Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Sunday Parking

An exceptional way to close out the year at the Park:

34 degrees as I left Pasadena, passing the empty stands erected for the Rose Parade and staring into the Southern winter sunrise as I toured South on 5.

Bret had driven up from Cardiff and was watching from the rail as I arrived.  The swell was just starting to fill in.  Very clean lines, well separated in long interval.  Glassy surface with an offshore breeze combing the tops of the set waves.  Sand bars fighting to create peaks in the straight lines coming in...sometimes working, sometimes close outs.  Very hollow, sparkling under the early morning sun in clear skies.

A beautiful day.  Hugh and Neil had pulled in by the time we went to suit up, and Mark eventually joined us.

From the North of Main Peak all the way to the steps, a stretch of surf to share amongst only six bodysurfers.

In the water, great aloha amongst the SCSP die-hards along with a welcome cameo appearance by Bret da
Threat, in cowl and all.  

I lost count: smooth drop in over glossy surface that quickly steepened into a vertical wall onto which to cling as a clear curtain pitches overhead, morphing first into a wide tunnel centered on a Southeast morning winter
sun, then into an illuminated blue-green glow as the closed tube held wide open for elongated seconds. 

Interlaced were a few well-placed corners offering long slides into the inside.

A sparkling morning!

A video of the morning and pre-session at YouTube - click here or the title above.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Breaking in Venice

Rode today more just 'cuz it had been three weeks and mostly to get in the water with Joe & Allan.  I've not been in the water with Allan in ages, and Joe's just back from 5 months in Ghana.  Joe had some great sessions in South Bay Thursday and Rincon Friday, but the swell fell way off for the weekend.

After a family brunch on the coast, I met up with Joe & Allan North of the Venice pier at one of  Allan's regular spots.  I'd not been in there, before.  I can see the promise with a bit more size as there are some sandbars creating peaks and a little jetty that would throw off rights.  They call the right off the jetty Romo's...but that's another story.

It was small - waist to chest - but very clean and glassy for most of the session.  I've not been out in the afternoon since summer, but the conditions were great.  Though many were closed out, there were some fun rides to be had on set waves, a few good tubes and a couple of longer rides.  Chilly water, filtered wintry sunlight on a glossy surface.  A handful of surfers spread out from the pier up to the jetty, four blocks North. 

The real joy was being in the water with Joe & Allan.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Duldrom Musings

Recently, Hugh referred to San Clemente State Park as "our" place.  Got me thinking.

Five years ago, I'd never ridden SCSP.  I found it through the Bodysurfers email list.  Now, I really do feel that it's "mine."  I love mixing in other places, and I'm still possessive of the Newport peninsula between 10th & 15th in summertime, but I've developed an attachment to SCSP that exceeds anywhere else. 

In five years, I've ridden the Park in every season; in ankle-slapping smallies and heavy slabs raging well overhead; in waters ranging from frigid to balmy; in every tide and every swell direction; in an enduring red tide pocked with jellyfish and in crystaline azure punctuated by dolphins; alone and in crowds; when there was only a skinny strip of eroded sand and when there was an expansive, sandy beach; in chopped up slop and glossy, slick glass; in sun, cloud and rain; with winds offshore, onshore and still; lefts, rights, peaks, peelers, closeouts, coming in hollow & tubular and weak & crumbly; with Golden /_\ ohana, good vibe sticks, a**hole drop-ins, aggro kneeboarders, clueless parkster longboarders, with both my sons, and many friends; at dawn, at dusk and every hour in between. 

I may live 73 miles away, but it's mine.  And I appreciate SoSideSC calling it "ours" more than you can know.

Looking forward to the next session at our spot.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks in the Park

Excellent session in the Park this morning, with some great tube rides for the patient.
A pretty good pod drifted in between 8 & 8:30: initially Rick Ciaccio (#9), Erick Yeisley (EY_\), Brent Crawford (Crawdaddy) and me, shortly to be joined by Hugh Berenger, Mark Ghattas (Sailfish) and Chuck Herpick (Kahuna).  

