Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Gringo Mask, El Salvador 2009

A drawing I did in Las Flores between sessions. Stranger in a strange and wonderful land.

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

9.5 Minutes Well Spent

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

Single-Wave Session

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

Backyard Beauty

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!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"Innermost Limits of Pure Fun" at Lifeswells

I love the title of the classic surf film "The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun." Those words just pop into my head sometimes when I'm surfing and get stuck there. I've never even seen the movie. All that will change tonight when Lifeswells will be projecting George Greenough's masterpiece, along with Andrew Kidman's new flick "Last Hope."

And there will be some twangy tunes as always, courtesy of DJ Zach Reno. Grab a few cold ones and enjoy one of the last few warm evenings of summer with some good people who love surfing almost as much as you do.

I think it starts around 8pm...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

4'11" X 22 1/2" X 2 5/8"

Hey, here's my new board from Larry Mabile. It came in a couple weeks ago and let me tell you — there's nothing more frustrating than having a brand new surfboard that you can't get out and ride. My work situation has been double overhead since I got back from El Salvador. I gotta ride it out.

Anyway, I'd been hearing so many great things about these little Simfish that I pulled the trigger during one of the summer's agonizing flat spells. Larmo sold me on the "White Pony" when he assured me about the versatility of this shape. An email from the man himself:

"The best thing about the White Pony is you can ride it reaaaallly small. The board is very wide and full which allows it to paddle very well in the smaller sizes. I put a small swallow tail (about 4 inches) on it to make it turn better. I also have been putting a lot of effort into redesigning the fins, as the standard half-moon shaped fins which come on many Simmons-style boards, don't have enough drive. I have also added more curve in the outline, as well as belly towards the nose, making a very fun ride which works in punchy beach breaks as well as funky slop........."

Very small. Larry convinced me that these are the right dims for me: 4'11" X 22 1/2" X 2 5/8"

I got the board a couple weeks ago and took it to Shorties. The waves were a little sloppy, but with more punch than I'd seen in Oregon for awhile. It took me a little while to get used to it, but my first ride was pretty amazing. It rides almost exactly like I'd imagined. Paddles into waves really easy and then just squirts down the line once you stand up. I was flying around broken sections on it and just hauling ass, really. It feels almost disc-like under the feet. I'm definitely stoked on it. Skatey is a perfect description.

One of the things that I can tell will take some getting used to (besides not being able to carry it under my arm at it's wide point) is the shortness causing me to pop up with my back foot off the tail. That happened a couple times during the session, which had me doing the "water-splits" as I blew the drop-in on some decent waves. More than anything, I'm just hoping to get out again on it before the conditions dictate more predictable equipment. Fall's around the corner...

Oh yeah. Larry got the board to Seaside Surfshop quick. I think it took less than a month from when I ordered it. Thanks, guys!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Counter Point (Punta Roca, Pt. 2)

As I mentioned before, on our last day of the El Salvador trip we weren't so lucky. Our luck, in this case, had less to do with bodily harm or broken boards than the plain fact that we couldn't get waves. The swell we'd been watching for weeks had finally moved in — and so did every local Salvadorian shredder, as well as a group of traveling American pros we'd been trying to avoid all week. They happened to be traveling through the same tour outfit as ours, but our guides were doing their best to keep us out of each others' way. We'd been assured that the pros were going to surf somewhere else Saturday morning, but the gravitational pull of Punta Roca proved too strong and they paddled out at the point minutes after us under the watchful eyes of their photographer's and videographer's telephoto lenses.

With the six professionals and the 30+ locals and other traveling surfers in the lineup (Saturday draws surfers from around the country), the scene was pretty hectic. The "rules" we'd learned from our guide didn't seem to apply anymore, with the American pros sitting deeper than anyone and taking off on anything. I remember set waves coming through with three guys dropping in, their white wakes trailing like jetstreams behind, threatening to cross as they streaked back up the face and under the lip.

The chief local — the dude in the top picture above — wasn't having it at first. He blatantly dropped in on guys one after another, picking them off like an assassin, forcing them to straighten out and bail with their tiny boards flicked out ahead to keep them away from the maelstrom. But the pros got their waves, as did the locals, who made up for any lack of acrobatic trickery with flowing power turns and critical drops that exhibited years of experience at Punta Roca.

And there were barrels to be had. Plenty. I saw one wave were the same local pictured stood straight up inside the gut of a bomb and dragged his fingers along the roof, smiling and hooting the whole way. To be sitting in such close proximity to these massive, perfectly shaped waves – sometimes just catchting a glimpse over the ledge at a rider speeding under a thick lip — was a rare treat. It was a ringside seat at a world-class sporting event. But I couldn't help but dream about breaks in El Salvador's East, where the waves may have been less perfect, but where it was just me and my two friends alone on an exotic coast.

In the end, we just paddled in after a couple hours, back down along the point to where it turns into a second break called La Paz. Our motel overlooked this break and for the previous four days and it was always mushy — a great option for longboarders, but we had no incentive to try it. This day though, the increase in swell gave it some size and punch. Waves would wrap from the outside rocks (the end of Punta Roca) all the way into the bay to the sand. We rode as many of these shoulder-high peelers as our arms would allow, before the 200 yard paddle became too much. Then we exited on the black sand, negociated the cobblestones, climbed the stairs, and walked back through the village to our motel where we packed our bags for home.

Above: My last wave of the trip, trying to make it all the way to the pier at La Paz. Special thanks to our guide (and friend) Joaquin Aragon for shooting the awesome photos above (and many more of us that won't make his portfolio).