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Friday, May 31, 2013

May Wrap-Up

Wisconsin 5

Wisconsin is the runaway winner.  In fact, Wisconsin and its cousin to the north made up 3/4 of my sessions for the month.  Could this be why we're trying to move up there?

Wave of the Month: The first wave of Memorial Day, though the wave I ended on was different from the wave on which I started.

Bail of the Month: That unfortunate bobble on the wave of the day the Sunday before Memorial Day.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

5.28.13 Backwards Sesh at North Wisconsin

I skipped my usual check of Buc Beach and Loopholes.  I made a beeline for Wisconsin Street and found my parking spot at 5:59.  It was EMPTY, a stark contrast from the previous day, but the conditions reflected why.  You could tell an unfavorable wind had been smacking it for a few hours.  I saw some corners out there and the lack of crowds pumped me up to the point of paddling out.

I walked south on the beach towards Wisconsin Street, aiming to be shuttled back up north just a bit towards a wedging peak I'd spied from the ride.  While walking towards the most receded waterline I'd ever seen in Oside, I noticed the very nearshore current seemed to be moving south, the opposite of its usual direction.  I ignored this, thinking my eyes must be deceiving me or maybe it's only in that one spot.  Maybe that was part of the recessive NW windswell that was on its last legs.

While wading out, I felt a strong tug once again to the south.  The only thing I could think it could be is the gnarly rip current about twenty yards to my south.  My initial plan was to line up north of it and get sucked even farther away from it by the predominant S->N swell, but it looked like I was going to be pulled into it.  Oh well, I rationalized, that just means the paddle-out will be easier.

And it was.  My first wave was a left, which I hoped would slow my southward descent.  It almost immediately sectioned off.

Keep in mind this is an EXTREMELY low tide, so shoulders would turn into throwers quickly...

My next wave had a really fast line.  I somehow was able to keep pace with it, but there was no reward as the wave hit a fat spot and ruined any chance for a reward.

I took off late on a right and never caught up to the speed racer lip.

Catching that right propelled me WAY south.  I was shocked after the apres-paddle-out perch to see I was three buildings south of Wisconsin Street.  The rip must have slingshotted me past it, reminding me of the Apollo 13 mission, though with arguably less at stake.

I caught one in, then walked about half-mile up the beach towards the pier, but still south of Tyson Street, then paddled back out.  This accounts for the fifteen-minute gap between GoPro timestamps.

Seaward glances on my way north were met with the sight of a few heads in the water.  It was about six-thirty or so, so this was to be expected.  This was nothing compared to yesterday, though!

I caught a right, and looking at the footy, was pleased with the sudden rush of acceleration the quick and hard bottom turn produced.  If only I could do it on an oomphier wave though...!

A left came and I hustled down and then back up.  The section had steepened far faster than expected, but I skirted disaster and got a little more speed. I weathered a flat spot, then took what speed remained and did a failed credit card air, named for the amount of air I got was about the height (width?) of a credit card.

I caught another left, but this one almost immediately closed out.

I then caught a right which started off slowly, I was patient and the thing bowled up, I went up, smacked it, and lived to tell the tale.

Another right.  This one also started off slowly, and it stayed slow.  I hit it, but there was nothing for me to bounce off of and I faded. My kicking the board shoreward sent it airborne and the camera recorded an interesting BOIOIONG sound from the leash being stretched out.

A couple more forgettable waves passed and I was over it after an almost two-hour sesh.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

5.27.13 Memorial Day Madness at Wisconsin Street

I shot up to Oside again and knew I'd be surfing.  There was swell in the water and the wind was calm.  I parked The Rad, suited up, and began my journey.  I paddled out south of Wisconsin Street.  The tide was pretty low, but it was just starting to creep back up, leading to what I hoped would be a jolt of much-needed consistency.

I paddled out and sat with an older guy, who much like his older predecessor before him, told me to go on a macker.  He had position on me and must have decided he was too late, because it was one of those waves you don't give away....

