Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I Shoulda Been There Yesterday, Tomorrow

All my buddies decided to go on an impromptu surf trip yesterday and for good reason, I couldn't make it. Keeping in mind that we haven't had decent swell in Oregon for months, I was gutted by the email I received this morning:

--- Nash wrote:

> I would like to give a big shout out to all those who rode the the single most epic day of the summer yesterday. Dialing in my short board, riding till it was dark in the water and catching so many waves my arms and shoulders felt like jello was the perfect way to celebrate Tuesday. Sorry to those who couldn't make it but more waves for me Beotches! On a friendlier note, anyone interested in a Thursday sesh?Conditions look like they are going to hold up for a couple of more days.

---Gee wrote:

>I almost don't want to ruin the golden glow in my stoke-rich mind, but hell yeah, I'm up for heading out Thursday.


I, of course, am still unable to leave town so I must wave a white hanky and wish them bon voyage. I'm just so happy for them I could cry, the bastards.

Jimmy Cliff - "Many Rivers To Cross"

Monday, August 29, 2005

“Welcome home,” he moaned.

Went surfing yesterday, if you can call it that. We got to the beach and it started raining. The waves were rubble, small and choppy. We drove to three spots and then decided to hike in to a place we’d never tried: a half mile down to the beach on a steep, switchback trail. I stepped in dog shit along the way. When we got to the “desolate” location we noticed three surfers walking up from the direction of a parking lot on the next beach over. Their clothes probably stayed nice and dry inside their car. So we paddled out into the 2-foot slop. The water was a freezing yellowish green concoction with dead birds and other debris floating on the surface. I felt like an olive floating in a very dirty martini.

Surprisingly, we actually all caught a few waves, not that they were good. They were mostly closeouts though and sections were really tough to make. I caught maybe two where I rode a short distance, bottom turned, top turned, went straight as the lip collapsed. The slippery hike back up the sloppy slope would have made Sisyphus drop his rock and cry for mammy.

After we drove home, we unloaded our equipment and I accidentally switched boards with Nash, who has the same board bag as me. Welcome home indeed. I think my next entry will be about Mexico again.

This Oregon surf is enough to make a man want to take up fishing...

Wiley - "Pick U R Self Up"

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Eight Feet at Sixteen Seconds (Mexico, Part 3)

So there I was, side skipping down the face of a six-foot wall on nothing more than a piece of blue plastic, thinking, “What happened to my little Waikiki dream?” I did a wheelie at the bottom of the wave and the tail slid out from under me. Imagine Wiley Coyote’s expression the moment he realizes the lower half of his body’s already long gone off a jagged abyss. That was me. Blink ... blink ... POOF! How did I get here?

The sun hadn’t risen yet, but eleven surfers already had. I scrambled downstairs, snagging the tiny Hogfish off of the rack in the hotel lobby along the way. I got to the beach just in time to see the first set roll through. The swell that I had been tracking for the last week was finally making its presence known: Eight feet waves at sixteen second intervals. A guy on a longboard dropped down the face of a six-foot peak and did an artful bottom turn, the nose of his log pointing upward, spray fanning from his outside rail. From there it was a straight shot 75 meters down the line and I noted that the glassy blue crest was three feet over his head. And he was standing straight up.

Feeling the cool sand on my feet at the water’s edge, I stretched a little, waiting for a lull. With long intervals between sets, timing your paddle out is pretty easy. When you no longer see monster waves undulating on the horizon, go for it.

That’s what I did. I launched myself out to sea on the receding backwash, landing squarely on my stomach and paddling like hell. But pain shot up from both points of my ribcage where a rash had formed from “trunking it” the last few days. It felt like I was lying on two red-hot cigarette lighters. With every stroke, I winced. The smaller board had less float and plowed through the water slowly. It took me a while to get outside and when I noticed some whitewater rolling toward me I decided to duck dive under it. I went so deep that I hardly felt the turbulence of the broken wave above me.

