Saturday, April 27, 2013

Mental Health Daze

As of April 11, 2013 I have been officially surfing for two years.  It seems like it was yesterday I pulled up to this garage sale in the East Bay, saw this funky looking nine foot NSP board with racing stripes starting on the tail and ending at the nose.  I asked the old man how much for the board, "Eighty dollars," Replied the old man.  "I got fifty on me?"  Hoping he would bite.  "It's yours!"  Said the old man with a look in his eye's as if he knew this would be a life altering event.  "Suuu-weeet!  Now, how do I put this in my car?" 

I didn't get to surf on the April 11th to commemorate my anniversary with the sea, but according to my meticulous, at times O.C.D. like records I did surf on Wednesday April 10th.  What I have written down reads "Surfed three hours (underlined).  Surfed w/ Manav, Amal, Tanji & Johnny @ Linda Mar.  It was good for an hour".  I think I wrote about this day previously, which means it was a memorable session.  As for my very first board that I bought at that life changing garage sale, I gave it to Swayze who just started surfing.  Swayze lives in San Diego and claims that his home break is "Hillcrest". When he's not surfing Hillcrest he has been snaking the young and old at Tormaline and La Jolla Shores. 

 Swayze sent me this after a session at Tormaline. 
Earlier this week, I decided to take a "Mental Health Day".  I don't know how it works in other industries, but in my line of work, we are pretty much pressed to practice what is called "Self Care".  The thing about it is that a lot of us are so devoted to our work and the communities that we work in, that we usually say the hell with ourselves and keep pushing onward.   My boss has been pushing me to take a "Mental Health Day" for the last few weeks, and finally told me, "If you come in tomorrow, I'm writing you up."  

Mental Health Daze on Noriega.

It wasn't a bad day to take off.  It had to be seventy plus degrees out, blue skies and the surf was clean.  Amal and I rolled down to Ocean Beach, parked, ran up the hill and found that The Great Highway was closed.  Usually when the Great Highway is closed, you can bet the surf is chopped up to shit.  They close the Great Highway due to sand being blown by onshore winds from the dunes and the beach on to the Highway.  All that equals out to crappy surf.  But as we crossed the now pedestrian only Highway, we got a quick glimpse of the surf, and by God, it was clean, peaky and uncrowded.  Within two seconds, we ran back to the car, suited up and jumped in (yeah, it was that fast).  Since it was uncrowded, bright and clean, I decided to take out the GoPro.  Here is a video of our session:  

Mental Health Daze from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

I been going for broke lately on every wave that I get.  I been working on isolating two moves, making a clean bottom turn and hitting the lip.  I say "hitting the lip" because once I get up to the top of the wave, I don't know what's going to happen usually.  Sometimes I'll be able to snap off the top and come steaming down for another drop and bottom turn, other times I just shoot down sideways on the face.  But on this day, I almost pulled off a clean floater.  I actually landed the damn thing, but couldn't hold it as the lip hit my board on the flats and forced me to lose my balance. Amal saw it and told me that I should have pushed my tail to turn my nose down the face for another drop.  But after watching a bunch of Andy Iron videos, I want to complete a floater.  I was so in the right place, but I should have put more pressure on my tail to lift my nose.  My nose got stuck under the lip, which made it hard for me to land it.  Next time...

The one and only pedestrian only Highway in the United States of America...  but don't quote me.
This "going for broke" thing has cost me many good rides.  I've seen on video long, pealing shoulders that I f'up by trying to be too fancy.  I know I could make those waves easily if I just cruised, but I really want my surfing to progress, and if that means missing out on some long waves here and there, so be it.  But if I can nail these two moves, the rides will be so much more fun.

Caught this on with the GoPro.
As for the GoPro, the good thing about wearing it out there is I can really evaluate where I was on the wave, if the right decision was made and what I could have done differently.  It's really helped my surfing tremendously. But yeah, it feels weird having a camera on my head for two hours.  Everybody either looks at me and looks away as if I have something hanging from my nose, or they chat with me, asking me questions about the strap I use to keep the camera stable.  But in the end, after I caught a bunch of guys in the lineup ripping, everybody ends up giving me their emails so I can send them a link to the video. 

