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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Wise Words from the ultimate Style Master

If you've been surfing for awhile you know who Larry Bertlemann is.

If you drag your paddle to the inside of a front side cutback, across your body to the heelside on the round-o you're executing a Bertlemann style hand drag. The only difference is he dragged a hand, you're dragging your paddle.

The guy was a 70's style master, he even influence the nascent sport of street skating. Go rent Dogtown and Z-boys and you'll see Jay Adams ripping "Bert' reverts" in pools and banks all over Venice and Santa Monica.

So I don't know why but I was perusing YouTube and I found a trade show interview with him.

The guy is well spoken and he's got something to say. Good stuff. Check it out:

Wise words, they apply to more than just surfing. For me they justify one other important item: I push a shopping cart... so what? It's my own circle.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Here's what it looked like... and here's what I got.

Strike three. Everytime I set up these great expectations for surf, I get shut down. If you've been following the blog, this is the third time! Not to say that I didn't get in a great paddle out to the point and back, and there was some excitement (I'll get to that in a bit), it's just that I was hoping for so much more.

Photo Left: Here's what I had to think about all the way to the point, visions of sugar plums dancing in my head. The point in the back ground was my target.

Here's how the day played out: Up early and out the door to get to the kick off spot while it was still low tide. The plan was to paddle against the new rising tide so that I could surf and return while the tide was still filling in. I learned my lesson last time, fighting an ebbing tide tide through the narrow mouth of a big bay is not fun at all, in fact, it's brutal. I much prefer fighting it on the way out and then paddling downhill home.

The surf looked big and grunty on the way up the Strand and to the launch point. I thought it'd be perfect for the point I was headed to surf. I knew the point I was aiming for was really a summertime south swell spot but I figured it might pull in some of the big surf we were getting hit with and bend it into something manageable. Wrong. Either there was way too much angle on this particular swell or the place can't pull it in on a low-ish tide, whatever it was, it wasn't really working.

There were some raggy sets coming through but nothing close to the wave I know the place is capable of producing. I was passed by two sets of jet skis with boards and sleds each heading for the outer break that pulls in even more swell, those guys checked it and turned around too, the point just wasn't working today.

Photo Middle Left: The point not quite doing it this morning; a little morning sickness screwing up the works.

I will log data points in my black book though, I'll record tide and swell direction and use this to help pinpoint the right conditions for the spot for future trips. If you look at it from that point of view the trip was worthwhile. I'd also like to let you know that early morning paddles through the bay and out to the point are pretty interesting. You can really get jamming in the glassy water and there's a lot to see.

The highlight of my trip happened on the way back home. I was jamming with the filling tide back into the bay. Since the tide was pushing in I was hugging the channel markers to take as much advantage of the moving water as possible; I was head down and powering.

I now believe that Navy Destroyers are powered by silent engines! I didn't even see this huge Navy ship until it seemed like it was right on top of me! In reality, it was a long way off but those things are amazing, especially when viewed from a 10' chip of foam floating on the water.

Photo Bottom Left: Silent engines?

The ship was coming around a bend in the channel so at one point its bow was pointing directly at me, I was jamming to get out of it's way and it seemed like it kept turning for me. Once it finished it's turn all the excitement was over and it passed by a couple of hundred yards to starboard, man that thing was big! I can only imagine what one of the big carriers would look like from my Stamps 10'0- I'm going to have to check that out one of these days!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Surf on the way!

I'm still sore from Saturday's brutal coastal journey. And I'm already going back; it's going to be cranking tomorrow! The giant storm right off the coast did as predicted and sent us some hefty surf, the call is for waves with possible twenty foot faces by tomorrow morning.

No, I'm not going to charge any twenty footers. I'm leaving that to the Hawaiians (did you see the SUP Big Wave footage at I'm a big believer in staying within my limits and since I haven't made any hundred yard open water swims I'm not going to put myself at risk by surfing waves that are out of my league. I'm going to get back to a spot that I know will wrap it and tame it a bit, at least that's the plan. I'll snap a bunch of photos and post as soon as possible.

Photo: This is the spot I'm betting on. Here it's knee to waist high on a three foot swell, imagine what it might look like tomorrow?

