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Sunday, July 22, 2012

7.20.12 Groveling at Avocado's w/ Mark DeGrovel

The gorgeous day continued to shower us with amazingness.  I got the call from Mark and I was ready to hit it again.  My wetsuit was still wet from the first sesh of the day when I shoved it back into its plastic enclosure and into The Rad.

I don't normally surf during the workday, but I convinced myself my Hawaiian ancestors (I have none) would understand and made an exception.  I knew the surf wouldn't be great on my glass slipper DHD, so I loaded up the beaten and bruised fish.

I arrived at the beach pad, suited up, lathered my face with sunscreen and descended down to Avocado's.  There were a couple of guys who I thought were in the water with pole cams but upon closer inspection, I realized they were spear fishing.

There were many junky waves so I will spare you, dear readers, and just give you the highlights.  My first right had a drop and I felt like I washed the fins out on the bottom turn.  I made it a goal to slide the fins out and at least make it halfway to a 360 on every right thereafter.  I grabbed rail on every right while sliding my weight towards the front of the board (and away from the fins).

Was I successful?  Let's just say I was extremely consistent in my inability to fulfill my goal.

I caught a couple of lefts that turned into bona fide steep waves on the inside.  My rhythm was off on both of them, unfortunately, and I was caught with my wetsuit around my ankles as the respective lips threw while I was still on my way up to them.

After about an hour and a half we packed it in.

Later in the day I noticed I'd gotten slightly sunburned on my hands.  It's never a bad idea to get an early start on this winter's eventual wetsuit tan!

7.20.12 Solo Mish to TINY D Street, Worth it, though!

Should I surf today?

I knew it was going to be small everywhere and there was no sense wasting gas to drive to Oceanside.

After much inner turmoil, I decided to check D Street.  It was about as small as I expected.  Every five minutes or so, a set would rifle through that was possibly waist high.  I spied a two-wave set peel down the line just south of D and felt my surf appendage move.  

The weather was absolutely stunning.  It would be a shame to go back inside.  Another two-wave set came through, unridden.  Out thar!

My first wave was a left; very well lined-up and about thigh-high.  I got about three solid pumps in before the wave let me in on its secret:  There was no end section to be had.  I kicked out, thinking this would be as good as it got, and I felt ok with that.

Another left came about ten minutes later.  This one was not quite as lined-up and I pumped through some crashing lip before giving up.

Less than five minutes later, I spotted a bump about twenty yards outside of me.  I paddled hard to the outside and decided dejectedly I was too deep for it.  I craned my neck to see if it had a twin brother that was lagging and sure enough! 

I took about six strokes to the outside, thinking this would be enough to allow a short runway before taking off.  If its recently perished brother was any indication, this one would be hollow as well.  I whirled around and paddled as hard as I could before I realized I was in.  The wave jacked up and show its gorgeous hollow line as I dropped in.  I got into my crab-grab stance as I knew it would be a tight one.  I threaded through there for less than a second before the lip hit me in the head, distorting my vision for a split second.  I kept driving, and got the whoa-I'm-in-here-longer-than-I-expected high I've described in write-ups of barrels past.  The tunnel eventually collapsed on me and while writhing around underwater I managed to hit my head on my board.  Nothing too bad, but it left a souvenir bump on the back of my head.

Be sure to rapidly click/unclick the play/pause button and not blink or you'll miss my hydro-spelunking adventure!

As I paddled out, an older gentleman on a log complimented me on my barrel and asked if I'd hit my head (he must have seen me rubbing it upon coming up).  I replied affirmatively but added it was worth it.  He laughed.

About seven minutes later, another right came.  This one was bigger (2.5ft?), but not quite as hollow.  I got into a pigdog stance and saw a section of lip that looked like it might fold over.  I aimed up, then down at it and tucked my body forward.  My head got barreled as the lip hit my left shoulder.  I pulled out the back, still grabbing rail.

Another left came, but it allowed for just two pumps before fizzling.

My last wave was a left.  I popped up and immediately pumped.  I realized at the top of my trajectory I could've gotten barreled, though it was questionable if I'd been able to fit in.  My board and lowest of extremeties got barreled.

I decided to call it a day.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

7.17.12 Wisconsin to Tyson Street on SSE Swell courtesy of Hurricane Fabio

I'd seen the surf forecasts talk about how steep a swell would be hitting Orange County.  I knew Oceanside would be my best hope in San Diego County.  I considered doing a Lowers sunrise session but I was already behind on my sleep enough.

I got to Oceanside just before seven and after a quick glance at Southside Pier, bounded towards Harbor.  Harbor again had nothing to show me, save for nearly twenty heads, solemnly bobbing while staring at the horizon.

I circled back to Pier and was not too amped on what I saw.  The swell that was coming in was extremely angled, just as the forecasts predicted.  I gawked while doing my best to follow traffic regulations on my way to check Wisconsin.

I saw a sick ledge fold over into a pretty square barrel and I pulled over HARD into the next available parking spot.  Out thar!

I went down the ramp to the beach, then zagged south in anticipation of the the assured current.  I was hoping my short jaunt would buy me some more time in the Wisconsin area so I could plunder its peaks.

When I was almost done paddling out, I was already north of Wisconsin Street.

My first wave was a right.  While paddling for it, I knew it was a bad idea.  On a S swell, the number of quality lefts tend to vastly outnumber the amount of good rights.  Add in an E flavor to the swell, and this becomes even more true.  I went for it anyway and got as far as a bottom turn before I shot my board out the back while bailing into the trough.  The foam ball bore down on me.  As I came up, I glanced toward shore and was surprised at how quickly I was being shuttled north.

At reefs and pointbreaks, it's almost always worth paddling back towards where you caught your last wave.  At a beachbreak, it depends.  With a current this strong, I would be on an aqua-treadmill between every wave just to stay in position.  Had the waves been absolutely amazing, this may have been a worthwhile strategy.

The waves were coming in consistently, and my neck snaps toward shore to check my  northward progress provided entertainment during the short lulls.  The waves were extremely racey, but some had a rare barrel that looked makeable.

I knew, upon catching my first left, I would be racing from the get-go.  As soon as I felt my feet slap the deck, I began to swoop to initiate my first pump.  If I was in an good spot on the wave and if I was as efficient as possible, I could make this and do a high-speed bash.  Upon exiting the first pump, the lip crashed just inside of my inside rail, impeding my progress forward.  I barely was able to throw my body over the lip.

Less than two minutes later (I TOLD you it was consistent...), I caught my third wave.  I wasn't even close.  By the time I'd popped up, the section had folded over in front of me and accelerated like a quick wick.  I descended and flopped over again.

