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Saturday, August 31, 2013

8.25.13 Lust turns into Bust at Michigan

There was supposed to be an oh-so-slight kick in consistency today.

It didn't happen.  The waves were 1-2'.  There was very little push.  I got one pump on about five waves on which I stood.

This is the frontrunner for worst session of the month.

The flat spell has been going on for three weeks now, but there is an end in sight, judging by the swell models.  Stay tuned...

Friday, August 23, 2013

8.23.13 Strictly Slump Busting at Minnesota

The dreaded 1'+/1-2'/Marginal (or Bad) readings on the forecasts had bloomed beautifully into sexy 2'-3'/Rideable as of yesterday.  Yesterday's surf check revealed nothing about which to get excited, so I went home dry.

Today was barely better.  It had been nearly two weeks since my last session and I had to get out there.  If you surf often, you'll know the feeling I'm about to describe.  You're getting your fill of waves (not necessarily good ones) for days in a row and then the ocean cruelly stops producing sloping walls of water, leaving you (not so) high and (mos def) dry.

I've tapped into a methadone-y fix: skimboarding.  The skimboarding in Oceanside can be excellent.  The sand slopes down towards the water, allowing the rider to pick up speed as he runs, drops, and slides.  The shorebreak is almost surfable, sometimes 3', usually closing out.  The water is so shallow there though, that a successful ride can lead to an unsuccessful attempt at keeping your board in one piece.

I paddled out at Minnesota, just north of Junior Seau's old house and place of death, after spotting what appeared to be rideable waves.

My first wave was a right on which I faded after about six seconds (would have taken three on my last board).

I caught a left and kept my weight forward.  Eventually, I made the connection as the wave made its with the sand below.  There wasn't anything to hit, so I hopped over the shoulder.

The meatiest wave was a relatively juicy one, and I was on it!  I put my weight forward, going so far as to choke up on the board by shuffling my feet up towards the nose.  I got a burst of speed as I descended the wave. I pumped up, then had to force the board down.  I repeated that again annnnnddddd the wave was over.

The water was colder than it should be for this time of year, thanks to the upwelling caused by the remnants of the tiny WNW windswell absolutely no one enjoyed.

There is talk of a decent swell (3+' WHOA) that should arrive first week of September should the storm spinning off New Zealand continue to develop.  Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

8.10.13 Even Better on New Board, South Wisconsin

My head is held high on the vast majority of my in-wetsuit surf checks.  Visions of waves twice the size of what forecasts called for tend to dance through my head.

My posture tends to suffer, and my pace tends to slacken, as I pass the railroad tracks and get my first view of the beautiful (to some) stillness of the so-called mighty Pacific.  This is the largest body of water known to mankind, mind you.  Supposedly, this is the manliest of all water droplet congregations.  There are more than a billion of them out there; from the lowly hose leak in your backyard, to the puddle left after a car wash, to the mack daddy of them all: The Pacific Ocean.

It's interesting to me how the ocean responsible for the most deaths, destruction, and hurt feelings has such an oxymoronic name.  It is source of, and host to, the biggest waves on the planet year after year.

The Pacific: peace, pacified...  Today it was certainly living up to its name, or at least on the coast of north North America.

As you probably guessed from my above diatribe, the waves weren't very big.  I walked south hoping to luck into a random sandbar where maybe, just maybe, a wave already slowed by the continental shelf from its open ocean cruising speed might chance upon an unexpected sandbar and jack up to 1.2x its expected height.  That would give an extra four inches to work with.

I passed by a guy and his presumed daughter.  The daughter watched intently as I knelt down and applied my leash, then continued on her carefree revelry as I marched towards the beach.

I paddled out and sat, then watched as an older guy on an egg paddled close to me and perched.  The entire beach was ours, the nearest bobbing head 200+ yards away.

The waves were tiny, but at least the sea surface was smooth.  I caught a left and faded off the back.

I then caught another left, pumped once, smacked and came down without issue.

I got to talking to the guy who was sitting near me. He was from the Sacramento area and was in town for a week at one of the beachfront buildings south of Wisconsin.  He was excited to be surfing but was hoping for better waves.  I told him tomorrow should be ~2% better.  He said he couldn't surf during Sabbath.  I didn't know if he was joking, but I later found out he was Mormon.

He was an empty-nester and showed signs of wanting to move down to SoCal upon retiring from selling payment processing machines.  I told him you couldn't beat Oceanside for value and wave consistency (it's funny typing this after the twelfth unsurfable day in a row).

He and I split a peak on which I got semi-covered up going backside.  It was a glorified head dip in all reality.

He then bailed as he and his wife were going to go to Sea World.  I bid him adieu and paddled north, where a couple of new heads had perched.  I caught a decent left and hit it well, then decided to bail.

Friday, August 16, 2013

8.9.13 A Tick Better on the Firewire Vanguard

Still amped about the flotability-without-sacrificing-agility scenario I'd secured for myself, I went down to Wisconsin again with the new board.

The surf was the same as yesterday, though the high tide was now an hour later, so it was a little less swampy and more consistent.

