While waiting for the sun to come up and light my path, I took two of the five fins off my board. The pentafin set-up experiment was over and I much preferred the thruster set-up with the small fin in the middle. It's a lot skatier and allows me to change course much more readily should the mood strike.
I knew something was off as soon as I stepped onto the sidewalk. The wind felt different, not bad, but different. I couldn't tell where it was coming from as the direction seemed to change. I looked forward to hitting an east-west street so I could ascertain as to the wind's origin.
At first it felt offshore, but once I got to a north-south street I realized it was a dreaded devil wind, coming from the south. For the vast majority of surf spots, this means the surf quality will have a low ceiling. For an instant, I considered bailing and going back to the house, but I had put my wetsuit on and was about a hundred steps on the way, so I pushed on.
Further wind readings indicated that the wind may not be a true south wind, but rather a SSE. With a bit of luck, this could shift into a true offshore. I then realized I've never experienced a south wind turning offshore, at least that I could remember.
My first view of the ocean confirmed that the wind was slicing up the sea surface. If it had been less than shoulder-high I may have been over it, but there was some size out there. I saw six or seven heads already out at Pier and I smiled as they scampered to try and catch an overhead but lazy set wave, about half of them getting caught by a slow lip, the other half falling back one by one, not being able to catch it.
Rather than deal with that mess, I walked south for a couple of minutes to my very own peak, which seemed to show some juicy rights. A couple of guys who had walked with me had elected to paddle out between the mess and me, but we soon reluctantly rendezvoused within ten yards of one another.
One of them caught a good one, then a good-sized set came through and we scattered. Five minutes later, I'd lost track of them.
I caught a left that had a divot on the top. I stomped on my front foot and barely made it up and over. My new fin set-up made the board shift just a bit that was too much for my already off-balance positioning. I tumbled over and slammed into the flats hard. Luckily my lower body absorbed a lot of the blow, because the part of my upper body that made contact hurt and I had just a smidgen of a can't-catch-my-breath feeling. It was as though I'd had just a little bit of wind knocked out of me, but I had fallen on my lower back. Weird.
Redemption arrived in the form of the best wave I've caught in probably six months. It was a right which was steepening up nicely, but I didn't hold high hopes for the shoulder. I got held up on the lip, then literally air-dropped down at an angle, perfect for beginning my bottom turn. It was long and drawn out, and the section I'd targeted for the snap was being rapidly accelerated thanks to it getting some help either from a small wave behind it or a shallow spot in the bottom.
I laid into it, putting a lot of pressure on my back foot, then descended the steep wall. I rose back up and laid into a roundhouse cutty, coming around nicely on the first half, then snapping well on the whitewash. My fins slid out to the point that my tail was facing the sand and I had no hopes of recovering. I came up jubilant. That drop followed by that section and turn was a recipe for a stoke awakening.
I caught a left and did an off-the-lip/snap off which I released the fins into a hopeless contortion of sadness.
I caught a couple of other waves, but nothing even a quarter as good. I had planned on bailing when the current took me to Wisconsin Street, or as I like to call it, taking the Longshore Express and getting off at Wisconsin. I went in about one hundred fifty yards south of Winnie's then walked home.