A quick sidebar about the line-up at Old Man’s: There are four kinds of surfers you’ll find out there on any given day. First, there are obviously the Old Men. These are the leathery expats on longboards who sit farthest outside and to the south of the main peak. By positioning themselves halfway across the Sea of Cortez, they insure that they will catch all of the largest set waves and milk rides all the way to the sand, getting a few minutes of open face time. My favorite Old Man was a guy who looked like a short version of Nick Nolte who always paddled inside of me and snaked me no matter where I was positioned. I ran into him at the airport on the way home and actually told him he should cut in front of me in line, “Just like back at Old Man’s,” I said. He thought that was pretty funny.

Next, you have the locals. Let’s call them The Locos. These surfers can be guys or girls, and aside from their mocha skin are instantly recognizable by their boards shaped by local hero and Costa Azul surf shop owner Alejandro Olea. Many wear trucker hats in the lineup and sit a little closer in to catch the more consistent, slightly smaller waves. Some give surf lessons. My favorite Loco was Sergio, the jazz-whistling surf instructor who worked at his family’s taqueria, Hangmans.

Closer to the beach, catching the steeper inside reforms that broke over the rocks, are the shortboarders, The Rabbits. They are in constant motion - bouncing up and down and side to side to build speed on the mushy leftovers. Some of these kids were adept at getting speed and could execute amazing maneuvers before pulling out at the last second as the waves thumped on dry sand.

And then there are The Rooks: First-time surfers of all ages and sizes scattered throughout the surf zone, flailing around on 3-inch thick longboards. Any surfer who has gone out at Old Mans knows how to slalom and weave through the network of panting Rooks, and fully expects to be dropped in on by them several times in a session. On one occasion, I couldn't avoid an errant board from a rookie wipeout and my legs were knocked out from under me by a red foam torpedo as I sped down the line. As I hurtled through the air, all I could think was, "Will my trajectory land me headfirst on that urchin infested rock?"

And then there was me, somewhere between a Rook and an Old Man, paddling into my first six-foot set wave on the smallest board I'd ever had under me. As I popped up, something immediately struck me. These glassy conditions weren't exactly as marble smooth as I had imagined. The little blue board skipped down the face of the wave and I tried to turn right but instead spun out in the trough. I got tossed like a ceasar salad under the water, but quickly found my bearings, slid up onto the board (ouch), and ducked deep under the next waves.

I realized quickly that I was undergunned. “Undergunned” in this case meant that I didn’t have enough board for the conditions and my skill level.

In a lineup of decent surfers who are all hungry for large set waves--and when 10 minutes can pass between each large set--a surfer is only allowed one or two screw ups. If the other surfers peg you as a kook after seeing you blow a perfect wave, nothing will stop them from dropping in on you for the rest of the session.

So I had already blown one wave. I paddled further south, hoping to position myself in a place where I could grab a less popular left off of the main peak. I also wanted to go left so that there would be more chance for me to actually make the wave on this minnow I was riding. The second wave I attempted, I couldn’t get into. The third wave was slightly better. I dropped in and stayed as low as possible, holding on for dear life. I managed a few pumps and recognized the “skatey” feeling so popularly used to describe riding fish. I quickly kicked out over the top of the crest before it closed out. Did I mention that the lefts at Old Mans break right into a cluster of boils and rocks? I guess that’s why it is the less popular direction to ride.

When I returned to the lineup, I looked in to see if the surf shack’s door had opened yet. It must have been 8am, because people were milling about the entrance. I bellied a small wave all the way back to the shore. Inside the shack, I spotted a board that I had seen another hotel guest having a blast on over the previous few days. It was an 8’ baby blue Haut hybrid shape. I grabbed it and paddled straight back out.