I popped up and swooped down.  This wave had a sliver effect; the wave I was on had a miniscule steep section, but it in a way continued farther down the line, slightly behind the wave I was on.  I pumped up to the top of my original section, then pounded hard on my front foot.  I had a quick recollection of the previous day's bobble on the wave of the day, but that quickly went away when I spotted my target.  It was a little strange prolonging my bottom turn to essentially hit a section of the wave that was behind my origin wave.  I had tons of speed but went too vertical on it.  All I had to show for it was a sick view of an s-ton of spray and a feeling of muted stoke.

I paddled back towards where I caught the wave and let the old guy have priority on me.  No waves came for a while and when a decent one did, he didn't paddle for it, so I went inside of him.  More nothing came, but I did catch a right that was smaller, but a screamer.  The footy shows me pumping with the curl crashing just shy of my inside rail.  Unfortunately the future section got the memo the past section sent and it began to pitch.  I was in an awkward spot, as I could see this thing begin to pitch ahead of me, but not hard enough to create a vacuum for me to weave through.  The end result was me almost grabbing my rail for an almost pig-dog with the wave smacking me in the back of the head.

I paddled back south, bumming out about the ever-increasing pack.  Eventually I caught a left.  The initial drop section was fine, but then it fattened up.  I did a laid-back (not a layback) turn on it and watched as the wave instantly imploded underneath me.  I bailed so as not to pearl and faceplant onto shallow sand.

I paddled even farther south, still battling the current and the pack.  I sat for about five minutes before this macker came and I sprint-paddled farther south and a bit deeper for it.  I heard a guy about ten yards away lick his chops going, "OOOOHHHH".  I whirled, paddled hard, and dropped in.  I pumped up and, going for what must have been style points on this quickly-steepening section, didn't immediately pump down.  My intention was to then swoop down to have tons of speed but not have progressed on the wave nearly as much, in a way, extending my time in the juice.  As I stomped down on my front foot, I noticed my board not moving and quickly realized I was caught up in the lip.  This resulted in what I hope was a supremely satisfying smackdown for the wave.  I surfaced, pulled my leash to get my board towards me and paddled back out, bummed.

After watching the Wisconsin pack grow from a pack of two to a pack of twelve, I stopped fighting the current and tried my luck farther north.  I eventually had a look at a right and got an ok smack on it  before it too closed out.  After surfacing, I saw a sick left fold over into a ledge and spit.  That raised my froth level back up and the fact that no one was on it gave me hope.

I'd made a pact with myself to dig a little deeper on my backside bottom turns.  This results in increased drive up the face for more explosive turns.  I caught a right and quickly fulfilled my end of the deal: the footy shows a more technically sound bottom turn but the fat section I was presented left me feeling like a sucker.

A left came and I caught it, hoping I could race the section to the greenwater.  I lost.  I pulled through the back.

The crowd became so unbearable that I got the hell out of there.  It was good to get a look at a couple though, so I left somewhat satisfied.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

5.26.13 A Break from the Devil Winds Leads to my Ascension to Oside

The devil winds that constantly plague us during Spring had been having their way with this swell.  I was watching the wind reports/forecasts hoping for a break and it appeared this morning would be it.

I checked D Street and the low tide was shutting just about any wave down.  The wind was ENE so Oceanside's siren song grew louder in my head. "Eddie", it crooned.  "Come see me".  I obliged.

I knew Buc Beach wouldn't be a good indicator, as the tide was so low.  The sight of two-foot slop didn't shift my foot toward the break.  I trudged north with plans of taking out my frustrations on various wave faces.

Wisconsin and Tyson didn't look good, but Pier had some peaks with just a few dudes out.  Because the tide was so low, I figured I should check Harbor, but that wasn't great.  I circled back and parked in the free lot by Dairy Queen and suited up.

I remembered how many cigarette butts I'd seen my last couple of sessions up here so I made a point to count them.  In a two block stretch, guess how many I spotted?

Bummed about the future of our species, I shifted my eyes up, toward the waves.  There were peaks a ways south and no. one. out. ON A SUNDAY!