Amal and Joe sharing a wave. 
The waves were great on that day.  O.B. has this magic window where things will clean up, the peaks get steep and the rides can get nice and long.  We landed within that magic window on that day and caught a handful of tasty peaks, fast drops and in Amal's case, long, fun rides.

Amal going left.

I know I complain a lot about spring.  But spring came through for us.  Maybe she's taking a deep breath or something, or maybe she is taking lunch break.  I don't know.  But she lent us some pretty good waves that day.  I have to say, for being a smallish day, those peaks were pretty beautiful.  In between getting some tasty burritos at La Playa Taqueria, we tried to pull a second session, which was a bad decision.  The magic window had ceased and high tide was building making those small waves all mushy.  Everybody complains about the paddle out at Ocean Beach, but as high tide rises and all that water fills back into the bay and the current gets all confused, paddling back in can take the longest!  I think it took me about twenty minutes to paddle back in.  "Catch some white wash," you might say, but it was too small for even whitewater to happen.  But you know what, I'm gonna stop complaining.  O.B. and spring came together to provide us with a fun day of surf.  And a well needed mental health day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Dedicated to Captain Zero.

If you haven't read "In Search of Captain Zero" by Allan Weisbecker, well you know, read it.  I saw this video a few months ago and every time I watch it, it stirs up my imagination of Allan cruising to the "end of the road", Mexico and beyond. 

Mexico Logging in December- Regressing Forward from Cyrus Sutton on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Getting Out Of My Head

Lately I've been trying to get out of my head.  April has been long and extremely difficult.  From work to changes that come with spring and life, I long for the winter days when I could head down to the beach, paddle into size able, clean waves and forget about it all for a few hours.  Spring has all but taken that away.  Now when I look out at the surf, all I see is whitecaps and 15 hour gusts throwing sand in my eyes.  Yeah, I have my board and suit in my car, but looking at all that gnarly foam for some reason has been getting under my skin lately.  I bumped into a buddy the other day at Linda Mar while I was taking The Kid out again for another lesson.  My buddy tried three times to get me out.  I had my suit on but my board was in the car and for some odd reason, I forgot my leash.  My buddy even had an extra leash in his car.  "Nah, I'm good man, besides, I gotta watch the kid" I told him.  He looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, stuck on his hood and paddled out.  For some odd reason, I still don't regret not paddling out with him.  I was pretty content, and pretty cold.  Damn onshores...

However, I paddled out a few days prior to that meeting.  Things were looking like slop, but I told myself that if I made it to the beach, I was paddling out no matter what.  I pulled up to the south lot of Linda Mar, checked out the surf and just told myself "fuck it."  I stuck on my wetsuit, grabbed The Sunset, did a couple of warm up stretches and paddled out with my buddy Amal, just a bit south of the Taco Bell.  By the time we made it to the outside, I ducked dived about 50 times.  No lie.  It was just one sloppy white water after another.  It had to be @ 7 seconds or something, the waves and the wash were about 4 yards apart.  The Good news is that it wasn't as windy as predicted, the water felt like it was around 58 degrees, I was wearing no booties and if it weren't for the short period intervals, the outside would have been considered glassy... kinda.

Once we got out there, for some odd reason, Linda Mar was trying to produce some decent peaks.  Within 15 minutes, I think I had around 5 waves.  No face time, but some fun drops.  The waves had some slope to it, nothing steep, which made it easy and fun.  Then after a couple of waves, I ran into Manav and Tanji.  It was good to see them.  We gave each other fist bumps, and talked about life and everything else in between.  It's always great to run into buddies unexpectedly, especially when the surf sucks.  But for some reason, the surf didn't suck. 

