Thursday, September 01, 2005

Morning Glass and the Man with the ‘Stache (Mexico, Part 4)

Our last full day in Mexico was idyllic: Dawn patrol revealed that the swell was still there, though not quite as insomnia inducing as the day before. After a great morning session on the Haut, I came in and had a Michelada (a tall beer glass with a salted rim filled ¼ of the way with lime juice, the rest with Corona and ice, and accented with a splash of Tobasco and Worcestershire sauce). As I ordered my third, I noticed an older guy making his way down to the beach with a red rash guard and floral trunks. He stood over six feet tall, with silver hair, a perfect bronze tan, and a big yellow epoxy Mickey Munoz noserider under his arm. The restaurant was abuzz. A middle-aged surfer dude dad craned around behind where we were sitting and pointed him out to his son: “That’s Mike Doyle.”

The one-time champion waterman had finally made an appearance at the surf spot he put on the map. He paddled out effortlessly, right into the middle of the lineup. As if on cue, a solid 3-foot wave appeared out of nowhere. He swung his board around, took two easy paddleboard strokes, and he was in.

Doyle stood up and sped straight down the face until the whitewater threatened to engulf his tail. At the last second, he raised his arms above his head, dropped a knee, and stomped on the back of his board, kicking the nose upward like a yellow bird’s beak. The longboard responded by banking hard right, sending a rooster tail off its outside rail. With the casual grace of a soft-shoe dancer, he adjusted his footing so that he was close to the middle of the board. The Munoz elevated to the middle of the face and he entered the state of “trim,” where no tweaks are necessary and the surfer slows down time by standing like a statue in the sweet spot of both board and wave.

When he glided too far out on the shoulder, he stepped back to the tail, did a cutback and repositioned himself on the steepest part of the wave, closest to the curl. Rinse and repeat, again and again, until he was right on the shore where the wave was reforming and about to crash on dry sand. He stayed in the wave through the final pitch, kicking out at the crucial last second.

This was more than a great surfer I was watching; Doyle was an artist, and I can assure you that his creativity on the waves was even better than his paintings on the walls of the hotel behind me.

I also had the opportunity to watch the upstart pro surfer girl I met earlier. She ripped. She positioned herself halfway to the beach from where the longboarders lined up. A smaller wave would roll in and the guys on the outside would let it go. She would get in easily, flying right or left on her little Flyer. Her petite size made catching waves easy; a shoulder-high face was way overhead on her. Her tanned mom was constantly standing on the ridge by the pool, filming every move with her camcorder. Stage mother/surf mama, I suppose.

After a few hours and a few more beers I was ready for my evening session, even though the waves had dropped a little and the sea had become choppy. I slipped my underwater camera on my wrist, grabbed the Hogfish and paddled out. On my way to the outside the shredder girl was paddling in. She said, "It's smaller, but still so fun out there!" I ended up sitting on my board and taking pictures of Mike Doyle and his girlfriend as they cruised by on their longboards. By this time, my ribs were bloody nubs and I was fairly surfed out.

One thing I noticed was a surfer a little further south, sitting amongst the rocks, all alone. This is a zone known as "Mike's Hole," according to fellow blogger Patch. I assumed it was a crazy Loco who was so intimately familiar with the spot that he could easily glide through the boils and jagged rocks inside without wiping out. Then, I saw him catch a wave and tuck perfectly into a small tube. That loco local was damn good!

When I paddled back in, I traded the fish for the JC again, wanting a board I was comfortable with for my last session the next morning. I jumped in the swimming pool to wash the saltwater away. By this time, Doyle had made his way to the hot tub next to the pool. He and his girlfriends were drinking beers and watching the surfer riding on the south side of the beach. When the unknown surfer did an agressive turn off the top of a wave and followed that move with a roundhouse cutback, they all went "oooooh" and "ahhhh" in unison. By this time my interested had piqued.

The guy rode the next wave all the way into the shore. I noticed his board was a thick resin-tinted orange single fin without a leash. The blue fin had a wacky vee extension off the end. As he walked up the beach, I realized he wasn't Mexican. He was wearing unbuttoned shorts with Surfer magazine covers all over them. He had a beer belly and a moustache. Shit, mang! It was Donavon Frankenreiter! After he shook hands with the kids running the surf shack, he ran up the steps and jumped in the pool with his board. He called his 2-year-old son, "Marley" over and had him stand on the board in the pool. Marley had better form than me.

That night, my wife, our new friend Heather, and I went to dinner at a cool Italian restaurant in town. It was really great.

The next morning, I went out for my final dawn patrol of the trip. It was 7am and for some reason I was the first guy out. My first wave was one of my best. It was perfectly glassy and overhead. By the time I paddled back out, there were three more guys in the lineup.

As you can tell by my unwillingness to let it go, Mexico had a profound effect on me, especially during a summer like this, where trips to the Oregon ocean have been few and far between. During my five days in Cabo I fell in love with the place. I immediately bought Mike Doyle's book "Morning Glass" when I got home and read it in a week. He loved Cabo too, and I admire his ability to still enjoy it even though the crowds have moved in (he may be partially responsible for that, actually).

I will return to San Jose Del Cabo someday, but first I have a trip planned to hit Short Sands tomorrow ... where the swell will be 5 feet at 14 seconds!

I hope to be blogging more often now that I'm home again...

Bloc Party - "The Bluest Light"


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Chum said...

A fantastic comment. Keep it up.

Diane said...

Always nice to read of your adventures. It was more than wonderful seeing you.

Patch said...

You talk good story.

Next trip you have to experience the East Cape. Many isolated points, the bigger the swell the more points open up along the cape. If you do an east cape run, try a burger at 'Buzzards' on the way back.

I've surfed with Doyle several times on big days and I'm amazed at how strong a paddler he still is.


Music—Sea and Cake—Four Corners

Chum said...

Looking forward to hitting the Cape next time!

Patch said...


The swell should be headed your way if it's not already there. Today, in the late morning, I had some nine foot bombs at an undisclosed and uncrowded point break. Heavy drops with long steep walls, the shoulders stood up in front of you skateboard-ramp like but well over head, well, well- over head.

At times there was only 8 people out, the most was about twenty. After that session I hit Malibu, had lunch and decided to paddle out with a hundred of my closest friends.

Music—Luna—Malibu Love Nest

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