Sunday, October 31, 2010

The ToolBox

If you're going to do the job correctly, you need the right tool. Here's what I carry in the back of my truck- it's my surf tool box. Check it out:

A. Big ol' sombrero, a.k.a Lifeguard Hat. I've always got this with me- this one has a neoprene headband so it sucks down against your head and won't blow off (there is a chinstrap but that's like wearing a belt with suspenders). Nothing keeps you cooler than shading your peanut- keep it covered! 

B. Paddle Quiver: 75" Kialoa Methane, this is my go-to surfing paddle. Anything longer than 75 - 76" (I'm 5'10) feels way too long and cumbersome. I like the small blade it feels fast and clean. My back up surf paddle is a 76" Quickblade Kanaha with a 9" blade. The Quickblade is feather light and very strong. I carry two racing paddles: a 81" Kialoa Shaka Pu'u and a 83" Quickblade Elite racer with the 8.75" blade. The Shaka Pu'u has a much more comfortable shaft while the Quickblade seems to pull a little nicer- I haven't raced with the Quickblade yet but I've got a four miler coming up and I'll keep you posted.

C. Goody box: Basically this thing carries all the extras that I might need. I've got my fin bag in there (stocked full of fins from Future fins... thanks guys!), an extra longsleeved wetsuit jacket, a bunch of bungies, a gross towel and a couple of extra leashes.

Check back - we're gonna dig deeper into the ToolBox!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Typically true.

Here's a universal truth courtesy of my friend, El Capitan: "The more a person has to tell you that they're bitchen, the less they are."

This kind of extends to the line up, doesn't it? Typically the person who throws the most stink-eye, cops the most attitude or claims it the hardest isn't the most skilled guy out there. Tonight I surfed some surprisingly fun, low tide wedges. Nothing consistent, actually it was pretty fickle- but every so often a jewel would come barging through and if you were in the right spot you'd snag a cobalt blue, silky smooth, head high runner. The cosmic surf lottery happened to smile on me for an instant and I was perfectly positioned for the gem of the session- a doubling up, left hand power wedge with a thick shoulder perfectly tapering down into a long buttery wall.

Man, this was going to be good. I knew exactly how I'd come off the bottom. I could see where I'd stall for the cover up then I'd rip the guts out of that wall up ahead. There was only one problem, paddling hard to intersect that sweet little section was the best guy in the water. He was definitely the alpha male out there- popping airs, wrapping big cutbacks and styling through hairball inside sections like it was the kindergarten playground. It suddenly dawned on me- I was going to get stuffed. Big Papa was going to feed.  

Photo: Lilly's got nothing to prove. 

But then something funny happened, the guy spun around at the last second, he was perfectly positioned to drop in on but that's not what he did. At the last second he pulled up short, sat up, looked right at me and busted out a giant whoop! As I flashed by, I could see the smile on his face. He screamed out at me- wagging his head and just letting that yell linger. I know that hoot was no verification of my ability (believe me, I was barely holding it together), this was something else. It was a connection, an insider's knowledge of how good that wave was going to be- something from the gut, something pure... and it wanted out. Aaaahhhhh! Just like that.

It's typically true: The real rippers don't need to tell you how bitchen they are, their actions speak for them. Even if it's just a hoot.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Whoa... some good ones out there today! Photo heavy post.

High pressure, northeasterly winds and a nice mixed swell... wow- what a fun day of surf!

Photo: Art, if you see this- you should have gone- this wave was epic!

Photo: Pinch yourself...

Photo: for missing...

Photo: this wave.

Photo: The thing just kept peeling! 

Photo: To be fair, he did snag a couple of good ones...

Photo: pArt II

Photo: Grinding rights and lefts.

Photos: There were barrels up and down the beach. Check out Manny Vargas on the inside with his double camera set up getting the shot (and HD video?) of some unknown ripper.

Photo: Another shot of Manny from way up the beach (I like to get an angle on the wave I'm shooting- makes the shot a bit more interesting).

Photo: Pete in his usual spot. This photo is kind of Mondrian-ish in a distorted kind of way, eh?

Photo: It was a great morning to get out on the beach. Sunny warm days always bring out the cute girls- ain't life grand? 

