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.



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.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Lowell" and Behold

I love long period South swells just as much as everybody else.  But when a significant storm builds in the tropics just south of us, and then gets a name, I can dig that too.  This swell was around 10 to 12 seconds rather than the standard 14 - 16 second south swell, swell period.  Rather then sitting around for a half hour waiting on sets like on most south swells, our south facing beach breaks and reefs (and the ones across the boarder) became instant wave machines.

Some random guy on a charismatic wave.
The waves weren't huge, and the the spots where the waves decided to break weren't as usual, but hey, when waves are in the head high range and sometimes well overhead and firing, who gives a damn, right?  Saturday had to be by far the best surfing day of the summer.  Wave after wave after wave just kept pushing through.  I surfed that day down in Baja at a spot that usually doesn't have much of a crowd, but on this day, the crowd was there and about.  But everybody was pretty much stoked because the sets came in sixes and sometimes nines.  How did I know this?  Because I broke my rule and paddled into the first one a couple of times.  I counted eight on my head as I paddled back out.

Me going left.
Over the flat spell, I've been working really hard in the gym.  The Bearded Bandito gave me some good advice a couple months ago.  "We work our arms and upper body all the time in the water.  We just gotta worry about our core and legs."  Since I received that great advice, I've been working my core and legs really hard, adding in a lot of push-ups and pull-ups, using my own body weight with higher reps.  And It really has helped.  Two moves that I really think have made a difference is double and single leg wall squats.  Adding 40 to 50 pounds to each consecutive set (6 sets, holding 45-60 seconds) have really helped me set my legs nice and square on my board, setting my bottom turn for cutbacks and snaps.  Before, my legs would shake if I held them in a power position, but now, no problem.  Since I have started this core and leg regime, my bottom turn, turns of the top and going backside where you really have to hold your center of gravity have become much more manageable. 

'Ol Knappy pigdogging it!

But anyways, the surf was awesome and looking at the forecast, we're in for more swell.  Unbelievable how things work out.  From flat to firing.  Glad I stayed in shape.  Here are more pictures that my wife and I took of the past swell.  Til next time.  Or until the arms fall off.

Alex on a hum dinger.

The Bearded Bandito heading into the hot sun.
This dude was on a couple juicy ones.  I should have sat next to him.
This one pretty much lined up for me.
This is that "dude" again, ripping another juicy one.
He knows he's on a good one.
The stronger and more in shape my legs are, the more I enjoy going left.
'Ol Knappy on his last wave.  It was pretty good one too.
I'm trying to finish what I started. 

Some of my wife's artistic shots that she wanted me to post..

Spot give away...

And my wife wanted me to post this one just to make sure that there is proof that I'm still a kook...

All of the shots from the shore are credited to my wife.