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Nine Questions for Sensi Graves, Kiteboarder & Bikini Designer

About 10 years ago, Sensi Graves picked up a kiteboard in North Carolina, didn’t hesitate to shred it and never looked back. Much like how we fall in love with a board sport, kiteboarding took the Hood River local by the arm and led her down a path of adventure, friendship and, in 2012, to start a swimwear business. The elusive “perfect” action sports bikini constantly escaped the many who tried, and few seemed to conquer in the early days, which is exactly what lit the fire for Sensi–enter Sensi Graves Bikinis. Her suits were created and are designed out of the clear need for women who once struggled to enjoy action sports and still retain a feminine appeal during a swimwear fashion v. function era.
Fast-forward only five years later, and you will find women all over the globe kiteboarding, surfing, adventuring, diving, practicing yoga and playing volleyball in her bikinis. When I first saw a Sensi bikini in an online store, I thought the name to be fitting with surfing’s niche culture–very feminine and strong, much like her bikinis. Interestingly, it was kiteboarding that drove her to create a bikini line that looks good while staying put.

*All photos picture Sensi in action and are courtesy of Sensi Graves & Sensi Graves Bikinis.*

Read more on the woman behind the ‘kini:

Q: What made you want to create your bikini line?

A: The concept for Sensi Bikinis was born out of a need. The summer before I graduated college, I moved to North Carolina to coach kiteboarding. I was in the water every single day; teaching, kiting and surfing. Bikinis were my uniform and my recreational outfit. I quickly grew tired of adjusting my swimwear. We’d teach for three hour time blocks and my suits were just not comfortable to wear for that long. The pieces that were designed to stay on were frumpy and geared towards a much older audience. I was 23 and I wanted to look and feel good in my bikini, but I also wanted something that would perform. I decided it was time to do something about it–and Sensi Bikinis was born!BetsyLindsy_Grapefruit2

Q: What does Sensi Bikinis represent for women?

A: Sensi Bikinis represents a mindset that we are strong, powerful and beautiful creatures. We embrace and celebrate our bodies and not judge ourselves.  We empower our customers to get out there and try new things and want to give them the confidence they need to do what they love. For us, that starts with delivering a well-fitting, comfortable and supportive bikini that is, at the same time, fashionable, flirty and makes our customers feel good while wearing it–all while delivering peace of mind that it will perform. We want to show our customers what’s possible for us, as women!

Q: What is your most popular bikini right now and why?

A: We have a few current top sellers: the Colleen top and Kyla bottom and the Dawn top. Most recently, we’ve seen an uptick in the Jennifer bottom, the Katie top, and Elise bottom, which just won the 2017 SELF Healthy Living Award for “Best Two-piece that Stays Put.” Our designs are clean, unique and comfortable, which delivers all the best swimwear qualities.

Q: Tell me about your love for kiteboarding–what keeps you coming back for more?

SENSI GRAVES-lukas-stiller-DawnJennifer_TechnicolorKiteA: I learned to kite in 2007 when my dad brought my three brothers and I out to North Carolina. I hadn’t even really seen the sport before then and had no idea what I was in for. After two weeks, I fell in love and kept in touch with the school where I had learned. In 2009 I had the opportunity to move out to North Carolina for the summer to work as a kite instructor and I jumped on it. From that point on it was live, eat and breathe kiteboarding. I just fell in love.

My favorite part about kiteboarding is the freedom. You can take it so many places: in the waves, in the flat-water, on exploration missions… There are so many different aspects of kiting–whether you go for a solo soul cruise or are out with friends.

The community in our sport is also amazing, you won’t find a better group of people anywhere. I love that you can meet up with like-minded individuals all around the world and connect over this amazing sport.

Q: Do you compete?

A: Yes. I compete in a number of kite events throughout the year, namely on the Kite Park League World Tour. Our season just ended and I finished third overall.

Q: Have your ever tried surfing or any other extreme sports?

