Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring Thing

Steve and I paddled out to our regular reef. Even though it was a bit blown out, the swell was strong enough to push some chest high mush burgers our way. It's spring, and I'm not complaining... yet.

Spring Thing from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Ciao Winter

With winter officially over, here are fifteen of my funnest waves caught on Camera during this past season.  Daily surfing during this season has done a number on my lower back.  I'm taking a rest from the waves for a few days to get it back on point.  It's been hurting for days and really effected my sessions during the last swell (very slow pop-ups on steep, fast drops for one thing).  I'm guessing it's partly due to some weakness in my core, as I haven't been doing my regular core exercises except for surfing during the last three months.  But I'm back on my regime, getting ready for the first big south swell of the post winter season, hoping that my favorite break out in Mexico will offer up it's long, carving rights. 

One quick note on my videos:  I've been getting a few emails where readers have been scholding me for dropping in on a few people while my camera is on.  Here is my reply:  Some of the best waves I caught all year were shared, especially the ones with Papi, Steve and Dub Sack.  All of the drop-in's on camera were pre discussed before hand, along with how I was going to get the shots.  It's totally obvious that it was not big deal as we were all laughing and hooting at each other while we share the waves, especially the one with Papi.  I also encouraged others to drop in on me when I have the camera because I love getting those shots.  But that's not to say that I didn't do my fair share of snaking this season.  We all do it from time to time, sometimes by mistake and sometimes on purpose.  No one is perfect.  Just saying. 

Locations include Rincon, North and South San Diego and the Rosarito and Ensanda Regions of Baja, California in Mexico.  Starring Steve, The Bearded Bandito, Dub Sack and . Papi

Ciao Winter from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


It doesn't seem like winter wants to leave just yet.  A bunch of swells coming from the north are marching there way towards the California Coast, hitting it with some good raw power and lines that would make any surfer call in sick or ditch class.  But one of the two keys for good surf seems to not want to cooperate:  The Wind.  It's Spring's turn to take over the command center, and she is having a difficult time trying to push Winter out of the captain's seat.  So what we have is strong pulses of some great winter surf but south winds that chop it up.  Instead of clean lines, we have wobbly & inconsistent waves.  I find myself lining up just off the regular launch points at reefs, waiting for that one crazy set that is going to swing a little to the north or south because of our presently bipolar Pacific.  But there are waves, and who is complaining, right?

I decided to venture out yesterday since there was a decent swell rising. I surfed three different spots and paid attention to how all three spots were effected by tide, swell height, period and wind.  The first spot was pretty intense.  Big sets, sectiony and some unduckable waves.  Yeah, I think the first spot got the best of me that morning even though I did catch a few waves.  But waiting on the inside on a rising swell isn't a great idea.  And to be honest, I brought the wrong board and was pretty under gunned. 

The second spot, the famous "Swami's", was half the size of the first spot.  I waited patiently for parking in the lot for about 15 minutes and got a great spot.  As I pulled in, the guy on my left smiled and I said excitedly, "Scored!" because finding parking in the lot is just as hard as catching a wave in the big crowd that congregates in the line up of Swami's.   I recognized the guy smiling after a second.  It was Rob Machado in his famous surf van.  I smiled back and carried on. I checked the waves for a few minutes and decided to paddle out deep and play the old man's game, but just south of the regular peak.  Within 10 minutes, I caught a bomber all the way to the inside.  I like Swami's a lot.  Pretty fast wave, faster than most in San Diego, and the thing just peels.  But the fact is, if you catch one deep, you have to play Qubert with the crowd.  But I learned how to surf crowds at The Hook where you have to become a Qubert master, so I was cool.  I caught a couple more, but those rides combined didn't amount to the fun I had on the first good one.  After two hours, the south wind kicked up, and I decided to head back south to my regular "Cliff".

Venture Crossing.
I hit my regular reef and found that the South Wind wasn't as strong as it was in North County.  However, the waves weren't as big and consistent as I thought it would be.  I grabbed my biggest board, "The Webbster" which is 6'6 x 21.5.  I call it my high performance long board.  It's a "two strokes your in" type of board.  I commenced to catch a bunch of good waves.  There was one set that sent me and a few friends down deep into the dark sections of the abyss.  One wave decided to close out the entire channel between the north and south peaks.  It also decided to dump directly 5 yards in front of my face.  I had no fucking chance on that wave.  I just held on for the ride.

