Friday, August 24, 2012

Mid-Week Lull in Newport

Gradually working back into it as the swelling reduces in the ankle jammed on Sunday.

Wednesday, 4:00 pm - 6th Street
First outing was just playing around for half an hour in messy shorebreak at 6th Street Wednesday afternoon.  The water has warmed up to an incredible mid-seventies while the weather has deteriorated to what has been the norm for Newport: cool, overcast mornings followed by clear afternoons plagued by onshore winds.

[The only photos I have are from this Wednesday "session".]

 Warm, clear water
 "Wave of the Day"

Thursday, 3:00 pm - 18th Street

Yesterday (Thursday), Joe & I biked down to 18th Street about 3:00, riding West (remember, the peninsula beach faces due South) into a stiff wind.  The waves were much weaker but there were shoulder high sets and the cross-wind created some sections that could be ridden.  Surprisingly, the current had reversed and was pushing from East to West.
Sticks were pretty well spread from 19th to 17th.   At first, we were tangling with some fairly aggro urchins who were launching into anything that they could, irrespective of anyone else.  One wave, I set up perfectly on the corner and started to drop in.  Five feet left of me, a 13-year-old started paddling for it and noticed I was taking off.  Rather than backing off, or even dropping in on me, he shot his board straight out, directly into my path (but narrowly missing me).

Trying to stay entertained in Wednesday's junk

I moved South/East and near 17th St. encountered Sully's son & daughter, and rode with them for a while.  After they exited, Billy Viergever and his son Chad entered.  As Bill and Chad walked East past the 18th St. LG stand, the black ball went up; a bit of a surprise for so late in the afternoon.  Joe exited to move down to 10th where he could still surf.

Between the Sullivans' departure and the  Viergevers' arrival came a memorable moment:  As I was swimming out to a set wave, I saw a dark form shooting across inside the swell.  The water was a bit murky from the cross wind, and I couldn't tell whether it was a dophin or sea lion.  As the wave started to crest and I swam into the middle of it, I kept my eyes open under the water.  Two dolpin shot past - one at most two feet below me and the other directly above me in the crest of the wave - riding the swell across, above and below me, as I swam outward.

As I exited, I stopped to chat with the 18th Street guard.  The topic turned to blackball, and he acknowledged that it was kind of unusual to put it up so late.  He said the commander had driven by and instructed him to do so, since a kid on a board had dropped in on a bodysurfer.  Since I was the only bodysurfer around at the time, it appears that the the punk move narrated above met with justice - paid for, however, by all the surfers out at the time.  Somehow, I suspect the kid remains clueless.

Friday, 9:30 am - 18th Street

Hoping for better conditions, Joe & I biked back down to 18th in a light drizzle from the heavy overcast overhead.  The swell was a bit smaller than yesterday, but cleaner, with a much gentler breeze from the West.  Boards were scattered from 19th to 17th, and a learn-to-surf class was wallowing halfway between 18th & 17th, protected by a lifeguard in a car ashore.  The water remains the warmest its been in years, in the mid-70's.

There were a few lulls, but shoulder high sets, evidencing little of the juice that consistently marked last weekend but with nice little left and right corners, rolled in with regularity.  Not long after we entered, Sully appeared on the shore, doffed his beach hat, and waded out to join us.  For most of an hour, Joe, Sully and I had the West half of the stretch from 17th to 18th to ourselves to enjoy the fun, but unchallenging surf.

After a pleasant, 90-minute session, I swung the bike West a half block along the boardwalk and stopped for a chat with Bill and Chad, as various Viergevers came in and out to enjoy their morning coffee overlooking Newport Point.

It was still drizzling slightly as I rode back to the house and iced down the ankle.

Soakin' it up after Wednesday's swim

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Newport Recap - Log and Photos

Not much new here, but I felt like it would be worthwhile to weave together a timeline and photos, focused on the sessions from Thursday, August 16 through Sunday, August 19.  Photos start on Saturday.

Session 1: 5:00 pm, Thursday - 6th Street

Solo session at 6th Street.  Sultry, hot afternoon.  Trunked it in 68 degree water. Powerful, shoulder-high forerunners of the approaching south swell, with little west runners splitting off for some sustained rides.   Smooth surface.  Half-hour freshen up session on arrival.

Session 2: 11:00 am, Friday - 15th Street

Neil Frank joined me about a half-hour into a 100-minute session.  Warm & cloudless day; trunked it again in 67 degree water.  South swell filling in with occasional monster sets - a few feet overhead, heavy, closed-out grinders.  The more consistent, shoulder-to-head high sets, though still thick, heavy & hollow, held open for decent face time and often had ride-able shoulders.  The only session of the weekend to be red-flagged by the lifeguards.  Some rips running through, but not too much of a current to fight.

