Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Dunlea’


Epic Sand Spit circa ’09. Pretty sure I was in the pit for the first half of this wave, then hit this section and pulled back into it. Photo: David Molleck


I found myself sitting on the break wall  at Sand Spit tonight watching one intrepid soul doing his best to make to the most of the meager wind swell on offer.  Though it was small it also looked a bit on the fun side.  Did I turn around and run back to my apartment to get my board for a paddle?  Not even.  I had a mediocre surf a Emma Wood in the morning that more then filled my surf quota for the day (Check out the April Surflog for more on that surf).  Then I remembered back eight years ago when I first came out here and didn’t even have a car.

I surfed some of the most deplorable Sand Spit one can imagine.  I would have been super stoked on a session that I was at the moment bearing witness to.  Eight years is a long time.  Throw in another three years or so of constant travel to some of the world’s best waves prior and one’s perspectives can really change.  Up until the past two years ago or so I never would have believed that I could even be considered a jaded southern Californian surfer.  I thought my east coast surf ethic would stay strong.  In a way it has still.  I with out a doubt paddle in far more conditions then my born and bread Californian friends.


Near Epic Rincon Photo: Chris Lisanti

At the same time I have in the last eight years surfed nearly every single wave in the Ventura/Santa Barbara area epic at least once.  Spots like Rincon I have had so many days that would make any normal surfer grin from ear to ear and experience the wave of his life on that I have lost count.  These days such has almost worked to my own personal detriment.  It’s hard for me to get into average Rincon, or small Sand Spit, sub par El Capitan.  I have seen these waves at their best.  I have caught some of the best waves of my life courtesy of them.

There was a time when I first arrived here in Santa Barbara that I was constantly finding the “wave of my life”.  Today my causal expression when asked to describe the conditions is most likely “Best of the worst” or “better then not surfing I suppose”.  I still have plenty of stoke and love surfing more then anything else in life.  At the moment I am having a real difficulty finding that fire in my eyes that I used to have.  I want to recapture that.  I want to go out there and be stoked on two foot Sand Spit and an eight turn ride at Rincon.


Hollywood By the Sea absolutely going ballistic. Photo: Christopher Dunlea

What do we do when the magic appears to be running out?  I have been surfing 24 years, been a professional, challenged and pushed my limits.  Where do I go from here?  One thing that is for sure surfing is still the love of my life.  Every facet in my day to day is catered around finding the best surf I possibly can.  If I miss a day I still feel as bad about it as I did when I was eleven.  I guess I just need to reconnect with that inner grom that at the moment is ashamed of who he grew up to be.

I remember when I was fourteen I rode my bike 3 miles in February to the beach.  The air was maybe 2oF and the water I was furiously peddling to get to a balmy 38F.  I would get to the beach already frozen, pull on usually wet and cold 5/4/3 and paddle sometimes windblown knee to thigh high closed out dribble and it meant everything to me.  Lately I have felt lost and I think the main reason is because I lost my stoke, my soul.  I guess the new plan is to rediscover this, find my stoke, my soul and let my inner grom out and forget about this being an adult stuff.  I think I have let the real world cloud my priorities for way too long.

I am going to  get back on my bicycle, ride down to the beach and surf and forget about everything else cause in the end all that bullshit society has made me believe was important to me and suppose to make me happy hasn’t.  When I was sleeping on the couch at my current apparent back in 2007 with nothing but four surf boards and a back pack full of clothes just shredding anything and everything I could were some of my happiest times here.  These days I have nice things.  Friends are envious when they walk into my apartment.  All the while I am miserable.  Get ready, for a change is soon to take place.


The dream is still very real. It’s out there for the taking…Photo: Chris Lisanti


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Is that a barrel? Nope just a "PGCB" (don't know what that stands for yet? Read this.

Is that a barrel? Nope just a “PGCB” (don’t know what that stands for yet? Read this.)

Its sort of funny how fast this summer deteriorated on the surf front.  Usually it is the opposite.   June and early July are the hardest months for surfing here.  So far it being ten days into August and I have only surfed twice and both were in waves just over waist high I will be the first to declare that I have officially given up on the summer 2013 as being anything more in the books then marginal at best.  I thought July was pretty fruitful, but as I just looked over my stats I beg to differ.

