Sunday, November 25, 2012

For Bruce

The lineups are a precarious subject now days in surfing.  Bruce, an old school Santa Cruz local that I met during my first few months of surfing told me that back in the day, surfers would actually lineup at a point break and trade waves as everybody moved up the line.  Now days, it seems like it's everybody for themselves with obvious paddle arounds, position tricks and the occasional blatant cutoff.  But there are some places where the old school lineup holds true, and Bruce and a few others continue to try and hold down that tradition at Sharks during good swells.

Lineups are also a place where I have met a lot of great people and friends for life.  Sometimes, we share more with others in the lineup then we do with people we see everyday in the land of the dry.  Bruce was one of them.  When I first met Bruce, I was "that guy" who had no clue.  I was an everyday Linda Mar surfer who had learned how to sit and stand up on my long, nine foot fun board, who you wouldn't want to be behind on an incoming set because I was "that guy" who was going to ditch my board rather then hold on to it.  I was "that guy" who wanted to step up my surfing and wanted to ride a "point break" rather then a crumbling, crappy beach break. And who probably wasn't ready for it. 

Bruce was an older guy who always had a warm smile on his face.  He looked like a teddy bear and had a gracious, kind heart to match.  While in the lineup, Bruce said hello to me (remember, I was the obvious "that guy" who everybody wanted to stay away from) and our friendship began.  I told Bruce I was just starting off and had no idea what the heck I was doing.  Bruce instantly took me under his wing, no questions asked.  He also had a buddy with him, an Englishman who was also learning how to surf.  Bruce had his hands full that day.

Bruce taught me all the basics of surfing in a very warm and fatherly like way.  He taught me how to read a wave, what a peak is, how to spot a shoulder, and where it's best to take off at.  He taught me how to stay in the lineup when the current or wind was strong and how to find a landmark to stay on top of a reef.  He taught me The Hook landmarks like "stairs", "four windows", "two palm trees" and "the cove".  He also introduced me to all the old school Sharks and Privates surfers who then put me at the top of the lineup so that I could catch the decent, catchable waves.  Bruce rooted me on as I went down the line, and would give me gentle, fatherly advice when I paddled back.  I surfed with Bruce and his English buddy for three days that week.  And within those three days, I unbecame "That guy".

I would see Bruce occasionally in the lineup after that week.  He always had the same warm smile when we saw each other, and I would paddle over to him and catch up on life.  Four about six months, I didn't see Bruce.  During that six months, late fall and winter, my surfing ability progressed and I started surfing more progressive spots that would challenge me and make me a better surfer.  But I would always go back to The Hook on decent swells, knowing that I have the most knowledge of this spot, all due to Bruce.

I saw Bruce last June.  I spotted him in front of "two palm trees" at The Hook.  He still had that warm smile when he knew I recognized him.  He told me that he had been very sick over the last six months.  He looked as if he had lost a lot of weight.  Bruce was having difficulty catching waves due to all the groms and the bigger sets that were flying in, so I convinced Bruce to paddle over with me to Sharks where things were a bit more mellower.  While there, he bumped into some old friends and we all made room for Bruce to catch a handful of fun, clean waves.  Bruce was stoked.  I was stoked.  Karma returned.  That's the last time I saw Bruce.

Today, I read that Bruce had passed while surfing Privates on Thanksgiving day.  When I read this, shock, lose and sadness vibrated through my entire soul.  Bruce, along with surfing have undoubtedly changed my entire life.  He is the father who taught me how to surf.  But if there is one place that Bruce would have wanted to go, it would have been at his favorite spots, his own piece of heaven, Privates and Sharks.  He always told me, on a north west swell, Sharks can be the fastest wave in Santa Cruz.  And on a north west swell, on a fast wave at Sharks, Bruce was taken to another piece of heaven.  Love you man.

Bruce's piece of heaven.
Bruce was one of the first surfers that I ever included on this blog.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Party Wave

Lately, for some odd reason, I have been really enjoying duck diving.  Maybe because the waves have been getting bigger and I have been pushing myself to get out more in less comfortable situations, or maybe because I'm just getting a little nuttier lately.  Over the last few weeks, I have been enjoying seeing large waves coming for my head, waiting at the last second, sticking my tongue out to tease the bomb, and smoothly going under.  I love it when I make a clean dive under a big monster and feeling that  crash of water lightly tapping my lower back, feeling that force of water push against my face as I pop out the other side.  To me, a great duck dive under a monster can be just as exhilarating as making a big drop on that same wave.  The moment when I'm moving upward through the wave, feeling it's force on my cheeks and popping out back feels sort of like a cleanse, and maybe even like a rebirth. 