I have to jump right to my first wave on the Haut. It was around 9am and the swell had picked up even more since dawn. I sat farthest outside and waited patiently for 20 minutes before the biggest set wave I had seen came rolling in. I had position. It was mine to take. I paddled as hard as I could and caught the wave early. After the epoxy M10, the longer board moved fast and felt safe under my feet. I made the drop easily, fading right, and rose to the middle of the wave. Then, I noticed an old longboarder dropping in ten yards in front of me. It was this 70-year-old dude who I had watched dominating The Rock on the previous day. He had a young Mexican wife with big boobs who helped him carry his board. Anyway, he dropped in on me and for a few seconds we were both on the same level in the wave, one right after another. Then, he rose up a little higher and gracefully cross-stepped to the nose. He hung ten casually with his arms by his side before backpedaling and regaining control of his board. I couldn’t help myself. I hooted and cheered at him as he kicked out and gave me the rest of the wave. I rode it all the way to the sand.

As I paddled back out, I asked a Mexican kid who had seen the ride who that old guy was. I expected him to say “Senor Doyle” or “Roberto August,” but he just gave a look of disapproval and said, “He’s nobody. Fucker always drops in on people!” I still was stoked. It was the biggest wave I’d ever ridden. More than that, it was the fastest, the smoothest, and the most fun.

I paddled out and waited my turn to catch one more that was close to that size. I was all alone on the next wave and as I flew north toward nirvana I had to avoid a guy on the inside, almost running over his feet. When I paddled back out again, past where he was still perched inside, I was grinning, saying, “Sorry, man. I almost clipped your feet there!”

He just smiled and said, “Nah! You were just beautiful!”

When I had my fill, it was only 11am. I had been surfing for almost five hours and the waves were still huge. I ran up the steps of the hotel and jumped into the swimming pool where my wife was chatting to a woman she had met the day before.

“Did you see that?!” I gushed.

“Honey,” she laughed, “I can’t see anything out there. You all look the same from here. This is Heather.”

It must be Murph the Surf’s Law that my wife had been patiently taking pictures of me for the last three days but finally decided to take a break on the biggest swell of the week (and perhaps of the summer, judging by how stoked The Locos were). I wasn’t really disappointed, though. I was still buzzing with the pure joy that only surfing can bring and even more so because my beautiful wife was having a great time too.

O Povo Canta - "O Telefone Tocau Novamante"

PS: I did grab the camera and snap a bunch of pics at lunch to record the day. The two pics of the left above are from my first session in the morning before my wife threw in the beach towel.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Smiley Smile (Mexico, Part 2)

This is going to sound incredibly trite to most surfers out there, but I'm being honest when I say that I actually played Brian Wilson's "Smile" album on the second morning I was at the Cabo Surf Hotel, standing on my balcony, watching the sun rise over the breaking waves. When the line "Dance Margarita, don't you know that I love you..." came on, the hair stood up on my sunburned neck.

I woke up at 7:00 to beat the crowd, which can get pretty thick at Old Mans, but by the time I finished my cornflakes there were 7 guys in the line-up. The glassy morning conditions and lower tide gave the waves a little more juice, so I traded in the Robert August 8-footer for a 7'4" JC Equalizer thruster. I was tempted to paddle out to "The Rock," a more powerful wave to the north, but decided to try out the spot I was relatively familiar with. It had picked up in size to about 3-4 feet.

The first thing I noticed was that the JC got into waves really easily, and moved MUCH quicker. I was still feeling very stiff going backside on the rights and realized how many things I still had to learn about where to position myself on the waves to get the most speed.

I have to say, besides a constant sensation of surf-bliss (and a burning sensation on my rashy ribs), the predominant emotion I felt in Mexico was one of humility. Everywhere around me--from the little local kids to the bikini-clad girls to the Old Men who gave the spot its name--people were surfing much better than me.

I overheard a couple 10-year-old boys in the pool talking their sponsors and swam over. "I only have one sponsor," said one knee-high grom with a bushy blond hairdo that was going chlorine green in front of my eyes. "But my sister has lots." As if on cue, a thirteen-year-old girl jumped into the pool wearing a Rip Curl rash guard. Her hair had the same green highlights as her kid bro.

