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Posts Tagged ‘crowds’

December has with absolutely no contest become my favorite month of the year.  As a surfer one would consider such a comment rather absurd.  The days are the shortest of the year, air and water some of the coldest.  Here in Santa Barbara it is one of the more consistent months with usually good conditions, even in this the shittiest of winters ever.  For me it means over half the month not having to work allowing me to remember what it was like back in the old days when there was always time to find the best possible spot with the best possible conditions any day any time.

The smash and grab short sessions I am usually afforded courtesy of the rat race, although nourishing barely fulfill the daily/weekly does of stoke it takes me to get through this drudgery that is life.  It is very refreshing to have that luxury for over 15 days ever December to be able to just kick back and surf.  There were some key days this months.  Rincon dished up over a week of epic conditions mid month that left my legs hurting so bad by the end of it I was walking cowboy style.  The beach breaks decided to remind me just how deep I could ride the tube thanks to hard offshore winds and some really good sand bars. Even town managed to serve up a day or two.  Here are how the numbers panned out.

Surf Sessions: 27
Days Surfed: 25

Total Time Spent in the Water: 48.5 hrs
Waves Surfed: 740
Average Waves per Hour: 15

Spots Surfed:
Rincon: 7
New Jetty: 6
Emma Wood: 6
Mesa Lane: 3
Hollywood by the Sea: 2
Hammonds: 2
Silver Strand: 1

Top 3 Sessions (as per the Surflog)

3)12/22/12 PM Session: 3-5+ft, Rincon
Time in Water: 2hrs
Waves Surfed: 16
Wow I went to fucking fancy town last night.  Too much booze, too much party and a bit too much gnar for one night if you ask me.  Pat and I woke up at around 1pm all fucked up and hung over with little if any recollection of what happened. We got some breaky at Garrett’s since neither of us were in any condition to surf at that moment. Also it was cold, rainy and there appeared to be a SE wind plaguing things anyhow.  After a fine repast we got our act together and cruised to Rincon where it was mother fucking firing.  Things had glassed off.  The lines were perfect and there were barrels everywhere.  I had about six waves through the cove that could have been the waves of other’s lives, as for me it was just another perfect day at Rincon.  I got one in the cove where I was in the barrel for nearly the entire ride.  Had to easily be a ten second plus tube.  Sooooooooooooooooooo Goooooooooooooooooooooooood.   Now its time for Round three at the Wild Cat.

2)12/16/12 PM Session: 2-3+ft, New Jetty
Time in Water: 2hrs
Waves Surfed: 54
What a surf…See blog “We Certainly Could Have a Worse Lot in Life

1)12/29/12 PM Session: 5-7+ft, Hollywood by the Sea
Time in Water: 2hrs 15mins
Waves Surfed: 25
I woke up on my couch yet again with a pile of crumpled up tortilla chips all over me around 8am.  Another failed night at the Cat.  Failure?  I think not. All my friends were there, my favorite bar tenders were working.  I had a hell of a time.  I looked out my window and the wind was onshore and the tide super high.  Awesome I could sleep in.  By noon a slew of calls started coming in about how the wind was off shore in Oxnard.  Hollywood had some good sand the previous day so I figured I would just go there.  Trevor and I rolled down there and it was fucking firing although a bit inconsistent.  Just head high plus barrels every where with virtually no crowd.  My boy Ryan was surfing at Orange House and we joined him.  From there it was on.  I got a triple barrel on one wave and had some crazy deep ones.  Then this freak set of like 15 10 foot waves came in and cleaned us all up.  I was pushed all the way back to the beach then the reverse rip was so bad I almost thought I was not going to make it back to the line up.  Besides that it was a pretty unreal session.  I told my boys “now if I can only get laid at the bar tonight this may be one of the best days of my life”.

December was one big speed blur of surfing, kind of like this frame grab from Silver Strand.

December was one big speed blur of surfing, kind of like this frame grab from Silver Strand.

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Surfers Waving

It has come to my attention that with the increasing numbers of beginner surfers who have recently graduated to the intermediate level, many have learned how to stand up and ride waves, but the majority have missed out on the unwritten laws of the hard core surfing devote.  There was time years ago back when I learned how to surf when these laws were bestowed upon ever novice surfer early on by “law of the club and the fang”.   What this means is that when a beginner, usually under the age of 15 (adult learners just did not happen back then) caused an infraction of one of said laws he/she was ridiculed, kicked out of the water, beaten, thrown in a garbage can, dunked in the water or subject to numerous other forms of punishment.

