm start snarling at me as it hadn't yet properly healed. I sat for about ten minutes before a rideable wave came by.

A left came and, since I was in the shorebreak, I had to act fast. I dropped in late as the section detonated just behind me and just to my left. I hooked a bottom turn around it and did a snap-stall a split second before the lip enveloped me. Being true to my latest bad habit, I set my line too high and all I got for my efforts was a nice view of a very makeable barrel... *Sigh*

A right came not too long after I made it back. I caught it late and did my kneeboard barrel stance and went pretty far through the unmakeable tube.

The guy nearest to me was tearing it up out there, so that got me motivated to do some turns.

About twenty minutes passed of me paddling around to latest peak, only to miss it. Picture a three-year-old playing Whack-A-Mole and getting there too late on each thwack of the hammer. My forearm was killing me so I made a mental note to make this a short session.

A left came by and I caught it a little late, pumped upon takeoff and around the first section. I was going a little slow for how vertical the section was, but I smacked it and splayed out on to my back. My front foot slid back towards my back foot and I tried my damnedest to recover by putting all of my stress on my abs. Just as I'm about to stand up, the wave crashes onto my board and I lose it. Bummer!

Another right came and it was almost exactly like the first right I caught, just a tad shorter in the barrel.

A third right came and I pumped like crazy and without thinking, tried my beast Archy-lean-forward-facing-up-backside-tube. I got in there, but my hand whiffed my rail and I was done.

Yet another right (NW swells tend to favor rights) came and I tried to pigdog it. Because I'm so used to having one knee on the deck and the back leg splayed out, my orientation was funky. I ended up sliding the fins out just as the wave barreled over me and my board flipped and smacked into the back of my left knee.

I bailed after that wave, hoping my forearm would recover in time for a meatier part of the swell tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

10.12.2011 Black's Redux, Bigger and Sunny

This morning I woke up just after five to take my wife to the airport. I packed my board and gear along with her suitcase with the plan to swing by Black's on the way back. Just after I dropped her off, first light happened, so I was going to be a bit later than usual.

Given that the fog had lifted, I walked down to the mouth of the goat trail and snapped the above shot. The waves looked bigger than a couple of days ago so I was out THAR!

I was doing my usual, run-just-a-little-faster-than-I-should, routine when at one of the lookout points I saw two guys sleeping in sleeping bags. I thought they were creative campers so I slowed down so as not to wake them.

About fifteen minutes after completing the descent, I saw a guy get the throatiest backside barrel I think I've ever seen anyone make in California. It wasn't a big wave, but the lip was thick and throwing. He was in there a good three, possibly four seconds. My pace quickened, along with my pulse, and I decided to paddle out inside of him to see if I could snag one of those beauts.

The longshore current from the NW swell was pushing pretty hard, and I had to do some corrective paddling to counteract its effects. I sat/paddled north for about fifteen minutes until I got my first look at one.

A right came through and I dropped in on it just a little late. I grabbed my rail a little prematurely and waited for the wave to throw. By the time it did, it overdid it, the section in front of me was too long for me to navigate successfully. I got a little bit of tube time and, even better, some tube vision.

About fifteen minutes later I caught another right. I blew all of my takeoff speed by taking off too straight on it and tried to get some speed going, but the wave left me behind. Too bad, because there was an amazing oh-so-hittable section coming towards me on the left...

Five minutes passed before I had my shot at another one. This one was a "big" (maybe 6') screamer of a right that started breaking on the outside and lined up for quite a ways that I caught late. I pumped up and down, thought about going for a big floater, but I was too far below the wave to make it manageable, especially as it started to throw. I did my Fosbury Flop and cleared the watery high bar, letting my leash rubber band my board back to me.

At this point, the waves started being teases. The tide was rising and what looked like a sick peak, turned out to be nothing. At the beginning of this phenomenon, I would actually paddle out, thinking, "Aww, yeah!". After two of these, I let the pack paddle for them while I just sat there and let them pass by. The inside was shutting down, so that wasn't a viable option.

Around this time is when my right forearm started aching, to the point where hard paddling was excruciating. I began looking for my last wave.

