Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Plethora of Waves at 15th Street

Quality or quantity?  Today's story was quantity.

Last weekend, I caught at most ten waves, every one an "A."  Big, fast, challenging.  Ten was completely fulfilling, and, when it starts to get big, you really can only catch them so often.  One every ten minutes is plenty.

Southern California was hit by pretty massive surf yesterday.  I didn't go.  Even if not quite beyond my capabilities, I flew in from New York Friday, arriving home close to midnight.  Not ready for a challenge Saturday morning.  By this morning, the swell had backed off alot - forecasts for 3 - 5 feet, generally.  However, there was also a big high tide around 9:00 and forecasts for a cross-shore wind to pick up between 9:00 & 10:00.

As the light gradually filled in around 6:30 on what's approaching the shortest day of the year, things still looked pretty good, up & down the coast.  However, I didn't trust the Park to hold up to that tide and wind, fearing it would be shot by the time I got there.  I also didn't really want to spend a half hour searching for a parking space and face the frustration of competing for waves with dozens of surfers, such as would be the likelihood at the Newport Jetties.  So I talked Mark into meeting me at 15th Street on the Newport Peninsula.  Good call!

Hazy sunshine took the edge off the cold air and breeze that was still offshore when we got there.  The waves were a bit messy, but unusually peaky for Newport and consistently shoulder high.  Maybe a dozen surfers spread out from Schoolyards at 13th Street up to the Point at 19th Street.  More peaks showing than surfers.


Fearing that the wind would turn to come from the south, I didn't waste much time shooting pictures.  Donned the full suit - still 3:2 - strapped on the little GoPro Sessions, and hit the water.  Oh!  Not quite 60 degrees ... the first time under 60 in a very long time!  

For over an hour & a half, Mark & I worked the area from 13th to 15th, occasionally sharing with a trio of surfers but otherwise having it entirely to ourselves.  Consistent hest and shoulder high, and a few larger, waves offered lefts like the top photo above or matching rights.  Fattened by the high tide, some were a bit crumbly, but others were even hollow, and many offered plenty long rides.  Mark was repeatedly snaring rides, left and right, into the knee high shallows way inside.

So, last weekend, 9 or 10 rides over 100 minutes.  This morning, we were in a about the same duration.  There was no counting, but we each had to have over 30 rides.  I can't rate today a 5 star session, as I did last weekend.  But it sure was satisfying for a day that could have been pretty poor!

I mentioned I was wearing the Sessions - working on a vid to add later...

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Swell Saturday .. with a few photos from Hugh

OK, before all the words, here's the stoke for today:

Photo: Hugh Berenger
Forecasts for head-high, plus, holding up all week. For the weekend?  Really???  

Ok, there's gotta be a massive high tide to swamp it out, right?  Nope!  Moderate tides through the morning.

Well, I got it then: a big onshore wind to break it down? Not that either: Mild offshores through mid-morning.

Ah, the real deal-buster: rain.  Uh, skies, baby!

Yep, a real swell due to come in, in good conditions, on a weekend morning.  When was the last time that happened?  (That would be August, for the record.)

Upon arrival, it appeared to be just as advertised:

Sets were head-high, up to several feet overhead at the peaks.  Some were walled up, but the sandbars were working, and there were lots of peaks from straight in front of the steps all the way through Main Peak, the Rocks, LG1 and King's Corner 


down to North Gate and a very crowded Cotton's Point in the distance.

I didn't linger shooting, but donned the full wetsuit for the first time in eons.  The water was a remarkable 64, for December, but the chilly air suggested it.  Mark & I decided to hoof it down to the LG1/King's Corner area, which seemed to be far less crowded than the closer peaks, passing Hugh along the way.

Photo: Hugh Berenger
Before long, we were swimming out into overhead sets...

HH & NF digging for a set wave.  Photo: Hugh Berenger

...and then launching into fast, but nicely formed lefts...

Photo: Hugh Berenger

...and longer rights.

Photo: Hugh Berenger

Soon, we were joined by the intrepid octogenarian, Neil Frank (check the swell in the background):

Neil Frank.  Photo: Hugh Berenger
Most of the rights started as big, overhead peaks outside that gradually morphed into tight, fast barrels, well into the inside.

Today, over about 100 minutes, I rode what might seem a paltry 8 to 10 waves.  The two that Hugh caught, above, were the only two I rode in a 15 minute period when he was on the beach down where we'd decided to surf.  However, every one of those waves was excellent.  Big and open, but long and very ride-able.  Heart-thumping but strangely easy.  One or two of those in a session can make it a four star.  8-10?  Not only the second 5-star session of the year, but probably the best session of the year.