Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day in the Park

The forecasts were for knee to chest high waves with a mild onshore/sideshore breeze. The morning cams showed pretty weak stuff, drained by a negative low tide; a rippled surface under a flat gray sky.

But son Joseph and I had decided we'd give it a try anyway - first bodysurfing outing since Joe's return from school. We were surprised to find guys suiting up in the parking lot and a pod of sticks already out at the main peak - activity more common when there's a decent swell.

We walked south past the crunch at the main peak, and swam out just beyond the rocks. Joe hung there, working the sand bar corners around the rocks while I worked a bit further south.

I feared it would be worse, but there were some fun little rides with an occasional chest high set. Even three solid tube rides, early on.

Sailfish - Mark Ghattas - joined us shortly and we gradually worked further South. Had the entire area from the rocks South to ourselves, save for a father and two young sons on boards, most likely down from the campground. Decent surfers but rather clueless about sharing waves with bodysurfers....

A mild wind kept a texture on the water through the mornging, but didn't really mess it up.

Though the water was colder than expected - definitely under 60 - it turned into a beautiful, sunny day with Memorial Day crowding on the shore. Later in the session, as the tide filled in, "King's Corner" started working for some small but long lefts & rights.

Went down, really expecting nothing, and ran into a very pleasant morning instead. Wish I had brought a camera as we headed back up the beach - it was packed in three and four deep. Tents set up where the rising tide would get them within an hour or two, but a holiday crowd enjoying the summerish holiday day nonetheless.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Melinda Morey on Bodysurfing

Melinda Morey is the daughter of Tom Morey, the inventor of the boogie board. She's also goddaughter of a frequent bodysurfing companion of mine, Chuck Herpick (Kahuna), Tom's partner. Melinda is a recognized & respected waterwoman, who wrote this email on bodysurfing several years ago. On a weekend when I'm travelling and unable to surf, and the waves in So Cal are blown out anyway, I thought it worth sharing:

Melinda Morey on Bodysurfing

It's interesting that you define bodysurfing as a subcultural activity and not surfing as well. In this I assume you mean subcultural in the microcosm of modern day surfing which, as others have already pointed out, has entered into the stream of mass consciousness as an activity (largely due to consumerism in a fetishist mediated culture) ...but I maintain that like skateboarding, surfing is still fairly marginalized in the overall scheme of things, particularly depending on where in the country [U.S. - ed.] you live (I've had people ask me as I'm putting my longboard on the car in Jersey City, NJ "is that a canoe, a snowboard?"...go figure).

As far as being social anomalies...I think these days bodysurfers tend to be like surfers used to be - more renegade individuals who don't really give a shit what other people think, because they know what they're about. A lot of us also surf. The more toys you have access to, the better to enjoy the ocean. Some days/conditions are better for one or the other activity.

The loyalty to one being better than another is ego stuff - who needs it.

It used to be that most water people learned to bodysurf as kids, as part of their education of the ocean. That has been all but replaced by learning to bodyboard, except in places where overall skills in the ocean are emphasized - Australia being a principle example. Otherwise, from bodyboard to surfing is the progression now. Hence you see most good/serious bodysurfers are over the age of 30 (the boogie board was invented in 1971 - I rest my case).

Most true waterpeople (lifeguards, surfers, bodyboarders, paddlers, etc.) respect others who are highly skilled, regardless of what they ride. Most lifeguards are excellent bodysurfers, water polo players too. Surfers have an advantage because of speed and take off positioning, but respect is there nonetheless - even if grudgingly so.

As far as the "insurmountable" differences's apples and oranges. The two activities are entirely different animals. There is nothing like being immersed in water and feeling that energy rushing around you...when you are on a board, you are on top of it, not in it. Surfing, you are freer of the water's drag being above it...totally different experiences, not better or worse.

It is much harder to catch a wave bodysurfing than surfing. What bodysurfing offers is the opportunity to learn wave judgement, timing, and a more intimate understanding of currents and pulses moving through the ocean. It improves your stamina and conditioning, your confidence in the water, and your ability to help others less able than yourself. These skills translate not only into surfing or other water activities, but to life itself.

Hope that is of use.

A committed waterwoman who does not support factions.


Melinda Morey

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Park Perfection (Saturday)

Today was San Clemente State Park approaching its best: a four to five foot swell from the South on a rising tide and a glossy slick surface. Head high and plus sets peeled up the beach, gathering energy from the tidal push, pitching a fat lip over deep, hollow tubes.

Though it was overcast and the water has cooled a bit, today was all about the waves. A quick glimpse from the steps sent me quickly back to the car to suit up…no lingering with the camera or Flip today.

