Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: Year End Review

August was a good month.  It was the beginning of the year of the Hurricanes, starting on the 23rd. 

2014 was a transition year for me, more so then 2013 when I moved from The Bay Area to San Diego. In mid 2013, I attended a book signing with Shaun Tomson over at Bird's Surf Shed.  Shaun wrote a book called "Surfer's Code" about 12 different codes or bi-rules a surfer must abide by in the water as a form of respect towards the history of surfing and for the safety and respect of others in the water.  But in addition, he reflected those codes as a metaphor for getting through life's challenges.  He challenged everybody that attended to create their own 12 codes.  Well,  with much thought, I took his challenge to heart.  Three months later, I worked out my 12 codes, and I came up with an additional code, giving me 13.  When the ball dropped in 2014, my resolution for that year was to live by those codes as much as I could in all areas of my life.  My 13th code is "Let it be yours".  In an effort to continue to live by that code, I'm not going to bore you and share my codes in this blog.  But if your ever in my home, and look to the bottom left of my imac, their posted for you to read and contemplate.

My favorite shot from 2014.  Slater during the Hurley Pro.
I was very dedicated in pursuing my resolution and sticking to the codes that I created for myself.  I stuck to it so dearly that I had to cut my ego in half during some very heavy hearted  conflicts, become more positive with others that were less positive, take bigger drops on bigger waves, learned to accept and sometimes let go of some really good friends, I had to learn to say less and do more, become braver in situations that I felt uncomfortable in, and become more of an individual.  It has been a very self defining year for me, a struggle, but I think I'm better for it, and it all came down to those (damn!) codes.  I wish I could go into every little detail about how defining this year was for me, and leave everybody crying and wanting more, but then that would defeat my 13th code.  And it's important to "Let it be yours", especially for me, who puts a lot out there on this blog.

One of my favorite Gopro Shots from this year while at Blacks.

Besides living by my 13 codes, I surfed.  And surfed a lot.  I'm turning 37 this year, and each year, I move closer and closer to the four - oh.  So I really don't have that much years left on a short board if you think about it, maybe 18 years left, 20 if I'm lucky.  I wasn't lucky enough to start surfing as a grom and 2015 is going to only be my fourth year surfing.  So 20 more years isn't that much time.  But I have learned different approaches in cross training to keep my body fit, keeping Yoga as the foundation, and more core balanced exercises that really have helped me become a decent surfer.

The year of the Hurricanes.  This one was during the first big one, "Lowell" and also my favorite of the hurricane season.
So how much did I surf?  Here is the breakdown:

Days surfed: 241
Sessions surfed: 282

Spots surfed:

Scripps:  88
Blacks: 30
South Bird: 22
N. Garbage: 17
K38: 11
Sewer Lines: 10
Cottons: 8
Gaviotas: 7
S. Garbage: 5
Hairmos: 5
Uppers: 5
Teresita's: 5
Windan: 5
Swami's: 4
Rincon: 4
Liscomb's: 4
Lowers: 4
IB:  3
Shores: 3
Osprey: 3 
Rock Slides: 3
San Miguel: 2
Beacons: 2
Church's: 2
Ponto: 1
Henneman's: 1
Bone Yards: 1
Barbwires: 1
PB Point: 1
OB (SD): 1
C Street: 1
3 Mile: 1
Moss Landing: 1
Middles: 1
OB (SF): 1

Boards Surfed:

M-10 (aka The Go To): 70
Webber: 61
Merrick (aka Air Drops): 40
Rusty: 34
Longboard: 1
NSP (aka The Kamehameha): 1
Sunset (new): 17
JS (new): 9
Steve's Board: 1


April from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

My Favorite sessions are in the video above. The Santa Ana's were screaming in addition to some decent swell, which created some really fun surf.  I had a blast at The Shores especially,  catching some really fun and long lefts.  But the best thing about those sessions were having my buddy Steve around.  I met him while surfing the Cliffs.  He ended up moving to The Bay just a little bit after these sessions, and we totally laugh on how we switched lives (he's a born and raised San Diegan).  But our friendship was one of the gifts of 2014, for me at least.  He is one of my best homies, and I'm really blessed to have that fucking guy as bud.

My favorite snap from the infamous Marie.
I hope 2015 will be a good year for all of us.  I was really taken back by some of the things that happened towards the end of the year in Ferguson and New York.  I'm all for civil society, as long as society is civil to all (which isn't really reality, but something we can strive for, right?).  And I'm a brown guy, half second, half third generation American.  My child is going to be a half third/ half fourth generation American, and I want the best for her where she can love and marry who she chooses and doesn't have to raise her hands in fear to survive.  I also want her to get tubed a lot.  And me too.

