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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February Wrap-Up


Three Sessions. Pathetic.

I thought this would be an insane surf month for me what with being in Hawaii for a week but I got SKUNKED...!

Conditions have been great at times, but the swell wouldn't cooperate. At other times, there'd be plenty of swell, but rank conditions.

20th Street, Del Mar 1
Cardiff Reef 1
Wisconsin Street 1

Amazingly, the session of the month goes to my last one, Wisconsin Street, because of the barrels.

Wipe-out of the month goes to that barrel wipe-out from 2-24 at Wisconsin.

Spring conditions decided to come early and this is terrible news for surfers. The summer swells (if they appear) usually don't really start coming in until June. Hopefully we'll have some late seasons NW'ers, otherwise this blog will see some lean times!

The good news is I currently have two trips to El Salvador lined up, one in late September and one in late October for two weddings. There's also a slight chance I'll go to Indo on a boat trip but so far it's just mental masturbation

Monday, February 27, 2012

2.24.2012 Solo Mission, Wisconsin Street, Oceanside

After three no-go's, I was getting antsy. The forecasts were saying there would be a combo swell in the water starting Thursday afternoon and I was salivating over a Friday mish up to Oside.

I couldn't convince anyone to go with me, unfortunately.

My first glimpse of the waves muted my expectations. You could say I went from having a semi- to a blue-ball tinge in my loins.

I checked S. Oside all the way to pier and Wisconsin looked ever-so-slightly better than anywhere else. I parked the car and watched, trying to convince myself to paddle out. I had my GuyPod cranked and eventually, I made myself suit up and paddle out.

I decided to paddle out just south of Wisconsin Street. Everywhere else looked junky. I couldn't understand it, we had swell, the tide was about right, the conditions were excellent but the waves SUCKED.

It took me a good ten minutes before I caught my first wave. It was a right that I caught late. While setting my feet, I panicked. I had almost lifted my back hip up to allow me to plant my foot down, but I went for the knee instead. The lip went over me and I was deep, but I was almost out when I did my usual hug-the-wave-so-close-you-become-one-with-it. I barrel-rolled into oblivion and that was that. No footy of this one, as I didn't have enough time to depress the button.

Well, ok, not a bad start, it's better than it looks!

About five minutes after that, a nice, lined-up left came. I didn't realize it at the time, but it would have a barrel for me. Once I dropped in, my mission became clear...

I set my line and ducked down hard, being careful not to be too far out on the flats. If you watch the video below, you can see me put all of my weight on my back foot (watch my front foot), then back on the front foot hoping to get out.

Alas, it was not to be, as I got clipped, slammed, taken over-the-falls and ended up shoulder-checking the sand. *WIPE-OUT OF THE MONTH FRONTRUNNER*

I also caught a nice right that I was able to hit well and retain my speed.

I caught two waves that were eerily similar. Lefts that started off well, but they devolved into mush without enough push to get me to connect with the juicy but fleeting shorebreak section.

More waves like these kept coming and I quickly got over it. I went in and hoped the weekend would have something nice in store...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

2.12.2012 Stormy Cardiff Reef with Forrest EVENING SESH

Forrest called me at four, managing to catch me in the middle of flossing my teeth. As we discussed paddling out, I happened to yank off a crown in my mouth (it was on a temporary bond). He asked what the noise I made was and I told him. Then, I told him I couldn't surf, as I didn't want to deal with the now exposed nerve being out in the open AND in cold water. He called me a name I didn't appreciate and we hung up.

It was Sunday, so finding a dentist who could re-bond it would be an adventure. I looked in the mirror, looked at my crown, lined it up and jammed it back in with my thumb. GAME ON! I called Forrest back and he picked me up.

We got to Cardiff Reef and it was damn near empty on a SUNDAY! This should give you and idea as to the quality. We sat there mulling our options. I kept seeing a left roll through at Restaurant Row (north end of George's) and talking it up. Forrest kept saying it wasn't makeable. I thought he was biased as he was looking at it from a longboarder's perspective. Plus, if he was right, at least it'd be fun to try!

We started suiting up and Forrest said he was over it. Within 30 seconds, he then said he was testing me and I'd failed. We finished suiting up and paddled out.

The paddle-out was about what I expected, frenetic dodging of shorter-than-average wave period swell. It had the strength of a groundswell with the frequency of a nearshore windswell.

