Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve Day in the Park

It was a chilly morning, even with a relatively late start: 37 degrees in Pasadena.
But, it was a brilliant winter morning, with nary a cloud in the sky, from Pasadena to San Clemente.

Still a bit swamped by the tide, some swell was showing through nonetheless while the winter sun glittered on the smooth surface and a soft offshore combed the peaks.

Few were in the water, which was a bracing 57 degrees...just right to test out the new 4-3 wetsuit!

Neil was waiting in the lot, Shawn O'Gorman arrived right on my heels, Ian right behind him.  Mark and Craig T. showed up while we were suiting up.  In short order, we had a good pod of eight in the water (Mark Ghattas, Shawn & Ian O'Gorman, Craig & Sean Tomson, Neil Frank and myself), while Heather O'Gorman and Mandy Ghattas basked ashore in the sun.

There were plenty of waves to go around, as the sticks gradually filled in.  Wave of the day was a beautiful, long left slide by Mark, from lineup to shore, witnessed by all.

While the swell never quite filled in, with the receding tide, to the degree that we'd hoped, it was a great holiday session on a beautiful winter morning.

By the time we exited, approaching noon, the holiday traffic jam was on....

A great way to finish the year at the Park!  Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shivering Sunday Session in the Park

Per force, this will be short on words tonight, but wanted to share a sampling of Hugh's great photography from this morning.  Click on the photos to see full size/higher resolution - it's worth it!

When I arrived this morning, at high tide, it wasn't just swamped but the size was well under what we'd hoped.  Shivering in the modest, off-shore breeze and low-50's air temperature, it was tough to be tempted to get in!
(HH, slotted)

After a half-hour's watch, without enough to tempt us out of warm clothes and into wetsuits and chilly waters, Mark Ghattas & I decided to give it some time and headed up to Adele's for a quick bite.  On return, it proved a good decision.

(Mark Ghattas)
It was still smallish - waist to chest high (but was to grow significantly larger later) - but clean and hollow.  The air didn't feel so cold, and Hugh was in the lot, waiting to suit up & shoot some water shots.  The sand wasn't as frigid as it often is, walking barefoot in the winter, but the water was definitely chilly getting in!  Soon, though, enjoying the Park, entirely to ourselves - nobody within a 1/2 mile - with gradually building, consistent, hollow peaks, we were warm enough for a two-hour session which finally ended due to exhaustion rather than cold.

Through the two hours, it gradually picked up, until, by 11:00, head high and even overhead waves were regularly appearing (finally attracting a few sticks).  Still, the wind stayed benign - offshore or some side-shore, holding the rights open.  

 If you like these shots, enjoy more at Hugh's smugmug site:


My two most memorable rides of the morning began early on with one of the hollow rights.  It lined up perfectly, and as I dropped in, Hugh was at the end of the line with his camera.  As I slid, directly toward the black " O " of the camera housing, the lip arched up and enclosed us - me on one end, camera on the other.  I so hoped the shots came out.  The top shot, above, and then this shot below were the gratifying result!
High-Res Flickr Version Here
The later, most memorable, was a moderate-sized left that I dropped into upon Hugh's urging.  As the feathering lip overtook me, I prepared for the expected close out, but, as I continued to slide, the light remained constant inside the tube.  A couple of seconds passed, and the light grew as the feathering lip receded and I pulled out into the open face of the wave - a complete coverup and out again - my holy grail of bodysurfing!  Hooting, I continued in until the fade out at shore.

Above, Mark and I debrief the morning in the lot at Calafia, a few short steps from the water.

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reliving Last Saturday: Hugh's Photos

There's a dribble of surf this weekend, but it's gone chilly and windy.  Just thinking back to a great session last Saturday, I now can share some of the photos that Hugh took during the latter part of our session.
This one (above) was actually my last wave of the day.  This was one of the first shots of a 12-15 shot sequence.  A great way to finish!

Taking a high line to tuck into the curl.  This shows the glassy conditions.  Generally, it's only in winter that we get both sun and glass.

This is the first shot of another long sequence.

By this point, I am well past the kelp in the first photo, and looking forward to shack time... see below!
Thanks, Hugh!
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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sparkley Winter Morning in the Park

(Though the pictures were shot after session, they give a good feel for the morning.)

The Park doesn't do well on a high tide ... and a plus 7 feet, due at 9:00, is about as high as it comes.  Swell forecasts from earlier in the week, for a 3-4 foot swell, were being revised, downward.  Setting aside fears that an hour's drive would be met by unbreaking lumps surging up the beach, drawn by expectations of a warming day and projections for an offshore breeze, Mark Ghattas & I decided to get there by 7:00.  Later last night, son Joe called to say he'd crash at our house and join us.