Only after being punished was one informed about the rule he had broken.  This was the way of things since surfing had come to the modern world.  In earlier days surfing was a bit more rough then it is now.  The boards were not as beginner friendly.  Wetsuit technology was primitive at best, as was surf forecasting.  Do you believe there was a time when we did not have the internet, cell phones or web cams?!!!?  If a surfer wanted to know how the surf was he had to actually get in his car and check it himself. (to my female surfers I am not being sexist, I am just using the figurative he for this narrative.  I actually have no problem with the sex of another surfer, or what they ride for that matter as long as they follow the rules and are respectful) Before the internet the only surf forecasting was the weather channel and NOAA radio alerts.  From these two entities one would have to make his own inferences on what the waves might be like.

Things have changed.  Now if you disciplined another surfer in the above manner for getting out of line you could be thrown in prison.  I believe I penned it before that we are now in the Era of Kook running things as oppose to the elite.  There are more of them and they spend more money.  Lets face it kooks hold down decent jobs and surf when they have time.  Us hardcore guys surf all the time, have no money and can barely hold down a job unless we found one that easily catered to our addiction.  What I would like to do here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net is every so often pick one or two of these unwritten rules of surfing and explain it so that maybe just one novice or graduate may get a glimpse into why many of us guru’s always seem so salty these days.

The Rule of Two

My car only has two seats in it when I go surfing, Mine and one for a passenger.  The back seat is always down and is for storing my boards.  Most days it only has one seat for me.  For myself usually I am surfing well known, heavily surfed lineups that are already pretty busy by the time I get there.  At these locales I like to go alone.  I am not worried about the buddy system because there will be plenty of buddies to share with at the break.  Just come surf Rincon on a Saturday when its decent to understand what I mean.

You know when you are in a public space and on the wall there is a sign that says “Maximum Occupancy” and then there is a certain number.  Those signs are put up to inform users that if that number is exceeded it can be really dangerous.  At surf spots there are no such signs.  Contrary to popular belief these spots have a maximum occupancy, which is defined by the number of people that can logically catch and ride waves for the conditions and size of the break.  For example a wave like Rincon is a very large point break with anywhere from three to twelve distinct take off zones and many other minor ones on any given swell.   If its eight foot with six to eight waves in a set every fifteen minutes with smaller ones in between the spot could easily hold 150 surfers safely.

If it is only six foot on a dropping swell with only one or two waves in a set and those sets are 20-30 minutes apart 150 guys is going to be a shit fight out there.  Lets take a spot like Hammonds, its a reef break with a small take off zone.  Even at its most consistent it can only comfortably handle around thirty guys.  When one checks a spot besides just considering the surf one must also consider the crowd.  I always ask myself when checking a spot “is there room for me”.  The best way of answering this question is to see how many waves have went unridden in the interim you are watching it.  I know if I see one wave go by that no one is on then there is room for me.  On the other hand if I see six guys fighting for every wave coming in then I know I should go someplace else.

If I had brought a friend with me, then I would need to see two waves go unridden.  If I brought three friends then three waves and so on and so forth.  For this reason I usually go surf alone.  Not everyone is a social recluse thus I will allow bringing a buddy along.  When I do roll with more then one other person I try and go to spots that I know are going to be less crowded.  Never bring a crew to a some what secret spot, or localized spot.  By yourself you may be able to sneak in and get some fun waves.  With a crew its not going to happen.

I can always tell the days Rincon is going to be too crowded when all I see are SUV’s and Vans in the parking lot each one chuck full of eager surfers.   If I see the majority is cars then I know its mostly ones and twos getting out there.  I am an advocate for car pooling as much as the next guy, but if we all took our own cars down to surf then the lot would always be full thus deterring other surfers purely cause there is no place to park.  Next time you decide to go for a surf and have an itch to call all your buddies and load up your Nissan Pathfinder, maybe think again and just call your one bud who owns a Honda Civic and roll with him.

Tune in Next Time for Lesson two: Surfing and Cell Phones

Surfers watching sunset

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November 2011 Surf Sessions in Review

I know I am like two months behind, but what would any one who reads here regularly expect.  If you keep up with the daily updates in the surflog then it should not surprise you.   My life is crazy and my time spread thin.  I guess I will sleep when I am dead.  I am only getting this done today because I happen to be sick and called out of work.  I am too sick to surf even.  Trust me it is firing right now with some real nice WNW action.  You know I’m taking it hard if I am sitting out.  I have already missed an epic El Capitan session last night.  Whatever, I don’t give a fuck.

