Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Snaps From Yesterday's Sesh

Yesterday was probably my favorite session of the Spring 2014 season so far.  Caught one of my favorite breaks in the O.C. just simply firing.  Since it was a "blue" day and the wind was slightly blowing, the cynical stayed home and the lucky ones came out.  The crowd stayed super manageable and we all caught more waves than we could count, both finger and toe wise.  Here is a couple snaps I took as I was leaving after a session that lasted more than five hours (with a 10 minute water break).

And the morning after....

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Getting Away From The Fires

I live near the coast, smack dab in the middle of San Diego County.  Living near the Coast, I didn't really "notice" the fires until yesterday when I saw them burning in the distance from "that reef around the corner from my house".  Black smoke rising into the blue sky, being pushed out to sea was not a good sign.  The winds turned into hot offshore winds during my morning session that day, and I knew that from that moment, families and fireman were going to be put in extremely harsh and dangerous situations until at least dusk or later.  For once in my surf life, I wanted the winds to blow straight onshore to help the strong and the helpless.  But it didn't and several fires in San Diego County raged on.

After work today, I headed out to Trestles to catch some of the swell that was in the water.  But every time I looked south, the picture above is all I saw.  The beach was packed with folks.  Most of the schools in San Diego are closed for the rest of the week.  A lot of adults like me, who work in Inland North County either were told not to come in or can't make it to work due to all of the inland freeway closures because of  the several blazes.  But The 5 is open, which leads to Trestle's door step.  Once we made it down to the beach, The waves looked good.  The wind was side/ offshore, which helped groom the waves, but it didn't help the firefighters that were working to put those fires out.

I had a strong sense of guilt that I was surfing instead of doing something to help others that were caught in the fires either physically or emotionally.  I was just out in inland Oceanside and Carlsbad yesterday for work, and I was cornered by several fires.  I don't know these towns very well, so I was sort of helpless, even with my GPS.  Roads were closed and the only way back to The 5 South was through The 78 that headed directly towards some of the most intense fires.  I thought about how helpless I felt and thought of the hundreds of families who shared that same feeling but a million times more intense.

But than I started to think about my present moment, my feelings, where I was, and who I was with.  I bet at least half of the crowd at Trestles today were effected in some way or another by the fires, and being there, with good waves, eased their worries and helped them make it through that scorching day.  My good friend Steve was out in the lineup with me.  I had my GoPro with me and we wanted to capture the fire from a very unique perspective.  And after working our way through a crowded lineup, this is what we got:

The smoke in the distance is the fire blazing in Camp Pendelton.  I was totally psyched that I was able to catch a clean wave with the smoke in the distance for this capture.  But as I rummaged through the footage, I felt a sense of guilt again, that we did something we love, while others were and still are in harms way.  I still feel that sense of guilt, but I'm praying for the strong and the helpless, that they can get help one way or another, from nature or from others.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Quiver

I'm a fan of surf blogs that have a list of their quiver.  I love seeing what people ride, what they ride it in and their internal discussion on what makes each board unique. I've been asked a few times to write a blog on what I ride, but I felt a bit shy about sharing such secretive and useless information.  Plus, I really didn't have the knowledge to explain what makes every board different (I still think I don't have "that" yet, but I'll give it a shot).  But since I've been surfing a lot more over the last year, I've gotten use to using different boards at different breaks and tides.

I'm also modeling my explanation on two influences:  San Francisco based twitter bud @zachsnowthatsme's quiver page, which is pretty dope.  I'm also modeling the way I approach the list of my quiver the way Rick Kane learned how to surf under Chandler (which is the way I approached learning to surf as a person who taught himself later in life.  Yeah, I know it's kook, but I'm proud to say that Chandler taught me how to surf too).

Also, to put in perspective how my body fits with my boards, here are my specs:  5"7 1/2, 180 pounds (of pure B.D.). 