My next wave was the wave of the day, but let's not get too excited.  I spotted a warble on the face just outside of where I would be catching it that led me to believe there was a barrel to be had.  I popped up, kept my weight on my back foot and had the lip mostly mush over me at first, but then  it did throw to the point that I was in there for half a second or so on my way out the back and through the wave.  Mick Fanning could've made that wave and at least doggy-doored it.  Not backhand though!

Less than four minutes later, I caught an iffy left.  My suspicions were confirmed when I dropped down and immediately made plans to pull through the back.  The footage captured showed a closeout.

I was just south of Tyson at this point and about to be funneled in with the sizable Pier crowd.  I made plans to exit the water, walk south and assess.  The SW wind that was subtly kicking up was making me lean toward not doing another lap.

On my last wave, I went for an immediate, no drop-down floater bonk.  The wave was so fast that I didn't have time even for that.

One interesting thing I noticed on all of my lefts was my paddling half north (away from the breaking wave), half to the beach in an attempt to buy me a bit more time upon popping up.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

7.14.12 Slightly Bigger Tyson Street w/ Missed-It-Mike

Mike claims he was faithful to me.  He says he hadn't surfed since our last go-out about three weeks ago.  I want to believe him so badly, but I've been hurt before.

We decided to surf Oside, hoping to catch the tail end of the awkwardly-angled Hurricane Emilia.  

Mike and I met at the free lot just before seven.  I presented him with a sick T-shirt from El Salvador which had the word 'Surfing' emblazoned across the corner of the print, upping his core score.

My first wave held a lot of promise.  I was in a great spot and didn't have to paddle all that much for it.  I leapt to my feet and pumped, trying to milk the knee-high wave to extract every last ounce of speed.  I really didn't have much choice.  To surf a knee-high wave well without pumping it with my weight, you have to be an excellent surfer.  I miscalculated what the wave would do and soon ran out of pumping area.  I kicked out.

My second was was a QUICK left.  Within a second of hopping up, I had to smack the oncoming section.  Looking at the footage, I'm pleased at how quickly I was able to react.  But, I made the same mistake I keep making of throwing my arms away from the trajectory of my lower body.

My next wave was a drawn-out repeat of the previous wave, but I varied things up by double-pumping the bottom-turn for a little extra burst of speed (Lord knows I had the time).  Similar, but less close to making it this time.

I caught a left and I descended it straight towards the beach.  This allowed me to swing around towards the wave, and during that time, it allowed the have to develop that much more.  The move worked fine, but the wave allowed me a couple of pumps and nothing more before fizzling.

A SICK wave came and I paddled for it like a madman.  I missed it though.  It without question would have been the wave of the day.

Luckily, about a minute later, another one came that wasn't quite as good but still amazing (when you consider how crappy the waves were).  I did an excellent job of getting in tune with the wave and pumping at the right times.  It felt like I was dancing with the wave and I was leading flawlessly.  I felt a confidence boost creep up and when I bottom-turned to hit the wave, I felt unstoppable.  Apparently it was just a feeling as I awkwardly put too much weight on my front foot.  This can be good for some maneuvers (mainly the fin-free variety), but not for what I was attempting.  I ended up kicking out in the sweetest spot of the wave.  Bummer.

The current got us uncomfortably close to the pier and I caught one in so we could walk south to greener pastures.

I furiously paddled for my next wave and was able to turn that speed into a nice foundation for my ride.  I was able to transfer it and keep it going even after I got to my feet.  This was good because it was such and abrupt wave.  I whacked it, but did something I've never noticed before.  I put a lot of pressure on my front foot to the point where you can see my right knee bearing the majority of my body weight.  There is a time and a place for this weighting, but this was neither.  I flopped onto my back. Wave over.

My last wave was a slow one which I used to perfect my soul arch bottom turn.  There was nothing else to the wave.

7.13.12 TINY Tyson Street

The first dunk in the ocean upon returning from the tropics is always nasty.  I arrived at Oside Pier at seven in the morning and saw a sweet 2' set break with no one on it.  Missed-It-Mike claimed Harbor would be good so I gave it a check.  It revealed nearly two dozen heads in the water, mostly congregated around the south jetty.  In the few minutes I checked it, nary a wave was ridden.  OVER IT!

I doubled back to Oside Pier and parked in the free lot.  I paddled out at Tyson Street after a healthy jog.  I wasn't seeing much in terms of waves, but I did notice an increase in the head count.

On my first wave, I caught it early and angled almost from the beginning.  I pumped and got a bit ahead of myself.  I ended up flamingoing, then endo'ing shortly thereafter.

My second wave was a right and I caught it a bit late.  I descended and, still used to my heftier board in El Salvador, bottom-turned REALLY hard.  Unfortunately, by the time I got to the lip, the whackable spot (at least for my ability level) had passed me by.

I noticed, in between waves, that my teeth were chattering.  The water had dipped down to 63 in my absence, a couple of degrees away from 4/3 territory.

I had to fight to catch my third wave.  I was successful in doing so, but the extra time allowed the wave extra time to section me off.  I bottom turned right into the section and bailed out the back.

On my last wave, I was on such a small and abrupt wave that I couldn't get to my feet in time.  The wave shut down in both directions and I ended up going straight on one knee.  Not my proudest moment, but at least I didn't miss out on a decent wave.

I bailed, happy to re-lose my cold water virginity.

Monday, July 9, 2012

7.9.12 End of the Salvo Sessions: Less than Stellar La Bocana/La Bocanita

This morning I woke up at 4:45 so I could surf Punta Roca with my cousin.  Unfortunately, my hotel was on lockdown and I could not get my car out of the gate.  I decided to paddle out in front of the hotel to inside La Bocana.  The sets were slightly overhead, but slow.  They didn't look all that fun, just a nice drop followed by a lazy wall.

The only other guy out was the Austrian guy I'd met on one of my first sessions here.

The paddle out at high tide La Bocana isn't too bad, but getting in the water without getting your feet smashed is.  The trick is to walk quickly with the receding water and hope for a big wall of foam.  You jump over that and begin paddling if you feel it's deep enough to do so.  The rocks here are loose, smaller and duller than those found at Punta Roca or El Recodo so it's not nearly as involved.

Unfortunately for me, there was no giant wall of foam, just a piddly thigh-high wave of wash.  I took one foot out of the water so only the other would suffer as the cascade of high-speed rocks blasted past and, at times, against my foot and ankle.  Luckily, another thigh-high foamer came through and I jumped on top of it to paddle out.

I spent a lot of my paddle-out confused, wondering where I should perch.  A chest-high wave came and I snagged it, but it quickly closed out.

