Monday, July 18, 2011

San Clemente - SoCal Bodysurfing Championships

Two weeks ago, as part of San Clemente's annual Ocean Festival ("The Greatest Show on Surf"), we staged the fifth annual Southern California Bodysurfing Championships, the first in the California circuit that continues with the International Bodysurfing Championships in Manhattan Beach as part of its Surf Festival (today) and the World Bodysurfing Championships in Oceanside in late August.  There is also a Huntington Beach contest in mid-August and a Santa Cruz competition in October. 

The San Clemente contest, initiated by Golden Triangle founding member, Eric EY_\ Yeisley, is hosted by the Golden Triangle, while Manhattan is hosted by the Gillis Beach club, Huntington by the Chubascos club and Santa Cruz by the Santa Cruz Bodysurfing Association.

Without "holding periods," where the contest may be held any time during a several week, or even month, period, the contests are on pre-set dates and at the mercy of nature for the conditions.  Unfortunately, too often, San Clemente and Manhattan have been plagued with poor waves.  This year was no exception.

As I did last year, I participated as time keeper for the event, which permits me to photograph as well as help to host the event.  However,with meager waves, I left the camera in the bag until after the heats...choosing instead to document the stoke and characters that comprise the broader California bodysurfing ohana. 

The album from the event is up at Picasa, which can be reached by clicking this blog's title above or this link here:

I've included a few choices below:

Russell "Riptide" Riopelle, one of our judges, joins Beachmaster Chuck "Kahuna" Herpick, above.  Russell and Chuck make regular appearance in my blog.

Below, event organizer Steve "Too Tall" Short is shown with one of the O'Gorman clan.  The O'Gormans, usually competing under the Golden Triangle banner, formed their "4 G" team for this event.  "4 G" refers to four generations of bodysurfers...something I hope to see the Haldeman ohana surpass sometime in the next decade.  We're also four generations at present, as both my grandfathers bodysurfed, as did my father, and both my sons.

Steve stepped into tough shoes as organizer when EY_\ departed for the frozen waves of Colorado.

Several O'Gorman generations are pictured above.  Great ambassadors for our sport!

Another superb ambassador for bodysurfing is Rodrigo ('rigo) Bruno.  As I wrote, and pictured, last year, 'rigo is from Brazil, who brings infectious enthusiasm wherever he goes.  Last year, he toured California, and was fortunate to encounter outstanding waves at the Wedge, and yet test the waters in San Diego, San Clemente and elsewhere during his stay.  He got another decent swell, not quite so large, at the Wedge this summer, and again was able to compete in our contest.

Rod Bruno is shown above with another valuable promoter of the sport, photographer Rod Hepburn.  A San Diego denizen, Rod's photos have become popular in the worldwide bodysurfing community.  His photos from the competition may be seen here:

Two weeks have passed, and I'm glad to get this posted, but no too happy about the reason.  Last weekend I was in Tahoe.  Two weeks ago, between meager surf and timing responsibilities, I only got a chance for a couple of waves.  I was looking forward to a good session today, in warm water with a moderate swell, but a West wind has decided to trash conditions the last couple of days.  So, I'm posting about the competition instead of what I'd hoped....
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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Good Waves and Great Pod

Solid waves today, but it was a great session due to the excellent pod in the water.
Did not dally to take a lot of pre-session photos...just enough to show that, within a few minutes, a decent swell was in evidence.  

I knew that Bret Belyea was coming up from SD County for a rare, these days, appearance in the Park, but had a pleasant surprise also to be greeted by prodigal Park perennial Bret "Crawdaddy" Crawford when I pulled in about 7:45.  Neil Frank rounded out the crew checking it out from the rail and itching to get into glassy, head-high & overhead peaks that appeared to be consistently coming in.

It seemed equally consistent all the way down the beach, so we chose the deserted section in front of LG 1 and staked our exclusive claim to a 50 yard stretch for the next two hours.  Our initial pod of four was quickly augmented by Mark Ghattas and Rick Ciaccio.  About a half-hour in, Eric Ackerman showed, with the Lawyer, Dave MacPherson.  

We tolerated some aggravating lulls, but generally had about 90 minutes of nicely shaped surf...occasionally offering a long left deep into the cool but comfortable water (65 warming to 67) and generally glassy conditions.  Early on, Belyea, emulating Hugh "Driftwood" Berenger, went about 50 yards further South and snagged a series of sweet lefts.  Mid & late session, Ghattas was winning the position game with several of the longest rides off set waves.  Ciaccio continued his habit of hanging outside, waiting for the juiciest morsels while Ackerman & the Lawyer hung together, trading underwater butterfly take-offs.  

Besides having Bret up to join us - always a treat - it was great to see Brent come down to the Park after something of a hiatus and to see Neil return after neck issues.

A good showing for the Golden Triangle on a day when the Park delivered, in anticipation of next week's competition up at the pier.