My first wave was a pretty weak right.  I glided right over the flat spot and went up for a little hit, then another.  I kicked out in awe of the invisible motor on this thing.

There were definitely still some fade-off-the-back waves on which I hoped I would be able to get one burst of speed and have it last me until the inside/shorebreak closeout connection.  Only one of these materialized, however.

I caught a left and hooked up to the top of the wave, then back down.  It's worth noting that the exaggerated flotation of the board makes coming up the wave easy, but sinking down a little harder.  There is a noticeable lag on my pumps in the direction change, but it's overall a plus, since it forces me to draw longer lines and be less spastic.

The inside connection was made and I hooked around a spilling section and smacked the lip. I got an all-to-familiar feeling like I was going to splay onto my back but I ended up on my feet, on my board, with plenty of speed.  What a feeling!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

8.7.13 Rank Surf on a New Board

Normally I am skeptical of new shapes/gimmicks/surf tech.  When I first spotted this take on a shortboard six months ago, I was in awe.  This thing is tiny, not wide, not thick, yet voluminous.  The measurements (5'4"x18"x2.25") don't tell the whole story, as the depth of the board continues for longer than with a conventional thruster.

If you flip the board over, there is an exaggerated channel that starts approximately halfway down the deck pad and continues to the center of the tail.  This gives water an easy exit from the pressure of the board.  The faster water can move underneath the board, the less drag.

My skepticism continued.  Firewire is enjoying a massive bump in visibility and market share thanks to some of the risks they take on.

This is without question the smallest board I've ever stood up on (if you don't count standing up on boogie boards when I was twelve).

I had checked out numerous online reviews of it, including seemingly impartial ones, like Reddit's r/surfing and they all said it was worth the ~$700 to buy.

When I was on my way to buy it (I'd checked it our first), I had a similar feeling to when my dad would take me to Toys R Us once a year on my trips up from El Salvador.  Over the years, the feeling of childlike stoke diminishes and it takes quite the jolt of stimulus to get it through the filter of jadedness and cynicism life almost inevitably piles on.

I met Chris at his house in Encinitas.  I'd asked him why he was selling and he said it was because the board made him too tired.  Ostensibly, this could mean he's catching a lot of waves.  He then told me his lower back would get sore from going prone cobra for so long while paddling.  He reassured me it paddled fine and I would catch plenty of waves.

I had some concern regarding the lack of nose rake/rocker and its effect on my pearling statistics.  He said he still made 80% of his hairier drops.

I paid him the 22 $20's it took to get him to release his grip.

On to the surfing portion...

The surf didn't have much to offer, but I was going to paddle out no matta (first English, then Spanish, now PIDGIN).

The forecasts were spot-on in letting me know the waves would be weak and barely rideable.

There were three waves of note.

The first was my first wave, in that it allowed me to get a feel for the glide this board had.  I would have made it maybe 2/3 of the way on my DHD before fading off the back.  It's sad to include this as a wave of note, but that's a clue as to how bad the surf was.

My second wave was a left that allowed me to pump up, down, then go for a hit on which I instantly brought the nose back around without issue.  AHHHH.  It felt good to make one of these.

My last wave of note was a left that was a relative doozy.  I was very late.  I dropped down and instantly pearled hard.  You know how they say you learn more from your failures than successes?  Well, I learned not to take off on super late waves on this board.  Another lesson I had is that I shouldn't paddle super hard for waves unless I will likely miss the wave.  This board allows for easy entry into most to counteract that.

Friday, August 9, 2013

8.4.13 A Session Cut Short at Tyson

If the swell was continuing to fill in overnight, it would make sense to paddle out, even with the weekend timing and the contest in town.

I headed down, walking this time along Mission (not Wisconsin as I usually do) with the intention of checking Pier first.

Pier was ho-hum, but I saw promise southward.  Unfortunately, the meager head count I'd been spoiled with was no longer.  Set waves were in the chest-shoulder range, but they were being contested.

I continued farther south, about a hundred paces of the bulk of heads, and paddled out.

My first two waves were lefts that shut down almost immediately,  one more quickly than the other.

I heard some weird noises and looked to the north. It was an older guy hooting/vibing his buddy pretty obnoxiously.  I harkened back to the days when I did the same to my surf bros, telling them to go on almost everything then vociferously showing my disgust when they missed it by shouting, "WWHHAAAAAAAAAAT?!?!".

I doubt my surf bros miss that side of me.

I caught a right, snapped, then faded off the back of the weak shoulder.

A bigger left came and I dropped in.  It closed out and I kicked out.

 The biggest wave of my day was a left and I dropped in.  I went up to snap, but was too late.  I jumped off my board as the lip was coming down.

Upon surfacing, I realized my board was toast.  Salvage value-wise, I was interested in both pieces.  The tail had fins I wanted to keep, while the nose had the GoPro.

I paddled awkwardly on about half a board, collected the other piece, and headed home.

