Sunday, October 18, 2015

What? Me Blog?

"Are you gonna blog this session?" Matt Hughes asked, halfway through yesterday's session at the Park.  

Matt's a regular reader of the blog and has joined us several times for sessions in the Park.  In his mid-twenties, Matt used to surf pretty much everything - from handblades and kickboards through bodyboards to short boards, long boards and stand up.  Now, though, he pretty much concentrates on bodysurfing, perhaps with a handplane or kickboard.  

"I don't know," I replied.  "Not sure what I'd write about."

It was a minimal session.  Early on, Mark Ghattas and I were debating the appropriate rating for WetSand's five-star system.  Most of the time, we agree.  Mark was pushing for a 1, while I was giving it a 2, because, after all, there were some waves.  

There was, indeed some swell, ranging from one to three feet, but all save the largest of that range of small waves was just breaking on the rounded rocks that had been exposed as much of the sand along the waterline was washed away by last week's heavy swell.  Nobody wants to be dumped on grinding, softball-sized rocks. Even if you can get your feet under you, you're risking an ankle sprain or bruise as the waterwater grinds them around.

We moved up and down the break, looking for a spot with some consistency.  The only others in the water were the four kids that appear to have become regulars on marginal days, launching early into waves on their softtops, then shoving a skimboard off the front and leaping onto it to carve up the shorebreak.

Unless you want a broken or badly dinged board, yesterday was a day for determined bodysurfers and the kids on the softtop/skim board combo.

The surface was ruffled, not quite choppy, but the water was warm and the air blessedly cool, at last.  And waves did come, occasionally.  In 90 minutes, I had three or four decent waves - maybe three to four foot faces that broke deep enough to be in water throughout, including a couple of tubes.  Between, there were maybe a dozen quick slides and quicker pull-outs on smaller waves.

In between, there was the good vibe that comes from having the ocean to all to just the few of us with a shared passion, a few waves and loose banter.  Followed, of course, by a classic breakfast at Adele's.  I can't think of what else I would rather have done.  So, I guess, that's what I'll write about.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Bigger Doesn't Necessarily Mean Better (but it helps)

I thought maybe today would be a five star session.  Certainly four star: a solid, long interval groundswell from deep in the South Pacific mixing with a more westerly, but still long interval, swell from the West, from Hurricane Oho.  Add in offshore winds and, a peaking high tide notwithstanding, it's gotta be big and peaky and, well, great, right?

The view walking across the tracks present the welcome sight of well-defined ranks of swells, a regiment marching toward shore.

And there was the pod of sticks, scratching out toward overhead peaks.

But something was just a little bit ... funky.  

The high tide had all but the largest sets breaking almost on the sand.  We arrived at the peak of the tide, with the idea of being out there as the tide dropped and the swell started to hit the deeper sandbars, but even 90 minutes later, after it had dropped a foot or two, it was still breaking very close in.  

Despite the offshore wind, the lip was folding in high on the wave - see the shot above.  At least once, I was lined up on a beautiful, peeling, head-high left, set right where I should normally be to be slotted in the curl, and - wham! - the lip broke right on my back, prematurely ending that wave!  

Faces were 5 - 7 feet, regularly, with some of 9 feet or more...should be great!  But one wave would be closed out; the next would not catch the bar and break inside; the peak on the next would be out of reach.  Too many collapsed on themselves.

Mid-way through the session, I had one great left.  Well overhead, lined up just north of the rocks, a fat, open face peeling to the north.  I was in position.  Ghattas, just north of me, looked at me and asked, "you got it?"  "Yep!"  A fast slide on an oversized, steep face, while the wave held up, peeling north.  Close out and pop up out the back, hooting!  Where are the rest of those???

In something between 1-1/2 and 2 hours, Mark and I each got maybe a dozen waves, at best a third of which good rides.  After several pitch & drops, I had one good right to close the session.  The rest of the good ones - maybe three waves -were lefts.  Neil Frank had joined us, and finished the session without a single score.  Good news for Neil, though, was that the fin he'd lost first entering was found at the end of the session.

So, it certainly was no five star session.  Not even four.  However, at a solid three stars, what bad can you say about nearly two hours floating bareback in over 70 degree water in October, among overhead waves with a few real screamers to make the day?