Saturday, March 23, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Sorry bro.  There are no clean peaks today. 

Oh Spring...  westerly side crossed winds, white caps, crossed eyed peaks and short, short rides.  Then again, there's more sun and longer days.  And I must say, I've had some fun out there thanks to DST.  I've been able to make it out to OB after work more often, getting some solid sessions in.  And surprisingly, there has been some semi-clean days.  But I guess I've been spoiled with winter and those "4-7 feet" forecasts that just seemed to be never ending.

I had a great session on the Eastside of Santa Cruz the other day.  I surfed the good 'ol Hook for a bit and scored some tasty waist high waves.  It was quiet a paddle battle though, but I was able to score some.  It helped that the "Sheriff" was around on his SUP.  He would give me a heads up on some approaching sets.  I'd follow him, he'd catch the first and then I'd go for the second.

Did I get cut off on some?  Yes.  But that's to be expected.  Was it fun?  Damn straight it was. The Hook can be such a great wave.  It's fast enough to throw your hair back and it's breaks slow enough to practice cut backs and turns.  I enjoy how it gives me time to set up my drops.  Only a few places in my experience has that benefit.  And I'm almost always guaranteed face time.  And I like face time. 

Time to close the Great Highway.
But my best session all year was had at Linda Mar of all places.  During spring.  And I didn't even surf.  One of the kids in my neighborhood has been bugging me to take him surfing for the longest time.  When I get home, he always asks "Did you catch some tasty ones dude?".  The kid was so stoked to go surfing that he didn't sleep all night.  When I finally picked him up, his eyes looked like it was Christmas and he couldn't stop babbling about how he was going to be a better surfer than me.

I posed real simple questions to get his mind going as we drove like "What's the best way to avoid a wave?"  "Why don't you want to turn your back on the ocean?" and so on.  Kids and their answers.  It is so cute but totally genuine and unfiltered.  Makes me think about us adults and how we speak to each other.  Makes me wish we were a bit more transparent instead of being language ninjas.  And the questions he asked were great.  He didn't care if he sounded ignorant or not,  he just wants to become a surfer.  And never once did he ask about sharks. 

This wasn't his first time to the beach, but it was the first time in 8 years since he's touched the ocean.  In response to "how to avoid a wave pummeling you?" I taught him how to duck waves.  First thing he yelled after our first duck dive was "COLD!" as he grabbed my arm.  We ducked waves for about 10 minutes.  I watched him get braver with each duck dive until he let go of my arm and went under waves alone.

I spent an hour pushing him into waves, watching him take spills and once in a while standing up and taking one to the beach.  Kid was champ.  He wasn't afraid at all.  He would take a spill, grab the board and come back for another push. After about an hour, he pushed me away and said "I got this, I want to try and catch some on my own."  I just stood on the beach and watched him go for it for a few hours.  He would catch one to me on the beach, and I'd give him some advice and I'd watch him take the advice and get better with every wave he caught.

After we got out, as he was rinsing off, one of the guys at the showers congratulated him on his first day and some of his rides.  "Great rides!  But now comes the hard part".  "What's the hard part?" the kid asked one of the guys at the showers.  "Taking off your wetsuit!"  And boy did he have a hard time taking his wetsuit off.  As we drove home, that energetic kid that was stoked out of his mind four hours earlier was knocked out in the back seat.  "Take him anytime," his mom said later that day as The Kid snored on his couch.

I got to give it up to the Linda Mar regulars.  They were soooo nice to The Kid.  They would give him advice, give him big smiles, and throw him high fives.  We got some really good people out there in the lineup.  

Yeah, Spring can suck most of the time.  But I'm finding ways to fill the void.  From fixing some dings to adding one more kook to the Linda Mar lineup.  But damn I miss winter.  Before I go, here is a little taste of what was.  Panama Red took out his GoPro and filmed this during the earlier months of this year.  Even though winter has passed, we can still reminisce.  

La Bocanita from Panama Red on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Rips of Life

Manav, Amal and I were talking about boards a few weeks ago around the campfire during our S.L.O. trip.  "For the summer, I want a fatty, 5'10 fish, 22 inches wide, squash tail... something that'll give me more float.  I'll ride that baby all summer long!" I said, dreaming of what could be.  With a slight confused tone in her voice, Stella, who is new to surfing asked "We're talking about surf boards right?"  

It's been a few weeks since the S.L.O. trip and I haven't gotten much surfing in since.  The riptide of life has slowly taken me out to it's sea.  I've made my way back, but it was difficult paddle.  Things at the "place" where I earn the dough to surf has taken it's toll.  In addition, a bad steak has left me close to 10 pounds lighter, sick in bed, shivering, sweating and weak.  I also took a weekend off to practice that balancing act I talked about a few weeks ago.  Which I think I needed.  I was burnt on both ends, professionally and surf wise.  I needed that time with my wife.

On Sunday, I headed back to our usual winter spot.  Panama Red wanted to hit up a new spot slightly North of Santa Cruz with bigger waves.  But I was more in the mode to have fun with waves that are familiar.  I'd been out of the water for at least two weeks and I was finally getting my strength back after a bout with food poisoning.  I needed something I knew how to surf.  And this spot usually serves me up a bunch of "feel good" when I need it.  In addition, I want to surf this spot until I get sick of it.  From mid spring and through summer, it gets flat.  And when a south swell shows up, it usually just dumps.  Being that winter is getting pushed out the the backdoor by spring, I have to take full advantage of this particular "street" in Santa Cruz.

The waves turned out to be really fun.  Shoulder to head high on most sets.  The great thing that usually doesn't happen in Santa Cruz is next to empty lineups.  Today we got the latter.  It was The Duck, Panama and I and three other really nice guys, two in particular that we surf with on the regular, Smiley and San Diego.  We traded waves for about two hours before half of the town showed up.  Being that there was a small south in the water, half of the sets that came through were sectioned or closed out.  But what this particular wave stresses is speed.  To make the wave, you have to jet.  So that's what we did, we jetted down the line, one after another, paddled back with fat smiles on our faces and gave each other props as we entered back into the lineup.

As I drove down to Santa Cruz that day as the sun rose, I doubted that I could even surf at all.  I was pretty weak the night before and waking up early didn't help.  But after pulling up and seeing the waves, I was motivated to give it the old college try.  And to my surprise, when I jumped into the water, everything felt a lot better.  I was able dodge incoming waves and paddle out to the lineup with ease.  I even caught a really fun right about ten minutes into the session.  I ended up surfing for about three hours and I probably could have went for another two.

For me at least, the ocean has always had that healing effect.  When I was kid, I would get bruised and scratched up a lot.  My mom would send me to the back yard to grab a branch Alo'e , apply some and go to the ocean and wash off my wounds.  The very next day, for some odd reason, all those bumps and bruises and scratches felt better.  Our oceans aren't the cleanest now days, so I wouldn't recommend it, but it still possesses the same energy, which I think has positive effects on our mind, body and soul. 

Almost exactly a year before this session, Panama Red, The Duck and I filmed one of our first mini surf videos at this spot.  We were all just getting to know each other back then.  But a year later, we are all pretty close and shared many funky adventures together.   To commemorate this sesh, we filmed it again.

Somewhere On The Westside II from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Hopefully I'll be getting out to the beach more in the next week.  I just have to learn how to paddle around the rips of life and stop getting sucked out by them.  It is a skill that I have yet to master.  But I'm working on it.  Hopefully I'll see you all in the lineup.  Maybe at Linda Mar next to a huge stolen yacht.