Back to November.  November for the most part was one big let down after another both for waves and life.  Kooky who came out here with high hopes of scoring great point surf got stuck more times then not at shitty New Jetty, which was where the majority of my surfing took place.  Now in the summertime that is common place, but in the fall it should not be.  There was still some choice days.  There were also some terrible drunken nights at the bar that cost me a surf or two and one surfboard that got completely destroyed as a result.   You can check out the November ’11 surflog for the details on the entire month.  Here are the session break downs.  Oh the joys of having OCD.

Number of Surf Sessions: 23
Days Surfed: 22
Total Time Spent in the Water: 35hrs
Waves Surfed: 521
Average Waves Surfed Per Hour: 15

Spots Surfed:
New Jetty: 9
Rincon: 3
Emma Wood: 2
Oxnard Shores: 2
Dredge: 1
Sharks Cove: 1
Sand Spit: 1
Little Rincon: 1
Silver Strand: 1
Gold Coast: 1

Top 4 Surf Sessions (I could not leave any of these out to only make it three)
4)  
11/25/11 PM Session2: 1-3+ft, Sharks Cove
Time in Water: 2.5hrs
Waves Surfed: 32
We were on our way to battle the immense crowds down south, when Kooky spotted out some waves breaking at Sharks.  I knew it would be a bit smaller there, but no one was out and I love that wave.  The place is so rip-able and its right here in town.  We decided to go for it.  Four other guys joined us crushing my hopes of a solo session, but I knew one of them and everyone took turns and was mellow.  It was a bit smaller then I would have liked.  Only about waist to occasional chest, but it was perfect.  I had a ton of really fun waves out there and it was just the mellow session in the midst of a hectic weekend I was looking for.

3) 11/21/11 AM Session: 3-5+ft, Rincon
Time in Water: 3hrs
Waves Surfed: 23
I love bounce back swells.  This one hit the Islands and came upon us at a perfect angle.  There was a dropping tide and light winds.  Rincon was flawless.  When I first got out there I was in the cove with about 30 people.  An hour later I was sharing the place with a solid 200 crowd spread over the entire point.  I had some great ones.  I got burned on some that would have been great ones and I burned a few along the way.  Classic Rincon.  I did stick one huge six foot long gap air that I totally cleared an entire section on.  I had a near 540 as well but landed on the back too far on the shoulder to ride it out.  Minus the crowd I was stoked.

2) 11/24/11 PM Session: 4-7+ft, Little Rincon
Time in Water: 2hrs
Waves Surfed: 27
Oh another Turkey day west swell.  I wanted to surf Rincon but it was over 300 hundred heads strong.  I tried a gamble and lost with El Capitan.  Little Rincon had a decent enough wave with only about thirty or so guys on it.  It was a bit stretched and racy, but there were some good ones.  I was having a good time till I went on this dude who was clearly not going to make the section he pulled into.  Kooky said he was falling as I dropped into it.  The guy paddles over to me and tells me “If you do that again I am  going to break something on you”.  ”Were you really going to make it” I replied.  ”Thats not your call to make” he said.  ”No it was the waves call and it was not having it” I retorted.  He got mad and told me that when he is on a wave I don’t go.  I apologized and left it alone.  Then he deliberately burned me on my next wave to prove a point.  The old Chris would have gone into the beach.  Went to my car, got the tire iron out of my trunk and beat the bejesus out of him.  The new Chris  just took a deep breath and let it go.   Whatever I got a wave from the hotel at Mussel Shoals all the way to the beach break at the bottom of the highway.  We clocked it in the car on the way home and  it was just under 7/8ths of a mile.  Never done something like that there.  My legs hurt so bad by the end of it I could barely turn.

1) 11/7/11 AM Session: 2-4+ft, Oxnard Shores
Time in Water: 2hrs
Waves Surfed: 28
Oooo there is nothing I love more then a good old fashioned barrel fest. Not only that but a Hatteras style barrel fest.  Lindsay and I pulled up to New Jetty and it was crowded, at least thirty guys deep.  Lakey Perterson was out with her little grom crew and camera.  The whole place was a scene.  On top of that it was a bit walled and wonky.  Not nearly as good as the previous day.  I noticed the wind was trying to go offshore and with plenty of combo swell still in the water, plus a dropping low tide I made the call to try the shores.   The place loves such conditions.  I pulled up to the closest spot to Ventura.  There was some movie being filmed up on the beach with all their stupid Hollywood hoopla.  Right in front looked marginal at best.  Then I looked down the beach and was pretty sure I saw spitting barrels.  Upon driving a few blocks south my eyes had not deceived me.  All I could see in every direction was left and right bowls unloading on a shallow sand bar.  I am talking throaty double ups.  I got my ass seriously kicked by a few I did not make it out of.  The crowd was about twenty strong but spread among an endless amount of peaks. Bobby was surfing the peak next to me just getting absolutely pitted off his skull.  I had my share as well.  It was a fucking great session.  It lasted a solid two hours before the wind came up.  What a session.