About fifteen minutes of dodging shifty peaks later, I caught my second wave.  It was a steep drop, and I stomped on my back foot to make up for the lack of scoop in the nose (or should I say, lack of nose) on my board.  I dropped down a bit brusquely.  I recovered, pumped once and did a slash/cutty.  Dubon, a local artisan, cheered me on.  I got him about $40 worth of business, so he BETTER be rooting for me!  The wave got into the shallows and I kicked out.

I took the opportunity to take the longshore express to the shorebreak spot, La Bocanita.

I had seen a right barrel spit and I had my eye on that peak. 

I caught a left that looked like it was going to barrel, but didn't.  I kicked out.

I caught a right which I went high up on from the get-go.  I zoomed back down and did a backside floater.  The push from the wash was weaker than I'd anticipated and I ended up stalling out and fading off the back.

I got caught in a rip and had to fight it for a couple of minutes.  I realized then how the lack of nose on my board had impacted my paddle power.

I was over it and went in.  It was a disappointment to finish the trip with such a weak session.

Hasta la proxima, El Salvador...

Sunday, July 8, 2012

7.8.12 Solo Mish to Medios; Glory Leads to Tragedy Leads to Almost Actual Tragedy

Both Pando and Tom said they'd cruise down to surf with me.  Unfortunately, neither showed.  Not a big deal, as it was a bit off thanks to the onshores.

I was Skyping with my wife when I sensed a pressure drop.  Sure enough, the wind was howling offshore!  I did my best Randy Marsh impression ("B'Ya!") grabbed my board and paddled out.

The very inside edge of La Bocana looked most appetizing.  I paddled out on the inside of where that was breaking but was shocked at how quickly I got shuttled west. I ended up in the middle of La Bocana and La Bocanita.

The surf was big enough that there was a new spot created.  I hadn't seen it break during my trip, but man was it looking fun!  The waves were 6-8' and T H I C K.  I saw one of the pros from the contest paddle into a nice one, get covered up, zoom out, then get covered up again for longer.  I wasn't able to see if he made it though.

My first two waves were very similar.  Two big lefts that I descended and dove through the lips onto safety.

I caught a solid right which had a hairy drop.  I landed it, smacked it, then compressed into a roundhouse cutty.  While compressing, I saw a set and aborted out the back.

I spent a lot of time alternating between paddling toward peaks and paddling, and mostly pulling back from, waves.

My fourth wave was a dooz and actually had a line to it.  I bottom-turned while eyeing my target, pulled my weight up toward the nose and snapped.  I fell back a bit while I did this, and my trailing arm instinctively shot up to counterbalance.  I leaned hard and was able to bring my board back under me.  YEOH!  This is the best frontside turn I've pulled since 2003.

Basking in the glory that was that turn, I paddled back out.  A macker of a set unloaded.  The first one I duckdived without a problem, thanks to a timely air pocket.  The second one was a monster.  I duckdived any way about five yards inside of ground zero.  I initially thought I may be in the clear and then BAM! The force of the wave punching through the water turned my trajectory toward the devil himself.  I held on to my board and about four seconds later I felt the nose of my board smack into the bottom, followed very closely by my left shoulder.  I was thrilled that I'd missed rocks and hit only sand.  I thought about my board on the way back up and when I surfaced, I saw that the nose had broken almost completely off, about five inches down.  It was hanging there by a sliver of the stringer.

I caught a wave in and made the mistake of standing on it. When I jumped up, the nose was gone. NOOO!

I went in and kept my eyes peeled.  I gazed toward the ocean to see if perhaps I could spot it.  Within a minute, something caught the corner of my eye, bouncing in the rocks at about a fifty degree angle from my line of sight.  I snapped it up and breathed a sigh of relief.

I ran up to the hotel, dropped my board on the grass inside the grounds, bounded up the stairs, and placed the nose in a spot that can't be seen from the general area.  I shot back down the stairs and paddled out.  I figured I had one more session left after tonight and the board is already wet, so why not surf?  The nose is the least vital part of a surfboard.  It only comes in handy when you're in danger of pearling.


I paddled back out on my now 5'9".  My first wave was a left and I took it easy to see how the board responded.  It was definitely overhead and I punched through the lip.  The board rode like a finned skimboard with a wide tail.  SICK!

I caught a right and snapped on it, being conscious of not doing it too toward the top of the wave.  I kicked out.

My qualms about my Franken-board now subsided, I felt it was time to charge into some.  I took a left and got into my back foot barrel stance.  The lip hit me on top of the head and drove me down into the board.  I popped back up without issue.

I drifted towards the El Tunco rock structure that juts out of the ocean.  I ambitiously paddled for a wave on the outside that didn't appear to me it would break.  I put my head down and hustled hard for it.  I popped up and WHOOSH! I descended this beast, about eight feet of it, and pumped.  I should have gone for the hit right away, but I must say I was mired in survival mode.  I punched through the back of that one, my left ankle really feeling the wave pulling the board away.  I got pulled back really hard and when the board finally bungee'd back to me, it almost hit me.

The board lost a bit of its glass towards the nose, revealing white foam with a diagonal crease across half of it.

A couple more forgettable waves were caught and it got dark.  I started paddling in and I caught an inside foamer that had some speed to it.  I popped up and immediately pumped, then pumped again.  I could see the section approaching in the lights of the beachfront bars, ramping up for another night of debauchery.  Speaking of ramps, I found one and launched off of it.  It was the most air I've gotten this millenium, but I didn't land it.  I had no idea where in the air I was, I just knew that I was in the air and impact was imminent.

I went in and decided to eat pupusas.  I grabbed some money from my stash spot and headed down the driveway.  I encountered a black dog which had given birth to puppies late last week and had been caring for them seemingly non-stop.  I made a noise with my mouth and she walked up to me and put her head against my knee.  I petted her and told her what a good mamma she was and how she spends all day spoiling the pups but nobody spoils her.  My hunger pangs announced their disappointment in my choice and I disengaged.  She walked with me about five steps and then put her head against my knee again.  I gave her some more love for maybe a minute, then tried to escape.  She didn't protest.

I turned left outside the gate then left again at the T, where the road is made of hard-packed sand.  I heard a guy exhaling loudly through his mouth, as though he was busting out heavy reps at the gym.  He did it every couple of steps.  I looked back at him and he was about six inches shorter than me, but weighed about the same as me.  I briefly thought he may try to rob me, but as he passed me, I saw he was wearing a Polo cap.  Chances are this guy was going to be the one getting robbed.

As he gained about three steps on me.  I heard him announce -Voy a pelar a este hijuepueta- I'm going to peel this son of a whore (though mofo may work better contextually translation-wise).  As he said it, he reached under his shirt and brandished a sizable pistol.  I ducked into the nearest open door behind him.  I peered out and watched as he continued what could very well be his death march.