About a dozen sticks were clumped at the Main Peak, but there was a nice right sweeping from just south of the Rock, and only one surfer in the water down there.  As Rick & I walked up the beach, that surfer dropped in a tight, fast one, about 2 feet overhead.  We smiled.
Although there were some long lulls, when the sets came in - shoulder-high, head-high, even some plusses - there were some big, wide, long barrels.  The waves were really pitching: the lips were throwing farther than the waves were tall.  At one point, EY_\ kept talking about driving a VW through one!
I sat outside, just south of the Rock, picking off one or two waves out of each flurry, then enjoying basking in the winter sun on a glassy morning with a slight offshore.  During one interlude, a couple dolphin split off a passing pod and swam inside of us, one right between Rick & Crawdaddy, just a few feet away.  Tough not to be thankful!
However, a tough day for Sailfish: first a speeding ticket on the way down and then, about an hour into the session, he messed up his right shoulder...hope it's nothing too serious!
We spread out from immediately south of the Rock - where I was picking off those sweeping rights - down to LG1, and pretty much had the entire area to ourselves for 90 minutes.  Then, the entire remaining stick population - maybe six or eight - floated our way, apparently deciding that  we were having way too much fun.  No problem - the main peak was left open so we just migrated North and took care of that for another hour.  

Glass lasted until well after 10:00, then the wind gradually turned onshore and it started to get sloppy...just as the sticks decided to repopulate the main peak.
Some great rides had by all!  For me, the first taste of a good winter swell: dredging, pitching and hollow.  

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fall Arrives in the Park

First good fall surf today; the best surf I've been in since late August.

Arrived at the Calafia lot at 7:45, met EY there and scoped it out. Shoulder to Head-High peaks were scattered from Riviera to LG1, with surfers spread throughout but not too densely. Main Peak had best size and consistency but also the greatest density of fiberglass. Straight out from Calafia and a bit North had some decent size but more closed out and less consistent. There were a few surfers out, down at LG1 but it seemed pretty consistent. We headed down past Main Peak & the Rock, to the North side of LG1.

It was generally glassy, with a mild off-shore ocassionally putting a slight texture on the water. The water temperature at about 63 made it nice and refreshing, never chilly, with full rubber. At first overcast, with the sun occasionally peeking through, it cleared into a beautiful morning around 9:30.

As we swam out, there were three kneeboards and one standup, spread between the Rock and LG1, which left plenty of opportunities for EY & me to snag clean, fast rights with very hollow barrels. The sets were coming it at shoulder to head high, even a few pluses and with no long lulls. Most offered nice open faces and few closeouts. Sand bars were creating nice bowls at several spots.

Snagged a tight, fast right peak on a set wave, which curled over and hollowed around me into a deep turquoise tunnel that glowed in the filtered sunlight. Came up with the song title on my lips and said to EY as I saw back out, "Crystal Blue Persuasion."

Nothing but fun.

After an hour at LG1, the sticks at the Main Peak had thinned out. EY snagged a long right that took him to shore well to the south, so he beached and walked up. I swam back up, catching an ocassional ride along the way.

Just North of the Rock, a nice left was regularly forming on set waves, so I worked that alone for while. After a bit, a young Hawaiian surfer paddled over and worked the peak for a while with me.

Shortly after EY exited around 9:30, I spotted Hugh, working the North side of the Main Peak. For the next hour, Hugh and I shared the peaks between the Rock & Main Peak, with maybe five or six stand ups. I only got cut off once, and was even given a couple of waves. Good vibe all morning...plenty to go around.

Finally gave in to tired legs and complaining stomache about 10:20.

It wasn't real big, but it was good sized, clean and peaky. It wasn't real powerful, but plenty fast and hollow. Only thing that would have made it better would have been a few more of the pod out!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fading Swell

Early in the week, a nice WNW swell was forecast to arrive Thursday, offer head-high+ waves Friday and linger into Saturday. Recalling Oct 25 last year, the best (weekend) surf day of Fall, and with only one day of surf since Labor Day, I awaited Saturday morning with anticipation. Reports came in on Thursday and Friday of some great surf days in the South Bay and down at the Park. Hugh shared shots of thick & dredging, head-high bowls from SCSP.

The early departure seemed more winter than fall, with darkness only giving way to a deep-red Eastern sky as I pulled out of the driveway for the hours' drive to the Park. The Calafia lot was crowded for anytime other than summer...a good sign! Neil was waiting as I pulled into Calafia, and greeted me with one word: "feeble," he said. Not believing, I joined him and Hugh at the "rail," and saw a lot of fiberglass out, but nothing looking like the shots of yesterday that Hugh had shared.

EY and Ghattas pulled in and joined us. Looking South, there was a solid line of surfers from the north edge of the main peak straight through to LG1 and LG1 didn't even appear to be breaking. To the North, at least 20 out at Riveria. Sets came through at shoulder-high at best, mainly waist to chest. Straight out, there was a peak working 20 yards to the South and another just to the North, so we decided to leave the traffic to the sticks and go staight out.