A: I love surfing. It’s by far the hardest board sport, you have to really watch and learn the ocean. But, once you’re on that wave, it’s the most exhilarating feeling. I can’t get enough. I’m also an avid snowboarder and mountain biker.TOBY2590

Q: Do you do any cross training for kiteboarding?

A:Kiteboarding is an all-over body workout, so many types of training get you in shape. Personally, I do circuit training, yoga and ride at cable parks. For the discipline of kiteboarding that I compete in (park riding), cable parks are the best cross-training that exists.TOBY5645

Q: What is your perfect kiteboarding day?

A: Waking up to a slight breeze rustling the trees. Enjoying a leisurely breakfast and coffee with friends. Riding in a slider park in tropical weather until I simply can’t any longer. Eating a fresh lunch. Taking a nap. Finally, ending the day with a foil session (another discipline of kiteboarding) as the sun goes down.

Q: Any advice for people who want to try it?

A: Take a lesson. You’ll need the basics and it helps immensely to have someone there, holding your hand as you learn to control the kite. Kiteboarding is all about kite control. Get good at that first before you attempt the board.

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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.

Time of the Month: What Every Surfer Guy (and Gal) Should Know-PERIOD.

SC graffiti sign

Since the upsetting shark attack that occurred on April 29th at San Onofre’s Church break, there have been rumors circulating the lineup that the estimated 9-11-foot shark might have been drawn to the unsuspecting gal because she was on her period.

 All jokes and assumptions aside, no factual evidence was discovered, not even a drop.

In fact–read Surfline’s exclusive interview with the recovering victim here.

And since I’ve heard this hilarious rumor, most of the guys I happen to surf around seemingly shift their locations further away from me, which is great if I’m waiting for waves at the peak.

Hmmm, maybe I’ll finally paddle out to Lowers this summer. :D

[Paddles out to Lowers and yells in womanly agony: “Oh mah gah, these CRAMPS!!”]

While surfing at Salt Creek this past May, I not only noticed that everyone was huddled unusually close together at the peak, but I also noted that the topic of conversation was primarily about our infamous grey-suited landlord. Everyone’s ears seemed to perk up as each news development surfaced about the recent attack while a coast guard helicopter patrolled overhead.

Each person’s shifty eyes would widen as I paddled closer to the peak, until someone approached me mid-conversation and blurted:

“You notice how all of the attacks are on women? It’s because they’re on their period,” he jokingly said. “I’d not surf here if I were you. You could be putting everyone at risk.”

UM-what?

OH yes, my very educated friend, it’s true. Every woman you see in the lineup is just constantly bleeding–we are nothing more than swimming/paddling/surfing chum machines, and are using the ocean as our personal maxi pad. We purposefully decide to park it by you in hopes that one day our ocean animal friends will seek and destroy you, mwahahahahaha.

I CONFESS: In the middle of my dark inner monologue and lonely three foot bubble, I began to wonder…is it true? Does a woman’s fun “time of the month” necessarily attract sharks? I mean, we all have to wonder and at some point, I know we all HAVE wondered this borderline sexist thought.

“This is a misconception that a drop of blood drives sharks from miles away into a feeding frenzy,” said Dr. Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of California State University-Long Beach’s Shark Lab. “Everybody who is in the water is exuding  many of the same amino acids that are found in blood. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman, whether you’re having your period or not, you’re exuding many of the same compounds that a shark can detect.”

BOOM. Put that one to rest!  Dr. Lowe was recently featured in my piece: “Canary in the Coal Mine: Increase in Great White Shark Population is a GOOD Sign for Southern California

In addition to our male/female bodily …functions (?) being pretty much equal in the water, Dr. Lowe points out quantity, in this case, is also a factor to consider.

“The amount of blood a woman exudes during her period is miniscule,” said Dr. Lowe. “It’s not nearly enough to put an animal into that kind of feeding mode. So that’s very different from somebody who has a severe cut and is putting lots of blood into the water.”

