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Sunday, January 29, 2012

SUPER SESSION: Del Mar, CA January 29th, 2003 My Best Wave EVER

Today is the nine-year anniversary of the best wave I've ever caught. Seeing as to how it's been close to a decade, I'll do my best to paint a vivid picture of that day with no embellishment.

January of 2003 was quite the surf month. I remember the waves were massive almost all month. On the 29th, I didn't surf early as I tend to do. I was living at my dad's house and I had an oil change appointment at two. It was a classic Santa Ana SoCal winter day. I loaded up my blue 1990 Honda Accord with my wetsuit tub and my 6'1" Gerry Lopez and thought I'd check the surf on my way to the oil change shop.

I caught a little glimpse of the waves in between Jake's and the lifeguard tower near 15th Street while driving. The quick glance I got was enough to make me pull over and suit up.

I walked out in between the aforementioned buildings and what I saw was GORGEOUS and empty waves with one guy on them, right out front. It was like stepping through a television screen into a surf video. As I walked, I decided NOT to surf there as it was too good! Have you ever had that feeling before? I'd never had it before and I've never had it since...

I quickly came to my senses, doubled around and paddled out. I remember because of the angle of the sun, there was a lot of glare on the surface of the water. As I duckdived under waves, I would be enveloped in a bright mist of lip blow-over from the offshores.

I saw a guy pull off a flawless roundhouse cutback, the only other guy out. He kicked out next to me and said very excitedly, "How GOOD is it out here?!?!". I mumbled something, I can't quite remember what and watched as he CAUGHT THE NEXT ONE IN!

I was all alone, in the best conditions I'd ever seen in Southern California. I caught a right and dropped all the way down, the lip was beginning to spill over at the top. It felt as though I'd levitated up to the lip, much like a 1984 Occy at J-Bay. I came down smoothly and dove under the wave.

A sponger paddled out and I saw some amazing waves come reeling off a sandbar. I paddled north just a bit. About ten minutes later, after just missing a wave, I spotted an amazing wave coming in.

The sponger, of course, set up outside of me. He was about fifty feet away from me, deeper and in a better position (etiquette-wise) than me. He was kicking and scratching furiously for it. Since I was more inside, I didn't have to paddle as hard as I didn't want to make the mistake of being too inside of it.

I remember thinking, "Please, God. Let him miss this wave so I can have it". As the wave just barely passed him by, he strained and put all of his weight on the front of his board letting out a pained, "NOOOOOOOOO!" as he realized he had missed it.

It looked to be about a 9-footer and perfect!

I paddled into it and popped up without issues. I pumped a few times and realized I was in for quite a ride when I sensed the wave was about to pitch. I pumped all the way down to the bottom, set my barrel stance with my knees slightly bent and my fingers caressing the water as it was in the middle stage of its horizontal-vertical-horizontal journey. I was in there for about four seconds, pumping slightly in the barrel. I thought I was golden, the lip was steady in its speed and there were no boils or people in my way. Then, the foamball robbed me of my dream by sweeping the board out from under my feet. I flipped onto my back and got a final, upside-down view of my barrel, this time from a bodysurfer's point of view.

I got wrecked by the wave. When I came up, I let out a guttural YEOH! and paddled back out. This was the second best feeling I'd EVER had (the first was a barrel in 1999 which I will cover in July as a super session).

A few more people paddled out and the tide got too low. It seemed like I'd caught the very best of it, though I'm sure I missed out on some really good waves because I didn't show up earlier.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

1.28.2012 Smaller Oside South Jetty with Forrest

Missed-It Mike told us he had to stay and watch his young son. He told me his wife had to go to a hair appointment. I was suspicious as to the time of the appointment (before eight) but I let it slide because I didn't want to deal with the fallout (Mike can be touchy).

Forrest and I met at Tyson Street. Since I'd gotten there a little early, I surveyed the waves and proclaimed S. Jetty to be the best use of our time. We parked and Forrest patiently waited for me to change into my suit. I forewent the gloves and we were out there! We walked quite a ways south, hoping to avoid the crowd of rippers that tends to clog Harbor and Harbor-adjacent spots on the weekends.

The offshore winds made the air very cold. My first wave was sabotaged by these winds as I didn't get to drop down the face. Still, a good one to get started on as it wasn't a waste of the wave (the wave wasn't that good).

I caught a right, right into the risen sun and had a tough time seeing. I went by periphery and feel. I did an ok hit on it but I extended it too far and faded off the back.

My next wave was nice, but a little fast. Luckily, I was able to get around the section and hit it in a critical spot, sending a good amount of spray out the back. I recovered nicely, but the wave started threatening to close out, so I let it and went into it.

I caught a slow right, did a quick cutback, but lost the wave before able to bring it around to the wash.

I caught a right and set up in my barrel stance. I got in there quickly and could have made it, but I didn't angle toward the beach enough and got swept up in the wall. Major bummer as it would've been a sick one! Another bummer was that the camera didn't register my turning it on, so I have no footage. I would've been heartbroken to make a barrel like that and not have it on film, so there is some bittersweetness.