It really wasn't bad at all, but really expected better than waist-chest today and the abundance of sticks, worse than most summer days, was really surprising. Neil & Hugh, having had the luxury to ride the swell Thursday & Friday, didn't suit up. With reported water temp of 67, EY, Ghattas & I were a little surprised at how chilly it seemed as we swam out in spring rubber.

Once in, the waves proved nice & hollow but not a lot of punch. Plenty of barrel time and a few long rides. Fun, but not what I'd dreamed of through the week.

To the left is a shot of the main peak, with over a dozen surfers still hanging around in mid morning to contest one peak breaking waist to chest...what's with that?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Weekend Parking

The dilemna was which day to pick for the sojourn to the Park. Out of town the last two weekends, three weeks ago I was skunked when we found a decent swell totally blown out junk, so I'd been dry for four weeks. Will be gone again next weekend and the prospect of going from Labor day to Oct 17 without surf just couldn't be accepted. Forecasts, though, made it tough: clearly, Sunday would have the better swell - perhaps even head high while Saturday was starting small, barely waist-high, and growing...but Saturday was supposed to be calm while a stiff onshore seemed likely for Sunday. Adding to Saturday's risk was a 9am high of plus 5-1/2.

Decided on Saturday: daunted by the prospect of frustration from an hour's drive, only to find a good swell blown out again, repeating my last visit to the Park - one of only a couple of times that I've made the jouney without gettint in - I decided warm water, small swell and good conditions promised for today were the better bet. Looking at the swell models, it appeared that a little energy should be rising between 8 & 9, hopefully to push through the tide.

2/3 the of the way from Pasadena to San Clemente, the cell rings - EY is a the Park & it's flat; he'c calling to tell me not to bother. Can it be??? I tell him I'm going to come down & swim, anyway, noting that it might start to get better around 8. EY heads to grab some coffee & pastry and await my arrival.

I get to Calafia, and EY's there, with a croissant croque-monsieur for me. Atop the steps, the view South to main peak and LG1 shows glassy surface but knee-lappers. A few sticks out at LG1. I turn to check Riviera to the North as an unexpected, chest-high set arrives, 1/2 up to Riviera; first wave EY's seen in an hour, but enough for me! Neil has joined us and goes to move his car and suit up as we head out.

It feels strange, turning right instead of left, after descending the stairs; it may be 2 years since I surfed Riviera. Nonetheless, the peak a few hundred yards to the North was clearly better & more consistent than "main peak" or LG1 to the South. Trunking for perhaps the last time until next summer, it feels good to enter the cool, 70-degree water. A soft breeze blows offshore, but the bluffs keep the surface glassy inside the break.

EY and I find it amazingly fun; waist and chest-high lines are pitching lips over a glossy surface illuminated as the sun clears the bluff. Corners appear and we take turns - there's no one else in the water from LG1, a half-mile South to Riviera, a few hundred yards further North. Couples stroll on the sand and women jog on the path beside the tracks. Everyone seems to have the same idea - today is Summer's farewell. The last of the 70 degree water; sunny mornings; Southern swells.

Mark appears on the shore, followed shortly by Neil
and Hugh. Hugh fishes in his backpack before coming out and finds his waterproof Canon digital; wades out with camera instead of fins. The calm maintains the surface gloss as EY, Mark, Neil and I exploit the smallies for the camera, checking the shots between rides. The first few waves were the best, before the tide peaked, bu all of us remain continually surprised how fun the surf is, when so little was expected.

Finally, after a couple of hours, the wind shifted to onshore and conditions rapidly deteriorated. Another 1/2 hour and we were exiting, as Steve Short arrived and swam out.

It wasn't a classic surf day. The largest waves never got over chest-high. But it was the last of Summer and I'll remember it.

I made the right call.
(click on pictures for full size)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Park Delivers ... Usually

EY_\ is fond of saying that "the Park delivers!"

Well, mostly. With a decent swell coming in, even with a flat tide, conditions were generally forecast to be pretty good this morning. Did my haul South with expectations for a decent, summer-ending session before heading overseas for three weeks. 'twas not to be.

As I drove down the rise above Calafia, I saw a textured surface and when I arrived in lot at 7:45, I was surprised to find it relatively empty and totally void of any wheels that I recognized. A steady, moderate to stiff wind was blowing out of the West creating chop along the shore. As I watched from "the rail," a couple of nice lines approached, but any promise was dashed as they faded into ugly, mushy crumble. A few sticks from the campground were out at LG1, a few more up at Riveria, all vainly trying to make something of it.

