Sunday, January 31, 2016

El Niño Don't Play! Snaps from the Janurary 29, 2016 Swell

Danny documenting.  Check out his snaps at OceanFreshPhoto on instagram. 

The waves during the end of this week and on into Saturday were perfectly big for San Diego beaches.  There was a good mix of it too, filling in both the reefs and beaches with plenty of waves and remarkably minimal lulls.  As I post this, 60 knot winds are trying to tear down the palm trees in front of my window.  Luckily, I was able to get in some good waves and pictures yesterday and the day before.

First Spot, Friday 1.29.2016

Pulled up and saw O.G. Eric dressing up on the sidewalk.  He got it good before it got a bit unruly.  The swell appeared to be picking up steam every half hour.  I decided to snap a few before driving to my favorite when it gets big.

When you see this wave breaking, you know you it has surpassed the "it's about to get real stage".


Second spot, Friday 1.29.2016. 

I drove by the vista and saw it perfectly breaking a California 10 feet plus.  I got out of my car, put on my gear and paddled out on my JS.  It took me two attempts to paddle out before I got some advice from an old timer standing at the life guard tower who watched me get washed way too south on my first attempt. I stayed out long enough to dodge a couple stacked sets, catch three waves (two being mighty fine grinders) before getting washed in on what I consider a "mega" set. 

Lots of calling out "Going right!" in the lineup during sets.  Guess the first guy was deaf. 

Tudor held a clinic on this day. 
Tudor on another.
Tudor on a turn.
Tudor banking high.
Lucky guy.
That moment where you hope it doesn't explode in the impact zone because the paddle back is going to suck.

There were a lot of great "inbetween'ers" if you had the ability to hold your ground on the bigger sets.  
Another great inbetween'er.  
Peanut Gallery.  Well worth the $10 to park and watch. 

Third Spot, Friday 1.29.2016. 

The swell was maxing out, and to be honest, way beyond this proletariat's ability. But I had my camera, and that's the second best thing to do when it gets too big.  I watched the waves and sun go down with a Florida mate.  He was only down for  a week and this was way beyond him too.  We watched the current sweep south, and a couple guys paddling out with it. He was still pretty happy to watch the A+ crew do their thing.  And there were a lot of "makes" when we were spectating.  Pretty amazing considering the unruly conditions of the swell and the degree of difficulty to make it happen.

Props to this guy charging.  You get more respect for the wipe outs than the makes sometimes. 
The Rail Birds.

 Saturday, 1.20.2016.

Me and Danny decided to take some snaps at our local beach break.   Danny showed me a couple nooks.  Beautiful views and lots of mud on the trail.  The mud got us, but we came out with some awesome captures anyway.

Check out this sequence:

I saw him get covered for about four seconds...
Then his board showed up...

Shakas to El Niño for sending us yet another damn good swell!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Midseason thoughts on El Niño

Getting use to looking at forecasts and buoy readings of 8.2 @ 20's can be a very frightning thing to a proletariat surfer like I.  What this means is that the set waves will probably hit the reefs at around 10ft-14ft+ feet during sets, with a lot of underlying power built up from the bottom of the shelf on up.  In addition to that, waves running at 20+ second intervals will be long in length, closing out most channels, anywhere you surf.  In a nutshell, all that means is there is no escape for the ultimate ride.  I'm use to seeing buoy readings never going above 5 or 6 feet when it comes to 20 second intervals.  I once paddled out at the cliffs when it was 6 feet at 22 seconds a couple winters ago, and I got my clock rung one to many times.  But what is a surfer to do when every dang swell is running between 6-8 ft at around 17-20 seconds every other day?  I don't have a universal answer for that, nor will I try.  But personally, for my own sanity and need to surf, is to just get fucking use to it.

This wave was taken at a swell that was around 4ft @ 20's.  That's my comfort zone swell.  Waves are nice and powerful at 5-8 ft. but not going to break your board or your back.  El Niño on the other hand dishes double that on a consistent basis.  I kind of knew it was coming with such a slow November while watching the ocean's movement, but when December stalled a bit, I was in doubt.  But after the torrential downfall  that occurred here in SoCal during first week of January, it's either been 10+ or 5-8ft+ with no real in between.  Today was probably the smallest it has been, 3-4 feet at Home Depot, tomorrow more of the same, but on Thursday, it starts up again and the weekend looks like another big one.

I've made it evident that I, by no means, am a big wave chaser.  But I will put myself out there once in a while to see where I am at.  But since there has been really no choice but to surf when it's been big, I've went out there with all I have, and tested my mettle.  And I have surprised myself.  The more I  went out when my mind and body have said no, the more I have been able to get use to the relentlessness of El Niño and her savage waves.

Lots of guys love this stuff.  Big waves, big wipe outs.  I just want to have fun.  And recently, instead of being on high alert, I have been more in tuned with finding the right spot in the lineup and taking the punishment that comes with that.  I heard this big wave surfer's interview about wiping out, and he said what gets him through it is a quote from Laird Hamilton saying "You just have to enjoy the second ride".  Which makes a lot of sense.  I took a brutal wipe out on one of the bigger waves I've ever taken off on, and while I was getting mowed over by that wave and consecutive set waves, I just tried to enjoyed it and kept telling myself to practice 1. having fun and 2. staying calm.  I figure if guys are getting battered by the unruly Waimea Bay in Hawaii, then maybe, just maybe I can survive a couple 10ft+ tumbles.