It was definitely a beautiful morning. Santa Ana conditions make for blue skies. With the high cliffs directly to the east, the sun hits the water at interesting angles. I had stopped fighting the current when the peak I was on got flooded by semi-pros and I was officially at South Peak.

The sun finally came over the edge of the cliff and it made the waves change to a nice green hue. I spent my time admiring the way the light played with the bluff and ocean. I didn't spend my time catching waves.

Finally, I caught a small left and pumped. I floated over a section, which gave me more speed. I was about to bottom turn when I BOGGED and dug my rail. I had just enough speed for a weak snap.

I kicked out south of the south access to Black's (the one off LJ Farms) and spent a good twenty minutes walking back.

I saw a beer can on the sand and picked it up. I walked up the way I came down and was bummed to see the "creative campers" had packed up their valuables but left a plastic bag full of empty Bud cans. I picked it up and added my sand can to the loot. A-holes...!

Monday, October 10, 2011

10.10.2011 Black's Beach Fog, Record Breaker!

This morning I woke up earlier than usual and I had a decision to make. I knew the waves were not going to be great, but I wanted to get out there. I could shoot up to Lowers and get in the water after sunrise OR I could surf Black's for the first time in at least two years. I opted for the latter and turned south out of my driveway.

Why? The bathymetry at Black's is unique in that it has a deep submarine canyon which tends to funnel in swell. As the continental shelf is felt out by the waves, they slow down. At Black's they are fast-tracked (picture the horizontal people movers you tend to see at airports) and thus dump that much harder when they meet their fate.

With the swell giving its last gasp, I knew it was my only chance to have a decent session.

It'd been a while since I'd surfed there and there was a lot of fog as I pulled off onto the street where all the UCSD students park. I made it to the end and racked my brain as to where the parking lot was. Remember, it was EXTREMELY foggy and I couldn't see more than ten feet in front of me. I turned slightly left and dead-ended at a parallel-parked RV. I parked, got out and looked around. This didn't look familiar, did they move the lot? I got back in the car and headed toward the dead lot entrance/exit and turned hard left. I was driving for about a minute when I thought that the lot to Black's wasn't this far away from the street.

That's when I realized that I was headed towards THE GAY LOT! My buddy Forrest once took me there (no, not in that way) after checking the surf at Black's and didn't tell me what it was. When we got to the end of that road, there were a bunch of cars backed in (no pun intended) with guys sitting in driver's seat looking straight ahead while wearing sunglasses. I asked him what the significance of this was and he told me it was the gay lot.

Just as I turned around, I noticed a car following me which slowed way down as it passed me. I didn't get a look at the driver but I can't blame him for thinking I was a prospect in my cherry red RAV4. I kept driving and parked out on the street, waiting for the sun to come up so I could see where I'd gone wrong.

Finally, I tried it again from the top. This time I pulled hard left from the get-go and was there in twenty seconds. The lot looked like the Black's lot, so I got my stuff on and started down the cliff. There was no sense in checking it with the fog this thick.

I knew it was going to be small, but I was not prepared for what I was about to see as I made my way through the sand to the canyons. I could barely see through the fog as it was slowly lifting and what I could see was not promising. Little dribblers with no push...

I trudged on, consoling myself that this was La Jolla beachbreak, not classic Black's. Once you make it down the sheer cliff, the walk to the peaks is about fifteen minutes. North Peak looked bad. Since I couldn't see South Peak and North Peak looked bad, then South Peak had to be better, right? Well, with that logic, I paddled out and hoped to make the long walk up and down the cliff worth it.

I noticed there were TWO kneeboarders out. I'd never seen a 'pack' of them. Record One broken!

I caught a quick wave that was a little affected by the slight onshore wind. I caught it and pumped, but couldn't make it around the always-just-in-front-of-me section.

The next wave I caught was a doozy. It was about shoulder-high, steep and looked pitchy, so as soon as I took off I angled hard to the north and watched as it barreled over me. I drove through it, the lip hit me, and I drove a little farther. The lip hit me again but this time I couldn't hold my line and I fell.

After that wave I noticed how mellow the crowd was. Black's is a high performance wave and is known to have some aggros, but today I think I was the most aggressive guy out there. People just seemed to pick a spot, stick to it, and catch the crappy waves without looking around or burning calories to get some nugs.

