Friday, August 31, 2012

Something's heading our way!!!

Rumor has it... Put it this way, I'm getting up early tomorrow!

My hometown... come on baby!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Can you tell it's been FLAT!!!!!

When I start breaking out the random prose.... watch out! Lengthy ramblings and goofy stories just mean that we're pulling our frickin' hair out here because it has been sooooo tiny. Supposedly something is coming this weekend but watch out the poop monster from the south is in the water. Last night, 2 a.m., I let the beast out so she can sniff the grass, but what do I sniff? Wafting on the night on-shore breeze is the meaty stench of southern borne sewage. Thanks Mexico for your little gift. This morning what do I spy? The sewage flower (contaminated water signs) popping just in time for the Labor Day swell... so it's a race against time. Who will win? The poop monster or the Labor Day swell? Tune back in to find out. Until then, here's a cool surf shot I took a long time ago when there was surf. Sigh.



All this talk of VW's reminded me of this one:


 I bought it in the parking lot of the swap meet.
The guy took my money and gave me two things: a key and a lament, "Lo siento, amigo, I'm sorry my friend". I would have thought the apology was odd but I was too excited to consider what it might mean.

Inside, the van was moist. It smelled kind of like a locker room but more like dog puke, beef jerky and farts. There was nothing beyond the driver's front bench seat. The Mexican had replaced everything back there with pieces of shag carpet, pressed and matted, cemented to the floor by some type of canine body fluid. The thing was infested with fleas. Las pulgas had taken over the carpet, using it as a command center, launching non-covert ops, assaulting my calves and entrenching along my shin bone. The windows were spray painted black, the paint sealing them closed. We named her "Misery".

Misery... with way cool rims.

The tranny was sketchy, it popped out of fourth gear. A bent coat hanger looping from the gear shift to the passenger seat solved that problem. When the wire broke, Ralph redefined the meaning of "manual" transmission by holding it in gear for five hundred miles. When the vibration up the stick put his arm to sleep, he wrapped his toes around it, gripping it like an orangutan, holding it between the fat toe and the long one next to it. It worked but it wasn't a nice thing to look at.

The VW ate gas and oil simultaneously so we traveled with a case of 10w-30 we stole from Ralph's dad. The starter jammed so often there was a hammer taped to it to whack it free. The fuel gauge was consistent, it always said "Full". There were no wipers and only one headlight but there was a hole cut into the floor with a funnel and tube. And that was a plus because we weren't stopping until we hit Scorpion Bay.

At Guerrero Negro an empty beer bottle flying out of an approaching truck detonated the passenger side windscreen like a frickin' grenade. On the East road in, Ralph destroyed a front tire on someone's cast off fender. A drunken llantero fixed it for twenty bucks, fifteen beers and five precious hours of daylight.

Deep in the midnight desert and heavy into the cervezas, I drank cloudy melted ice water sloshing around in the cooler. It looked nice and cold; I was right about the cold. We hit the point at 3 am. Ralph slept in the dirt wrapped in a beach towel. I squatted in Misery like a contortionist, knees to cheeks, jittering, sweating and cursing as I hovered over two plastic garbage bags simultaneously blowing into both. Mercifully, I passed out an hour before sunrise, blissfully incoherent while the fleas joyfully stuffed themselves at the feeding trough of my naked body. I woke up with one eye swollen closed, a back full of flea bites and paper towels stuffed into the parts of a human body capable of clamping down on them. It was hellish.  

But, ask me what I really remember about that trip and I'll tell you this: I remember an empty Baja point firing like an overripe habanero, I recall laughing endlessly with a good friend and I'll never forget Misery, my first bad ass Baja rig.

Surfing makes your life better- it eases the Misery.

Stand up paddleboard lessons in sunny San Diego- get 'em while they're hot! The water's warming up, the surf is rolling in... get yourself on a stand up board now and learn the skills you'll need to be part of the hottest water sport around. Click here for more information. To book a lesson email

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Don't laugh, your daughter might be in here.

If you're a dude then you built forts. For me, it started with pulling the cushions off of the couch, stacking them up into walls and a roof and crawling inside. Refrigerator boxes were great too. You could cut some holes into them, windows with flaps and doors- instant fort. 

