Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Friday was cold. Air temps were in the teens when I woke up and packed my boards on top of Rye's veg-mobile. On the drive out, there was some ice on the roads so we took it easy. That may have been why I had a better chance to look a little closer at the landscape I normally would just blow by, blinded by stokey anticipation. Down a ravine on the right side of the road was a blue sheet-metal barn and through the trees the morning sun hit it, illuminating an old surfboard. I told Rye and he slammed on the breaks (carefully) and u-turned back to see if we could get a closer look.
Down a dirt driveway there were a couple of these blue sheds and three trailers that had tarps and other add-ons. Not many windows. There was ice covering everything. Three dogs ran up to the car and we wondered if maybe we shouldn't be down on somebody's property this early in the AM. Then an old woman walked out of one of the trailers with a cigarette hanging from her lips. We asked if we could take a picture of the surfboard and she said ask her daughter-in-law in the other trailer. We walked to the other trailer, which, with all it's windows covered with blue plastic, looked more like two big shoeboxes attached together perpendicularly. Knocked softly.
Before you read any further. This is not a farmer's daughter story. There is no cow milking machine or buttered popcorn coming. No. The young woman answered the door. Peered at us suspiciously from beneath some huge elk antlers. Then she just motioned back to the other trailer and said, "If she says it's alright then it's alright."
No. Her husband's board, which had massive rotten holes in the sides and crusty ivy hanging off the back where it leaned against the wall, wasn't for sale.
Not that exciting of a story, really. And no, I can't refund the last 50 seconds you lost reading it. When we got to the spot, though, the waves looked pretty good. Not as good as the last session where the winds groomed the lines perfectly, but not too shabby either. Mostly rights. I took out my newly-repaired Andreini, but probably should have stuck with something a little more suited to shifty beach break. But I still caught a few and coaxed it into a few bumpy rights. Did I mention it was cold? There was ice on the beach when we arrived and the water was somewhere around 44 degrees.
Monday, December 07, 2009
So many factors that might make you opt to pull the covers back over your head and surf some other time: sub-zero temps, icy roads, 29 mph offshores, bouys giving wacky information (due to those offshores). But that old saying eggs you on. Gotta go to know.
Glad I did.
Friday, December 04, 2009
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
For those who don't know, there's a colossal circle jerk online called the Oregon Surf Pages (mentioned in this video) where a bunch of doods sit around bragging about how "sick" the surf was yesterday and dissing anything that isn't wrapped in buffalo check flannel and Carharts. Rumor has it that a couple of the wannabe bro-brahs that hang there actually do other kinds of surfing than the internet variety.
But even the Pacific Gyre has a gem floating in it once in a while. Someone told me about this video and I had to actually brave the high fecal chloroform levels there to check it. I'm glad I did.
By the way,
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
...AND THE DAMAGE DONE.
Thanks to Marc Andreini, trimming's now constantly on my brain too. Let's just hope he gets better real soon from his recent injury so he can make enough boards for everyone to experience some quality trim.
Monday, November 09, 2009
...and your brown eye will pucker up. The mysto slab known as The Yeti was firing while the contest at Oregon's other big wave was underway a couple weeks ago. I shudder to think what this sucker was doing yesterday.
Pics of people actually surfing it at the Wend Blog.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
Monday, November 02, 2009
How do I describe my first day on the Vaqueros de las Olas? Do I start with the first wave I paddled into, where I belly-flopped when the board tilted unpredictably as I tried to pop up? Nah.
Let's start with the next wave, where I made the drop, banked off the bottom and hooked into the high line of a screaming left. I was so intensely focused on the feeling that I saw little more than the lip feathering above my head and the nose of the board sailing along the steep face. I couldn't even really figure out how long the wave was when I turned to paddle back out. It seemed like a long way. When I got back out a kneeboarder paddled over to me and said he had an amazing view of my wave, and had the lip thrown more I would have been barreled. Then he just said, "You were goin' so fast!"
My next wave was even better.