So, in the chilly predawn of 5:30, I shook Joe awake and we threw the gear in the car.  It was frigid in the lot as we got out but we were greeted by Neil Frank & Mark Ghattas, in concurrence that it was looking surprisingly good.  Not wanting to waste time with the rising tide, a quick peek across the tracks toward the Main Peak showed something like this - clean, peaky and much bigger than the 2+ feet that was supposed to be there:
The 20-strong pack up at Riveria was a good sign as well.

It was frigid, suiting up in the shade of the lot, and the sand was cold enough to make bare feet ache.  But the water temp is holding at or over 60, and the sun had found a dip in the cliffs to illuminate inviting A-frame peaks in the Main Peak area.  The water was cool, wading in, but it felt good to duck the first wave - after more than a month out of the water - and swim out into glossy surface, sparkling in the sun. 

As soon as I got out, a thick, head-high right swept in from the northwest.  Ghattas had position on me, but he'd already caught a couple and I needed to get started.  A nice drop, fast trim across the face, and then a fully illuminated blue-green tube.  One ride alone was worth the trip down!

For the next hour, consistent head-high peaks were rolling in, with everybody getting plenty.  Long slides across glossy surface were interspersed with many more vistas of glowing tubes.  A couple of sticks mixed in, but generally lurked above or below the main peak, leaving center stage mostly to the five of us (Mark, Neil, Joe, Craig T & me).  A couple of guys were in the water with water-housing cameras.  One, Henry, got what should be pretty good shots of several of us.  I gave Henry contact information and hope to hear from him, with some water shots from the morning that I can share here. 

As the tide started approaching peak, and the waves moved closer ashore, the sticks pretty much vacated and we had what were still decent pickings all to ourselves.  There was a ten minute lull as the tide peaked, but then, shortly after 9:00, the waves picked up again.  After a bit, three spongers paddled up from the campground area - LG 1, but there was still plenty.  Hugh showed up, ashore with camera, and started shooting in what should be pretty good light...look forward to seeing those, as well!

Tiring after 2-1/2 hours, but still getting decent rides, the pod started to migrate ashore.  Though a slight onshore started to rise, the water seemed to have warmed, and the surf continued its recovery from the high tide, so I was more of a mind to continue.  About that point, I spotted something outside in plenty of time to line up for a perfectly formed, large right.  A nice, steep drop and trim lead to a long right, of varying speed, all the way to shore.  One of the best of the morning...and the right wave to wrap.

As was only appropriate, encore was breakfast at Adele's, with the eponymous owner in perfect form.

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Sunday, October 16, 2011

Stoke Session

It's really hard not to be stoked over yesterday's session.

Bringing an end to four dry weeks, due to travel, a beautiful, clean, head high swell greeted an enthusiastic pod, determined to show Noni Roberts, visiting from the Big Island, some good, local fun.
Though overcast most of the time, it was smooth and glassy with a little offshore feathering the lip of consistent, hollow breakers struggling to push through the peaking high tide.  Mid-October, the water was warm enough for the spring shortie; Sean O'Gorman even skinned it.

Mark Ghattas was already in the water when I arrived, having started his bachelor weekend prelude early.  Paul Tordella, down from Hermosa, was suiting up while Noni was shooting some pre-session photos.  Neil Frank hadn't seen much worthwhile in a quick check, but a beautiful set, 7 foot faces, rolled in as I watched, enjoyed by Mark and only a couple of sticks out at the Main Peak.  Soon we had a pod of seven in the water: Mark, Paul, Noni, Neil, Rick Ciaccio down from Newport, local Sean O'Gorman and me.
Below is a shot of Noni checking out a nice, eight-foot face.

About 9:00, it seems that the word started to get out that it was pretty decent and maybe a dozen sticks showed up.  But we'd planted ourselves pretty firmly at the main peak so most set up north or south of us and the bodysurfers had a nice 50 yard stretch of the best peaks to ourselves (excluding one stick that set up outside and occasionally threatened to take a wave but never actually did).

It was a morning of fast, steep rides with consistent barrels.  Very much like my first few sessions in the Park, years ago, but better size.  Wave height consistently ran from chest high to overhead, with plenty to go around. 

Hugh arrived about the time the sun decided to break through and set up to shoot stills.  Got plenty of everybody...his misfortune, taking a board to the ribs on Friday, our good fortune.  Hence the shots here today.

I particularly like the feathering lip and glossy texture of the face on this shot - double-click on it to see full size.  Hugh's captures are amazing.  You can click on the blog entry title above to go to a Picasa file with my extract from Hugh's shots of yesterday.  Alternatively, lots of shots of all the pod - many good ones of Noni - are to be found here:  HB SmugMug 15Oct .