"The Kamehameha" a.k.a "The Destroyer" 
8'6 x 22.5

This was my very first board.  I guess you can call it a fun board, but it's the closest thing I have that resembles a long board.  I found this board at a garage sale around the corner from my home in the Bay Area in April of 2011.  The owner wanted $80 for it but I got her down to $50 by saying "Your going to change my life if you sell this thing to me, you know that right?"  I got destroyed out at Linda Mar with this board.  When I figured out how to ride a face, I took this board to third bowl at The Hook in Santa Cruz and rode the first decent wave of my life on this thing.  The board is made out of one solid block of epoxy. It's not glassed or anything, which makes it indestructible (hence "The Destroyer).  Even though the paint layered above the epoxy block is all chipped away, this board still rocks and catches waves when they are in their infancy.  I rode this board out at Cowell's on a pretty epic day for Cowell's standards. I shared a wave with three other people, which sealed the deal that I'd be surfing for life.  Now days, either this board is being used by a beginner friend or getting layered by dust waiting for visitors.  I use it in the summer out in San Elijo at Turtles.  Great board for ankle slappers. 

The "Arrow"
7'4 x 20.5

This was my first transition board after surfing the "Kam" for three months, probably around June of 2011.  I bought this on Craigslist for $100.  I remember first surfing this board at the Groin in Bolinas.  I was all nerves that I was going to eat shit and all.  But on my very first wave, I popped up and rode it right, all the way into The Channel's infamous left.  Luckily, I didn't go head on with some one that day. I rode the shit out of this board at The Hook.  I rode it in anything including Linda Mar, The Hook & Indicators in Santa Cruz.  I didn't know any better.   The only place I couldn't ride it was at Cowell's because there is no damn push there.  I keep this board at my brother's place in San Francisco.  Towards the end of using this board, I was using it in bigger surf at Ocean Beach in S.F. and at Linda Mar.  It's a great board with some deep channels on the bottom part of the tail.  It freakin' flies down the line!  This board's core is P.U.

Update:  I keep this board at my brother's place in San Francisco.  I use it for bigger days at S.F.O.B. when I'm in town. Rides really well in 8 - 12 ft swell.  Still hard as hell to duck dive. 

The "Webber"
6'6 x 21 3/4 x 21 1/16

I bought this board brand new from Dan at Sonlight Surf Shop in Pacifica, Ca.  I think I bought it during the fall of 2011 for around $600.  Funny thing about this board is that the first one I had was dinged several times.  I addition to that, one of the fin plugs (& fin) got torn out by a floating kelp leaf.  I was pretty frustrated by the board and the lack of durability in the glass work and complained to the board's company, giving the board a bad review on their website.  Well, within two days I was contacted by the representative of "Global Surf Industries" and they shipped me a new board!  Ever since then, the second board (exact replica of the first) has been an awesome board and super durable.  Anyways, in the beginning stage of my surfing life, I got bored easily with boards, and that's why after a few months of riding the Arrow, I bought this. I caught probably the most epic wave I ever rode on this board out at Sewers in Santa Cruz.  I caught this well overhead macker perfectly and watch the sun glimmer through it's thin sheet top all the way past first at Pleasure Point.  I still use this board often.  It really glides into waves, which is useful on days when I'm super lazy and don't want to wait on waves to make late drops.  I use it for mushy waves that have a lot of slope.  Mainly, I use this board on average days at "that reef around the corner from my house" which I mention a lot and at North Garbage.  I also use it at Scripps on days of 2-3 feet at higher tides.  I refer to this board as my "Fatty" or my "high performance long board".  I roll with FCS G-AM's on this board because all I really need is drive.  This board can turn pretty good for a how fat the rails are, but they are usually pretty long, drawn out turns.  My back foot always has to be situated slightly on the opposite side of the face if I'm going left or right.  This board is "super light" epoxy.  And it is super light for how big it is.  Surprisingly, I can whip it around pretty good. One of my best friends, Old Panama Red, swears by this board.  And he dings the fuck out of it too ;)

