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The-Wedge

I have had many request from all of my of my friends that I get off my lazy ass and do a bit more writing.  Some wanted horrific tales from the vault of the Lisanti Past, others were looking for recipes, and then some just wanted some new adventure tales.  I hope over the coming weeks to make everyone happy and a bit disturbed by the content as usual.  I thought I would start with the tale of a recent Lisanti adventure, a common California adventure at that; Chasing a solid south swell.

Summertime in coastal California is not quite what all the songs, pictures, media, movies and television would have you believe. Most of the time the weather is foggy, damp and cold. The ocean cold and windy.   The surf, unless you live in San Diego or Orange county is less then amiable.  Up here in Santa Barbara unless you have a boat, access to the ranch or a plane ticket to Indo you might as well put your surf board away and take up lawn bowling.  Unfortunately for me I have none of the above and left my bocce set at home when I moved from NJ.

If one of you readers wants to send me a bocce kit I promise to drink one for you at the Wild Cat!

If one of you readers wants to send me a bocce kit I promise to drink one for you at the Wild Cat!

What do I do?  I fucking get in my car and I drive at least 45 miles a day to surf sub par surf in a frustrating crowd.  Wait, isn’t that what the California dream is?   Shit folks the California dream ceased to be a dream 60 years ago if it ever really existed.  Its more like the California nightmare now.  We all know I love to suffer.  Actually this season has not been as bad as usual.  We had a month of NW wind swell that gave consistent surf and even a few epic days with some south swell thrown in for good measure. Check out the May edition of the Surflog for more on that.  In my book there are few things sweeter then a late season NW.

When the Queen looks like this you would have to be crazy to go anyplace else...or would you?

When the Queen looks like this you would have to be crazy to go anyplace else…or would you?

This story begins on May 28th 2013 down near Antarctica.  Antarctica?!? WTF! Truth be told that is where most south swells that grace California with their loveliness begin.  Of course on the 28th a south swell was the last thing on my mind.   I was too busy capitalizing on local wind swell to even notice any action in the south pacific.  Then a few days later Surfline.com had a feature on this crazy swell that rocked Tahiti.  At that point my attention was grabbed and I knew it was only a matter of time before it would show here.  From Tahiti the swell traveled to Hawaii giving the boys on the South Shore some fun ones.  Once in Hawaii it was only a couple of days.

By June 6th front runners began to show up.  The morning was still a bit down thus I decided to sleep in hoping for some action in the afternoon.  Solimar Beach was the spot for me after a great deal of deliberation.  This time of year surf is hard to come by and the wrong decision is a fate worse then death.  Every wave squandered is a flat day you will be kicking yourself in the near future.  I really wanted to utilize this swell to its fullest extent.  The reef had some solid rights to be had with a very light crowd.  I always seem to surf Solimar on the beginning of  large south swell.  It is a cool wave that bends around a horse shoe cobble stone reef usually covered by sand.  From the beach it always looks pretty mushy which keeps the crowd down. Actually its a pretty fast bowly wave when your on it.  It sort of reminds me of Noosa a little bit.

I got a solid session in and felt although deeming it “the best of the worst” a rather fun session.  The next morning things really began to get big.  Unfortunately for me too big for my usual south swell jaunts in the area.  When I went to bed I was dreaming of all time Santa Clara.  Instead I was faced with walled close outs and strange wind.  I wanted to go to Malibu and most likely should have.  I let the fact that it was a Friday and the immense crowds that goes with it keep me at home.  Later I would find out that even though the crowd sucked there were still plenty of waves.  Once again after lots and lots of checking  I found myself settling for the “best of the worst” at Pitas Point.  Through my binoculars down the beach it looked like it was firing.  After paddling my boy Ryan and I would soon find things to be a bit more sectiony then we would have liked, not to mention very inconsistent.

The only really worthy session of September looked something like this only bigger!

This the sort of Santa Clara I was dreaming of…

I had always heard these rumors up here that El Capitan, one my favorite right hand point breaks actually will see surf on a large south swell.  Apparently it sneaks through the gap between the Santa Cruz and San Miguel Islands.   I needed to see if the rumors were true and this swell seemed perfect for that.  I got up there a little later then I should have thanks to some chores that needed doing.  Afraid I had missed my window I was walking  to check it when a stoked older dude parked in front of me yelled “get your board and go dude, its on”.  Like that I found myself trotting down the trail.  When I emerged from the woods sure enough there were waves!  An older guy from Santa Barbara told me once while hanging out in the car park at Manu Bay in Raglan, New Zealand that one can tell a good point from a great point by how it holds its shape no matter what the swell angle.