I will say I was rather diligent and made the most out of just about whatever ripple the Pacific did decide to send my way.  I got off my lazy ass and even did a bit of surf adventuring first up in San Francisco with Mauriello (if you missed the tales read here) and immediately following, Bizarro and I cruised down to San Diego for a few days where I met up with West for some Blacks Beach action (for that scoop read here).  With out jumping on a plane and traveling half way around the world or to a different hemisphere I did my best to stay wet.  Here are the numbers and top surf sessions from July.

Surf Sessions: 27
Days Surfed: 18

Total Time Spend in the Water: 47 hrs
Total Waves Surfed: 788
Average Waves Surfed Per Hour: 17

Spots Surfed:
Blacks Beach, San Diego: 7
Emma Wood: 4
Santa Clara River Mouth: 3
New Jetty: 3
Grey Whale Cove, San Mateo: 2
Waddel Creek, Santa Cruz: 2
Lower Trestles, San Clemente: 2
County Line: 1
Oxnard Shores: 1
Scripps Pier, San Diego: 1
Davenport, Santa Cruz: 1

Top 3 Surf Sessions:

3) 7-21-13 PM Session: 3-5+ ft, Blacks Beach , San Diego
Time in Water: 2.5 hrs

Waves Surfed: 31
West and I wanted to grab one more session together before I leave town tomorrow.  After the terrible morning session I was not expecting anything.  I figured worse case scenario we go out there and shoot the shit while we grovel.  As it turned out the wind died, the swell was holding and the crowd was slowly dropping off. Everyone was sitting on the north peak so we went and sat the top of the canyon.   There were plenty of really fun ones.  As the evening wore on it just got more glassy.  I managed to get a barrel down the entire length of the canyon and came out.  The swell seemed a bit stretched on many of the set waves.  Still it was prob the most fun I had of the trip surfing.

2) 7-22-13 AM Session: 2-4+ ft, Blacks Beach, San Diego
Time in Water: 1.5 hrs
Waves Surfed: 22
I find it very fitting that on my last morning here Blacks was about as good as Blacks gets condition wise.  The surf was solid chest to head high, glass, nice lines, good corners and pretty consistent.  The crowd was on it making it a bit rough at times to get a good one.  I paddled more down on the north end of the canyon.  There were really good rights and lefts.  This was finally after days, the Blacks I drove 200 miles to surf.   I had one really deep sick frontside barrel, stuck a few good airs and overall was finding plenty of good ones.  The wind came up around 11am and that was fine cause I had already gotten more then my fill.  Good times.  Looks like I am back on the road home again.  I can’t wait to get home to the Barb and see my lady.

1) 7-13-13 AM Session: 3-5 ft, Waddel Creek, Santa Cruz
Time in Water: 2.5 hrs

Waves Surfed: 42
Once again Waddel looked the best.  I was feeling a bit hung over after last nights little visit to Fancytown.  This time we gave the reef a go where we saw a fun looking left peeling down the north end of the reef.  Turns out it was a bit soft, slow and lully.  After three waves I floated to the beach break which was a barrel fest.  I had the place to myself the whole session while everyone else surfed the mush burger on the reef.  Then John paddled over and it was a full on froth shred sess.  I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a session with so many barres and kill-able sections.  So much fun.  And we got to heckle Nat Young in the parking lot cause we are stupid like that.  Most likely they just thought we had a learning disability.

There you have it another month of surfing in the can.  As you can see its been nothing but monkey cock her in the 805 considering my top three sessions all came from out of town.  Please feel free to follow along with both my surfing and life adventures in the surflog. Get the full scoop on July there.

The theme of July was GROVEL. Photo: Christopher Dunlea

The theme of July was GROVEL. Photo: Christopher Dunlea


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Nothing like clean fun crossed up peaks at Blacks for a good session.

Nothing like clean fun crossed up peaks at Blacks for a good session.

“What are you on some kind of tour of the California coast?”  Words from my friend West just before paddling out for a fun evening session at Blacks my first day in San Diego.  Over the past two weeks I sort of have been on at the very least a California summertime wave scoring mission.  One thing I would like to claim is that I made the most out of this summer as far as surf time went.  Not having a job to go to day in and day out certainly does give one this luxury.