The "Go To" board.
6'4 x 20.26 x 2.75

This was my first board I bought as I moved into the more high performing sticks.  I bought this on Craigslist for $135.  It was in superb condition. I fucking love this board.  It is awesome.  I trust my life with it.  I first rode this board at Three Mile in Santa Cruz.  And from the second I stood up on this board, I immediately did a pretty shitty cutback (one of my first ) back into the wash, stalled a bit while I waited for another section (that's just how Three Mile goes) and rode that wave into the beach.  I decided to not ride this board in the Spring & Summer and wait on Fall and Winter to use it.  I caught some of the most epic waves on this board and also received some of my most brutal beatings with it too.  This board is still pretty fat, but for the waves I intend to ride this board on, it's totally perfect.  I usually bust this board out when the waves are 6-10 feet (10 feet is my threshold).  If it's ever bigger than 10 feet, either I'm taking pictures from the shore or I'm out by mistake.  With that said, I have caught waves that I consider bigger than 10 feet on this board (Why? Because sometimes you just have to go!).  And it's never let me down.  I use this board mainly at reefs and point breaks.  But I have used this board on bigger days and S.F.O.B., Blacks and Scripp's.  When I start to feel the butterflies and nerves, I grab this board and I feel a lot better.  This board's core is epoxy.  I heard that Geoff Rashe, who hand shaped this board for somebody, was first a Black's surfer and later moved to the West Side of Santa Cruz.  So I guess you can say that this board's creative influence came from the two places I've surfed the most. I use medium FCS PC-5's on this board.  Since this board is a round tail, drive already exists and I wanted more performance out of it, and the PC-5's gives me that. 

The "Sunset"
6'0 x 19"

I bought this from James at Sunset Shapers off of Noriega in San Francisco. He posted this board on Twitter for $180 dollars.  Manav grabbed it for me and I rode it for the first time out at Three Mile in Santa Cruz in some pretty good sized surf.  This became my everyday board in the end.  I rode it a lot out in Santa Cruz at all the breaks on the west and east side.  I rode it in beach, reef and point breaks.  This is the board that I used when I really learned how to surf. I surfed this board pretty much all the time when I moved to San Diego.  This was my board when ever it got good (4-8 feet usually at any tide).  I also rode this board all the way down Baja and on Mainland Mexico last year.  I got my first front side and back side tubes on this board.  It's a perfect short board for my body and style.  It can surf a mushy wave like Pleasure Point and steep waves like Blacks and La Pastora in Baja.  It's just a sick board.  I gave it to the little guy above when I left Mexico.  He was stoked on it and according to my friends out in Sayulita, he still surfs it every day at La Bahia and El Burro.  Lots of the locals were jealous of him when I gave him this board.  But this kid is tough and can hold his own.  Good for you kid!  This board is P.U. As for fins, I used Future JC1's.  I rode Manav's Hess, which is a similar sized board that had JC1's on them and I enjoyed the extra skatey feel, so I bought me a pair and stuck them on The Sunset and it was a perfect fit. 

"Air Drops"
6'2 x 18 3/4 x 2 5/16

Future JC1's

I bought this board for $160 from Bird.  After I came home from Mexico, I searched for a board just like The Sunset but with less width.  I got the idea of less width after I surfed a session with The Duck at Linda Mar when I went back to The Bay for a weekend.  The Duck let me use his M-10 which is I think is 6'6 x 18.5.  Anyways, I caught a pretty good sized, steep wave.  That board just stuck to that steep face with a lot of stability, like I was on a plank!  I digged that feeling and wanted a board for San Diego that was similar.  I also wanted a board with more rocker than The Sunset.  I talked to Bird about my preferences and we looked in his used board stash and found this. Since then, I've been riding this board mostly during low tide at beach breaks.  This board is awesome at Blacks.  It hold's great to the face, gets me in tubes and sometimes out.  It hold's really well when I'm in a tube on those steep faces.  A lot of times when I use boards with fatter rails, they sink when I'm in the tube and I get pummeled by the lip, but this board holds the line.   It's also great on late drops, hence the name "Air Drops".  I'm starting to use it a lot more at reef and point breaks too.  I recently used it at Uppers and Lowers, and it just killed!  This board turns really well.  This board is super light for a P.U. and which allows me to toss it around pretty well.  I rode this board about 100% of the time in my last video. Plus, it's a great board to hike down trails with as it's pretty light and fits under my arm with ease (not rubbing against my arm pits).  I generally ride this board in 4-8 feet (sometimes bigger) surf in lower tides both for beach breaks and point or reef breaks. It's becoming one of my more trusted boards.  This board is P.U.