Photo: Parting shot... wow.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It always happens about now...

It doesn't take much to make me start dreaming about my annual southern migration. Especially when it's started raining again and our winter run of cold water is right around the corner. I find myself dreaming about the grainy white sand and gin clear water of my favorite southern Baja surfspot. I'm even looking forward to the twenty hour drive down to it- that's an adventure worth doing at least once in a lifetime.

Photo: Baja becomes Lowers... with better parking.

Photo: Wide open- just like we like it. This beach is a hundred miles to the north of our spot a point with a left on the north side and a right on the south- take your pick.

Photo: Our little hideaway is filled with killer buildings- locally constructed from brick. It's funny to see the gringo interpretation of Mexican architecture, the homes they build are usually half Alamo set reproduction and half Wiley Coyote cartoon house. To them, that's Mexico.  

Last year we lucked into some serious surf. There were a couple days that were outside of my comfort zone- I ended up shooting photos off the beach, watching guys on prone boards score big right-hand tubes all the way across the point. I also watched luckless surfers on the inside take ten wave sets right on the head- floundering around in the churning impact zone when their cords snapped like dry spaghetti.

Being scared and drowning in comfortably warm water is a whole different version of the surfer's nightmare. It's equally as stomach churning as the lonely, cold water ordeals we occasionally face here in California, it's just a soothing version of drowning. Heavy water preparation is always important- even when it's warm and inviting. Hopefully, my race workouts will pay off when it's my turn in the wash cycle but you never know until you're there in it, by then it's too late for regrets. Actually, it's too late for anything but swimming for your life.

Photo: It's out there, go get it.

We're excited to head south- fired up to load up the rig and eat up some Baja miles, excited for the adventures that lie just down the road. I hope you've got something on your paddle horizon to fire you up- I can't wait to hear all about it!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Covewater Paddle Surf Santa Cruz: Thanks for QuickBlade Elite Racer!

Covewater Paddle Surf up in Santa Cruz is the hub for stand up paddling in Northern California. My brother lives in the area, has checked out the shop and gives it two thumbs up. The place is legit. According to him, the shop is fully stocked with all the latest and greatest paddle surf gear and the employees are both knowledgeable (the guys paddle surf almost daily) and friendly.

They are also heavily involved in the race scene.  Fortunately for me, they've been reading my racing posts this summer.  Even better, they thought I should demo their favorite race paddle, the Quick Blade Elite Racer - so they sent me one!  Thanks guys! I'm stoked on the new paddle!

Look what was waiting for me when I got home from work today... Lilly was stoked on it too. Thanks Covewater!
 If you live in the Santa Cruz area or are just passing through, check out the free Paddle Surf Hawaii demos and Used SUP Board Sale and Swap Meet they've got going on. The Paddle Surf Hawaii board demo is this weekend and the Used SUP Board Sale and Swap Meet will be going on October 30th.

I went with the 8.75" wide blade.
I did get a chance to get in a couple of flatwater miles using the new paddle. I have to say I'm really excited about this blade. In the past, I've used the big 9" wide blades on my QB paddles. Those big spades felt like I was digging into wet cement- you'd plant them and they'd hold like a big old anchor. Some guys have got the horsepower to turn those things over mile after mile. Not me. After a half hour I could feel myself running out of gas and getting slower by the minute. This newer, smaller paddle was perfect for me- I never got that "blown out" feeling.

 The blade, coupled to a featherlight prepreg shaft is the perfect size for me. It's 8.75" wide and has a 100 square inch footprint. I cranked out four miles and felt like the blade was super positive in the water, tracked nicely down the rail and slipped into the water so cleanly on the catch it felt like I was using a scalpel. I've got a race coming up in mid-November, I'm excited to give this paddle a shot at it.

 Thanks to Covewater Stand Up Paddle Santa Cruz for the paddle and I hope to get some waves with you up in Santa Cruz soon!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Paddle Sale: 2 Quick Blade full carbon surf paddles... $390!

Two for the price of one! These are my old surf paddles: QuickBlade Kanaha Blades with upgrade prepreg shafts. The prepreg shafts are stronger, lighter and stiffer than the stock shafts, they are the same shafts found on the new QB Elite Racer paddles which retail for $400/paddle. The paddles are cut at 76" so they're perfect if you're 5'10" and under. Short paddles are the way to go for surfing- allowing you to move the paddle across the board faster for blistering cutback action...yeowww get some!

