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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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Callin' It

The latter part of the week, surf has been very much in mind!

Wednesday evening, Joe texts: "Zeros this evening...double overhead with 45 degree faces.  It was like skiing.  Set waves only.  Took off on 4 waves total.  Well planned big ones.  Memorable."

The Front Page of Friday's LA Time featured a large picture of the Wedge, bodysurfer in free fall.

Hal observes from Wednesday evening through Friday morning there's a sustained 20 second (interval) swell ... longest he can remember.

Hugh reports on Friday he scored one of the 10 longest tube rides of his life: check this link.  Meanwhile, Rob Webb tries bodysurfing the Park and reports that it was "90% survival; 10% surfing," and that having swum out at LG 1, after one wave he was already North of the steps.

The Wednesday through Friday swell is the biggest South swell to come in over the last two years - since July '09...

...and I've been waiting for the weekend, where the forecast project some hopeful leftovers.

Checking all the input I could, I decided that Sunday might be a foot or so smaller than Saturday but stood the better chance of decent conditions.  A Facebook mobile upload from the O'Gormans, sent from the Park Saturday morning was tough - the swell was still there, but it seemed a bit messy.

I went to sleep Saturday night with fingers crossed, and hope.

First wave I saw, as I walked out and joined Craig Thompson on the steps, was a welcome relief:

Overhead, clean & glassy, and not even crowded!

While the swell is smaller now, peaks and corners had appeared.  And, in an odd combination for this summer, there was early morning sun and no wind.  Further, there was no sign of the heavy sweep, South to North, that had plagued the last four days.

A good pod was quickly gathering.  Ian O'Gorman walked up, noting more of the clan was on his heels.  Mark Ghattas pulls in, with Mandy and a friend.  Eric Ackerman, too, shows before we've even begun suiting up.  Andrew, a bodysurfing list member from Northern California has pulled in for a first visit to the Park.

Shortly, in the water, we have a pod of ten: Eric, Craig, Mark, Andrew, myself and five 4G's: Papa Shawn, sons Cheyne & Ian and their friends JP and Jerome.  We're able to carve out the peak just North of the Rocks and fairly well maintain it while the sticks congregate further North.  Cheyne has his GoPro mini-video camera and a new stick mount out - can't wait to see the footage!!  Hugh was to show up later, for an eleventh member...

 First wave, I knew that I'd made the right call: today was THE day of this swell for me!  I can appreciate size, but these were made for bodysurfing.  Caught an early set wave ... 8? 9? foot face, with a soft left shoulder - like the photo a couple of shots above.  An easy drop in and nice slide.  The next two hours were full of similar rides interspersed with some wide open tubes and, yes, an occasional precipitous drop.  

The pod stayed put, North of the Rock, but I moved up and surfed a few at the Main Peak, until a half dozen sticks converged on me, then worked my way South and worked the space between the Rock and LG1 for a while, before rejoining the pod.  While down there, I could hear the hootin' and hollerin' while performing for the camera.  

Wave of the day goes to Shawn O'Gorman, snagging a moderate sized set wave just above the rocks for a looong left slide with cover-up and emergence...all for the camera.  Can't wait to see it.

This was it: the Park doing what it does!

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