Another one from Lowell.  It was such a great hurricane for our region. 


I ended up at Swayze's house for New Years, and at midnight we had our glass of champagne with 12 grapes.  For each grape, you make a wish for the next year, giving you 12 wishes.  Well one of my wishes was to get tubed 10 times this year.  As for the other 11, Code 13 will apply ;)

PS.  Here is a link to my 2013 in review.  


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Fall



Its been a pretty good Fall season so far.  Fall started off with a bang with a couple of really clean swells coming through, creating some nice peaky waves at the reefs around the corner from my house.  The water continues to stay pretty warm down here in San Diego.  One could probably jump out in board shorts and a top tomorrow for a mid afternoon session and get away with it.  I gave that up last week.  It's kind of chilly in the mornings and the sun isn't as warm as it was a few weeks ago, so I decided to retire my board shorts and my blue top for my 3/2, and just move on, hoping for some colder water and bigger waves.


That's me above at one my favorite high tide spots during one of the first Fall swells.  Yup, it was about October in the that picture and I was still cruising comfortably in shorts and a top.  The first couple of swells were really clean, providing some really fun, long waves.  I was riding my M-10 in that picture.  But as of last week, I put the M-10 in semi retirement.  I beat the hell out of that board.  But we had some good times together.  There is just a bunch of dings and unseen micro fractures that is filling it with water.  Every time I surf it, it feels a little heavier at the end of the session.  I'm figuring to save up a little dough and get it properly mended.  What board you ask has taken her place?


I found this JS while up in Santa Cruz last week.  'Ol Panama Red and I were just cruising down memory lane on the East Side and I came across this board in the Rip Curl shop on 41st.  The price was right, with an additional discount.  Had to jump on it.  The board is a bit bigger then what I usually ride.  I have plead mercy to riding boards with a bit more foam around the reefs in San Diego.  "Foam is your friend" is what one of the old timers told me during a summer session at South Bird.  This board rides 6'6 x 20.5 x 2 3/4.  It's a round tail as you can see, but the tail is so perfectly shaped.  An old timer at my high tide reef inspected the tail and in his assessment, he said to me quietly "that's one of the best tail outlines I ever put my old eyes on".  With that nice, perfect round tail, instead of getting ahead of the wave as I did with my M-10 and making those rounded out cut backs, I'm able to cut back right in the pocket like my everyday short board.  And like I wanted it to, it catches waves pretty well.  This board was sort of an unplanned buy.  Well, it was a compulsive buy for many, many reasons (as my wife says, "surfer problems").  This board is primarily for reefs when it is head high to double overhead this winter.  When it gets bigger, I may be out there, but I may be on the rail, taking pictures.  I don't really like fucking around with those days bigger then double overhead.  But who knows, I might get crazy, and might need a bigger board. 


This board on the other hand was a well thought out process of a purchase.  I've been talking to James out at Sunset Shapers in San Francisco for a while about this board.  I always stop by his shop when I'm in City while visiting my family, and talk story, mostly about what I want in a board.  He knows what I like to ride, how I ride, and what I want in a board.  I bought one of his first "P-Rocket" boards back in the day, and that was my go to board before I gave it to a deserving kid out in Punta Mida in Mexico.  This design is a refined version of the earlier P-Rocket that I had before.  I dig it's PU, thick, has kind of throw back nose and it gets me into waves no problem.  This board runs 6'0 x 19.5/ 15"x 2 3/4.  Before you judge, I am a big guy that runs at around 185 pounds.  And like I said, I'm all about foam now days.  And even with foam, this board rips.  Just the way I wanted it too.  During my first session on this board in San Diego a few days ago at Scripp's (when we had some fun and hollow short period waves at low tide) I stalled right in the pocket and got my hair wet in a little tuber, came out clean with a grom smiling on the other end.  Can't wait for some more short period stuff so I can have more fun with this at the beach breaks.  This will primarily be my board for beach break stuff, at about waist high to a little bit overhead.

Dawn patrol in NorCal.  Beautiful.

I also took a trip out to Santa Cruz to hang out with the fellas.  There wasn't much action in town so we had to hunt for waves in the more "rural" areas.  One thing I forgot about being a NorCal surfer is the "search" it takes to find decent waves when its not firing.  Driving, checking spots, and driving more with thick jackets and shoes.  Do I miss that?  Yes and no.  I enjoy having a low tide and high tide spot near my house,  jumping in my car with my Rainbows on and in about five to ten minutes, I'm in the water catching my first wave.  One thing that I do not miss is the cold air, undressing in it then putting on a wet wetsuit.  That my friends, I do not miss.  Yes, I have become soft. 