Session 3: 3:00 pm, Friday - 6th Street

My sons, Allan & Joe arrived, along with Kevin Schwimer, and were anxious for a taste so we walked "straight across" and jumped in for an all-bodysurfing session.  Much like Thursday, but now with more consistent head-high height, and water warming perhaps to 70.  Still thick, hollow and heavy but with sections there to be ridden.  Surprisingly smooth surface for mid-afternoon. 

Session 4: 8:30 am, Saturday - 17/18th Street

Another sultry morning on the bay:

This time, the boys were all out on boards: Allan & Joe, Kevin & Jeffrey Schwimer, Bennett Givens and Sam Abeger.  Big surf in evidence as we checked it out.

To begin, it was amazingly empty south of 18th, and not many out even at 19th.  I hung along the south end, but we had 17th - 18th almost totally to ourselves, as we frolicked in head high & overhead waves.  Plenty of peaks and shoulders amongst the close-outs.

The water was a little chillier - 64 or 65 to start - so I was in the spring shorty for the only time out of the seven sessions.  There was a slight offshore, feathering the lip, but still a basically smooth surface.  The steady current out of the South and a series of rips sweeping along the shore made the 90 minute session very tiring, as I never stopped swimming.  

Perhaps my best ride of the swell came in this session on a set wave left.  Kevin was at the peak, but I was sitting perfectly (for bodysurfing) on the corner.  Kevin smiled and lauched me with a quiet "go!"  After a steep, tight drop in to the bottom, I arched back, caught traction and climbed back up the face and trimmed as the overarching lip gradually caught and overtook me...the Newport Pier a narrowing circle down the line. 

Session 5: 4:00 pm Saturday - 6th Street

A full crew out for bodysurfing & bodyboarding fun "straight across" the peninsula: Stan Schwimer (in water & with camera) along with his sons Jeffrey & Kevin, Allan, Joe, Bennett, Sam, Dan Herr.  Water warm enough to trunk again without chill over 90 minutes and, amazingly, insignificant afternoon wind once again.



The waves were shoulder to head high, still packing plenty of punch, a fun mix of closeouts and shoulders.  In recent years, 6th Street has been basically unsurfable, but here it is, a third straight afternoon...

Session 6: 9:00 am Sunday -  17th/18th/19th Street

The boys paddle out for perhaps the best session of the set.  Glassy surface; regular head and overhead sets; peaks and shoulders...and plenty of tubes!

Allan, Joe, Kevin, Jeffrey, Sam and and Mike Gross all were out on boards.  I was the lone bodsurfer - back to trunking it in 67 degree water - as Stan Schwimer shot 1,500 frames ashore.  
Kevin Schwimer

Once again, the strong south current and wandering rips made it an exhausting session.  I took a short break after 90 minutes, then went back in at 16th Street and drifted all the way to 19th as I caught three last waves.
Joseph Haldeman, backside lefts

Allan Haldeman, backside right

While it was fairly empty when we started, it did not take long for word to get out that the Point was firing, and 19th to 17th filled in quickly.  Between 19th and 18th it was very peaky...and very crowded.  Just below 18th, though, some great tube rides were being nailed by some of the better locals.

I got a few, too

A couple of hours later, an exhausted group watched from ashore for a while, amongst the growing, weekend beach crowd, driven to the ocean side by sweltering inland heat, clear skies and warm water.  Newport the way that I remember it.

Session 7: 4:00 pm Sunday - 6th Street

Though the swell, now, was definitely fading, the remarkable run at 6th Street continued.  The water continues to warm up under cloudless skies and mild winds.  Down from the head-high, plus, of the last couple of days, the swell was still heavy but generally shoulder high, sometimes head high.  But still the surprising, smooth, afternoon surface and slight corners to dig into.  

Once again, Allan, Joe, Kevin, Jeffrey, Sam and Dan were out, a mixture of bodysurfing and bodyboarding as Joe and Jeffrey sought to perfect a sponge-based game of chicken.  Early in the 90 minute session, I jammed my ankle on a smaller closeout on the sand, but it didn't really tighten up until the evening ... good timing for a few days off!

And so the (reflected) sun set on an exceptional, four-day run of hot days, continuous sun, calm winds, warm water and powerful swell in Newport.
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Monday, August 20, 2012

Newport Weekend: The Boys ... photos only

Normally, I stick purely to bodysurfing, but I think a few shots of those with whom I've shared the last few days are warranted:

The boys going to work Sunday morning at the Point.



