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.