Saturday, August 21, 2010

Showtime Del Mar

Back in the water after being knocked out of the lineup for two weeks by a very unfriendly bout with bronchitis. We're down in Del Mar for a couple of nights but I'm missing the Worlds (World Bodysurfing Championships at Oceanside this weekend) as I focus on recovery.

Throughout Southern California, the last two weeks have continued to be characterized by exceptionally low water temperatures, frequently dipping below 60 and never getting out of the low 60s. That's perhaps beginning to break, as it's now flirting with 65 in Southern Orange County and San Diego.

A nice 3 - 5 foot South swell is arriving in SoCal this weekend, but it's not doing much for Del Mar, where there is some size but it's pretty sloppy, crumbly and disorganized. On a cool morning, despite the clear, sunny skies, 64 seemed cold as I swam out at the blackball area in front of Jack's and the 18th street lifeguard headquarters. There were a couple of heads in the water, trying to make the most out of what was there. To the south, the longboards were getting the best of it.

Rare, four foots sets would break outside, but it was a long wait in between. I was surprised by the effect of my still-restricted lung capacity, cutting short my dive time and leaving me winded in each swim out. It made me grateful to be working through the Del Mar rollers, which pretty much stay on the surface, rather than the dredging slabs of Newport and elsewhere.

Conditions and lungs notwithstanding, over an hour's period, I managed to nab a handful of set waves with a few decent slides. But what made the morning noteworthy and gives title to this post, came late in the session:

The only impressive set of the morning was a six wave set, the largest running maybe 7 or 8 foot from crest to trough, breaking well outside. A few minutes before the set came in, I noted a couple of dolphin frolicking just outside. As the largest wave crested, a fast left sweeping North up the beach, six dolphin were highlighted, streaking across the lucent blue face, weaving amongst themselves, cutting up and down. As the wave passed me by and I turned to watch from the back, in choreographed unison, they burst through the top into full air, hung for a moment, and slipped back into the water.

Many times, I've seen a dolphin or two surfing a wave, and occasionally the burst out the back. I've also seen the films of whole pods in action. But this the first I've observed in person, and within just a few yards.

Sometimes it's the waves, sometimes it's the stoke, and sometimes it's Nature herself...but in any case, this is what it's all about.

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