For about an hour and a half that evening, the waves were good.  Linda Mar offered me probably the funnest right I've had all year at that beach.  I caught it way outside and practically rode the wave into the creek.  I built up a lot of speed going down the line and gave it a right hook of a snap once it sectioned.  I caught another pretty sizeable, sloped out wave earlier, and had another pretty good snap of the section.  It wasn't to bad at all, considering it was spring at Linda Mar 

After we got out, Vanessa, another good friend was in the parking lot.  I haven't seen her in a while, and it's always great to catch up with her.  We all ended up eating burritos down the street, talking story, having some laughs and discussing our upcoming annual Trestles trip that's coming up in a few months.  And I also met another cool lady surfer, Kate, who's coming to Trestles too.

Maybe things aren't that bad and I'm just stressing out on a Sunday evening because of the week to come and what happened during the end of last week.  It's hard to get out of this bolo head of mine.  I'm just lucky to have a bunch of good friends, a surf board and big blue next door.  If those three things can't get me out of my head, nothing ever will.

Oh and one more thing...  I took The Kid out surfing again and he solo paddled into his very first, real, non-white wash wave!  I was so stoked for him.  He paddled into the peak, glided for a second, stood up, made the drop and went left for about two seconds of face time.  He raised his hands in the air, looked at me and we both yelled for joy!  So stoked for him!  I just want to thank Dan and the folks at Sonlight Surf Shop for setting The Kid up.  Dan and Robin are always really helpful and encouraging.  Great job Kid!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Reader's Interesting Thoughts...

I got this email from a reader a few weeks ago.  I read it a few times, and every time I do, it has me rolling.  With the reader's permission, I decided to post it.  Hope you get a kick out of as much as I did.  Caution, more entertaining while reading after an edible...  
"After taking a slow walking tour of the Santa Cruz's Cowell's and Steamer Lane cliffs and analyzing the two breaks while high on some pot brownies, I concluded in my make believe world that Cowells and Steamer Lane were two factioning villages next to each other. Cowells is the egalitarian intergenerational utopia where everyone shares the long waves together (fathers teaching their daughters while on tandem) while the sun is shining bright and the conditions are clean and everyone is smiling and interacting positively with new found stoke for surfing while up the hill is the rugged and wild place called "Steamer" where the solo individualist boys and men hunt for big untamed waves in the absence of family and kinship (today only a few guys out and head high middle peak), each to his own, fighting the currents and weather. Yeah, I let my imagination run wild for a few hours. They both were very appealing to me in those moments."
 The reader then sent me second email a couple days later:
"I left out the part of my story where the Steamer men ravage the Cowell village - breaking softops and SUPs with their bare hands."
 Hey!  I surf The Lane!  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Two Waves That Made The Trip

Swayze and I kooking it up at Scripps in San Diego.

The very first real tube that I ever experienced was when I was about twelve years old while boogie boarding at Kua Bay on the Kona side of the Big Island.  I remember making the drop on a glassy, smooth shore break.  I went right and I remember being surprised that the wave wasn't closing out and smacking me on the head.  I remember things slowing down and watching the lip curl over my head.  I was riding the tube clean, not feeling any chandeliers, just noticing water spinning and things getting very slow and somewhat dark from the wave bottoming out and draining the sand from below in it's soft swirl.  It got pitched dark in the tube from all the sand and I remember thinking that I was being sucked into another galaxy by this wet worm hole.  To make sure I was still on earth and present, I yelled "Aye!", and I remember that word echoing all the way down the line in pitch black wonder.  I don't remember the tube closing out, or getting rolled, but I do remember washing up on the beach in a deep, somewhat spiritual trance.  I sat on the beach for a few minutes until an older manong swam in, telling me he was proud of me for riding that hawaiian sized beach break barrel.  It's one of those experiences that I can never forget, it's something that I have cherished all my life and have retold a million times.  But I still needed the experience of making it out.

The Sunset posted up at Uppers. 