But lets be honest.  This has been one of the most epic January's in my tenure of surfing (5 years now in April).  Most of you would agree that we have all probably caught some of the most memorable waves in recent memory, along with a lot of unmemorable and traumatic wipe outs.  And to see how much the angles mean in swells that are so powerful has been awesome and interesting.  I have been going back to keeping logs on directions, swell feet and periods, but keeping precise notes on which end of a reef or a point a waves breaks on that specific swell.   These swells have been so pure, mostly just one big swell, with little to no mixture.  But yes, we did have that small south swell the other week which got over runned by the last big North Swell.  People said it was out there, but I didn't see it at all.

It's great to know your skill level and not paddle out if you feel that it's not up to what is being put out by El Niño.  But at the same time, it's good to test yourself and to see how far you have come.  If it's too big, drive north (from a San Diego winter perspective).  There is always something that will be at the level where you are at.  But sometimes don't.  Just make sure you have a good leash, lots of board, trained hard enough prior to give you the confidence and test your mettle.  Good things can happen.  And you might, just might leave with a big smile and boost of self assurance that yes, you can do it.

(Disclaimer:  know your ability, only paddle out when you have the ability and physical endurance to take a beating.  You should probably consult with your doctor too.  No doubt!)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Steve's Back in Town

Steve's Back in Town from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

My homey Steve, originally from North Park, was back in town yesterday from The Bay.  We decided to hit up our old haunt.  Surprisingly it was bigger than expected, and the lineup was thin.  Goes to show, you never know until you paddle out. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2015 Year End Review

First wave of 2016

2015 has come and passed.  It was a strange year for me.  It started off with my father passing away, and then attending his funeral on my birthday.  Losing my Dad was pretty hard.  And the funny thing about it was that we were quarreling for years, not talking much as some sons as fathers do.  But I hold no regret about our relationship, it's just how it was meant to be.  He was a big Star Wars fan though, and one of the things he passed on to me was the love for it.  And for some reason, I knew he was there watching Episode VII with me on opening night.

Here's to my "Pop's" and his Teva's, his adventures and his odd ways of showing love.

Best day ever:

Comic Con 2015.  Our Friday at Hall H ending with the Lucas Film Panel and the Star Wars Concert For Fans.  Just epic!

 Best week of the year:

5 days in London from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

Time spent across the pond with my wife.  For me at least, vacations I figure should be time spent away from the Ocean.  I surf a lot now days so traveling to surf for vacation seems to be a bit much.  So instead of heading to Hawaii or Costa Rica, we spent five days in London and another four days in Amsterdam.  Both cities were awesome!  And I got to cross Abby Road!  And no, I did not eat the Space Cake or smoke the doobs in a cafe!

Dutch Herrings. My favorite dish from this trip.

Jackets required.  Miss that.

Best wave of the year:

The Force Awakened... Well sort of... from Kookingitup on Vimeo.

It wasn't THE best wave of the year, but I got it on my GoPro.

So as I do each year, below are my surf stats: 

Honestly, I'm a pretty full fledged Southern California surfer now.  I like wearing my 3/2 in the Winters and trunks in the Summer.  I'm really not into waves bigger than ten feet, and my favorite move is a elongated round house cutback.  I don't even think I surfed in NorCal last year.  It's not that I have something against NorCal, that is my home by birth, where I lived most of my life, but I just never got around to it for a lot of different reasons when I was up.  But I'm owning up to it now, because I love San Diego, the community of surfers that I surf with everyday and the breaks that we surf. 

Sessions surfed:  178

Spots surfed:

Scripps (Home break):  49
Blacks (sort of home):   26
Bird Rock (Summer home):  25
N. Garbage:  10
Hairmos:  7
Teresa's:  7 (And for those that do not know, we lost Tacho in 2015, famous for his fish taco's directly in front of this break.  One of the first men to welcome me as a weekend Baja surfer.  Rest In Peace Tacho.)

Sewer Lines:  7
San Miguel:  6
Swami's:  5
Gaviotas:  5
Luscumbs: 5
Delmar:  4
K38: 4
Rock slides: 3
Grandview: 3
Law Street: 2
Ponto: 2
Los Cerritos: 2
Uppers: 1
Cottons: 1
Mission Beach: 1
Bunkers: 1
O-side: 1
PB: 1

Boards surfed:

Webber: 69
Sunset: 32
JS: 26
Vader: 10
M-10: 8
Wavestorm: 1

Even though 2015 started pretty rough, it turned out to be a pretty good year.  I learned a lot about myself, learned more as a surfer, gained more wisdom as a waterman, and finally understood that paddling out solo is probably the better choice.  2016 already started off great, and it will continue to be a great year.  I just hope that I learn how to be a better person, gain more compassion, be a better husband, and make a dent for the good.  That's all I can ask for and the rest is just gravy.

Third wave of 2016.  Gravy I tell you!  Gravy!

If your into it, here are my year end reviews from the past: