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Archive for April, 2014

AussieSheepRoot

The above photo was pretty much more exciting then all three of the Australian ASP WCT Contests.  Each year professional competition surf fans’ attention is drawn to Australia for the start of the new season of the Association of Surfing Professions World Championship Tour.  In previous years the Aussie leg included two comps, The Quicksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast and The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia.  The latter one of the longest running events in the history of the sport.  This year The Drug Aware Margret River Pro in Western Australia was added into the mix.

I was rather excited going into this leg.  I love Oz, its one of my favorite places to surf and visit in the world.  Having spent plenty of time on both the Gold Coast and Torquay I always welcome the chance to watch the top surfers in the world go head to head at these locations.  Adding a West Oz event only sweetened the deal for me.  The best thing about Australia contests for the American viewer is that the time difference puts the live stream in the evening/night so one does not have to give up surf time or sneak a watch at work to enjoy it.  Then there was all the new hype about the redesigned tour courtesy of Zosea media and their plans to re-invent the pro surfing wheel.

Let me say I was highly disappointed all around this year.  Most of the time watching the webcast was like watching paint dry and on the occasional good heat it was like watching glue dry.  The difference being at least when glue drys one can get high off the fumes.  Instead it was more of my favorite surfers riding some of the best wave venues at it’s most average, surfing conservative as fuck the better part of the time.  All I keep hearing is this constant talk of “progression”.   Yet the majority of the scores came from “safety surfing”.   Just when you thought the webcasts couldn’t get any more cheesy and lame Zosea made it looked like some ESPN knock off broadcast.  You just can’t take surfing and package it like any other sport cause it is not like any other sport.  I will commend the addition back of the women to the circuit.  I am not really a big fan of female professional surfing.  Sorry girls but when the average WQS men’s competitor could beat your best if he had a sex  change and donned a bikini I can’t give you any more seriousness then a side show to the men.  That being said I missed the side show the last few years with the women stand alone tour.

Snapper Rocks
SnapperComp
Snapper is one of my favorite events on tour.  Here you have one of the worlds best high performance waves in one of the most surf crazed areas.  The energy around the contest is nuts.  Last year the final day was held a near epic Kirra where all the last few heats were stand on your feet nail biters to the final where Slater came out on top.  A few years back we saw a very inform Dan Reynolds go nuts against Parko completely redefining the performance level in a heat.  This year however we saw average conditions at best for the majority of the event along with relatively boring surfing.

All these guys fucking rip and have video segments that make the everyday surfer wet his bed.  Yet, when they throw on a jersey its safety turn central.  The only time the bar is raised is when they are backed into a corner.  There are exceptions to the rule of course.  Brazilian Gabriel Medina took the win, who with out a doubt was one of the most inform guys of the event.  He may just be the best surfer to ever come out of Brazil.   I think everyone would have liked to see Dane flair up, but that never really happened.
gabriel-medinaThe Drug Aware Margret River Pro
yadin

There are some really crazy waves in West Oz, is Margret River really one of them?  In the case of the this event not at all.  With the exception of Yadin Nicol’s huge air reverse in the earlier rounds there was little for me to get excited about.  It was mostly an event composed of watching great surfers do their best to make the most out of head to overhead mushy surf.  Yes there were a few heats ran at the Box.  I hate to say it, but as sick at that wave is to watch in a surf video, in a contest it gets really boring really fast.  I love a good slab as much as the next, but unless the competitors lives’ are in jeopardy watching the same barrel ride over and over again becomes very tiresome.  Ultimately Michel Bourez took the win doing the same old fashioned rail to rail surfing that has been winning heats since the 80’s sans progression.  Whoooot!  Glad I had to work late and missed the actual live stream of the final day opting for the highlight real instead, which still bored the hell out of.  It was like masturbating to a Sears bra ad.