The Sunset (the present go to board of my quiver) and I had a great three days at Trestles last week.  With a fantastic south swell going off over a five day stretch, many waves were enjoyed but only two stand out in my memory.  Just like that wave at Kua when I was twelve, these two waves will always be remembered and retold a million times over. 

Windansea in San Diego.

Wave #1:  March 26, 2013, dawn patrol.

I made my way to Lowers before the sun had peaked over the hills behind me.  I walked the dirt trail in dark with a flash light, over the train tracks, passed Middles and over to where all the bikes, backpacks and towels rested against washed up tree branches and trash cans.  Just as the sun started to set, I paddled out with the Sunset under my chest, a lone agent amongst fifteen locals.  I paddled just inside of the point and hanged out with some of the locals who were just ripping each set wave that came through to shreds.  As one of the old timers paddled back from an overhead, beauty of a wave that just peeled right into the cobble stone shores, in a soft but stoked tone I said to him "Great wave!".  The old timer was beaming with a smile and couldn't hold himself back from telling me how perfect the wave lined up.

After about an hour and a couple waves into the session I paddled out to the point after a set had just emptied the lineup.  It was just me and the old timer that I had talked to earlier.  All of a sudden, a couple of clean over head peaks came our way and it was just me and the old timer on the outside.  The old timer looked over at me and said "I'll take the first.  You take whatever's behind."  As he turned to take the first wave, I just continued to paddle out.  If you have ever surfed Lowers as a tourist, you don't get really much chances at the classic, lined up overhead wave that this point produces.  And in my mind at that moment, I wasn't taking the second or third wave of the set, I was going for the one that looked the biggest.  And the fifth wave of this set had those thoughts written all over it.

As I saw it coming, I took a deep breath, turned and paddled.  I felt it lift me and without much effort I was gliding on the top of it.  I pushed myself up, leaned forward with my weight going right and shot down the wave.  I could see the wave all the way down the line, lined up perfectly, no sections, just classic Lowers glass.  For some reason, I had patience running through my veins that morning and instead of making that robotic bottom turn, I stuck my right hand in the wave and enjoyed that moment.  I could see the wave getting steeper, so I pulled up a little high on the wave, and I instinctively crouched and brought my limbs closer to my body and all of a sudden a little crescent curl started to form above my head.  I kept my right hand in the wall of the wave and my left hand stretched out straight like Superman. I could see somebody down the line smiling and I knew then I was in it.  This time I noticed no darkness, all I saw was the light from the sun transform as it shined through the hollowness of the waves liquid, thin lip.  And things slowed down.  I could see the water slowly rise from the bottom of the wave and move upwards as it curled and splashed back down to where it started into small, snowy white particles.  As I shot out of this mini tube, I stood up straight, looked up in the air and felt the wind blow against my black hair.  I think I closed my eyes, trying to lock this moment into the file cabinet in my mind labeled "all time".

I did it, finally did it.  And it was at Lowers of all places.  Later on, the old timer talked to me about my wave and said it was the wave of the day and that it rarely gets hollow like that, especially with how high the tide was that morning.  "It was just meant to be," said the old timer.  Guess it was.

Alberto and his Shark.

I met Alberto at Cottons the next day as the swell died down.  Alberto is from Spain and surfed the Canary Island's for years.  We talked for a bit in and out of the water.  "Why don't you come down to the Bay and we'll surf Ocean Beach and Santa Cruz,"  I said.  "I heard about the locals at Santa Cruz," Alberto replied.  "It's pretty true bro," I said with a little resentment.  "When I was living in Spain," Alberto said, with that foggy, down memory lane look, "I surfed the Canary Islands.  The locals there are for real.  I tried to get into the lineup and they would just swear and cuss at me to "get the fuck out" of there."  "It took me six months before they accepted me into the line up.  Six months.  That shit was real."  I enjoyed the story Alberto told me, but he has yet to experience the locals of Santa Cruz.  I guess this tripped me out because Santa Cruz's reputation extends in this instance from SoCal all the way to Spain (in Alberto's case).  But Alberto can rip, no doubt.

