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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jay Killen Benefit Surf Swap Meet April 2

When a fellow surfer needs help in Monterey there is no shortage of brothers to help out. Jay Killen has been struggling with Parkinson's for 10 years and now he needs help. This debilitating condition has left him still fighting physically, but now in need of financial support. Please help if you can.

For more info check out the Sugar Shack Surf Swap Meet website which gives all the details. Send whatever donation that is in your heart and attend the swap meet and planned events on April 2. You can never tell when what goes around, will come around...for you.


A partial list of Swap Meet Day Events
The “Can You Do It” Paddle and Run Competition with a $1,000 cash first place prize.
Seal Lion Bark and Gull Call Competition
Select vintage boards from the Steve Collins Collection (President of the Longboard Collector Club)
Stephen Spaulding's Featurette Film "Sands of Time", a historical look of local surf
Live music from the Bornia Boys Blues Band
The Double Dare Shaved Head and Full Body Wax Auction and
Our regular auction of non-surf related products and services (Fine wine, dining, vacation packages, etc.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Gift of Beauty

Saturday February 5, 2011
We have been gifted with the dazzling jewelry of Winter waves in the finest setting of elements the season and nature can provide. Over the weekend the offshore winds turned tropically warm and gently insistent upon giving us their intimate virtues. It was in a word, beautiful. I hope you enjoy the moment.

On Sunday, Tom introduced us to the Irish-Celtic poet John O'Donohue. Below are a few verses from his work that seem to fit.

Though we cannot see you with outward eyes,
We know our soul's gaze is upon your face,
Smiling back at us from within everything
To which we bring our best refinement.
Beauty is the inconceivable made so intimate that it illuminates our hearts.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

28 Degrees of Difference

Friday February 4, 2001
All it took was 28 degrees. 28 points of shifted swell direction from West to West-Northwest scrubbed off enough wave energy (even at almost the same wave hts. and periods) to make Friday's surf a mere shadow of Thursday's epic session.

I was hoping for a redux, but not really expecting it. But you never really know what the ocean's going to throw at you until you're there, eyes on the prize, skin in the sea as it were. I paddled out at three and could immediately see and sense that it just wasn't it's best own self. S'alright, I got a chance to play around with the new video cam. After today's vid one of two things are happening, or both. When the surf isn't as energized, it's easier to shoot and therefore I can get more material. Ergo, longer videos suffering from a lack of proper editing, i.e. too much boring stuff. Or, I hope I'm getting better at capturing more usable material. Well, the music is finger lickin' guitar pickin' good, if you like Chet Atkins. If you don't, better check your passport because it probably wasn't issued in the USofA.

Dave got a sweet ride right in front of me on the way out which I captured on SD card. I headed upreef to where it was less crowded and that nice little reef section was working, throwing up the challenge to "make me if you can". I spent the rest of the afternoon until dusk taking that challenge. What with the smaller size and energy, the spankings weren't all that bad, more informative than disciplinarian, but educational just the same. It gave me a chance to try re-entries on the L41 SIMSUP which is one of the funnest moves. Fortunately the SIMSUP will generate enough speed to make the move possible. Now all I gotta do is practice, practice, practice.

Two and a half hours later I closed the session out with a long ride from my spot into the pocket beach. A long and rare connection for this afternoon's surf and conditions. Wayne and I enjoyed a blazing sunset fading to dark as we changed out of our wetsuits on the street. Another sweet day in the L41.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Straight West + Low Tide=Down the Line Speed

Thursday February 3, 2011
Apparently a straight west swell at 16 seconds is a real blessing for the usual spot, or as my buddy Sam calls it, "spot X". The usual take-off was moved upcoast and outside and still allowed for some screamingly fast and long rides across the pocket beach, past Naked Ned's and almost to the new mansion. I surfed for three hours from about 3PM to dark in the lowering tide.

Size seemed about best at the 2 ft. tide mark, but overall waves were consistent in the 3-5 ft. range all afternoon. At paddleout the crowd wasn't bad, maybe 15 surfers, but all good surfers. No one missed on their chosen wave. With the waves lining up so well for such long rides, the afternoon glare became somewhat problematic in that it wasn't always easy to see a rider up and carving. I pulled back twice when attempting to paddle in as I saw a surfer pushing down the line, coming directly out of the sun. One guy, arguably the best surfer in the water, longtime shaper, etc. blatantly dropped in on me as I was entering the middle bowl on my first good wave of the day. I can only think that he truly didn't see me for the glare.

