Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Park Delivers (Doesn't Disappoint)

Note to the impatient: Scroll down for a Hugh Berenger gallery from the day.
"The Park delivers," Eric ( E_Y ) Yeisley liked to say.

All week, the forecasts were for a solid W swell to arrive late Friday, accompanied by offshore, NW, winds.  But the forecasts were inconsistent.  Surfline projected South Orange County, and the Park, for a great morning ... 5 - 7 foot waves and moderate offshores:

But other reliable wave forecasts ranged as low as 1-3 feet, and some wind forecasts were for howling offshores up to 25 MPH and more.  What to expect?

Polling the various sources, the swell had to be there...the winds might be excessive but the direction was right.  Sticking my neck out, I persuaded my cousin, Charlie Raine, to come down from South Bay and had Paul Tordella leaning that way, as well.  Mark Ghattas already was in.  I was psyched for a solid morning with a good pod in the water.

Checking late Friday, nothing was showing, as yet.  I went to bed with a slight doubt.  Saturday dawned with clear skies ... and not much showing on the cams.  South Bay was closed out (thank the stars) but, while there were a few waves evident in the San Clemente cams, it looked inconsistent at best.  Setting doubt aside, I commenced the trek south.

Before I'd seen the water, Charlie reported, "it looks flat!?!  Or, at least, nearly."  He'd driven down with an open water swimming friend, Ryan Bullock (winner of the last Hermosa to Manhattan pier-to-pier race), and I was anxious for it to be worth his while to drive an hour when all of South Bay was in his back yard.  Oh, no.

But, from the steps, you could see the long interval (18-20 sec.) swell was in the water.  There were only a few scattered sticks out, but it just felt like surf.  A few chest high waves came in, and Charlie and Ryan turned back to pay for parking and suit up.  ...wait (!) ... look at this (!) ....

Maybe not quite epic, but look at that right; check the rooster-comb spray.  

As I turned back to the lot, another set rolled in.  OK, maybe not the 5 - 7  feet anticipated, but nicely- formed, clean and shoulder-high.  

Shortly, a pod of five were headed into the water, a cool 60, spreading out above and below the main peak, which we had nearly to ourselves for the first hour.

Paul, Ryan, Charlie, Mark, Hank
Photo: Hugh Berenger 

 Early on, there were chest and shoulder-high sets with occasional lulls, but building through the morning.  As evidenced in Hugh's photos, the hollow waves offered everyone plenty of tube time.  Even the sticks got some:

GoPro Photo: Hank Haldeman

 The sun was shining in a cloudless, deep blue, winter sky.  The water was sparkling blue-green, surprisingly glassy as the offshore wind continued through the morning. 

GoPro Photo: Hank Haldeman

 In the second hour, the swell continued to grow, as occasional head-high sets became increasingly frequent.  So, too, did the number of surfers, body-boarders, photographers, and even bodysurfers, in the water.  But the stoke remained, the peaks were spread out, and everyone was getting theirs.  Good vibe.

I had several memorable waves, enjoying sliding across increasingly large glossy, open faces.  But, this day, we had the good fortune of having Hugh Berenger ashore to document the day.  All photos below by Hugh Berenger  (click on photo for larger size)

The Park delivers!
  Mark (?)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Swell Sunday Surprise Session

Depending where you looked, swell forecast was 1-2 or 2-3 feet for South San Clemente.  Super high tide, over six feet at 6:45.  Not a recipe for a great session.  Taken at face value, through most of the morning we'd see a barely-breaking surge sweeping up the sand.

Something made me doubt it - there were two west swells coming in, both over 2 feet...they could combine for some reasonable surf.  Well, it appears that most of the surfers in South Orange County believed the forecast, as, on arrival at 8:15, there was only a scattering of long-weekend surfers down from the SC State Park Campground above, south at LG 1 and a couple of locals out at Riveria to the north.  Main Peak was empty as shoulder-high, peaky and bowling waves shimmered under the semi-overcast morning.

I was anxious to get in, lest word get out.  I was half-suited up by the time Mark Ghattas arrived in the lot, and was swimming out at the Main Peak area moments later.

Even before Mark was in the water, I'd caught two hollow rights, both with barrels glowing turquoise in the filtered sunlight.

For over an hour, we had the long stretch from the steps to the rocks entirely to ourselves, save a couple of marines from Texas that were out on surfboards for the first time ever.  Any wave we wanted was ours, and there were plenty of fun ones.

For most of a half hour, the life guard on duty parked where we were surfing and watched from her truck.  We had occasional audience from the strollers drawn to the beach on a warming winter day as the sun burned through the high clouds.

The water was a little cooler - the San Clemente pier has yet to register under 60, but it seemed barely that today.  It was fun with the GoPro today.  I got a lot of clips of Mark, the better of which are in the video below.  A great first session in the Park for 2015!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Del Mar Drizzle (belated post)

Time constraints have made this entry from Sunday's session late, and force it to be brief.  But a very nice session demands blog recognition....sorry, no photos, and haven't had time to extract any GoPro clips...

In San Diego, with a swell - albeit fading - I was vacillating over whether to surf Sunday due to predictions of some sporadic overnight drizzle.  However, I arranged to connect with Tim Barnes to pick up my new DMBC (Del Mar Bodysurfing Club) board shorts that he'd been holding for me.

The "sporadic" part of the predictions proved wrong, and dawn brought proof of continuous overnight precipitation and a steady drizzle.  I headed up to Del Mar to meet Tim, and checked out the surf while waiting.  At 7:30, regular sets in the chest high range were showing, many with surprising peaks and somewhat hollow.  The surface was ruffled by a steady, offshore breeze.  A handful of surfers were scattered about, getting some decent rides.

Tim showed, but, spoiled by a session in Todos Santos the prior day and put off by the rain, didn't get in.  After a short deliberation, I suited up and waded into the coolest water of the season - maybe 60 - and out to the outside break.  Immediately, I scored on a shoulder high (if not bigger), hollow right.  The water was crystal clear and, in the soft light of the early, overcast day, a deep, translucent blue encased me for precious seconds before the close out.  This was quickly followed by a very long left - a bit crumbly, but an easy, slow slide into the deep inside.  I was hooked.

I ended up putting in my longest session in months - nearly 2-1/2 hours - that was interrupted by some long, fairly chilly lulls, but otherwise offered a pretty steady diet of faster, hollow rights interspersed with long, crumbly lefts.

Somewhat after 9, Vince Askey swam out with a small pod of the DMBC.  After over an hour essentially alone, company in the water was welcome, though the timing wasn't great as one of those lulls set in.  Fortunately, it didn't last and some fun ones reappeared.

I extended my session by about a half hour after I initially thought to quit - only a few calf cramps into it - as some larger sets started to reappear.  My persistence was rewarded by my final wave.  

With the exception of a couple of famous breaks, it's pretty rare for a bodysurfer to find a wave that is steep enough and hollow enough to get fully covered up (tubed) but peeling slowly enough that you can come back out of the tube.  On this wave, a feathering right still benefiting from the offshore breeze, I did something I've only done a couple of times previously: not just one cover up and emergence, but two.  As the lip feathered in front of me, still that deep, translucent blue, once then pulled back, and a second time, again pulling back, and then finally pulled ahead of me for a final time.  A long right, in the tube virtually the entire way.  

One of the DMBC crew was perfectly situated inside, at the end of the line, with a perfect view into the tube through most of my ride.  Not only an exceptional ride, but with a witness!

It was still raining as I waded ashore, rinsed and slipped out of my wetsuit.