Saturday, August 6, 2011

Surprise - It's the Park ... Again!

The intent, today, was to hit the Newport peninsula.  Friday afternoon through Saturday morning, a good pulse from Eugene was hitting the Southland. With the steep South source, the greatest energy should be in North Orange County, so I had arranged to meet up at 15th Street with Mark Ghattas, as well as Paul Tordella - the latter coming down from Hermosa.  Mark was concerned about 15th perhaps being walled up, facing the swell a little too directly, so planned to check the Newport jetties - 30's & 40's - as a possible fall back.

[Click on photo for full size]

However, with John Rogers in tow from South Bay, Paul got to 15th early and called - nice size, but just walled up.  We discussed going to the jetties, but Paul voiced one of my objections: the jetties get awfully crowded with surfers, especially summer weekends.  Willing to sacrifice a little size instead, he and John decided to continue South to San Clemente.

I checked with Mark, who had just arrived at 46th Street and advised it was well formed but already fairly crowded.  After brief deliberation while I was heading down the 55, I decided to turn left at the 405 and continue on down to the Park.  As the above photos show, good call!  

Finding head high plus peaks, and only a handful of surfers out, I didn't tarry more than a few minutes at the rail, shooting these photos and getting a briefing from Hugh.

To the North, there was a concentration at Riviera - I count 22 heads in the photo below - but in a wider stretch at Calafia (the Park), from just South of the steps to the rocks, there were maybe eight people out.

Paul and John arrived, and we quickly suited up.  The spring "shortie" was plenty for the 64/65 degree water, and I was in the line up by 8:30.  Shortly afterwards, I watched John grab a set wave left at the corner and commence a 50 yard slide nearly to shore.  Sweet.

For an hour and a half, we worked the glassy, peaky swell.  Some real interesting ones - a quick drop in at the peak would open into a slow, fat section for three or for seconds before bumping up further inside into a steep fast tube like the photo above.  For most of the first 90 minutes, John and I had the area between Main Peak and the Rocks virtually to ourselves while Paul worked Main Peak with a couple of sticks and a couple of sponges.

The peaks - see above - were fun and consistent.  Only minor lulls.  With lots to go around, and, apparently, most surfers elsewhere in search of more size from Eugene, the vibe in the water was relaxed and low key.

Around 10:00 a mild breeze picked up, texturing the surface. Meanwhile, the swell was backing off a bit and sets becoming less frequent.  In another 20 minutes Paul and John hit the beach.  I hung outside, every hopeful, and was rewarded by a final, head high set of four waves, of which I was able to catch both the first and last.

A perfect conclusion was the introduction of Paul and John to Adele's.  Adele was there, being, as ever, Adele.

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