'Ol Papa Chase looking for some waves.
While in Santa Cruz, I let the fat kid in me win a couple of times...


Steve and I stopped by Marianne's for the first time.  Of all the years that I've hanged out in Santa Cruz (including the years my wife was a Sea Slug), I never got a chance to eat here.  'Ol Panama Red's house is just about two blocks from this spot, so Steve and I stopped by, got a Sundae, and then ordered another one.  The fat kid in me needs to be unleashed, at least sometimes.


26th Street Buffet from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Above is nature unleashing the fat kid.  In between all the swooping birds is a whale getting his eat on.  This all happened at 26th Ave while we were checking the surf.


Meet the fellas,  Starting with the first guy with the old man hat in the top left corner, that's 'Ol Panama Red, behind him is Dubsack, then me in the back middle, then there is Sandy (claim to fame is that he beat Bobby Martinez in a heat when he was on the Huntington Beach High Surf Team), then there is 'Ol Papa Chase, and then in the top middle is my homey Steve.  And together, we are eating some Brekky at the Harbor Cafe in Santa Cruz.

Recent swell at the Cliffs.
To be honest, I thought last Fall was much better then our present.  I'm a beach break guy, and I love peaky, steep and hollow waves.  I love to duck dive them, get crushed, and go over the falls  sometimes.  You get that at reefs, but not as much as you do at the beach.  And last year, Scripps was going off at least three to four times a week.  But Scripps needs short period, wind swell days.  And we haven't had them as much as we did last fall.  But I'm not complaining.  I'm well equipped for the upcoming season, ready to charge, and get my stoke on.  Plus, I'm a less naive, and more informed this year about where I want to surf and when.  Let the season begin already.  Oh, it already did! 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Flinstones

I thought the title would be a good code word Eric and Fred.  Couple ones I promised you two.

"Eric"

Over the shoulder is Fred.





Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 Hurley Pro at Lowers

Medina making it look easy.
This was my third surf competition.  Well, maybe my second.  I can't count the U.S. Open, where surfing was the second fiddle next to kids writing hash tags on their chest and butts.  No, this was a real contest, with rip-able, sometimes pumping waves.  Surfing was the main event and everything else was secondary.  Yeah, Hurley, GoPro, Samsung and the rest of the sponsoring corporations were plastered everywhere, but not in a particularly disrespectful way.  In my humble opinion, this event was tastefully sponsored with just enough commercialism to not make me throw up.  The surfing was as good as it gets too.  And the push for innovation by all the competitors, especially by the likes of John John, Lakey Peterson, Medina, Carissa Moore and Slater was inspiring.

Slater slashing.
What I enjoyed most of all were the free surfs.  The contest arrived just in time for a whole bunch of swell and I got up early on the preceding days of the contest and was able to snap a bunch of cool pics that I shared on my Instagram page.  I bombarded instagramers that follow my feed with a flurry of snaps.  I just hope I didn't flood their feeds too much, but I just had to share all those moments of the best in the world just ripping!  

The "Spartan"
What amazed me the most about the free surfs was John John.  That kid was just going for it all, letting it all hang loose, just like he did in the contest. That lay back hack and that "nose pick" slash that he performed all contest  long was practiced during every free surf that I watched.  The kid is amazing.  He has so much flow, speed and power mixed in with this undeniable soul.  I have no doubt that once John John puts his mind to it, he's going to win a couple titles.  But presently, he just appears to be so frothy, in addition to his obvious youthfulness topped of with being full of such unquenchable funk.  But what was the most amazing thing about John John was how many waves the kid catches in the 200+ crowd of human beings surfing Lowers.  He catches waves all the time.  From the outside, then on the inside, the kid caught almost 15 waves in an hour and half at Lowers, probably more.  I never seen such a thing.  When I surf lowers, I have a quota of 4 waves in 2 hours before I'll get frustrated.  This kid catches 4 waves in about 10 minutes!  

I was asked by this couple that were visiting from South Carolina who was my favorite surfer to watch. I replied John John.  "Why?" They asked.  My reply "Because he doesn't give a fuck.  He just wants to surf and rip."  But you gotta give it up to Jordy Smith, who won the whole thing.  But Jordy won the final of the Hurley Pro.  John John was the surfer of the contest.  Here is a video I took of a free surf before the Men's second round heat to show why  (John John has two waves in this video, the first and last clips). 



