Sunday, June 19, 2005

Spring Swell at Shorty's

As a beginner, every surf session seems to be filled with firsts and being as wet behind the ears as I still am, the learning curve is huge. I'm sure my friends are sick of hearing me say, "That was my best day yet!" as I tug off my wetsuit on some monolithic beached log, but the fact is: In the heat of the moment I often feel that way. This was especially true on Saturday evening when I finally dragged myself out of the water at Short Sands after four hours of riding the most perfect waves I have seen there.


As usual, we had no idea what to expect when we merged from HWY 26 to the 101 and caught our first glimpse of the water. I had checked the surf forecast site and it mentioned a 6-foot swell with NE winds at 10-15 kts and an 8 second swell interval. Over the last year, I've driven out numerous times under these exact conditions and found seas resembling everything from a washing machine to a Lake Oswego, so I wasn't expecting much. Slim and Gee, my two surf chums, were suffering from the Irish flu and I was getting a contact hangover just smelling their putrid booze breath.

At first, the ocean seemed soupy and disorganized, but as we drove south, the sets got more defined and some of the beach breaks along the way that we'd normally scoff at tempted us with hollow peelers. We vowed to motor back to one of these picnic beaches if Shorty's was too protected by its rocky borders to receive the swell. Twenty minutes later, after parking and hiking a quarter mile through old growth to the beach, we were dumbstruck.

I popped a beer, but sat it down when I saw a guy get tubed on the south end of the beach. Faster than Clark Kent on crystal, I was in my wetsuit and jogging down the beach to my favorite peak near a stream on the north side. Slim was paddling out a little further south. Gee was right next to me when we found the channel and made our way to the outside.


First, the above photo of me isn't from Saturday. It's from last summer at Shorty's on a much smaller day (duh). I'll admit to rushing out to surf so fast this time that I didn't take any pics -- I'm still kicking myself. Anyway, it took me almost an hour to warm up, but when I finally did I accomplished more than on any other day. First, I paddled into the waves at a pretty hard angle to the left and popped up much faster than I normally do in order to avoid air-dropping down the face or taking a lip to the head. Next (and most importantly), I was hyper-aware of where my feet were on the board. I have somehow established a bad habit of riding closer to the middle of the board, rather than having my back foot squarely on the tail. But Saturday was different. I noticed that the closer I could get my left foot to the back, the more control I had over the board. I was even able to throw mini spray of my rails on top turns! Or so said Slim (what a good chum).

But my most memorable wave was a larger one that I caught and actually crouched down in time to see the lip starting to throw over my head. It was by no means a tube - I didn't get officially "shacked" or whatever, but just seeing that feather of water above my head was an incredible rush! After which, I dragged my hand in the smooth face as I turned back up to the top. Then I did a top turn and connected the wave to the inside. I'm positive that this didn't look as good as I'm describing it: I was most likely wobbly and standing too tall as I tend to do, but the great thing is that I actually controlled my board and it sort of did what I wanted it to. Also, my board went really really fast. Sometimes it would go so fast that I would get too far out in front of the pocket and lose speed. I know I'm supposed to do a cutback at that point... yeah right.

Anyways, it was a great day. "THE BEST." And my two drunkard buddies even agreed this time.

Music: Stephen Malkmus - "No More Shoes"


Whiffleboy said...


Nice to find your blog. It's easy to forget how good I've got it down here in L.A. living 10 minutes from the beach. Much respect for the effort you put in to get to your spots.

On a side note...

My old apartment in Beverly/Fairfax was populated with Ashland folks. Do the names Lichen or K.C. Haxton ring a bell? The whole group of them is fairly young (early 20s).


Chum said...

Hey Whiff,

Thanks for the kudos. Nice to hear from the guy who did so much to inspire my little journal here. None of those Ashland names ring bells, but those kids are all my little sister's age, so I'll ask her.

I'm in Ashland right now actually, so it may be a few days before I can get wet again. I do admire your proximity to the beach. Next time I'm in LA I will let you know!