I woke up at my usual just-shy-of-five time and decided to make good on the promise to myself from the night before: I would make a good faith effort to check the waves despite the reports' tales of woe from the swell charts.
Because of the NW direction of the swell, I made MD's my first check. As I came within eye shot of the surf at 15th, my eyes bulged out of my head. What is THIS? There's SWELL! As I hung down and then right onto Coast Blvd, I came to the realization that it wasn't a maritime mirage, but honest-to-goodness, consistent grinders up and down the beach.
I parked at 20th and was about to ask a guy coming in how it was. Unprompted, he said, "It's soooo good!". Yowza.
On my first wave, I was a bit inside, but made it onto the wave and around the initial crashing section. I did a quick pump, then had to take my foot off the gas as the wave hit a deep spot and slowed down. I put more weight on my front foot to stay on it and the wave felt sand again, turning steeper. The wave was shutting down, though it was more of a foam-over than a classic slamming closeout. I kept weight on my front foot as I slashed and managed to stay over my board, but I faded off the back.
My next wave was a second left, but this one was slow the whole way. I pumped and did my best to not fade. I was successful, but there was no reward. The wave somehow shut down without having any sort of decent slope from which to harvest speed.
The next left had some slope to it, though it did start off a little slow. I milked the most speed I could off of it and made it to the inside section where I slashed it well, but there was little pushback from the wave and I plopped off my board, devoid of speed.
A weird thing about the waves today is that the prevailing swell direction was NW, but the vast majority of rights were shutting down almost immediately.
Case in point: My next wave was a scrumptious-looking steep right. I dropped down at an angle and tried to avert destiny by giving myself the best chance to make it around the section. I choked up with a quick pump, but the thing shut down behind me and in front of me, hitting me in the back in the process.
Then, one of the weirdest, most startling things that has ever happened to me occurred. I paddled back out from the right and perched. About three minutes later, I spotted this massive sea lion, quite possibly the biggest I'd ever seen in the wild, motoring RIGHT towards me from about two o'clock. I noticed how much of its body was out of the water, meaning the guy was MOVING!
Its mouth was open and it looked angry. It was staring right at me. I looked at it mostly bemused, but somewhat bewildered. It had two huge protrusions in its mouth, not sure if they were tusks, but they were so gnarly. I stood my ground, getting a little more alarmed. Then, when it was about fifteen feet away, it let out a heavy-sounding grunt/cough; the presence of which slammed my chest against my board and sent me scurrying. The first four or so strokes were sprint-paddles, but I cooled it down because I was concerned the splash chaos would attract it to me. I was so scared! Within ten seconds, I looked to the south and it had semi-surfaced from the dive it took when my head was turned. PHEW!
My next wave was a sick left, though it didn't look so at first. It appeared to be slow, and I pumped up to try to generate some speed. The wave then hit a shallow spot and started spinning quickly. I was in a really critical spot; the opening part of the lip tapping me ever so slightly twice. Then the wave slowed way down, and I slammed on my backside rail hoping to throw a ton of spray. I did, but it was at the expense of making it. I made the mistake of too critical a turn for too flat a wave. Bummer.
My next wave was a right, which today meant a quick exit. Luckily, I was able to make something of it this time and swung up into it for an aerated rock 'n roll. In surfing, this is called a foam climb. Here is the footy, but we warned, it gets salacious at the end!
The curse of the lazy lefts continued. I caught a wave I wasn't sure would develop and descended it straight down, I cut back up then stomped on the deck of my board with my front foot and leaned way down, hoping this would allow me to continue down the face. It didn't, and I plopped over.
Another left, but this one had more steepness to it. I saw after descending it was going to close out on me, so I took the opportunity to soul arch my way out of it. I jumped over the foam and that was it.
After two more lazy lefts, I'd decided I couldn't bear the sting of my wetsuit rashes any longer. I succumbed and beached myself, hoping tomorrow would have bear more of the same.