Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fit for a King...

...of the Smallies!

Ok, let me explain: for many years, the most regular of regulars at San Clemente State Park ("the Park") was Eric Yeisley.  "EY_\", as he is known, would work the inside, getting three times the number of waves that I, for one, would, waiting outside for the sets.  More to the point, EY_\ could milk the most out of any wave, including those inside "smallies," turning spinner after spinner, grinning ashore while styling across the face, and loving every minute.  This earned EY_\ the sobriquet, "King of the Smallies."  

A couple of years ago, EY_\ moved to Colorado.  He stays in touch, occasionally making it out to the coast for a session.  Today was for him.  Not too much text, but I'll let the pictures tell the story of a fantastic winter day at the Park, but with only smallies for surf:

Above is a "set" wave from this morning.  Mostly waist to chest high...not too much more.  Fortunately, there were enough to keep the morning fun.

A local was in front of the steps, taking advantage of the brilliant early morning sunshine to shoot the sand textures in the tube.

Size notwithstanding, Neal, the "Real Deal," Frank arrived with a big smile.  The dean of our extended pod, let's just say he's well established as a septuagenarian.  I hope I've got that smile, and half his water time, in another 20 years!

On a brilliantly sunny morning, with Catalina a backdrop for the seals on the offshore rocks, you wouldn't suspect that the water was the coldest thus far this winter.
But while the sun sparkled over vistas north to Dana Point and south to Cottons Point,
the water was cooled to the lower-mid 50's by a sustained offshore wind flow, leaving "ice cream headaches" and aching hands, and a renewed appreciation for my new 4/3 wetsuit! 
There were lulls, but the swell lasted through the morning - these are taken after I exited, following a full two hours in the water.
Still a little offshore, and still the brilliant sun.
But the Park was offering up those peaky lefts and rights, as it so often does.

As EY_\ is fond of saying,  the Park....DELIVERS!

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

First Swell 2012 - Highlighted by some Hugh B photos!

All week, a big swell was projected for Friday, lingering into Saturday.  Anticipation was high for a good session to start off the year.  Since New Year's Eve, Southern California has been blessed with summer-like weather - blue skies and highs in the upper 70's.  

But Saturday morning dawned chilly (39 degrees) and gray in Pasadena.

Arriving in San Clemente, it was still gray and a steady offshore breeze combed the peaks, but brought a penetrating chill.  Chunky sets, 7 - 9 foot faces, were rolling in from the west as a handful of sticks and two bodysurfers struggled to maintain position at the main peak against a sweeping current running South.  It actually felt good to don the warmth of the new 4-3 wetsuit.
By the time we swam out - initially, only Sailfish (Mark Ghattas) and myself, the two bodysurfers were gone - turns out that Eric Ackerman and Dave MacPherson did dawn patrol while we were waiting until after the early high tide had started to drop, and only a few sticks were spread out to the south.  We started North of the Main Peak, at the "corner" visible in shot above.  For the first half-hour, I didn't get much and was beginning to worry.  Then, a repeat of the wave above - good 8 foot face - but with a softer corner, popped up.  A fast drop in was followed by nice, long slide on a fat face eventually walling up for full-tube end.  Even with no more waves, the day was made!

But there was plenty more.  After about an hour, the O'Gormans showed up, and Hugh set up shooting on the shore.  Shawn, Cheyne and Ian O'Gorman joined us in the water, while Heather and her daughters in law watched their husbands from ashore.  The cloud cover thinned and the sun sporadically peaked through as the wind slackened and the surface glassed over.

Sailfish appears above, while Shawn shows some real speed, below.  These shots - best viewed full size if you click on them - are courtesy Hugh Berenger.

Cheyne is caught styling, below:

This was one of my last waves.  A moderate, right wall, that I drove to the end, mindful of the photographer ashore.  I paid the price, though, as I scraped my forehead on a shallow bar underneath and came up a bit bloody.  Ah, well ... price to pay later with Heather, though!!!!
Hugh caught a quick-post session debrief amidst abundant white water...
A very satisfying start to 2012!
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