I don't know how many of you guys check the comments section of the blog entries. If you don't check, you should- there's a lot of good information in there. Jim Brewer up in Santa Barbara sent me some information about carbon fiber that I think is really important for us paddle surfers to know about:

"As for the carbon paddles, they are going to break no matter what the make is and how big or small you are.

I have been racing road bikes(bicycles) for years and have had many carbon frames, handle bars, wheels, seat posts, stems and other carbon items. The thing about carbon is that you are paying the big bucks for the light weight. Carbon is strong but not strong like a much heaver aluminum paddle.

All it takes is a hair line crack and your carbon paddle is toast. If you want a paddle that's not going to break don't get a carbon paddle. I once had a $4,000 dollar carbon bike frame and it fell over and hit a small rock and put a tiny chip in the frame. That was it. The frame was history.

Carbon fiber is like fish, "when in doubt throw it out". All that being said, my QuickBlade carbon paddle lasted 3 years before I put a crack in it and it snapped."

Jim went on to explain that if you ride a bike with a carbon fiber frame that has a known chip in it, it could fail at any moment- hopefully not when you're descending at fifty mile per hour. I don't know about you guys but I know I don't treat my paddle very nicely. I throw, literally, the paddle into the back of my pickup and I leave it in the cab all day long. I'm sure I'm mistreating it and for that reason I should be a little suspect of it- I'll probably go inspect it tonight for hairline cracks. If you're doing big open water paddles, maybe you should check yours too.

Thanks for the information Jim. Be sure to check out Jim's blog and the BlueLine SUP's that he shapes.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sunset Cliffs Loop: Garbage to Kellogg Beach

This was a bonus day. Supposedly we've got a bit of nasty weather bearing down on us which, of course, was preceded by two days of wind, rain and ugliness. So sandwiched right between all of this cold and gray was our bonus day, a nice, relatively windless day here in beautiful San Diego.

I was determined to take advantage of this little break in the weather and had no problem finding a rabid SUP surfer to join me. Tex is always up for a bit of adventure so we acted on a plan hatched a couple of days ago and decided to paddle around Point Loma from Sunset Cliffs into the harbor. I don't know how many miles we covered but my arms, back, legs, gut and every other piece of flesh thinks it was at least ten, probably more.

It was a really nice run but some lessons were learned:

1. High tide paddling along Sunset Cliffs with even a small swell in the water is tough. It's not the surf that's challenging, it's the backwash off the rocks. The rebounded waves bang into the incoming swell to produce what is technically known as "disorganized seas", it's pretty much a paddling nightmare. If you do this run, leave at low tide.

2. If possible time your return into the harbor to coincide with an incoming tide. Battling even a slight ebb is tough when your paddling right through the constricted mouth of the harbor, it may not seem like much at first but sum your effort over the hour it take to get back to the landing point and it becomes significant. Translation: It sucks fighting the tide.

3. Bring water and a back up paddle isn't a bad idea either. This paddle will take about three hours of continuous work, don't let yourself get dehydrated. I also think that it'd be a good idea to carry a two piece back up paddle. A broken paddle on this trip would result in a serious (five plus mile) laydown paddle to get out of the water. Be prepared.

We had a great time cruising the Cliffs, scoping out the strange military buildings and scoring some fun surf. Tex caught more waves than I did, I was preoccupied with completing the paddle before the wind came up. I did grab a couple of gems, a left at Dolphin Tank and a sweet waist high right at Ralphs.

This would be a great run for an intermediate to advanced paddler on a glassy, low tide day. I'd definitely do it again- you should too!

Friday, February 22, 2008

I told you so...

I'm being bombarded with tons of "Hey, I've been snapping leashes too!" emails and, "Yeah, which paddles do have a reputation for being tough?" The people want to know, there is interest!

The next paddle that I pick up will have as long a warranty period as I can find. I just have this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I'll snap any paddle within a year. It'd be nice to compile some paddle data over the course of one year. I'd like to determine which paddles make it a year and which are failing. Kind of a "Consumer Reports" style investigation. There's a lot of people who read this site, drop me an email about your paddle and how it's performed, send it to

Want more info? Check out the paddle piece Nate wrote up at for some solid paddle data.