The paddles are in excellent condition. The one on the right is practically brand new and is a travel paddle meaning that it has been cut in half and had a carbon fiber ferrule inserted. This was done at the QuickBlade factory as a special order for me- the paddle slides together and is held in place with electrical tape. Sounds crazy but this is how Jim Terrell set it up for me and it works great. The travel paddle has the soft, velour handle. Using that paddle is like cruising your grandpa's El Dorado- it's that plush... plush deluxe if you will.

I'd prefer a local sale (Southern California) but will box and ship at your expense. Great deal on a couple of excellent paddles.

Contact me at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Rain List

 I miss global warming. It's pouring rain right now here in San Diego in what is typically one of our most beautiful months. Here's my rain list.

1. Free lawn irrigation.
2. Sewage runoff. 
3. Bookstore perfection.
4. Is this the year my roof leaks?
5. Time to make potato soup.
6. You can still paddle (flatwater).
7. Bike ride to work? Bummer.
8. Mid-day nap promoter.
9. Late morning paper with a cup of coffee and a pastry? Perfect.
10. May produce glassy surf conditions (keep an eye on it).
11. Beach puddle crashing in the 4x4.
12. New Zealand dreaming (24 long hours in a tent blown sideways on the Wairarapa coast).
13. Wet dog.
14. Internet time warp.
15. Surf trip day dreams. 

What's on your list?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Contest Wrap Up: The Dempsey Holder Ocean Festival in Imperial Beach

The Dempsey went down this weekend here in Imperial Beach. The contest is our annual, small town, home-grown surf competition and it's the one paddle surfing event that I enter every year. I dig it because it's more of a chance to catch up with friends than it is full-blown surf contest. Don't get me wrong, the competitiveness is there- and the rippers do crawl out of the woodwork, but in the end it's more about having fun than anything else. Some highlights (to see contest photos be sure to check out Liza's Surf: Zero to Sixty Blog):

The Final Results for the Stand Up Paddle Division.
• Kristy Murphy: She should've won the "Most Stoked Competitor" award- this Ironwoman took second in Stand Up Paddle (see, I called it!), second in Open Women's (riding a tiny egg she calls the Biscuit) and fourth in Longboard. I saw her as she got out of the water after her third and last final and she was cashed out... laughing and exhausted. I challenge you to find me any other thirty-something gal surfing three finals in one contest. That girl is an inspiration and I was happy to be able to surf with her in the stand up paddle final. Watch out girls- this one's a ripper!

• North Side of the Pier: Going off all day long- most notably during the second stand up paddle heat. Local Legend Jeff Knox who scored that heat was frothing about some of the hundred yard long lefts pouring through. Jeff and his brother Jim predate I.B's current pier- they've seen and surfed it all- so when this guy is that excited you know it's legit. Unfortunately, the SUP final was held on the southside (unluck of the draw) which was at it's crumbly, thumpy, closed out, south wind worst.

• Dave Parra: So is this guy in his late fifties or mid-thirties? I glanced over to the northside and saw the big natural foot go upside down twice on his 6'1 Carbon Fiber Stu Kenson then wrap a big round up for a whitewash rebound. Are you kidding me? Big Dave's surfing was on point and he was just handling dudes ten to fifteen years younger than him. Yeah Dave!

• Ross McBride: Like I said before- the stand up paddle final was held in horrible conditions; big, thumpy, lowtide, southwind closeouts. I couldn't even find a wave to bottom turn out of- it was dismal. Still, winners find a way to get it done and in this heat (similar to last year's final) Ross found corners where there were none and put together enough of a score to smoke us all. I remember seeing him come off the lip cleanly and ride the move out to the beach. It was deja vu- I swear I saw that last year too. And just like last year, I knew he had us beat. Good job Ross.

• Cash: Nelz and his hot girlfriend Lara brought their little buddy Cash to the beach with them. Man, if I wasn't all messed up on Westies, I am sure I'd have a French Bulldog. Cash was one cool character-  Lilly dug him too.

