Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Winter in Santa Cruz.

Sunny days with lined up surf under your toes.  What could be better than winter in Santa Cruz

Winter can be pretty harsh in certain parts of the world.  I grew up in the Northeast.  I recall going for over month without topping 20F.  And big snow banks lasting into March.  I'm pretty sure climate change has modified that, but it is still not quite like winter in Santa Cruz.  Being a wave blog, of course, I am considering more than the weather.  But that does play a key role.  Typically, once winter roles around, we can be pretty confident that one can find surf on almost any given day.  It may be stormy surf, or it may be clean surf, but usually, there is some sort of surf.  This season was a bit of an odd duck though.  I mean, Fall started off pretty darn epic, but quickly became sporadic and then nearly dead.  Once winter rolled it, we were getting hit directly by storm after storm in December, pretty much turning our surf to victory at sea.  But all was not lost.  Once the new year rolled around, things began to make a turn for the better.

Head High is pretty much what one expects come winter.  The sunshine is just a bonus.

Mid day crowds can get a little crazy.

Keeping it tight,

Busy morning at Middle Peak.

Not where you want to be during a big set.  

Getting up and around.

Just out for a cruise.

The sprint section is pretty fun as well.

Watching the line up from the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf.

A friend just commented on how the past few months have been fun, despite the lack of any really outstanding swells.  I agree.  Nothing has really stood out in the past few months.  Sure, MLK weekend saw long period swell and super clean conditions, turning Ocean Beach, and pretty much every deep water spot between the foreign borders on.  Like really on.  That was the swell that they held the Mavs contest.  Sure, it was clean, and thick, but far from huge.  In fact, there have been very few events recording more than 12 feet of deep water swell.  Not that I mind too much.  While I indulge in the occasional big wave or two, I have been enjoying the more playful size this season.

The Slot offers plenty of chances to duck out of the winter sun.

Even the overcast days are fun enough.

The point where the stoke meter begins to rise up.


Broken nose and all getting up above the lip.

All these pics are just average surfers on average days here in winter.  Look inviting?

Top turns.

Fast sections

Bottom turns.

So, like I said, not really stands out, way above the rest.  There have been other long period swells since MLK.  There have been other sheet glass days.  I had a real fun day at the sidewalk a week back.  The Lane just looked a mess, with all energy focused on a bouncy, tall, Middle Peak.  A good nickname for that wave on that day would perhaps be Burger King.  And there was a crowd.  Up a ways, at the points, the crowds looked thick.  And still, with folks huddled waiting for the set.  So I went further, and as I gazed into the brilliance of the sun, I thought I saw just a few heads bobbing about, so I suited up.  Turns out there were a few more heads that though, but it matter not.  The line up was stretched, the sets plentiful, and the wave long.  It was fun.  But not really standing out.



Quite mornings


Dumping buckets

Up the coast

In town.

Average guy on an average day.

This past weekend was fun.  Clean on Saturday, with more 19 second period swell in the water.  Surfed a right hand reef with just a buddy of mine.  Perhaps smarter folk decided on a spot more manageable.  A certain point had more that its usual crowd.  Like, a lot more.  Town, I am sure was fun if you like your waves under your chin.  Or your neighbor.  It was rough and tumble, even if clean.  On the bigger sets, I wished for a different board.  Got caught inside once, but found a hole out.  My buddy was not so lucky and was driven the 100 plus yards across the reef three times.  Turned out that was one too many.  Across the channel, a left hander raged, looking both inviting and deadly.  Perhaps I should rename her Black Widow.  Anyway, it was fun.  But not really standing out.

Lots of energy management going on right here.

I love this moment of suspension, waiting for gravity to kick in.

Middle Peak's 2nd Reef started to show every once and a while.

But generally, the inside bowls have been offering up the best surf.

Things even topped out overhead on a few days in Town.

No, not perfect.  Not outstanding.  But sure looks like fun to me.

Keeping it tight to the bowl.

During rush hour, you need to keep an eye out for others.

So, I guess I have been having fun.  I also know that I have few windows to surf.  And I also seem to try to escape to the mountains every now and again.  Still, I've been able to get in the water four or five days a week for the last several months.  And it has been decent, even good out.  So, I guess, it is Winter.  I can pretty much surf on any given day.  Sure, there have been a few days that I turned it down.  When the south winds are blowing, and the gutters are running and the surf is a soup of brown runoff and foam.  But those days have been rare.  And there was still some swell in the water even then.  And besides, that is when I try to book on out of town and go get me some snow.  Got to love that Winter in Santa Cruz.

This might be my favorite spot to be on a wave.  All potential.

All potential.  If you don't paddle out, you don't get any chances.  

Like I said, the inside bowls were delivering the goods.

Yup, another inside bowl.

Wiggle on up there.

If all else fails, try out an iron cross.

Just another inside bowl screaming out for attention.