Dirty Lens from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

I can't forget about the women.  They were ripping Lowers to pieces.  From Carissa Moore to Lakey Peterson, all the ladies were holding their own during the free surfs.  Laura Enever and Bianca Buitendag impressed me the most during the days I watched the free surfs.  Enever was very kind and polite to the other surfers, always jumping off a wave for a novice if she was out front.  Very cool and respectful.

Buitendag.  Swayze actually captured this one while I was out surfing.
A lot of people give Alana Blanchard shit for her booty picks and what appears to be the "lack" of motivation for surfing well in contests.  But dang, all my doubts about her surfing have been erased.  For one, the girl is always seeded to face the top five in the contests because of her rank which leads her to early exits (which I guess is partly her fault).  But the chick can surf a hundred times better than me and 99% better then the people that I surf with (and all my surf buds combined).  She rips.

Blanchard.  I wish I could throw like that.

I also went out and surfed Church's for the first time ever.  "Church" is the farthest break south at Trestles, just before the military campground.  I surfed it during the Men's heats on the second to last day.  And it was pumping.  I couldn't believe how good that wave gets when the waves are head high and over.  I caught probably my longest right of the summer that day, taking the wave from the top of the lineup all the way in to almost the rocky beach near the campgrounds.  Yeah, I had to fight through long boarders, but I met a cool female surfer who could totally rip and we helped each other block off the dreaded wave hoggers. 

Slater taking flight
I totally recommend attending The Hurley Pro.  It was a great experience.  And all the people I met, including the Pros, were totally cool.  The spectators put surfing first, are knowledgeable and surprisingly respectful.  There was no nonsense like the U.S. Open. It was all about surfing.  And that's how it should be.  Enjoy the rest of the pictures!

Jordy Smith crowd surfing

Clarissa Moore and Lakey Peterson are by far the most innovative women surfers in the world.
Coco Ho.  All dudes dig her, but my wife always laughs when I say her name.

I'm a fan of a good bottom turn.  Medina rips.

Another perfect bottom turn by Slater.
People hate on Medina all the time.  They are just jealous.  Let it go folks.

Check out this short, two snap sequence of Slater just bombing the section.

1...

2...

Travis Logie just throwing it.
And for my favorite snap:

Slater.  Art in motion.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pinche Gaviotans!!!



Swayze's cousin, 'Ol Oscar is an old school Tijuana surfer.  Tijuana kats, I think, get a bad rap.  Tijuana as a whole gets a well deserved bad rap with it's history of just things that are all bad.  But the people of Tijuana, or "Tijuas" as they like to be called are just like any other city hustling folk.  They can speak just as fast as any born and raised New Yorker, but instead of being pale and grumpy, a Tijuas' brown skin shines like bronze.  Tijuana is a very close knit community, and it's citizens have learned how to endure and smile at the same time in a town where both are hard to come by.  I have come to love "T.J." just as much as I do San Diego.  For one thing, the Tacos are bomb and if you want to eat at the best Brazilian Steak House in the region, you gotta hit up T.J.  From eating great food and hanging at high brow bars with great bands in "La Sexta" to getting my sway on at  a bud's home on top of the hill, Tijuana is full of color, passion and pride. 

'Ol Oscar surfed all up and down Baja Norte, but always re-lives his memories of surfing Baja Malibu where off shores create the sweetest barrels this side south of Blacks.  "Gringos come over and think they can have every wave, but locals rule.  If you get snaked esay, just yell 'Pinche Gavitoa' and keep riding that wave like a bull".  Best advice ever. 

For the third year and a row, the Kiwi Hippie Summer get together went down.  And a lot of "Pinche Gaviota" was yelled.  The few years prior, we celebrated lavishly at the San Mateo Campgrounds and San Onofre State Beach Campgrounds.  This time around, we headed way down south, and went all out, "$100 dollars each" all out and got a two story home that fit all eleven of us at Las Gaviotas, which is about 45 minutes south of the San Ysidro Boarder.  We had waves for days on this trip.  A semi large long period swell, mixed in with waves from Hurricane Nobert flushed ride able walls and we took full advantage.  The wind kicked up in the afternoons but on one of those days, we caught it flush and spitting, 6-8 foot fast waves and fast times.  Clean up sets came through every 10 minutes to keep people honest, but taking it on the head was worth that perfect, mid peak wave that curled up hollow on the inside for that little green that gave a high, but without the choking cough.  It's always great catching up with the boys.  And the trouble we get into will always live legend. Damn Pinche Gaviotans.