When we all started chatting about our boards, she said, "I have lots back home in Santa Barbara."

"Hm," I deduced. "Lots of boards, sponsored, from Santa Barbara... You wouldn't happen to be riding for Al Merrick wouldja?"

"Yep!" she said.

I said, "Would you mind putting an order in for me? Tell Al that you put on a few pounds in Mexico and need something a little bigger." I also made a mental note to keep an eye out for her in the line-up.

Before she got out of the pool, she said, "It's supposed to get big tomorrow. Big south swell is on the way from a hurricane or something."

"Cool!" I said, trying to sound casually enthused, or at least not nervous. "See ya out there!"

That night after my evening surf, I went to the surf shack and traded in the JC for a 5'8" M10 Hogfish. I had been telling all my friends back home that I was going to try a fish, so I thought I might do it in the glassy morning waves when there would be less people in the water that I might injure. As I walked out with the bright blue potato chip under my arm, the Mexican kid I rented it from called after me, "Man, it's gonna be big tomorrow. Good board!"

"Si," I said, a bit more hesitantly.

At 8:00, my wife and I drove into San Jose Del Cabo, to an open-air taqueria called "Hangmans" on the recommendation of fellow blogger Flotsam (kudos!). The restaurant was unforgettable; one of the highlights of our trip. It had funky decor: old puppets, license plates, skeletons, glowing plastic rocking horses, and broken surfboards hung from the walls. A live jazz band played in the corner. On each table were no less than eight saucy condiment bowls for doctoring up the succulent tacos that they grilled under the stars. Just as I settled into a seat and opened the menu, I felt a hand on my shoulder.

"How was your surf today?" I looked up and recognized one of the young Mexican surf instructors from Acapulquito. Something clicked. I had heard a native surfer whistling jazz standards in the line-up earlier and thought it was odd. Now I was face-to-face with the soloist himself. He said his name was Sergio and that his family owned Hangmans. His gray-bearded father (who was also a surfer and also named Sergio) brought the restaurant over from mainland Mexico 11 years ago. This was a favorite hang out for locals, so when Sergio Jr. recommended the cow tongue, I had to oblige. It was as tender as liver, but lacked the dirty flavor of internal organs. It was more like buttery sirloin. I smothered the oblong pieces of meat in chipotle and temped the fate of my bowels.

When we finished our meal and headed toward the door, Sergio said, "See you tomorrow! Good swell coming!"

"So I hear," I said, too tired and full to act macho. "See you then." With that, we drove home and went to bed.

That night, I hardly slept. The sound of the pounding surf and the anticipation of waking up early to beat the crowd had me doing bleary-eyed clock checks every hour on the hour. When I finally rolled out of bed at 6:00AM and threw open the curtain, I realized that the south swell had arrived.

Brian Wilson - "Heroes & Villians"

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Happiest Place on Surf (Mexico, Part 1)

Mexico was, well, perfecto. We arrived in San Jose Del Cabo on Saturday and stayed in the Best Western Posada Real for the first night because the Cabo Surf Hotel couldn't accomodate us until Sunday. Free Pacifico by the pool, blue skies, fish tacos, and crashing surf all made this temporary lodging beyond bearable.

On Sunday morning I woke up and drove our rental car south to the Cabo Surf Hotel. I figured that I could get there and surf all morning before check-in. The surf spot, a classic called Acapulquito or "Old Mans" is directly in front of the hotel. This is a right-hand wave that is pretty slow and breaks over rocks and sand. When I arrived, it was about 2-3 feet and fairly mushy, so I rented a Robert August single fin longboard and made my way to the outside.

When I dropped into my first wave, the longboard pimp-glided like a '72 Cadillac down fresh asphalt on the manicured rights. I soon realized that I'd entered a surfer's amusement park and although none of the rides here would be of the "E" ticket variety, I had an all-access-pass to Fantasy Land: I was in the happiest place on surf!