A family scurried away from where Polo Pistol was headed.  He arrived at his destination, the beachside bar closest to the mangrove river and gestured wildly with his hands.  Right then, the coffee girl (I'd ducked into a coffee shop) came towards the door.  I gave her a brief explanation of what I'd heard and seen and we both peered out around the corner.  She asked me a question when I heard "POP POP!".  Two shots rang out, less than a second apart.  The little roadside eatery's (across from me) patrons began to scatter.  A young woman put her hand to her mouth as she ducked for cover behind the propane tortilla griddle.  I wasn't sure who had fired the shots, he could've easily gotten shot by a security guard, although I had my doubts as they usually carry shotties.

He began to walk toward us.  I told coffee girl he was coming back, she had ducked back inside when the shots rang out.  She told me we should get in the back, on the deck that faces the river because, her words, he may shoot us just for looking at him.

I watched him walk past the coffee shop and into the night.  I briefly thought of tackling him, but:
1. This guy was probably drunk or worse and would be unpredictable.
2. There was no guarantee of help from people.
3. I had no dog in this fight.
4. It was one of those instances where no good could come of it.  It isn't farfetched to think I may get assaulted by someone thinking I'm the bad guy. 

I bid Coffee Girl adieu and walked toward the Erika's Restaurant, adjacent to the scene of the crime.  I asked the waiter if anyone had been hit.  He told me no.  I asked him if they had pupusas tonight and he gave me the same answer.

No pupusas?!?  I walked back toward my hotel where there were definitely pupusas.  On the way there, I heard people chatterring that he was the guy who'd gotten smacked in the face by someone and he had exclaimed -Nadie me toca la cara!- No one touches my face. 

It's funny how I'd been telling everyone how this is the safest I've ever felt in El Salvador.  Then a freak thing like this occurs!  The last time I'd been that close to gunshots fired in anger was in January of 1996.

The cops came through a few times in their pick-up but I didn't see Polo Pistol in it with them.

It would have been interesting to see how things would have played out differently had I not stopped to pet the dog.  I would've had a much better vantage point but I probably would've been in ricochet danger.

7.8.12 Inconsistent El Recodo Session w/ Mac and Pando

The last time I'd surfed here was in 2003.  El Recodo is the next point to the west of Punta Roca.  It is a rivermouth/point break with a rocky reef.  In my estimation, if Punta Roca is an A, El Recodo is a B.  It is shorter, less steep and less consistent than its eastern counterpart.

Seeing as to how Copa Quiksilver was still in its waning stages, we decided to surf here to avoid the rabid dogs.  We decided to paddle out just east of the river, which was gushing what appeared to be chocolate milk into the ocean.  I almost lost my footing once, which would have been unpleasant given the acceleration gained from the water and the rocks two feet or so under the surface.

The paddle-out was ok. I did my usual hesitation move where I wait for one more wave to roll under me to avoid scraping my board or hands on the rocks just below the surface.  I did my now trademarked one-fin scrape, but there was no damage.

The almendra tree that used to mark the prime take-off spot is gone now.  The only point of reference is the abandoned house which once housed a happy family I remember waving to after exiting the water.  According to Pando, the teenage son of the family became involved in gangs and his siblings were slaughtered while they slept.  Pando says it was some sort of retaliation.  All that remains is the now-roofless (likely scavenged for materials) house and the surrounding vegetation, made up mostly of palm trees.

The waves were overhead on the sets which is great.  What isn't so great is that there was a fifteen minute lull in between the sets.  Also, we had to contend with the sectioning-off that was limiting the options in the deep take-off spot.  There was also a slight east-west current, but not too bad.

The nostalgia started flowing a bit.  This is where I had a magical session with just Chamba and me on June 30, 2000.  The very next day is where I felt the first symptoms of Dengue fever.  In 2002, it was the site of the hardest I've ever laughed in the water.  I would go into more detail, but it wouldn't do the moment justice.  If you know me personally, ask me next time you see me.

El Recodo is a right, hence all my waves were rights.

My first wave was steep.  I descended it, but a five yard slab was feathering about ten feet in front of me.  I flew off the back hoping to not smack myself with my surfboard.

My second wave was better.  I was a bit late on it, popped up and got hung up on the lip.  I was blinded by the morning sun, but kept on pressing to get into this head-high beast.  I dropped down from the lip, connected, but my body was leaning too far back and I splayed.  Mac was just inside of me and he said I looked really calm.  Hey, if you can't complete the move, go for style!

I caught my third wave about fifteen minutes later.  It was a smaller wave, probably about chest-high.  I dropped down and smacked it, bringing the rail around more than I normally do as the face was a bit fat.  I dropped down again and kicked out.

My next wave was a beast.  I dropped down it, bottom-turned and did a high-speed kick-out over the back of it.  I wasn't about to waste positioning on a close-out close to the rocks.

Ah, this next wave is a bummer. The wave started barrelling from the get-go.  I was scratching furiously for it and checking out the immediate section to my inside, searching for signs of sectioning off.  A sponger about five yards inside of me, hooted to his sponger buddy and pointed at the wave.  I anticipated a steep drop and set up for one.  The wave didn't develop as I'd thought.  It still had size, but it was mushier than I expected.  I was in such a position on my take-off that  I may as well have been pig-dogging.  Most of my weight was over my heels so as to keep my outside rail in the wave for the barrel.  The steepness wasn't there and I fell awkwardly on my back, bummed.

My last wave was about chest-high.  I pumped about three times, went for a cut-down then a weird tail-drop from the get-go backside floater which didn't end well.

We decided to bail to check the beachbreak.  It was working, but it was a bit too racy.

7.7.12 La Bocanita on a Pushing Tide w/ Pando and Mac

We sat at the hotel patio taking in the waves when we realized there were some workable peaks at La Bocanita.  Pando was ready to go and coaxed Mac and me to go with him with his enthusiasm.  The waves looked fun, but only when they weren't too jumbled and/or choppy.  It appeared you'd have to let a big one go through and the froth from that one would smoothe the surface down for the next wave

We paddled out and sat.  About five minutes later, I caught a quickly steepening right which scared me with the speed at which it jacked up.  I made it through the steep froth section, then bottom turned and I threw my weight onto the back of my board.  I recovered, then went for another hit.  It was weaker than I would have liked, and I ended up out the back.

A left came and I descended.  I bottom turned and rose up to hit it but the wall was missing.  I snapped anyway and threw a little spray, but there was nothing to bounce off to go back down.

My third and final wave was a right.  It closed out and I straightened out.  I decided not to paddle back out as it wasn't worth my being out in the 2 o'clock sun.  I will save the cancer risk for when it's worth it!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

7.6.12 What-The-Hey Session at Sunzal w/ Aaron and Mac

Sunzal is a wave that is located on the west side of El Tunco, the east side being occupied by La Bocana.  It is a slower wave and is surfed mainly by beginners.  Aaron was loving it because he was taking his pick of waves.  This being his last session of the trip I decided to paddle out.