Pictured is a juvenile great white shark off of Manhattan Beach. Photo credit: Cal State Long Beach Shark lab

Pictured is a juvenile great white shark off of Manhattan Beach.
Photo credit: Cal State Long Beach Shark lab

Additionally, menstrual blood is not really considered real “blood” that sharks interested in. According to Popular Science’s No, menstrual blood does not attract sharks, in addition to a shark like a great white’s ability to detect a trace amount of blood in only 100 liters of water (1/25,000th of an Olympic swimming pool!), even when sharks are snouting about, they are interested in marine mammal blood and guts–not ours.

Although it’s pretty inconclusive about what exactly sharks are inclined to attack in general, sharks have been documented to prefer sound instead of sight or smell, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Northeast Fishery Science Center (NEFSC). For millions of years, sharks have been programmed to detect struggling prey and movement. Colors also play a role in a shark’s interest and there is a specific attraction to silver, white and yellow–the same colors as a shark’s prey.

I recall my friend Sean paddling out to a break in Humboldt–often known for it’s cold, rainy and sharky conditions. Shark encounters are more frequent near this area, as it’s located just north of the “Red Triangle” and instead of baby great white sharks, they get the big guys from our nightmares. Not quite megalodon proportions, but if you were to tell me marine biologists discovered one in this region, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Much like the topography, most whites cruising the Northern California coast are much much larger because they can handle the colder water temps, although, they do prefer the more temperate waters, such as most of the Californian, Australian and South African coastlines. In fact, fully developed great whites are warm bodied, so they can adjust to water temperatures.

Humboldt Redwood forests galore! Try to find the hobbit in this picture.

Humboldt Redwood forests galore!

After my friend paddled out to aforementioned peak, a girl approached him in a panic and announced:

“I’m on my period!! Am I going to get attacked by a shark??”

I picture my salty friend rolling his eyes after this comment, maybe even chuckling a little.

To conclude: If you’re on the rag, it does not mean you or you’re surfing/swimming buddies are on the menu.

Canary in the Coal Mine: Increase in Great White Shark Population is a GOOD Sign for Southern California

All photos courtesy of California State University-Long Beach’s Shark Lab.

All photos courtesy of California State University-Long Beach's Shark Lab.

Dr. Chris Lowe releases a juvenile white shark after successfully affixing a “smart tag” on its dorsal fin. 

As surfers and aqua/nature junkies, our interaction with the ocean and it’s wildlife plays a huge role in our peace of mind. If you’re any kind of nature enthusiast, you know that the ocean can be a serene place that can quickly turn into your worst nightmare. But once you choose to recognize both sides of this personality coin, the “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” aspect is seemingly understood and accepted.

The bottom line is: No matter who you are or what you do, mother nature always schools us. ALWAYS.

Great white sharks are one of the most mysterious and evolved predators on the planet and, despite the overblown hype (read “Hollywood”), we know so little about their lives beneath the waves. Sharks are always lurking in the back of our minds, our thoughts fashioned by Hollywood’s wildest Sharknado fantasy. As of late, Southern California has acquired quite a bit of ‘shark media’ due to a tragic collision with our grey-suited landlord doing it’s “shark thing” and a young lady at San Onofre’s Church break doing her “human thing.”

{Read: Surfline’s exclusive interview with her here.}

Through the whispers of sightings that circulated our lineup gossip combined with mainstream media salivating over chunks of info/news leads, I craved scientific explanation and education.

A real encounter, much less an actual attack on a human is extremely rare…until recently, I thought.

After the attack, beach closures ensued every other day, surf reports included the latest shark spottings along with the shark’s observed behavior, lifeguard boats and coastguard helicopters constantly combed the coastline, and surf lineups became an uneasy, quieter and more vigilant space. The fear of great white sharks exploded into the public’s conscious as what felt like a scene from JAWS.

I CONFESS: for a hot minute, surfing in San Clemente felt like visiting Amity Island for the Fourth of July.

The difference being that no one is actually “lining up to be a hot lunch.”

The April 29th attack at San Onofre conveyed a logical and obvious conclusion, which was based on a classic case of mistaken identity that nearly cost the woman her life.

