Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Long Period Swell and Holiday Waves.

Finally.  They have started to come with a certain regularity.  And they are arriving while the weather is calm.  And the winds, for at least part of the day, are light and off shore.  The long period northwest swells of winter are starting to show up along the coast.  And on the weekend, no less.  The first came last Friday night when the buoys boosted up to 5.5 feet at 20 seconds.  That is enough for those waves to wrap well into town and onto some of the most competitive reefs in central California.  Sure, the waves were much bigger north of town, but for some, it is about convenience.

Drawing up on the reef, getting ready for it to go.

This spot is about the slash and burn.  Even when small, the long period swells wrap and warp.

Not a whole lot of size, but plenty of fun.

Getting ready for the race track.

Of course, the best waves were up the coast, with Saturday morning quite impressive.  But with little time to surf, there was no time to shoot.  Still it was nice to see the need to grab some bigger equipment for the first time in a while.  While Saturday was the biggest, the swell seemed to really get defined and organized on Sunday.  Barrels were had.  And not the inside beachbreak grinder type, but heavy boxed up, don't get hit by that lip tubes.  Needless to say, it was fun.

Some like to use that rail and carve.

Some like to bust the fins out and slide.

And still others like total release.

Its is all fun, but throwing buckets is still what I like to see.

And all of this, just in time for the holidays.  Sure the lineups get a bit more crowded this time of year, but there are more lineups to share when the swell and winds work together.  You can tuck yourself well into town and take out the log, or head up the coast an hour and ride your biggest gun.  Personally, I like the stretch of coastline about ten miles north of town.  You have everything you need up there except good protection from north west winds.  But when we get weather like this, you don't need to hide.

This guy was finding time to bury a few rails.

Always a good view of the left at Middles.

Finding a few floaty sections along the inside.

And the rights at Middles some times line up.

Some sections ask for a cut back.

Even the smaller waves offer some punch.

Getting ready for the speed section.

Small clean ones sneaking through.

And the sailing weather has been quite good as well.

It looks like we might have a few more weeks of this fall like weather on tap before winter takes hold here in Santa Cruz.  Make the most of the clean and lined up waves.  Victory at sea will be here soon enough.  After a fairly weak early November, it has been game on for the holiday season.  Nothing huge as of yet, but plenty of fun days with even a few moments of triple over head up the coast a bit.  In town it has been fun with just a tiny bit of gnar.

When this section lights up, it is game on.

Making the drop as the inside crew scrambles for the shoulder.

Time for a few big cut backs.

Or float over the top.

Top turn with a bit of power are making a come back.

Outside bombs.

One of the lefts that slipped through.

Slow bottom turns can still set you up for the ride.

Getting ready to work that section.

I finally paddled out at the Lane for the first time since May or June.  The winds had come up quickly during my surf window, and even the Miles looked pretty ripped.  I forgot how much fun this place can be when we have some real swell.  And how the bodies drop off the point like they are popping from a pez dispenser.  I would not doubt it average one every two minutes while I was out there.  But damn, the right wave out there is pretty damned fun.

Even the small days can be fun.

This kid was killing it this particular day.  He knows how to use his rails for sure.

And he knows how to complete his turn and set up the ramp.  Bravo.

Happy New Year everyone, and get out there, and have some fun.  The waves continue to be quite good and are plenty of fun.  It looks like we have a few more weeks of this high pressure and light winds.  Go bring in 2012 in style.  Get barreled.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A great finish to November, and start to December. Hopefully more to come.

It is weeks like this that are the hardest.  The past few weeks, we saw swell almost daily.  Even if most of it was ram sacked by overlapping wind swell, or beat down by demon winds, swell was in the water none the less.  And a few days, it got pretty darn good.  In general, town was good through the stretch, once the south winds turned.  A few days of strong offshore flow made things interesting.  I even heard someone saw "these are the bad sort of offshores."  At 30 knots and side-cross, I think he may have been right.  Still, we got bits and pieces of waves for two weeks.

Finding protection from the bad offshores.

Another way to get out of the wind, is to go inside.

Post sunset sessions.  Things tend to get dark and rosy, and a touch less windy.

Some guys just stay on their bellies to avoid that breeze.  Its Beach delivers some wedge action.

Or you can just hug the cliff band.

Could be worse.  You could be in surfer jail.

After a disappointing start to November, it finally felt like things were set right.  I mean, we had waves.  Enough so, that I have not seen the mountain bike in quite a while.  And then, after this past weekend, it looks like things have shut off.  Sure, we have a few swells filling in this week.  And late season south or two.  The second even looking legitimately fun.  A tiny dateline swell.  If it were August, the 2'@14s would be drool worthy.  For December, it is background.  And the big news is a swell coming for the weekend.  Finally, another long period, reasonable size swell.  And some clean conditions for us to all get out of town.

North of town, the waves tend to be a bit bigger, and more warbled.  And the views, a bit wilder.

But it is far from a complete mess.

Sections like this keep the crowds plenty thick.

Nice carvable faces.

And rosy sunset action.

Town has been where most of the action has been.  Or, perhaps I should say, clean waves.  A few days in the Bay and a few up the north coast, but for the most part, we have seen little of the full days of calm wind.  For those who can find some time in the mornings, there have been more options.  But then you need to prepare for the cold.  It is days like these that the water around here actually feels warm.  But if you are like most, and prefer an afternoon or evening session, you probably have been surfing with the crowds.  Could be worse.  It could be completely flat.

It may not have been epic, but it was fun for a few weeks.

I just kind of like this one.  Not sure why.

The back of the wave is sometimes the best part.

Just enough juice for things to be fun.

And to lay an edge into it.

Dropping in.

After this next swell, it looks like things are ready to take a break for a while.  The North Pacific is clamping up for a while.  Or at least that is how things look.  It is not much better for the snow, so make the most of what you can.  Or you may want to pull out the longboard, as by next Tuesday, things are looking pretty weak out there. Of course, as we move into winter, we should see improvement in wave quality and count.  So it is just a matter of waiting.  Think back to last January.  70F, no winds and 12-18 foot days.  Yum.

With the right amount of foam, it is always fun.

And glassy is always good.

Digging in.

Just inches away for the goods.
Trying to tag in.

So don't despair.  Get out there this weekend.  Expect long long waits.  Almost like a summer south swell.  And then get some work done.  Because when winter comes into swing, the swells will start to really fill in.  And then things will go from fun, to epic.