D paddling out into some fun waves.  Plenty of Duck Diving going down.  LOL
Over the last weekend, The infamous Kiwi Hippies made their way into Santa Cruz.  Santa Cruz, not knowing what to do, couldn't duck dive these monsters!

That infamous rainbow umbrella always gives us away. 

We started out at one of me and Panama Red's favorite spots just north of town.  The waves were happening, and we all got a piece of that sweet swell.  The crowds were low.  Out of 13 people in the lineup, there were eight Kiwis having fun, singing and sharing waves with the five other surfers.  The Kiwis may be hand full of trouble, but we are always  respectful to other surfers.  It's always about stoke and sharing stoke.  And oh yeah, acting like seventh graders.

Prospect Amal heading out.  
Dub Sack and Don Corleone's pops, Papa Chase, joined the fun.  Even though he lives far from the surf, he still can rip better than most.  Papa Chase was a mad charger at Ala Moana Bowls and Kaisers on Oahu back in the day.  He even shared the lineup with a guy named Gerry Lopez a few times.

Papa Chase busting out his old school Gerry (before his boards had the Patagonia sticker).

Papa Chase claiming.

On our last day together, the wind was calm, but the waves were really, really small.  Not sure where to go, Panama Red and I made the decision to take the fellas out to Manresa.  Hoping that this beach break would catch at least something, we said our prayer and headed south.  And to our surprise, there were some waves.  Nothing big, more like ankle biters, but we'll take it!

Every wave at Manresa had at least two Kiwis on it.
We all found a really fun peak 300 yards south of the entrance.  With a lot of foam and a weekends worth of stoke, we all shared waves, hooting and hollering, jumping on each others boards, grabbing each others leashes and giving our best "get the f'k off my wave" yell, but in all good spirits.

Panama Red and Nap Sack getting their ankles bit.  

My most memorable wave of the weekend came down to a waist high wave shared with Mister Furry.  While sitting around, shooting the shit and waiting for the next set, Furry and I looked out yonder and saw a nice little peak heading our way.  Having priority, I turned to Furry and said "I got it."  Instead of paddling out and giving me the peak, the damn guy turned towards the shore and started paddling for the wave with me.  I yelled out "I got the f'king wave!"  Furry yelled back "F'''''''''''''''''k yooooooou!"  I stood up and still saw him paddling for the wave.  I stalled a bit and he popped up and we both started flying down the line.  We both started laughing like school children all the way down to the beach.  It gets no better then that!  Surfing a wave with one of my best buds.  Life doesn't get any better.

Mr. Furry (green wet suit) and I rolling down the line.
I caught a pretty fun right.  I used Don Corleone's Gerry Lopez (or as we call it, the J-Lo).  The board was hand shaped by the man himself.  Being that it is a bigger board (I think it's around 6'8 x 20), the foam was needed for that day.  I found myself on a lone peak and took full advantage of it.

The wave is smaller then it looks. 
Same wave, but mushing up and needing a bit of a stall.

While I was catching this wave, more party waves were going down...

Forget Andy Irons and Kelly Slater's epic battle at Pipe, Furry and Kush's paddle
battle for an ASP championship was way more interesting.
A closer look at this epic battle!
I decided to give up the board and sit in the shallow part of the water.  I got my GoPro, strapped it to my head and caught all of this craziness on camera.

Party Wave from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

The day after the Kiwi Santa Cruz extravaganza ended, I was back in The Bay.  I texted Manav to see what was up with Ocean Beach.  It took about 5 minutes for Manav to text back "Get here now, it's clean and fun".  I loaded my gear and drove out to my Queen.  I parked in front of Manav's place, and before he even walked out to greet me, I was suited up and had my board in hand.  Like every other surfer in San Francisco, I love Ocean Beach when she's clean and manageable.  But I also love it because I can break out the GoPro.  On bigger days, I would never take that chance because all my focus is on making it out back, my safety, my friends safety and watching for that very tricky rogue wave, which is usually 8-15 feet and wants to pummel everybody in it's path.

But today, there was no need to have a head on a swivel.  We caught one shoulder high wave after another.  Occasionally we would get lucky and have a head high peak head our way.  And when it did, the beauty of a clean Ocean Beach peak is like no other on the left coast.  Everybody was stoked. Here is the video from our session.  I posted it earlier on it's own page:

Moments from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Gracias Queen O.B.  And Gracias Kiwi Hippies.  Ya'll are too hood for me.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Video: Moments

Here is a video I shot yesterday while surfing my main mistress, Ocean Beach.  She allowed me to take magnificent shots of her (and not punish me for bringing a GoPro into the lineup).  Thank you O.B.

