Sunday, April 29, 2012

The EY Sessions, Day 1: The Photos! (Hugh B)

Before turning to Day 2 of the EY sessions, it's a pleasure to present a selection of Hugh's photos from Saturday morning.  As always, click for full screen.

First, a nice capture of the glossy surface, nice wave formation and sunny setting.  I was working these lefts, just South of the rocks that divide what we call "Main Peak" from "LG1."

This shot gives a feel for the size of some of the sets.  Definitely got to more than head high!

There were positively some nice tube rides.  Hugh has some extended sequences that I look forward to seeing.

I mentioned how crowded it got with the sticks.  At times, it was challenging to navigate around them as they paddled out.  This isn't the only time...

EY_\, below, was continually stoked, showing the form that made him "King of the Smallies."

Our septuagenarian, Neil "the Real Deal" Frank, also was in good form.  There were some rights!

 Mark "Sailfish" Ghattas, my most regular partner in the Park since EY_\'s departure, tucked in the curl in a nice right.

The face of STOKE!  EY_\, after a full morning's surf.

Big THANKS, as always, to Hugh B.  Such an outstanding photographer.  I urge all to check out his Flickr site, which includes some highlights of his surf photography, and his Smug Mug Surf Sessions, where more of his State Park surf photography is on display and available for purchase...suitable for framing!

And, to close, an appropriate shot:

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Stentor of Stoke: The EY_\ Sessions, Day 1

On occasion, I have referred in prior posts to Eric EY_\ Yeisley, the King of the Smalllies, founding member of San Clemente State Park's Golden Triangle Bodysurfing, creator of the Southern California Bodysurfing Championships held during the San Clemente Ocean Festival - the Park's own Stentor of Stoke.

During my first years of discovering the Park and its pod of bodysurfing denizens, EY_\ was the one always ready to catch some waves, always making the best of any swell, ready to proclaim, "the Park delivers!"  Spinmaster extraordinaire, it was with EY that I spent more hours in the water than anyone.  It was EY who had the insatiable appetite to "feast at the trough of stoke."  Two years ago, EY moved to Colorado.  Two months later, he returned in reprise visit to the Park but has not bodysurfed since.  Until now!  Today, for EY, the Park delivered!

On my arrival, I found peaky shoulder and head high sets consistently pushing in on a glossy surface.  Craig was already suiting up at his truck, and Neil greeted me as I walked out to check it out, "there are WAVES out there!"  There were, indeed.  In the photo above, the shiny head in the foreground is Brent Crawdaddy Crawford's ill-hirsute pate. 

There were a half-dozen surfers out, sharing the peak with three bodysurfers (see below).  I caught EY's head in one shot (above) before my patience to suit up and swim out ran thin.

Not only head high, plus, peaks were showing, but some nice, long, peeling lefts (below) and rights.

The water had got up to 65 yesterday, but dropped back to 61 by early morning.  Nonetheless, the air was warm, the sun sparkled off a glossy surface under a cloudless sky...and there were nice waves! 

As a true local patrolled the break (above), I quickly donned the 3:2 and headed up the beach.  The sticks had started filling in, and Crawdaddy and EY had exited the water for a short break.  Jeff JPL Lashbrook had been in with them, but was headed back to the lot.  Hugh was ashore with his camera gear.

There was a relatively narrow "X" (take off zone) at the Main Peak, and too many sticks had settled in there, so we headed further South to LG1, where we could spread out from the south edge of the rocks and pick off the scattered peaks.  Mark Ghattas arrived shortly to join in.  It stayed glassy and fun, save for a lull as the tide bottomed out around 9:20, with plenty of rides for all.  Over the two hours, though, it appeared that word had gotten out that the Park was working today, as more & more sticks filled in from the steps through LG 1.  Eventually, scratching for waves became a little too much.  Gradually, the pod gathered ashore.

As we left for breakfast at Pipes, to discuss tomorrow, which should be a repeat of today with even a little more size, I counted 30 (!) boards out at the main peak, and that doesn't include another dozen or so spread out around LG1 or North of the peak.  Don't recall ever seeing so many clumped at the Peak, except during summer.  I just hope we can stake out a peak for those of the body, tomorrow!