And for how it all went down....


Manav getting it going with a Huntington Hop.

'Ol Red doing this thing.

She photo bombed us, so we had to photo bomb her. 
"Ride'm like a bull" -'Ol Oscar
It was kind of like SFOB out there.  Not matter how far you paddled out, you were going to get cleaned up.
This guy had a wave all to himself.  Smart guy.

But that sunset.

Thanks for snapping this Swayze!!!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Dear Marie


I paddled out to one of my local reefs on Thursday evening.  It's quite a paddle when it's low tide and a large amount of swell.  Choppy, some current,  but nothing serious, the waves were breaking on the semi outer reef, and I just paddle around the oncoming wash.  My shoulders were aching from all the surfing over the last week and a half (I know, boo hoo, self loathing...  guilty).  I slightly tweeked my neck, God knows how the day before but my lower back felt fine and my entire being just wanted to be in the middle of all that liquid thumping that was happening on the outside.  I paddled closer to the peak and saw this goofy footed fella catching a left.  He was looking straight ahead on what had to be a 8ft+ dredger.  It began to barrel over his head for a second or two.  The noise the wave created was loud.  The loudness it created was a deep, echoing sound.  The kind of sound that reverberates down your spine.  The fella didn't even know he was getting barreled in a crouching tube.  "Did I get tubed?" he asked me a few minutes later in the lineup.  "Sure looked like it."  I replied.  He smiled.  "Dear Marie," was his reply.


Joel Tudor on a quick exit.
Back to back hurricane swells.  Well, tropical storms to be exact.  But strong enough to offer the California coast with waves for days.  Sixty to Hundred miles north of San Diego, the swell was reaching the death defying heights of fifteen to twenty feet.  Some labeled last Wednesday, August 27th, "Big Wednesday".  But in San Diego, it was a good 6-8ft, with a couple sets reaching in the 9-10ft range.  It wasn't huge, and it stayed really manageable, lots of waves and the swell fell on a weekday, keeping the crowds, at least at the reefs where I surf, manageable.  In addition, Tropical Storm Lowell  sent a lot of swell our way the weekend before, which lead to a lot of surfers reaching their limit of how many days they could surf in a row. 


Marie for all of her hype, in my opinion, and at least in San Diego, wasn't as good as the Tropical Storm "Lowell" swell.  The water was super murky, the wind turned up earlier in the morning and lasted til sunset, and the waves were less consistent (even though it was pretty consistent, and that's saying something about Lowell), and the waves didn't have the power that Lowell blessed us with.  Lowell was like a mid period swell with the "umph" of a long period swell.  I didn't travel north during the peak of Marie (why travel when waves are going off in the backyard right?) but I saw pictures and video of NewPort Point, and that stuff looked major.  I guess the swell was so steep, that San Diego probably got the edge of that red blob while Newport got the full grunt.  It's not that I'm complaining, I had a lot of great waves, green room time and almost a near drowning by way of my rashgaurd being pulled over my head.  Marie lived up to the hype, but I still think Lowell was the better swell, at least in my "hood".

Exit this.
But to be honest, I'm pretty surfed out.  I'm just glad that my lower back made it out proper.  I haven't felt an ache (knock on wood) since I started focusing workouts on my core.  I'm taking a big break from surfing for the next five days or so.  We have our annual "crew" trip coming up next week, and I know we'll be surfing at least six hours a day.  Top that off with the usual craziness and unplanned adventures that come with a Kiwi Hippie Trip, rest is what the doctor ordered.  And there is a decent swell on tap, this time a long period 18 to 20 second thing.  But as with any long period swell, it's always a "wait and see".   The waves travel from so far away, you never know what dame or dude it'll hook up with on it's way to our coast.  But just in case it finds it's way to the loving arms of California's west coast, I know just the spot that will offer up 100 yard rights.  But thank you tropical storm, hurricane wave machines!!!  It was a long time coming.

One way to make the drop.

I sat on a bench on the hill for an hour and saw this guy make two saves on Thursday.

Tudor using his "Mr. San Diego" pass.

Thursday.  Again, Tudor finding another tube.

Marine Street looked fun.  Check that kid running into the surf just behind the skim boarder.  Pure stoke.
There were a lot of semi guns in the lineup.  I didn't think they were needed.
This guy had a lot of green room time. 
Full on, inside the womb time.
Sucks when your boss can out surf you.  At least on this wave.