English Beat - "Save It for Later"

Friday, August 19, 2005

Hola, Olas!

This is what I was doing yesterday morning. Much more to come!


Thursday, August 11, 2005


I've only been skunked twice since I started surfing. The first time was one of those winter days Oregon is famous for, when the sea resembles the heavy duty cycle of your Maytag. The second time was the complete oposite. Tonight the waves were so small that a surfing skunk would have complained that there wasn't enough power in the swell to propell his tiny black-and-white striped longboard. Even his stinkiness would have been skunked.

At least I'll be in Mexico in two days, as Slim says, "Riding a 12-foot log with a margarita in one hand." Correction. I'll be riding a fish with a Bloody Mary in my craw because I'll have to roll out of bed early and out the door to Old Man's in order to beat the crowd. If I'm reading the reports right, it looks like I'll be expecting 2-4 foot swell with a whopping 18-second interval. That's more like it. I hope to send dispatches from down South, but if not... hasta luego!

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth"

Monday, August 08, 2005

Uncomfortably Numb

In the inimitable words of Hannibal from the A-Team: "I love it when a plan comes together!"

When Slim and I headed out for an evening session last Thursday, we had low expectations regarding the surf sitch. Forecast was foreboding, predicting 6-foot swell at 7-second intervals. Wind was to be whipping. But when we pulled into the parking lot of "Squaws" we were pleasantly surprised by perfect peelers pitching from no less than three peaks. We jumped out of the car and I fired off a couple photos as I wriggled into my wetsuit. Slim was already running down the path before I could lock the car up, anxious to get his new stick into some juice.

The paddle-out was of the dry hair variety, meaning that the waves were organized enough and the channel on the north side of the beach was working briskly (that's a rip tide, to you civilian readers) so that no duckdiving was necessary.

I must admit that it took me a while to get my engine started. I think it had something to do with the fact that I rarely go right, and this particular peak was an all right affair. The other thing that might have been slowing me down was the realization that an offshore upwelling had created the coldest water temps I had ever felt. More on that in a minute.

So I watched Slim catch a couple, disappearing from view down the front of the wave and reappearing much further down the line in short order, telling me that the waves had some umph. He was also smiling when he paddled back out to the line-up, and he is normally as stoic as a cigar store indian while surfing.

Finally, I caught my first right and tried to get my center of gravity (read "ass") low enough to keep me in the pocket. No such luck. I watched the glassy shoulder move farther away and dove backward into the whitewash. I overcompensated on the next right, getting too far ahead of the sweetspot in the wave and trying to cut back down but losing momentum and falling off the back. After about an hour of unremarkable rides, I finally grabbed a right where I felt, well, right. It was bigger and bowlier and I rode for a while in the pocket, making a small turn and remaining in the powerful part of the wave.

By this point I had gradually moved south (by riding right) and ended up at the center peak on the beach (pictured above), where there was a steeper left-breaking wave working. It was easy to find my line-up out there because there was a bouy floating right at the takeoff spot. Another surfer warned me to be careful--there was a network of ropes under the water in that area. The icy sea temperature was finally starting to get to me and I knew I could only stay out a half-hour more. I literally couldn't feel my hands or my feet, they were so numb. Sure that I was in the early stages of hypothermia, I scanned the horizon for the perfect wave.

A few minutes later, it came. Head high and triangular, the peak jacked up like morning wood under a green satin sheet. I turned and only paddled twice before I felt the familiar surge that meant I could pop to my feet. I leaned into it with my knees bent and looked down the line at 20 yards of workable shoulder. The period at the end of this liquid sentence was the surfer sitting on his board inside, smiling at my drop. Pure stoke. I rode a little too far inside and paid for it as I paddled back out. It took me a while and my ice cream headache was almost unbearable.