Chris Lisanti, Blacks Beach

Photo: Christopher Dunlea

Unlike my previous adventure up in surfing’s equivalent of Northern California (San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Cruz) and I say that because technically San Francisco should be the end of Central California considering there is another 400 miles of coast line to go before crossing the border in Oregon.  My trip to San Diego had been spawned at the end of drunken night at the Wild Cat on my couch shooting the shit with Bizarro over a month ago.  Apparently I had agreed to go with him to Comic Con in SD from July 18-22.  Of course thanks to my impetuous SF adventure this meant I literally had been away from home for pretty much two weeks.  The last time I was on the road like this I was a professional surfer.  I felt the invigoration of freedom to cut loose, live out of suit case and crash on couches for an extended period of time(Read about my SF journey last week here).

I was a bit reluctant to get back on the road and leave the tranquility of my beautiful Santa Barbara home.  The Lisanti Palace has been refined over the years to fit my needs exquisitely.  Then again as far as consistency and quality of surf goes one really can’t beat San Diego this time of year.  Just like that I found myself on the road late Wednesday night of the 17th cruising south with Blacks Beach on my mind.

San Diego and Me

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove


Its true I have a special place in my heart for San Diego.  It was my first experience of actual California surf as a kid and the first place I had lived in California for a brief stint ten years ago.  Since then I have just about made a surf pilgrimage there at least once a year.  The place is a surfer’s dream, and more then that a kook and avm (average surfer) paradise.  With relatively warm water most of the year, nice summers and mild winters, over 300 days of sun a year, ease of coastal/surf access, exposure to all swell type/angle, and user friendly waves its no wonder the surf population from Imperial beach to Oceanside has exploded over the last twenty years.  There is a wave for every level and style of surfing just about 365 days a year if a surfer is keen.

The crowds have become rampant just like most popular surf locales these days.  SD is for the most part the first stop the majority East Coast surfers make when they decide to migrate west to greener pastures.  For most, southern California is the perfect surfing compromise.  As for myself I decided long ago that the over crowding was too much to bare and found my way up to the central coast in search of quality over quantity.

This is a light crowd for a San Diego line up.  Photo: Christopher Dunlea

This is a light crowd for a San Diego line up. Photo: Christopher Dunlea

San Diego also happens to be where Bizarro Chris grew up for the greater share of his life.  He had not been home since Thanksgiving.  I was offered my gas down covered, basic expenses and a place to stay.  I would have to be crazy to turn down such an offer.  Do I stay in Santa Barbara and drive nearly two hours everyday to surf bad to average Ventura or drive four hours to San Diego and surf fun Blacks for five days and reconnect with some of my surfing roots?

Blacks Beach
Blacks Beach

When I lived in SD I didn’t have a car and was inhabiting a residence near the La Jolla mall.  Blacks was a straight shot by bike.  It was a full on daily triathlon.  Everyday I would wake up at 6 am, get on my bike, ride four miles or so down to Scripps where I stashed my boards, then walk the beach about a mile around the cliffs to the actual break.  After the walk pull on my suit and surf for two to three hours.  On completion of my surf I would repeat the whole scenario in reverse.  Sometimes I did this twice a day.  I was in the shape of my life back then.

As a result I learned Blacks on every swell, tide and wind better then some who have lived in San Diego for twenty years.  Whenever I go back and surf the place I am in tune with her.  Blacks for me since I am constantly comparing surf breaks to women (I have a problem, “its a real disease with pills and doctors”) is like the ghetto princess from the neighborhood.  She has a nice big ass, tits, is always glad to see you and show you a good time.  Sure she isn’t model quality, but will treat you better then most.  She was my go to girl for years, until the queen of the coast, Rincon stole my heart.  Blacks has not held a grudge always fulfilling my expectations.  She still always manages to throw more then my share of set waves at me.  In return I always make her purr.

Me, doing my best to not squander any gifts Blacks decides to give me.  Photo: Christopher Dunlea

Me, doing my best to not squander any gifts Blacks decides to give me. Photo: Christopher Dunlea

From almost two weeks out I knew I was going to score surf.  There was plenty of long period south swell showing and was to be in the window I was going to be there for.  Initially the swell appeared like it was going to be solid.  As time grew closer the swell’s intensity began to ease.  It does not take much to get Blacks going.  Any little bump will show a head high set or two out there.  A day or so out I decided to leave the step up at home opting to bring an extra 5’10 just in case of breakage.   Unlike the San Francisco excursion all I needed in rubber were my 3/2’s if that.