When I started surfing, I went for the old VW split window. These things were the original surf van, bed in the back, cot above the drivers seat. Basically, a rolling fort. I had one of those until I was twenty five years old. Boy, did that thing piss off my girl friend's dad. He was pretty well heeled- I was a nobody UCSB grad with just enough brown in me to piss him off real good, which is exactly what she wanted out of the deal. When I'd come rolling up in that primered gray cargo van, his systolic bump was like hitting the hot button on a Titan booster- next stop was the moon. I'd slide my foot off the brake pedal (remember how it would go thunk against the floor boards?), give the gear box the ol' second to first synchromesh assist and haul ass out of there before his martini-soaked frontal lobe got warmed up enough to really f#%& me up. 

Tools of the trade: Quart of rum, couple of boards, a beat hibachi, flannel double sleeping bag, some paddles... what else do you really need?

My latest creation is the Ramble Machine, it's a little more reliable and a bit more capable then the VW but at heart it's all fort. On the day I bought it, I proved my eighth grade math teacher wasn't a liar; finally getting my chance to use geometry in everyday life. The Pythagorean theorem verified that a 9'3 stando would indeed fit diagonally in the bed, allowing me to store it securely within the camper shell I planned to install. To you it may look like another dirty 4x4 but under that shell I've got all the necessary accoutrement of a full-blown Baja expedition vehicle.

I get lots of head shaking and coy smiles when those my age see what I've got going on in the back, "Aren't you a little bit old for sleeping in back of your truck?" they say.  I'm okay with their little chuckles- just don't laugh too hard, because like my girlfriend's dad from so long ago, you just never know who might be laying a pretty little head on the pillow of the bed that I've so cleverly crafted. Chicks dig forts.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Friday Ramble.

The Friday Ramble, my every-so-often day to ramble about whatever I want. Tune in or tune out- up to you.

Fired up for this weekend. I'm not sure how many of you know this but I'm not an actual, professional writer or blog-billionaire. I'm actually a high school science teacher and that line of work is what pays the bills. You could say I'm sponsored by the State of California, since they (you if you live here) are the only ones who've footed the bill for my trips, my boards and my paddles (well, almost- thanks SurfCraft International and Creed SUP). I love teaching, I've been a teacher for almost seventeen years and I take it very seriously. 

This week, I kicked some serious teaching ass: I set up and ran a chemistry lab (try pulling all the stuff together to do something like this and you'll know there's more to it than you think), conducted two sand crab sampling sessions, put together a nifty digital lecture using my laptop and projector, set up a three day field trip (bureaucratic paper nightmare- but I ain't afraid), wrote a test, administered a make up exam, inventoried my chemical storeroom, completed a State Expenditure report for a Marine Science program that I administer (finished it a week early too) and held two after-school sessions of robot construction. I'm new to the robotics game but I'll tell you- watching the kids get so excited is a real stoke-fest. That's a lot of teaching stuff. 

But that's not all, I also fit in a 5 - 7pm paddle club session with 10 fired up women paddlers, got in a couple surfs for myself and mowed, weedwacked and edged my 12,000 square foot lot. I posted content on this and another blog that I contribute to and messed around with my new Ion WiFi camera. Dude, I killed it this week- so if you see me... buy me a beer, I deserve it!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Invincible Paddle Boards?

I just wrote a little piece for the Creed SUP blog. If you get a chance check it out- indestructible stand up boards made of advanced lay-ups pulled from battle field materials- fact or fiction? Check it out:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Ion Air Pro Wifi: Wow- Can't wait to start shooting with this thing!

Look what just came in the mail courtesy of the folks at Ion.

I literally have just pulled this out of the packing box and have to say, the thing looks slick. I'm really excited about the wifi upload capabilities. The camera is going into the water this weekend- stand by for a full product review.

Dog Days

Summer decided to kick our asses. It's been brutally hot and humid. I can barely sleep at night and I live only a couple blocks from the beach. I can imagine the suffering going on East of I5. Fortunately, there's a silver lining to all this- the ocean water temps have also been nice and high.

Lilly, making the most of it.

It's been warm enough to trunk it on the dawn patrol and mid-day paddles up the beach are sublimely comfortable. It's like the feeling of the tropics where you don't even flinch when you jump into the water, you just go. And when the water gets this warm our jellyfish friends start showing up again. One thing missing: waves. It's gone kind of quiet again and my daily window workday of surfing opportunity is now synchronized with low tide- so I'm pretty much shut down. Summer dog days, rolling into Fall. 