Then, tragedy struck. I paddled my ass off for and caught a nice right, but Forrest decided to snake me. Words can't describe the feeling of betrayal that kept stabbing me in the heart.

The waves then changed. All of the lefts had been pretty much closing out, but now they ALL seemed to be. The rights were not pouring through and we were getting a bit frustrated.

I tried my luck on a left, only to have the lip hit me in the chest almost immediately.

I gave the lefts one last chance to keep me out there, but they blew it by closing out on me.

I wish we'd paddled out earlier as it was a lot of fun at the beginning of the session...!

After much thinking, Forrest and I have decided to take ten days off from our surfing relationship. I think he freaked when I met his new daddy yesterday and acted out on those feelings today by burning me on a wave. On the eleventh day, I will call him to re-assess his commitment and friendship.

Friday, January 27, 2012

1.27.2012 BOOMING Torrey Pines "with Forrest"

This morning I met Forrest at our now usual spot in front of the first lifeguard tower at Torrey Pines. Our photographers (his mom and his new daddy) were meeting us there. They arrived quickly.

To my horror, I realized I'd somehow transported only one booty with me. The next tragedy I discovered was I'd taken the paper clip off my wetsuit closure zipper, but neglected to replace it with a new one. The offshore winds were going to make zipping in and out a challenge! Luckily Forrest's mom came through with a metal savior.

The waves out front were macking, and Forrest swore he saw some better lines to the north. I didn't argue with him, as he'd been watching it longer.

We walked up there, my left foot's toes were turning interesting shades of light purple/dark pink. We paddled out. With Forrest on his longboard, I gained on him and passed him quickly. The waves were coming in at a relentless rhythm and it was a brutal time getting out there.

After about twelve or so minutes of nonstop paddling, duckdiving, and more paddling, I arrived at my very temporary perch. We had paddled out at the crane that was retrofitting the ancient bridge connecting the city of San Diego to Del Mar, but looking back, I was easily 150 yards south of that. The swell had been steadily rising all night and peaking just as we were surfing. This means the sets were more numerous and longer in duration, which means the current was also at its max for the swell's duration.

I spotted Forrest paddling about fifty yards south of me. He had made it out after all! Because of the frequency of the waves, any attempt at pleasantries or exchange of battle stories was nixed due to us being on high alert of getting caught inside of a bomb set.

I'd made the dubious decision of bringing my standard 6'1", which is the thinnest, narrowest board I've ever ridden (not counting my 5'11" epoxy, as it floats me much better). Being on this board would mean having to be spot-on in my can-I-catch-this calculations and paddling my ass off to hopefully speed down these elevated faces.

My first wave arrived within fifteen minutes of perching. It let me in relatively easily, considering the amount of foam I was on and the offshores. I was wearing my gloves, so that may have helped, as I was moving that much water. I dropped down the face with just a little offshore-caused delay. I tried to make it around the section, but it took me down.

I paddled back out without incident. I dodged some big 'uns, and then less than ten minutes later, I caught my second wave.

This one was much more open and was a sheer pleasure to drop down. I had a little time to maneuver, but on waves this size and on aboard that small, that can be difficult to do. My other concern was putting myself in a position on the wave where I'd have no escape from the lip. This would lead me to get hit by that wave, then lose more position and possibly get smashed by the next wave too. With this in mind, I admired the view, my speed and the size of the oncoming section while quickly deciding to kick out and help increase my chances of a non-traumatic return to the outside. I caught A LOT of air while kicking out. What the camera catches is pretty funny, so be sure to pause and unpause the video quickly.

Forrest was nowhere to be found, but I figured he was somewhere north of me, as I hadn't seen him catch a wave.

On my way after this wave, there was no monster wave I'd feared. But about five minutes later, I did get trounced on a duckdive after deciding not to go on a wave that turned out to be a close-out. Ever since my near drowning experience in 1997, I have always panicked when being held underwater for longer than 7 or 8 seconds.

For some reason, during this beating, I had the Education Connection jingle stuck in my head and I was able to keep myself from panicking as a result. It's the first time I can remember I've taken a beating like that and not panicked, so I will have to remember this trick.

I kept getting swept down with every passing undulation beneath me. Pretty soon, I was floating by the southern half of the parking area. I passed three guys who weren't catching much either. I waved one of them into a wave I was too deep for.

Soon after they paddled past me to the north, the biggest wave of the day came. I paddled as hard as I could, my eyes constantly scanning the wave and assessing as to my chances of making it. Was I better off stopping and hoping for a lesser beating by being a bit inside of the detonation zone (Missed-It-Mike's method) or should I press on with some chance of escaping to safety under it.

I can say with full certainty that this was the hardest decision I've had to make in the water in this situation. The wave reared up and I panicked. I started my I'm-ditching-my-board motion, then recanted and duckdived as hard and deep as I could. I counted six Mississippis while underwater, but I had made it!