I paddled out, awestruck at my good fortune.  The nearest person to me was 150+ yards away.  I thought I was going to be able to dry-hair it but had to succumb and submerge thanks to a small one-wave set.

I paddled for a right that was going to barrel hard and very likely close out, but I aborted.  I was just too late on it.

Just two minutes later, I bagged my first one.  Avid reader(s?) of this blog will remember my past spiels about lefts generally being better on south swells (on shorelines with any western exposure) and this was indeed a left.  I caught it and slogged my way through the foam, punched up the face with a strong bottom turn and hit the wave in a pretty sweet spot. I threw a lot of spray but it was all for naught as I ended up on my ass, the victim of too steep a turn for too weak section, or at least that's what I'm telling myself...

My next wave arrived ten minutes later.  It was a fast one so I had to boogie.  I dropped down pumped once, then floated over the section.  I was up on this thing for a beat and a half when I felt my speed dwindle and saw trouble brew as the wave imploded and disappeared within itself.  I kicked my board out and bailed.

I caught a weaker left and it closed out.  I kicked my board out and let the wash wash over me.

The waves were really hard to read.  I had sun to the east with no cloud cover, but sun over the horizon and all to the west.  The added contrast made it difficult to judge the waves.  When a macker is coming, it is almost always accompanied by a change in color from the surrounding water surface.  Because the water's surface was already dark, it seemed like every little bump was a crusher.  After a few paddles-out I acclimated, though, and stayed closer to the inside.

It was at this point that people started filtering in, though I'm happy to report that I didn't have to pull back from any waves this session because someone was already on it.

I took on another left, but it too closed out on me.  The low tide makes the waves steeper and much more likely to close out at beach breaks.  I'd much rather have it this way then too fat though...!

I was pretty late on another left, but had a shot because of its foamy top.  The wash hit me and I staggered up, but the area to my left also had foamed out leaving no runway from which to gain speed.  I kicked out.

On my way back out, I spotted a rhino of a wave.  When you're in this position, you do a delicate dance.  You want to paddle out so as to not be too late on the wave.  But you also don't want to paddle out too far so as to miss it entirely.  As you watch waves break over the years, you get a knack for it, but not much of a knack was needed for this one.  I was going to catch so long as I didn't puss out on my late position.  I paddled, whirled, then paddled in the opposite direction, gaining speed to match the wave's.

The drop was heavy, but not an air drop.  I pulled up from my descent and bottom-turned in time to watch the next ten yards of it slab over and explode.  I corrected halfway towards the beach and kicked my board out, waiting for a pinning that could possibly send me to the sand. The force of the wave hit me about a half-second after I hit the water.  I felt a brutal push for a second, then it released me.  I surfaced amid the foam and sandy water, gathered my wits, and mounted my board.

I was getting close to the Pier crowd thanks to the pervasive longshore current, so I took a wave in on my belly and ambled down the beach toward less crowded goodness.  Once I made it just north of Tyson Street, I stopped for a moment.  The wind had switched onshore and it was looking gloomy out there.  I decided on paddling out anyway.

As if to mock me for my decision, the ocean sent a right my way, which immediately chubbed up and ruined my chances of gaining speed; a discovery I made just after popping up.

A left came a minute later and I pulled through it just before it closed out.

I was now in a veritable pack.  That realization came and was quickly interrupted by another macker.  I watched as a guy to my south inexplicably paddled to my north, giving me position on this obvious left.  We both paddled and there was no way I was pulling back. He yelled, "GO GO GO!", and I did.

I went down this head-high wave about two-thirds of the way,  no idea what to do.  I got caught in my indecision and completely kooked out on it, half of my body leaning towards a hit, the other towards a quick cutty back into the power source.  I blew what very well would have been the wave of the session, and I did not do it gracefully.

I caught a quick left with barely a hit section and did what the wave implored I do.  I felt a satisfying smack under my board as the lip met the fiberglass, but I couldn't hang on.  I swear, if I could do these well I would rip!

