Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pickin' Up the Pieces in the Park (with photos by Hugh)

Two sessions in one the dead of winter!  While the swell yesterday may have been a bit smaller, and somewhat inconsistent with some long lulls, there were some pretty fun rides, nonetheless.  
Photo: Hugh Berenger

On arrival,  I was surprised to see nearly 20 surfers clumped at the Main Peak to the south of the steps.  A few more were scattered around in the LG1 area further south.  The forecast was for a new swell to show on Sunday and, forecasts for a 3-4 foot remnant of the mid-week swell notwithstanding, it was looking pretty weak.  Not the kind of surf that would normally draw so many into water finally turning cold (58-59) with much better to follow in a day.  

Hugh was up on the bench at the base of the cliff, with fellow surfer/photographer, Kurt Eyraud, checking it out...and not much inspired to get in. 

It certainly wasn't worth swimming out in that crowd for meager pickings.  But the tide was about to bottom out, and there was a regular right peeling off the sandbar in the empty waters just north of the bench.  With expectations that it would pick up a bit with the tidal push, and anticipating having whatever came entirely to myself, I swam out there and immediately caught a fun little right.

Photo: Hugh Berenger
Shortly, Hugh moved down to the rail above the steps, camera in hand.  In due course, Mark Ghattas arrived and joined me.  Shortly after, surf photographer Geoff Glenn paddled out with a friend, prone on a standup paddleboard, intending to paddle out to the rocks several hundred yards offshore, but found the surf just playful enough to hang around and surf it, just north of us, on the ungainly boards.

Just to be ornery, I pulled in high on a little right on which Mark had position, and rode it, looking back to see how he'd react.  Hugh caught me in the act.

Photo: Hugh Berenger
But it's not like Mark didn't get his share of the mix of lefts and rights peeling off the sandbar.

Surfer: Mark Ghattas.  Photo: Hugh Berenger
The beauty of bodysurfing is that it doesn't take much for a wave to be "overhead," and there were quite a few nice little tubes to lock into.

Surfer: me.  Photo: Hugh Berenger
So, for nearly 90 minutes in the chill water, under a sky that went from slate gray, to blue then to stormy overcast, we messed in the shoulder-high lefts & rights.  The RipCurl SearchGPS didn't register any of the rides as rides per se - not sure if it's length, duration or speed that's missing, but will figure it out.  The squiggles below, though, can be translated into an interesting session with quite a few rides going both ways.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Poor Timing; Good Company

Except for the company, my inaugural session for 2016 would have to be measured a disappointment.  That said, I will never complain any time that I can get some waves mid-week, and share a session with four of my favorite surf companions from the San Diego area.  I met Bret Belyea, Chris Lafferty, Bruce Robbins and Jody Hubbard at the 17th Street Del Mar LG Tower at 8:00 on a chill, winter morning (48 degrees!) with a mild offshore wind and partial cloud cover.  With the chill air and water temperature dipping into the 50's, I picked my heavy, 4:3 wetsuit..for the first time since sometime in early 2014! 

Today was my first outing with the RipCurl SearchGPS watch that Allan gave me for Christmas.  Though only one of my rides registered as such (the red line), the chart does, nonetheless, tell the tale of the session.  The satellite map looks cool:

But my tracks from the session are much more visible on a streets map background:

Deciphering what it shows, when we first got in the water, the sets were breaking way outside.  They were infrequent, and only a couple of waves per set, but they were breaking a couple of hundred yards offshore.  (Because the tide was high, the water was actually lapping up on the wall on the far right side of the pictures above.  The red line is 30 yards long.)  

So, you can see how we swam out to the far left, and worked that for a while.  Unfortunately, with the high tide, it was fat and pretty mushy out there and I didn't catch anything.  So, not long into the session, we moved inside...where all the squiggles are, and had some fun in what was often jumbled, semi-organized waves.  Occasionally, a well-formed left corner would appear, or a fast, tight right.  Surprisingly, I had one left that was a several second cover-up, and one right that featured a steep, wide open, barrel.  

Each of us had a few good rides interspersed through a 90 minute session.  The SearchGPS tells me that we were in the water exactly 90 minutes, and that I covered 2.1 miles in all those squiggles, above.

I was worried that the watch wouldn't pick up my rides at all.  I think the one that it did measure was one of my last rides.  Initially, I thought it was the wave I rode afterwards, to shore, but that was straight in and would have gone much further in, rather than the right which the watch picked up.  I am going to have to experiment to see what triggers the watch to register a ride as a wave ridden.  I am confident that longer, faster rides will show up.  

So, why a disappointment?  Well, there's been a lot of good swells coming in the past few weeks, including some pretty big stuff yesterday.  It looked like there might be some pretty good leftovers this morning, but I fear our timing was off.  Earlier, the larger swells were catching the sandbars way outside, but the rising tide swamped those right about when we got it.  After we'd exited, as we hung in the Poseidon parking lot, talking, those same waves really started working on the inside sand ledge.  We just kind of missed it.

Nonetheless, a session with Bret, Chris, Bruce and Jody, in chest to maybe head high surf, where we all get at least a few good ones?  Good times.