I can only describe the ride of the Andreini as surfing with the wave versus against it. The paddle-in was a little slower than I imagined a 7' board would be, but once it got up to speed, the thing just glided. I felt like I was coaxing the board to go where I wanted, rather than forcing it around the face of the wave. At the risk of sounding new-agey, it was a zen-like experience, following the fall line of the wave and letting the board do the work. Something tells me this board would just naturally go as fast as the wave goes. Slow peeler? Cadillac. Racetrack? Lamborghini. On the flipside, if you tried to do anything drastic, like crank a hard bottom turn or cutback from the tail, you'd fall. At least I would, anyway.
Those first couple good waves weren't a fluke. With each left I caught, I got more comfortable, taking off deeper and crouching lower in the pocket. My final ride was the best: Drop in, turn with my hand dragging in the face, rise up to the pocket where the wave was almost vertical, crouch super low and just hold that stance. I seriously didn't have to move at all for probably 100 yards. When the wave would flatten, I'd assess my situation and see a section way ahead and just park myself in the groove as the wave stood up again. It was crazy. Mind boggling, really.
And I hear those full-rail cutbacks are even more intense.
This cowboy can't wait to ride again.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Ever since I rode my first hull waaaaay back in the oh-seven, I've been intrigued by those voluptuous, organically-shaped little (liddle) vixens. The brahman who lent me his personal 7' Liddle then — the inimitable Festus Porkmeyer — laid a compliment on me when he saw me riding his in Crescent City. He said I was "made for" one of those boards. I think he was referring to the fact that I'm hopeless when it comes to riding a surfboard off the tail, but anyway... My interest was further piqued when Manny Caro said my next board should be an Andreini after I ordered my last custom from him.
Then, last summer, I met a American fireman in El Salvador who was sliding his blue 8'0 Andreini across some pretty challenging point waves and we started to talk about his quiver as we waited between sets. When he mentioned that he had one in particular that was too small for him — I pounced. Three months later and here it is: My new 7'0 Vaquero de las Olas. Made from EPS with an opaque cream resin tint, it's super light weight and in amazing condition. Dig the old OWL logo in the first pic!
I only wish I had it for the two amazing days I got earlier this month. At least now I know exactly where to take it when the conditions come together again.
Special thanks to Hank for the bro-bro-bro deal and Jeremy and Giles for bringing it home to papa.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Today was terrific. Big sets, glassy water, sunshine, and — oh yeah — a boozy-smelling old dood in the parking lot insisted on giving me a cannabis bud. Who says the locals aren't friendly?
The dood in the second picture looks like he's calling his bro for directions: "Hey Steve, where'd you say that right was again?"
Friday, October 16, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Thursday, October 08, 2009
Joe Conway, North American editor of Drift Magazine, drifted into Portland from Portland, Maine a couple days ago and we had the chance to drink some porters talk about surfing, writing and art, then actually go surfing Wednesday. As has been my fate lately, the surf at PC started out pretty junky and improved just as we had to hightail it home.
Joe wasn't too disappointed. Having lived in Portland (Oregon) from 1998-2006, he knew the drill. The valley curse is to surf when we get the window — not necessarily when the conditions are most favorable. We ended up switching off on the White Pony though and I think I made some breakthroughs...
