What's the right way to measure, or appraise, something? Against expectations? Or on some absolute scale? Or, perhaps, purely subjectively, on how you reacted to it? Imagine a play or movie or song. Perhaps those whose taste you respect panned it but you find yourself kind of liking it, silently defending it against that criticism. On an absolute scale, it still be mediocre, but it was much better than expectations and, overall you found yourself liking it - a "C" on an absolute scale but an "A" versus expectations and, subjectively, a solid "B."
Assessing today's session in the Park can only be done in that context. As the forecasts developed through the week, and even as it looked from the surfcams yesterday, there was every expectation of a very good session - a solid 3-5' WNW swell bringing in shoulder to head high+ sets; a moderate, but rising, tide, adding to the energy; mild, generally offshore wind; water temps still moderate (low 60's); and a warm, sunny day. That's recipe for an excellent morning in the Park. Against that expectation, the day was a bust.
Even though, driving down the hill to the Calafia lot, I saw one sizable, clean & glassy swell, other signs on arrival were bad. I expected a packed parking lot, always the case when a good swell brings out a strong local contingent of surfers. It was close to empty. Observing from the steps at the RR crossing for nearly 20 minutes, there were very few waves that looked to be even worth riding. And it wasn't just a case of being swamped by the tide, the size just didn't seem to be there, and what little wave energy was in evidence was muted by too much tide.
So, expectations for the session plummeted. Suiting up, I was hoping for maybe one or two good waves amidst a swim and float on a beautiful fall morning. As it ended up, the session was much better than that, though still far short of the original expectations.
Figuring the current would carry me as far south as I may wish to go, I got in a bit north of the steps. I was pleased to have to battle out through a set with a couple of shoulder-high waves, but figured I was then due for a long lull. In a few minutes, I was surprised by a a steep, fast left, with a five-foot face that eventually feathered over into a short tube ride. Within the next five minutes, a couple of sets, approaching head high, arrived, a bit walled up but with short, fast rights and still hollow. By the time Mark Ghattas joined me, about ten minutes in, I'd had four decent rides.
We worked the area between the steps and the main peak for about 85 minutes. There were some long lulls, but they were interrupted by bursts of wave energy ranging from shoulder to head high. The sand bars were creating some corners, mainly rights. A gaggle of sticks, ranging in count from 3 to maybe 6, hung at the main peak, picking off occasional peaks that would slide in, a foot or two overhead. But those were so few, and the take off zone for them so narrow, that it made sense for Mark and I just to hang a bit to the north and enjoy without competition the smaller corner up there.
It proved to be a decent session. Decent enough waves and no competition for them. Still, a pleasant morning and positive vibe in the water. Certainly not the total bust that it had looked like at first!
Versus the original expectation, a definite disappointment. On an absolute scale, an "ok" day, and much better than feared when entering the water. But on the scale that really matters, the purely subjective one, I have to say that it was a damn good morning.