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.