Back at the car, I checked my messages and found that I'd just missed Russell, who'd checked it out and left already. Sailfish pulled in, determined to get something. As he & I watched, Hugh pulled up and Neil walked down his parking spot atop the cliff. 25 minutes and still hadn't seen anything to tempt me into the water. Low 70's, it may be warm, but the heavy overcast and steady wind offset any temptation to get wet. Nonetheless, Sailfish pulled on a top and jumped in. He caught a couple of smaller waves, but anything of any size was just slop. He kept trying as the current quickly pulled him south to the rock area. By the time we were dispersing at 8:30, now 45 minutes without seeing a single decent wave, Sailfish was rinsing off in the showers.

Some days it's not meant to be.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Labor Day Weekend: Del Mar!

Arrived in Del Mar late afternoon, for the 3 day weekend. Immediately hit the water...not reallly to surf but just to christen the weekend. Mushy, knee to waist high waves but water temp well over 75.

Morning (Saturday) brought a pleasant surprise. I wandered down to the water at 8am. High overcast put a gloss over the glassy surface. I found some space between sticks at a peak in front of the Del Mar Motel and waded into the warm water.

The first hour was glassy with waist to chest high waves that were hollowed out by the tidal push. Some walled, but there were some corners as well. The hollowing tidal push offered a number of tubes, some sustained for several seconds. The clear, glassy water and soft lighting created an iridescent, ultramarine toned glow in the tube that kept calling me back for more. Maybe a dozen visits in that first hour.

At 9, with the sun breaking through, the blackball went up and the first entrants from the 17th Street Bodysurfing Club, Tom & Terry, waded out. Unfortunately, the tidal push was peaking and the second hour flattened out then gradually progressed to the crumbly side. Nice to have company in the water, though!

Approaching 10, hunger drove me from the water and I encountered Monica & Chris Lafferty and their two kids, just getting wet.

After a break for breakfast, drawn by water temperature over 75, Heather decided it was time for a RARE entry into the California ocean. She worked her way out through the shallow break and eventually made it out to lull beyond where the waves were breaking.

Chris Lafferty was swimming, alternately, his son and Monica out to the break on a boogie board and coached them, and their body-surfing daughter, into the waves while Heather floated nearby.

I DO wish I'd brought the camera down to memorialize a rare sighting of Heather in the Cali side of the Pacific Ocean.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Summer Saturday in the Park

Quintessential summer morning in the Park (San Clemente State Park) this morning: glassy smooth; shoulder high swell; warm water; clear skies; a good pod of bodysurfers holding the main peak to ourselves.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Newport Lamentation

My lamentation that the swell & conditions that arrived on Sunday, peaked today and appear destined to last through tomorrow didn't arrive a few days earlier:

How I wish the two-a-days of Sunday, commencing with a three hour morning session, could have stretched over several days...and how nettling it is to spend the day in an office, with the fresh taste of sweet Newport swellage a lingering memory, knowing that even now rippage continues by those that are able. The glowing turquoise of sunlit tubes has been succeeded by the dark green of envy.

But the lament, the nettle, the green-eyed monster are driven away by the vicarious indulgence in the day's reports honed by the vivid memory of a perfect day.

Monday, August 24, 2009


The vacation's main course was Sunday morning...all that you want from Newport. Late Sunday afternoon, Allan and I went out at 6th Street where some overhead, walled off sets were interspersed with some rideable head high waves. Still with the long interval and Newport's shoaling, lots of power.

Took off on two of the larger set waves...just because...and wasn't able to hold the face for long at all. Both resulted in face-smacking free falls. Body-whomping at its best.

Had some fun, fast rides, including a couple of decent-length lefts, on the lesser sets. Chilly water and a steady wind were ok, with sunshine and swell.

Sunday was a beautiful day from the time the sun broke until evening. We were able to pack up Monday morning, feeling fulfilled.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Expectations Fulfilled

An excellent Sunday on the Newport peninsula. Got a late start on the morning, in the water at 18th Street at 9 am with Allan and his friends, Kevin S & Mike G. At first, it was moderate/small but glassy. A little walled up but still some fun rides.

Checking South, 16th to 15th seemed to have more size & consistency, so I swam up that way and ran into Mark Ghattas and a couple of other bodysurfers. Eventually, Derrick Sciarra, who'd been taking a break on shore, joined us.