Today, though: the Park delivers!
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Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Grey Earth Day

This is a late, and short, blog entry from anticipation of better things this weekend.  Sunday, Earth Day, wasn't bad, but nothing special, either.
As the title suggests, it was a gray morning.  A string of sizzling days inland had left the coast in deep overcast and fog, drizzling off and on throughout the morning.  Hopefully, not a preview that June gloom has set in early!

A hope of warmer water lead us to don lighter suits - I was in the 3/2 for the first time since Decembers - but it felt pretty chilly getting in.  Although, as the pictures show, the size was sufficient to ride and it was typically peaky, Mark Ghattas and I found that we had the Main Peak area all to ourselves through the 90 minute session, with an occasional stick joining us. 

Crumbly at first, it actually got quite fun - even a few waves hollow enough for a decent tube ride - about halfway into the session.   As we surfed, a team of younger locals, including one who often joins us bodysurfing, picked the sand clean of trash in honor of Earth Day.

It was a decent session, especially since we didn't have to scratch against a band of sticks and sponges for our waves.  Always good to get wet!  

But Colorado refugee and former Park regular, Eric "EY_\" Yeisley, is on his way to SoCal for a rare immersion, arriving tomorrow.  A modest swell is on its way to meet the King of the Smallies, spinmaster EY_\, and back-to-back sessions are planned for Saturday & Sunday.  

Can't wait.
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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Half and Half

I last surfed four weeks ago. 

It was ok, but far from great.  Then, the next two weekends, swell and conditions were poor. 

Last weekend, the biggest swell of Spring arrived with some stellar days, especially Monday.  Just check out Hugh's Smug Mug Album how the Park can look when it's really firing!  Unfortunately, I was looking at the Gulf of Mexico from Southwest Florida.

What a difference a few days can make.  The swell backed off through the week with meager projections for today.  But I'm gone again next weekend, no wind was forecast and a warm, sunny day was in the offing.  After a bit of debate, I persuaded Mark to join me and committed to the drive.

On arrival, it looked ok - waist, even chest, high peaks and a smooth surface.  A passel of sticks were out at the Peak, a good sign.  But look a little closer, at the shot below.  The peak above turns very fat on either side - after the middle breaks, the sides just slide to shore without breaking.  Fun, perhaps, for a longboard or standup, but not much for bodysurfing.
Undeterred, we suited up to swim out.  Casey, a local friend of Hugh, who has been out bodysurfing with increasing frequency, came up the stairs from the beach, insufficiently inspired to go out.  Understandable, when just a few day ago, he was enjoying, fast, perfectly-formed, "DOH" (double-overhead) waves right here. 

When I first swam out, hands aching in the 56 degree water but the rest of me warmed by my 4-3, I immediately caught a wave.  Kind of.  As soon as I dropped in, it turned fat (see above), and most of the ride was a lot of kicking on my part.  Oh, well, there will be others...right?

Yes, but not for 25 minutes!  25 minutes as swells came in, not quite big enough to break over the sand bar, but enticingly close.  It's frustrating to look at what should be a nice, three to three and a half foot face that humps up and then just flattens out without breaking.  25 minutes can be a long time in 56 degree water, even if it it sunny and windless. 

Then, even though the tide was still rising, the swell started catching the bars and we had waves - small, but decent, some quite fun - for an hour.  Lefts and rights, even a tube or two.  Hugh came by on his SUP (stand up paddle) and started catching them with us.  Another of the local bodysurfers, also on SUP, paddled up and caught a few.  Yes, their surf mode of choice still was far more appropriate than ours, but we all were having some fun.

After an hour, I told Mark I was going in after one more wave.  I waited for the wave, and waited, and waited.  And waited.  Really.  After an hour where we were getting waves every 2 - 3 minutes.  But the code says you finish with a wave.  So I moved in.  Further in.  And yet further in.  Nothing. 

During our hour of waves, the pod of sticks gradually dissipated, leaving the Peak to just the four of us, while a gaggle of Easter visitors to the campgrounds above LG 1 floundered on their boards to the South of us.  During our lull, incomprehensibly, six or seven new sticks paddled out to wait it out with us. 

After 25 minutes, I was at the shore.  25 minutes without a wave. Again.  The morning was a tale of two halves.  The first and last 25 minutes each with literally, absolutely, nothing to ride.  No stars on a scale of four.  The middle hour, fun and playful surf...a weak 3 stars. 

But, again, it was a morning in the water, on a beautiful Spring day.  Beats about anything else.
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