The paddle-out is, on a big day, the longest the vast majority of visiting surfers will experience during their surfing careers.  Today was small, maybe four-foot, but it was still an arm-noodler.

Mac was having his first post-injury surf and paddled for a set wave.  He shouted me onto it after he decided it wasn't for him. I was facing him, but quickly whirled around and did the lean-way-forward, two-paddle take-off.  The whitewash hit me.  I was thrown off-balance and struggled to get up.  My board hit a chop, sending the front half of it airborne.  When it touched down again, the battle had been lost.  I fell backwards and had an unpleasant experience, smacking 'the boys' on the water.  Oof.

I paddled back out and ulled back fromm about five waves as they didn't have much of a wall to them.

Finally, a decent one came and I was on it.  I did a drawn-out roundhouse cutty and connected with the wash just fine.  My second one was done as the wave was petering out and was unsuccessful.

I was over it and went in.

7.6.12 High Tide Punta Roca with Aaron; Amid Chuchos/'QS Competitors Galore

This was Aaron's last morning here.  His plane was scheduled to take off around noon.  We got to Punta Roca at our now-usual time of 4:50.  Mac tagged along, but wouldn't be surfing due to a cut he received from the nose of his board.  He brought his camera and hopefully, I will get the shots soon and post them.

The paddle-out was uneventful, save for a slight scrape of fin on rock once I'd made the decision to abandon terrestrial life and accept my aquatic destiny, at least for an hour or two.

The trick in these situations is to catch as many waves as possible while the crowd is rolling in.  If you are too choosy or your are unlucky enough, as I was on this session, to sit through a twenty minute set lull, your goose is pretty much cooked.

My first wave was fast, but small.  I snapped twice and paddled out for another one.

My second wave was deeper.  I hit it very well upon first snap.  As I ascended, I realized the lip would be folding over my rail if I continued on my current trajectory.  I attempted to snap-stall, but was too late to do so.  I got hung up on the lip (imagine that!) and panicked slightly when I went over the falls.

A good hour (!) later, I finally got a look at one, but unfortunately, had to kick out as it sectioned off.

I sat just inside of the sectioning area and was half-paddling for a wave.  Gilbert Brown (Costa Rican pro surfer) was on it and he was zooming.  Just as I'd stopped paddling, he yelled, "Go, GO!" and waved me on to his leftovers.  Had he done so a second earlier, I could have ridden what would have been my wave of the day. Rats.

About twenty minutes passed.  I saw Gilbert catch another wave and do an under-the-lip absolute OBLITERATION of the top.  It is without a doubt the most impressive backside snap I've ever witnessed live.

The PA system was being warmed up for the contest when I caught my last wave.  I was within six feet of the guy who burned me.  I yelled, "Voy, Voy!" (Going, Going!) and he kicked out but not before wasting the meatiest part of this four-footer.  Mac said he thinks he snapped a shot of me being burned.  We shall see.

7.5.2012 Afternoon Overhead La Bocana

I hadn't surfed all day.  The waves were there, but I may have been feeling a bit surfed out.  I paddled out at La Bocana after I saw a guy who is most likely a first-round loser from the 'QS Copa Quiksilver tear apart a left.

There was a storm brewing to the north, on the mountain side, and I hoped for a repeat of LATE Tuesday's conditions

I paddled out and noticed the guys who were out were buddies and they were speaking weird furrin' Spanish, most likely a Costa Rican dialect. 

My fears were realized slowly when I had major problems catching waves.  The ones I was in position for had no shoulder, just a drop.  The ones I wasn't in position for, either cleaned me up or I JUST missed.  There were also quite a few middlers that someone was already on. 

They were not doing the Pipe Wolfpak thing, at least not that I could tell, but there was someone on every decent wave.

Eventually, after forty-five minutes of taking outside mackers on the head, I got a look at a good one.  It was the second wave in a set, a bit smaller than the first, and as a result, was oh so frothy.  I paddled, dropped in, pausing slightly in my head to admire the bowliness of the wave and the steep drop that allows the rider.  I hooked up from the bottom, hoping to lay into a roundhouse cutty.  As I began my first pump, I realized I'd put too much weight on my front foot and flamingo'd.  I lost my balance, endo'd over the nose of my board, and had the pleasure of falling about four or five feet into the flats onto my back.  My neck and head cruelly snapped back upon impact.  Ouch.

I paddled back out for a chance of redemption. I lasted another half hour before I decided to pack it in.

I caught an inside left and rode it in, Mac-style, to the too-shallow area.  Luckily, I didn't hit a rock mine and didn't suffer a surf-killing ding.

Friday, July 6, 2012

7.4.12 Reunited after Sixteen Years: Surfing the El Zonte Left w/ Marcos G.

I hadn't seen Marcos since 1996, when tenth grade let out at Escuela Americana.

The last time I was here in 2009, we tried to make arrangements to surf but his schedule wasn't allowing it.

After a little back-and-forth, we finally settled on today.

I broke the news to the crew that I wasn't going to be driving us to Punta Roca, so they paddled out at Sunzal.

Marcos arrived a little bit late, easy to do with the mostly two-lane road coming down from San Salvador.

After a brief check at La Bocana, he asked me if I wanted to surf the left at El Zonte.  I said I did, I'd always wanted to surf that wave.

About twenty minutes later, we were parking at Olas Permanentes, a hotel/bar compound on the beach on the west side of El Zonte.

We paddled out without incident.  I'd never surfed with Marcos, or anyone from my class at Escuela Americana before, so this would be really interesting.

We were out there by ourselves, but that didn't prevent me from taking my sweet time to catch my first wave.

It was a left, but it wasn't very steep.  I kicked out almost immediately.

My second wave, also a left, was a bit nicer.  I pumped twice, then did a snap right on the outside edge of the pocket.  I couldn't hang on. Too bad, considering the wave seemed to kick up down the line.

I caught a right towards the rocks and did a proper snap on it.  I got some speed and laid into a roundhouse cutty.  I recovered nicely then kicked out.

Less than two minutes later, the wave of the session came through.  It was one of those waves where a section of it is slightly in front of the other.  It was as though there was a narrow smaller wave in front of it.  I went up to hit it, but decided to cut down rather than get delayed by vertical(ish) trajectory any further.  I saw the section, slightly in front, rise up.  I was already about a quarter of the way up the section when I realized that would've been an amazing tube section...  No matta, I really leaned into the top of it and gouged some water out the back for a sweet pocket carve.  I was pretty far ahead of the curl thanks to the speed I'd garnered from the cheat section, so I laid into a cutty.  I quickly realized I was headed towards some shallow rocks thanks to the telltale boils and bailed out the back of the wave.