It was, in all, a super fun event and I'm definitely looking forward to it again for next year. Thanks Serge Dedina and the whole WildCoast crew for putting on another slick event- this one was better than ever!

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's on m#$%###%%ers... Dempsey Contest Ready to Go!

Bring your "A" game people. My call: Watch out for Kristy Murphy- that woman has got skills. If it's thick and juicy- Ross and Nelz look tough to beat. Reigning champs Kelly Kraus and Mike Gillard are curiously absent... are we seeing mind games at work here? Anybody predicting a last minute entry by one of these two warrior/poets (probably the most overused cliche out there... except for the word uber... which, when used by some turtlenecked hipster, makes me want to impale my own eyeball with an olive fork)?

Top three advance- which means one of us is going to get the ol' Nancy Kerrigan kneecap treatment on the way to the water.
Go K-junk! 

Surf was super fun tonight- supposed to build tomorrow. Let's hope it throws us a corner or two for Sunday.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anybody Remember SUPer Dave?

If you do, you'll remember a guy totally fired up on stand up surfing- kind of a wildman. Dave posted some of the first photos I'd seen of stand up surfing mainland Mexico, gave me tips on fishing gear for my trip down there (white, 1/4 oz. jigs with wire leaders) and was always putting up photos of his latest stand up boards (which, three years ago, were shrinking in size while I still thought 10' was the bottom end of my board range).

Dave even made a trip all the way out here to California- packed up his big 'ol diesel 4x4 with stand up boards, large caliber handguns, compound bows and camo gear. Dave was just as stoked about the giant wild pigs he'd hunt on his way out west as he was about surfing Cardiff Reef or the 'Patch. The guy was a true character and I always checked out his crazy posts on the stand up forums. The last I heard, he stuffed a couple of short standos into a board bag and bailed for Bali... and then I didn't hear much from him at all.

I was stoked when, out of the blue, I received an email from the SUPer man himself. Turns out he scored in Bali- in a big, big way. I tried to convince him to send me the photographic goods but it seems that they may be published soon (don't worry, I haven't given up) so they were off limits. He did, however, send me these shots from the Montauk surf season.

Thanks Dave and we're going to be looking forward to other "out there" SUPer Dave contributions... right?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Love it when there's surf!

First of all let me thank Sandra P. for these killer shots- she's our newest surf-shutter bug and she's killing it (she must have had a good teacher). Hope you've been out snagging a few- the last couple of days have served up some pretty fun surf. The water's even warmed up. Now we just need some good, ol' sunshine to remind us that, yes, we do live in Southern California.

Photo: Love it when there's enough grunt out there to push against- especially coming off the bottom. I've been experimenting lately with the position of my middle Gerry Lopez Future Fin (this is pretty much my go-to fin selection- I honestly haven't found anything better out there). Amazing how quarter inch adjustments can radically change the behavior of your board. I made the mistake of pushing the fin up just a little too much and found myself losing drive off the bottom. A quick adjustment and I was back in the groove again. Take it easy when you're making changes- and if possible, mark the box so you have a frame of reference.

Photo: I know, I've got three or four shots of this turn but it's such a fun one to do. If it's not in your bag of tricks, practice it in the white wash as your riding towards the shore. Just plant your paddle and turn against (and away from) it. It's a pretty easy one to do once you've got the timing down. I also like this one because Sandra's got the horizon all level- sweet!

The surf is supposed to pick up for the weekend- keep your fingers crossed for good wind and weather to go with it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Board Meeting: Here's what we're racing

The racing thing has been pretty exciting. Not only has it opened up a whole new venue of stand up paddling for me, it's also given me a new range of stand up boards to check out and learn about. Here's a couple shots of the boards we've been racing down here:

Photo: Our three boards. Up top is Kiwi with his newest Stu Kenson shaped 12'6" that I call the Demon. He's had a couple of great results on it winning the overall Stock division at this weekend's King's Race for the 6 mile course and taking second at the Battle of the Paddle in the Stock Distance course for the 40 - 49 age division. The middle board is Kiwi's old race board and the bottom is the stock Tim Stamps race board that I've been paddling. That's Dave Parra and Stu having a look at the boards.