I came to the realization that the sheer terror of getting crushed was not worth the inconsistency of my sporadic rewards: Big open faces. I made plans to take the next one in. A small wave (just under head high) came through and I was on it. I had a hard time staying on it, but made the inside connection and get a small hit out of it. I walked up to the road and couldn't help feeling a little like Mad Max, with just one booty covering my feet.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

1.26.2012 Booming, Offshore Torrey Pines with Forrest AND Missed-It-Mike!

The crew came together just after 6:30 at 20th Street. The waves there were less than impressive so we weighed our options. Forrest recommended N. Torrey Pines. Mike faltered, but then agreed to join us. We met at the first available parking spots closest to the first lifeguard tower.

Forrest, suited up (at home) as usual, so he was raring to go. I was into it. Mike on the other hand, had major reservations and announced he wouldn't surf. He got in my car and I eventually talked him into paddling out, though we did muse at how funny it would be to bail on Forrest.

The waves were big and racy. The offshore winds were funneling through the 56 corridor and were creating a rain effect that would pelt you in the face hard if you missed a wave. Of course, this means you will most likely have to drop in late on every wave.

We paddled out and it was a nasty one. I joined Forrest on the outside and quickly got swept out.

I caught a wave relatively quickly, after paddling in some. It was a good-sized right, probably about head-high. Unfortunately it only afforded me the thrill of the drop. It quickly raced off without me.

The next wave was almost identical. This time I went for a half-snap and the wave hit my board. I went flying.

Third wave, third closeout right: On this wave I didn't even get a chance to trim laterally across the wave. I kicked my board up to lose as little position as possible.

About a half-hour after paddling out, I caught my first left and it was a doozy. I popped up and set up for the barrel. Things started off well, I didn't make my common mistake of setting up too far from the wall. Unfortunately, I got pinched almost immediately by The Incredible Shrinking Barrel. The lip detonated on me and literally flipped me. I felt my body turn upside down and it happened so quickly that I turned what should have been a barrel into an impromptu sailor dive.

A right came through less than twenty minutes later. I got a snap in on the vertical part of the wave, but I was pushed off of it by the offshores. I suppose I could've snapped lower down on the wave but that looks so lame...

Mike and Forrest spotted a pod of dolphins about five or six strong. Mike's voice became alarmed and he said to me, "Stay close to me". I told him no and paddled away just a bit to see how he would react, but the dolphins ended up veering left and coming closer to me. This is probably the closest a dolphin has surfaced to me in the wild. Here's some footage of the next pod that passed us by.

I then caught a left that seemed nice at the beginning, but ended up being slow. The good news is, after kicking out, I witnessed Missed-It-Mike doing something incredible.

I didn't catch the beginning of it, but what I saw was this. Mike was desperately clinging to his rail with heavy water cascading over him. This was the heaviest thing I've ever seen him do in the water, and I've been surfing with him for ten years. I duckdived the wave and was off-my-rocker thrilled and let him know how gnarly that was.

Side Note: Mike was cold. He told me so eight times!

I also got some footy of some dolphins.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

1.25.2012 Weird Carlsbad Session in front of the Power Plant

I got to Forrest's pad at 6:10 and I suited up. We took off in his ride, briefly checking Tamarack. Forrest kept talking about surfing SoPa (South Palomar) but came to his senses and pulled a U-ie to check Oceanside.

Unfortunately, Oceanside didn't have anything for us. The pier looked surfable, but we weren't excited by the prospects on display. We checked N. Pier, but that looked worse. We decided to check Harbor, but I didn't think it would be working due to the rising tide.

We continued south and spotted a macker breaking in front of the power plant, a place neither of us had previously surfed.

We kept going south to soothe Forrest's need for SoPa so we shot down there. It didn't have anything for us.

We circled back and finally parked. While retrieving our boards, we noticed there was a circle of guys standing just west of the lifeguard tower with their heads bowed. At first, I thought it was memorial, but they were out there for about twenty minutes, so I switched theories from memorial to prayer circle.

We paddled out without issue.

My first wave arrived within five minutes. It was a solid-looking right which had more steepness than I'd anticipated. I popped up off-balance and ended up rolling up one car window. I recovered and did a quick pump, into a cutback. By the time I pulled it around, the wave had passed me by.

I dodged three mackers to the dome. Two of them I barely made, the lips hitting me in the legs and threatening to set me back enough to take the next one in the set on the head. I couldn't remember the last time I surfed waves that hit this hard.

The next wave was a sick one. Forrest and I split the peak! I went left and the wave immediately started bowling over. I did a quick lip analysis and came to the conclusion it was unmakeable. I pulled way into the wave so as to escape out the back unscathed. I was successful. Here is the footy.

The next wave I caught was another left. It was mushier than the last one. I went for a floater but noticed in the footage that I keep doing the same thing at the top of the wave. I start with my arms and chest opened to the direction I want to go, but at the top, my shoulder swings back to my chest. I would imagine this makes my weight swing backwards, thereby explaining why I keep falling off the back. I will have to actively mind my arm position on future waves.

The prayer circle guys started paddling out and made it downright crowded.

Another wave came and I caught it. It was a left which was slow to develop but quick to close out. I kicked my board up and hit the water ass-first, letting the wave wash over me while not giving up too much position in the water.

The last real wave of the day was a right. I managed one turn on it, one I had to cut short due to the cascading lip. The wave then closed out and I finished the wave with a backside version of the last wave's ending.

