Well that’s what everyone is calling it. Most likely unless the Earth as we know it is completely fucked and global warning has finally taken its toll I suppose none of us will ever see waves like what graced the coast of California on Wednesday August 27 2014 for at least another 30 years. As for myself I know I for one will never see a south east tropical swell like such while still in my prime. I would love to say that I scored like the mother fucker in the above video at Sand Spit, literally a quarter of a mile from my apartment. My friends I did not!
Nope, no sir. I FUCKEN BLEW IT!!!!! Have I surfed good Sand Bar in my tenure here in Santa Barbara? I certainly have. I have gotten some of the best rides of my life out there. Wednesday was not to be for me. I was caught in what was once foretold to me as “adult” responsibility. Up until Wednesday I had no idea exactly what that phrase meant or why it could cause anyone so much pain. We all knew Marie was coming and that it was predicted to be BIG. Of course whenever a tropical swell is in question here on the west coast one always cannot be sure how good it will really be. No doubt the trump card spots like Trestles, The Wedge and New Port will be solid, but the rest of the coast is usually a crap shoot.
Up here in the 805, well its more like a sadistic game of pin the tail on the donkey. I have literally spent an entire day driving over 100 miles from Jalama to Ventura to Malibu only to surf absolute crap cause I missed what never really was anywhere. When I first saw all the models I was a bit of a skeptic (what me? NEVER! Call me captain optimistic). Although I must say it has been one of the better tropical seasons up in these parts that I have seen in about five years. Monday night I went up to Jalama with Mike after I got off from work and was figuring it would be fun background swell from the south at best.
Sure enough the “J” was solid (you can read the August 14 Surf Log for the details) at which point I began to get excited for the new swell. From the lines I witnessed I for sure thought Tuesday morning (8/26) was going to be on. Pumped I went to bed early in anticipation. I knew it wasn’t going to be the best of things early, but figured I would at least get decent enough Santa Clara River Mouth. My buddy Adam from back in NJ was around and met me up early. When we began the trek south to Ventura everything was small, barely chest high and poor quality. We ended up surfing Solimar which was super tiny when we first paddled. By the end of an hour session already there were new long period lines similar to what I had witnessed at Jalama the previous night coming in.
I went to work and through out the day I was constantly getting texts from friends letting me know how the swell was filling in. I guess right at dark most spots began to turn on pretty solid. I got home around nine and I could hear surf in front of my apartment. I only live up the cliff from Lead Better beach so this is a common occurrence, especially in the winter. This was more like fire works going off and the roaring of a great lion then the usual mellow relaxing white noise of tiny wind swell rolling up the beach. I began to get excited so much so that sleeping became nearly impossible. I woke up every hour, as most of us do when a special swell event is running, hoping it was light.
Awake at 6 am I found myself pacing around my apartment waiting for my boy Adam to show up. It was his last day in town and what a last day to have. He is actually the second person from New Jersey to show up to SB for a rarity of a swell. The last time it was friends of Cory and I, Alex and Carleigh back in 2007. That was a macker of a WNW swell, the biggest Santa Barbara I have ever seen or surfed. It was also on a Wednesday. Maybe I will write a throw back blog about that swell at some point.
This swell was way more rare then that one. Santa Barbara gets WNW swells in the winter. We don’t get south swells in the summer and we especially don’t get ESE swells basically ever. On top of that most spots saw at least head high waves and then some. My boy should have bought a lottery ticket cause his lucky stars were counted and lined up. We had a look directly in front of my place at Lead Better and it was solid 8-10 ft, though rather crowded and average shape at best, classic Lead Better. I thought about having a look at Sand Spit, but decided the swell was most likely too east for it and the summer sand would be no good. Instead I went for Sharks Cove, which is always my go to spot for when town has waves.
I did the drive by from the 101 twice to get a handle on the place. From what I could see there were only about five guys on it and was at least head high. Hammonds looked huge. We parked and made the run to the point. To our surprise and utter dismay about twenty more guys had already beat us there and another ten were behind us effectively clogging the point. On top of that it was not coming in very good at all. If only five guys were out I would have paddled anyway, but I was not about to fight a crowd. We looked west toward Hammonds and Mira Mar and it looked nuts.