Photo: Lots of volume in the squared off tail- kind of a ghetto booty. This type of tail was common at the Battle of the Paddle especially in Danny Ching's 404 race boards. Super boxy and full of foam, probably great for catching any bump as you run downwind as well as providing a large amount of stability.

Photo: The nose is pretty pulled as well- the board is only about 26" wide at its midpoint. A cool board and a cool paint job.

She's gone...

Demolished, scraped- dust. Odd when such a big... thing... just suddenly vanishes. It's the absence that gets you. A guy wondered, "Will it affect the surf now that it's gone?". Which I thought was pretty funny at first. How could a building on land affect a wave out front? Dumb.

But then I thought about it. Maybe it did affect the surf when it was here- could it's absence change things? If it's blowing offshore, and the hotel is gone, maybe the hotel-sheltered section will stand up longer, change the bottom, put a corner out there. Maybe the building disturbed the wind patterns, put odd little swirling eddies out there that broke up the straight west swells and gave us some thing to ride. Who knows? Only time will tell.

Photo: Like big insects chomping away these big demo-dozers tore into that old flea bag and took it down. How's that little left breaking in the spot we used to call the "Slot" (the lineup off the north edge of the hotel).

Clip: Action! I'd pay ten bucks a beer if they had an oceanfront pool/bar that you could post up at after surfing, order a hamburger and drink a freshy in the sun... it's that easy- let's see if they get it right.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

This place rules.

I like where I live. Nope, it's not for everyone. There's no Starbucks (I'm cool with that, Katy's does a great job and the smiles are a little more legit), no parking meters (that's a plus), stinky water (which stops at the magic jetty to the north, right K-Junk?) and no shortage of freaks. But we do have really great access to all kinds of water: year-round flatwater access, surf paddling, big water bombies and thumping beach break. I dig it, check out some photos from around town:

Killer color!

Photos: Dempsey would kick the Cardiff Kook's ass.

Photo: Everyone in town knows Kelly. How's that smile? Do you get the feeling that he knows something that we don't? Kelly and the boys at Emerald City do a great job of keeping the stoke going, even when it's flat and gray and ugly- which today definitely wasn't- maybe that's what all the happiness is about. Photo credit: Jeff Wallis

 Photo: Or maybe it's because that wave threw up a sweet little pocket for him to tuck into... Photo credit: Jeff Wallis

Photo: Or maybe there was a little rebound section down the line that put up something to bash off of... Photo credit: Jeff Wallis

Photo: Here are the guys that keep my ass moving. Kiwi just took second place in the Distance Race (Men 40 - 49) at the Battle of the Paddle, third at the Hennessey's International Paddle Championships and first at the King's Race in La Jolla this weekend. Kiwi's our go-to guy when we want to figure out what we're doing wrong on the race course- Kevin's there to torment me. Next time, Kevin- I'm coming for you!

Photo: What can I say? 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friday's Surf Shots: Thanks Wally!

Wally comes through again- thanks dude! I don't know what he's shooting with but that thing's got some sweet glass on it and the photos are tack sharp:

Photo: Cutback, paddle to the inside... my favorite turn in stand up paddle- shoulders lead the way, hips follow, everything working together.

Photo: Javi jumped into the game, snagged the wave of the day (Friday was a meager day- somehow Javi nabbed a chest high runner) and quickly ditched that wetsuit jacket- it was that nice.

Photo: Snap-o-la. Javi's heading to Bali for a month- his question to me: Should I bring the stando? Um, are you kidding me?

Photo: Here's the converse of the turn at the top of the page... this one's a cutback/snap with the paddle to the outside. Fun stuff.

Photo: Paddle planted, this is when the back foot starts pushing the tail through the turn.

Photo: I do things a bit differently than some at this point- instead of laying back onto the blade, I pull through the turn as if I were taking one big powerful sweep with the paddle. The layback style turns are really cool too- I still haven't figured them out!

Photo: Can you hear the grunt? This is where I'm really pushing hard with the back foot- you can see my left hip is coming through the turn too. It's a strange turn, your shoulders are going one way while your hips are going the other- it's the ol' Rumplestiltskin manuever, stomping so hard you're ripping yourself in half.

Photo: Finishing it out. Now if I could just figure out how to reverse my board fast enough to smack it off that little chunk of whitewater coming at me.