But we forget that for the past 15 million years, this toothy creature has been cruising the ocean as sort of a “clean up crew” doing the same thing it knows best: eat and make little sharks.

But why are we seeing more of our toothy acquaintance??

“It becomes difficult to empirically determine what the great white shark population numbers are,” said Professor, Marine Biology, California State University-Long Beach and The Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab Director Dr. Chris Lowe. “Based on our data, which uses a combination of fishery’s data, marine mammal bite data and human observation, the population is increasing.”

Recently featured on The Discovery Channel’s Shark Week in the  “Sharks and the City: LA” episode, we watched Dr. Lowe observe giant adult great white sharks from a steel cage in the chilly waters off of Guadalupe Island, which is located off of Baja’s Northern coast.

Pictured: Dr. Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of CSULB's Shark Lab. Photo credit: Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab

Pictured: Dr. Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of CSULB’s Shark Lab.

“The sharks in Guadalupe, the sharks in the Farallon Islands and the sharks found along Southern California, at least the ones sampled so far, all show genetic relatedness,” said Dr. Lowe. “Even though adults may go to different feeding aggregation sites, genetically, they’re all quite similar, which means they’re interbreeding. The part we are interested in is whether that population is increasing, stabilizing or decreasing and that gets tricky to determine.”

Let’s rewind to 1994:

Aside from this year supporting a decade of flannel shirts, publicizing the O.J. Simpson murder trials and debuting many many saccharine Disney movies and teen-angsty sitcoms, this was also the year California voters ushered in  Proposition 132, which banned the use of nearshore gill and trammel nets. Primarily used to catch white sea bass, halibut and soup fin sharks, these fishing methods incidentally also caught marine mammals such as sea lions, dolphins and whales.

“Because that fishery had such bad by-catch of marine mammals and birds, it was brought to the voters,” said Dr. Lowe. “Since the banning of that practice, pretty much all of those species have come back, including white sea bass, which was a target in that fishery.”

The prop established a Marine Protected Zone within three miles of coastal Southern California and directed California Fish and Game to establish four new ocean water ecological reserves for marine research, among other items. Coincidentally, after 50 years of baby white sharks being caught and landed in these same nets, not only did Prop 132 come into effect, but also in that same year, great white sharks became protected by the state of California.

“The recovery of sharks and other predators was a collective effort, it wasn’t just protection,” said Dr. Lowe. “The other key part of the white shark’s success is that adult white shark’s primary food source, marine mammals, were also simultaneously recovering.”

Pictured is a juvenile great white shark off of Manhattan Beach. Photo credit: Cal State Long Beach Shark lab

Pictured is a juvenile great white shark off of Manhattan Beach.

However, per Dr. Lowe, these populations have taken decades to recover from otherwise complete depletion via over-fishing and inhumane treatment, which dates back to the early 20th century. These animals did not receive fishing protection until 1972’s Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prohibits the “take” or harm of all marine mammals in U.S. waters. In addition, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, passed in 1976, provided further reform and regulation over the fishing industry. This act fostered long-term biological as well as economic sustainability of U.S. fisheries out to 200 nautical miles offshore–this act also supports fisheries as long as sustainable and biologically-friendly practices are utilized while rebuilding and contributing to back to marine environment.

“As a result, you see a big uptick in pretty much all marine mammals because two things were happening: Our commercial fisheries were going away because fishers could no longer afford to catch fish due to increased regulations and increased fuel costs and these marine mammal populations were really starting to take hold throughout the mid-90’s,” said Dr. Lowe.

Also hailing from the decade of disco were the Clean Water Act of 1972, which gave the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to implement wastewater standards and regulate pollutant discharge in the U.S., and the Clean Air Act of 1970, which was designed to control air pollution on a national level. The Clean Air Act was the first and is also considered to be one of the most influential and comprehensive air quality laws in the world.

