Five Least Likely Surf Spots to Consider

If you are any kind of surfer, you understand that crowds have been and still are an increasing factor in your wave search. Some have quit surfing all together (NEVER!) while others play hookie in hopes to score two-foot mini-drainers. Those “sick days” no longer apply as more kiddos are now home-schooled and groomed to be the next Slater or Reynolds. Midday lunch session escape? Nah–you’re surfing with your boss and the marketing team on their Wavestorms and funboards at Creek, if you are so lucky.

“Hey, can you teach me how to surf?! I just got this 9-foot board and I don’t know how to duck dive it.” *bangs head against desk repeatedly*

Good luck, buddy ole pal!

Within the last decade, surfers have really pushed the limits to reach out to the corners of an otherwise round globe in search of their perfect ride with minimal crowds. If it has a body of water and some form of wind, there is wave potential, right? After my experience with the latest wavepark craze in Texas and coming out the other side mostly healthy, (albeit slightly worried–see ‘amoeba’ and ‘BSR Cable Park’),  I recognize that not everyone needs Trestles to feel satiated…well, except for me and 50 of my best friends on a Saturday morning.

I want to believe and know for a FACT there is a secret adventurer in all of us aqua wanderlusts…someone who’s been cooped up since the Endless Summer days and so desperately needs to get out of the park-pay-surf routine. If you’ve got the bengies, balls and/or brains, below is a list of options you might consider when scanning the discount travel interwebs.

Now, I wonder if Germany charges for board bags…Is your surfing mission to solely avoid all people and/or crowds? While I might recommend an easier remote Baja trip, this blog is not about the typical and the easy, but more focused on the “WTF mate?!” reaction. If you’re hell-bent on being completely antisocial with a frigid ‘tude to boot, the approximately 11,000 miles of Antarctica’s icy coastline is your best…friend? Crowds will not be a problem here. If it ever becomes one, I quit. Even with my crappy screen shot here, you can see major point break potential. Chilean pro surfer Ramon Navarro was the first pro to brave the freezing waters of King George Island in 2014. If you’ve got the grapes (assuming you don’t mind frozen ones), I challenge you to surf the sub-zero temperature ranges while I venture to warmer parts unknown comparatively.

Not exactly balmy. Great Lakes for the win! Photo: secondwavemedia.com

Not exactly balmy. Great Lakes for the win! Photo: secondwavemedia.com

The Great Lakes are nothing to sneeze at–they hold 6 quadrillion gallons of water and are considered one-fifth of the world’s fresh water supply. First: have you ever even heard of anyone using ‘quadrillion’ outside of space travel? I haven’t. The lakes also offer more than 10,000 miles of shoreline, which, according to magicseaweed.com, is more than the U.S. West and East coast combined! Because of the Great Lake’s size, the fetch produces large, surfable waves–with the right conditions. Often requiring lots of neoprene and vasoline (protect that mug!) as well as patience and an interest in surfing in the snow, the Great Lakes can have good waves, but do you have the balls? Someone did and I wonder where he got them–The first Great Lakes surfer was a G.I. with a longboard, who was returning from Hawaii in 1945. According to the same site, the eastern shore of Lake Michigan and northeastern shore of Lake Erie saw more surfers combing their shores throughout the 60’s and it now exists today–remember that part in Dana Brown’s “Step into Liquid” movie back in 2003??

See also:

Vans’ “Weird Waves Season 1

Surf Shop’s “Unsalted: A Great Lakes Experience

Red Bull’s “Surfing in the Great Lakes“In the most landlocked of European countries, it turns out surfing is a thing in Munich, Germany–namely ‘River Surfing.’ The mile-long man-made Esibach (aka: “Ice brook”) river is a side arm of the Isar River. Although at this point crowds MAY be a factor since pros like Mick Fanning have given it a go, the wave is not exactly ‘friendly.’  Also known as “E1,” the wave was specifically created to be ridden by experts. Folks literally sit in line and take turns (imagine that!) for waves, so dropping in on someone is completely unacceptable. Not gonna lie: I would absolutely LOVE to hear an errant tourist get bitched out by a German local.

Germans mean business about not just beer. Photo: Riverbreak.com

Germans mean business about not just beer. Photo: Riverbreak.com

According to this website, the concrete baffles that support the wave’s flow can break your neck and the fast-moving current combined with a rocky riverbed will gladly take out your board that probably you paid a hefty travel fee. Is there ding repair in Germany? The wave and the crowd may be tough, but getting to the lineup isn’t: Throw your board in front of you and use the river’s momentum. But, beginners be warned: according to the site, if you’re a beginner, “just forget it.” However, there is a spot named “E2” that is supposedly more approps–not sure how the Germans view the Wavestorm crowd or how they define “beginner” while they nonchalantly slug “Das Boots.”