Forrest had to meet his accountant at 9:30, so we bailed prematurely. While leaving the water, I made note of our crowd of two turning into ten heads.

While putting our gear in the ride, we saw a guy catch a sick right on his frontside, pump several times and EVISCERATE the lip. We hooted him the whole way.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

1.23.2012 Burly Oceanside Pier/Tyson Street with Forrest

On this morning, I woke up early to take my wife to the airport. The plan was to surf Del Mar, where the swell should be hitting well. Unfortunately, the plan didn't come to fruition so I was left to drive north and hope to score surf at a random spot that looked good from the road.

Time was tight because of the weather conditions. A dark storm was coming in from the NW and though we were enjoying offshore winds at the moment, once the storm moved in, they would most likely turn onshore.

Dog Beach Del Mar presented a view of a spinning right which made me want to park and surf. However, I thought about all of the runoff from the recent rain and it made me reconsider.

I called Forrest and he was into surfing. I suited up at his place and off we went.

We checked Cherry Street which was ok, then Tamarack which was not working. Terramar looked ok, but we wanted to get some juice out of this swell! We decided we didn't have much time before the winds would kill the conditions.

Cassidy and Buc Beach weren't getting much of this swell. Wisconsin looked rideable but the Pier showed a guy on a big left do a slash at the top of the wave. From our vantage point looking north, it looked like he was within a couple of feet of it. We were out THAR!

It took us a good fifteen minutes before we caught our first waves. Forrest was first. He caught a medium wave and exaggerated his Forrest flop out the back (I'd been talking to him that his best maneuver is his flop off the board when he kicks out). I felt a pang of jealousy, but it didn't last long. A nice-sized right came. I pumped down the face, but it closed out on me so I Fosbury flopped over it very smoothly. Not my favorite way to break my waveless cherry, but at least I had a wave under my belt.

The previous wave began my best run of waves in a short spurt of time in quite some time.

A left came, I caught it and popped up quickly. I did my patented pop-up/immediate pump. The section threatened to outrun me, but I made it around the corner. I was slowed down a bit by the wave's foam slapping my lower body; the result of the wave breaking a little faster than is ideal. I spotted the incoming right and set my line. I hit the wave, probably too late, and did my usual bail off the back rail. I think what I'm failing to do is keep my weight over the board. I was happy with my read on the wave and being able to make it around the section, though.

Three minutes later, my next wave arrived! It was a nice right. I turned hard off the bottom and managed to make what I am dubbing my best turn of the year. I went more vertical than I've gone backside in some time and I hit it late enough so that I got hung up on the lip. Unfortunately, I put too much weight on my next turn and my rail didn't have enough volume to accommodate the torque. If you pause the video at the right time, you will see I overburied the rail...

Two minutes later, I caught a left an did some pumps. The wave went flat as I was about to hit it, and my trajectory and result reflected that.

Six minutes after my last wave, I caught a right. I wanted to get vertical on it and I did so. I dropped all the way to the bottom, climbed to the top and as I was pivoting to snap, the wave flattened out. The high tide was making it difficult for the wave to feel the sand bottom's contour. There was just too much water and it was only going to get fatter as we neared the height of the high tide. I kicked out and waited for the next one.

Just two minutes after that disappointment, a left came. It was steep, but sectioned off so much it was unmakeable. I put all my weight on my back foot's toes and made the board squirrel out on the fins, but they didn't slide out all the way. I got under the lip and avoided the explosion.

And thus ended my four-wave run in an eleven minute span.

I caught a right that looked steeper than it was. I did a turn and the section flattened out. Looking for greener pastures, I decided to cut all the way back around to try to surf the wave as a left. I got all the way around, but the wave had shut down by the time I got there.

Another right came within five minutes and I was on it. I wanted to do pull out through the wave from the get-go, but I took my time in doing so and was punished by the wave's lip. The thing DETONATED on my board and smashed me off my board. I came up hurting and my back was sore for a few minutes thereafter.

After this wave, still stinging from the lip smash, I paddled for a wave. The stiff offshore blinded me and I got disoriented. I didn't realize how late it was until I was going over the falls with the lip. I managed to slow myself down a bit while getting the board out from in between my legs to avoid another, probably more painful, episode. I hadn't done THAT in a while! The good news is my face was now sore and it made me forget about my back.

Yet another right came and I did some flat turns. The waves were getting fatter and fatter, so when I saw Forrest walking up the beach, I waved him in from paddling back out.

We walked down to the pier to try our luck there. While walking, the rain started coming down. The wind was still mostly offshore, but now swirling a bit more. Conditions were slowly deteriorating and our time was running out.

I told Forrest I couldn't remember the last time I surfed in the rain in California and he couldn't remember the last time he did either.

I caught a left and did a nice smack/foam climb on it. I think it may be only the second frontside top turn I've pulled since I started filming with the Go Pro... Yikes.

I caught one last right and did my standard turn. I pumped around the section hoping for some goodness but there was none to be had.