About fifteen minutes of catching up with Marcos later, I caught a right and did a pretty good snap on it.  I slid the tail out a bit toward the beach, but I couldn't hang on.

We went in and had breakfast at Olas Permanentes.  Marcos told me about his family's lot adjacent to Punta Mango in San Miguel.  We discussed ideas for maximizing revenue for it, while minimizing initial expenses.  It will be interesting to see what he does with it when the time comes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

7.3.12 My Most Spiritual Session of All Time

About three weeks ago, I saw on Facebook that an old acquaintance was going to be travelling through Central America and he had mentioned surfing.  I hadn't seen him since high school.

I sent him a private message, letting him know I would be in El Salvador and would be happy to show him around.  I figured nothing would come of it, but he hit me up for the info.

He arrived today.

Aaron had decided to surf Sunzal on his own and Mac and I paddled out at La Bocana.  The tide was high and the surf was movido.  The best way I can put it in English is it was as though it was having morning sickness in the afternoon (afternoon sickness doesn't sound right plus it doesn't have the cute pregnancy pun its AM counterpart does).

We paddled out and it took me about A HALF HOUR to catch my first wave. It was a right and when I bottom-turned, the wound from this morning's Punta Roca section reminded me of its existence by screaming into my nervous system.  I did an ok turn, recovered, and kicked out.

The sun had been out all day and the wind had stayed down to probably about half the usual speed.  There wasn't chop in the water, but the waves were very shifty and had bumps in them, making them very hard to read.

I looked back to the north and eyed this incredible in scope thunderstorm off in the distance, the white flash of visually encumbered lightning barely visible.

All throughout the session, I kept looking behind me to take in this amazing natural beast, inching its way toward us.  The hidden-from-view lightning strikes began to reveal themselves.  The thunder claps' bass reverberated from the coastal mountains into the sea.  I licked my chops in expectation of the offshore wind that could very well salvage this session.

I caught a left which had some steepness to it, and not just on the drop.  I snapped once, came back down, then snapped a little more critically.  I made the same mistake of many waves past, letting my arm go towards the wave on the end of the snap rather than away.

I paddled back out and stared straight up.  The clouds were varying smoky shades of gray.  I looked to the left, still upwards, and admired the pastel blue and pink.  I looked upwards, but to the right this time, and took in the menacing thick black clouds making their way into the sea.  I liken the colors to the early- to mid- 80's.  The pastels are very reminiscent of the time, while the dark brooding storm could be likened to the looming AIDS crisis.

I paddled for a left and kept on paddling.  I could not get into it, but once I did, it looked like a closeout, so I let the board go.

I caught a right that I hit well once.  It was a tricky wave that had its various hittable sections broken off into slivers of vert.  I was able to descend again, but kicked out because I sensed a set.

I didn't get too rolled, and paddled out just in time to see Mac catch a sick one.

The wind was turning a bit offshore, but I was hoping for more so I could get some barrels.

A steep left arrived, I caught it, already behind a breaking section.  I mini-pumped twice right where the water on the wave went from horizontal to its first taste of vertical.  I covered some ground, but not enough.  I dove into the foam.

Another steep left came and I was on it.  This one had quite the wall.  I raced up to the top and laid into a sick, unmakeable-by-me turn.  I threw a ton of spray and got a little bit of hope that I might make it.  I didn't, but Mac said it looked like I was ripping that wave from the back.

Yet another left came and it had no shoulder.  I bottom-turned as steeply as I could.  I was hoping to make this wave a training wave so I can begin to b-turn more steeply on future waves.  There was no wall, so I kicked out with a lot of speed.

The lightning strikes got closer and people started tripping out at the beauty of it all.  It was getting dark.  I saw a perfectly spherical and brilliantly yellow object rising to the east and I said to Mac, "What is that?  That's not the sun, it sets on the other side."  He told me it was the moon.  I'd forgotten about the moon!

Pretty soon, Mac and I were all alone out there.  I caught a left and felt the offshore as I descended.  It was hard to judge because it was pretty dark.  I felt with my legs and pumped.  Lightning struck horizontally above me and the wave was lit up with its reflection.  I let out a guttural, unthought-out, primal yell.  I realized the wave was going to barrel, so I attempted to snap-stall.  I was too high up on the wave and my board dropped down without me as I got hung up on the lip.  I didn't go over the falls though.

I was beginning to tell Mac where to go in but a wave came and disrupted our communication.  I didn't see him after that, so I was officially all alone.  The small fluorescent lights along the coast provided a little light, as did the moon, but the frequent, sporadic lightning really helped me find my way back through the rocks.

This session was without a doubt the most scenic one I've experienced.  The lightning striking up in the sky, reflected in the wave was the highlight of what turned out to be quite the spiritual experience.

You know this session had an effect on me because we went out to dinner once I got in and I PAID!!!!!111!!  On the way back we got caught in a pretty nasty rain storm and was almost chilly for the first time on this trip.

Here are some shots Aaron snapped from the Hotel patio.  Mac and I were in the water at the time.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

7.3.12 We Beat Feet to La Bocana

The pros were controlling Punta Roca, so we bailed back to our hotel, slapped on some SPF reinforcements and paddled out.

Sweet, sweet relief!  There were only three guys out.  The waves looked close to half the size of yesterday, but still worth the paddle.  While paddling around, I noted how where one is changes their perspective on what is worth the work.

For example, a lot of the inside waves would be great waves in San Diego, but they were not worth the paddle here.  I'm sure this phenomenon can be extrapolated into other areas of life.  Sports are an easy category.  Another example I thought of is museums.  You might go to a C museum in San Diego, but you wouldn't waste your time with one in New York.


I caught a quick left and made it around the section, but there was no pay-off as there was no real wall to bank off of.  I kicked out.

I paddled over to where Aaron was, lining up with the huge telecom antenna installed about twelve years ago.  Within five minutes, I caught a nice right.  I swooped down, went a long way up and hit it just as the lip was throwing over.  I was thrown off-balance, but landed it.  I was going to try for another one, but was a bit discombobulated and missed my window.  I ended kicking out off-balance, but still stoked.  That was definitely the turn of the trip thus far!

I caught a left and I bottom turned hard.  I stayed as close to the foam  as I could and snapped weakly.  If I tried any harder, I would fall back due to the lack of push from the wall.  I pulled it, and had to stomp hard to not fade.  There was really nothing else for me to do on the wave as it withered away so I kicked out.

I caught another left and bottom turned hard again, but there was no wall, so I ended up trying a no-wall carving 360.  No one has ever pulled one before, at least that I'm aware of.  Let's just say that's still the case.