Clarks Fork River–Missoula, Montana

My longtime friend Sean Jansen wasn’t planning on moving to Montana, or planning anything that does not involve being outside and in nature. The San Clemente local-turned Montana resident is no stranger to thinking outside the box or shall we say, wave? With the nearest wave being over 2,000 miles away, Jansen has taken up river surfing in the icy waters of Clarks Fork River. Just as in any kind of wave, there is a science and adventure to river surfing and Jansen is no stranger to either. See his river surf explanation below:

Brennan's Wave in the Clark Fork River, Montana. Photo: Sean Jansen

Brennan’s Wave in the Clark Fork River, Montana.
Photo: Sean Jansen

The same winter storms that hit Washington, Oregon, and California keep marching inland after they hit. Once in Montana, those storms land as snow, coupled with storms from Canada. Once spring hits and temperatures rise above freezing, snowmelt happens and floods the river, hence the brown water. And river surfing is born.

Brennan’s Wave is the name of the wave and it is an artificial wave created by concrete submerged.

Silver Dragon–Qiantang River, China

I hate to disappoint, but this is NOT Game of Thrones…or were you already disappointed by that anyway? :) However, maybe I will take my cool braided locks and my future …Lost board, which will have Drogo painted on it, to China to surf the elusive and rare Silver Dragon -Qiantang River Tidal Bore. A tidal bore happens during specific conditions–the spring or fall tide and full moons. There’s even a festival dedicated to this occurrence known as “The Tide-Watching Festival” held on the 18th day of the 8th month in the Chinese calendar. The festival brings 170,000 people and has been celebrated for hundreds of years. The break is named the Silver Dragon because it is first seen from a distance as a stroke of silver on the horizon along the Qiantang River located in East China. The river and Hangzhou Bay are known for the world’s largest tide bore. As you can see here, the wave is really nothing to snub. It’s got some juice.

Reminds me of a certain man-made wave in kicker country. Photo: npr.com

Reminds me of a certain man-made wave in kicker country. Photo: npr.com

 

Seven Jedi Mind Tricks that can Save Your Crappy Session

By: Shawna Baruh

The best surfer is the one having the most fun, right? What if the waves suck or you suck or some punk keeps dropping in on you–still having fun?
Here are seven Jedi mind tricks that can help you have a great time, even when you have all the reason not to:IMG_8320

1. Set Low Expectations

We’ve all heard that surfer in the line-up screaming profanities at themselves when they blow it on a wave. They are not having a good time. Don’t be in a one-man contest. No matter what the conditions are, if your only goal is to strengthen your paddle and catch a mediocre wave, then you are more likely to have fun. The pressure is off at that point. I usually do this if the conditions are terrible. Once I make my session only about ‘paddling and exercise,’ any wave I get is a bonus.

2. When the Inevitable Quarrel Arises…

Don’t fight back. If your goal is to have a pleasant session, any altercation is going to bring you down. People are going to be assholes. And for some reason, it’s double-time in the water. Even if they are wrong, you are better off paddling away. I’m speaking from experience of doing the opposite. I have tried talking about it calmly and defending myself. It never works. Let the assholes be assholes while you keep your stoke.

3. Turn Crap into Gold

Ouch. Surfer at Wedge about to eat his breakfast...in sand and sea water.

When I do have an altercation in the water, I try to put my fragile ego aside and think ‘what can I learn from this?’ As cliché as it sounds, it can be powerful.
For example: while longboarding I saw a set wave and started to paddle for it. There wasn’t a person near the peak and I was closer than anyone else. As I paddled towards it, I noticed a guy paddle-battling me from behind for the same wave. I was closer to begin with and in position for priority, so I stayed my course, got to it first, as expected, and caught the wave.
As I took off, he screamed at me. I paddled back to him and asked him why he yelled at me. He told me to “Fuck Off” and then paddled away. The next wave I caught, he screamed at me as I got up, again. I kicked out of the wave and I asked him again what the hell his problem was. He said I was  “catching too many waves.”
Before this, I was having a mellow session. It was not crowded, the surf was 2-3 feet and fun. I was catching a lot of waves, but I wasn’t burning anyone. I tried staying calm while attempting to talk to him about it, but all he wanted to do was fight. I paddled away and tried to ignore him, but the damage was done. I was no longer having fun.
So, I asked myself “Could I give more waves away?” Maybe I could let some go by every now and then. At that point, I decided during every session, I would give away waves, for no reason other than ‘just because.’ It has been incredible. People are so thankful and approach me in the parking lot to give thanks. It has raised the quality of my sessions like I never thought it would.
So, to the assholes out there – I will turn your shit into gold and have an even better time. :)

4. Break the Silence

Epic tales of uncrowded points, sketchy roads...and bodily functions, of course.