Wednesday night paddle club: Want to stand up paddle after work (we paddle from 5 - 7pm)? I'm offering 4, two hour stand up paddle sessions for $45 total! Boards and paddles provided and delivered to our workout beach in Southern San Diego for the next four consecutive Wednesdays. If you live in San Diego and want to get in some painless, stand up paddling- drop me an email today we've only got 4 spaces left and we start tonight (8/22/12) so act fast! Full paddleboard lesson page here: We're also building a class for September, if you're interested email me for info. we only have space for ten so do it now!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paddle SURF shot of the day: Kiwi Krankin' it

Here's one more from last weekend's photo session. Kiwi cruised over and snagged a pretty meaty one. What you should know is that Manny is shooting with a wide angle lens in a water housing and that the lens is only effective at about three feet- so think about how close Kiwi is to Manny on this one. Given the fact that stand up paddle blades and fins are nice and scalpel sharp, you start to understand why Manny always wears a helmet when he's shooting. 

Kind of cool checking out the nastiness rumbling right behind him. Photo:
Stand Up Paddle Lessons: I've been teaching folks how to get out and paddle for almost six years now. Every summer my calender starts getting booked with first-time and returning friends who all want to get out and learn how to stand up paddle safely and effectively. If you'd like to give it a shot click this link to my lesson and testimonial page and read about what I've been doing down here. I'm really happy with the lesson I've developed over those six years and the techniques that I've applied from my sixteen year teaching background. Sure you can find some kid who took a "certification class" and got a cool patch from one of the freshly minted qualifying agencies but it will take them years to ever figure out how to become an effective educator. Why wait? Let's get out and paddle now!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Paddle Board Surf Attack: Kiwi getting in to a fun one!

It pretty much all came together this weekend- sunshine, fun south swell in the water and Kiwi there on his paddleboard to snag a few- and, oh yeah, Manny Vargas there to snap it from water. Check this one out:

What would you do to that section just down the line?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Paddleboard Shaper: This is the guy who makes my boards, Part III

Listen closely, kids, about craftsmanship.

Custom Paddleboard/Custom Paint Job = Rad.

Check the spray on Jon Kinley's custom Infinity paddlesurf board- even matches his Vans. Nice work!

Order a custom board and you get to have it painted any way that you like...
And have it configured any way that you'd like- check out the absence of a screw type fin box in the middle- Jon's riding smaller fins as a thruster. Interesting!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

San Diego's Premier SUP Race: To Benefit the Wounded Warrior Project

I was just sent this by my friends at Isle Surfboards. The guys are organizing and hosting a major race here in San Diego, September 22nd. The race will be called America's Finest Paddle Race and it's being held to benefit a truly noble cause, The Wounded Warrior Project. Since this is my home town and I'd love to meet all 153 of you who have become FOLLOWERS of this humble blog I am inviting you to join me for the race.

Click here for more information about the race.

Look for me at either the first buoy turn where I will be bringing up the tail end of the pack (to ensure that everybody is wearing SUP approved PFDs and that proper "Mast to Beam" right of way calls are being made at the turn around point) or at the beer garden where I will be hosting a seminar titled, "Fact or Phallus: My stando is smaller than yours which automatically makes me rad". If all else fails, bring a cup for a covert cocktail (not a red solo cup, duh!), tell me what your sign in name is as a FOLLOWER of the blog and I will personally mix up my infamous Kraken7 for you on the shores of Liberty Station.

I have information for any of you out there who might want to become involved as a sponsor for this event. Email me: and I'll hook you up.

Look forward to seeing you there and please do let me know if you are coming for the race:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stand Up Paddle Racing: Smile, you've just become irrelevant!

Just got back from the premier, stand up paddle, lake race- the Tahoe Nalu and there is one giant take-away message for me and all of the SUP racing world: You don't matter anymore. Now just wait a minute. I can just hear all the crying and whining from all you 5% bodyfat, acai-eating, coconut water drinking, protein huffing, gluten free, serious athletes out there- don't get your compression leggings in a bunch. What I'm talking about will actually make you smile. You are irrelevant because, from what I witnessed first hand, it's the kids- and I'm talking the little, below grade 3 grommets out there that are going to really put this sport on the map. 

Stand Up Paddling's Future: It's looking bright.

Picture this: the big-show, ten mile race commences with certified racing superstars all blasting off into the big blue of lake Tahoe. You've got some of the nation's fastest stand up paddle racers out there- and one crazed Aussie paddler, Jamie Mitchell, who just happens to be a legend in the sport of prone paddle racing- a legitimate world celebrity among watermen; all of them churning away, leaving us behind, racing off to some distant, unseen buoy. Yawn. It didn't get exciting until the end of the race when Mitchell outsmarted the other guy (see what I mean?) and high legged it through the shallows like some hyperkinetic bronzed aussie lifeguard clubbie- taking the win. Again.

