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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Two Days at the Beaches

Nothing like a shark attack to clear the water of crowds. Then add in early morning temps in the mid to high 30's and a solid 3-8 mph offshore wind dragging the chill factor down even lower. The only takers these last few days have been the SUP brethren. And in all honesty the sand bars aren't as good as they could be, but there have been plenty of waves on offer...enough to wear me out to the point of taking a day off from the barrels, the poundings and the vigorous workouts.

Monday Al, Paul and Mike were already out in the water by the time I rolled into the lot. It was cold, 38 degrees. I arrived in my new Hotline integrated hood Reflex which has been keeping me toasty in the line-up ever since Winter set in. Add in the three mil gloves and booties and I've been staying amazingly warm. Funny how a brisk offshore wind in 3-something degree air temps will give you an ice cream headache when it hits you in the face. It's making the 54 degree water feel almost warm.

This stretch of beach faces the open ocean and even when it's small it never fails to deliver the juice. Back wash, side chop, rips, littoral currents, double ups, pitching lips, apex predators, late drops into a freezing headwind...it's all here. It gets almost manageable when the surf drops into the 2-4 foot range like Tuesday. But even then you'll get held down in the places that just don't look that wild.

The sand bars are not nearly as symmetrically placed as last years, but it never ceases to amaze me how the bars usually reform in about the same places from year to year. This year seems more shifty and beach breaks being beach breaks what looks like a channel for one set, is the next sets close outs. Wait long enough though, and it's bound to change.

Paul got some of that Monday after we all left the water, having had enough for one session. I had one exceptional wave, overhead with a steep drop and long racing face with a barrel section to end it. I got plowed under at the finale, and that wasn't the first time that session either. But Paul soldiered on (his day off) and was rewarded by about 45 minutes worth of screaming, lined up lefts (see the slideshow) with the occasional tube. He surfed wave after wave after wave, all by himself. Then, it just stopped. The peak he was on started lining up and closing out and that was that. Not sure if it's an abundance of balls, or a lack of brains that keeps someone out in the landlord's neighborhood alone, but I did it Tuesday and I've got neither. Well, maybe I'm not even as smart as I think I'd like to be.

It must have been my turn to get the blessing on a right-hander. Mike, Bob and John had their fill after about an hour and a half, but I stayed out just as the little sand bar pile we were riding came alive for 45 minutes or so. I rode the wave merry-go-round until my legs were aching. I finally paddled in, pretty much exhausted after almost two and half hours but absolutely invigorated. The air and the water were crystal clear. The sky was deep blue and the hump back up the steep sand dunes had me gulping some of the cleanest air on the planet. Not that I don't think about it, the toothy ruler that betrays the beauty we can see on top of the sea surface. But if we let our fears dictate our lives then we really wouldn't be alive in the deepest sense of the word. But for today, it was another good session and the landlord left me alone....again.

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