I paddled back out and was having a hard time turning the camera off with my increasingly cold stiff fingers. This worked out as I was able to capture a bit of a beating my board and I took during a close-out clean-up set, the biggest wave I saw break out there in the 2+ hours we were out. The camera, which I'd worked so hard to tighten with a screwdriver at home, got readjusted in the tumult. The footage isn't too interesting, so I'll spare you, dear readers.

The conditions continued to deteriorate, so we went in.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

1.20.2012 Small and Slow Oceanside

After not having surfed for some time, I was getting jonesy. I decided the night before to practically guarantee I would paddle out the next morning by suiting up before I left the house.

My knee and shoulder were all healed up thanks to some rest and chiropractor session so I had no excuses. I suited up at home and got in my car.

There was a S in the water, so Oceanside was the obvious call. Cassidy revealed small and slow waves which then would QUICKLY turn into shorebreak screamers. Not too amped on my first impression of the day's talent...

The pier was slightly better, and I did see one solid (~2.5') right come in. That got my attention. The tide was at a 6' high an hour preceding my arrival. I didn't think Harbor would be much better, but deep down I wanted to buy more time for the tide to drop so the waves would show more.

I circled back just south of the pier, grabbed my gear and locked up the ride. I RAN down the stairs and sprinted as quickly as I could towards the pier for comical effect. I was probably the only surfer running towards the water that quickly that morning.

I paddled out and caught my first wave within ten minutes. It was a slow one. I did a good job of staying with it and pumping in the very narrow "speed" pocket, but by the time I had achieved a decent amount of speed, the wave was over.

My second wave was another slow one. In fact, for the rest of this entry, assume every wave is slow. I pumped a few times, keeping pace with the wave and hoping to link up to the steeper inside section. Once I got close, I saw the right coming towards me, but it was in front of the main wave. I changed my plan of attack on it. I hit it and something happened that I still can't pinpoint. Either my different arc on the top of the wave caused me to snap late and break the fins out (unlikely) or I hit an aerated lip which caused my fins to disengage. I landed awkwardly and fell off the back.

I caught a similar wave and stuck with it, hoping to make that inside connection. The wave took its time doing so, but it quickly bared its teeth. I did two quick micro-pumps and smacked it well. I threw a good amount of spray but failed to put enough weight on my toes. As a result, I didn't stay over my board and splayed off the back, as I am known to do.

I went in and walked south, after seeing some relatively sweet ones. Unfortunately, the logger I walked a ways to get around paddled towards me. I guess the good news is it didn't matter, as no waves came for twenty minutes.

Overall, I was out for an hour and caught four waves. No one kept me from catching a wave, it was just that slow and inconsistent out there. I'm hoping to get out there tomorrow morn.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

1.11.2012 Del Mar "Solo" Sesh in Traffic

This morning I got up a little later than normal and shot down to Del Mar. The initial viewpoint didn't give much hope. As soon as I passed the train tracks, I saw a nice steep left, reeling, with no one on it. My foot hit the gas just a bit harder...

I parked just past the best free parking spot, which was occupied by an older pick-up truck. It had a Bruce Lee likeness stenciled into the tail gate (kind of cool, I guess) and an air intake crudely cut out of the hood. The guy whose truck it was was suiting up. I was in a hurry to get out there and managed to beat him to the sand. This is always easier when the other guy doesn't know you are racing, though!

I tried jogging up the very small hill to the sand but I was for some reason having leg issues. The night before, I was sitting on the couch and I got up and got a shooting pain in the muscle on the top inside of my knee. I slowed my pace and pick-up guy caught up. We paddled out around the same time, though he was about thirty yards south of me. I noted his distinctive purple Rusty board.

I paddled out into quite the crowd, something I hadn't counted on based on my snapshot of that left from the road.

I sat inside of the pack and immediately caught my first wave, a very short left. I stayed toward the top of the wave and went for a floater. When I was on top of the wave, the shooting pain in my front leg returned. YEOWCH! Here is the carnage:

I saw purple board guy paddle for a wave with a guy within five yards of his outside, look at him AND TAKE OFF ON HIM! What a douche move.

I spotted a massive guy that reminded me of a very hairy Shawn Briley though he didn’t charge nearly as hard. The guy was out in his swim trunks plus dozens of pounds of blubber.

Purple Board guy paddled back out and set up, this time to the north of me. Trunks Guy and Purple Board both paddled for a wave, Trunks being in position. Purple Board did the same thing as he'd done on his last wave (this time in the opposite direction) and I heard a throaty “HEY” from Trunks. If I had to fight one guy in this pack the LAST guy I would pick was Trunks. Purple Board was asking for it.

My dream sequence of Trunks snatching Purple by the throat and repeatedly punching him in the face (while I cheered on) never materialized, but something nice did happen. One of the numerous kooks took off on Purple Board, went straight and fell on the drop RIGHT in Purple’s way! I let out a “YESSS!” and had a huge smile in my face. A guy in a hood looked at me and smirked

As you have probably already surmised, I wanted to say/do something to Purple but a quick run-through of my options revealed no positive outcome so my frustration with him was being dissipated by his almost instant karma.