A couple of ways to extend the life of your leash. Kelly sent me these tips for keeping your leash alive, they sounded good to me so I thought I'd pass them on:

"One important thing though is bailing technique, especially when you are simply caught inside and have some control over the situation. You have to line up your body so that it will drag through the water cleanly. Leaving your self sideways (perpendicular to the wave direction) and thus resisting the flow puts greater strain on the leash. I have also heard suggestions that you should get the slack out the leash before the wave hits so that the pressure won’t be so sudden. Do this by pushing your board away or diving deep. One of the worst possible leash strains is probably that more unique to SU situation where you jump over the back and the board gets caught by the wave. Your body is penetrating into the less active part of the wave and not flowing at all shoreward while the board is getting suddenly yanked by the wave. That was how I broke my not very thick 10’ leash that first big day."

Kelly makes a good point earlier in the note too, he writes, "With boards that are in the 20 - 25lb range and lots of buoyancy, breaks are to be expected". I have to agree, we're asking leashes to do a job they weren't really designed to do. But, from examining where my leashes have failed, I think they can be improved considerably.

So answer this question for me: If you've had a leash break, where exactly has it broken? Did your leash actually snap the cord in half, a clean cut? Or did your leash pop off of the cuff where it's melted/glued into the cuff "plug"? Did a swivel fail? I'm trying to compile some data here so I'm going to continue to ask for feed back. Hook me up. Tell me exactly where it broke!

In the words of the infamous Dennis Dragon, "Cords were useless, they snapped like peanut brittle!"

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Stu's New Ride: It's all about the '80s Paint Job

Check out Stu Kenson's latest ride. I can only imagine how totally satisfying it must be to grow an idea in your mind, shape it with your own two hands and then paddle it out. Stu's stoked on this new one, he should be- this is a nice paddling and hot surfing stand up board.

Hot enough as a matter of fact to get me back into my wet, sandy, thrown into the back of my pickup, wetsuit after I had just crawled out of it. You should know that I own four different fullsuits that I keep in rotation just so that I never have to crawl into a cold, clammy one. That board called to me though, and I had to answer- so I sucked it up and wiggled my way back into that dank suit.

Stu and I ended up paddling down the beach for a little surf. In this new board, Stu's redistributed the foam, rethought the rails and rocker and added a couple of bumps down the rail to loosen it all up. The final product is a board that's really stable yet infinitely surfable.

This board was a 10'4, I'd like to see it in a 10' version and I'd like to see it in some open face surf. I snagged three waves on our little coastal cruise (I'd already been in the water three hours so I only had a little time) but each one of them told me a little more about the board. The board in a quad version surfs fast- I call it built in speed. It's got squirt. Unfortunately, the tide was sucking out and the waves were mostly closeouts so I wasn't able to wrap any cutties or throw it up into the lip- but I was dying to!

When I get a chance you'll hear about it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Things Break and that Sucks

Sunday was a bad day for equipment. Things got busted up. Big Chad snapped his one piece C4 paddle right at the bend from shaft to blade. That thing went off like an M-80, pitching Chad onto his face and pissing him off. I snapped another leash, in head high surf. This kind of stuff sucks!

Photo: Broken leashes become toys for Lilly. It ain't funny, and it ain't right!

I think our gear can be radically improved- especially if you're dropping three hundred bucks on a paddle. In the last year, I've witnessed four paddles snap in half. Each paddle was less then six months old and one paddle was brand new! Personally, I wouldn't mind a heavier paddle if I knew it was bombproof. I'm certain it can be done- it's just going to take somebody to get their act together and make the "KONG PADDLE". The KONG might be a one piece titanium paddle that big guys like Chad can't snap. If you have to buy two paddles in a year, you've just dropped close to seven hundred dollars, I'd rather spend six bills on a titanium wonder scoop that I know will last. Bring us the super paddle- or at least send us one to abuse.

I've broken just about every type of leash. And from the reading I've done, so have you. I've broken the curly ones, the long ones, the thick ones, the hand tied, the swiveled- you name it, I've snapped it. The cost of a broken leash is nothing compared to the damage that a loose board could do to those on the inside. And how about the damage that some hungry rocks could do once the board bounced all the way to shore. A $1600 dollar board deserves a better leash.

