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Monday, April 30, 2012

April Wrap-Up

Decent.  Not terrible, not great. A real ho-hummer of a surf month...

Oceanside Harbor had the most surfs, the rest of the contenders are as follows.

Oceanside Harbor: 3
Oceanside Jetty: 1
Buc Beach: 1
Cherry Street: 1
Grandview: 1

Wave of the month (if you can call it that) goes to my rail bury wave on the last session of the month.  There were no nasty wipeouts that I can recall, so I will skip that one.

4.28.2012 Peaky Oceanside Harbor on a Crowded Saturday

After nearly two weeks of not getting wet, I forsook my rule of waiting 48 hours after the last rain to surf.  I was sick of waiting so I shot up to Oside on the first combo swell day that wasn't marred by bad winds or tides in a LONG time.

The waves looked good, and for the first time in a while, I got a surf boner on the way to the waves.

Harbor looked almost as good as I'd ever seen it.  Unfortunately, it had the crowd to show for it.  Who cares, I was ON IT!

I suited up and walked out to close to the middle of Harbor, lining up with the tall condo complex that is next to the freeway.

I immediately caught my first wave in ten days and it was a doozy.  I pumped a couple of times, then laid into what was initially planned as a roundhouse cutty but turned into a rail bury cutty, followed by more pumping and then a smack.  I don't recall what happened on the smack, but it was a no-make.

I caught a right about five minutes later which was fast.  I made it around the initial section after some maneuvering, but there was no prize, it fattened up and I kicked the board up and sank underneath it.

The crowd was making things difficult.  I was spoiled by quite a few sessions of not having to deal with crowds, just worrying about waves and their consistency.  The waves were coming, but people tended to be on them.

About ten minutes later I caught a left and didn't have anything going on it.  I kicked my board up and out and sank underneath again.

I was paddling back out when a guy asked me about my camera.  I was telling him it works great, though the fish-eye lens tends to flatten curves, minimizing wave heights and messing with the viewers' perspective.  A set wave came and a guy who should've caught it in front of me, didn't.  I wheeled around and did my first two-paddle takeoff since Panama.  It was an overhead wave (first one in probably three months)!  I made the drop, but I cut too quickly towards the shoulder, leaving me in position for a cutty. I did an ok cutty on it and came back around, but the wave was done.

These are the only waves I can remember.  No barrels, despite the low tide.  If this had been a Monday, I would have had many more waves to report.

4.18.2012 Grandview Goodness? EVENING SESH

I'd flirted with the idea of starting up on my evening seshes again, especially since the morning sessions have been less than stellar.

Today, I pulled the trigger and headed straight to Ponto, as it'd looked so good yesterday afternoon.

No dice.  It was choppy, crowded and there was nothing to be excited about wave-wise.

I checked Grandview and it had a nice left that turned almost too rippable (i.e. it got extremely racy on the edge of closing out).

There was a pack out there but I didn't care.  I was out there.

I'd brought my 5'11" Epoxy Merrick as my glorious DHD had a case of the curing SunRez.  I hadn't surfed this board since the previous summer, maybe longer, and was looking forward to being on it again.

As I was pulling my wetsuit up to my shoulders, a guy was walking back to his car and said, "Trying to squeeze in one more half-hour, huh?".  I replied, "Yep!".

I bounded down the stairs and jumped on my board to start paddling.  I didn't leash up as the tide was so high and the beach was so rocky, I figured I'd do it once I saddled up.

Immediately, the board felt SO small.  I found my paddling sweet spot on it and swung away.  My timing couldn't have been worse.  A five-wave set bore (lol) down on me and I was on duckdive duty.  By the fourth and fifth duckdive, I was really feeling it in my arms.

I saddled up a bit of inside of the crew, hoping to pick off a couple of nuggets.

I paddled for over ten waves and missed all of them.  The vast majority of them wouldn't let me in, though a couple had steepened to the point of having to go over the falls unless I pulled back.

FINALLY, I caught a left that let me in, but all I could do on it was shuffle up and soul arch.  WEAK!

The sun had submerged beneath the offshore fog and I was losing hope that this session would be worthwhile.

I caught another wave late, descending on the foam.  I call this the floater takeoff.  I laughed as I went down the wave and my fins struggled to find solid water in which to hold.