Kevin  Schwimer

Joe backside barrel

Ok...sponges permitted...6th Street - Jeffry

Sam Abeger

Dan Herr



Mike Gross

Yours truly

All shots by Stan Schwimer ... thanks!!!!!!
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Newport Weekend: The Photos (of HHH)

Sunday morning at the Point, Stan Schwimer was ashore photographing as his sons, Kevin & Jeff joined my sons, Allan & Joe, and several others, and me.  The others were on boards, I was alone, bodysurfing.

Stan got some great shots, a few of which - of me - are here.  I'll see if I can compile a few of the boys, on their boards, in an additional post that conveys what a fun morning it were Friday and Saturday, as well.

Who's having fun????
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Classic Newport Weekend

Four incomparable days to start vacation, certainly one of (if not the) best four day surf sequences in my experience.  Sultry, sunny days, a large south swell and lazy, if any, wind.  Seven great sessions spread over four days.

It started out Thursday afternoon, on arrival.  Immediately, I walked over to the 6th Street beach which has not broken decently in years.  Trunked it in high 60's water as early forerunners of the south swell presented heavy, shoulder-high sets.  There was little west swell, creating runners that offered some non-close-out rides.  A 90 minute solo session left me salivating for the days to come.

Early Friday, Neil Frank texted he was headed down to catch the early arrival of long interval south aimed at Newport.  We missed connections ashore at 18th Street but eventually met in the water for a late morning session.  Yellow flag when we swam out, they shifted to red flag about 15 minutes before a monster set rolled in, almost catching the lifeguard boat unsuspecting.  A lot of very heavy water was moving through, but just inside the largest sets - which were all closeouts - there were some great shoulders for the patient...which became the pattern for the next few days.  Still warm enough to trunk it for a couple of hours.

By late afternoon Friday, the beginnings of the collection of the extended Haldeman and Schwimer clans had commenced, and I hit 6th Street again, this time with sons Allan & Joe and Kevin Schwimer.  A little smaller than 18th in the morning, there was even more to ride in the heavy, long interval, head-high waves.

All  night Friday, I kept waking up to the sound of pounding surf...2-1/2 blocks away.  Anticipation was high for the Saturday session...theoretical peak of this heavy South swell.   Below, the boys check it out at 8:00 - mid-rising-tide - at the 17th Street LG stand.  Head high & overhead sets, looked fairly closed out from shore.  Paul Tordella had checked it earlier and moved on to the Park.  

The description gets repetitive: very powerful surf, with plenty of closeouts, but lots to ride, head high and overhead as well.  Much more ride-able than it looked from shore.  Just all fun.  I was out with my sons, Allan & Joe, the Schwimer boys and Sam Aberger, all on boards, all totally stoked.  

Once again, in the afternoon,  6th Street presented surprisingly fun (and large, and powerful) surf.  The extended group was all out, whooping it up!

Sunday, the swell was supposed to be fading.  It may have been the best of the three mornings.  Maybe just the combination of swell size and tide were right, but some great rides were had, for Stan Schwimer to capture ashore.  More of yours truely will follow in a following post, but here's a taste:

Stan did a great job of capturing the day, with lots of barrel runs and a few monster sets, one of which has caught Joe inside:

As were both Friday and Saturday, Sunday was surprisingly uncrowded when we swam out about 9:00, but word got out and the Point, from 19th to 17th, filled in pretty quickly.  There were some amazing rides - the shot below captures a bit of the size and tubular action we were playing with.

It's tough to do it all justice.  Seven great sessions from Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon.  The last, back at 6th for another fiberglass-free session (as all have been there), finally evidenced fade in the swell, but still plenty to ride.  I fear an ankle twist from a shallow feet-first landing in shorebreak may keep me out for a couple of days...but I have no complaints.  Four days have been the Newport of memories...sun-drenched, sultry days; heart-pumping, heavy mackers up and down the peninsula; cool, but trunk-able, clear glassy water; friends and stoke.  

I may be 1/3 of the way through vacation, but I'm 100% satisfied.

[Second post with a few more shots from the Sunday session to follow]
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Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Park-worthy Post

For several weeks, we've endured the tease of early week forecast for 4-5 weekend swells, only to watch them back off during the course of the week, ending up with paltry 1-3 foot forecasts...and waves.  It's been four months - back to when E&Y_\ came out to visit us from Colorada - since we've had some consistent, clean head-high surf.  This week seemed to be shaping up differently, with the swell projections holding through the week.

