Sunday, March 15, 2015

South Swell? Go to Newport!

A long interval swell out of the south generally plays well at the Newport Point.  Mix in a little west for corners along with Santa Ana conditions making for a hot, sunny day and a bit of offshore breeze, and it's a recipe for fun in my old stomping grounds on the south-facing Newport Peninsula.

The forecast was for a 3.4 foot swell out of 185 degrees, with a small West mixed in.  Shunning the impossible weekend parking and likely crowds of sticks along the jetties to the northwest, we decided to meet at 15th Street.  

As we checked it out, the bright, early sun shrouded Playgrounds (13th St.) in haze to the southeast and a smattering of surfers were spread between 17th and 19th Streets - the Point - to the northwest.  For a while, all we saw were waist to chest high closeouts, leading us to debate trying the jetties (33rd - 50th), which face a little less south, or even head down to the Park, which had been showing small but peaky in the early cams.  But, after a bit, a few corners appeared on some larger waves up at 17th and beyond.  It had been since summer since I'd been out on the Peninsula, so we decided to give it a try, anyway.  Good call!

We swam out about 16th and floated down in front of the LG stand at 17th, where Mark Ghattas and I enjoyed chest and chin high tubes, occasionally head high, held open by the offshore breeze.  There were fast, hollow rights and longer left slides.  Nearly every wave ended with some tube time ... some longer than others.  

For near two hours, we had the spot virtually to ourselves.  Maybe a half-dozen sticks were spread between 18th & 19th, but the only incursions within a block of our spot occurred when, a couple of times, lone bodysurfers came out to surf near our spot.  

The day warmed, high whispy clouds doing little to temper the rising heat brought by early spring Santa Anas.  The cool water - maybe 60-61 degrees - was refreshing, a little chill during the occasional lulls.  Lines of pelicans cruised the swell lines in formation as the shoreline gradually filled in with weekend beachgoers seeking respite from the inland heat.

It was good to get re-acquainted with the heavy hollowness I've known so well throughout my life!

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