El Capitan did just that.  It was only around chest to head high with a light crowd of local vets and very inconsistent, but my friends it was perfect.  I only caught 9 waves that session.  6 out of the 9 were wonderful keepers.  I can surf El Cap so well, I guess anyone can cause it is so perfect.  It is just one of those waves that makes anyone feel like Kelly Slater on it.  That is until you see Kelly Slater surf it…  Anyhow it was just one of those magical sessions that make you remember why it was you started surfing in the first place.  Later I would hear that the session of the day went down at C street that evening.  Fuck it, I hate that wave anyway.

God damn, why do all these swells have to fall on the weekend and a weekend where I had at least two party obligations to fill. A boys night on Friday with Bizarro and my boy Daniel’s going away party, which I was throwing for him at the Wild Cat.  As a result morning sessions were completely out of the question.  I know some surfers are reading this right now thinking “I can’t believe Lisanti is blowing it like that”, while I see it as a balance between the two worlds I exist in.  Balance my friends is everything in life.  It only took me 32 years to realize that.  Man cannot live by surfing alone.

Saturday I found myself a bit more hung over then I would have liked (still have not figured out that balance thing when it comes to alcohol consumption) causing a very late start.  I was still a bit sick to my stomach as I climbed the dunes at New Jetty where I heard the morning was near to all time.  There were long lines coming through, but overall things looked a bit soft and still very inconsistent.  My boy Pat hit me up that he was in Malibu all morning and was about to go back to surf Leo Carrillo.

I don’t go to Malibu on the weekend, ever!  He claimed the crowd was not bad and given I didn’t really have a better option I jumped in the car with him.  You know what it was a great call.  I got to surf the best Leo I have ever surfed.  By Leo standards and a weekend the crowd was not bad at all.  It was tough to get a set wave off the old guys and long boarders.  That was fine cause I enjoy the inside double ups better anyway, plus the sets were too big and most closing out.  I managed to put on a very strong backside performance holding it down for the goofy foot contingent.  Fuck, give me a wally lined up right any day.  That shit is my bread and butter.  Later Pat and I had a look at Hueneme Pier and he was frothing.  It looked decent enough.  I had to get back to the Barb for Daniel’s party.  It went down without a hitch.

By this point I was dead set on a Lower Trestles mission.  I had not been there since ’11 and I was thinking Monday would be the day.  I texted Trevor and planted the seed in his head.  My tires are bald on my car at the moment so the only way I was going to be able to partake in such an ordeal was if I had a driver.  Sunday I was in bad shape.   I cut down on the party and my body has totally lost its tolerance to take a beating and keep on.  I heard New Jetty was on again that morning.  I headed there for low tide.  Although very inconsistent there were a handful of decent lefts coming in.  I paddled it.   There were a few fun ones to be had among the lulls.  Later that night I returned home to a text from Trevor that he was in for Lowers.

The reality of surfing Lowers.

This is what a Lowers crowd looks like

Monday morning we made  the three hour drive south in high spirits.  We got there and it was way more crowded then I had hoped for.  As a matter of fact I can’t remember ever seeing that many cars parked on the San Clemente side.  It was decent Lowers in its own right.  The crowd was miserable and sets inconsistent.  That is a very bad combination.  My stoke was gone and part of me wanted to jump back in the car and just drive another 45 minutes south to Blacks Beach.  It was Trevor’s first time and who am I to rob him of a bad surf experience.  We paddled.  Despite a pack of annoying groms training for nationals next weekend we both found a few keepers.

Who can really hate on an entire day spend on the beach with your bud?  I fucking can.  I got sun burned.  My eyes hurt from all the sun and as of press time my back is sore from carrying all my shit down there, my neck stiff and my fucking knees hurt from too many really bad frontside air reverse attempts cause I suck at surfing.  In all seriousness it was a fun day and I am glad I went to remind me why I never go there.   At the moment it is flat with not much happening for at least a week.  Fiji just got some sick waves for the contest (congrats Kelly on another mind blowing victory) so its only a matter of days before we see the remnants of that swell. For more details on the surf sessions, party or swell visit the June Surflog.