I paddled a bit south of where I caught my wave and was rewarded within fifteen minutes with the wave of the day. I was a little late for it, so as soon as I'd picked my paddling line, I quit paddling and let the wave catch up to me, not wanting to take off too critically on it. As I popped up, I looked at the wave and realized it was a screamer.

As soon as I got to my feet, I immediately pumped up, then down HARD. I took another few pumps, more vertical and efficient than I ever remember doing. I was moving faster on a wave that size than I ever have. The oncoming section neared. I knew I was too fast for a reo (since I can't seem to consistently make those) but I pumped halfway down the face, then up towards the lip, stomped on my tail and sucked my front knee up towards my chest, followed soon thereafter by my back knee. I was airborne, but my board became detached from my feet and started fluttering, as if I was doing a double kickflip. Had I had the foresight, the power of slow motion and was a little less horizontal, I could've grabbed the board stuck it under my feet and pulled surfing's first-ever double kickflip.

I didn't have any of these so I lamely stuck my arms out to keep the board from hitting me in the face. One of the rails hit me in the arm brusquely, but it didn't hurt for long.

On my way back out to my take-off spot, I got not one, but TWO compliments on the wave from strangers. This probably matches my stranger compliment count for my career, therby doubling it. The first guy said, "Nice wave, man!" and the second guy said "Wow, that one really lined up!". Yes, the second is more of a testament to the wave than the rider, but I'll take it as compliment on the wave nonetheless...! Record Two broken.

I caught a small right and I tried pumping to gain speed but couldn't get anything going.

I caught a small left where I really had to crouch down. I got covered up, but when the lip hit me I wrenched my bad knee (right) a bit.

I paddled back out and nothing came. I decided to bail.

On my way back up, I took the goat trail. If you've never walked down to Black's there are three access points. Two are by the gliderport on the south side, while another lets off just south of South Peak. There is an easy but time-consuming one which is the one I normally take down.

The goat trail is a pretty hairy walk, with sheer drops that will at least maim you if you slip. Because this part of the trail is not sanctioned by the State Park system, there is absolutely no upkeep done, so the trail changes constantly.

There is one point in the trail where there the trail is missing a couple of feet, and the cliff outcropping is slippery sandy rock that juts over the gap at about shoulder level. Combine this scenario with my barefootedness, carrying my surfboard and you have one gnarled-out EddieP.

I looked at it and thought, "No way, I'm turning back." This feeling lasted about five seconds and I looked down and thought if I fell, I may break a limb, but I wouldn't die. I put my hand on the slippery cliff that impeded easy progress. This was strictly for peace of mind, it turned out. I stepped forward with my left foot as a mini-leap of faith. My foot slipped just enough to make it excruciatingly exciting, but I had made it. Way gnarly. I will not be going that way again.

10.9.2011 Del Mar 24-26th Street, Dying Swell

I was hoping for more of the same from the previous session so I shot up to Oceanside. I knew the swell was dying, but I thought there would still be a couple of waves.

I was mistaken. It was so flat. The offshore was still going which was a waste. When the wind is offshore on small waves, it can make the waves difficult to catch as you have to generate enough speed upon takeoff with reduced wave speed. You can't make mistakes as each one costs you momentum and a chance for the wind to catch on you and stop your progress.

I went down to Del Mar and checked 20th street. I saw a lot of gutlessness and so many people getting up on waves and being left behind. This guy walked past me, surfboard in hand, with a frustrated look on his face. I asked him how it was and he said he wished he'd brought his fish. A couple of more waves came and even the loggers were having trouble staying on the wave. I did see a couple of small screamers to the north and made a mental note that if nothing else worked, I could grovel there.

I went south and 15th was PACKED. This isn't shocking for a Sunday. I checked the reefs south of Del Mar (not working because of the tide), then checked N. Torrey (or as I call it, Baby Black's, which looked similar to the Del Mar reefs.

I drove back to 20th and almost decided to bail. I thought about yesterday's no-go and I was hesitant to make it two days of wasted gas in a row. I grudgingly put on my 4/3 and walked down to the spot.

My first wave seemed to be a nice 2' left. I pumped once, not gaining too much speed because of the wave's fatness. I leaned into a cutback but didn't have much to lean against and fell.