I posted up about two-thirds of the way out, while Forrest opted for the main take-off spot. That looked a bit slow to me, and I wasn't in the mood to battle a sweeper and a couple of loggers out there. Plus, there were some juicy, albeit junky waves rolling through and I had a shot of them where I was with no one around me!

I caught a right within five minutes. I had to time the paddle right as it was flat and it hit the edge of the reef and jacked up quickly. I caught it and did a drawn-out bottom turn into an avalanche of whitewater that had passed me by halfway through my turn.

I caught a left which had a line to it, though I barely made it around the first section. I got to the closeout WAY too late and the lip readjusted my camera. Try to spot me trying to get some speed from the falling lip with my arm in the video below (towards the beginning of the wave).

I started drifting south until I was in front of the southernmost restaurant and in a zone of only closeouts. The sun was very close to the horizon and obscured by the clouds. The darkness made the bumpy surf look that much worse and so I bid it adieu.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2.10.2012 Big and Nasty 20th St. Del Mar with Missed-it-Mike

It had been about a week and a half since my last session. Usually, when returning from surfing in the tropics and knowing cold water awaits, I tend to need quality waves to put up with the colder-feeling water.

Since I got pretty much skunked in Hawaii, I was aching to get out there. The surf was doing what I like to call its winter tease. Big waves, bad conditions and/or polluted water.

I also managed to pick up a bug on my last day in Hawaii which I'm still battling. I'd made plans with Mike to surf the previous day, but I was just too sick.

I met Mike there at 6:30. He'd checked it before I got there and seemed to approve. He checked it with me and we saw head-high waves with some overhead sets. There were a lot of close-outs but, we saw some corners that looked delicious. Mike made the call and we suited up.

The paddle-out was a doozy. We managed to time it so we would paddle out at the worst possible time. Both Mike and I took some mackers on the head. It got to the point where my arms were screaming for me to stop paddling, but we made it out there.

We got swept down a bit. There were many waves I'd paddle for, but have to pull back as it would turn into a monster closeout.

My first wave was a right. It was just a little overhead. It closed out just after I bottom-turned. The corner I thought I'd seen disintegrated more quickly than I'd expected. If I could surf this wave again, I would've tried for a backside floater.

About twenty minutes later, I caught my next wave. It was a couple of feet overhead and, you guessed it, another right. I paddled for it and thought I was going to be too late. I managed to see someone paddling out and I didn't want him to see me puss out so I pressed on, popped up, air-dropped down and bounced right off my board, getting TROUNCED.

Mike had yet to catch a wave and we were drifting dangerously close to one of his least favorite waves: 15th Street Del Mar, Home of quite possibly the most foam per person in mid-County.

Mike and I both paddled for a big wave, and he hooted me on to it. It was another big closeout and I opted for straight-off Adolph, possibly the smoothest maneuver in my arsenal.

I went in and watched Mike catch a big right while managing to turn while his board went straight. He shoulder-rolled into the water, making the big splash the most spray I've seen him throw this year!

Once Mike came in, I told him that the last time I saw him on a wave was the gnarliest thing I've seen in the water in a long time, and that day's wave was the least gnarly thing I've seen him do. He is an enigma!

There was no footage worth showing. The big bounce off the board would've been cool but I must have not pressed the record button long enough to capture it...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

January Wrap-Up

This comes a few days late, I know...! Fourteen sessions blogged. A record! In fairness, I probably surfed twenty times in August, but didn't begin this blog until halfway through the month!

Oside Pier 4
Del Mar 15th 3
Torrey Pines 2
Del Mar 20th 1
Trails 1
Cbad Power Plant 1
Oside Jetty 1
Honl's, Hawaii 1

Congrats to all of the nominees!

Session of the Month Honors go to Burly Oside Pier 1.23.2012 I hadn't frothed that hard in a while.

Wave of the Month Honors go to the second wave I caught at Torrey Pines with Forrest. It'd been a LONG time since I caught a wave that size!

Bail of the Month Honors go to that barrel I got pinched on at Torrey Pines

1.31.2012 Honl's, Kona, Hawaii, possibly my Sharpest Session of All Time

My wife was sent over to Hilo (east side of the island of Hawaii) and I convinced her to go a couple of days early AND let me tag along on her miles.

We'd driven the main drag (Ali'i Drive) and the only wave that made my loins purr was Banyan's. If my recollection of surf history serves me correctly, this was where Shane Dorian cut his teeth.