Update:  Sold this board to a nice guy who's daughter wanted a high performance board.  

The "Rusty"

6'2 x 19.15 x 2.4

I bought this board at Bird's for $200.  I got this board because I was struggling with "Air Drops" at the time and really missed The Sunset.  So I bought this board which is as close as I could find to the specs of The Sunset.  As soon as I bought this, I really started riding Air Drops, and I started to love that board more and more everyday.  Well, the more I fell in love with Air Drops, the more this board stayed in the corner.  But a few weeks ago, I was about to sell it at the Cardiff Board Swap.  It received a lot  of lookers but not takers.  After I got home, I went out to my local beach, and since it was already in my car, I decided to surf it.  And since than, this is the only board I surfed over the last few weeks!  I can't believe I almost sold it.  The board is epoxy and super light.  The rails are really thin and there isn't much rocker, so this board just flies down the line.  This board surfs really well when I go backside.  I can totally whip this board around on backside hacks, so far around that my front knee goes into my chest.  I'm still figuring this board out, but I think this board is going with me on trips to faraway lands with warm waters.  I haven't really rode it in anything above five feet yet, but I'll let ya'll know how it goes.  I don't use a stomp pad on this board (it didn't come with one) and I'm probably going to keep it that way.  On really good waves, I can feel the wave under my back foot and judge when to turn just by the feel of whats going on under the tail.  It's a trip, but hard to explain.  Plus, I don't want to add much weight to the board, as it is pretty thin and I think it barely floats me properly.  But when conditions are good, this board is what I've been using recently.

Update:  I sold this board to a guy that was down visiting from S.L.O.  Great board, but I needed some dough to pay for a newly shaped board that I had to pick up in The City during fall of 2014.  

I found this JS while up in Santa Cruz last week.  'Ol Panama Red and I were just cruising down memory lane on the East Side and I came across this board in the Rip Curl shop on 41st.  The price was right, with an additional discount.  Had to jump on it.  The board is a bit bigger then what I usually ride.  I have plead mercy to riding boards with a bit more foam around the reefs in San Diego.  "Foam is your friend" is what one of the old timers told me during a summer session at South Bird.  This board rides 6'6 x 20.5 x 2 3/4.  It's a round tail as you can see, but the tail is so perfectly shaped.  An old timer at my high tide reef inspected the tail and in his assessment, he said to me quietly "that's one of the best tail outlines I ever put my old eyes on".  With that nice, perfect round tail, instead of getting ahead of the wave as I did with my M-10 and making those rounded out cut backs, I'm able to cut back right in the pocket like my everyday short board.  And like I wanted it to, it catches waves pretty well.  This board was sort of an unplanned buy.  Well, it was a compulsive buy for many, many reasons (as my wife says, "surfer problems").  This board is primarily for reefs when it is head high to double overhead this winter.  When it gets bigger, I may be out there, but I may be on the rail, taking pictures.  I don't really like fucking around with those days bigger then double overhead.  But who knows, I might get crazy, and might need a bigger board. 


This board on the other hand was a well thought out process of a purchase.  I've been talking to James out at Sunset Shapers in San Francisco for a while about this board.  I always stop by his shop when I'm in City while visiting my family, and talk story, mostly about what I want in a board.  He knows what I like to ride, how I ride, and what I want in a board.  I bought one of his first "P-Rocket" boards back in the day, and that was my go to board before I gave it to a deserving kid out in Punta Mida in Mexico.  This design is a refined version of the earlier P-Rocket that I had before.  I dig it's PU, thick, has kind of throw back nose and it gets me into waves no problem.  This board runs 6'0 x 19.5/ 15"x 2 3/4.  Before you judge, I am a big guy that runs at around 185 pounds.  And like I said, I'm all about foam now days.  And even with foam, this board rips.  Just the way I wanted it too.  During my first session on this board in San Diego a few days ago at Scripp's (when we had some fun and hollow short period waves at low tide) I stalled right in the pocket and got my hair wet in a little tuber, came out clean with a grom smiling on the other end.  Can't wait for some more short period stuff so I can have more fun with this at the beach breaks.  This will primarily be my board for beach break stuff, at about waist high to a little bit overhead.

