Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hurricane Marie (Swell) Invades Newport ... the photos!

First, my two photos of the day:

So, few words are necessary.  This is a story for the photos...just some scene setting.  Several days ago, Marie spun west from below Cabo, a Cat 5 hurricane, and threw what's likely the largest swell pulse sent into Southern California since Hurricane Linda in 1997 followed a very similar path at similar wind strength.  An epic swell was headed for Newport, from ideal direction for both the Point and Wedge, peaking Wednesday.

My perspective is that the Point is a surf-boarders wave; Wedge a bodysurfers wave.  So, prior to the 10:00 black ball at Wedge, I first went down to catch the fiberglass action at the Point.  At heights reaching triple overhead, the Point was doing the best it could to mimic Pipeline in Southern California:

Even as I left the 6th Street area at 8:45, traffic headed toward the end of the peninsula, and Wedge, was thick.  As I biked north on the strand, waves boomed and whitewater soared into view over the berms pushed into position last night in defense of the waterfront homes.  Ahead, I could see several hundred people lining the waterline from 16th to 19th, awash with SLRs and VideoCams on tripods and hundreds of hands holding iPhones overhead.

In the sequence below, two surfers share a Point macker.  Both were fully covered up.  The first emerged to applause from the beach.  A full three seconds later - an eternity in the tube! - the second emerged from much deeper, very pumped:

After a half hour of observing the most impressive Newport Point action ever (for me), I turned back south on the bike.  Over on the boulevard, I could see that traffic was now backed up past 18th street - nearly 3 miles north of Wedge.  

On arrival, weaving my way through the thick, milling crowd on the outskirts of the thick band of hundreds lining the shore from the jetty out to Cylinders, I approached the Wedge Crew base area.  Jeff Mitchell strolled over, wondering at what point surf became un-bodysurf-able.  Sean Starky strolled over, very relaxed, to say hi.

The blackball went up at 10:00, but it took another 45 minutes for the thick of fiberglass and bodyboards to thin out.  Most of the crew waited it out a bit, but Sean was swimming out shortly after the flag went up.  Within a few minutes, he'd already snagged a few smaller rides before heading out to the lineup.

Gradually the crew and other bodysurfing adventurers filled in as the flotation devices exited.  Bearded Thomas Van Mellum showed up, his shaved pate white with sunblock, consulted those ashore and quickly joined the gaggle of surfers in the water.

For a period, Starky and TVM dominated the break, between them representing the majority of waves caught.  Jeff Mitchell tucked his curls into a waterpolo cap and joined them.  I saw Jeff master several artful slides deep into the inside, each time swimming shore to stroll back up the beach to the entry point by the jetty.

From here, let the photos speak.  Note that any can be seen, full rez, by clicking on the photo:


Unknown said...

Excellent photos and story Hank! Such an incredible day!
We swam your home beach on the way south...had much fun in the drifty, warbling weirdness.

Craig T said...

Great post Hank! Great to hear our Bbrothers got some command over the epic swell!

JK said...

Tremendous pictures Hank! Makes our east cost hurricane swell look small in comparison