The waves regressed into crappier and crappier quality and I took a right out of desperation.  Mid-bottom-turn, it foamed out on me and I kicked out and over.  I took the next wave in on my belly and called it a day.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

5.21.13 Impromptu Grandview Sesh Thanks to Chance Meeting w/ Frank

I'd checked Oside and to call it surfable would've been generous.  Lazy, spilling waves were being turned ugly by the S wind.

Since it'd taken me so long to drive home yesterday, I refused to take the freeway.  I also hoped to come across a more surfable spot. 

Ponto showed a good set as I whizzed past, but there were easily two dozen heads on it.

I was going to check D Street and call it a no-go, but I decided to go to Grandview.  I checked it and was unimpressed by what I saw.  I saw something decent at Avocado's, but it was really inconsistent.  I waffled, then decided to head to D.  On my way to my ride, I heard someone call my name and it was my dad's buddy Frank.  I'd never surfed with him so I decided to paddle out with him for the hell of it.

My first wave was a left, that looked to be pretty fun.  As I popped up, I noticed there was a lot of water moving around on it.  Unfortunately, there was someone paddling out right in my way about ten yards away.  I descended down the face in an attempt to squeeze past him, but the chunkiness of the wave didn't allow for much maneuvering.  I did a fly-away out the back.

It took a solid twenty minutes for me to catch my next wave and it was about head-high.  I was salivating.  I descended and just as I transitioned my weight onto my heels a cross-chop must've hit and sent me tumbling ass-first into the water, frustrated.  NOOOOOOO!

A LONG lull later and I had my shot at redemption on another right.  I bottom turned hard, picked my spot and hit it, but I must've put too much weight into it for its lack of slope.  I hadn't done a turn this hard since Punta Roca, so maybe my muscle memory expected more push-back?  I sailor-dived.

Another long lull later, I was on a left on which I got a lot of speed on.  A guy paddling sideways toward me hooted me on it.  I passed him and went up to collect my reward, a meaty hit section.  Only there wasn't one.  I had bottom-turned sharply with the expectation of a power section and it was WWEEAAKK!! I threw a little spray and just kind of stood there as the swell continued towards its demise without me.

Monday, May 20, 2013

5.20.13 Solo Mish to Wisconsin Street

The swell reports were very promising, but the wind reports not so much. I shot up to Oceanside, hoping for the best. 

The swell was definitely there, as Buc Beach and Loopholes looked better than normal.  There was an unfortunate side chop in the water courtesy of the S wind.

The tide was peaking just as I paddled out.  My paddle-out was mostly uneventful, thanks to my opportune timing.  I made it through one depth charge that detonated just behind me, its vibration resonating off my trailing foot underwater.  I had to hustle as its bigger brother was on its way and narrowly avoided disaster as another depth charge went off JUST above and behind me, this time accelerating me up and out for a thrilling ride to the surface.

I was out the back and had suffered a slightly northern trajectory thanks to the expected new swell longshore current, but not too bad.  I was all alone about to enjoy a new swell after a long time of not surfing head-high waves.

I caught a right and, true to its predecessors' nature from swells past, it closed out quickly.  I had just set my feet and had begun my bottom turn when I realized this.  I awkwardly launched myself over my board and braced for the impact from my surfboard, which thankfully never arrived.

My next wave was the wave of the day, and the best wave I've caught since March.  It was a left which opened up to me.  I pumped hard off the top, then again off the very top, to the point that I threw a grom's-worth of spray off the back.  I then laid into a BIG slash which threw more spray, but I made the mistake of burning all of my speed, leaving me nothing with which to continue on my journey towards the sand.

I caught a right late and air-dropped.  I noticed I have a bad habit of keeping my trailing arm posed awkwardly behind me, towards the face when I have a late backside drop.  It changed my center of gravity and though I landed on the deck, my weight was over my heels and I ate it.