The drive out and back in my stereo-less car gave us ample time to chat. It was pretty damn inspiring to talk to somebody who's pouring his energy into a passion, especially this salty one we're all so obsessed with. The guys at Drift are making it happen on little more than stoke and elbow grease. Here are a few of the subjects our conversation drifted to on the trip:
Stumptown Coffee (7:30 am)
Ken's Artisan Bakery (7:32 am)
Grain Surfboards (7:40 am)
Corduroy Art Gallery (8:14 am)
Korduroy TV (8:20 am)
Nat Russell (8:31 am)
Kyle Field (8:35 am)
Alberto Cuadros (8:40 am)
Mollusk (8:43 am)
Josh Hall (8:45 am)
Dear & Yonder (8:50 am)
Yasmina Dedijer-Small (9:02 am)
Mandala (9:04 am)
Santos Surf Art (9:08 am)
Mattson 2 (9:11 am)
Eric Mast (9:15 am)
Audio Dregs (9:15 am)
Barry McGee (1:03 pm)
Margaret Kilgallen (1:10 pm)
Agnes B (1:17 pm)
Mission Burritos (1:21 pm)
Ty Williams (1:25 pm)
Ryan Tatar (1:27 pm)
Vice (1:35 pm)
The New Yorker (1:36 pm)
Salon (1:37 pm)
New York Surf Film Festival (1:39 pm)
Ed Fladung (1:44 pm)
Geoff McFetridge (1:50 pm)
Michael Leon (1:57 pm)
Fecal Face (1:59 pm)
Nike (2:07 pm)
Target (2:21 pm)
Red Bull (2:23 pm)
Hurricane Bill (2:24 pm)
Nau (2:30 pm)
Skinny Jeans (2:35 pm)
Black Diamond (2:37 pm)
Patagonia (2:46 pm)
Malloy Brothers (2:52 pm)
Malloy/G. Love Coke Commercial (2:57 pm)
180º South (3:01 pm)
Jeff Canham (3:02 pm)
University of Oregon Art School (3:04 pm)
Argyle Pinot Noir (3:10 pm)
Portland to Portland, sea to sea, artist to athlete, writer to designer, baker to shaper to clothesmaker. We're all pretty interrelated, when you look a little deeper at things. Catch my drift?
Subscribe to the free Drift newsletter HERE.
Monday, October 05, 2009
The waves just never really cleaned up over the weekend, but yesterday we caught an hour-long window where the wind shifted offshore and the bumps transformed into hollow, waist high peelers when they hit the inside bars. The air temp was freezing, but the quantity of little wedges we paddled into kept us nice and warm in the water. For a couple hours anyway...
Thursday, October 01, 2009
...of a different kind. Mural for Swift Collective completed yesterday based on the amazing Vaux Swifts of Chapman Elementarty School here in Portland, Oregon.
My iPhone didn't do the greatest job picking up these little guys as they swooped into the chimney, but I liked the way Horse Feathers' music sounded with it. You can see a better video of the phenomenon here.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Monday, September 28, 2009
Always a good sign when I have two wetsuits hanging on the rail. It means I got two sessions in two days. It's a nice luxury to have two suits, but I have to say that the old O'Neill is losing it's appeal. After wearing a front-zip suit regularly, the back-zip seems totally obsolete. It leaked so much on my first couple duck dives that I had to stop and make sure I'd actually zipped the thing up all the way.
Despite the dropping water temps, it was a fantastic weekend at the beach: Bluebird skies (yesterday), a nice pulse, family time, hot tub and cold Stellas, a big Ducks win, and a growing optimism for a great autumn. Hope you got some too.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
This is the loop that John Smart recently showed at Tyler Warren's opening at Surf Indian. I must confess I slept on it until today. The Tyler Warren Experiments looks like it's going to be a great movie with some great surfing, some great music, some great art and some great surfboards. There's even a White Pony in the trailer. Great!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday morning was pretty sloppy. Seemed like the ocean was having a hard time simmering down. After scouring the North Coast we settled on the above spot, where we battled a Sisyphean paddle-out only to have to do it all over again when we'd misjudge the line-up and get caught inside. After a couple hours, I finally scratched into a hefty left, at a moment when I was ready to give up, and rode it all the way to the sand. Done and done. Yes it was worth it, and no I wasn't on the Pony.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Staying with this week's surfboard theme, engineer, Kiwi transplant, and witness to my largest wave ever, Mark "Hendo" Henderson completed his wooden fish last month and it's an absolute work of art. But you won't find this hanging on a wall unless it's green and glassy. He's gotten it out into some decent waves and is happy with the results.
I highly recommend visiting his blog for more photos and info. His little "shaping shack" looks more like the control room of the Starship Enterprise. The logo is pretty damn awesome too. Watch out Mr. Hess!