I decided to call it right then and bailed.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

4.18.2012 Cherry Street Foggy Shorebreak Sesh

On this morning, I was itching to surf, and had guessed it would be decent based on buoy readings and web forecasts. I did my usual Oceanside lap and found nothing of inspiration. I decided to cruise down the 101 just in case something might be working. I parked north of Tamarack and South of Cherry Street, decared (deplaned from a car), hopped up on a picnic table and spotted some marginal possibilities. About three minutes of standing there led me to go back to my car and think things over. It was tiny, but it was empty and I was leaning towards going. I saw a two wave set detonate (not really) and peel nicely across the sandbar. Ok, I was out there.

I bounded down the stairs after suiting up and paddled out to inside the bombie. The bombie would crash over, but the reform was too slow. I went inside a bit more so I would not sit there for ninety minutes waiting.

I love shorebreak surfing. The waves, though even shorter than your average ten-second California ride, are more consistent, are punchier and tend to be much steeper. It's hard to get bored in the shorebreak. Because of the brevity of the waves in the shorebreak, your surfing tends to be more on point. There is little time for filler moves or set-up turns. This also makes it much more difficult to film with the GoPro, though, as you have much less time to judge whether a wave will be doable. This, compounded by the prep time of about three seconds or so of pushing the record button, can make you miss catching the waves as well as miss catching the waves on film.

My first wave is an example of the latter. I caught a left, pumped once and did a nice off-the-lip. And I PULLED IT. Of course, no video proof means the skeptics shall remain rabid. I caught a right that allowed me one pump and one turn, but closed out hard on the inside with me on its crest, my board parallel to its lip. My fins washed out on the lip. I didn't want to risk blowing out an ankle or knee on such a low probability maneuver, so I kicked my board in while I flailed back.

A nugget came through and I initially thought I'd pump on it to try for an air, but it made its intentions with me clear quickly. I got into my contortionist barrel stance (watch how I fold my trailing arm up). I got pinched, but was excited for a little tunnel vision.

I caught another left, which closed out shortly after takeoff. I caught a right and it did its best impression of my previous wave, only in the other direction.

My final wave was a right on which I did a slash, which turned into a quick backside cutty into the approaching section on the left. It felt pretty cool even though I had no speed. The footage is not worth posting.

 It is rare to have a session all to myself in SoCal, but this was one of those gems.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

4.17.2012 High Tide in Oside ïïï100TH POST!!!

I need to take care of some business, since this is my 100th post on this blog.

First, a big FU to all the haters. Yeah, you know who you are. (Editor's Note: There aren't any haters that I'm aware of as I'm convinced very few people besides me read this)

Oh, I almost forgot, a big FU to OPEC and their "tensions in the Middle East may cause oil production problems in the future" excuse for raising gas prices to the mid $4 level about six weeks ago. It's come down to the lower $4 range now, but still!

On to today's session...

I blew it by not getting up as early as I should have. The high tide, which has been the kiss of death for quality sessions in the morning, was peaking just before eight o'clock, which meant I had to get out there at sunrise to have any shot at quality waves from this swell. I didn't get to Oside until about 6:40.

I gave Pier a polite glance. It stayed true to recent form and produced nothing but shorebreak, unless you count some fat rollers on the "outside".

I was really jonesing today so it was going to take some really dismal conditions to make me drive back with dry hair.

A guy out there on a red airbrush board was tearing apart the left that forms off the jetty. It looked downright decent. I U-turned, parked and suited up.

A guy named Larry was parked a few spots down from me. I recognized his van from sessions of yore by its haphazard sticker placement. He told me about surfing a spot off Barking Sands, which I recognized as a military base on the westside of Kaua'i. He said he saw Laird Hamilton out there. I was going to break into my I-almost-got-run-over-by-Laird-Hamilton-at-Outside-Hanalei but couldn't find a break in the chatter.

I finished suiting up and paddled out, after much consternation, in front of the condo building. The good news was the water surface was smooth, the crowds were relatively light and the sun was out. The bad news was the waves were inconsistent, mostly small and fat.

I caught a wave within eight minutes of paddling out. I got up late, saw that it was closing out, and didn't bother to descend the wave. I kicked the board in front of me and let the wave wash over me.