This is a call for specialized equipment. I've got some of my own ideas regarding leash design (I think a virtually unbreakable leash could be made). I want your equipment feedback. What's endured for you guys? I'd like to know the specific names of paddle surfing products that have lasted at least a year. I'm particularly interested in paddles. I'm even more interested if you're a big guy (200 lbs plus). I don't think that there's a paddle or leash that would last a year of normal paddling in the hands of myself or Big Chad. What's your experience?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Life in the 'Patch: Ain't just for the Dogs

After two days of checking it only to find smelly water and three mile long closeouts, Kiwi and I fired up and got out of town. Destination: Dog Patch.

Left: A surf kayaker going right and an empty wave peeling left, looking fun at the 'Patch.

If you haven't surfed the Dog Patch you've got to get yourself up there. It's such a perfect set up for stand up paddle surfing. The spot is actually the only designated spot that you can surf with a paddle in your hand at San Onofre State Beach. So have no fear of stinkeye, the paddle is king at the Dog Patch.

Bottom Photo: Chris, Magic and the ULI, tidepool cruising.

One question: I'm still a little unclear about the legality of SUPing the Trails. I've done it a few times- am I breaking the law? Patch locals feel free to respond- I'd love to know.

A tip: On the weekend, especially if there's surf, get there early. San-O is one of those "Main Event" spots, if you get there after 8am you may be waiting in an hour long line to get in.

The Set Up: If you're going to be stand up paddle surfing, you'll want to drive as far south as you can and park when you see an open spot. You should be right in front of the 'Patch. There's a nice bit of sandy beach to hang out on or stick an umbrella. Bring everything you need for the day because if you leave, you won't be getting back in without a long wait. You'll need to surf to the south of the "OK" sign, which is actually two signs (one is an "O" and the other is a "K") that spell "OK" if you're surfing in the correct area. If you see "KO", you're too far over to the North. Don't stray over to the tempting peak to the North or the Man will come and bullhorn you out. How embarrassing.

You'll be sharing the break with some true paddle surfers, the surf kayak guys. These guys were super cool and they really surf those things well. I was blown away by the clean, open face 360s they were pulling out there. A guy kayak surfing behind me (no, that's not another way of saying I snaked him) was repeatedly smacking the lip a couple of feet from the tail of my board- I know he was hitting the lip square because I could hear him schwacking it! One thing to remember at San-O is that people pretty much just take off on each other. Everybody seems pretty cool with sharing, so lighten up and give that guy on the shoulder a wave in, it'll be reciprocated.

Kiwi and I had a great day. We got to surf some fun waves and we also met some nice people. Chris Koerner- a stand up race paddler/surfer who recognized my board came over and introduced himself. It was fun listening to Chris' stories about open water SUP racing- there were some classics, I'll let Chris tell 'em to you sometime he'd do a better job. Talking to Chris made me realize how much of a newbie I still am to this sport- guys out there have years of experience stand up paddling while I've just been doing this for a year (well, maybe I'm a couple of months shy of a year). Chris was gracious enough to clue us in on how it's done down there at Dog Patch and introduce us to Magic his surf dog. Thanks for the hospitality Chris- if you're ever down south, ring up the surfline- you know the number.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Once Again: Just when you think it's gonna be good!

I'm getting reports of good surf up and down the coast. It's killing me! We're not getting it here in my town. Two days in a row I've been up early anticipating a morning of good surf only to be let down. Yesterday, I had lower G.I. issues. There was sewage running through me like a freight train in my transverse colon. Evidently, this has been going around. Is it food poisoning or the forerunners of a nasty flu? Sorry if that's too graphic but it's been brutal. I did get a chance to check some spots up the coast from my house, didn't have the courage to strap on a wetsuit, that would have been too much of a commitment. It sucks to be locked in when you really need to go.