Walking up the beach with Crawdaddy and Kahuna, we saw Paul Tordella catch a couple of long, fast left slides despite the gaggle of sticks, and debated swimming out at the main peak. But further South, beyond the rocks at Life Guard Stand 1 (LG1), it looked just as good and was empty. It proved a great choice, as we had the place to ourselves for over two hours, only interrupted when a couple dozen aspiring Junior Lifeguards made their qualifying swim out and around the buoy.

Sailfish and Real Deal joined us shortly and we traded waves while fighting a steady current pushing us North into a quartet of surfers accompanied by a guy shooting them in the water. The first hour was fairly steady - lots of lefts, but the swell was catching sand bars to peak up with some fun, fast, hollow rights as well. The latter part of the session grew more inconsistent but the sets,when they came, were even larger.

First wave out, Saifish (Mark Ghattas) snags a long, gaping right and comments as he's swimming back out that he's already got his wave of the day. (That held up until late in the session, but there were plenty more to be had.)

Good vibe in the water today - lefts, and the steady push North, would bring us into the area being ridden by the four sticks, and they were as psyched as we were. One dropped in on Mark then apologized when he realized Mark hadn't been telling him to go, but, rather, trying to call him off. Another dumped his board, donned fins and swam out to join us.

Tiring after a couple of hours, but still stoked by the swell, it was only Sailfish and me in the water. Mark rode a couple more and got out, but I decided to drift through the rock reef into the main peak and up to the steps instead of walking back.

Great choice - I caught at least six more waves over that 20 minute stretch. A good right to the South and then a perfect set wave left to the North as I crossed over the reef from the rocks. Only one surfer hanging South enough to catch the lefts off the rocks.

Then, as I came across the "main peak," another set showed. While all the board surfers were digging to get back South and outside, I had the first wave of the set all to myself. Three waves later, I finally snagged a final lift inside to the shore.

The coda was a well-earned breakfast at Adele's with Mark, Neil and Mark's girlfriend, Mandy (and a few minutes playing with their Boxer puppy, Penny). Could barely slide out of the booth afterwards, as the legs tightened up after over 2-1/2 hours fighting the current.

Postscript: Great to have Crawdaddy (Brent Crawford) back in the water! He's been out since October, when his doc punctured the membrane into his brain cavity while doing sinus surgery. Stuck on the sand, shooting video and imagining for over 6 months, today he was able to get back in the water. Great day for it!

PPS - Mandy was shooting pix from the shore with her new camera…will incorporate a few as soon as I can!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Classic Spring Day in the Park

Head-high peaks were in evidence everywhere at 8:30 arrival in the park, but so were the sticks! Seemed almost a solid line of stand-up surfers from the steps through main peak, past the rocks and to LG 1. The photo extracted from a Flip video is a bit fuzzy, but both the peaks and the sticks can be seen:


Four heads were already out in the water: Jeff JPL Lashbrook was beginning his switch from snow-skiing to bodysurfing and Chuck Kahuna Herpick had joined Neil Frank & Mark Ghattas in the rapidly warming water.

Mild wind, 63 degree water and sunny skies enduced me to break out the 2mm SS spring suit - what a pleasure to divest the full-body neopreme! Very comfortable through a 2-hour session.

Moving back & forth between main peak, LG1 and peaks between, we managed to get our fair share of waves amidst a great vibe as all seemed to be really enjoying the good surf and beautiful day. The mixed SW and NW swells brought long lefts & rights, some wide tubes on head high faces making for a classic Spring day in the Park.

Walking back to the steps, it was clear that the sand had already started to build back up as beachgoers enjoyed the sun and sand.
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Monday, May 3, 2010

Kua Bay Beauty

A year ago, FBI (from big island) bodysurf queen, Noni Roberts, introduced us to Kua Bay, a little gem on the Kohala/Kona coast. Last year, were some barely-rideable shore-break waves.

Heather & I connected with Noni again, in a return to Kua Bay.


The beauty of the little, white sand bay lapped by clear azure water is a reflection of our host's beauty of spirit. Noni gives true meaning to the word aloha, bringing us her home-grown mangoes while overflowing in her love of the water and anguish over the plastic bits spoiling the sands.

We had a little more surf today, as miniature, sand-dredging, 2 and 3 foot (faces) slabs pounded in foot-deep water. So wonderful to bask in the warm (low 70s) water, squeezing into mini-tubed closeouts as Heather floated outside the break.

Not an epic surf day, but an afternoon in Kua Bay with Noni will always stick in memory.
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