Sure enough Blacks did not disappoint.  I was graced with five days of solid surf the smallest of which was about chest to head high.  Most days conditions were clean.  Besides some NW wind swell mixing the first few days causing conditions to be solid but challenging, overall I would say I did alright.  Fuck, I surfed my brains out despite a foot injury caused on my SF drunken rampage.  Luckily it hurt more to walk then surf.  Then again the hike down and up from Blacks is none two easy for a healthy person let alone a surfer with an injured foot.  In usual Lisanti fashion I sucked it up and  made lemonade out of lemons.  You can read more on the surf sessions in detail in the July Surflog, 7/18-7/22.

The long arduous trek down to Blacks is not for the lazy.

The long arduous trek down to Blacks is not for the lazy.

It seems in the past few years downhill skaters have been testing their skills on the path.  Thats some crazy shit right there.

It seems in the past few years downhill skaters have been testing their skills on the path. Thats some crazy shit right there.

Catching Up With My Boys

I just so happen to have a handful of close friends currently living in SD.  SurfingRuinedMyLife.net all star, West currently calls Pacific Beach home.  Every time that crazy fucker and I get together you can be assured something gnarly will go down especially when alcohol is involved.  This trip I must admit we kept things rather mellow between us only meeting up for a handful of sick evening surfs at Blacks.  One of which we had the entire line up to ourselves with glassy over head conditions.  I also have to give the guy props for in a matter of two years of surfing he as went from a kook on a fun shape to a performance short board and is semi-competent on it.  As per usual West will most likely join me for Thanksgiving at the Lisanti Palace in Santa Barbara, which has become a tradition at this point.

West and I embarking on the long walk down to Blacks. Photo: Christoper Dunlea

West and I embarking on the long walk down to Blacks. Photo: Christoper Dunlea

My most recent couch guy Daniel cashed out his chips up here in SB and moved down to San Diego this past June.  Who could blame him.  He found himself a decent enough job and free rent living with his brother.  Beats minimum wage and sleeping on my shitty couch any day.   He did mention he missed our nights at the Wild Cat.  If only I could remember them all.

Bizarro and I met up with Daniel at the San Diego Swap meet where literally hundreds of ghetto ass vendors peddle everything from socks, to collectibles, to appliances, to absolute trash and everything in between.  Think of it as one big janky make shift yard sale.  Normally there is nothing I love better then to walk around and haggle with people for useless junk I don’t need.  Given my current monetary situation I had no room for useless acquisitions.  Bizarro on the other hand was in peddlers heaven.  It was chill.  While he haggled Daniel and I were able to catch up.

The three of us ended the afternoon with tacos and beer at South Beach Bar and Grill in Mission Beach.  The tacos were good and beer tasty  all for a decent price in a relaxed beach front setting.  It reminded me of a typical Jersey shore spot.  Across the street there was some random pro-am going on at the pier and we happened to get there just in time for the stand up paddle division.  I could not believe what I was witnessing.  If I had an automatic weapon I probably would have started shooting people.  The competitors were pretty good in their own right, but really, STAND UP PADDLING! In a contest?  What has the world come to?  I think I need to get out of California.

Too bad we didn't buy this little number.  I could have wreaked havoc at the display of kookery.

Too bad we didn’t buy this little number. I could have wreaked havoc at the display of kookery.

The Comic Con Party

Initially Bizarro and I had a slight hope we would have a chance of getting into the actual event considering two of the chicks staying with us were working it and thought they might be able to get us passes.  As the case was they could not even get passes for themselves to see the show when they were not working it.  That was fine cause after the convention center spilled out every night all those patrons found their way into all the local downtown clubs.  There was no way we were going to travel all the way to a city like San Diego and not party.

Fuck, if The Chris’ show up at your town you can count on the fact that we are going to get down as soon as the sun does.  Its true I did blow it on Thursday night.  We were suppose to meet up with Daniel in little Italy or West in PB.  I was exhausted from a double surf session and hardly any sleep the night we came in.  Couple that with my injured foot and I really needed to rest.  I know all I am reading above is pussy shit and I should have manned up, but Bizarro was not bumming on it and did not force me to man up.  You all know if called upon Chris Lisanti will always rally.