I was wary of being in the sun for too long so I bailed in.

7.3.12 Punta Roca Dawn Patrol w/ Aaron, Chamba, Tom Curren and Shea Lopez!

My cousin Tom flew in yesterday and we made plans to have him come down and meet us in front of Bob Rotherham's at 5.  He had to cancel as his friend's dad was ambushed and shot.  He spent the majority of the night at the hospital with them.  I guess that's an ok excuse...!

We walked out to the point, and I took my best guess as to walk out at such a low tide.  I didn't guess all that well, as Chamba walked way past me after I'd begun my paddle-out.  Apparently, the move is to walk out where you line-up with the first peak on the outside.  I made it out with an unpleasant gash on the inside of my foot (Mike, you would've HATED it!).

Aaron had guessed there'd be four guys on it, I guessed three and I NAILED it!  Being a little more used to the rock dance than Aaron, I beat him out there by a good four minutes and was poised to set up deep, considering the tide.

Before I could perch, a wave came with no one on it.  I put my weight on the back of my board, pivoted, and paddled hard.  I caught it and quickly b-turned, smacked it, swooped down very quickly and smacked it again.  Unfortunately on the second smack I did something wrong.  My best guess is not enough weight on the front foot.

More and more pros began rolling out of bed and filing out. 

My second wave was a racy right that I pumped and did one turn on, then kicked out.

A good-sized right came and there was no one on it.  I was a bit deep for it and was paddling hard.  I popped up, in danger of either fading off the back or going over the falls.  I stomped down on my front foot and it slid forward a tad.  I was able to recover though, and began pumping hard.  I saw Chamba on my inside and went around him.  I never was able to catch up to this beast.  I dove laterally into the foam, hoping to minimize my chances of a bloody encounter with the various dry barnacled rocks.

Punta Roca was reaching its saturation point.  I was having trouble catching waves as there was always someone on them.  The outside take-off spot was working about half the time, the other half it was folding over about fifteen yards inside, sectioning off. 

Aaron was in a good spot for a great one, but he got back-paddled by a guy whose name I won't mention.  He's a local and has, according to Chamba, had five or six attempts on his life for his misdeeds.  The most notable one I heard about was dropping in on the former President's son.  Yes, you can get shot at here for snaking the wrong person!

I caught one last wave and it sectioned off on me.  I fly-awayed over the lip.  Aaron said he was ready to go in.  I went in, but he hung out for ten minutes.  I was hoping to see Curren or Lopez catch a wave but I didn't see them.  Aaron said he saw one from each and Curren was on his game more than Shea.

7.2.12 Overhead, Low Tide La Bocana WITH AARON!

Aaron came in last night and they lost his bag.  He landed here at 8:05 and we left the airport at 10.  Forty minutes later, we were at the hotel.  I showed him around and let him see the board he'd be riding, thanks to Chamba's bro deal on the rental.  I ended up in the shower to cool off for the night ahead at 11:30 and passing out, despite how tired I was, right around midnight.

I didn't get a chance to eat dinner but was up and ready to go at 5:30.  We had to walk the long way around, as our hotel hadn't yet unlocked the gates to the water.

We paddled out and my arms were aching from the previous day's three-banger.  Just as I was about to perch, I got my first hunger pang.  I caught a left, but try as I might I could not catch up with it.  It was a beast of a wave and the drop was A LOT of fun.

I ended up getting smashed by what seemed like a never-ending set.  I finally pushed through, though I had to wrestle my board to the surface a couple of times.

Aaron was parked on the rights, loving it out there.  He had never been past Mexico before so this was all new to him.

I caught a right, smacked it really well, then compressed hard into a roundhouse cutty.  I hit the wash at about the two-thirds mark and slid the fins out.  The most amazing part? I RECOVERED!  I kicked out, amped.

Unfortunately, another brutal set came through and jostled me hard.  My rib cage skin was aching and I could feel the lack of nourishment.  My resolve weakened and I made plans to bail.

No waves came to help me on my way, so I paddled in.

Monday, July 2, 2012

7.1.12 WHAT!?! A Three-Session Day?! Building La Bocana

La Bocana was looking downright tasty from my cliffside pearch.

I decided to have a go at it, even though my headache was still affecting me.

I caught an overhead left with a steep drop.  My La Bocanita training was paying off as I kept all my speed and even the vast majority of my weight on my front foot.  I bottom turned, then pumped as it got racier.  The wave then slowed WAY down and my pumping tempo matched it.  The right was coming towards me and I hit it really well, sliding the fins out the back.  I felt my board and legs pick up a ton of speed off the oncoming lip, but my upper body wasn't in the right position to accommodate this jolt of acceleration and I splayed onto my back.

I caught a similar wave, though this one I didn't have to pump on.  I smacked the end section but left my board behind the wave while I flapped lifelessly onto the lip.  Whoops!

A nice right came and took me with it.  The drop was nice and fast and I swooped down and smacked it.  I recovered and went up the face, compressing into a cutback.  I dug my rail a bit, but lost hold of my fins in the wash.

I was getting slapped around by the clean-up sets and decided I'd had enough sun, rib cage friction and trauma for the day. 

7.1.12 STEEP drops at La Bocanita

I was checking the waves from my vantage point at the hotel. La Bocana looked ok, but La Bocanita ( a shorebreak spot I've surfed twice before) was firing!

I went back and forth. La Bocana or La Bocanita? La Bocana or La Bocanita?  I finally decided to surf La Bocanita even though there were about four heads in the water.

While paddling out I saw a girl catch a steep left, make the drop, then proceed to get ANNIHILATED in a smack attempt. BOOM!

My first wave arrived quickly, as tends to happen at shorebreaks.  I caught it, negotiated the steep drop, then thought about setting up for the barrel section.  I pussed out at the last second, intimidated by the sight of El Tunco, the famous rock formation that sits in the middle of Sunzal and La Bocana.

Five or six guys started paddling out with stickers on their boards.  More than likely, they were sponsored guys in town for Copa Quiksilver.  I caught a right EXTREMELY late, could've easily gotten and made the barrel (damn it) but elected to go for the bottom turn into a super-steep section.  I threw a ton of spray, heard the first bit hit the water, but pearled and got catapulted HARD into the water.  I came up with a slight headache that would stick around for almost four hours.  This is the definite front-runner for Bail of the Month.

The bros were killing it.  I saw one who was charging especially hard get two barrels where he took off under the lip, though he made neither.  I saw his bro catch a left, pigdog and exit cleanly even smashing the end section decisively.  SICK!