Here's to the next good South swell and Go Slater for number 12!

Here’s to the next good South swell and Go Slater for number 12!

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Despite one of the worst summers of surfing in recent California history I still managed to bring my surfing back up to speed considering the crapper it took back in June (see blog: Oh That Summertime for more details).  In July I was determined to fall back in love with surfing again.  I found myself for the most part done with my whiny ass self pity and back to my roots: SURFING!!!  I had a few surfing adventures including a trip up north to Surf Beach (see blog: Return to Surf Beach for that story).  I battled the absurd crowds for a few days in Orange County surfing Lower Trestles (see blog: Orange County Can Keep Lowers for that story) and I experienced the adventure of the summer, maybe the year, sailing out with a buddy of mine to the Channel Islands (See blogs: A Sea Going Voyage, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 for that epic tale).

All I can say is that the surf gods gave me lemons and I not only made lemonade, but lemon meringue pie too.  Below are the stats and stand out sessions from July.  Oh, did I mention Rincon broke legit a few times as well?

Number of Session: 23
Days Surfed: 19

Time Spent in the Water: 44 hours
Number of Waves surfed: 634
Waves Surfed Per Hour: 14

 Spots Surfed:

New Jetty: 5
Emma Wood: 4
Rincon: 3
Lower Trestles: 3
Fruit Stands: 2
River Mouth: 2
Mesa Lane: 2
Surf Beach: 1
Channel Islands: 1

Top 3 Sessions:

3. 7/10/11 PM Session: 2-4+ft, Fruit Stands
Time in Water: 1.5 hrs
Waves Surfed: 33
Fruits stands is sort of a secret spot on the Oxnard/Ventura border that everyone knows about but thanks to an inconvenient hike  and no easy way to check it the place is seldom surfed.  This was actually the first time I ever surfed the spot always opting for the more easy access waves.  My boy Ryan called me and said there were killable little bowls coming through and surf enough the place was a fucking chest to head high skate park.  It was a little windy but for a 45 minute window I had a blast.  Did I mention Ryan and I had he whole place to ourselves on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon?

2. 7/5/11 AM Session: 1-3+ft, Rincon
Time in Water: 1hr 45mins
Waves Surfed: 25
Rincon in July!?!???!! I know its crazy.  I heard rumors all weekend that there had been been waves at the ‘Con and not just the usual little long board waves typical of summer, but actual short board-able waves.  This morning with the near negative low tide and some time for a change I thought I would give it a look.  Sure enough there were really fun waist to chest high waves coming through.  I was pumped.  I always forget how good Rincon is, even on the bad days.  I spent the entire session up at Low Indicator and High River Mouth.  If it were winter I would not have even entertained the session but in summertime with near piss warm water and 80 degree sunny weather, why not.  I was burning up in my 4/3 and almost shedded it for the trunks I had in the car.   Have I mentioned how much I love Rincon on this blog yet?  One thing is that will always hold true is that she will never leave me for some unworthy dufuss.  Yeah she is a whore, but she always sets aside her best for me.

1. 7/29/11 AM Session: 4-6+ft, Some Where in the Channel Islands
Time In Water: 4 hrs
Waves Surfed: 39
See Blog: A Sea Going Voyage:  Part II; Quality Ocean Time for details and See Blog: A Sea Going Voyage Part III; I Didn’t Expect that to Happen. 

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Tell me that does not look like the face of a happy camper? Circa 2006

A fresh quarter in the UCB franchise begins now. Yeah I know its fucking three weeks late into the game.  I’m sorry things have been crazy here in Lisanti Land, both good and bad.  Some amazing things have happened and there will be a blog about it soon.  It’s going to be a long one so bring your attention span.  This first UCB of the season makes of victor of Scotty B, who threw down the topic Camping.  Since I just got back from camping at San Onofre State Beach down in Orange County (see Orange County Can Keep Lowers blog) it seemed like the perfect topic to delve into.  Scotty gets 1.5 points for scoring this incipient blog.

 

I fucking hate camping.  Not even a little bit.  I would rather get hit across the shins with the metal end of a rusty shovel then sleep in a tent.  There is nothing mystical about it.  Its uncomfortable, always either too hot or too cold and for whatever reason more times then not I wake up with so much moisture around me I feel like I am in the rain forest.  The only time I can justify camping is if I am in the middle of nowhere at some beautiful far away outpost where no accommodation exists and the stain of man left far behind.