This same guy got some of the best rides of the afternoon, one of which was an insane recovery from a slight miscalculation on a super fast and walled up spinner. He took off at the middle peak on a bigger wave which immediately jacked up and started freight trianing to the inside. He dropped in and turned at the top of the wave before pointing his board down towards the trough to gain speed. He then realized that he need more speed, needed to take a higher line which he did...but too high. As the wave pulled him up face, almost into the lip, his board just fell out of the wave. The tail, rails, edges, fins, everything fell out and his board started to spin tail first down the face of the wave as gravity without fetters took over. The next move happened so fast, and was done with such exceptional reflexive athleticisim one's mind found it hard to believe. But however he did it, he found his footing and was able to re-seat his board in the wave face and continue down the line. I was videoing his ride and just as he lost it I had to drop my camera and paddle like a madman for the shoulder lest we collide. It was as magnificent a feat of surfing prowess as I have ever seen. (It almost made me forget that he burned me...maybe he DID see me?) At any rate, my only regret is that I couldn't capture the whole thing on video.

My first hour in the surf was adjustment and failure. I was concentrating on strategies for videoing with my new camera and wasn't fully focused on surfing. Therefore I found myself struggling for position. It seemed that no matter where I was, there was someone else in a better position for the wave I (we) wanted. Then a fully wave populated set would pour through, everyone would go, the line-up would be clear of people, and it was the end of the set leaving me sputtering into the void like Donald Duck with Tourette's Syndrome. Grrrrrr! Frustration. Then I finally got a good one taking off right in the main peak, clear to go and the aforementioned burn took place. I was beginning to think this just wasn't my day.

But right about the one hour mark I picked up a swing wide bomb that was one of the best waves of the day. The take-off allowed me to drop in, turn hard off the bottom and set-up for a steeply high wall and hard falling crest which nipped at my heels all the way across the pocket beach and into the gap where it backed off a bit before walling up again and throwing another long section almost to the new mansion. Stoke and praise! That was the first of a half dozen almost just like it until dark.

The crowd thinned at low tide, primarily because of the kelp is my guess (which has now become my friend since switching to lower profile Future Controller fins). It seemed that wave size dropped a bit, and it became a little less consistent, but there were still plenty of quality waves to be had until darkness called the game on account of itself.

I've decided to keep the Kodak Zx3 PlaySport video camcorder. Today was the first day I started experimenting with it seriously. Video is a different experience than shooting stills and I'm finding that a definite strategy is needed to get anything worthwhile or maybe I should say close to worthwhile. For one thing, it's really difficult to do both, i.e surfing and videoing. You pretty much have to do one or the other. For now the plan is to sit inside for complete sets instead of trying to get a quick video shot while paddling back out from a wave surfed. It's too difficult to retrieve the camera, turn it on, set it up then shoot. I find that I have to be ready and even then it's no guarantee that I'll get what I want on the memory card. The PlaySport takes stills, but only at 5mp, not very high quality. And it has no continuous frame shooting with slow reload time so you have to get somewhat lucky (or very well practiced) to get the shot you want. I bought the PlaySport online from Amazon and wrote a quick review. It's fun playing around with the new toy though, and I'm diggin' it.

NOTE: The first two stills in this story are screen grabs from the PlaySport video of each respective sequence. The final sunset shot of the SIMSUP in the water is taken with the PlaySport on the 5mp still image setting. For the screen grabs I used the Windows Vista "Snipping" tool, selecting .png file type. I edited all three shots with Adobe Photoshop Elements 6.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Perfect Ten

Thursday January 27, 2011
A welcome conspiracy of waves, wind and weather plotted to provide a perfect day of surfing at a pristine point break today. We hit the water at 1015 for a nearly five hour session on SUP, Bonzer and knee board and paipo bellyboard. For three hours we surfed alone in consistent, chest high/slightly overhead waves. Then we were joined by two shortboarders who filled out the surf craft ranks. Most sets had so many waves in them, we could have used more surfers as not to waste any. The best rides were long and satisfying, ending up in a bowl section that demanded a quick kick-out or a flogging on the sandy shore.

Even with six or seven waves per set, the paddle back out was so long you could only get a second wave if you'd taken the first in the set. Waves poured in consistently through the main take off peak which provided a fast and steep drop but then rapidly backed off as it hit the end of the reef and deep water. This necessitated a hard cutback into the now boiling froth. At the right time one brought the board around again and into a long reformed wall that set-up a bowl section of the cleanest, clearest emerald green glass you could imagine. Then do it again until the flick out at water's edge. Swing wide sets were infrequent, but when they did occur it gave us the opportunity to magnify the take-off by backdooring the peak and riding under the water fall. This facilitated a "peak squared" equation of energy and stoke along with the fast and barreling inside section.

The weather forecasters are fond of telling us that we always get a spate of fantastic weather during the Winter. I hear 'em. Weather this January has been nothing short of spectacular. As a matter of fact, we've had better weather these last two or three weeks than all Summer long with it's persistent cold and dreary fog, fog, fog feeling like the ashen faces of gravestones in a heavy mist. Wind stood up offshore or slightly side shore all day long, blowing the tops off the waves like banners on the battlefield. Only late in the session did the wave faces get slightly chattery, and then only for a short period of time. It glassed off late in the session when we were all too exhausted and sated to carry on.

Sessions like this one are rare. Appreciation and thanksgiving were passed around.

Mega-thanks and salutations to the one who took the pics. You know who you are.