Bells
Bells
I find it Ironic that at a venue known best for power surfing Bells was the spot where some of the more innovative surfing was found.  Up until the end rounds there were a few guys who were going for broke.  John John’s 10 in Round 5 against Medina and Slater was fucking insane.  That heat in general was nuts.   In the end it was “White Lightning” and defending world champion Mick Fanning who rung the bell with nothing but power carves and floaters all event long.  Its a good thing my boys and I didn’t play one of those surf commentator drinkings games every time the phrase “fastest surfer in the world” pertaining to Fanning was thrown out or I might have died of alcohol poisoning.   Mick did surf incredible in the event, but minus solid surfing he did nothing innovative the entire event.  He threw up safety move after safety move and was awarded 9’s for it.  I am sorry but four big hits and floater in a WCT final should never garnish a high 9.

Should Jordy have got a ten

This was the big debate at bells and I am at a loss to understand why.  It was a great wave and ride, but far from ten worthy.  Its true he rode the wave well, but the low nine he was rewarded for it seemed fair to me.  If you compare it to John John’s Ten in round five its not even close or Slater’s one move ten from 2012.  Its a bummer the guy didn’t get the score to move on and I am stoked that Jordy is one of the few guys on tour who pushes the envelope performance wise, but it was not a ten.  Compare the following videos and then really consider if he should have got the ten.  I think you will agree.
Jordy’s Wave in Question


He has some big turns out the back, then milks it to the reform before landing a very average front side air reverse.

John John’s 10

Meanwhile John John throws up a huge full rotation 360 air, sticks it, comes around a difficult white water section, finishing up with a giant lay back that most thought he fell on till he finally stood back up.

Slater’s 10 from 2012

Slater got a ten off of one huge maneuver, a no grab big full rotation 360 air, landed in the flats with hard offshore winds in his face.  The odds of anyone pulling that off in a free surf in such conditions let alone a contest is slim.  That is what a ten should reflect, a feat so uncommon it would be hard to repeat, the impossible made possible.

What happened to Kelly Slater?

Slater

I know Slater is getting old and all but his combined performances at all the past three events have been a disappointment.   He looks awkward and miss timed on everything.  I think it might be all of the experimental equipment he has been messing around with.  Maybe its its time to go back to more traditional equipment especially in harder heats.  He is got twenty years on a good portion of the guys on tour.  He needs to regroup and get back into that competitive animal of years past.  Of course a two quarter finals and one semi final finish is nothing to shake a stick at.  Going into Brazil, a place Slater seems to constantly find a lack of motivation for, one begins to wonder what result may take shape for the 11 time world champ.

Brazil

Next stop the tour heads to Rio Brazil for the Billabong Pro where we are sure to see more average waves and heavy frustration as the world’s best slog it out for points and dollars.  We get to watch more paint dry.  I guess we need to keep our fingers crossed for Fiji, J-bay and Tahiti.  I for one am not going to be holding my breath for another amazing to go down in shitty Rio beach break.

Sorry, but this is about the only thing worth getting excited about Brazil...

Sorry, but this is about the only thing worth getting excited about Brazil…

 

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BigSurFeb14-050

Just another spot with surf potential on the right day.

I poked my head out from under the covers to sounds of sinking birds and the wind rustling through the trees.  It was freezing in the cabin post fire going out sometime in the night.  I got a breath of the fresh crisp air before snuggling back under the covers with my baby. Fuck it was cold.  Santa Barbara has some cold to it in the early morning, but this felt like straight up winter time.  In no rush why not sleep in a bit.  I spend and have spent nearly every single morning for the last 23 years of my surfing life getting up early for waves.  When I have an opportunity I relish in the luxury of being able to kick back, relax and not worry about rushing off to the next surf session.

That being said the call of the ocean to a surfer within a reasonable distance to the ocean is likened to the drums from the game in the movie “Jumanji”.  Just knowing that rumble is out there is enough to give no rest to the keen.  Despite being all warm and happy next to my girl half my mind was thinking about what surf potential was out there.  By ten I had us up and ready to get on the road for a look about.  My thoughts on the whole day was it was a vast amount of coastline to be scoured for both sightseeing and surf.  So why not just pick a direction and wander about and see what turns up.

BigSurFeb14-103

A random spot I came across with near  to impossible access.