He took it like a champ, I must say. The kook apologized and Purple was gracious about it. Damn it, I wanted to keep on hating him and he halved my anger towards him by being cool about being dropped in on.

He instantly unredeemed himself by saying to someone, “I dropped in on somebody”. Then he added, “It’s too crowded not to”. What a MORPH! A crowd is no reason to drop in on someone. They might have waited an hour for a wave to themselves. No excuse, bro. FU.

I caught a left and it was somewhat similar to the last wave. Favoring my knee, I went for a bank off the top rather than another floater.

I then caught a meaty one and decided to go as vertical as possible. I banked hard off the bottom and hit it late. It was a solid hit, but alas, another no-make.

I went in as the crowd was driving me cuckoo. I passed the Bruce Lee truck and fantasized about putting my fist through its glass.

The swell is backing down and will probably be unsurfable starting Friday. I’m hoping to get one last session in tomorrow morning.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

1.8.2012 Frustrating, then Fun 20th Street Del Mar with Missed-it-Mike

After going rogue for the vast majority of the previous day, Missed-it-Mike re-appeared on the grid. He blamed his disappearance on a misplaced cell phone. He ended up going to church after this session and it may be because of his guilt about being incommunicado and the possible lies to cover up the truth.

Mike, to his credit, arrived exactly on time. I'd been awake for close to four hours due to digestive tract issues. I had managed a 45-minute nap so I wasn't a total wreck when we left my place just after seven.

The plan was to check Tippers, a spot that can get good on a NW'er. The fog made it impossible to do so, so we trekked south. We got to 20th St and only had to check it for about a minute before we saw waves worth the effort and cold. My car's thermometer revealed the temperature as 45 degrees.

I had no problem sealing my wetsuit (still missing the sealing zipper string attachment), so we paddled out. The tide was very high. Mike made his paddle-out a dry one, but I was not so fortunate.

Once we established our perch, I looked around and noticed that all four of the nearest surfers were wearing hoods. It was as though we'd stumbled across a secret meeting of the Druids. They eventually dispersed inconspicuously, so as not to attract attention...

I didn't catch any waves in the first twenty or so minutes. The high tide was making the waves show, but they were too fat too catch for our boards' volume.

The first wave I caught was a nice left, perhaps the most open wave I've caught all year. I caught it and took my time getting to my feet, allowing the wave to steepen. I dropped down and pumped a few times. I saw that the right was coming towards me and I cut down towards the beach to maximize my speed. If I had to diagnose what I did wrong on the next part, I'd say I waited a half-second too long to start my bottom-turn. I hit the section as it was already dumping and didn't make it. Here's the proof:

I caught a left which showed some hollowness. I pulled in and got in there for a little before getting trounced.

Yet another left appeared. It was slow, but I was able to catch it. I pumped conservatively so as to stay in the "speed" pocket of the wave. I cut down, came back up and did a slow slash before the wave shut down.

I finally got a crack at a solid right, but of course, Mike was on it. I'm pretty sure this the wave on which he said he was able to do an air. I had my eye on the one behind it so I will have to take his word for it.

The next wave had no one on it and I caught it a little bit late. I made the drop without issue and had some speed with which to work. I smacked it, recovered and then did a very low-to-the-water roundhouse cutback. My trailing hand caressed the wave's face. Unfortunately, I lost control once I hit the wash. Still, a pretty sick one!

Another right came and I hit it well. The wave petered out and I went out the back.

My final wave of the morning was a great one. It started off slowly, but I was able to get a couple of pumps in before a solid slash. The wave started going a little flat again, so I leaned forward, then, eventually shuffled up towards the nose. I had to look down to make sure I wouldn't stomp on the camera. I finally made it to the shallow section of the wave and quickly re-set my feet in their original position. My new footing didn't quite feel right. Instead of going for an oh-so-satisfying smack, I was forced to mellow it out. I went up to tap it, was successful, but I couldn't hang on.

1.7.2012 My First-Ever Session at Trails, with Forrest

Forrest had surfed Trails the preceding day and he'd stayed out for FOUR hours. He reported surfing 7-8' open faces with just a few people out. Meanwhile, I spent my surf-time begging Mike to paddle out with me into some empty and very-racy big waves. Mike wasn't in the mood and so I ended up not surfing.

Here is irrefutable video proof of the above taken by Missed-It Mike himself!

I told Forrest I wanted to go there and we loaded up the car and headed north.

We got off on the Basilone Road exit and zoomed through the entrance thanks to Forrest's California Day Pass. We drove to Trail 5 and put our gear on. We walked down and, though it looked a bit slow, I did see some steep ones out there and was excited to hit the water. We walked quite a ways north to counteract the effects of the expected longshore current.

The paddle-out was mellower than I expected, we had timed it well! The water was unexpectedly murky, but the weather being absolutely perfect still made the day amazingly scenic.

The waves were custom-made for a fish hybrid, its skatiness allowing for the rider to maneuver up and down the not-so-steep faces with ease. I, as usual, was on my DHD thruster but still had confidence I could snag a few.

A right came my way and I mini-pumped to wait for the wave to develop. Once it was ready, I went for a backhand smack. I went pretty vertical on it and I was rewarded with a non-make.

