Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Brisk

The Bearded Bandito on a wave the day before Fall broke loose...

Fall Brisk from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Beyond The Frontera

There is a wave, known to most but not to all that exist beyond the San Ysidro Frontera.  She's clean, long and playful.  Beyond the cactus and the stray dogs, she lies and waits, sometimes crowded, sometimes lonely.  But she's there. Here is an introduction to her and her many characters. 

Meet The Bearded Bandito.  He comes and then he goes. 

You know this guy.  He just goes. 

She is always watched over by these eyes and arms.

Rob's Channels.  She likes things that are unique.

  The waves were Bandito-able...

And the waves were boat-able.

We ate in her honor.

And then she made was wait, wait and wait....

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Small Green Wall

Had a friend staying across the border.  So I headed South and caught some really fun, family waves.

 One wave....

The Small Green Wall from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Cutback

I been thinking about some of the subtle differences between the waves here in San Diego and the waves in NorCal, primarily Linda Mar, Ocean Beach in San Francisco and the waves in Santa Cruz compared to the waves I now surf. I'm probably digging a hole for myself right now, about to stick both my feet down my throat, but hold on for a second before you start gagging and let me explain.  Yes, I am going to do somewhat of a comparative analysis, but nonetheless, it's only my humble opinion.

I learned how to surf at Linda Mar.  Progressing at Linda Mar is probably one of the hardest things to come by because that wave closes out 93.7% percent (a statistical fact!) of the time.  And to get better at surfing, I made the commitment to driving to Santa Cruz every weekend so that I could actually stand up on my board for more than three seconds.  I learned how to go down the line in Santa Cruz, but what Linda Mar taught me was how to build speed and make sections so I could actually have a three to six second ride instead of drop and wash.

Laura Enever's backside cutback.
Santa Cruz's waves vary.  You can catch a long perfect ride at the Hook, which can section at times, but nonetheless a pretty fast wave with plenty of power on bigger days.  Or you could head to the West Side and sit at First or Middle's at the Lane and make a drop, slash or pump your way down the line.  I really credit a lot of what I've learned from the different waves I surfed in Santa Cruz.  From The Hook to Sewers and from The Lane to Four Mile, those waves are all different, powerful and humbling.

I credit Ocean Beach with helping me grow hair on my chest.  I always tell myself where ever I paddled out,  no matter how gnarly it looks, if I can paddled out at O.B. on a hairy day, I can paddle out anywhere.  Because of O.B., I can practically duck dive anything.  O.B. taught me what type of surfer I am, which to be honest, is a "fun surf day" type of guy.  On those big and gnar days, I'd rather be on the beach filming and taking pictures.

Stephanie Gilmore's frontside cutback. 
The San Diego wave isn't as raw as the waves at Ocean Beach in S.F. and probably not as powerful and fast as the waves in Santa Cruz.  When waves are firing in NorCal, they come like a freight train.  Not that the waves aren't powerful in S.D., but they are a bit mellower.  Because of the outside kelp forest that surrounds most of the beaches here and probably other things I have yet to recognize, the waves usually come in groomed and clean.  The wave is fast enough to throw your hair back but chilled enough to allow endless ripping.  It is a high performance wave, with rampy skate walls that allow slashing, punts, hugs, kisses and whatever your little heart desires. 

A recent wave at the beach I surf most.  This place handles windswells to perfection.  I never thought windswells could be as groomed as they are at this beach break. 

When I first moved here, the first thing I focused on from the get go was my stalls and cutbacks.  I was so use to trying to build speed at places like Linda Mar and The Hook that I would practically out run waves.  After a month or so of trying to figure out what went wrong and how to correct things, I've learned how to execute a pretty efficient cutback .  It's not the fastest cutback, and it's probably quite ugly, but it works.

About 90 percent of the time, either at a reef, point or beach break, my first moves are as follows:  Make the drop, set my bottom turn, release, pull up, put pressure on my front heel, let the wave pull my tail and then squeeze the top thin layer of the wave, look back, commit to the pocket, get sucked in, look back down the line and then spin the board back down the face.  Sounds complicated but it's not.  All the Southern California surfers do it on every wave with ease because it is a must have progression to stay in the pocket.  It's really fascinating when done correctly.  My favorite part is when the wave catches my tail and does all the work for me, sucking me right into the pocket.  One thing that I've figured out is that it is all in the eyes.  Where ever I'm looking is where I'm going.  And it's hard at times, especially on bigger sets to make that commitment with my eyes when the board and all the rest of my body is facing the opposite way.  But it's a must and well worth it when your screaming back towards the wash.

I'm continually trying to work on my cutback.  On the first turn, my tail wasn't high enough to get sucked into the pocket.  I'm learning to let the wave take control of my board, especially on these attempts at a frontside cutback. 

