Saturday, July 31, 2010

Brightening Up in Newport

Things continue to brighten here in Newport.  The sun did, indeed come out for the afternoon. 

Went back over to the ocean side of the peninsula about 2:30.  

Some swell appeared to be started to show, so I walked up to 11th Street and swam out.  Though the water 's still very chilly, though warming (maybe 63),  I skinned it.

Just as I got to the 10th Street guard, he replaced the green flag with yellow and put up the black ball ... thanks!  Went out for an hour in surf with 4-5 foot faces, sometimes 6 foot.  Textured surface and a bit lacking in organization, but the swell is definitely starting to show and it was nice to ride in the sunshine.  

Swam back South past 6th street and exited, chilled & tired, but satiated.

Tomorrow AM should be decent on the peninsula.  Planning on hitting 16th Street at 9AM.  Expect Sailfish, perhaps Hugh, and whomever else....

Newport: Slow Start but Picking Up

It's day two on the (Newport) peninsula.

After getting wet in small, frigid surf to begin day one, yesterday, we had low expectations for this morning. Yesterday, we put in over an hour in inconsistent, waist-high surf, on a chilly, gloomy morning and frigid - 55 degree - water. The sun never showed and the day never warmed up. Went back over to the beach in the evening, hoping for swell, but only had a chilling, steady breeze and nothing to motivate re-entry. The hope was for a little better today, but not much.

So, son Joseph and I collected a couple of neighbors who were joining us and headed out to 18th Street about 8:30. Joe and Tim (Joe's peer) had boards but Tim's father, Burt, elected to bodysurf.

We were surprised to find that it was glassy and clean. The waves were that typical, hollow pitch that characterizes the Newport peninsula, but, surprisingly, even a bit peaky, too. Regular sets were coming in chest and shoulder high, with a little juice. The water has warmed up to 60+ (still full suit time, though).

We spent two hours, mainly about 16th street, where we had the peak off the sandbar totally to ourselves. Lots of waves, few lulls, a few plus sets and lots & lots of only Newport consistently offers. It stayed glassy through 10:30 as the blackball came up and we took off.

Even looks like the sun's going to come out today.

(No pictures today, but I'm sure later in the week, I'll get some....)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back in the Game

Sooo nice to be back in the water!

The Park was showing why I so favor it: clean and peaky, picking up a bit of NW along with the shoulder-high (sometimes head high) South swell.  Glassy and fun on an overcast morning with cooler than expected, maybe 64/65 degree, water.

Only Mark Ghattas along this session, we had a nice peak in front of LG 1 to ourselves for an hour then spent another hour shifting around between LG1 and King's Corner as a small pod of sticks kept drifting or paddling into our space.  But they were cool and the vibe was good.

Though often a bit crumbly, there were some nice tubes, nonetheless, and some long slides to be had, both left & right.  Laid back, low key, simple water time on a modest yet classic Park morning.

I was concerned about the ankle, and it's clearly still a bit weak, but it held up through a two-hour session. 

Shot some video on the way down and when I first arrived, but haven't had the chance to edit it and it's not classic, anyway.  So nothing attached at this point.

I'm ready for Newport!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010


airborn, originally uploaded by sosidesc.
Last post here from Hugh's series of the Wedge this week (7/21/10).

For more, go to Hugh's flickr site:


Go further back for some outstanding surf and bodysurf photography.

Photos for purchase at:


Wedge Peak

wedge front view, originally uploaded by sosidesc.


by Hugh Berenger


Mel, originally uploaded by sosidesc.

One of the Wedge greats, Mel Thoman, 7/21/10

Shot by Hugh Berenger

Wedge: Visitor and host

visitor and host, originally uploaded by sosidesc.

visiting brazilian bodysurfer rod bruno walks the wedge beach with legendary wedge bodysurfer kevin "mel" thoman

by Hugh Berenger

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Calif Bodysurfing Championships

Sunday were the California Bodysurfing Championships, hosted by the Golden Triangle at the San Clemente Pier during the Ocean Festival.

Steve "Too Tall" Short picked up the organizing responsibility from Eric EY_\ Yeisley and did a great job. I timed the competition and assisted Beachmaster Chuck "Kahuna" Herpick moving the heats along. We had a great turn out, a ton of stoke and were surprised by decent waves, which weren't forecast. It remained overcast through the morning but that was a nice respite from the humid heat of late, and kept it glassy for the competition.

All had much fun, but none more than Rod Bruno. I discussed Rod in the last blog. After flying up from his home in Brazil to brave the monsters at the Wedge on the weekend of the Fourth, Rod continued to Tahiti to try bodysurfing Teahoopu. Apparently, he didn't get the best conditions in Tahiti, but accomplished his mission then returned to Southern California to compete and medal in San Clemente.