Another overhead wave came, this time a left.  I paddled for it gingerly, as I didn't want to be too late.  Looking back towards the wave, I knew I was going to be extremely late but decided to go anyway.  I was pushing up onto the deck when I sensed the bottom fall out from under my board.  I shoved my board aside and went over the falls.

I slammed down into the trough, feeling the familiar tug of my tombstoning board above me.  Despite the tricks I'd taught myself, including quick affirmations and slow counting, I couldn't stop the panic from creeping in.  This started a mid-July day in 1997, the closest I've come to drowning.  Ever since that day, whenever I'm underwater for eight or so seconds, I begin to panic.

I resurfaced without flapping my arms, which is a small triumph for me.  Nothing like a little fight-or-flight to get some adrenalin going!

I caught a head-high left, descended, took a quick look at my options in the face of a closeout and decided hitting the eject button was the best of them.

I sat for about a half-hour just north of Tyson Street, mired in a place not blessed by breaking waves.  I took a shorebreak wave in and ran a quarter-mile or so back to Wisconsin to paddle back out.

I was frothing over the swell, though the frequency of closeouts was taking some of the foam off the froth. 

I paddled out at the same spot and caught a bald guy taking off on a big open left and biffing, but he was pretty late.  Ooh baby, I need one of those.

The beautiful wave I'd envisioned never arrived.  I spent the majority of my remaining surf time paddling south to combat the current and taking off on crappy waves, while pulling back from the obvious closeouts.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

5.16.13 Tiny Turtles w/ Aaron

Aaron told me he was bagging lefts and right (ha!) all day the last couple of sessions and finally gave me enough notice once the swell was on the way down.

I met him on the 101 at 545, we suited up and went.  As is normally the case with an Aaron sesh, the waves were small.

There was no one out as we paddled out, basking in the warmer-than-expected water.

We each caught a couple of waves.  Aaron was able to fit some turns in, but I had a hard time getting going on mine.

Eventually, it got downright crowded.  The vibe was friendly, and I shared smiles and hellos with several strangers, except for one person.  I was first made aware of his existence when he paddled for a set wave, pearled, and over-corrected diagonally, eating it right in the maw of one of the heavier waves of the day (MAYBE 4').

This guy paddled for everything and he didn't care if you had priority.  Case in point:  I was in position for a sick one.  I was pretty late on it, but did well on the takeoff.  To my left, paddling furiously on the shoulder is Mr. "Aggressively Sucking", as Aaron affectionately monikered him.  Luckily for me and my noggin, he couldn't catch up.  I pumped once then laid into a roundhouse cutty.  Unfortunately, the margin of error was so thin that I threw spray and ate it as my nose pointed towards the beach.

That was the extent of the excitement for the day.  It was my first time seeing Aaron in over ten months and my first time surfing with him in cold water since the very first entry to this blog, August 2011.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

5.3.13 Searching for my South Swell Savior in Wisconsin Street

I looked through all of Oceanside's breaks again on this day. Avalanches was about a foot smaller and decent, but still had the ravenous pack from the day before. I'd been hurt the previous day and wasn't about to place my heart in its hands, for it to crush.

I doubled back towards Wisconsin Street just in time to witness a head-high two-wave set detonating. I waited five minutes and saw nothing else of that caliber, but there were some clean small ones. These tended to section off pretty quickly, but I figured I could have some fun.

I discovered that just south of the ramp at Wisconsin, there is a small stair set that allows you to bypass the slipper boulders. I watched a shoulder-high or so five-wave set break, and I was excited. I hit the water just as the last wave of the set broke. I made it out with dry hair.

Within two minutes of perching, I caught a quick left that I hit and fell. Little did I know this wave would be the highlight of my session...

I caught a left about ten minutes later and that closed out on me. Another left came, and I was in such a hurry that I put most of my weight on my front foot. My board bogged just a bit, probably traversing some aerated foamy water and once I realized I was going to fly over the nose, propelled myself so as to minimize the chances of getting hit. I turned my body mid-air and smacked the water pretty hard.

It immediately felt as though I'd had the wind knocked out of me, but I was fine after one painful breath.