Brent Crawford arrived, post-tennis, and captured the last half hour, in peaking high tide, in the following video:  SanClam 10-15 Session

Even those that were a bit closed out offered some memorable tubes!  Ciaccio was stoked enough to call it one of the best days, ever, in the Park.  Mark and Paul had to take off, but the rest of us relived the morning with traditional post-session breakfast at Adele's, served by Adele herself in perfect form.
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Friday, September 30, 2011

Come Hell or High Water

Last night, joined many of the Orange County and LA County extended bodysurfing ohana at the Lido Theatre in Newport for the showing of  Keith Malloy's new film, the first surf film to focus on bodysurfing.  What a gas!

Many good water friends were there - I went with Mark Ghattas and his fiance, Mandy.  Joined by Newport and Wedge regular Rendell Swart, we first ran into Wedge denizen Rick Ciaccio (#9) with his wife, Linda, along with Newport Playgrounds regular Derrick "MuDsHaRk" Sciarra at the front of the line waiting to enter the sold-out theater.  Also, Jeff Mitchell, who appears in the Wedge scenes, Neil Frank, and many others.  Inside, another Newport stalwart, Jason Guthrie, and Mark "Scruds" Johnson along with several other Huntington Chubascos.  Out front, many core Wedge Crew, lead by Mel Thoman and Viper maestro Fred Simpson, dean of the Crew. Legendary Wedge photographer, Ron Romanosky, looked on.

The movie was a great celebration of respect for bodysurfing from one of surfing's great filmmakers, prominently featuring Mark Cunningham and Mike Stewart hitting legendary bodysurfing locales.  The photography - in water, under water and from shore - was excellent.  The audience was fully involved, hooting and hollering through the film as it migrated from Pipeline and Panic Point in Hawaii through the familiar La Jolla reef break, the Wedge and Northern California and finishing with Cunningham, Stewart and others, including correspondent Durdam Rochelle, taking on the massive slabs of Teahupoo.  It was great to see Hal Handley featured in La Jolla and the theater buzz crescendo'd with Mel, Jeff and the Wedge Crew exhibiting local form on the largest waves of the movie at the Wedge.  A memorable night to watch this with so many, so intimately involved, sitting in the audience.

Keith Malloy and Mark Cunningham were there to hang out & answer questions afterwards, paying lots of respect to the locals, heading out afterwards to local hangout, Malarky's.  I got a chance to chat briefly with Malloy, thanking him for the respect and cred offered in the movie.

A fun and memorable night.  Can't wait for the DVD.

[Click on the poster above to go to the Woodshed Films website.]

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Little Fun in the Park

My last blog was a tribute to the consistent surf at the Park this summer.  Today, the size was gone...but at least the shape remains!

Did not expect much, but there were fun little waves.  The shot below was my first view of Main Peak from the rail.  Later, you'll see a head in the water for size but this is stomach high ... what passed for a set today.
The feel on the beach was of winter.  A heavy overcast and occasional cool breeze out of the Northwest resulted in the quietude of an empty beach.  The exception, though, was the very comfortable mid-60's water temperature.

There was a sole sponger out at the main peak; nobody else from the steps to Cottons.  The sponger left before we got in.

North, at Riviera, where it was a little bigger and slightly more consistent, twenty sticks competed for the chest-high peaks.  Further on at, at T Street, a similar clump could be seen.

Ghattas and I decided on the solitude of Main Peak over the crowd at Rivi.  While we suited, a surfer who'd been out at the Main Peak with us when it was really firing two weeks ago pulled in and suited up, too.  He joined Mark and me at the Main Peak for the first hour of a 1:45 session of fun, little peaky waves.  Nothing above chest-high, but hollow enough for mini-tubes and clean enough for decent slides.  A peaceful, relaxing morning.

Before we went out, as the surfer was returning from checking it out at the rail, I commented wryly, "awesome, huh!"

"An hour in the water still beats any other way to start the day," he responded.

I have to agree.
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Monday, September 5, 2011

A Great Run at the Park: a Tribute

In little over four months, we have had a fantastic run at the Park.  Rated on a scale from one to five stars, in this short period, there have been six swells, hitting on weekends, that have scored four or five.
I thought a little thanks and recognition in order.  My habit on arrival is to pause for a few minutes and take a few shots to document the swell coming in.  Bearing in mind that I rarely hang around more than three to five minutes before suiting up, the following six shots, one from each of these days, are a pretty remarkable testament to the consistency of SCSP! [Click on photos for full screen.]

April 23 8:04 AM

May 30, 8:06 AM

June 25 8:04 AM

July 9, 7:51 AM

August 6, 8:17 AM

September 4, 8:12 AM

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