Hammonds looked like some crazy tropical reef pass and from our vantage, just way over head freight training rights. At Mira Mar we saw some guy drop into a wave that was at least three feet over head and it looked like he was skirting the barrel. Out of time that was the call and up to Hammonds we ran. As luck would have it when we got in front of spot and the right was way too fast and walled. The left looked good, though some what crowded. The wave also ended on complete dry reef. I have broke two boards and lost countless fins/plugs to that left on average days. I could not imagine what would have happened if I paddled it. Most people out there were just getting destroyed on the left any how.
The drift was heading east to Mira Mar anyway so Adam and I jumped in at Hammonds and drifted our way down. Pretty much all the way through Mira Mar it was still very very fast. I was pumping with all my might and speed to get two or three fast turns in. What we thought were guys getting tubed from a far were just people being forced to straighten off. Then Adam managed to luck into an overhead peeler that he ripped the fuck out of all the way to the bottom of the point. Right behind him I snagged the next one and got four solid back side hits on it. From that point we had it wired till the end of our session when it go clogged with a bunch of kook ass long boarders and old guys, who’s modus operandi was to burn us on everything despite the fact we were making all of our waves. Whatever we got a few and were stoked.
Deep down inside I knew I had blown it and was blowing it by going into work. What was I going to do? My hands were tied. It was the first legit day of the Westmont student meal plans. I am the sous chef. It would have set a terrible example if I called out. The fucking swell was all over the news for days. My bosses and everyone I work with would have put the facts together and knew I was not sick. With my luck I would have gotten a clip on the news or in the paper. My boss would see it while watching t.v. that night and I would be busted.
On a side note back in 2003 I was attending Monmouth University in New Jersey. A sick hurricane swell was coming up the coast. I called my professor and told him I was having a stomach bug and would not be able to attend class. Meanwhile I was getting some amazing waves at my home break. There were a bunch of photographers shooting. Most were the usual surf paparazzi and I thought nothing of it hoping to get a shot so I would get paid. One of the guys shooting I had never seen before and he came up to me and said he got some good ones and wanted my info, which I gave. Next time I went to that class I bailed on the professor said that he hoped that I was feeling better then through a copy of the previous day’s newspaper on my desk. I was on the cover six feet in the air on a sickie. BUSTED!!!!
I did the responsible thing this time around and went into work where I slaved like a dog for nine hours. Ryan scored Hobsons, one of my go to over flow spots when the points get to crowded and said it was like an Indo left. I heard Father Johns went off as well. Pat said Mondos looked over head and kill-able. That wave is the biggest kook loving mush burger 365 days a year. As we all know from the opening video to this piece Sand Spit was epic. Trevor got some bombs at Rincon up at Indicator, which I heard was intense from a lot of people. I also heard that Devereux had a left breaking to sands that was crazy. My friend Trey went to El Cap at first light and said the point was about chest to head and fun. Basically it was a magically swell that made all sorts of epic little nooks and crannies go off.
Thursday (8/28) there was still plenty of swell lingering. I got up good and early to have a look around. Unfortunately new wind swell had filled in over night and tore up the channel turning the groomed hurricane lines into absolute mess. I drove around for over an hour before desperation paddling the Gold Coast near the entrance to Emma Wood. For whatever reason Jordy Smith had decided to paddle and was absolutely destroying the choppy crossed up offerings. I had a barrel or two, but it was stoked to surf with him. I guess it was a minor redemption to a major insult of blowing the swell of the century. If I were a Japanese samurai I think I would have had to commit seppuku. As a surfing guru I almost felt inclined to anyway. On further analysis though I realized that I have scored epic waves all over the globe and have many good years of surfing ahead of me. Sure it will suck to talk about how I blew it every time the big south of August 2014 comes up, which it will for the next thirty years. I did get to surf and that always beats not surfing and winter is coming….RINCON.