I should have just made that left my last of the day. Paddling back out forced me into a classic surfer's dilemma: Wait for another great set wave, or just take a mediocre ride in. Every minute I waited, I became colder. My ankles felt tight. By this time, I was alone and it was getting dark. I was tempted to ride whitewater in on my belly, but I was a little superstitious about not ending on a good note. Bad luck. After about 15 minutes without any large swells coming through, I paddled inside and caught a smallish right. I lost my balance almost immediately. I rode the next one in on my stomach.

When I peeled off my booties, my feet were shriveled and they had whitish yellow spots on them. It took a half hour under the car heater and a PBR before I could detect the feeling of carpet under my soles. By that time it was dark and we determined that it was safe to drive home.

Wire - "Outdoor Miner"

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Ebb and Flow: Snapshots from the Past

I was thumbing through an old photo album at my parents' house and I found a couple vintage snapshots from "Phase One" of my surfing life. Having embraced the latest surf fashion craze as skaters, my friend Ebb and I were not content to just wear Jimmy'z velcro pants and pink Quiksilver tees - we needed to actually live the dream. Somehow in our landlocked Oregon locale, we managed to scrounge up a couple surfboards and flimsy wetsuits. Above is a pic of our first surf trip to Harris Beach - near Brookings, Oregon - from 1987. As you can see, I have an old Rusty and Ebb has an amazing Cort Gion thruster with a rainbow rasta airbrush job. For anybody reading this who isn't familiar with Cort, he's still considered one of the most well-respected shapers in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, being 14-year-old gremlins, we were totally oblivious to that fact.

This second photo is from a couple years later, after Ebb and I actually got drivers licenses and our very own boards from California. I had family in Los Angeles, so I bought my gear from SoCal surfshops. The result is a 5'11" Ludwig thruster plastered in stickers (note the tribal head logo that is currently being resurrected by Quiksilver) and day glow yellow/violet wetsuit. Ebb's grandparents lived in Manresa Beach near Santa Cruz, and it shows: O'Neill hooded wetsuit and Pearson Arrow four channel fish-type shape with a detachable center fin. It must have been about 5'6"!

In 1989, at the time of the second picture, Ebb and I were best friends. We were inseperable. We listened to the Clash, Black Flag, JFA, and INXS on vinyl. We did hand plants and bonelesses on our skateboards. Ebb had a Christian Hosoi, I had a Vision Shredder. I got a subscription to Surfer, Ebb had Surfing. Ebb loved Martin Potter and Tommy Carroll, I was into Occy and Brad Gerlach. Ebb was always a better surfer than me. He was a gymnast, a great breakdancer, and a strong skateboarder. But on our countless 3-hour drives to the Oregon Coast and 10-hour bombs to Santa Cruz, a bond was formed between us that only two trembling teens who have been caught inside at Steamers Lane can know. Our parents must have been insane to allow us to go on those adventures - thanks, guys!

Unfortunately, I discovered the joy of the opposite sex the following year. This, it turned out, was a much more compelling (and ultimately more dangerous) adventure for a 17-year-old kid. I fell head over heels in love and our surf trips became less regular. Three years later, I had gone away to LMU in Southern California and only surfed once there, having been dumped by my "true love" from high school. Ebb went to UCSB and kept surfing. He spent some time in Costa Rica. I returned to Oregon and adopted the rainsoaked Bukowski-meets-Pollock persona with Tom Waits providing the bar ballad soundtrack. I always imagined Ebb surfing big hollow waves in some third world country and admired his clean-living adventurer's life.

Where is he now? Last time I saw him was at my wedding and we hardly had time to talk. I heard he lives in Chicago, which is an unlikely place for a waterman to land. But maybe he's back... I often think about Ebb as I sit on my surfboard, blowing on my hands and waiting for the next set to come. I wonder if he ever misses surfing. I wonder if he'd like to go again. I think I'll give him a call.