As I drove past the spot, I saw two sick reeling rights, beautiful blue-green spinning cylinders. I told Raquel this was where I was going to surf.

The day after we arrived, I rented a SICK 6'1" Jeff Bushman from Kona Boys. The board was thicker and wider than my glorious DHD back home, which is a good thing, as I wanted the extra paddle power for the Hawaiian juice.

I asked them where to go, other than Banyans, because that would be my first stop. They said, "the spot we recommend you don't go to is Banyans". I tried to gauge if they were being a-hole locals or were just being helpful and decided to play it safe and assume they were being helpful.

I picked up my wife from the hotel and we went searching for waves. It was a bit tough as we were looking for waves at a place where I'd never surfed and 98% of the coast is rocky.

We stopped at a spot right on the main drag after I saw what was close to a double-overhead set race-to-closing. This wasn't great, but I saw a couple of makeable ones and I was out there.

Raquel took this picture of me while I was putting the finishing touches on the wax job. You can't tell from the picture, but I was absolutely RARING to paddle out.

If you look at the beach, you will see there is some sand. The sand goes away once you step in, and then it's almost all SHARP "fresh" lava rock broken up by some coral heads. The paddle-out was pretty quick, though I was wary of scratching up my fingertips and/or knuckles. It didn't happen, though.

I sat close to the pack (four strong, one guy looked Hawaiian) and was as respectful as could be. If anyone paddled for a wave, I would paddle to get out of their way.

The older haole caught one wave and went in. It was me, another haole and a Hawaiian sponger.

All my waves were rights:

I caught my first wave within ten minutes of paddling out. I did a cutback on it and faded off the back. I'd strayed too far to the shoulder because I was being so careful to not fall in the shallows.

I paddled back out, a little emboldened by my first successful over-lava-rock-and-coral wave (hence the title of this post). I was also happy the Bushman felt good under my feet.

My second wave was a late-ish drop. I snapped once, then kicked out before the closing out section hit me.

I asked the other haole in the water what the name of the spot was and he said what sounded like "Honnels". I asked him if this was about average out here and he said it's actually pretty good today. He mentioned that a sick left will start breaking when the swell direction has some south to it.

Another sponger paddled out and to my delight, I heard him say, "Do Something!" to his buddy on another sponge. This phrase is a Hawaiian surfing tradition and I was happy to finally experience it organically. Though it was a sponger-to-sponger utterance.

I caught another wave and now, a grizzled vet, went for a full roundhouse cutback. I swung it around without issues, hit the whitewash and lost my fins in the wash, just as the sponger was duckdiving two feet inside of me. I wasn't pulling it anyway, but I did what may have looked like a grab-rail roundhouse recovery. I was trying to keep my board from hitting him, and judging by the lack of lip, I was successful.

My new bro (haole) went in and it was just me and two spongers. Waves kept coming and I kept pulling back from them, as most of them would close out quickly. Catching one of these waves would make for a sick drop, but also a possible encounter with the reef.

The spongers went in less than fifteen minutes later (!) and just before this happened, a big Hawaiian guy on a red longboard paddled out. I nodded at him and he looked right past me. Not quite a stink eye, as he didn't squint, but he didn't seem happy to see me out there.

I kept my strategy going. Any wave he showed interest in, I wouldn't even paddle for.

An even bigger Hawaiian on an even bigger board paddled out. Red Board knew him and they literally talked story.

The biggest wave of the day came as both of them were out of position, too inside after just having caught waves. I paddled hard for it, possibly too hard, and caught it late. I sensed the sweet, high percentile, spot passing me by, but I decided to drop in later than I am normally comfortable with. I swung down around the crashing lip and smacked it hard.

I felt a sensation I've had very few times outside of Punta Roca. I hung up on the lip with my board close to vertical, nose side pointing towards the trough of the wave. I stomped hard on the tail to keep myself from pearling, then kicked out. NICE!

More people paddled out and I decided to bail. I had an interesting paddle in, it was flat and then, as I got close enough to stand on the bottom, a set came and I had to paddle back out to have enough water between me and the bottom. I did that back and forth for about three minutes before I finally made it in.

As I gingerly twinkle-toed in, I managed to cut the bottom of my foot (Mike, you would've HATED it!).

That night I checked to see what other had to say about Honl's. Here is a link. If I'd read the comments beforehand, I would have had a hard time paddling out!