I caught a couple of others that let me in, but didn't barrel.  After I realized I wasn't going to get any tunnel time, I pumped and tried to do a roundhouse cutty, but both times I bogged.  I think I attempted them too flatly on the wave.

I caught a nice left which was steep and smacked it, but ate it.

Then, I saw the girl from the beginning of this post paddle for a wave.  I wanted to shout, "NNNOOO!!!" as she kept paddling well past the point she should have.  The wave was obviously a closeout at this point.  The bros who saw her go made their ouch faces and she went in after that.  Major props to her for charging a pretty hairy wave!

I went in, electing to save my rib cage skin from further abuse.

7.1.12 Las Flores Dawn Patrol w/ Chamba

We woke up at first light and got out thar.

We paddled straight to the point, and there were two guys already on it. 

On my first wave, I popped up and saw the first section about to barrel.  I crab-grabbed into oblivion and watched as it sectioned me off.

I caught an ok wave, turned, then went for a backside cutty when I remembered THE ROCKS!

I jumped off my board over the wave mid-cutty and proceeded to be dragged inside with my board behind me, closer to the rocks.  I yanked on my leash and did what I could to keep away from the rocks, or at least slow me down to lessen the impact.  I hopped back on my board, thankful to not hear that dreadful "CLUNK!".  I looked back and I was within six feet of it. PHEW!

I saw a set break in the next bay over which looked delicious and signaled to Chamba to watch.  I asked if he wanted to paddle with me and he replied affirmatively. 

We sat at the break in the middle of the bay named Vaca (Cow).  The peak at the far end of the bay is called Toro (Bull).  I caught a slow but fun left, b-turned but had no real wall to turn off, so I half-heartedly snapped unsuccessfully.

I was edging closer to Chamba and Toro, and about ten minutes later, the wave of the Las Flores trip came.  I caught it at the right time and pumped aggressively, turned and threw a huge plume of spray. AAAHHHH!  The wave sectioned off and I tried to get around it, but it was not to be.

Another half-hour passed and no waves came.  We watched as the twenty heads fought over the relative crumbs and decided to pack it in.

I can't remember the last wave I caught ergo it wasn't memorable and likely not worth writing about any way.

June Wrap-Up

The monthly breakdown went as follows:

D Street 5
Pillbox 2
La Bocana 2
Punta Roca 2
Las Flores 1
George's 1
Stonesteps 1

Wave of the month: Surprisingly, it's in California, the wave on my first session of the month.  I hit it well twice!

Bail of the month: My knee and thigh scrape at Punta Roca

June was a good surfing month, but it's not a fair comparison due to my being in S swell heaven at the moment.  Congrats to the winner and the nominees!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

6.30.12 Las Flores Evening Glass-Off Session w/ Chamba and Pando

Pando invited us along on his honeymoon, but he would not let us sleep in his room (I asked).  Chamba and I trekked to the far east of the country.   I am happy to report I have completely switched over into my Salvadoran driving habits.  I now pass cars with reckless abandon, pushing my rented Kia Spectra to its limits.  We threaded through downtown Usulutan traffic and remarked at all of the funny names for stores and restaurants, all presumably named after the families' daughters or matriarchs.

After two and a half hours, we finally reached our destination.  Las Flores is a sleepy town whose economy is based almost completely on surf tourism.  There are multiple hotels.  Pando paid  $~200 for his room.  We split a $20 windowless concrete brick bunker with a shared bathroom.

Here's some footy of the camp.  The first building you see, next to where Chamba is swinging on the hammock, is our room (well, one-fifth of it is).

We each ate a whole fried fish and watched the crappy surf get slightly less crappy.  It looked about one foot out there and we were pessimistic over the potential for tonight's session.

Pando came down from his gilded room up on the cliff to meet us in our favela.  We paddled out about halfway up the point, where a couple were coming through.  About five minutes later, I'd caught two crappy waves I had a hard time staying on.  We saw the outside start to show some pulses.  An older American guy who looked like he could be someone's grandpa was absolutely killing it.   He is definitely the oldest ripper I've ever come across.

We decided to try our luck out there after a second set rolled through, proving it wasn't a freak set the old guy tore apart.  The setup reminded me a lot of Ollie's Point in Costa Rica.  It too is a right point at which you have to sit very close to the rocks if you want to catch a wave from the first sign of steepness.

My first wave at the point took me a while to catch.  We were dealing with over twenty heads in the water.  Normally, a point break can accommodate a crowd. Because it was so small, this wasn't the case.  There were only two real takeoff zones and the inside one was alternating between chunky and racy, depending on which direction that particular wave's swell came from.

Finally, an unspoken-for wave came and I popped up.  I descended diagonally, the corners of my eyes scanning  for those sharp rocks on the inside.  I bottom turned with my upper body turning towards my target just outside the lip of the wave.  I smacked it, but got hung up on the lip and faded out the back.  It was a bummer, but at least I'd caught one.

I asked Chamba if you could see Nicaragua from here and he said you could on a clear day.  I'm still a little skeptical as you have to look across the sizable Golfo de Fonseca.  I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

I caught another wave within fifteen minutes, this time I turned more critically and vertically, but I had a very similar result.  I let out a grunt of frustration.

I decided I had to be the one who was farthest out and sat oh so close to the indicator rocks.  I only had one hairy instance during which I got a little too close.

My third wave was a doozy, a nice shoulder-high set wave.  I threw my arms and upper body towards my target, stomped on my back foot, then rotated hard, slamming my weight on to my front foot.  A lot of spray came off my rail, so I imagine even more came off my tail.  I turned again a bit more meekly, I didn't have the angle I liked and did a lip bash.  I stomped that and kicked out. NICE.

My fourth wave sectioned off.  I pumped hard and made it around the section.  I did a quick floater, but that's all that wave had in store for me.  I hung out about two-thirds of the way out, not sure if it was worth the continued paddling.  Chamba sat at the very outside for a half-hour before a set came that he was able to snag.  I asked him if the wait was worth it and he said, "Apenas". Just barely.

The crowd had thinned slightly.  From the high of 25 littered along the point we were down to about eighteen.  I paddled all the way out again and sat with a guy in a red longsleeve rash guard.  Chamba had warned me that the guy is a renowned wave thief.  He struck up a conversation in Spanish with me and told me he was from Miami.  We chatted for about twenty minutes with absolutely nothing coming through.  He caught a sweet one, but he ended having to pump seemingly forever and got one maneuver in before he fell.

Another tweny-five minutes passed.  I told Miami I was going to pack it in.  Just as I said that the wave I'd been waiting for arrived.  I pumped and smacked it hard, my best turn of the day.  I did a slight cutty so the wave would catch up.  I turned a little too sharply on my second turn and buried my rail with no speed, leading to a horizontal fade.  It was pretty dark out, so I bailed.