A 60-year-old man was hotdogging on his skateboard and said, "What is it, Pipeline out there?". He walked with me to Wisconsin and told me about his glory days as one of the original downhill skateboarding racers.  He had a Frankenstein stitch on his right shoulder and I asked if that was from skating and he gave me the gory details of that bail.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

8.3.13 South of South Pier, then South Pier with Bethany Hamilton, Carissa Moore et al

While walking the streets of Oceanside with my surfboard this week, I was asked by not one but TWO seemingly homeless gentlemen if I was going to surf the upcoming contest.  While it's flattering that I look like a ripper to people who are homeless or have given up trying not to look like a homeless person, it's not so flattering when you consider the contest in question is a 6-Star WQS SuperGirl Pro, complete with a Paul Mitchell banner hanging from the pier.

There were three scenarios as to why they were asking me that:

A) They were messing with me.
B) They were unaware the contest was innies-only
C) My bitch tits had increased in size since last night's mirror pose-down before my nightly shower.  Thus they genuinely thought I was a woman and were making conversation so as to seduce me (not my type guys, sorry).

I reached the bottom of the ramp and saw stillness.  It was, poetically speaking, beautiful.  As usual, my loins' desires trumped my intellect's need to appreciate beauty, wherever that may be, and I was bummed by the lack of surf.

A third seemingly homeless man approached me and asked me if I was surfing the contest.  He looked like Santa Claus might after a three-month bender.  I told him no, and he said I should go down towards the pier, the waves are better.  I thanked him for the info and walked north.

The closer I got to the pier, the better it was looking, but still not great.

There were lots of heads out at the pier.  From far away I saw someone in an orange rashie drop down a drainer confidently, square up and absolutely SMASH it.  Oof, I'll stay over here where it's a little less aggro.

I paddled out, and though there were some waves around me,  I was drowning in a relative sea of bodies.  Granted, there were about five people within a ten-yard radius, but I've been spoiled by my solace.

I kept glancing towards the pier, where some fun ones were being ridden by some of the best female surfers in the world.  I watched Carissa Moore (orange rashie) take the top off another one.  Eventually, I quit fighting the current and floated down where the waves were head high and sometimes peeling.

Another female ripper dropped in and did a fins-out snap, recovering, then floating over a closeout section.  Pretty sick!

Carissa caught another one, and I was on the one right after.  Ever the nose for it, the wave I caught closed out, though I did a stylish drop. I'm sure Carissa was impressed.

After paddling for, and pulling back from, several waves, I caught another one, which faded into oblivion.

During my wait for waves, I had an epiphany.  I did a quick count and counted fifteen women and four other guys, without question the highest (best?) ratio I'd ever experienced.  It was as though I'd paddled out, got sucked into a vortex, and came out at a break just off the mythical island of Lesbos (though there were four other dudes).

Towards the end of my session, I saw Bethany Hamilton, famous for her tenacity as well as being the victim of a shark attack nearly ten years ago in which she lost her arm.  She was talking to another girl and seemed very nice, improving my opinion of her.  She's a huge Jesus freak, so she had automatically lost points.

My first surfing website was called "Soul_Surfer's Soul Surfing Site!!!".  Bethany Hamilton google-bombed me when she titled her autobiography and movie "Soul Surfer".  Shortly after these came out, I received notice of an entry on my guestbook.  A thirteen-year-old girl wrote, "You are such an inspiration.  Thanks to you I no longer think of one-armed people as gross".  I laughed so hard when I read this.

8.2.13 Proper, Yet Improper, Wisconsin Street

My wife was still out of town, and since I'm rudderless in her absence, I decided to kill some time until her arrival with a surf session.

Today I had no liquid fantasies as to what would await me upon my eyes meeting the crystalline (okay, maybe muted green) ocean.  My expectations were extremely low, and as such, anything seemed like a gift.  It's akin to what an East Coast surfer must experience on a daily basis outside of hurricane season.

I nailed it! The waves were maybe 3' on the sets and VERY inconsistent.  I had so many pump-to-fades.  The set waves that did come through were suffering from the section-off-every-ten-yards effect (except it was almost always five yard intervals today) Oside has been sloughing through for weeks now.

WHERE IS THAT CLEANUP SWELL AND/OR STORM THAT WILL CREATE SANDBARS?  I don't know the answer. My plans is to go to Sunday service at one of the seven churches within walking distance and ask God Himself.  Before that, though, I have to figure out which religion is the correct one.

8.1.13 South Wisconsin Street on my Ticking Time Bomb

Today was supposed to be good.  The forecasts called for combo swell goodness, though the SW was supposed to be backing down.  The NW swell was going to be kicking in.

I had my hopes up on the walk up, with visions of spinning cylinders dancing through my head.

The waves, unfortunately,  didn't look good. There was almost nothing between Wisconsin and Tyson, I decided to head south.  It HAD to be better, right?

Eventually, after a good 400 steps, I saw what looked like a worthy peak.  I pressed on another 50 or so paces thinking I would get shuttled to this peak with the current.

It worked out.  I got a couple of forgettable waves, but then my third wave was pretty nice.  I dropped in, pumped once, then did a quick snap at the top, getting a slight view of the spray coming off my rail.  I dropped back down and the wave closed out. I had some speed so I went for a foam climb but my fins washed out and I just sat there until gravity sorted me out. I fell awkwardly into the frothy soup.

The rest of my waves were closeouts.