As I stated earlier in Part I I had absolutely nothing to go on besides a bad surf guide written by Surfer Magazine that my boy Mark left at my pad like 4 years ago.  If you ever see Surfer Magazine’s Guide to Northern and Central California Surf Spots don’t buy it, accept it as a gift or if you happen to find it in the trash leave it there.  If a buddy leaves it at your place mail it back to him or use it as kindling as I should have.  In the end it’s my own damn fault for not taking the time to research it better.  I literally own three California surf guides and had a central California AAA guide my dad left at my place this past fall. Some how I failed to take anything with me besides the aforementioned bull shit surf guide.  The only map I had was the entire state of California Map I keep in my car, on which the Big Sur area is about the size of a fucking nickel.

Don't even open this piece of shit.  Surfer Mag should be ashamed of themselves for putting out such a piece of trash.

Don’t even open this piece of shit. Surfer Mag should be ashamed of themselves for putting out such a piece of trash.

With a lack of any real plan or guidance I decided to go about things the old fashioned way.  I figured Heather and I could meander about the PCH looking for the few spots the surf guide happened to mention.  The closest spot to where I was staying was the Big Sur River Mouth inside of Andrew Molera State Park.  From what I read there may have been a decent river mouth bar and a few possible reef breaks with in the vicinity.  We pulled into the park entrance and it was $10 to get in.  I asked the guy if it was worth it and he said he had no idea, but that the only foot bridge over the estuary to get to the beach had been washed out.  To even check the surf I would have had to paddle across about a 100 yard creek with god knows what kind of sea life in it.  Not feeling that situation I declined.  The ranger referred me to Pfeiffer State Beach further south of there.

BigSurFeb_2

This reef break was a perfect A-frame. The left looked a bit more hallow though fast while the right peeled for easily 50 yards before meeting up with a close out end section. I will say this much it is way bigger then it looks. I was pretty far away when I took this photo. Even with no one out it had to be at least 8-10 ft solid. Access to it was just about impossible. I talked to some guy about it later on and he said in order to surf the spot you have to have someone drop you off, hop the fence then hike a mile and a half to it .

Rather then go by some obviously surf clueless ranger’s suggestion I got back on the road and headed north.  The guide had mentioned another beach that was considered the first surf-able spot in the northern end of Big Sur, Garrapatta State Park.  I knew that we would at least pass Point Sur on the way and countless other sites of interest.  Yes I was technically scouring the coastline for a wave to ride, but we were also doing a bit of exploration in general.  Sometimes the best way to take in a place is by just ambling about.  Point Sur was a bit of a let down considering that access is restricted on the south side and the actual point to military and government personnel only and the north side is private property with plenty of no trespassing signs and barbed wire.  I read in a leaflet about Point Sur back at the cabin that tours are given of the light house only on Saturdays from like 10 am to like 3 pm  and a reservation had to be made a week in advance.  For this trips purposes it was no meant to be.  Once again that is alright thus giving me an excuse to make another trip, not that I would need one.

Point Sur, one of the more unique points I have visited.

Point Sur, one of the more unique points I have visited.

In a lot of ways Point Sur was a bit like Morro Rock except connected to land.  It was shame access to it was beat.  None the less it was still a nice vista.  As far as cool stuff to see on the way north the sights were endless and almost too much to take in.  We passed over historical bridges, saw a cool looking sea cave, and overall just something rather incredible for the senses around every turn.  Everything is just so amazing down to the opaque blue color of the ocean.  If not for the thick jacket covering my body I would have thought I was in a tropical locale.

If I didn't know better I would say this picture was shot a lot closer to the equator then it was.

If I didn’t know better I would say this picture was shot a lot closer to the equator then it was.

We pulled up at Garrapatta and I could see the waves rolling in from the side of the road.  One thing was for sure the waves were pretty solid.  It was also rather clean and throwing from what I could tell.  I literally ran down the trail in excitement thinking I was about to score a solo barrel fest.  Not that the idea of surfing by myself in very sharky waters was a settling thought.   Fuck it, if it was really as good as I thought, it was worth the risk.  When it comes to sharks I always go back to this crazy Aussie body boarder I used to chill with motto: “mate I reckon if you get taken and survive you will never have to pay for a beer for the rest of your life  and if you don’t, then no worries”.  I have had a good run in this life anyhow. If my number was drawn so be it.  There are far worse ways to die then doing what you love.  Becoming part of the food chain is a useful death after all.