Today I felt a little more solid (pun intended). I was up before it was light, from my backyard I could hear the surf cracking on the beach, sounded pretty substantial out there. At first light I was rolling down to the check out spot. It's been really cold the last couple of mornings, the kind of cold that makes you wish you put your wetsuit on at home instead of shivering into it while standing barefoot on a concrete ice block. These cold mornings alter the decision making process; if it's not looking really good I won't be surfing, the motivation just isn't there. I've got to be inspired to paddle out on these kind of mornings.

Call me a fair weather surfer but that's just the way it's gone for me these last couple of years. The decision, however, was already made for me: the signs were up. The water was polluted by the last rain two days ago and a word of mouth report had it at legitimately stinky. The surf was definitely up, there were some long period, organized waves rolling in but the direction wasn't working for our beach, most waves were closing out. No surfing at home today. Maybe the DogPatch tomorrow, early!

And: The lifeguards are putting together a co-ed team for the Stand Up Paddle division of the Catalina race. I've loaned them one of my 12' boards for training purposes but they're looking for an open ocean downwind racer to borrow for the race. If you're interested in sponsoring the team, or if you just have a legit downwind board for them to borrow they'd be stoked! Let me know.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wind Everywhere!

The wind was going nuts today. First out of the south at about 20 mph, then dumping rain, switched to offshore for about an hour then hard out of the north west before it got dark. Now I'm sitting here and it's dead calm, no rain and cold. Turns out the jet stream looped low enough to bring San Diego its very own storm. We had enough snow in the mountains around us for school districts to close school for a snow day.

There's definitely some surf on the way, or it may be here already. I've been getting reports of fun surf up in North SD, maybe our turn is coming. Getting excited for tomorrow! See you there.

Photos above and below: Two spots, same town, ten minutes apart- wind from all points of the compass- crazy day.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

They're still out there

We go back to work but the surf just keeps pouring in, all under sunny, warm skies. I got a report from my brother up in Santa Cruz; the surf's been firing! The guy's a nut too, he's been trunking it! The water's freezing but the air's warm with lots of sunshine- he say's it's do-able, I say he's crazy.

Out of the blue a good friend dropped in from Southern Baja. Tim Hatler is the owner/operator of Palapas Ventana down in La Ventana, Baja Sur. I've posted pictures of him surfing a perfect left point break down near his home, if you're a goofy foot this is a spot you'll want to ride before you go for the big dirt nap. We had just enough time to drink a beer, grab some boards and get in a quick surf.

Tim says that stand up paddlers are becoming more common down in the La Ventana area. You may remember back in July of '07 when this blog was born, I reported on a trip I did down to Cabo San Lucas and back. My brother, Big Chad and I paddled La Ventana that summer and found that it's a flat water wonderland for cruising. It turns out that in the winter, when La Ventana becomes an internationally known kitesurfing and windsurfing hotspot, the prevailing Northerly winds create small, fun waves that break in the Sea of Cortez. Even better, the best spot is a left reef/point right in front of Tim's resort. According to Tim, the numbers have increased all winter long- like we all know, this sport is growing. I've still got a dream to bring some fly some paddlers in and show 'em the Baja I know- we'll see. Interested?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

At it again: Chasing Ghosts on the Phantom Wave Field

It was just too fun looking to pass up today. Nice 4-6' waves peeling across the outside cobblestone wave field. The home of a what I call the Phantom Peak, it's here, it's there, it everywhere- so beware, or you'll get caught inside. The usual crew was on it today: Kelly, Kiwi, Big Chad, Gabe and Dave Lopez riding it manual. I punched through the shorebreak meat grinder just in time to see Kelly riding a left that was a couple of feet overhead and lined up- that sure got me paddling faster.

I'm giving this session to Kelly and Kiwi. Both of these guys were riding Stu Kenson stand up boards and just flying on those quad fin set ups. Kiwi (on the blue board) continued his wave voodoo streak by snagging a killer set wave right when got outside- you'll see it in the video, well overhead and LONG! It's fun riding surf in this size range, nothing life threatening, just good fun.

Here's Camera Grom's edit of the last two days of surf. We all chipped in and the total came to thirty bucks so the Grom calls it his $30 Video. The first few minutes are from yesterday and the last couple are from today, check it out:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

New Swell: Timing is Everything!

