Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Blog-Worthy Session in Newport

A week on vacation at the beach, on the waterfront at 17th Street on the Newport peninsula.  Warm days and evenings, clear skies, beautiful water and the warmest water temperatures in memory.  Ending Friday, it was a fantastic vacation, but offered little grist for a blog focused on surf.  Until Thursday, the surf rarely exceeded waist-high wind swells barely able to propel anything other than a longboard.  Thursday afternoon and Friday morning offered a tad more, some fun, stomach-high waves, but still pretty anemic.

The only answer was to return to the peninsula Saturday morning, when a long-interval ground swell from the south was expected to mix in with the western wind swell we'd frolicked in on Thursday and Friday.  Meeting up with Derrik "MuDsHaRk" Sciarra and Mark "Sailfish" Ghattas in the 15th Street lot about 7:45, we were quickly assured that'd we'd not be disappointed.

On a hot, sultry morning, the glassy smooth surface glittered as well defined lines offered thick, dredging head-high, and sometimes bigger, breakers.  No wind to mess it up; little current to fight; and the west swell to help break the otherwise closed out south swell lines into peaks and corners.  Fast, steep rights in pitching tubes interspersed with longer lefts, peeling slowly enough to ride into the deep inside but still with enough speed and power to thrill.

Oh, but what about the crowd on a five-star morning?  None.  Nope.  A scattering of sticks and spongers were spread out from 16th Street down to 19th, but the swell was hitting everywhere equally from Schoolyards at 13th Street to 19th.  Through a 2-1/2 hour session, occasionally, two or three might drift through but there was not a wave that one of us had to give up.  We worked between the corner of Schoolyards at 13th to in front of the guard stand at 15th essentially without interference or competition.

This is what a summer Newport swell is supposed to be.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Newport Peninsula, a Year Later ...

Well, I committed to blogging on Newport irrespective of whether it was epic or flat.  What a difference a year makes!  As expected, it's been much closer to flat than epic, whilst a year ago it was, quite literally epic: a strong south swell generated by Lowell followed by the region's biggest summer surf in 25 years generated by Marie.

Allan on a mini-left - from our bedroom balcony

Fortunately, though, it's not been completely flat.  When the wind hasn't been too much onshore and the tide hasn't been too high, there have been waves that could be ridden.  Knee to waist high, sometimes encroaching into the stomach to chest range, has been the rule for the last four days.  Too crumbly when the tide gets to its afternoon peak, and sometimes troubled by "morning sickness" - a phenomenon of choppy, jumbled surface early the in the day resulting from onshore winds in the late night and early morning hours - there also have intervals of clean surf, smooth surfaces and hollow mini-tubes. 

Kevin Schwimer right / Allan left - not a bad bedroom view!

Combine that with the clearest water I've ever seen in Newport, where the bottom six feet below is crystal clear through a warm blue-green water tone seeming more like Hawaii than SoCal/Newport, tropical water temperatures in the low 70's and an abundance of sun after mid-morning, and there can be little cause for complaint. 

Then cap that with a perfect, beachfront location between 17th & 18th Streets (the middle of the stretch from 14th to 19th that is my preferred surfing haunt in Newport) sporting an unbeaten view of that sweep of beach ... a bit of heaven!

Meanwhile, the forecast is for some swell to start to show Thursday, so we might even get some real surf before our departure Friday morning.  And, of course, I can always come back down for the day Saturday or Sunday.

However, here's a glimpse of how 17th Street looked - right in front of the house that we're in - a year ago:

The Marie photo/blogs are here:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Tale of Two Sessions

Two weekends
Two favorite surf spots
Two sessions

Seeking a south swell remnants of a tropical storm at 15th Street on the Newport peninsula last weekend.  Looking for a bit of energy from reliable San Clemente State Park on an off-weekend this weekend.

Success with both!  

On the peninsula, we look for meaty, hollow, steamroller lines when the South comes in, long period.  In the park, we look for peaks and corners pitched up by the sandbars.  While last weekend was substantially larger, as to be expected, the sessions weren't as different as might be expected.
Glassy Newport
Newport was surprisingly peaky.  It appears that some sandbars have developed through spring and early summer, morphing the shoulder and head high lines into hollow rights amongst the peeling lefts.

Sailfish Slides Right at Newport

At SCSP, we were just hoping for something to ride, and it was surprisingly fun, with the small mix of south and west swells periodically aligning over the sand bars for nice corners running in both directions.

Chest High Peaks in the Park
There was little crowding in either spot.  In both, we headed to the south of the better-known sections, to 15th, rather than 17th-19th in Newport, and beyond LG1, rather than Main Peak in the Park.  At the Park, to our North there was a steady string of summer groms struggling on their sticks, with only a few locals mixed it.  In both places, we had the area that Mark and I were working all to ourselves throughout the session.

Some Lines in the Park

At Newport, I decided to try out a new GoPro Hero Session camera.  The camera is great - downsized from prior GoPros and waterproof itself, rather than needing housing.  But, as with most equipment, it takes getting used to.  One button push turns the camera on and starts filming ... but with about a two-second delay, something I didn't realize until reviewing what I had shot.  Pretty much missed most of the action that I was going after, unfortunately.

GoPro Selfie, Mid-slide in Newport

At SCSP, the deep overcast combined with the smaller waves lead me to stash the camera for the session.

As a result, from Newport, there are only some GoPro stills, while at SCSP, I've got the usual "rail"shots. 

Hugh and Mark at the SCSP Rail

Though Newport is always a couple of degrees colder than San Clemente, despite the fact that it was the end of July, it was completely comfortable "skinning" it through both sessions.  So continues a run of record warm water that's stretched over a year, with no end in sight.