A SWEET left came and I was in a great spot for it, but Forrest was deeper and up and riding. It would have been a good one. Bummer.

I looked back and Forrest's board was gone. He swam in after it and I didn't see him again for a good twenty-five minutes.

I caught a right and attempted to hit it, but faded off the back.

A right came and I caught it and popped up. It was slow to develop, so I did a quick fade to set up for the eventual section. Once it did come, it shut down all at once.

About fifteen minutes passed before I got my next look at a catchable wave. It was a right. It looked like it might throw ever so slightly so I popped into my kneeboard stance and got covered up into the closeout. I got a nice little view out of it and a brief respite from the dullness.

Another right came and I smacked it ok. A guy dropped in on me down the line and it wasn't clear which way he was going, so I decided to cut the turn down. It work out though, because the wave didn't have much of a slope.

We made it in and when I took off my wetsuit, the small string attachment at the zipper came off. I'm hoping to fix this with a vinyl paper clip, otherwise I will have to remember to bring needlenose pliers with me or risk becoming a Neoprene prisoner.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

1.5.2012 15th Street Del Mar with Forrest AND Missed-It Mike!

After yesterday's less-than-stellar day at Oceanside, we were hoping to find a place that could handle the swell's energy directly and with open faces. We found it in 15th Street Del Mar. We paddled out without incident.

The crowd was on a wide range of wave-riding vehicles. We saw spongers, longboarders, shortboarders and sweepers. The only unrepresented populations were kneeboarders, kayakers and bodysurfers.

The waves were pretty consistent overall, but I was having a tough time catching any. If the wave broke, there was someone on it already. If there was no one on it, it would break on the inside. It was a frustrating thirty five (!) minutes, compounded by the fact that very few people out there could keep control of themselves or their equipment.

The good news is I was getting a lot of exercise and I was building a sweet callous on my Go Pro thumb, from all of the false starts.

Finally, I caught one that wasn't spoken for. A left came through and I popped up on it. I levitated on to the lip for a mini-floater, but I put too much weight on my toes and faded.

My second wave arrived about ten minutes later. It was a nice-sized right and I was able to hit it once well. I tried to put it on rail but I for some reason (probably a lack of volume on the rail) couldn't hold it. I think this is a disadvantage with this board as I rarely have issues with this move on other boards.

Not too long after this one, I caught a left. It didn't have too much of a line so I went for the smack quickly. I ALMOST pulled it but I guess I just didn't want it badly enough.

Another left came, very similar to my first wave of the day. I advanced across the wave by climbing up the foam a bit, got some speed and the wave really petered out on me after that.

My last wave was pretty good. A left came through and though it was a bit slow at first, I was able to gain some speed. Then I went lateral and went for a slash. At this point, I realized the wave and I were on the shallow part of the reef. The wave jacked up over my legs. A tail slide would've been a much better choice on this section, but I just didn't anticipate the change in steepness.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

1.4.2012 Maxing Oceanside with Forrest AND Missed-It Mike!

I had a beast of a time convincing Mike to surf with us this morning. He was under the impression it was going to be massive and didn't want to be undergunned. I convinced him it wouldn't be that big and I picked him up at 5:50.

We met Forrest at Tyson Street and, though most waves were closing out, we spied some with potential by the pier. Here is a short lifestyle shot of Mike, then Forrest:

We did our best to time the sets so we could paddle out without too much resistance and were relatively successful. Seeing as to how the swell was coming almost directly from the west (with a dusting of north to it), I didn’t think the longshore current would be an issue. It took only a couple of minutes to realize I was mistaken.

I tried to hold my position near the lined-up waves reeling off the pier, but I was also tempted by the potential entertainment to be had with the conversation Mike and Forrest were having. After close to ten minutes and a couple of pull-backs due to closeouts, the conversation won out. Forrest caught one first, but was stuck inside for some time due to the frequency and fervency of the closeouts.

I wandered inside for a bit, hoping to get lucky on a middler. Mike hung on outside. I told him he was in too deep (one of Mike’s favorite songs) and almost as quickly as I’d finished singing him the beginning of the chorus, a macker came and Mike caught it late. It was a solid seven-footer and his first wave of the year. I duckdived it and missed his wave, but he said it was a little fat and was able to fit one turn on it before deciding the juice from a second turn would not be worth the squeeze (getting crushed by the next wave).

After some goading by Forrest for having yet to have popped my cherry for the day, I took off on an obvious closeout. I kicked my board up and bailed, coming up just in time to take in Forrest’s second ride of the day, a double-grab smoker!

About ten minutes later, I caught a right REALLY late. It felt as though I’d airdropped into it and was rewarded with a great view of a big open barrel that not even Kelly could’ve made (though he would’ve made it look much better)

I caught another right which was an obvious closeout. I had a small corner in which to set up for the barrel, and dropped into it from a pretty good altitude on the wave. I was rewarded with a great view of the barrel and stayed in there for about two seconds before detonation. The footage only showed roiling water and so I will not bore you with just a set-up shot.