The lineup.
Spring was in the air yesterday with all those crazy winds.  But the water, unnaturally, was pretty warm.  Spring winds usually cause upwelling which is the cause for cold water temps between March and June.  But the water has been warm enough during the last few weeks to cause some to choose board shorts.  Maybe tomorrow I'll ride in some shorts.  Who knows.  These crazy winter/spring days are making me bipolar.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rincon Part Duex

As we dial up the clocks and the post-work surf becomes more a reality than a dream, as a surfer, I see winter fading into the distance.  This hasn't been the greatest winter season.  It seems like it is turning on just as it is turning off.  I was lucky enough to experience surfing wintery California full fledged, shaping my schedule around the swells and tides.  It was always something I wanted to do, and I feel blessed to have accomplished it.  The dream of surfing another winter full throttle will probably never happen again. Now as I watch April first inch closer on my calendar and the inevitable schedule change that comes with a great career opportunity, I only know one thing, I have three more weeks to get surfed the f*%k out.

Packed, just enough.
One of my goals this winter was to surf "good" Rincon.  With two back to back swells happening a day apart, good weather on the forecast and this swell falling on a weekday, I decided out of pure childish spontaneity to drive three hours north to Carpinteria.  I packed my car with all the gear I would need for a three day solo surf mission and hit The Five North.  Within three hours I was surfing head high Rincon.  Funny thing is, I think a lot of guys from my everyday breaks in San Diego decided to head north also.  We all looked at each other in the lineup and smiled with the similar expression of "W.T.F. are you doing here?  But good to see you."

I surfed Rincon two years back (check out that past blog here).  I stumbled upon Rincon that year absolutely firing.  I also met colorful characters, local Rincon aficionados who I still stay in touch with today.  I also met a dog named Ripper who I shared a couch with, and who has chilled out over the last few years since I first petted his huge pit bull head.  During that trip, because of the crowd factor, I caught two waves in six hours.  But those two waves changed the way I looked and felt about surfing.  I wanted that feeling again, see how I improved, and find out if I had what it takes to catch more than two waves in a crowd of great surfers.

I paddled out at the river mouth early in the afternoon and made my way up the point, about a good 50 yards from Indicators.  The lineup wasn't as busy as it was 2 years ago and I had a spot that separated me from the small pack.  Within twenty minutes,  I took off on a good sized peak and rode that thing all the way into the inside of the Cove.  I than paddled into the cove just a bit and caught another streamer within 10 minutes that lined up perfectly all the way into the highway.  Two years ago - 2 waves in 6 hours.  1st session back - 2 waves in 30 minutes.

It wasn't as good as the day I first surfed Rincon.  There was a lot of chop, and mixed up swell.  But my board control, speed and experience is much better now, and I surfed the hell out of what the locals called "an O.K. day" at Rincon.  An O.K. day at Rincon is probably a really good day at my local break.  So I wasn't complaining at all.  I went on to catch a dozen waves in about three hours, Two of them from the top of the river mouth to almost the highway.

C Street.
The next day was smaller and more mixed up.  I decided to head to Ventura and surf C Street.  The surf was O.K.  If your from The Bay, I compared it to surfing Linda Mar north of the pump house on a good Fall day.  There were some clean waves, but on most, you had to charge the sections to make it to the open faces.  I didn't mind.  I came on this trip to surf, so I surfed for about four hours until all I could think of was food.  While food was on my mind after the third hour, I asked a couple of the fellas where the best post surf grub was in Ventura.  They all agreed on "Cuernavaca".

One of the guys told me to order the "Cubana Torta".  So I ordered that with an El Pastor Taco on the side.  After the first bite, it was on.  This place was super good, muy rico.  Very rustic, fresh and savory.  Just writing about this place makes my mouth water.  I ordered a carne asada burrito to go for dinner.  I tore that sucker up after my second session at Rincon that day.  As for that second session at Rincon, nothing to talk about, it was pretty mixed up.  "Shitty surf" are the words I'm looking for.

After grubbing on that tasty food, I decided to take a drive up to Ojai before my next sesh.  On the drive up, I came across this town called "Casitas Springs".  According to a local in Ojai, Casitas Springs name to fame is that Johnny Cash lived there during his older and "tumultuous" years.  It seemed like a good fit for Cash, as it was just close enough to L.A. and far enough from L.A. Another local I spoke to in Ojai said she was in a girl scout troop with Cash's daughter and didn't realize it until she saw Cash at a troop meeting.  As for Ojai, it's cool little town up the mountain.  Beautiful drive up, very nice people and cool little shops.  I stopped by an ice cream parlor and chatted with a few locals who gave me the scoop on Cash. 