I know I'm just babbling, still trying to figure out this thing called a "cutback".  I have always been fascinated by the move since I first started.  It's all Dan's fault at Sonlight.  When I first started surfing, he told me about this mythical move called the "cutback" and how beautiful it looked and felt.  Ever since then, I've been searching for it in my surfing.  And each time I surf and complete an unexpected cutback, I remember that stoked smile on Dan's face as he mind surfed a perfect wave while passing on the stoke of that very move.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

En Seguido

Here is a project that I will be working on during the next few months.  Still collecting images.  But so far, it looks like it has some legs...

En Seguido from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bypassing and Passing on The Stoke.

Best to be cordial. 

It was about six in the morning at one of the reefs in my neighborhood.  It was just me and my buddy "The beard".  There wasn't much waves out there, just a lot of hope.  Like most surfers in San Diego, we were restless and grumpy because of the wave drought.  There were a few days of wind swell which made it fun, but if your brightest days are wind swell, well, then you know you've been wave deprived.  We sat out at that reef for about an hour with only two waves each under our belts until an older guy paddled out and asked us "How early did you guys get out here?"

The older guy paddled right to the top of the lineup and commenced to paddle and take most of the good waves for the next hour.  The Beard had to leave for work, so it was just me and the old guy for about another hour.  The older guy didn't say a thing.  He would take off when he had priority and when he didn't and he stayed dead silent.  Another guy paddled out, but we knew each other.  So during the long, long lulls we cracked jokes about stupid nothings.  As I'm paddling back after a wave the older yelled at my friend "I came to surf not to hear your stupid voice!"  Silence and awkwardness were the feelings for the next few moments, for whatever stoke was in the air on that inconsistent day of surf was squeezed out of the session like air leaving a big pink balloon.

That session kind of got to me that day.  The "older guy" continued his grumpiness during the entire session, even when his friends paddled out, who were all nice guys, full of stoke and jokes.  An hour later, he went on a tirade about how he misses "The older crew" and how they would regulate the lineups and this and that.  A real negative Nellie that guy was.  It sort of bummed me out that day.   Even if those comments weren't directed at me, I just felt for some of the other guys in the lineup, even his buddies who had looks on their face like "Here goes this Motherf*&r again with his bullshit" looks.  I felt like it was not only disrespectful to the entire lineup but also to the core of what surfing is all about.

I  stayed to myself the entire day, trying to figure out if the innocence and joy of surfing was stolen from me that morning.  I have been audience and a direct recipient of such tirades before but this asshole stole the show.  Maybe because I didn't say anything, or maybe because none of his buddies said nothing to shut him up.  I was sorely disappointed with surfing all together.  But the swell was coming up, and there had not been waves for a while, and I wasn't going to let that Negative Nellie impact my way of life so I decided to paddle back out in the afternoon.

The waves were good, and every starved San Diegan came out and tried to get a piece of whatever wave they could.  I tried not to surf in the pack, but the pack became the whole beach and before you knew it, I was scratching for every wave.  That's kinda when I get in my zone.  Either when it's big and you need to focus or when it's crowded and I need to focus on getting to peaks.  And so was this other fella sitting next to me, who was scanning the depths of the Pacific Ocean for that clean peak, targeting it before anybody else could get to it.

And then there was a set.  Me and this fella spotted it at the same time and the race began.  I jumped on my board, letting it pop out from under me to give me a quick boost to get ahead of him.  We scratched, paddled and even used our legs to get to the peak.  But I paddled to far to the right of the wave, and all my spirit, all that excitement went to shit.  He had the inside track to the curl giving him priority and this was a great wave, peaked up and ready to avalanche a big white curtain all the way to the beach.  I watched "the guy" paddle for it as I pulled up.   And then he looked at me.  With a quick smile, he pulled up and said four words that changed my entire attitude that day and from then on.  "You got it bud".  He pulled up and I pulled in and rode that five footer all the way to the beach with a big smile on my face.  With each turn, a bit of hope and joy returned with it, filling my cup back up to the rim. 

I tried to find that fella to not only thank him for the wave but thank him for restoring the feeling of what surfing is all about, "Aloha". I was on the brink of becoming that older asshole, but instead I was back to my regular self, a true and bound surfer spreading the stoke.  Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel to make my point, there is this paragraph in Shaun Tomson's book "Surfer's Code" that will bring this entry home:

"Imagine this scenario, A surfer is sitting on his board in a crowded line-up.  A wave rolls in, and he is in a position to catch it.  Suddenly he turns to the man or woman sitting alongside him and says, <<YOU TAKE THIS ONE.>>  What has he done?  With four words he has immediately created a less competitive atmosphere in the surf, and most likely that surfer who enjoyed the wave will return the favor down the line, and pass a wave along to someone else.  It is tough out in the water today.  We all get frustrated at crowded surf spots, but it is easy enough to help create some unexpected good will in the water.  One thing I know - another wave will always come through". 

Since that encounter with that fella who gave up his wave for me, I have practiced giving at least three waves a session.  And I haven't ran into a grumpy old asshole since.

Here is a punt for passing on the stoke.