 

Otherwise you can keep that bullshit.  When I talk about camping a Winnabago does not count.  One can not call pulling up to a spot in the woods in a giant RV that is nicer then my apartment, with a satellite dish on the roof and full kitchen and restroom camping.  I don’t know what to call it.  Maybe just plain dumb.  I hate those fucking things, their bull shit.  You don’t know how many times I have almost been run off the road by some yahoo who has no idea how to drive something of that size?  Too many to count.

 

Unfortunately for a person who can’t stand camping I have spent way way way too many nights in tent sleeping on the ground in my life.  Between budget Hatteras trips, to making my money get me further while competing at pro events to feral surf trips.  Remember, most places will let you pitch a tent for $10 or less.  Shoots I am pitching a tent in my pants for free right now.  If you are really an intrepid soul you can always go off into the bush and squat somewhere in your tent for free.

 

Sindia and I almost did that in Oz along this sketch dirt road in the middle of a national forest there, but after setting up the tent and spending ten minutes we had thoughts of some psycho killer coming out and hacking us to pieces (that was before I wanted to get stabbed).  You want to know what camping means to me?  Aches and pains, dirty, stinky bathrooms, adverse experiences with bugs, out door cold water showers (if they even provide showers), dirt, ghetto cooking, sleep depravation, and usually sickness.  I am not an Indian. I like to have a roof and four walls over my head.

 

Call me a little prissy bitch.  I am sorry but I like to take long luxurious showers (I tap the hot water out 90% of the time), and prim myself.  I don’t like being dirty and there being mud and sand everywhere.  Most of all I like having a bed!  Fuck camping, I will be at the four seasons, although in my case the reality of the situation would be the Holiday Inn.

I think this says it all folks.

Another type of tent pitching.

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Picture perfect Lowers. Isn't it grand when things look good on paper?

Ahhh…summertime in Santa Barbara, what a great time to be here according to tour books and international visitors.  If you’re a surfer on the other hand summer it is all about hassle, especially if one decides to keep surfing through the season.  Sure there is the occasional short period wind swell day here and there, but for the bulk of the time the channel is a complete lake.  That is just how the tourists like it here on the “American Riviera”.

Best bet if you surf, go on an extended trip, crash at a friends pad for the season down in Orange or San Diego Counties or find another way to occupy your time.  For me summertime is all about surfing marginal waves for which I drive nearly forty miles each way to get.  There is nothing better then burning $5 a session in gas to go surf garbage.  Ok, its not that bad, I mean most of the time it is far better then what I would be surfing back in NJ this time of year.  I’m just jaded these days.  Five years in California will do that to a person, especially up here where beach breaks are scarce and good points and reefs the norm.

Usually by this time in the summer I have scored a good day at Malibu or Jalama, even a sick day or two at River Mouth.  This year unfortunately that has not been the case.  A good south swell was forecasted for early week and two opportunities for me to get some quality surf for a change presented themselves.  The first a boat trip out to the Channel Islands.  This was the one I really hoped would materialize, but just like that ranch connection that never comes through, it never happened.

Luckily my boy Kevin and his friends, Luis and Jeremy were eager to make the three hour trek south to Trestles just south of San Clemente.  For my non-surfing readers Trestles is one of the most famous surf spots in the United States and one of the top in the world as well.  It is considered by most the hot bed for progressive surfing in the continental US.  Anyone who is anyone has surfed the wave at some point in his/her life.  Its one of those places every serious surfer should visit before death.

Basically Trestles consists of a collection of coble stone reef breaks with in a ten mile span of beach.  Going north to south you have Cottons, a mushy left that can be fun on the right swell direction, wind and tide and usually has the least crowd factor.  Then there is Uppers a rather punchy right with the occasional closed out left that draws a sizable crowd being it is the closest break from the trail.  Following Uppers you have Lowers, the crown jewel of Trestles offering a 50-100 yard wally left and a 100-250+ yard right that although a bit softer allows for just about anything the imagination has in store when it comes to wave riding.

Lowers is always packed with everything form top pros, to hot up and coming groms, to kooks, long boarders and every type of surf tourist you can imagine.  That being said if you just get one or two good ones you will be more then satisfied.  After Lowers you will come to Middles, a collection of mainly closed out bowls that serve up on the right day some fun killable peaks and is a refreshing break from its always crowded counter parts.  The most discouraging thing about Middles is one has to watch lowers peel off perfectly in the distance, while surfing short ended closeouts.