My first view of Garrapatta State Beach from the road.  It looked like some epic West Australian Beach Break.

My first view of Garrapatta State Beach from the road. It looked like some epic West Australian Beach Break.

I literally ran down the trail to the cliffs edge and right away I was gripped with the harsh reality that what I was face to face with was more of a gnarly shore dump then a sick barrel.  If I were a sponger I would have been all over it or if I felt like getting my ass handed to me for a sicky or two.  In water just around 50F I was not about to go for a beating.  The place definitely had real potential.  Maybe on a different swell angle, tide, throw in some offshore wind and it could be a solid break.  That may as well be the greatest mind fuck to surfing out in Big Sur the endless potential and the question “what if….?”.   Either way it was another beautiful site to take in and totally worth the drive.  I bet one could spend a life time surfing this coast and never even scratch the surface.

This was a cove I found some found in a nook of the coast  that was closed out when I came upon but on its day could be all time?

This was a cove I found, some in a nook of the coast that was closed out when I came upon it but on its day could be all time?  Look how glass it was being almost completely sheltered from wind.

What little understanding I had of the geography of Big Sur I figured there was not much more to see if we continued north thus we cruised back south and got a little lunch and re-grouped.  At this point I really wanted to get wet.  If you seriously surf then you totally understand that after a certain period of time passes where you are completely surrounded by waves and water and have not paddled the itch becomes uncontrollable.  My book and other pre-trip research mentioned something about a Sand Dollar Beach.   Actually, I surfed with some random guys at New Jetty who were from up that way and had said a bit about a Mill Creek also.  Later I would find out that was considered one of the better waves in the area although I never made it there myself.  The plan was set to head for this Sand Dollar beach.

BigSurFeb14-071

More hard to get to set ups with potential

South we drove, and drove and drove.  I really can have absolutely no understanding of distance at times especially when I don’t have a map.  About half way there we managed to stumble upon this sick waterfall that literally dropped down onto this picture perfect crescent beach into the ocean.  It was one of those sights you would see in a magazine or a poster on a wall.  The funny thing was I only pulled over cause I saw a few cars parked on the side of the road and my surf instincts told me there might be something worth a look.  Whenever I am in a location where there is surf I always check out a few cars parked near a nondescript beach access.  Its how  I have managed to stumble upon some of the best spots in my life.  Plus the lay of the land looked like it could be a cove of sorts.

 

This was the view from the car when I parked.  I mean c'mon where can you just happen to come upon a scene like this?

This was the view from the car when I parked. I mean c’mon where can you just happen to come upon a scene like this?

We got out of the car after having to wait for Heather to change back out of her heels and into her hiking shoes.  The swap initially made for lunch so she would look her best at the tiny tourist/country bumpkin/camping general store near our cabin.  Absurd, maybe, but it is also one of the reasons I love her.  Would you expect anything less from me?  We followed this little path a ways before coming out into a clearing in full view of this breath taking cove.  There right in front of us was this picturesque waterfall.  Ironically my buddy Diego had shown me a picture of this spot when I told him I was coming up to Big Surf.  Now here I was staring right at it.  If not for a little dumb luck and blind fate I could have missed out completely.  I think the way we found the fall made it that much more special to us.

BigSurFeb14-093

Mc Way Falls

At this point I must say it had been a rather complete day for most.   For me, well, my hair was still dry and I was jonesin’ for a surf.  I found a little map near the falls that showed we were not far off of Sand Dollar Beach and a chance to ride a wave or two in some capacity.  Tune in next time for Part III, the sketch that is surfing in Big Sur.  Sorry for the horrible delay between segments, but I have been super busy, lazy and what not.  This shit takes time to compose as weak ass as it is.  I hope you have enjoyed it thus far.  If you missed Part I check it out here.  For Part III click here.

A glimpse of what is to come...

A glimpse of what is to come…

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