Sunday, February 2, 2014

Belated Blog from a Memorable Swell

Last weekend: through the week we'd been anticipating the first solid swell in ages: peaking on Saturday, lingering into Sunday.  The great news was  that it was hitting pretty much everywhere throughout Southern California, taking the pressure off local spots, dispersing the crowds.  

I met SCSP first-timer, Rick Sherburne, a life-long Newport bodysurfer, at the rail at 8:00 Sunday.  The sun was already glinting off a glassy surface with clean, well formed, long interval, head-high waves coming through.  The long swell interval was hollowing the waves and generating plenty of juice.  Inside, the whitewater was brown with churned up sand.

I only paused long enough to snap a couple of quick shots, not wanting to waste the swell and conditions.   Not many pictures today....

From 2014-01-26

Hugh's van pulled in while we were suited up, and Kahuna (Chuck Herpick) came down to check it out, but not to ride.  For once, Hugh decided to leave his cameras behind and come out and bodysurf with us.

In the water, it was all that was promised.  Beefy, head high and overhead sets streamed in with occasional lulls.  Often closed out, like the wave above, nearly as often they were catching one of the sand bars, setting up workable corners and, occasionally, a long ride to deep inside.  

The waves were sucking out the water underneath, making it disconcertingly shallow underneath, often only a couple of feet.  The bottom tended to drop out on the steeper rights, leaving a free fall into the shallows.  I can't remember spending so much time, pinned to the bottom on my back.

Mark Ghattas and Craig Thomson showed up  in due course, and Rick Ciaccio put in a rare appearance, breaking a long drought on a good day to do it!

Throughout the session, we had the main peak to ourselves. Occasionally, a stick would drift through and share a few waves while the stoke remained high.  Plenty of waves and thin crowds make for great ahola in the water.  For the most part, the handful of sticks were working the peak close to the steps, while another group was down in front of the Park at LG1.

Late in the session, a rangy-looking guy drifted into the main peak area from the North.  Ghattas was taking off on a wave, and the guy started to drop in.  Both ended up pulling out, so Mark gave him a questioning stare.  Which lead to a bizzarre interlude.  In a loud voice, the surfer advised Mark that this was an area for "surfers" and he needed to get out of the water.  He gestured to a lifeguard truck on the shore (who'd been enjoying watching us for the last hour or so) and told Mark to go ask them: these waves are for surfers only.  In a total non-sequitur, the guy asked Mark if he was from Texas and (??) continued on gabbing, asserting that "these waves" are for "real surfers."  

Given that he was a lone board surfer amidst six bodysurfers, it struck all of us as rather absurd, if not quite foolish.  The pack of bodysurfers took it up, parodying the foolish comments.  To his, "Why don't you try catching a wave without your fins?" we answered, with laughter, "Why don't you try catching a wave without your flotation device?"

I caught a long right,  which ended up just inside of him.  One of the others called in, asking how it was.  My response was, "How would I know?  I'm a bodysurfer!  That wave was for a real surfer."

The scene was so absurd, the waves so plentiful and the stoke so high that, rather than being any kind of a downer, the whole thing was just a comic interlude providing additional color to a memorable morning.  

Two hours into the session, I told Mark I was taking the next one in.  He looked at me like I was crazy - quitting already, when it's so excellent.  Persuaded, I lingered another 40 minutes!

When I got home, at Ciaccio's recommendation, I read the article on "kooks"  in the new issue of The Surfers Journal.  It suggests that you know one when you see one.  We saw one Sunday morning.

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