Breaking silence and beer caps in Baja.

It’s okay to talk to strangers. Compliment someone on a nice wave, ask a question about their board or introduce yourself. You’ll be surprised how many surfers are open to conversation.
Drop “yews” on anyone getting an exceptional wave, or express your ‘stoke’ for the beginner you just saw make a break through. Remember what it felt like to catch your first wave? Pour some gasoline on that fire and pass the positivity around. It’s a great way to ensure that no one looks at you with aggro vibes and you will be less likely to get them back.

5. Get a Foamie

Once you take out a foamie, the only real goal is to try to have the most fun out of anyone in the lineup; it’s like being a kid again,” said Professional Longboarder Christian Stutzman. Christian has placed in longboard contests up and down the California coast, including winning the National Surfing Scholastic Association State College Longboard title in 2016. He also placed third in the noseride divisions of the Guy Takayama Pro. He is no beginner.
So, when I saw him driving around town with his foam board I had to ask.
“I love surfing foamies because they give me the freedom to just surf without any pressure, and it lets me have fun on any wave–big or small.” If you see Christian on his yellow foam board with a giant neon pink plastic fin, you can pretty much guess he  is having the most fun. And he just might invite you in on a party wave.

6. Get Better

Kelly Slater throws some spray at the 2012 Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles. Photo: Jackie Connor

Kelly Slater gets better…and better…and better…

In direct contrast to my foamie advice, another way to have fun is to get better. Pick one skill to work on and make it a practice session. Since surfing has one of the longest learning curves of any sport, you should expect to get only slightly better at said skill with each session, if you’re lucky. Upgrade your shuffle to a cross step or work on ditching the bottom turn during your takeoff and set a line. It feels good to be working at something out of your normal bag of tricks and even better when you master it.

7. If it still sucks…

IMG_9346If you are still having a bad session, then decide the universe is conspiring against you and just yield knowing there are better days ahead.

About the Author

D3S_1825_favShawna Baruh grew up in Western Massachusetts and in her early twenties moved to Cape Cod. There she learned to surf in the Northeast’s frigid waters and the joys of a 5mm wetsuit. She split her time between Cape Cod and Boston and earned a BFA in photography from the Art Institute of Boston. Her new love for surfing brought her to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Mexico in search of adventures and new waves. After graduating college, she decided it was time to move herself to warmer waters. She and her dog trekked across the country and landed in San Diego where she still lives today. She appreciates the warm weather and water like a true New Englander and firmly believes that sunny days are meant to be enjoyed outdoors. She is currently a marketing consultant, photographer and a proud Mother of a toddler and two teenage step-children.

Seven Things That Will Help You Embrace Your Inner Surf Geek

In the days of old, the word “geek” hardly applied to the buff, bronzed and bitchin’ club that are surfers. However, thanks to many technological advancements, the surf community can now officially “geek out” with the rest of ’em.

Need a jumping off point? Here are seven items that will send you down the rabbit hole to geekdom–pocket protectors not included:wsl_logo

 

1. Join World Surf League’s Fantasy Surfer Create or join the wide-world of fantasy surf leagues.
This is where your supposed ‘extensive knowledge’ on the pro scene shows–so put up or shut up! Stuck behind a desk and several computer monitors all day? Put your browser on ‘in cognito’ mode and join, if you dare. If you have fellow aqua-junkie co-workers, start a private league and feel the froth on a daily, hourly and/or heat-by-heat basis. Wage wars, place bets, discuss Adriano’s board dims and the swell direction while sacrificing a proverbial goat to the WSL gods to dominate your league. The ultimate surf geek knows his shit in this arena–between wildcards, player injuries, swell angles and board shapes, there are so many factors to consider, besides, oh yea, WORK.

May the odds ever be in your favor.