I waited for some time and saw a guy with long hair and his girlfriend split a peak. I decided to crash their party as the peak looked amazing compared to what else was out there. While I paddled to their peak, the guy caught a right, then the girl caught one and just as I pulled up, the waves stopped. They paddled south of me and kept catching waves.

Then, a sick right came and I got a little bit excited. I paddled hard and as I analyzed the wave, I knew it was going to be a fast one. I popped up and pumped up and down twice as the wave shut down. Although it wasn't a wave that I got anything going on, the speed I was able to generate that quickly felt good and I was pretty amped.

The lovebirds bailed after they each caught another wave and I was all alone.

A kid with striking red hair paddled out on an orange board and he sat by me. No waves were coming, I paddled inside and waited. Nothing was coming, so I paddled inside some more. Nothing came and I was out.

Friday, October 7, 2011

10.7.2011 FIRING Oceanside Tyier, Offshore Combo Swell Goodness

During the storm that hit SoCal this week, I was checking the reports. I knew there were waves, but the water was so dirty from the first big rain we've had in a long time, I just didn't want to risk it. It's so tempting to surf at this time because of the big powerful waves and the lack of crowds (most of them don't want to get sick either).

I was checking the wind forecast on my phone in between hands at a poker game last night and what it said was amazing. Picture being a kid and it's Christmas Eve (Chanukah Eve if you're so inclined). It's hours away from presents and you just discovered what you are getting! For me, the gift was a gorgeous report of an ENE wind @ approximately 4 mph. Combine this with reports of 5-7' surf, the likely possibility of freshly sculpted sandbars from the storm and I had the equivalent of a surf boner. Ooh baby.

I got home and passed out shortly after midnight. I woke up at 545 and got my stuff. I exited on La Costa to make sure the wind hadn't done a 180 and torn the surface to shreds. Ponto looked smooth but small, same with SouPa, same with Cherry. I finally left PCH with a left turn at Cassidy, then turned right on the littoral. Buc Beach looked promising, but I couldn't shake the visions I'd had the dozen or so times I'd previously driven up to Oside only to be turned away by the weak, reforming waves that smashed as shorebreak. I kept on...

A glimmer of hope and the first amount of real stoke I'd felt in a week (if you don't count last night's mental masturbation about the wind + swell conditions) filled me as I drove past the way-too-narrow lookout at Oside Blvd. I proclaimed, "I will surf today!"

I passed my much-missed August lover, Wisconsin Street, which showed what I'd been used to seeing almost all of last month: rolling, weak reforms that explode too hazardously on the inside to be worth the risk. As I cruised past Tyson and looked towards the lit-up pier, I saw hope and immediately hooked a right towards the parking lot.

I put on my 4/3 quickly, possibly breaking a parking lot record, and literally ran down to the stairs. The air was a chilly 52 degrees, the sky was completely clear, the wind STRAIGHT offshore and I had a good feeling about today. I headed towards Tyson Street but lost hope and turned around as the new sandbar (thanks storm!) in front of the northern Vacation Rental building made a wave rear its head. I sprinted there and jumped on top of my board as two waves combined in the shorebreak.

I sprint-paddled and made it through the pre-shorebreak. The water was a lot warmer than the air and it felt so good to duckdive under the cold wind.

A little side note on offshore wind: It gets a lot of hype and for good reason. The wind will literally hold up the wave and keep it from breaking. When the wave finally does, it tends to throw over that much harder, usually widening the tube. However, it also has a downside, which is you almost always have to drop in late. That's not bad in and of itself, but it limits your options if you try to catch an inside nugget and you're a bit deeper than you'd like.

I continued paddling and sat. I paddled for a wave and a sponger took off so I let him have it. Then I sat some more. I had Smokey Robinson's "Tracks of my Tears" in my head, so I spent my time trying to remember the words to that song and singing what I did know.

About fifteen minutes passed before I got my first real look at one. A 5' or so right reared up and I paddled hard, focusing not only on torque in the last third of my hands' underwater movement (where paddling power comes from, so stop windmilling!) but more so on keeping as much of my weight as possible towards the front of my board.