Contrast that to the below-8 grom race. The shore? Packed with soccer, er- I mean paddle, moms and dads all hooting and hollering like a Nascar mob storming the Budweiser tent. The crowd was three deep as the mini-paddlers fought it out for their one lap of glory. And this was no "fun" race either- these kids came to win, shaking and baking and showing some surprisingly enviable paddle form as they fought it out. You think you've got skills busting a buoy pivot turn on your stock racer? Try it when you're only four feet tall- and these kids were doing it! You want to talk about smiles? You want to talk about engagement? This was it! This was the excitement that I was looking for up there. 

Buoy pivot turn, smiling all the way.

And it also left me with one conclusion: Stand Up paddle in all of it's forms, surfing, racing, cruising, river, pool, mudhole, whatever- it is really here to stay. Because when you see kids paddling the way that I did and realize that they will grow up with stand up paddling, that surfing a stand up board may be their first taste of wave riding ever and thus seem as natural a way to ride a wave as coasting in on a boogie board, you realize that current biases toward our sport are doomed. It's not if stand up paddle will make it to the Olympics but when, it's not if stand up paddle surfers will carve out a place in the lineup but how far and in what new and fresh way will they push surfing's limits. 

And all of this means that we are irrelevant. We may have paved the way but we won't be the ones to develop stando to it's full potential. Except for Jamie Mitchell but he's a freak.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The nail that stands up...

You stand up, you stand out. No two ways about it, if you paddle out on a stando, you're going to cause controversy. There will be a buzz in the lineup and you will be at the epicenter of it. 

Yesterday I paddled out to surf a really good left freight training through our pier from the south. I guess little Miss Summer must have read yesterday's post and decided she'd hike her skirt up a little and see if she could win me back (it worked, I'm so fickle). Predictably, the spot was packed with every conceivable type of wave rider, old barnacle to bearded hand-plane hippy, all of us wanted a spot out there and even more, all of us were crazy to get a wave. 

Standing out among the giants.

It definitely wasn't harmonious. There were cut-off, cut-outs, hack-jobs and just plain thievery going down out there. The sponger riders were hovering on the inside like a horde of jackals at a Serengeti potluck, slurping up every little scrap of a wave and leaving nothing to the bodysurf vultures  hovering around the perimeter. It was like watching sailfish go through a sardine bait ball, where the only thing that drifts into the deep are scales; there was not a single wave that made it to the shore unmolested.

Desperation makes you do weird things and with a summer that's left me wave starved, I thought it made perfect sense to insert my flesh and foam into that swirling mosh pit of a take off spot. All the chimpanzee-like jibber-jabbering came to a halt as I did the worst thing a paddlesurfer can do at a crowded spot- I went straight through the crowd right to the top of the peak. Basically, I cut the line. Eyes swung up at me from way down below, boogy boarders stopped scrabbling and went into a hover mode, placidly kicking their fins like ducks waiting for a wad of wonder bread, the group collectively inhaled. And then it came, one loud clear heckle from the alpha male, the head hyena, "Hey, John, did you bring your dust pan with that broom?". Man, that shook loose a tirade of comments, some barely audible, some loud enough for even the sunburned Arizona heat-refugees on the pier to hear just fine. My favorite was a nice, clear, succinct, "Get the f$#k out of here!". It was like a perfect Hemingway sentence, nothing more, nothing less needed- just one clean thought. 

There's nothing like a well aimed vulgarity to clear the senses. And there was no hiding because like the Chinese say, "The nail that stands up gets hammered down". Your existence comes to one point, the way you react says a lot about who you really are, all of your trials and tribulations, the life lessons you've endured, how happy you are with your place in the cosmos. And man, it's all about to blow up on the world stage with that vicious, little wave riding mob, sitting front row.

I flipped around, paddled right up to the big dog, the alpha male and said loud and clear for everyone to hear, "Dave, when you say things like that to me, it really hurts my feelings.". Jaws dropped, eyes went wide, body board ducklings stopped kicking and another deep, collective inhale was taken. It was silent. WTF did he just say?

Which gave me just enough of a diversion to bag that little southern-hemi, pier sucker and ride straight to the beach. After all, if you are going to stand out, a little well-timed stand up never hurts.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Breaking up.

I'm done with you summer. What a liar you were. You came in all fired up and calling for endless south swell peelers and what did we get? One solid, albeit classic, south swell that lasted for what? Two days? You were a one shot wonder. Summer you are fired- I'm over you. Where's Fall? Now that's a season that understands my needs.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

How to stand up paddle surf: Bottom Turn II - projection.