Classic California surf days, blue skies, light offshore, solid groundswell, cool crisp water- these days keep you jazzed for months. Today we got a pretty good one. The town just comes alive, everywhere you look somebody's walking to the beach with a board under their arm, or riding an old rusty beater down to get a surf in. I really like seeing all the surf-mobiles cruising the strand with boards sticking out of the back. Our little surf-ghetto just starts crackling!

The surf forecasters timed this swell just right- they said it'd start showing itself this morning and right on time it was here. How convenient. It did end up being kind of an odd one though, a rising tide put a little backwash bump into it and although the swell was a nice long period one there were only a few holes out there that could bend it into something surfable. Big Chad and I ended up making the mile and a half paddle south to try to surf a shifty outside cobble reef. This particular spot looks good but it's a tough nut to crack. The peak shifts all over the place and it's so far out that it's tough to line it all up. I call it Phantoms because once you get all the way out there trying to find the take off spot is like chasing a ghost.

Both of us managed a handful of waves. I got exactly two before I rode one too far in and had to walk a quarter mile south to punch out again. Tough conditions. I also got a little cocky trying to pick off a 'tweener and got caught inside by a set of about ten overhead waves. Spanked. We chalked it up as a weird day out there, fun but weird. I checked the spot an hour before sunset and it was going off, consistently breaking in the same spot, looking much more do-able.

Timing's everything with these sand/cobble spots and waiting a few hours can make all the difference in the world. It's tough to be patient though, especially when you're coming out of a surf famine. Let's hope tomorrow I develop some patience (yeah right, I'm already amping for the dawn patrol right now!). Hope it went down well for you.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The San Diego I know and love!

Great day of surfing down here in San Diego. Storms have blown away, water's fairly clean again and there's still some swell in the water. I jammed out of my little beach town to a spot I knew would handle the little NW breeze that was messing up my home beach. Also, the tide was dropping low until around 3:30pm so I knew I'd have a shot at it before the low water killed it.

I scored. It ended up just being a great session, waist to head high waves, breaking over a clear water, rock reef. There were about 8 manuals on the right, none of them were even trying for the left so I hopped on it. I should mention there were two other stand up guys on the left before I got there but there were so many waves that we were rarely ever standing around waiting, we just did laps from the inside to the outside. Super fun time, I must've surfed fifteen or twenty fun waves, five of them being real jewels. Think head high, nicely tapered, green racetracks that allowed a couple of cutbacks and some speed carves before dumping in the channel.

It's fun to surf different waves then you're used to. At home, 90% of the riding we do is in real fast beach break. You've got to have quick feet and find a way to make sections or you'll never get an opened face wave. Here on the reefs, the wave is so much more predictable- there's no need to start the wave angling for the shoulder- you can get real casual once you've got the wave figured out. I wasn't able to get enough push to really hook a turn in the lip but I did get to the point where I'd straighten out a bit on the take-off getting out into the flats before I'd put down some tracks for the shoulder, it felt good to fade a little pit back into the pit. That's my session, hope you scored too!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

It's coming together!!!

A quick check of my favorite surf forecast site says we may be into something really fun this weekend! Start making plans, CameraGrom- this may be your weekend! Although everything is condition dependent, this may be the weekend for some good coastal cruises- anybody interested? You know how to reach me.

Left: Keep your fingers crossed, because maybe, just maybe we deserve something like this!
Photo: El Tigre

The scale never lies. 235 not 220, first time on it in about 15 years. Interesting. 10' x 29" x 4.4", 235 lbs. Hmmmm.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

You know it's been flat when....

Blog review: You know it gets bad when the reporters write stories about the reporters. Well, it's that bad... it's been raining all day long with a stiff south wind two factors that add up to some stinky water for a few weeks. So time to get creative. Here's my review of paddlesurfing blogs and websites (more to follow if it stays flat):

Left: Spare us all, please bring this back. Photo: El Tigre

Pono House Blog: Voted place I'd most like to sit around and drink a Mai Tai, learn how to fabricate a race car axle or paddle straight.

NC Surfer: Voted best place to go to see the largest, widest ranging, privately owned, collection of stand up boards in the continental United States. Best site to begin a conversation about the pros and cons of drinking a large cup of black coffee before crawling into your drysuit for a refreshing 4o degree surf session.