Love and Rockets - "Here on Earth"

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Big Sissy

Howdy folks! I'm currently out of town, but I found this illustration I did for the blog that I meant to post on the day I started Sissy Fish. My wife and I are in Ashland again; I'm sitting inside sucking on a Budweiser. Its a sole-melting 100 degrees out there! I've been checking the surf reports for Cabo Sur and it looks like the swell will be picking up right when we arrive. I can't wait to have five solid days where I can rent everything from fish to longboards and practice going right. As you'll see from my next post about the session we had Thursday, I need a little help on my "backside attack." (That is an ugly expression, by the way.) Also, I'm itching to finally trunk it for the first time in 15 years! It has been mighty chilly up here in Orygun.

Talk to ya soon,


The Clash - "London Calling"

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Grooming Jack O'Neill

I have an O'neill wetsuit. A lot of people do. But this weekend while I was hanging out with my friend Penelope, who used to cut hair in Santa Cruz, I found out something about the company's founder that will forever change the way I think about neoprene.

Penelope said that while she was working as a stylist in S.C. she cut the one-eyed wetsuit empresario's signature beard and hair. It was bizarre, she said. He made her start at the midline of his face at the chin and work her way up and around the back of his head to the top, then back down the other side to where she began. It must've been like an around-the-world voyage on a nappy sea of salt and pepper.

"Why?" I asked, after I stopped laughing.

"He was superstitious," she answered. "He said it went back like 50 years to a haircut he had in Thailand. Some kind of ritual thing."

Anyway. I'm not sure why I included this in my blog, besides the fact that any surfers who read this can file it in their memory banks under "useless surf trivia" and blow some fricken minds next time the conversation dies down at a drunken beach bonfire. Isn't that what you SoCal kids do every night?

Music: The Cure - "Speak My Language"

Monday, August 01, 2005

The Art of Wiping Out

Last weekend I had the unprecedented pleasure of eating shit both on land and at sea. Cheap thrills. And because we were having an impromptu outdoor haircutting party at the time of the skateboarding incident, of course my wife had the camera out. I'm still amazed that she actually captured the moment before I made contact with the asphalt. More amazing still is the fact that I'm grinning like an idiot in the picture, unaware of the pain that the ground is about to inflict on my ass.

I also got worked pretty hard on Sunday at Poo Poo's. This was the second time we surfed the spot, and there were actually five longboarders there when we paddled out. Big weekend crowd. Anyway, the waves were much larger than last time. Let's call it 4 feet on the Siss-O-Meter. Or we can just call it "overhead" -- or claim "seven foot faces" -- whatever. But it was still definitely a longboarder's dream out there. Those crusties were catching set waves 30 yards before they broke. Because most of these swells weren't very steep, those of us on shortboard had to post up inside and drop in as they were breaking. Hazards included avoiding sneaker waves, charging longboarders, and late drops where the breaking lip would knock you off your board and into the impact zone.

I caught a couple good ones. One of the waves that I went left on started throwing a little in front of me - basically, I dropped in behind the peak - and I actually was racing to get around/under the lip (through which I could see a teardrop shaped opening). Of course it was too small to "backdoor" but I did what I thought was a stylish head dip as I got clipped. In hindsight I was probably riding way to high on the wave's face because as fell head-first, I noticed how far down it was before impact. The trick to a good wipeout is looking cool in that vital second before getting worked. From the instant when you realize you are going down to the moment when you hit the water, you actually have just enough time to position yourself in a way that might appear interesting to onlookers (seagulls and seals included). In this case, I chose the sideflop; right arm extended toward the water to protect my ear, left arm at my side. A more experienced surfer may have gone for a graceful dive or the classic cannonball (the idea being to penetrate deeper below the surface to avoid the brunt of the wave's power), but I preferred the drama of being horizontal on impact. I think it looked pretty decent, and yes, I think I was smiling as I went over the falls.

Music: Roxy Music - "Mother Of Pearl"