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!