Sunday, December 14, 2014

Packing a Punch in the Park

The rains have gone but the swell from the storm that brought Southern California its heaviest rains in years lingers.  Not as big, perhaps, as yesterday, but a much cleaner swell (and water!) and much more organized, accompanied by an offshore breeze that still left a glassy surface inside.

With almost no tide swing and winds projected to be mild and offshore through midday, timing didn't matter much so I set a leisurely time of 9:00 to rendezvous with Mark Ghattas.  On arrival, I found the storm had sculpted the shore of sand, leaving mini-cliffs of sand along the beach, but also new sandbars that were showing peaks from the rocks to the south all the way up to our steps and further north.  

In response, rather than the customary pack at the Main Peak, surfers were scattered throughout, working the head-high WNW swell as the offshore raked plumes off the pitching lips.

As I observed from the steps, and snapped a few shots, my friend Jamie Knoop appeared, a tantalizing breakfast burrito from Pipe's in hand.  Shortly, Mark pulled in, followed closely by local (body)surfing luminati couple, Bryan Knowles and Scotti Shafer. 

Shortly, we were in the water, remarkably warm (63/64) for December.  Immediately, I caught a head high right with a nice drop in and climb into the face before I was cut off by an oblivious stick.  No sweat.  As the others got out to the lineup, I pulled into a steep, fast left in full layout, making eye contact with Bryan as I slid by under a feathering lip that eventually enclosed me in the first of the day's many tubes.

As hollow as the waves were, they were strangely benign, welcoming today.  The faces held open; tubes remained hollow; closeouts were almost gentle.

I had the GoPro on my wrist, but wasn't concentrating on shooting; today was for riding.  I'll edit and post a composite from the day, but grabbed a fun sequence of Bryan:

 The first shot gives some feel for the size, as Mark looks back on Bryan as he takes off, a wall of wave stretching out behind.
 The mix of swell becomes evident as Bryan slides toward me.
As he reaches me, Bryan tucks into the curl with SCSP signature cliffs behind under a rain-swept blue winter sky.

I had anticipated an hour in the water, it became two and I was reluctant to exit to make commitments back home. A classic winter day in the Park!