I caught a right on which I thought I had plenty of time. I laid into a drawn-out bottom turn, but a little over halfway through the lip surprised me and hit me under my arm pit knocking me silly.

The longshore current picked up and I bobbed north. It was as though I'd entered the surf-equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle. They were gone. I pondered my existence for the next twenty minutes until I decided I'd had enough. I caught one in on my belly and bailed.

This session was the last of this swell, as the winds turned funky later that evening; something the surf forecasters accurately predicted (though they probably got that info from third-party sources).

5.2.13 N. Jetty South Swell Hunting

I was so ready for this swell.

This winter was pretty bad for surf.  I think I remember one swell that was more than head-high.  While shivering through yet another lackluster session, I began to yearn for the halcyon days of the summer of 2011.  This was the summer that inspired this blog with its peaky conditions I could surf virtually alone for about an hour after first light.

I awoke before dawn and was in The Rad ready to roll by 530. 

Since this was predicted to be a head-high swell, my pineal gland directed me to the north to hopefully allow the swell's power to reach its county maximum.  Of course Lowers would be firing, but what good is excellent surf if you can't surf it?  It's akin to going to a gentleman's club and seeing beautiful women you can't experience (I wouldn't know, though I have read about these establishments in my Archie comics).

My usual check revealed the usual drudgery.  Buc Beach could possibly work on a higher tide or a swell with more west in it.  Loopholes through Wisconsin was pretty weak.  There were signs of life between Wisconsin and Pier, but the dropping tide made me proceed towards Harbor.  S. Jetty was worse than usual, thanks to dredging equipment positioned as though its mission was to destroy waves.  Harbor didn't look amazing, but the head count didn't reflect that; it was packed.  Condors had a little something going, but nothing amazing.  Then, I spotted N. Jetty, a spot I call Avalanches as a shout-out to its southern cousin in OB.  There was a wedge there that was overhead with people splitting peaks.  There was a lot of water moving around as these were thick, but I wasn't too worried about it.  I pulled into the free lot, suited up into my 3/2 thanks to the Santa Anas, and took the long walk to Avalanches.

I paddled out and was aghast to see just how many people were in the water.  I'd somehow missed that detail while cruising by in the car.

I lined up with the big crane they're using to remodel the amenities and sat/paddled/pulled back for about twenty minutes before my first wave came.  It was a throaty left.  I took off and enjoyed the generous rush of speed.  I looked back out of habit and there was a guy on it.  I bottom-turned steeply and kicked out.  I held my arm up to the guy from afar when I saw him again and he paddled to me and told me he wouldn't have made it and not to worry about it.

Big, head-and-a-half waves began emerging to the pack's south and the vast majority of the crowd took off paddling for them.  I looked back and I was still lined up with the crane.  I thought these were fools for all competing for those waves when these were almost as meaty.  I sat there with the guy I'd snaked for about five minutes before glancing to the north and seeing I'd drifted close to the jetty.  The water around me had gotten choppy and I realized I'd been snared in a rip current.

I paddled for easily ten minutes without stopping, catching up to and then passing some of my recently departed packmates. Every wave had a guy on it and it was maddening.

I finally got a look at an ok left that fed into the rip, but it got flattened by it right after take-off.  It was the weirdest feeling watching this hittable shoulder get mushed into nonexistence.

I was stuck in the rip again and had to endure another lap on the liquid treadmill, though this go-around was closer to five minutes.  I caught one more wave and it closed out on me.  I headed in, took my leash off and walked to try my luck farther south.  Unfortunately, there was nothing going on except for just north of S. Jetty and it was so packed I was over it.  In I went.

When I was changing out of my wetsuit, I saw the guy whom I'd snaked, noticeable because of his bright green wetsuit bottom.  He had gnarly too-big-to-be-normal bacne scars all up and down his back.  I realized when presented with this evidence and his large build that he probably had employed the use of anabolic stimulants.  I was relieved not to have caught him during an episode of 'roid rage, as his reaction would not have been nearly as amicable.