Bad timing. No, I didn't get throttled by a monster set. My faith was instead tested by a three-stage development of ice cream headaches, each wave of the set making the pain progressively worse.

It made me think, what is a bigger stoke killer than ice cream headaches (barring major injuries)? I decided belly rash is the biggest stoke killer I've experienced. I've gone in during amazing waves because of belly rash, but not for any other reason (other than work appointments, so one could argue that's a big stoke killer too).

I caught another left and this one had more of a line to it. I decided to make a drawn-out bottom turn to have a better look at the crashing lip but chose the wrong wave. The section I'd been eyeing crashed about a second too quickly and I didn't react quickly enough to turn a lip bash into a foam climb. Bummer.

I caught a little right that I got some speed on. I went for a lip bash and semi-succeeded. I climbed up a bit and the wave batted me down. I rode away clean, but I will get no calls from the surf scouts on this wave...!

I caught another left which fattened as soon as I popped up. I did what I consider the sickest soul arch (longboard move) of my life, even incorporating my arms while looking up at the sky. I did get some pumping in, but it was for naught.

I was paddling about twenty feet parallel to a logger, though a bit inside of him. He missed the wave, so he called me into it. I couldn't catch it either though. It looked like it might have had a solid smacking section but I guess I'll never know for sure.

The waves got fatter and fatter and my stoke was inversely affected. I went in, desuited and hit the road.

Monday, April 9, 2012

4.9.2012 Another Solo Mish to Oceanside Harbor

Everything seemed to be lining up perfectly for a great session this morning. The swell had a dominant SSW angle and a bit of NW cross, which could mean peaky and consistent conditions. The wind was going to be calm, which at Oceanside Harbor means offshore, thanks to the funneling action of the Route 76 valley to the east.

I timed it well, arriving about twenty minutes after the bottom of the low tide. My thinking was I would be suiting up in time for the walled-up faces to be opened up by the incoming push of the eventual high tide.

I barely glanced at Pier once I dead-ended after traveling west on Mission. I knew the low tide would turn any waves into late-breaking close-outs. My presumption was correct, and I didn't give it a second glance.

Harbor didn't look great, but it had some promise, especially knowing that it would only improve with the tide push.

I parked in the free lot and suited up. I walked to the edge of the jetty and surveyed both sides, electing to take the north end as it seemed more consistent.

I paddled out and sat. Then sat some more. Twenty minutes passed before I caught my first wave. My introduction to the session wasn't great, after the right finally let me in, it let me pump once before it closed out. I did do a cool sailor dive off the back though.

My next wave took ten minutes to arrive. It was a left, but with a similar result to my last wave, this time with no pumps though. I kicked my board up and penetrated through the water.

Finally, a doozy came. I caught it and started pumping. I spied a guy on the shoulder paddling for it, oblivious to my being on it and zooming down the line towards his head. I whistled and got no reaction. I yelled and he pulled back just in time to not completely wreck the wave for me. My initial yell morphed into a hoot and I went for a sweet angled floater. Unfortunately, I lost my board in the wash.

My next wave was a very quick one, but I did a really cool-looking attempt at a layback smack. It's very fast, so if you want to see what I'm describing in the rest of this paragraph, you'll have to prime your trigger finger on the pause button. I went out a little more in the flats than I normally do, which allowed for a more vertical trajectory. I angled up the face and leaned back and absolutely SMASHED it. For some reason, I released my grip on my board with my back foot and came oh so close to pulling it, or so it felt.

The two waves gave me a much better feeling about the session's prospects. I paddled away from the crowd, a bit more towards the south jetty, but sat/paddled for thirty minutes with nothing of note coming by. My optimism slowly shriveled in the prolonged dry spell and I was over it.

I waited another ten minutes before a wave washed me in, happy to realize the air on the walk back wouldn't be nearly as cold as it was on Friday.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

4.6.2012 Freezing Oceanside Harbor, S. Jetty

On this morning, I almost didn't check it, thinking it wouldn't be very good. I finally decided to go for it and shot up to Oceanside. Pier was doing its usual lake impersonation and I decided to check Harbor just because I'd driven all of the way up here. I trudged north.

My first go-around revealed nothing appetizing. I drove to the boat ramps, turned around and as I'm approaching the stop sign at the pay lot, I see a nugget roll through. I figured that was enough to get me out there, considering how far my go-out standards have fallen since winter.