"The Darth Vader"

Lately, I have been feeling like I need to add some spice to my surf life.  I'm pretty much a consummate standard, thruster, short boarder who has a variety of boards that are virtually the same but of different sizes and thickness.  I have my quiver locked in to whatever condition Mother Ocean happens to dish out.  But over the last few months I have been looking for something different, a particular board that goes in between the long, and the short.  A board that will ride different, but not too different.  And ever since I started playing on a Wave Storm, I've been wanting a real wide nosed board that I can walk the plank with.  

And this is what I found.  The Darth Vader, 6'3 x 20ish", somewhat thick, but not too thick, and pretty darn light for how much glass and foam it was born with.  My buddy Steve in The Bay put me on to this shape.  He inspired me to think different and be more open minded about what I ride.  Steve surfed the heck out of a board just like this during some pretty heavy days while we were out at the Cliffs few years back.

So that's my quiver.  Most of my boards are used except for the Webber.  I try not to buy new boards because they are too expensive and need to broken in. Used boards are the direct opposite, and just needs an owner who can appreciate their quirks.  Plus when I ding new boards, that frustrates that crap out of me. I also think it's more of a  sustainable way of surfing by buying used boards and recycling them for use by the new owner.  Yeah, you can buy a sustainable board, but that board is using at least a couple new things from mother earth while used boards are orphans that just need a loving home.

I need a proper longboard and a fish, but you know, not really.  But we can never have enough boards, the wife just has to O.K. it, and that's not going to happen anytime soon ;)

Friday, May 2, 2014


Today I paddled out at a reef just around the corner from my home.  The waves were small, pretty inconsistent and lacked that "oomph" that one get's from an actual swell.  When they did come, there were longboarders out back, catching it in it's infancy, gliding past me as the wave broke against that sea grass covered reef.  There wasn't much people out, just me and five other guys.  There was one grom in the water.  I was wondering why he was out surfing instead of having his head buried in a geometry book at school.

The water was clear, I could see these big, goldfish looking things loitering around the sea grass below.  The water was so clear I could see the sand sway off the reef below my board.  The sun was out, had to be about eighty degrees.  Women were on the beach near that grass hut in their bikinis reading while guys with no shirts loitered around them like that big 'ol goldfish below me.  It didn't matter that there weren't much waves, and when there were, all six of us paddled for them at the same time.  Because in the end, three of us greeted each other, shook hands, talked about our lives, our misadventures, heaven, death and Bob Marley.  And without hesitation, we agreed that even though the surf was not particularly well, at least we weren't boxed up in a overhead cubicle but rather free, roaming that wet, salty plain.  Days like this are just as epic as days when the waves won't stop.  No other place I'd rather be.

The video above is kinda a lullaby for April.  April wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  We had a bunch of combo swells that hit our region, and towards the end of the month we had the mighty Santa Ana's roll through that made for some great surf if you found the right spot.  This is my second round of Santa Ana's since I've lived in San Diego.  I hit a certain spot north of San Diego County and found waves that were groomed to perfection.  It took a couple more strokes to get into them than usual, and the take offs were mostly blind, but once I made that drop and wiped the water out of my eyes, clean, long walls were lined up all the way to the beach.

There were also a  couple of really good wind swells that hit our region.  I hit the beach early to beat that dreaded south wind during those sessions and on one of those days as I walked to my car after a superb session, I was held up on the beach side of the promenade as the La Jolla Half Marathon participants ran by.  I sat on the concrete divider for thirty minutes in my wetsuit, cheering those folks on.  I give them much props.  You'll never catch me running that or any race.  I'm a goldfish, through and through.

Til next time!