Sunday, July 27, 2008

Scouting surf spots

I’ve been wanting to start surfing point breaks again for at least, well, since I moved here over five years ago. But it’s so convenient to just walk three blocks down and go out at the local beach break that I haven’t been sufficiently motivated to check Topanga, Sunset and Malibu.

Actually, that’s not quite true. On July 4 of last year one of the people from the Cambridge office was in the middle of his 6-week posting to the Santa Monica office. As I’ve become the unofficial surf instructor for the Cambridge office, he looked me up and I started taking him out. He caught on to surfing faster than anybody I’ve ever seen - it probably helps that he’s 27 and a very good athlete already. Because he was getting good fast I put him on the 7’0“ David Pu’u funboard and he was doing well with it. Unfortunately he didn’t heed my advice to be aware of the board’s presence and position if you get pitched off it. It ended up hitting him hard on the arm - with the sharp pointy end of the skeg and cut him open. We went to the ER and they put about 15 stitches in to close him up and told him to stay out of the water until the wound closed. (Picture will go up on Flickr shortly.) That dry spell happened to overlap 4 July - at which time we also happened to get a fantastic south swell. I decided it would be good to take him to see Malibu, which just happened to be my first time too.

Yes, despite growing up, living and surfing in SoCal nearly all my life I’d never actually been to Malibu. (Reason: Ventura County has a good point break as well as all other types of surf breaks, and frankly I just didn’t want to hassle with the crowds at the ‘Bu in the summer.) We went - and the waves were incredible. (Pictures to follow.) They were consistently 4-6’ set waves and just rolled through all the points. However, there were zillions of people out. But I digress...

This morning I left early and drove out to Sunset to check that point break. I’ve seen Topanga and it’s just not very good - bottom looks not very well-shaped and the put-in is rocky. Sunset has a rocky put-in too, but there was a south swell running today and it handled the sets and waves fairly well. (Pictures here.) There were nearly 100 people out at a place that doesn’t seem to have a lot of takeoff spots, but that won’t matter much if I dawn patrol and go out when few people are there.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thick lips, good juice

A small south swell came through today and I got waves. I hadn’t been out in weeks - maybe two months - so I went out on the boogie board. Turns out that was probably a better choice than the stand up board because the waves had some juice, so they were fast and walled up. I saw one guy getting rides, but most of the stand-up surfers were getting creamed or just not making the takeoff.

I made 4 waves in :16 minutes, and got punished by each. On the first, I didn’t have a sense of how strong the lips were. I stayed high on the wall after the takeoff and turn, and got hit in the back of the head by the lip. It tore my hat off and I think I got a mild concussion. On the second wave I pulled into the barrel a bit lower on the face, but then the descending lip hit the nose of my board and pearled it so fast that I literally flipped, fins over my head. The water was pretty shallow and I got scared that I was being pushed down so fast that it was going to break my neck, but I didn’t hit the bottom after all. This one overpressurized my ears too. In the third wave I got el rolloed, but by then I was prepared. I got a good view looking down the barrel, which was fun - for about .5 sec.

After the first :17 minutes I didn’t get anything else for another :15, so I got out. Water temp was 68F according to LA County Lifeguards.