 

 

2. Stalk Swell Charts
Capture…And swell angles for days. Swell direction and angles are tricky to decipher and when you throw bathymetry into the mix, uncovering that secret spot’s epic days can become an exact science. It takes some research, a little trial-and-error and patience. If you reeeeeally want to geek out, sign up for an oceanography course at your local community college. Soon you will be speaking in educated surfer tongues to your buddies in the lineup, muttering phrases like “It’s all about the 270 degrees out of the west, but only if there is a deep high tide that peaks at 12:51pm…” If they don’t realize it at first, they will soon understand that you are, indeed, actually SANE once that sneaker canyon set pops up at Blacks and all but you were caught inside.

Here are some great resources to get ya started:

 

3. Become a Surf Film BuffIMG_0233

Begin with Bruce Brown’s cult classic film “The Endless Summer” or the 1987 favorite “North Shore” where Arizona wave pool surfer Rick Kane becomes a Hawaiian Pipe pro in the less than a month.

Enter: bottomless chasm of surf flicks

To state the obvious: your tastes largely depend on what you enjoy doing in the water. It’s a right of passage if you can stomach Hollywood’s damning stereotypes, too. From the 1960’s classic films to a generation defined by the movie “Momentum,” to hippie-esque Moonshine Conspiracy works like “Thicker Than Water,” to Dane Reynold’s abstract artsy fartsy films like “Modern Collective,” among many MANY other nitty gritty Volcom surf punk flicks that play on repeat at your local bars and surf shops–You can spend a good chunk of your life staring at backside hacks on slo-mo, if you haven’t already. YouTube is also another great resource to hunt for sick clips.

Just don’t forget to score some real tubes.

 

4. Read BooksHellllooo, homework!

Pick up a wha-? Before you send smoke signals out of your ears, relax. This is not your 9th grade English/Lit class. These are stories that you will actually enjoy reading and, maybe, recommend to your guys or gals. Once I picked up a surf book, they were very hard to put down…I’ve never been a very passionate reader, but this genre hit a major nerve. The next thing I knew, I had a bookshelf comprised of novels aside from the garden variety of  dusty Victorian literature that served as my doorstop/natural sleep aid in college.

Shortly after this discovery, my college essays became very interesting, I took a script writing class and excelled–And! Books in general became more enjoyable….even those Victorian snooze aids.

A few recommends, on my behalf:

5. Read Surfer Comic Books & Social Media 

Funny-Surfing-Meme-I-Find-Your-Lack-Of-Waves-Disturbing-PhotoYES–they exist. As if a surfer’s life couldn’t be more customized according to this aqua obsession, we also have comics for surfers. If you’ve ever picked up a Surfer Mag between 1986 and 2006, you would have seen Wilbur Kookmeyer, an infamous blonde-haired buck-toothed boy kooking out via comic strip form. If comic books are your bag, start collecting Surfer Mags and watch Wilbur Kookmeyer’s wacky adventures unfold.

Memes are also not too far off from being sometimes hilarious.

AND! Robin Lanei, a really rad artist gal, is a must to follow on Insta. Her art’s messages will often leave me in stitches on a daily. Follow her: @robinlanei_art

 

 

6. Attend A ‘Boardroom’ Show

 Want to talk for hours to the professionals behind the board logos? Chat with those who have been working the foam and resin for the past decade about your

Terry template

thoughts on single fin/quad setups, how hand-shaping boards is a dying art (‘merica!), the evolution of the thruster, foam density, tails, that lingering 1/8 of an inch that gave you wobbles down the face of that one wave on that epic day…you get the drift. Canoodle with some pros and high profile shapers, like Al Merrick and those crazies at …Lost.  If you are a board shaping connoisseur, this is your Comic-Con.

Go forth, my surf geeks and let your froth be steady and right!

 

7. Get a Wetsuit for Every Water Temp

You would have absolutely no excuse to ever be out of the water, unless there was some kind of sewage spill or shark sighting. Even then, I’ve seen surfers chill in the lineup at Uppers while a 12-foot grey-suited landlord breaches right in front of the lot or score a filthy looking barrel at Newport’s River Jetties right after a rain–and I’m talking about brownish barrel cover-ups. YUCK. It’s your choice to bathe in hydrogen peroxide or surf with a steel cage. Although shark attacks are extremely rare (see my previous article), MRSA ain’t. Save the “filthy” verbiage for barrel exaggerations.

All things in this picture are necessary in Humboldt, Calif.