SRFNFF: Voted best place to log factual data regarding wind speed, wave height, patchouli concentration and sand flea migration count. Voted Most Optimistic Life Is Good blog and additionally a great spot to argue the merits of the Greenough foil versus the laminar flow characteristics of the retro hatchet fin.

StandUpZone: Shady, go-to standard for paddlesurfing fanatics featuring topics like: "More 'core: Black or Camo deckpad?", "Is it a breakfast burrito or a breakfast wrap and which one makes me paddle faster?", "Am I barreled if half my board and three quarters of my paddle is still sticking out?" and "So I bailed my board at Malibu, what's the big deal?"

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Coastal Ramblin'

Had a lot of fun hitting the road and surfing someplace new. I like to leave early. Get on the road early enough and you're the King of the Coast. Zoom up PCH, pull into any parking lot, snag front row at Swami's- whatever you want, as long as you're on it at dawn.

I get up before it's light, toss the wetsuit in the cab of the truck (I remember as a kid reading how Tom Curren would put his down on the floor by the foot heater to warm it up- been doing it ever since), grab a big cup of coffee and an old fashioned buttermilk bar from the Cambodian guy's Donut Shop, throw on what ever the hell I feel like listening to (Bluegrass, or HeeHaw Hell recorded on my portable satellite radio) and burn some fuel.

Call it gross, fat, American wastefulness but there's something about rambling up the coast in my 380 horsepower, full size 4x4 pickup listening to some guy sing about "drinking brown whiskey and telling white lies" that will appeal to me 'til the day I die. I don't call it exhaust, I call it freedom's perfume. Before you choke on your wheatgrass, no caff., latte- (hold the soymilk) let me say that every other day of the week I'm pushing my beach cruiser down the street to work. So if I get a chance to burn a little 87 proof once a month I'm going to take it.

The surf ended up being chest high and fun. We walked into a spot that some of you will recognize and some of you'll want to know more about- a little homework or a nice email and you'll get your information but I won't name it here out of respect for the spot. It's not the best wave in the area but it does provide something that is tough to find here along this crowded California coast: open space.

We had miles of little reefbreak all to ourselves it was a nice change from dealing with the crowds of San Diego and it was just up the road. I'm already thinking about how we should really do this place. It would involve two vehicles, an insertion and extraction point and about five miles of surf cruising. More and more I'm beginning to think that this strategy is going to be the one we'll need to adopt or emphasize as our numbers grow. Let's face it, we aren't welcome everywhere but if you're just "playing through", it's harder to heckle a moving target. Hope you scored something today as well.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Nice Paddle Today: Get it while you can!

Finally got in a surf today. Jammed down to the beach at noon, mixed swell with an incoming tide; not the best conditions but after being out of the water for five days I wasn't too concerned with what I had in front of me. Big Chad and I ended up cruising the beach first north then down south and back to our launch snagging waves and chatting as we did our surfing. The paddle out was what I'd call technically challenging. Handling these boards ain't for the timid, especially today. There's a new sand bar that's formed about fifty yards off the beach, paddling out to it wasn't a problem, getting across it and through the head high surf at low tide was the tricky part.

Waves were coming out of relatively deep water, sucking up on the suddenly shallow bar and pitching top to bottom. So there you are in knee deep water pushing your board out through chest high walls of white wash and dodging little death bombs. Gave me a whole new level of respect for the guys in the islands who have to do this on living reef. How would it be, teetering between urchin spine and coral spike while the water drains to ankle deep off the reef. Your boards stretched to the end of your leash pulling you into the head high wave that's about to detonate five feet in front of you. Where you going to hide now? That's a totally different ballgame requiring a whole different skill set.

These last big storms with all the runoff and wave action have carved features into the sand bottom of our beach. We've got big holes, longshore gutters and offshore sandbars, the kind of stuff that keeps the lifeguards in business and can bend corners out of closeouts. The buzz around town is that tomorrow might be our best opportunity. We've got a high tide dropping all morning, a small swell in the water and winds are looking pretty calm. I'm not sticking around for it though, I'm hooking up with some friends for a surf up the coast. Pics and report to follow. Hope you're getting some.