Finally after middles you have Churches, a usually mushy and sectiony right hander more known for long boarding then anything else.  On the right day though the place can fire.  I surfed there about five years ago and it was solid overhead and dredging for easily 150 yards.

I used to fancy all the spots at Trestles, opting to surf Lowers as little as possible just to avoid the horrendous crowds.  These days being a Californian now and a seasoned Rincon aficionado I have become completely desensitized to stupid obnoxious crowds.  I always get my waves eventually anyway and would much rather catch fewer waves that are really good then a bunch of garbage any place else.

We showed up at Lowers Monday (7-11) and it was solid 6-8ft with bigger sets and to my surprise only had about twenty guys on it.  The wind was a little bit funky but there were still great left and rights coming in.  The lefts had more juice then the rights.  I went out there and absolutely frothed for three hours.  I have never surfed out at Lowers and pretty much had my pick of waves.  I mean there was still plenty of scraping and jostling to get the good ones but it was nowhere near as intense as usual.

I went in for lunch and hung out on the beach before paddling back out for the evening glass off session.  The tide had gotten a bit higher, but the surf filled in a little more and it was very clean.  Unfortunately the crowd came in with the tide and it got really shifty.  Between both those factors getting the good ones became very frustrating.  I did manage to snag one huge right I managed around eight turns on and two really fun lefts, one I stuck a crazy vertical tail free thing, where I came completely unglued on the re-entry yet somehow managed to recover and then get three more turns.  The last I had a solid ally-oop.  It was a good day of surfing.

After a double session and an entire day at the beach I was over Trestles and ready to come home.  My compadres unfortunately for me were still stoked.  I soon found myself in my least favorite situation: camping.  We got ourselves a plot over at San Onofre State Beach on the bluffs.  Luckily my boy Kevin had a two man tent and a queen size blow up mattress making the night more bearable.  The boys and I lit a solid camp fire (you know how much I love fire), talked some story, and ate a gigantic pizza made for us by this crazy skin head dude who was completely tattooed from head to toe at a local joint in San Clemente. The pie was surprisingly not bad or I was so hungry it did not matter.  I would bank on the latter.

Next morning thanks to certain lazy members of the group we got a super late start, getting to Lowers after ten.  We parked and walked up from San-O.  Let me give the reader a sound piece of advice: that is not the way to go.  The walk is ten times harder; being one has to trek across hot soft sand for an easy two hundred yards.  To our dismay Lowers was blown to shit and there were easily 75 guys on it, six cameras on the beach, wannabe pros and invidious colored wetsuits everywhere.

I did manage to run into my old photographer Dave Molleck as he was cruising.  It was nice to catch up with him after moving to New Port for more opportunity to make it as a surf photographer.  Not stoked I watched it for over an hour as the sun burned the fuck out of my skin (a fact I am not enjoying today). Finally Kevin and I forced ourselves to give it a go and by far it was the most demoralizing sessions ever.

I have not been in a shit fight for waves like that since last summer at Malibu.  It was a straight up battlefield out there.  I literally had to push a 14 year old hot headed grom off a wave.  I was already up on the left and he stood up to try and backdoor the right.  He yelled at me and I grabbed his arms and sent him off the back.  That was my first good wave out there.  When I was kid I would never challenge a person of higher rank then myself for a wave, alas times have changed.

After about and hour and a half the crowd died and I began getting some really good right-handers.  I had three in row where I banged out 6-10 solid turns.  I would have surfed another two hours but after two and half hours already I was completely strung out from the previous day and all the exhausting lineup jockeying.  As I was getting out Dane Reynolds showed up and absolutely destroyed the place.  I have surfed with Dane a bunch of times, but have never seen him surf Lowers.  The guy made every other surfer out there look like a kook and judging from my knowledge of his ability he was having an off session for him.

I was contemplating another session before cruising, but I was sun burnt, completely enervate and eager to get back up to the “Barb” by a decent hour.  Looking back I probably should have sucked it up and paddled.  This was the first time I had been back at Lowers in three years and I think I am good for another three years.  Give me a good day at Rincon any day.  Winter is coming!!!!!

The reality of surfing Lowers.

The reality of surfing Lowers.


LNF: Lowers Raid! from Lastnamefirst.tv on Vimeo.

 

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