Moments from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Cold Water Classic Sun Burn

The Arena.  The Lane.
I've learned a lot about the sea over the last year and a half.  So many very important factors have to come together for surf to be great.  If one thing is off, everything is off.  One thing that is very important is tide.  For some spots, incoming to high works best (The Hook).  On other spots, outgoing to low is the charm (The Lane).  It's not a secret so I'm just going to spill the beans, The Westside of Santa Cruz works best on outgoing to low tide.  Anything above a 3 1/2 feet, forget about it.

Manav, Amal and Viv enjoying great surfing and a beautiful Santa Cruz day.
You'd figure that the A.S.P. would have that dialed in, right?  Na, they were a bit off the mark.  I know the promoters were praising the surf gods for the semi large swell that sped in and out of Santa Cruz on Sunday evening.  The swell was large enough to send unridden waves through water filled Middle Peak.  By the afternoon, the contest was really on!  (I didn't get to see this live as we were down the ways enjoying the swell also). 

We were able to catch some of the mid morning A.S.P. action from the cliff, just in front of The Slot.  The waves were there for sure.  But the tide kept most them from breaking.  Here are some pics that I and newly anointed Kiwi Hippie, Amal, were able to capture:

John John making his way up the stairs after his heat. 

John John going off.  Photo by Kiwi Hippie Amal.

Photo by Amal.

Adriano de Souza smacking some lip.
Tiago Pires snapping off the top.

Owen Wright throwing a bucket and a half.
Tiago Pires saying "Veja Ya"! 

Owen Wright heading to the Cliff just before his heat.
The contortionist.  Photo by Amal.
Backside expertise. Owen Wright.  Photo by Amal.

No, he isn't an amateur.  Photo by Amal.
Adam Melling looking for a ramp.

Wipe out!
Adam Melling looking for another drop.
Kolohe Andino Getting focused.
Kolohe Andino getting unfocused.
The sun was out in full force.  With it shining brightly over the water, silhouettes of powerful surfing could be seen from all sides of the cliff.  Surfers and non surfers held there breathes as one by one, the worlds best sped down the line throwing snaps and cutbacks, floaters and airs with power and grace.  The Lane is such a great spot for this type of an event.  Out of all the spots in the world, The Lane itself is shaped like an arena.  It is probably one of the only spots in the world where the surfers can hear the roar of the crowd, where the "12th man" becomes relevant.  Nat Young and Jason "Ratboy" Collins supplied the crowd with a home team or "home man" per say to root for.  Even though I wasn't present, I was rooting for both!  But both were knocked off by the worlds best, #1 and #2, Nat Young by Joel Parkinson and Ratboy by Kelly Slater.  Both gave the world's best a run for their money.  

We stayed for the second round, heats three through eight.  We just missed Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning.  It would have been awesome to watch, but I have already witnessed Kelly's awesomeness in person, and I am also a fan of Mick's powerful, streamlined cutbacks but the sun was kicking our asses.  Between the four of us, we either forgot our sunglasses or a hat.  And after getting half baked (no, not the 420 way) and stomachs empty we all decided to head to  "Burger" for some late morning grub.  

Manav, Amal (behind the lense) and I waiting for the tide to drop.

Manav, Amal and I decided to head to my third favorite spot (which may be headed up the charts after another epic sesh).  Being that the spot is on the Westside and high tide had just hit, we decided to wait it out.  We took a nap on the rocks below for a few hours.

Bums.  Photo by Amal
We saw one guy jump in and watched him for a while.  The cove was still to full for any decent action, but being that we are crack heads for surf and sea, we decided to suit up and jump off the point anyway.  After forty-five minutes of wadding in back washy, high tide mess, waves started coming.  The swell that had been promised arrived.  With the falling tide and the building swell, rides were to be had.  We spent the last spawning hours of the day chanting "You gonna take a chance? Take a chance!" as each of us paddeled for mid tide nuggets.  Each of us "took that chance".  And all of the "chances" seemed to work out.

Post surf undress rehearsal.
Our pre-mood before our surf was low and sorta unhopeful.  But our post surf mood was full of high fives, smiles and childish giggles.  I watched the replays of the Cold Water Classic when I got home, and The Lane was definitely pumping the same time we were out surfing a half a mile away.  We could have been riding the same sets that Kelly and Parko were on...  who knows?  I'm really happy that Santa Cruz hosted this event.  S.C. has always honored and given surfing the reverence it deserves.

Velvety, Purple skies are always a good thing.

As for us Bay Area boys, we headed back north on the beautiful One.  Back to the one City we truly love.  

Yeah, that's right.

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