G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Friday, April 10, 2009

Low Energy West Ground Swell

Note: Due to an almost 24-hour internet outage this post is for Thursday, April 9.

I've been tracking this swell for a few days and it started to show on the reefs Wednesday afternoon late. Quality was pretty poor, with lots of sections, and there was still a lot of southwest wind from the passing rain storms. I figured there might be a window of opportunity at the dawn patrol Thursday morning to get some real ground swell waves before the forecast southerly winds and the next rain storm blew through.

I was finally able to drag myself out of bed early enough to make the first light dawn patrol. (Always a tough transition when we switch to daylight saving time.) The internet was down when I got up to check the surf and conditions, but I decided there was enough evidence of swell in the water and decent wind conditions to suit up and take a chance on getting a few good waves. I was right.

I paddled out at Sarge's at 0640, tide .2 ft. and rising. Because the kelp has grown so thick in this area of the reefs, and the swell wasn't putting up enough wave energy and water to lift one over the kelp carpet, it was unrideable. The main take-off was in a kelp bed so thick that catching the wave and riding it was impossible. So I paddled up reef to check Casa's and Gdubs.

Casa's wasn't putting up anything as consistent as Gdubs so I paddled there and found a clear spot of ocean to launch from. I surfed there for three hours, the first hour by myself in fairly consistent, waist to shoulder high fast breaking peelers. Max there were only two or three surfing with me for the entire session. It wasn't real high quality surf. Most waves would section after a fun and zippy ride in two to three feet of water. but it was clean and uncrowded and I got a ton of waves. Overall, the waves were smaller than earlier this week, but more consistent. Therefore more waves, more surfing, more fun.

As the tide filled in the reefs started to swamp with water, and the waves got fuller and lumpier. Crowds were thin and I wonder if it was because of the internet outage. People couldn't check it and decided to go back to bed. Also the weather was looking foul. Scimi's, up-reef from Gdubs, is usually always packed with surfers. At it's peak this morning, when the waves were best, there were only five people out at the main peak. There were so few people that I never did get any shots of people on the waves. Lack of people, lack of serendipity...either I was in the wrong spot to shoot, or they were.

Wind was calm to light from the east at paddle out, then got progressively sideshore/onshore. By 0900 it was blowing pretty well onshore, causing the waves to crumble. I was out at 0930.

Apr 9, 2009 (Th)
In: 0640
Out: 0935
AT= data unavailable
WT= 52F
Wx: Low clouds and overcast with some sporadic light rain
Tide: .2' Rising to 3.1'
Wind: Calm to light easterly switching to brisk southeasterlies (onshore)
Sea Surface: Glassy to light wind ripples to wind scallops
10-0 Angulo EPS/Epoxy Custom SUP with Infinity Ottertail carbon fiber paddle
Fin set-up: Thruster with K2D2 4.75" center fin (fourth mark up from back) and Future Fiberglass YU (actual fin not shown)
Bathymetry: Rock reefs
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Nearshore)
0630: 2.3 feet @ 16.7 W
0700: 2.3 feet @ 16.7 W (3 - 4 ft. faces)
0730: 2.0 feet @ 15.4 W
0800: 2.6 feet @ 16.7 W (3 - 4 ft. faces)
0830: 2.0 feet @ 16.7 W
0900: 2.0 feet @ 16.7 W (3 - 4 ft. faces)
0930: 2.3 feet @ 16.7 W
1000: 2.0 feet @ 16.7 W (3 - 4 ft. faces)


  1. Hi Gary,

    I was using your blog to catch up on the local surf conditions while I was on a camping/surf trip down south. Thanks for the postings.

    One comment though, why call traditional surfboards "lay-downs"? I hear other SUP guys use that term as well. I just call 'em "surfboards" and "stand-ups". You could just throw in "traditional."

    C-ya out there, Ron

  2. Good point Ron and I suppose the answer to that is purely subjective. It's just the way I relate to the genres, or sub-categories, if you will, of surfing.

    There is a definitive difference between stand up paddling and surfing a paddleboard and/or surfboard. My new custom SUP is every bit as versatile as a surfboard, only I stand up and paddle as a means of locomotion.

    There is a commonality and difference between a SUP longboard, a longboard and a shortboard. One stands up to surf them, but one lays down to paddle a "traditional" longboard and shortboard.

    I suppose we could spend some time discussing exactly what the word "traditional" means and how it applies to surfing.

    The common denominator is surfing, the means of locomotion, either standing up or laying down seems a reasonble way to generally differentiate the two. At least in my mind.

    I could go with "traditional" in conversation or writing, but probably wouldn't because I don't think it communicates what I feel, or what I'm trying to say. I'm trying to be consistent in communicating the difference between the genres, in a way that makes me feel most comfortable, and that tells the story as completely as possible as I see it.

    As I said, very subjective!

    Thanks for your thoughts. I hope you had a great time on your surfing/camping trip. Sounds like fun!