Oxnard Shores delivering.

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This weeks UCB makes a victor of my boy Scotty B.  You have to watch out for those sleeping giants and back in the Myspace days Bees ran the show in the UCB franchise.  It seems we have a new challenger to the Kooky Kyle dynasty.  I thought for sure it was going to be a two way race between Kook and Kooky, but now a new contender has stepped up.  I must say I am rather amused by the whole UCB process, too much probably.

A New Proclamation

 Before I get into Scott’s topic I quickly wanted to make another UCB announcement.  This one is sort of a counter action to last weeks rule of 5: One can only make 5 UCB suggestions in a 7 day period (See the first two paragraphs of Pitching a Tent blog for a better explanation of the new rule).  Last week I wrote a really fun bonus UCB entitled You’re a Fucking Idiot, But So Am I in which I took ten one word topics from Nick the Kook and wrote ten short responses to them.

I did this sarcastically because I was angry about all the serial suggesting going on. It turns I wrote one of the better blogs and definitely one of the more amusing in a while.  As I result I am making a new blog rule: Once a month I will write a special double points UCB where I will take ten one word suggestions made by one reader and write ten short answers.  Everyone can submit one set of top ten topics a month and I will write about my favorite ten.  Read the above linked blog to fully understand.  I think it will be a ton of fun for all of us.

Now let us get back to Scott’s blog.  He proposed I write about my thoughts on surf forecasting.  I am almost sure I have touched on this subject more then once here, but redundancy is what makes America awesome!

The Double Edged Sword

 I love the advances in modern day surf forecasting.  As a premium member of surfline.com I can get a very accurate three day, an accurate five day, reliable seven day and a 14 day speculation.  For a surf addict like myself, I must admit I have become quite the frother again; it makes attempting to live in the non-surfing world a tad bit easier.  That being said my life is still planned out by the five day forecast and I still find that I’m reluctant to make any long range plans for fear of missing it, although I have gotten a lot better as far as blowing things and people off to surf.  But this is not about my onerous surf habit.

Thanks to the accuracy of forecasting today you can plan trips on the fly and know you are most likely not to be skunked.  I remember a few years back Sean McGrath and I pulled the trigger on a trip down to Puerto Rico after getting a favorable long range forecast and we scored some of the best Wilderness and Table Tops I have ever seen down there.  We did not quite get it as good as we were hoping, but it was a ton better then the times I just blindly went.

Of course there is the inaccuracy as well.  There are so many factors that effect quality to surf that I am amazed at how often they get it right.  I mean wind, tide, global currents, water temperature, air temperature, frontal systems, El Nino, La Nina, all these factors mess with a swell realizing its full potential at a certain location and on the other hand allow for other less likely swell events to pleasantly surprise.  That is what has always made surfing the true oxymoron both frustrating as hell and extraordinary.

Sure when Surfline.com is claiming for Tuesday to be the day of days and I clear my entire calendar out on that day and its two foot and onshore, I am more then disappointed.  Usually I am on the dunes at Ventura harbor kicking sand or at Rincon throwing rocks spouting more then a few displeasing to the ear four letter words.

Then there are those times when the opposite happens and I had expected very little, show up and score it.  Two weeks ago actually there was some local NW wind swell and west groundswell combo.  Surfline.com was calling flat for Rincon all weekend, as would be expected for the time of year.  As it turned out the place broke in the very legit chest to head range for three days (see the surflog for more details on that).  There was nobody there but the hardcore crew of people who check the place everyday no matter what.  This leads to the next and final topic.

The Fucking Hype!!!

 Remember a paragraph ago or so when I was talking about that epic Tuesday that I cleared my calendar out for.  Guess what?  I’m not the only person to have that idea.  The Internet is a highly traveled place and there are hundreds if not thousands of sites dedicated to letting everyone know when the surf is firing and where it will be on.  That being the case on that faithful Tuesday when I show up at the crack of dawn (ok, more like after 8ish.  I live in Santa Barbara and have to drive 45 minutes to surf on most occasions) I am not by myself, not even a little.

There will be a guaranteed grip of people looking to get their surf on.  It will be a grand melting pot of the surfing spectrum, the hard core, the pros, the kooks, the valley guys, the weekend warriors taking a day off for a change, photogs and everything in between.  We will all be out there enjoying the same blown out two foot surf.  Then on Wednesday when it was suppose to be down, the surf is sure to be six foot, offshore and barreling.  God bless the great advances in modern surf forecasting.

Forecast or not, the potential to score is out there. The question is what length are you willing to go to find it?

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