I suited up as quickly as I could to minimize the amount of time I'd spend in the shiver-inducing outdoors. I had my wetsuit on halfway when Missed-It-Mike rang me and gave me ish for going to Oceanside. I cut the call short so I wouldn't already be freezing BEFORE hitting the water and walked towards the sand.

I jumped over the low concrete wall and waded across the river, noting a guy on a blue egg following too closely behind. I slapped the leash on and paddled out. The first wave that washed over me quickly made me recoil in pain as an immediate ice cream headache had its way with me.

Thankfully, I only had one wave to endure. I quickly caught my first wave and managed to pump on it, but the wave fattened up to the point where I couldn't get any speed going.

A second left arrived less than ten minutes later and it looked juicier. I got a quick pump in, but my plans for a successful wave were dashed by the aforementioned guy on the blue egg who was paddling out right in my way. He made absolutely no attempt to get out of my way or duckdive, so I cut down and the wave wasn't the type to allow me to get more speed. I tried to bottom turn from where I was with very little speed and did ok, but there wasn't enough push from the wave to do anything with that section. I faded off the back, bummed.

A right came and I went for a bottom turn, then shot up the face to smack it but leaned too hard into the wave for how flat it was. I threw a lot of spray but it was all for naught.

A right came about five minutes after the last one, and I did a better job of adjusting to the conditions and make the turn less extreme (ha!). This time, the fatness of the wave did me in and I was done for.

The tide was only getting higher and I made mental plans to bail, as it just wasn't worth it out there.

Everyone I was watching catch waves was dealing with the fatness of it. The inside closed out, otherwise that would've been my next choice.

I stayed out another twenty minutes before packing it in.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

4.3.2012 Back to Oceanside, Despite her Deception

I had salivated all weekend over the reports of swell. I couldn't surf yesterday due to a work appointment in OB in the morning. The good news is I heard yesterday wasn't great and I really didn't miss out.

I was frothing for today and figured that NW being the predominant swell direction, Del Mar would be the call. I passed under the 1926 bridge heading south into downtown Del Mar and passed the first view point just in time to see a macker lazily fold over. I screamed for joy.

Unfortunately, 20th Street revealed very little to cure my surf fever. It was mostly fat waves thanks to the monster high tide. I swung down to North Torrey and checked it for about ten minutes while debating my next move. There had to be a place where the combo nature (there was also some SSW in the water) of the swell could be enjoyed on this high a tide. I thought of a spot I've surfed only a handful of times and decided to try my luck in Oside.

Sure enough, Buc Beach was the most appetizing set-up for the swell, at least that I had seen. I continued north, with the intention of checking Pier but barely made it to Tyler before turning around. Flatness.

I parked in the Buc lot and paddled out. There was some definite fatness on the sets. I paddled for a few but was not granted access. I made the fateful decision to try my luck on the inside and was eventually rewarded.

My first wave was a quick throwaway that looked fat, but closed out immediately after hitting the shallow spot.

I caught a nice-ish right that allowed me a solid enough section to do a backside roundhouse cutty. It's probably the best one I've caught on film ever. Yes, I know.

I caught a left where I did my patented SuperPump® and went for an air. I think what happened is I tried it on a part of the wave that had less push than I'd anticipated. My board and I did go airborne together, but we quickly realized our union wasn't natural, and went our separate ways. You can hear the heartbreak in my voice towards the end of the video.

I didn't catch anything else of note and went in after the crowd got heavy. Major props to Smiley Bro Dude, Squatty Italian-Looking Dude and Bald Asian Dude who were absolutely ripping out there!

March Wrap Up

I surfed five times this month, the vast majority in Oceanside.

The wave of the month goes to that SICK layback slash I did on 3.13
Beating of the month honors to that wave that hit me on the back of the head on 3.15. I still find myself touching there in case there has been late-onset damage!

3.30.2012 Oceanside, Worst Session of the Year

This is going to be a short post.

The waves were bad. There wasn't any footage worth writing about. I paddled out because I hadn't done so in more than two weeks and needed to get wet.

The waves that did come were either fat, or would close out upon take-off.

I caught three waves and all were gutless. Bummer of a way to finish the upswing of a month that was March...!