All two real excuses aside, no matter the condition, you are out there in the water–well-suited and ready to catch waves or shake hands with aforementioned landlord before he collects rent. There are suits for all shapes, sizes, budgets, and creative requirements. You can geek out for days Japanese rubber or laugh hysterically at the latest literal version of a wetSUIT and it’s price tag–> (see: Thom Browne’s $3,900 designer wetsuit ).

From a cool summer breeze fit for a wetsuit top to trekking through snowfall in your 6 mil, Vaseline covering your face…you come prepared.

Five Things Happening in the Surf World that are NOT the U.S. Open of Surfing

As summer begins to wrap up, it’s that time of year where  the “circus” comes to town to dominate our news feed about all things surf/skate/BMX/party culture related at the 2017 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing.

But this isn’t about that.

Nope.

In case you haven’t noticed, there are other noteworthy happenings circulating the internet in conjunction with the insanely skillful action sports event and it’s games, clothing and salacious body art.

Google fingers, start your engines!

WSL’s New Exec

The World Surf League (WSL) has named Sophie Goldschmidt as their new Chief Executive Officer. According to Surfline.com, Ms. Goldschmidt comes from a mainstream sports background. From the WSL press release:

Goldschmidt joins the WSL from CSM Sport and Entertainment, where she served as Group Managing Director and was responsible for developing and driving new business initiatives and commercial growth across the company’s global operations, in addition to managing the group’s brand development and marketing. Passionate about surfing, she has strong relationships and international experience working across global markets in both sports management and marketing and communications having held executive roles in the Rugby Football Union, National Basketball Association (NBA), Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), and Adidas. 

“It is an honor to lead the WSL,” she said. “The League has experienced tremendous growth in recent years and has pioneered incredible innovations to transform surfing into a remarkable, digital-first and world-class sport that naturally also transcends into the lifestyle sector so well.” 

With this role, she becomes one of the few female executives to lead a global sports league for both male and female professional athletes. 

Yay, girl power!!

Kelly Slater shattered some little piggies at J-Bay!

By “little piggies,” I don’t mean his competition. According to The Guardian and Mr. Slater’s Insta post, the 11-time world champ broke two metatarsal bones and expects to be out of commission for the next six weeks. Time re-organize your Fantasy Surf League!

Kelly’s Insta post:

“You ever folded your entire foot backwards? If  you try it sometime, this is what it might look like. I pulled into a barrel this morning and the whitewash bounced the board back into my foot as I hit the closeout, taking all the pressure into the metatarsals…kinda like smashing my foot with a big hammer as hard as I can…”

OUCH.

SHARK(SSSSS)!

Historical fishing data shows that there are, at least, four juvenile white shark hot spots in Southern California. These areas are: Ventura/Oxnard, Santa Monica Bay, Huntington Beach and the stretch of coast between Dana Point and San Onofre.

They’re after those dem longerboarders, right?! ;)

Nah, according to KQED News, these juvis are attracted to the warmer coastal waters since, unlike their older (and bigger) relatives, they can’t handle the cold water temps. Additionally, they don’t have to worry about predators, like Orcas and bigger sharks, AND! There is an abundant food supply:

stingrays = potato chips

Which leads me to a bigger conclusion: I was a baby great white in a previous life.

Tropical Cyclone Party!

The North Pacific had a party last weekend and in case you were unable to attend and also suffer from serious FOMO, don’t worry. I was probably further inland than you (try: Austin, TX) and it looks like we missed nothing. In fact, I’m pretty sure I had a better opportunity to surf Austin’s wave pool, a.k.a.: NLand Park, but alas, I opted for a Sunday dive into Barton Springs.

The cool part about this little bit of news is that eight cyclones forming and cruising around all at once is quite the rare event–especially since, according to The Weather Channel’s Jon Erdman:

“On average, 36 tropical cyclones form each year in the northwestern Pacific and southwestern Pacific basins, combined,” wrote Jon Erdman for the Weather Channel. “Another 16-17 form each year in the central and eastern north Pacific basin.”

That’s a good chunk of our season already passing us by. So, what’s up with that? Watch TWC for a detailed explanation.

More Click Bait: Michael Phelps vs. Great White Shark

Per The Inertia’s recent coverage on this interesting staged competition, Phelps raced the CGI Great White and lost. Viewers are pissed. The 100 meter race between Phelps and the ocean’s top predator came down to Phelps shy of two seconds, his sleekly designed wetsuit equipped with a monofin getup no match for nature’s 15 million years of apex predatory evolution.