I caught a left which had potential, but by the time I dropped in and set up, it had passed me by. I lamely tried to get into the barrel but wasn’t even close. It felt a lot worse than the video looks, but regardless, it’s not worth showing…

My last wave had a great drop, but it closed out quickly. I proned out and rode into the beach, disappointed by both my wave count and lack of amazing rides, given the size of the waves.

I rode in to the beach and was amazed at how far south we'd drifted. We had to walk north quite a bit just to get to Wisconsin Street. Over a half-mile from where we'd paddled out!

Monday, January 2, 2012

1.2.2012 Del Mar "14th" Street w/ Forrest

Inexplicably, we ended up at Del Mar after a great session the previous day in Oceanside. 20th had small waves and they were sectioning off with a vengeance. The fog was thick and 15th was uncheckable. We tried N. Torrey Pines, but that was also too foggy.

My stoke level sank to the lowest it's been in months. I was hoping not to surf. The surf was bad and I was cold and wanted to rest my shoulder some more. Forrest rallied me and we ended up paddling out just north of 13th.

I caught a couple of shorebreak waves, and managed some power off the top of one, but I didn't make it.

I caught a long left and got my fins out the back after hitting the foam. My camera wasn't on, but I didn't make it anyways...

The only salvageable shot of the session was this one:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

1.1.2012 First Ones in the Water in Oceanside in 2012. Best Waves since Panama

The original plan was to go to Black's and be one of the first ones out in California. Doing that daunting walk in the dark proved to be too much for Forrest and me and so we decided to hit Oside.

I met him at his place at 5:30 and we suited up. We drove up PCH to Oside and skipped checking the beachbreaks, as we wouldn't be able to see. Using the pier's amber lighting we were able to make out underwhelming two-footers and our stoke subsided substantially. I thought the tide would be low, but it was actually quite high. We flirted with checking Harbor, but I had to be at my dad's for breakfast by 9:30, so we took our chances and paddled out north of Wisconsin. I transformed into Neoprene Man.

The slowly-leaking light of the sun was beginning to cut through the darkness. The first couple of vids captured by the GoPro are grainy from the lack of light, but luckily, there was enough light so as to not further ruin the footage from my first wave.

A nice left came through. I caught it, pumped once and made a snap decision to pull in due to the timing. If I'd had more time, I might have been able to get closer to the wave and have a shot at making it. I'm pretty sure it closed out as the VAST majority of waves were closing out today. Here's some goodness from that wave:

Be sure to pause/unpause the video to simulate slow motion. This is especially good for capturing my strained facial expressions on some waves!

A right came within three minutes and I was on it. It too closed out on me. Try to pause around 3-second mark:

Another left came right after I'd paddled out from the right. I didn't have a chance to pump for speed and I set up too far away from the wall. This is one of the cool things about having footage of you surfing. You usually think you are ripping harder than you really are and filming will set you straight. Also, you get to see what mistakes you are making and try to correct them in future sessions.

Case in point:

A final barreling wave came to me in the form of a solid right, giving the most tube time of the morning and eliciting an unplanned hoot from my subconscious:

All four of these barrels came through in a fifteen minute span. AWESOME! Too bad I didn't make ANY of them. Though in my defense, all of them closed out.

A lined-up left popped up and I was on it. It turned racy quickly and I did one of my super-pumps to get to the lip. I hit the wave and the wave hit the camera. I could've pulled what is considered the best turn ever performed or I could have brusquely fallen out the back. I guess the world will never know...

A solid right came through, and it had a line to it, so I went for some turns. The wave was closing on me, so I cut the radius on my second turn short. Here is the proof:

The waves slowed down and we saw some spiraling ones up by the pier, so we decided to walk to the pier from Wisconsin Street. This is close to a half-mile walk according to my rudimentary hold-your-fingers-to-the-scale-on-Google-Maps measuring method. Once we finally got up there, the feasting continued.

A MACKER came, could have been head-high and I was on it. I was frothing so hard for it that I let out a guttural noise once my conquest was complete. I mini-pumped to get around the section and I tried to do a backside off-the-lip but it was not to be. Forrest was on the very next one which was the same size so I gave him some support to supplement his stoke.

About ten minutes later, a left came and it was a racy one. I got into it fine and I got close to the wall this time, right in the sweet spot of the barrel. Unfortunately, it closed out HARD and adjusted my camera.

I then caught a left that started off quickly, but opened up and allowed me to do a frontslide slash. I pulled it all the way around, but got stuck on the wash and splayed out. In the video, you hear an interesting sound. Is that the wind howling or are the gods hooting? Too close to call...

I caught yet another left and had a similar sound in the video. I performed one of the moves I've pioneered in the sport: The wayback snap. A layback snap is one where you commit so hard to the turn your body skims/splays behind the board in the water and you use your abs and the power of the wave to lift you back up. A wayback snap is a one where you commit even harder!

If I showed this footage to my doctor, he would prescribe less extension on my legs and more weight on my front foot. Here is what I will send his way:

To finish off the session and complete the "one more!" requirement necessary to get to my dad's on time, I took this right and hit it ok. I then Fosburied over the lip and went in.