The next morning, I woke up early, busted out my camera and took pictures of clean and uncrowded Rincon for about 30 minutes.  During this trip, I didn't get as much footage and pictures as usual.  The surf looked so damn good, that I said "screw it" and stuck all the cameras in the car and ran out with my board and jumped into the surf.  That morning, I counted about twenty-five heads in the lineup, all spread out from the top of the river mouth to the inside of the cove.  I paddled out at the river mouth as usual and commenced to do three "walk arounds" within the first hour.  Rincon can be like a factory.  It sends you on a one minute ride all the way to highway, and you just get out, walk back up the point, jump in and commence to do the same thing over and over again.  But the Rincon factory doesn't spit out a product (maybe it does with the 20 photographers all lined up on the beach?), it just creates massive stoke!

I think this was my first picture when I walked out on my third day.  I snapped a few and then joined the fun.
During the "walk arounds" I met a really nice guy who was on the same flow as me.  He would always catch the wave before me and we would meet up at the highway while walking around.  As we got to talking, he said he works for a local foundation and takes kids surfing out in Rincon during the winter and in Santa Barbara during the summers.  He surfed Rincon for years and knows it in and out.  He gave me some really great pointers on when to score at Rincon, including swell period and angle.  I locked all that wisdom up for the next trip back.

The one thing that is inevitable at Rincon, since it is a full on point, is the fact that your going to get snaked on a few.  It appears that people waiting way on the inside get really frustrated.  I would too, if instead of catching waves, I was watching people fly by from Indicators or The River Mouth straight through The Cove.  So once in a while, a drop-in occurs.  On one wave, a guy a looked at me twice before deciding to drop-in.  I kept a real tight line right behind him as he tried to speed off.  I guess he didn't realize that I could surf fast too.  He would look back to try a cut back and I would be right behind him with a big fat B.D. smile.  Not today bud.  He decided to kick out after twenty seconds of sharing the wave with me which was great, because the wave started to wall up again as I entered the middle of the cove.  The end of that wave was probably my most memorable.  The thing just lineup perfectly, no sections ahead.  It was just a straight stream of Rincon goodness.  I just grabbed some wave with my right hand, stayed close to the pocket and let that sweet thing chandelier me.  I think Rincon was just trying to make up for some of the bad etiquette provided by her sons.

My best advice for Rincon is to play the "Old Man's Game".  I was taught this by a very wise man in San Diego.  Paddle farther out than anyone or into a space where you have room, and wait.  It may take an hour, it might take 15 minutes, but when there is swell, a wave will come.  I paddled farther out than most on a couple until I got room. Eventually a set would come and I would jump on the last wave, unobstructed and cruise.

Rincon is a great wave.  But even though it is a point, all the waves are different.  One wave could be a cruiser, and all you have to do is steer straight and time to time do a check turn to slow down.  Other waves are fast.  You have to pump hard to make the crashing sections.  Other waves are steep and made for climbing high, awesome turns and one steep drop after another.  It's a great wave, and I'll definitely be back either soon or next winter.

Rincon from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Suprise, Suprise, Suprise!

I was laying bed, watching the really lame remake of "War of The Worlds".  How can a movie that cost so much money be so bad?  Anyways, it was a long night.  Steve and I had a middle age type of rager out in O.B. last night.  It was the kind of night where I woke up next to my wife and asked myself "How did I get here?"  I called Steve and he didn't even remember me leaving to go home.  At least I made it... with my car still in O.B.  How'd that happen? 

Steve texted me around 11 am the next day with a Cliff/OB report that included "Waves are breaking over the Jetty" and "Dude! There's waves breaking like a mile out sea."  I drove down to Scripp's after some lunch with the love of my life to find perfect, peaky, 10 foot ++ waves.  I saw one guy take a drop that took him at least three seconds to make.  It was one of those big days, similar to San Francisco Ocean Beach, where the lip of the wave looks like its in slow motion as it crashes over it's giant belly.  I wanted it so bad.  But to be honest, no excuses, today's waves were above my pay grade.  And my wife's too.  Staph infection.  No thanks.  Being caught inside on a triple over head thrower.  Maybe next week.  I grabbed my camera instead and took some snaps of the action.  Enjoy!

This fella was catching makeable barrels in front of me for a good hour and a half.  Thanks for the stoke, who ever you maybe.

Busy day for S.D. Life Guards...

No bueno...

But, it could have been worth it...