“As I started to work my way down the food chain, I realized that despite all of the bad news the public is getting, there are actually some good signs,” said Dr. Lowe. “Many of these species of fish that marine mammals eat are greatly affected by water quality. When I started researching, even our water quality has gotten better over the last years. Additionally, in Southern California, we had some of the worst air quality that existed anywhere in the country. And now our air is cleaner with five times more people and 28 times more cars than it was 10 years ago.”

Despite the unfortunate attack, the fearful rumors and inquiring minds (like yours truly), after decades of regulation and concerted conservation efforts from passionate scientists, organizations and volunteers, great whites are bringing hope to marine biologists and conservationists.

Shark Lab grad student Connor White attaches a PAT tag to a juvenile white shark off of the Ventura coast. Photo credit: Cal State University-Long Beach's Shark Lab

Shark Lab grad student Connor White attaches a PAT tag to a juvenile white shark off of the Ventura coast.

“As I started to look at all of these things, I recognized that some things are getting better,” said Dr. Lowe. “Protection and conservation are actually working, it’s just taking decades to see the affects.”

As we remain vigilant during our surf sessions and interactions with the ocean, it is important to consider and respect who’s home we are entering. Although it’s impossible to predict an attack, pay close attention to basic signs of when to stay out of the water. The Discovery Channel’s 20 Ways to Avoid a Shark Attack is a pretty comprehensive list–it’s also important to listen to your gut.

The same day of the San Onofre attack, I happen to be in San Clemente and, of course, had a surf itch, but no board. After attempting to borrow one from a friend, I resolved to take my time and drive by the San Clemente Pier to check the waves.

I saw the brown murky water with a few crumblers rolling through–Man, it looks sharky, I thought, and decided against meeting my friend at SanO.

Somewhere around the same time this thought ran through my mind, the attack occurred at Church.

Sometimes it’s hard to define “sharky” waters or what your gut tells you, but as the old adage goes: when in doubt, don’t go out.

At the same token, it’s important to not let fear rule your surf sessions. According to The Fisheries Blog’s 10 Things More Likely than a Shark Attack, you have a greater chance of being hit by a comet or, my personal fave, are more likely to be injured by a toilet.

Stick that in your silver screen pipe and smoke it, Hollywood! Ahh, killer toilets!!

Sharks are incredibly necessary to our marine ecosystems and research indicates their presence is, to quote Martha Stewart: “a good thing.” According to Smithsonian Magazine’s What Happens When Predators Disappear, when an apex predator is removed from the food chain, their prey remains unchecked, which can not only cause an increase to the prey population, but it can also have devastating affects on plant life and the surrounding environment, including increases in bacteria and infectious diseases.

Two Shark Lab grad students prepare for an expedition with Dr. Chris Lowe.

Two Shark Lab grad students prepare for an expedition with Dr. Chris Lowe.

“The ‘canary in the coal mine’ for all of this, believe it or not, are the predators,” said Dr. Lowe. “When things at the top of the food chain, like white sharks and sea lions, start to come back, that means the rest of the ecosystem is showing signs of recovery because predators are the most sensitive.”

For more information about California State University’s Shark Lab and its research, click here.

Support marine and wildlife in your local area! Volunteer for coastal cleanups and marine protection observation.

 

Patrolling the Dawn, Vol. 2

February 25, 2016 // Dana Point, California //

Off-shore winds lightly rattled my windows while crawling out of bed and rubbing my puffy eyes to the sound of a 5:30 a.m. alarm. My board was already tucked in my car the night before, just needed to throw my wetsuit in the trunk, in case I decided to actually paddle out into the forecasted huge surf. :)

The view from Strand’s parking lot made any question in my mind about paddling out a definitive ‘no.’ Large sets could be seen from the top of the stairs rolling through, lurching and then mercilessly pounding the sandbars.

Later that morning, for the first time in seven years, the 31st Annual Quiksilver Eddie Aikau big wave invitational was held at Waimea Bay on O’ahu’s North Shore.

I CONFESS: I’m so glad I brought my camera.