Wave #2:  March 26, 2013 at sunset. 

I love to surf Cottons.  The wave has such a perfect slope to it.  While everybody runs to Lowers and Uppers during low tide, I run to Cottons.  Cottons is known for it's long, beach break lefts.  Now and then,  a great right will lineup, but usually it's all lefts, peeling, perfect rampy walls that beg to be shredded by us novices.  I usually line up with this great huge mansion on the top of the hill just north of the County Line.  If I drift north of the mansion, I just get caught up with a bunch of the goofy footers who dominate this spot.

For some odd reason I was a bit north of my landmark.  All I could think was 'How the hell did I get here?  I'm sure that I was on the other side of the mansion just a few minutes ago'.  And due to this being the third session of the day, I was a bit tired and not in the mood to peak hunt.  So I just sat there, enjoyed the sun and watched pelicans fly by into the dusk.

Then all of sudden a set came.  I pretty size able one.  The first wave that came looked like a right.  'Am I seeing this correctly?' I asked myself.  I had heard some of the guys in the lineup talking about all the rights that lined up the previous day, but with the swell was starting to fade, and I didn't want to believe that this was happening.  No matter, I just turned and paddled.  As the wave took me, it was confirmed, this was a right.  It took me a second to make it to the bottom this wave, not because it was huge, but because the slope of this wave was so perfect that I could make a mellowed, controlled drop.

I was just waiting for the wave to close out as most of the rights do at Cottons, but it didn't.  It just kept going.  As I was a quarter through this wave when I said to myself 'Well do something kook!'  So with ease, I placed my front foot correctly near the middle of The Sunset, set up my bottom turn and made a couple "Whaps!" on the lip of the wave.  After my second crappy snap I noticed I was way ahead of the curl.  So I crouched and made a real deep bottom turned, released, made it to the hollow top part of the wave and all I could tell myself was "commit you kook!"  I looked back at the curl and leaned on the heal of my front foot as my back foot put weight on my backside fin and felt my board take this smooth 180 degree turn.  All of sudden I felt this "Pop!" as my right outside fin released from the water allowing me to turn fully into the wash completing a true cutback.  I saw the wash and was amazed!  'I did it'.  As I was about to hit the foam from the curl, I instinctively threw my arms to the right along with my eyes and my board skimmed across the foam and leveled me at a decent amount of speed as I continued back across the green face of the wave.

As I was paddling back, the kook in me wanted to know if I really made a cutback.  There was a guy paddling back who gave me a nod as I was riding the wave.  So like a damn kook, I found him in the lineup and paddled over and asked "Dude, I'm going to ask you the most kookiest question ever..."  "No problem, go ahead," the guy replied trying to hold back his laughter.  "Did I just do a cutback?"  "You did a great cutback!"  Dude replied.  Hell yes!

I surfed one more day at Trestles as the swell died down.  Here is a video of Cottons on my last day at Trestles.  Even when it's small, it is such a fun wave without much of a crowd.

Cottons P.M. from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

After that Wednesday, the swell died down and there wasn't much surf.  So I headed more south to San Diego and hanged with my best bud, Swayze.  I also met up with Cynthia and we watched "A Deeper Shade Of Blue".  Great surf flick, but on IMAX, it looked more like a Deeper Shade of Green.  Swayze and I surfed Scripps once, but most of the time was spent eating burritos at Lucha Libre.  After eating the "Undefeated Seafood Burrito" at Luch Libre, I needed a bigger board.  Swayze is just learning how to surf, and I think he has it in him.  He's not scared of big waves, and he can actually paddle himself into waves without a push.  Another kook is born.

Swayze and I heading out at Scripps.

It was great surfing in SoCal, taking off the booties and riding almost perfect glassy waves.  But don't get me wrong, nothing beats our NorCal waves with it's ice cream headaches and numb toes.  With the summer south swells, there will be more memorable waves on the horizon.  And hopefully, another tube or two.

The Bay gave this to me as I drove over the Altamont.