Friday night I was well rested and ready to fuck shit up.  Bizarro and I scored tuxedo jackets from a local thrift shop for cheap and new shoes.  In our usual fashion we went out all done up.  Still nursing the injury I decided it would be in my best interest to stay out of Fancytown for my own safety.  The plan was to meet up with the girls working the event, but they had other promotional work to do at the near by water front Hilton leaving us to our to own devices.

This is never a problem, Bizzaro and I get along just fine.  We were walking around the gas lamp district among all the comic book themed dressed freaks deciding on where to go.  Bizarro saw this line out in front of a club called The Tipsy Crow and thought it was going to be popping.  We got on line and were immediately ushered in by the woman at the door.  She put wristbands on us, pointed to a small stair case and told us to have a good time.  Next thing we knew we were in a private party for one of the films that was premiered at Comic Con.

Upon getting up there we noticed wait staff passing trays of food and a buffet table of appetizers.  We had no idea at this point what was going on besides the fact that we most likely were not on the guest list.  Bizarro went to the bar to get us a round and came back with this giddy smile on his face.  “Its an open bar!” he exclaimed to me.  From there it was free food and drinks all night long.  We spent the majority of the evening bullshitting about a film whose title we did not know, did not see and knew absolutely nothing about.  Most thought we were higher end producers or the like.  I think it may have been a horror film, but your guess is as good as mine.

Towards the end of the night we found our way to the club’s basement dance floor and got crazy.  After leaving the club we had no idea how we were going to get home, when the girls called and said they could give us a ride if we met them at the Hilton.  Of course we had no idea where that was and being a tad on the intoxicated side didn’t help.  We jumped into a peddi-cab figuring he would know where to go.  He took us to the wrong place and over charged us.  If it was not for Bizarro pulling me away I might have beat that guy to death, stole his wallet and dumped his bike cab into the harbor.  In the spirit of Comic Con lets just say I got Incredible Hulk angry.  Luckily we found our way and got home.

Saturday night we got a later start thanks to me getting back late from a killer session at Blacks.  Sofia one of the promo girls staying with us decided to join the group and the three of us rolled out downtown at midnight.  We expected it to be more crowded then Friday but it was empty considering the massive amount of people in town.  Later we would find out that all the best movies were going down Sunday morning causing many to either have to sleep in line out front or get to bed early.  There was still enough going on for us.

The first club we came to wanted $20 a person to get in.  I scoffed and walked away.  Finally we settled on a spot called Jimmy Loves since the door man said he would let all three of us walk in for ten since we were well dressed.  It was a pretty cool spot and was packed.  There was a decent cover band playing on a grand stage with a dance floor in front and a cool little lounge area behind it.  As a musician I highly approved of the set up of the venue.  Unfortunately the music was not really our cup of tea being mostly rock.

I had to use the restroom downstairs and when I got there I found a whole other level way more ghetto, red lighting and a dude spinning 90’s hip hop and a more diverse crowd.  I quickly ran back up stairs to get Bizarro and Sofia.  Basically the downstairs could have been the Wild Cat.  We danced the night out down there.  The drinks were strong as fuck too.  If your ever in the SD downtown gas lamp district I highly recommend both Jimmy Loves and The Tipsy Crow.

The rest of our trip was spent relaxing at Bizarro’s dad’s house.  It was a very nice place and he was a most accommodating host.  I cooked a few meals.  Got to hang and play with the coolest dog, Stella that I have ever come across.  She was so awesome it made me briefly consider dog ownership.  All and all I must say it was a great trip.

Stella and I kicking it

Stella and I kicking it

I was a little overwhelmed with how crowded San Diego has gotten in the last ten years. There was traffic everywhere we went.  People everywhere.  Construction everywhere.  I was in severe culture shock.  I have been complaining about the over crowding of Santa Barbara lately.  In comparison we are very lucky up here.  Despite coming home to an apartment covered from wall to wall in borax I was relived to get back to the Barb.  Seriously my place looked like Johnny Depp in Blow sneezed all over it.  That is a story for another day.

And the sunsets on yet another adventure in Lisanti Land

And the sunsets on yet another adventure in Lisanti Land. Photo Christopher Dunlea

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