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

Friday, July 8, 2011

The South Swells of Mid-July

July 9 - 14, 2011

Primer Swell, South Swell #6 and South Swell #7

The weather turned Summer chilly with fog, overcast, broken clouds and cold ocean temperatures on order every morning. But with the cool weather came a series of hot southern Pacific swells.

Primer Swell - Days 1 & 2
The first swell up was the Primer Swell. I like to copy the names Mark Sponsler uses for swells on his Stormsurf website. They're not fancy or named after people, their just logical, delineated and ordered. The Primer was the first of a trio. It had less punch than the next one, Swell #6 but was a little better aimed at the L41 than the third, Swell #7.

The Primer made itself known on Saturday July 9th. It was small and inconsistent at GDubs but got better, even though wave sizes dropped some as the periods shortened on Sunday. I paddled out both days at literally 0-dark-30 (5:30AM) and for fifteen minutes shared it only with a couple other surfers. By 0600 there were 10 out and by 0615, 17 surfers vying for waves. I got a few good ones and bailed out after about an hour or hour and a half each day.

Swell #6 - Days 3 & 4
Swell #6 made an unmistakable entry on the buoys with long period runners showing at 18-20 seconds early Monday morning, July 11. Anyone watching the Surfline web cams for Waikiki and South Shore knew how powerful this southie was, putting up head high to overhead waves for two solid days in the Islands. By the time it got to us it had suffered the inevitable decay that traveling across a couple thousand plus miles will do, but it was consistently putting up chest to overhead waves at GDubs. Upcoast it was bigger as always. The crowd wasn't much better today. By 0530 there were ten in the line-up by 0530, 17. Packed.

Day Two of Swell #6 saw the periods drop off a bit and with that came mostly smaller waves but very consistent. The rap on it for the dawn patrol was low tide and very racy, sectiony walls. The crowd was in effect again and really, surfing these weekday mornings was not any less crowded than hitting it early on the weekends. Welcome to Surf City.

Jacob was with me this morning. He hails from Oahu and surfs Ala Moana. He's my next door neighbor's nephew and he got a few fast corners on his thruster. He held up well in the cold water too. Thanks to Freeline for a good rental board and warm wetsuit.

The usual suspects were all pretty much on scene and I surfed with L41 Kirk for the fourth morning straight. He even grabbed my camera and videoed a couple of me surfing. Thanks Kirk. Dan was also surfing an L41 performance SUP and I got a video clip of him on one of the best waves of the morning.

It was a lot like surfing fast and quick beach break this morning. Nice speedy walls with short rides. At one point I surfed from Gdubs all the way to Yellow House on about a half dozen waves. YH had the longest ridable walls but it was so deep into the bight, it wasn't really firing and tended to be soft, especially over the inside hole. So I paddled back up to G's and finished our two hour session there.

Swell #7 - Days 5 & 6
Swell #7 was less distinct, smaller and dished up fewer waves per set than the previous two swells. Swell angle was also tight, coming in consistently at around 180 degrees, right at the edge of the swell window. I was hoping for a bigger uptick in swell size according to the models, but after I woke up at 4AM and checked the buoys, I decided to go back to sleep and check again at 0630.

At daylight, it still didn't look all that great on the webcams, but the tide wasn't into minus footage so I loaded up and headed out. I arrived on scene near Herby's house and surveyed all the L41 breaks as well as the Toes region. It was small, inconsistent, still very sectiony and sets were poorly populated. After four days of dawn patrol surfing my motivation was lagging. It would have been more attractive if I'd had my 10-0 Angulo instead of my 8-0 L41, because the best waves I was looking at were longboard waves at Toes. But I didn't, so I headed wait.

It has been an intense week of feverishly checking all my internet resources for information both general and specific re these three Summer swells. My sources indicated that there would be a little jump up in the swell Wednesday (July 13) afternoon sometime around three. I was in the water at 4PM paddling out through the glassy lagoon and just taking in the 180 degree weather change from this morning. It was warm and sunny and windless. Still, I was in my 4/3 as water temps are hovering around 55 degrees. Getting hot is not a problem. I know how to cool off.

Brother John paddled out just in front of me on his performance SUP and we proceeded to catch a lot of waves in what started out as a somewhat lackluster and small session. But about a half hour into it we got a nice burst of consistent although small, mostly waist with a few head high waves. A lot of other surfers were out with us, but the sudden consistency gave everyone a chance in the rotation. I was pleasantly surprised and surfed some fun ones in my 1.5 hour session.

Back on the land it had turned downright hot. I changed out and drove home with Stevie Ray and Albert blasting "Overall Junction" through the car stereo. Barefoot in boardshorts and shirtless. Amazed and happy.

Thursday the 14th saw the swell angle really steepen. It wasn't uncommon to see the CDIP data calling it in the 170's which is pretty much in the southern end of the Bay swell shadow. But overall it's been one of the best south swells events I can remember. Yes, it wasn't the highest quality, but no one can complain about quantity. I'm pretty much on the edge of surfed out (unless it gets really good this afternoon).

This will be a July to remember and I'm gonna guess we'll all be talking about it, and jonesing for it in July 2012.

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