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

Monday, May 24, 2010

Deep Water South Ground Swell; Conditions Clean Up

Monday May 24, 2005

After waiting and watching for what seemed like days; after tracking and checking the buoys and forecasts ten times a day, hoping; the deep water south swell that has been blown to bits by Spring winds in SoCal and here over the weekend, made landfall today in our corner of the universe. More good news: the powerful northerly winds that had made an insane asylum of whitecaps on the ocean's surface, took a break.

I could have surfed yesterday, Sunday, but a combination of family obligations, sloth and laziness, and lot's of wind along with a certain loathing for over-populated weekend surf days kept me dry. There were waves for sure, not south swell waves, but hacked up nearshore windswell on top of hacked up nearshore windswell. Not great, but definitely surfable. Add in the crowd factor though and I was over it before I even started.

I paddled out this morning and was headed to Sarge's at 0545 in inky gray overcast that looked like rain. Actually, it already had rained. My car was damp with light rain when I loaded up at 0h-dark-thirty. Good thought I, if anything wind will be light from the south. I was half right. Wind was light and offshore. Dig it. The usual suspects were on it at first light making the line-up jump from zero to five in about two minutes time. No use making it six, I'll head for Yellow House...nobody there.

Yellow's was about perfect today for SUP surfing. Smaller than just about everywhere else, it was consistently 2-4 feet all morning before the tide rendered backwash put too much bump on the wave faces. Since a SUP can catch practically any wave, especially one that loses energy mid-slide, it was the perfect board for an insane morning of super fun, consistent wave riding. Wave count was off the charts. This swell was coming in a bit too steep to make it big, but the 14-18 second periods were perfect for putting up 7-9 wave sets on a very regular basis, even for a south swell. The wind swell was practically non-existent, therefore every wave had true southerly energy.

Yellow's loves a big west swell, and any form of real energy south. Most often we only see the wrap around energy that comes in from the northwest, and it rapidly loses size and punch as it makes it's way down reef from the point to Chinese Cove. Northerly waves are telegraphed from upcoast to downcoast in an orderly fashion, you know when they're coming. But a south will spread that energy out much more evenly, so if you see a set coming at a spot up-reef, get ready to rumble 'cause you're up to bat. And the wave surfs differently too.

Northerly waves will rise up at the peak and give you a line to ride before backing off into a hole mid-bay. If the waves have some size, you can negotiate this falling away (especially with a paddle) and stroke into the next section, heading to the beach. But today's southerly waves (especially with all the sand filling in over the reef) put up a fast line into that same soft spot with the option of leaving enough wave to throw a 180 cutback, riding back into the reforming peak before coming around for a fast grind into and through the beachbreak section. That is new for the Summer and makes the wave at least a 7 on a scale of 10, instead of a 5.

I paddled back out time and again through a lot of unridden waves, giving praise and flushed with the satisfaction of another good ride under my belt, and just enjoying the view. The south is backing down and we might get one more good (but smaller) day before it's gone for good. I was tired after two hours and called it a day. I ran some errands apres surf and checked out the beach replenishment action in SeaTown before heading home. I couldn't resist circling back to the scene of the fun. It was still cranking.

Tuesday May 25, 2010
This morning's swell was on the decline with wave heights 1/3 to 1/2 of yesterday's. Yellows wasn't working at all in spite of the sub-one foot tide. But there were still some waves left in the dead glassy morning gloom and light rain.

The regulars were home in bed, sleeping it off after gorging on yesterday's wave feast. I paddled into some small breakers at Sarge's and surfed for about a half hour before Priscilla and Nancy paddled out on their longboards. We traded waves for a bit longer before I was finally drawn down to GDubs, which had been looking a little bigger and somewhat more consistent with only one longboarder out.

GDubs is kelp infested to the max. I was surprised to see that the surfer in the water was Paul. I haven't seen him practically all Winter. We chit-chatted, taking turns for another thirty minutes before one other shortboarder came out and Paul called it a morning. He definitely scored the dawn patrol, catching lot's of fun, crisp little runners by himself for an hour and a half.

I got some good ones, fast peelers on the inside sections breaking in the shallows, and the south hung in there the whole session, putting up decent but small southern hemi energy. The high line was the call, any low line ran you aground in the kelp carpet. It finally got too crowded for the quantity and quality of surf after three more shortboarders entered the line-up so I headed back to Sarge's for the take out.

Dave was out on his custom 10-4 SUP. He's a local shaper/manufacturer with a facility in Watsontown, deep in the heart of ag-central. Lot's of guys ride his boards. Kirk works out of his shop and will be fine tuning my next custom SUP down there tomorrow morning. It should be fun with a full report to follow after my first test ride.

We were fortunate to get this little southie the last couple days. Even though it was short lived, it was well appreciated. Supposedly the SPAC is acting up, but long range doesn't look too positive as of this writing. So...Pray for Surf!

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