As I leapt to my feet I immediately was reminded of Punta Roca, the freight train right in El Salvador. I was really late on this one but I came down smooth. I felt the speed and juice as I descended. I was a bit far out on the flats so I was able to really hook my turn up the face vertically. I snapped and on my descent said to no one in particular, "So sick". I did a roundhouse cutback (MUCH easier on the backhand) but lost the wave as it lost its contact with the sandbar.

My next wave was a quick left. I caught it and pumped. I saw a big section that was a bit premature. I SHOULD'VE started my roundhouse cutty there but instead I did a cutdown.

A roundhouse cutback would've led me to the foam/curl and put me in the most powerful and speediest part of the wave (in essence making the same section of the wave one you surf FOUR times if you're fast enough).

The cutdown creates a huge amount of speed, which makes sense, since you're starting at the top of the wave and aiming your nose to the beach. This can set you up for an amazing vertical re-entry (aka reo) with the right section and bottom turn. For some reason I don't remember what happened at the top of this wave; the wave may have fizzled.

I paddled back out and was sitting outside of a guy who was catching more than his share of waves. Within ten minutes, a MACKER came through. We both were paddling for it, but I had position.

The following thoughts took place in a span of about five seconds:

1) I am super late and deep on this one. I should tell him to go.
2) F him, he's been catching everything.
(I feel the villain making eye contact with me, burning for me to tell him to go. Villain pulls back)
3) Man, this drop is going to be heavy, should I pull back?
4) Well, I didn't tell him to go. He pulled back, so if I don't go I am likely to get burned on the next set wave.
5) Here I GOOOOOO!

I got to my feet and stomped on my front foot so as to not get hung up on the lip and decimated. WHOOSH! I went down the face and saw a barrel section coming. I pumped once, set my line and backdoored the wave's second peak. I was rewarded with a precious second or so in a truly green green room (something about the offshores makes the light penetrate more deeply). But alas, I set my line too high and was clipped. I could've and should've made that barrel. Bummer.

I paddled out and saw villain catch the next one. He grabbed his rail in an attempt to pigdog into the barrel. The section didn't throw as much as he anticipated and his fins betrayed him by giving out and he ended up splayed on his back. I paddled past him and told him that was a sick drop. He smiled and asked how my wave was.

I caught another left within five minutes and had something interesting happen to me. My back foot's big toe was hanging over my rail and dipping into the water on my frontside turn, acting as a fourth fin! I quickly reset my back foot, pumped the flatter section and saw the flat-ish right coming towards me.

As it and I got closer to one another, I was telling myself, "Don't smash that section. If you do, you will be caught inside and out of commission for five minutes if there are more behind it." I ignored my own advice, cut down, and sprung from my bottom turn to snap the section. I don't know what I did wrong but I fell and (You're not going to believe this) was caught inside and duckdiving for a good four-five minutes.

I caught a right and was too deep for it. I went any way and was burned my an older man on his egg/thruster hybrid. I couldn't have made the wave so no biggie.

I started thinking about putting in one of my 3+ hour surf sessions I was once famous for (my longest was five hours in the water) but then...

The waves just stopped. I sat with the ever-growing pack. Everyone started paddling for the inside, even though the waves weren't breaking even there. It was just me and a second older gentleman waiting for a bomb.

Twenty minutes later, still no bomb, still no inside nuggets. The pack looked even farther inside until I realized it was me who seemed to be moving away from them. I paddled for a solid forty-five seconds, whipping my head back every eight or so seconds in case my package from New Zealand was being delivered. Nothing. I kept an eye on the pier and I was making progress, but it was reversed pretty quickly.

I paddled some more and saw a wedge pop up to the north of me with two guys splitting it in opposite directions. There was nothing behind it. Forty-five minutes had passed since the last decent wave had broken. I was officially over it.

As I took my leash off on the sand, a huge two-wave set hit and cleaned everybody up. Then, about three minutes later I was showering off and another big set came. I saw a guy catch a sick left that he had a great line on to hit, but he opted to fly off his board and out the back. Apparently, HE listens to his inner monologue.

I kept checking back as I walked towards civilization and away from the waves. Flatness. Thirty seconds later, flatness. One last check from the top of the stairs revealed more flatness.

It was good to have a solid sesh at Oside again!