Rod is a great ambassador for the sport, and his stoke is infectious. In the photo below, he's urging the younger generation at the competition to eschew their body boards, strap on fins and commit to bodysurfing. Received great response!

So, after the competition, and after 3 weeks in dry dock, I swam out with several of the competitors and judges to test out the ankle in fins again. Pretty tentative at first, in decently formed, shoulder-high surf, I got the water legs back in a short session before heading home. Looking forward to a full session, next weekend!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Wedge Works

I've focused this blog on my own bodysurfing adventures, but every so often it's worth turning to what's happening within the bodysurfing community of which I'm a part.  In my last post, I mentioned the swell that hit the Wedge last weekend while I was sidelined by my ankle.

Well, I'm long past any thoughts of swimming out at the Wedge when it's breaking like this, preferring more forgiving breaks when it gets big, but I had friends in the water and others on the shore last weekend.  I shared a couple of links last post, but decided to put this up, with a little more focus on the Wedge.

 This is a shot by Hugh Berenger of a correspondence friend of ours, Rod Bruno.  Click on photo for full size.  (Used without permission; sorry Hugh)

Rod came up from Brazil, where he lives & surfs, and endeavored, quite successfully, to time his trip to coincide with a decent swell arriving in Southern California, especially the Wedge.   Today, he's in Tahiti, but it's rainy and flat.

Hugh, the photographer of this shot, swam out after shooting this, and the other shots that can be seen at his SmugMug and his Flickr sites (click for links).  Apparently, got a few good ones by being patient and choosy.

Also on shore Monday was Brent "Crawdaddy" Crawford, with his trusty video camera.  He got some excellent clips of the action - a few before the blackball went up, then quite a few of the purists after it went up.  Rod's in a couple, and I think I see Hugh in one.  View his video by clicking here, or on the title of this post.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fluid Fireworks Fizzle on the Fourth ... 'cept at the Wedge

I was pretty discouraged by the prospect of a great swell coming through, on a holiday weekend no less, and being sidelined with the ankle sprain from last Saturday. 

Improving, but nowhere near where I would it need to be to be out swimming in 10 foot surf, during the week I had visions of a long, warm, sunny weekend with large waves sweeping up the coast and the pod all coming up with "best of summer" experiences. 

Then, unrelated to the swell, the cold & damp sweeps in and really messed it all up: cool, overcast, even drizzling.  What were supposed to be calm mornings with mild offshores instead were characterized by steady onshore winds, the morning ocean surface already pocked with whitecaps. 

When everything – swell size, direction & interval – is “right” for the Wedge, conditions don’t matter that much…it’s powerful enough to just push through it.  And so it did on Saturday, as evidenced by the LA Times story, and photos by Hugh (at SmugMug and Flickr)  and others. [click the links]

But elsewhere, it was pretty consistent reports of jumbled up, messy surf.  Some found a few protected breaks, and reports from San Diego were much better, but my haunts - the Park, the peninsula - were just big, closed out, and choppy.

I guess I avoided the disappointment of  scouring the coast, especially Monday morning, in anticipation of an epic session and finding slop instead!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Missin' It on the Fourth

The morning's LA Times contained a warning for beachgoers:

Big surf to hit Southern California beaches; public is warned about dangers

The big surf promised for some Southern California will begin to materialize Sunday morning.

It has prompted public warnings from surf experts and lifesaving officials -- especially for those less familiar with the rhythm and power of big surf.

The swells, formed by a large storm near New Zealand, will generate waves with faces of up to eight feet in height along south-facing beaches in San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura counties, according to forecasters at Large surf is expected to continue through Tuesday before tapering off.

The Southern Hemisphere swell will not hit all beaches equally. The South-facing beaches in San Diego and Orange counties will see the largest surf.
The swell is expected to create the typical summer spectacle at the Wedge, next to the mouth of the Newport Harbor. Body surfers will test their nerves and their necks on waves that can double in size after refracting off the rocks and then slamming onto the shallows or onto the sand. Forecasters project some sets at the Wedge could reach 15 feet.

Excerpts from Surfline this morning:

SOCAL on SUNDAY: New SSW groundswell is on the rise this morning with better South exposed breaks already picking up ...

Forecast Outlook:
MONDAY: New SSW groundswell tops out with chest-head high+ waves and sets running 2-3'+ overhead at top spots. ...

The swell chart is even more enticing:

But none for frustrating is that?

Ankle is on the mend, but it's only been a week and the strength and stability is not there to swim out in any kind of surf.  Here's to hoping that it's just the beginning of an active summer of swells!

Meanwhile, Crawdaddy's posted his video from last Saturday's well-attended Expression Session in the Park.  No appearance for me, this time; I was already beached.