If you've ever watched a good surfer in really bad conditions, you've probably been impressed with the speed they are able to make in what looks like mushy nothingness. These guys (and gals) have mastered the art of projecting out of their bottom turns and are using every little cup of a wave surface to bounce out of. If you learn how to load and unload your springs (legs) and push off of the bottom, you'll find your surfing improving significantly as you develop the ability to generate speed. And, as we all know, speed is life!

Want to see good projection? Check out Kelly Slater, look at the wave at about .49 and see how Slater zooms right by the guy ripping him off. The Snake muddles through a couple of turns, no projection. The 11x Champ, weighting and unweighting out of his turns, easily passes him by- lots of projection.

I'm assuming in this piece that you already know how to read a wave and make the decision to turn left or right on it. I'm also assuming that you've got the basics of actually redirecting the board figured out. I'm thinking that what you are looking for is a way to add some vitality to your riding- you want to go from slow cruiser to dynamic ripper, bouncing from section to section, carving with speed and flow. Sounds good right? Well, the key then is projection. 

The Basics: First, as you drop down a wave face, bend your knees so that you are compressing your body like a coiled spring. Your legs are going to pump like two pistons, firing in unison when you lay your board over off the bottom. Get those legs primed and ready to explode- the only way for them to do this is to have them bent. Straight legs can't pump. The second part takes a lot of practice, you've got to develop your timing and you've got to know your board and how it turns. Basically, in one fluid move, as you hit maximum velocity on your way down the face, simultaneously extend your legs and un-compress your body out of the turn. Imagine yourself jumping forward, pushing off the surface of the board. Your body, the spring, has uncoiled and you are unweighting yourself and the board- allowing it to bounce out of the turn. This is what we call projecting.

Basically, you are weighting (compressing as you drop in) and un-weighting (uncoiling off the bottom) the board through your bottom turn. If you've ever watched skaters or snowboarders in a half-pipe, you can see them doing the same thing; compacting their body as they drop down the half pipe then driving their legs and unweighting as they project up the opposite side. 

A couple of tips. Turn your head and look to where you want to go, your body will go where the eyes are looking- so look far down the line and you will get there. Work on your timing. The better you get at synchronizing the driving pistons of your legs with the smooth lean and swoop of your bottom turn, the smoother the turn will look and the more projection you'll get out of the bottom turn. 

And finally, if you're doing it right, your legs should be worn out at the end of a long ride. If they ain't burnin' chances are you're not projecting.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Paddle Surf Trip: Mainland Mexico... Wave Farm!

Okay, of the stand up paddle vids that I've made, this might be my favorite of all time. It's the cast of characters that gets it on this one. There's Farmer Dave, Tim Stamps, Big Chad, Mark Wraight, Matt Wilson- shoot even my brother Mike makes a cameo in it. Best of all is the vibe you get from the flick- I can feel the mainland's heat right now. Check it out:

Find more videos like this on Stand Up Paddle Surfing

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How to stand up paddle surf: Bottom Turn, an introduction.

The bottom turn is the most important turn in surfing. That single turn sets up the whole rest of the wave. The move not only redirects you down the line but, when done correctly, sling-shots you into the next section with enough speed to crank a turn, outrun a closeout section (and make the wave) or set up for the tube. As with most things in surfing, there a million variations and approaches to take when you're coming off the bottom, it all depends on what your intentions are and what groove you're looking for that day. Feeling a little pissed off? Sink that rail and jam it through. Got a little rhythm and flow going? Nothing like extending a little soul arch arc out of the flats. There is, despite all this variation, a common component that all bottom turns possess- projection. If you can spring out of the turn and project down the line, your bottom turn, regardless of it's use and intention will look clean and dynamic.

Rail down, fins in and eyes looking tens of yards down the line- projection, the key to bouncing off the bottom!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Snapped in half: Surf Eats SUP

I'll let Kiwi explain in his own words:

"Don't really know what happened. Paddling out,surfer coming right at me, double wave( wind swell) shoulder to head high, waiting for surfer to see me knowing wave is coming. Brace and try and paddle up BIG white wash. Feel board hit me in the chest. Knocks wind out of me. Come up and unnamed surfer says dude your board snapped. I look around and sure enough it's done. He keeps talking to me but all I'm trying to do is breathe. Make it in only to get a glancing wack from a stingray. Never caught a wave. Went home got the other board and went back out and caught a couple. Sunday north side. Super fun waves. Shit happens. Will order a new one when my shaper is done with the U S Open. Life is good!!!!"

They don't live forever...