But when I rose today, the Surfline wasn't very encouraging: "Glassy, but real inconsistent this morning. Expect clean, peaky waves staying workable when they do show."  The "inconsistent" and "when they do show" caused doubt.  Yeah, I was going to surf today, regardless, but - starving for some "real" waves while feeding off a steady diet of South Bay Smallies for the last month, younger son Joe was also driving down from his Venice abode and some other, irregulars to the Park, were planning on joining us as well.  

The 73 degrees when I left Pasadena at 6:30 wasn't so surprising, but I was surprised by sunshine and a similar temperature as I pulled into the Calafia lot - perhaps the first day this summer that hasn't been socked in.  However, the lot was nearly empty ... a VERY bad sign in the middle of summer with a good swell, early sun, hot day, warm water and clean conditions!  Bracing myself for disappointment, I got out of the car with camera in hand to the welcome sound of crashing waves.  It had been a long time since I'd heard that crash and rumble.  

None of the others had arrived yet, but a solid, head-high set swept in as I crossed the tracks to check it out.  Not surprisingly (given the empty lot), there was only one board out at the Main Peak and I was surprised to see a bodysurfer's head there as well.

As I watched, the shape was a bit inconsistent - see the smooth line above but the lumpiness below - but the size seemed to be pretty regularly shoulder to head high.  Within just a few minutes, Mark Ghattas and Joe had joined me at the rail to watch.  Below, Paul Tordella, the bodysurfer already in the water, checks out a head-high face as he swims out.
 Further South, at what we call LG1 (Life Guard stand #1), at the base of the trail leading down from the State Park campground, over a dozen surfers were clumped (photo below), while the closer, Main Peak, area, virtually vacant of surfers, beckoned strongly to Mark, Joe and me as we checked from the rail.  Today was not one for patient lingering, analyzing the best spot amidst surf chatter.  "Let's go!," Joe exclaimed and we were back across the tracks to the lot to slip into trunks.

Yeah, unquestionably, it was a trunk-it day.  Overnight, the water had only dropped (from a high yesterday of 72) to 69. The early morning air was almost sultry in its warmth, the breeze was a mild off-shore and the sun was shining.  (There even came a point during the session, which was a continual war against the persistent current out of the South when I actually felt myself sweating.)

And, what a session!  So welcome after a nearly four month swell/condition drought.  The shape was inconsistent.  There were some absolutely perfect, clean, straight line lefts.  But there were also closeouts and plenty of less organized waves like the one observed by Paul in the photo a couple of shots above.  But, it felt SO good to spot the corner on a 7 foot (face) left, drop in, and plane smoothly through tight, fast sections into an eventual cover-up and close out.  Or to find hollow rights, sun-lit tubes with Cottons Point in a telescope circle at the end.  

While one of my lefts was the best wave I've had in at least four months, and there were plenty of other great rides today, I give the wave of the day to Joe.  Yeah, he was the only one on a board (after his classmate, Sam Abeger, who came down from Newport to join us today stashed his board, donned his fins and swam out for some purist surfing - is that purest?), but still...Joe & I eyed a two-wave set lining up.  Joe started paddling out, but, to his frustration, I started towing a ride out by looping my hand through his leash.  I caused Joe to miss the first wave of the slightly overhead set, but #2 lined up and presented a peak and corner trailing left that surfers dream about.  Joe spun on his board, gave two swift strokes, and dropped in.  He made it through an early, fast, close out section and into a long line that stretched well into the inside break.  From the back, his head would appear as he stomped and lifted high on the face then disappear as he bent and drove down, gaining speed.  Hoots from throughout chased him as he finally appeared, way inside.  This is why we invest in the drive down to the Park!

We ended up with a great pod this morning.  I noted Sam Abeger, a high school classmate of Joe's now living in the Newport area, came down to join us, on fiberglass and, for the most part, of the body.  Shortly, "the Lawyer," Dave McPherson, also swam out, venturing down from Dana Point & Strands.  His usual companion, Eric Ackerman, headed up to the Huntington Beach sessions this morning instead.  Hugh got a great shot of the Lawyer: (click here).

They weren't all close outs, but a decent shot of the nice conditions come through in Hugh's shot of me: (click here).

Yes, Hugh joined us, too, camera in tow.  As always, thanks for shooting, Hugh!

OK, it's been a long time since the last blog entry. Yeah, I've been out, but after the phenomenal run we had from last September through April, it's really tough to put up entertaining discussions of waist-high, and/or wind-swept, lumpy surf.  I need it.  A day out there in anything is so meaningful.  But it's a little tough to write about.  Today was easy.
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