Last shot: best seen full size, Cottons pumping in the background with LG1 in the foreground.

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Monday, July 4, 2011

Small Surf on a Long Weekend

Sorry, no photos or video this entry.

The good news: 
  • I got three sessions in, over three days
  • Water is warm - 67-70
  • There was more swell each day than the meager forecasts
  • I got to reconnect with Bret Belyea, Chris Lafferty, Bruce Robbins and the 17th Street pod, including meeting Bob "Finman" Davis
The surf was, well, adequate...surfable, at least.

Saturday: SCSP ... what's "surf" v. "swim" ????

Saturday afternoon, I broke a tortuous, four hour, drive from Pasadena to Del Mar by swinging into the Calafia parking lot about 2:00.  With negligible hopes of a parking space on a holiday weekend whilst inland Southern California sweltered, having passed 150 filled spaces, I turned the corner onto the lower loop and was amazed to find an empty space just steps from the beach.  

The sun was out, water temp listed at 69, so I changed into a pair of trunks - first time "skinning" it this year - and hastened onto the sand with my fins.  The lifeguards had cordoned for "surfing" the entire area from the canyon outlet north of Main Peak to the pathway down from State Park - which is to say, virtually all the decent sandbars through the Calafia/State Park area.  A few beginners on boards were scattered through the area, while north and south, in the "swimming" area, hordes of summer beachgoers waded out or flailed at boogie-boarding ("sponging") or trying to dive into the waves.  

I slipped on my fins and waded out, just above Main Peak, one eye on the LG in tower 2, just to the north.  Gentle, waist-high rollers were coming in, and I slid into one, yards from any fiberglass.  After I pulled out, I glanced back at the guard, who signaled me to come north, beyond the surf/swim divide.  I waved that I'd go south, and he nodded.

So I swam south, just below the rocks, where a little peak was operating, unheeded by the fiberglass barneys in the water.  I worked that for five or ten minutes, until the white LG jeep stops ashore of where I'm surfing, and instructs "the swimmer in the water" to move to the south of the "swim/surf" markers at LG1.  Figuring they have enough to deal with, given the thorough paving of all dry sand with umbrellas and sun-block slavered bodies, I complied, and rode the inferior waves in front of LG1, weaving in & out of tourists and sponges, for 45 minutes.

So...I understand the need to offer all those holiday beachgoers a safe preserve, especially given the lack of control of the "surfers" in the water...but is it really necessary to EXclude surfers who happen to "surf" without a board from the only stretch worth surfing?  The only other place I've been where bodysurfers are lumped with "swimmers" and excluded from the "surf" zone is Scripps, and, even there, a demonstration of competency will back the lifeguards off.  

Sunday: Del Mar ... semi-solo late morning semi-slop

Overcast, cool and seeming unpromising, the morning recommended leisure.  Nearing midday, I scanned the horizon at Del Mar and saw some visible lines coming in.  At the hotel, the equivalent of a block's walk from the "blackball" zone at 17th Street Del Mar, I tugged on the spring-weight "shortie," grabbed my fins, and walked down to the beach.  Alone, I swam out, in cool but comfortable water, past the waders and sponges playing in the shorebreak and out to the outside break.  Not a soul between the "surf/swim" markers a block north and a block south.  Today, they were working for me.

It was choppy, and frequently sloppy, but I was surprised to find some shoulder-high sets...some of them quite ride-able, coming in.  For an hour, it was nice just lazing outside, with the place to myself.

Eventually, I noticed a bald guy swimming out to join me, breaking my reverie.  He observed that I'd been getting a few "good ones," and we introduced ourselves.  I've known of Bob "Finman" Davis, through mutual friends, for long time, but we'd not met before.  We spent the next half-hour, sharing waves, swapping stories and getting acquainted.  Skinning it, he chilled after a bit; not long afterward, I headed in as well.

Even less than ideal waves are good for the soul.

Monday: Del Mar ... good news for good friends

I'd pre-arranged with Bret Belyea to meet at 17th Street at 7:00.  When I arrived, he was already in the water, with Bruce Robbins, and Chris Lafferty was just pulling into the metered lot.  It was clean and glassy, and some fun, little waves were in evidence.  Today, I elected to skin it again, though the others were in springs suits and even a couple of full suits. 

I had a most enjoyable 2-1/2 hours in the water with the Del Mar crew.  For most, it was just Bret, Chris, Bruce and myself, with another local joining us mid-way.  About 9:00, there was an apparent shift-change, as Bret, Chris and Bruce worked their way in and the 17th St surf club took their places.  "Finman" bridged the groups.

It was a fun & satisfying morning of surf, accented by the solid bonhomie and banter in the line up.  I always enjoy surfing with these guys.

A highlight, not surf-related, was to finally (!) meet Bret's 22-month-old daughter, Thalia, who was digging in the sand with her mother, Kasey; to see Kasey; find that Bret & Kasey are expecting a son in November!

A memorable morning, with OK surf, but great people.