About 10, the sun came out and the size started filling in with the tide. Some nice, head high sets showed up, with the energy that Newport can deliver on a long interval (16 sec+) swell. Some excellent lefts were to be had.

Most memorable was after a lull, when it was a sheet of glass, almost to shore. First wave arrived, a smooth shoulder high bump with a nice left corner. After I dropped in and trimmed into the slot, the thick lip bowed over me, a fully illuminated sheet of shiny turquoise. Moments you live & surf for.

Stayed in the water until nearly noon, with a short break to feed the meter, but the magic time was from about 10 - 11. It was just why you come to the Newport peninsula to ride.

Mind blowing was the radical difference from one morning to the next. Hard to believe they even came within the same season as each other.

Bigger, Still Blown

The evening on Saturday - right at Island Ave - brought much stronger swell but undiminished winds. Water still in the mid-60's and still the strong current SE to NW. Lots of power behind waves breaking from chest to head high. The wind created a few ridable sections but the two, overlapping swells and chop made for generally poor conditions.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Sincerely hope that conditions are much better in Oceanside this morning than here in Newport, where it's totally blown - stiff wind out of the SouthWest destroying whatever swell there might be on an overcast morning that even has a bit of drizzle. Can only hope the wind slackens by afternoon.

A Little More Punch...

..in the evening. Cool water - 65-/66 - for a bodywhomping session at Island Ave with Allan and his friends, Kev-Dog, Gross and Dan. Starting to gain a little size, but still looking for more in the morning.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Finally a little swell showing

Nice warm up for Oceanside in punchy Newport smallies today, in chilly water (64) on a sunny, glassy morning.

Sully was in the water – skinnin’ it – with his son & daughter when I arrived at 18th St. at 7 am. Looked for MuDsHaRk up at 13th/15th but there was nobody in the water between 11th street & the pier, other than the Sullivan family. The younger Sullivans exited as I entered, and over the next couple of hours an eclectic group joined Mike & me.

Viergever and Crawdaddy arrived about the same time – thanks for the MB shirt, Brent! Neil Frank followed then Jimmy Pee made a cameo appearance and Jason Guthrie jumped in.

Newps is always fun – even a small swell – knee to chest high – can be fast and tubular. Through the morning, there were hints of a rising swell. 13th & 15th looked bigger and more consistent, but we drifted between 17th & 18th and everyone got plenty. Over 2.5 hours - the shorty was a good idea. Warmed up over breakfast at Charlie’s Chili.

More promise for this afternoon’s session.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Inauspicious Beginnings...

to a week in Newport...not much for swell at all, at the moment. Good news is that there should be a nice SSW coming in, Friday through Monday, when everybody will be here to enjoy it. Good news for those hitting the Worlds in Oceanside, as well! For now, I'll rest up.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Looks like a small weekend and into early next week, as we return to Newport for six days. Good news is that it still looks like some of that energy from the South Pacific will start to arrive on Friday and fill in over next weekend. The latter part of our time at Newps, and the World's in Oceanside next weekend, could have some fun waves.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Upcoming Competition at Huntington Beach

Chubascos are sponsoring a competition at Huntington Beach on Saturday. Check in at 7am, at 9th street (between LG Stands 8 & 10, North of the pier).

Unfortunately, current swell forecasts are pretty dismal: ankle to waist and not the best conditions…. No doubt, fun will be had, nonetheless!

Big Swell for World's This Year?

There are some early signs of a large South swell for the World Bodysurfing Championships in Oceanside on the 20th & 21st.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Swell Hits Wedge and Fun in SCSP - July 24/25

I'm not really committed to doing a bodysurfing blog, but created this in order to try to figure the whole thing out.

My first entry really should have been two weeks ago, when an exceptional South swell hit So Cal beaches. After following breathless reports from the Wedge on Friday, the 24th, where a contingent from our hawaiian brethren of the Hawaii State Bodysurfing Association were in the water and assisted in rescue efforts when a local swimmer was swept into the jetty and later died, Saturday was my chance to get some.

The swell hit the Park beautifully, bringing 12 to 15 foot faces, sometimes walled, but very ridable with some great lefts to be had. The shot above, while not one of the day's largest, shows how beautifully shaped the Park can deliver.

Saturday, July 25, 2009 was one of the great days at San Clemente State Park, for me. More photos, taken by Russell Riopelle, can be found at my picasa album:

SCSP Pumping

There is some great footage of the Wedge, from the 24th & 25th, on YouTube, but Hugh's photos from Friday, on Flickr as well as in this picasa album, are exceptional:

Massive Wedge Friday