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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