IMG_3929IMG_3949IMG_3930IMG_3974IMG_3955IMG_3960IMG_3966IMG_3940IMG_3983

An October Throwback

All-time destruction engulfs California while a fall swell lights up the coast—-never has it been more selfish to be a surfer.

The cause? Consistent Santa Ana winds blowing at speeds of 85 miles an hour out of the east in addition to drought conditions and some jerk with a pyro-fantasy.

October 2007 saw a massive outbreak of wildfires which consumed over 970,000 acres that stretched from Santa Barbara county to the U.S.-Mexico border. Much of the densely populated Southern California experienced approximately 30 wildfires in late October which were then contained by the beginning of November.

Clouds of smoke cloaked the sun which casted an eerie orange hue in the sky while surfers coughed and choked their way through the lineup. Smiles could barely be seen from the sand as rebels were spat out of each barrel’s temporary “orange room”–a mouth full of toxic air awaiting each grin.

“Did you see my barrel?! It was so $%@^%# !!” while ash slowly fell like rain all over Orange County.

It was hard to determine the central conflict: surf while fires raged and local communities cried for help, risk inhaling a five year supply of smoke -or- miss out of some of the most perfect barrels.

There were some who talked of volunteering while each Santa Ana-groomed set wave emptied like a perfect tee-pee over the sandbar. Some announced the amount of cigarettes this surf session would equate to while others casted those loudmouths dirty looks.

I CONFESS: I surfed 36th street in Newport Beach that day while I watched clouds of smoke billow from the hills. Yea, I felt guilty, so it didn’t surprise me when I later contracted several terrible sinus infections in the months to follow.

But—the barrels were #@%$#&&!@!!

You Missed Out

January 25, 2015–San Clemente, Calif….where were you?

Sponsor-less? Derek Peters Takes Care of Business

I’m sure after the four days this video went live on Surfing Magazine’s web site, Southern Californian ripper Derek Peters has since received numerous contacts from sponsors of all caliber. And if he hasn’t, I’ve lost faith in the surf industry.

Tales of a Back Paddling Player

My new 'home' break.

My new ‘home’ break.

Last night my precious evening sessions commenced in front of my newly established home in San Clemente.  As soon as I parked my car, with one eye on the sunset, I pulled on my wetsuit, grabbed my board and booked it down the street as fast as my legs could carry me.

 My first evening session–at home.
That’s right…I walked down the street to surf last night and couldn’t be more thankful.
 For once I can literally call a spot “my home break” and mean almost all aspects of it…except…it doesn’t really feel like “home” just yet.
While bobbing around the lineup waiting for a wave, the break seemed unusually crowded for a Monday evening.
Combine the time change, northwest swell and people who live in the general area who had the same idea as me while twiddling their thumbs at 4:59 p.m. and you must get:
The Locals, I thought.
And it should be noted these locals have definitely been here for a while, as they knew every ebb and flow of this shifty beach break barrel and rode every wave like a seasoned pro.
I CONFESS…while paddling out, I lost my board and kooked out in front of the lineup.
Yay, score: me: 0 locals: 1
IMG_1484
Praying that no one saw that blunder, I made it out to a lineup of 10 guys.
Aggro guys.
Strangers with whom I have yet to be acquainted.
Well, I thought, I’m a friendly gal, surely these guys will welcome—
Ah shit, one just back paddled me.
Again, maybe they’re just warming up to—
Damnit $%#@er dropped in on me!
<Repeat this cycle four more times before I paddled to a different peak>
Ugh.
Nevermind, I thought as I peered at the setting sun shining over the worn-out butterflies painted on my board.
Hmmm…on my next board, I think I will have one of my artist friends paint a flaming skull or…a pirate with a knife it his mouth…dolphins with mohawks…or maybe an overly busty mermaid?
Can you spot the fin in this picture?

Can you spot the fin in this picture?

Overheard in the Lineup: “Dude, how’s that chick…was Katie her name?”
“Oh yea, yea, she’s good, I guess. Hey! Did I tell you about Maria?! We were at this party and this other chick bee-lines it for me! I was like woa…then she said ‘How come you never call me?’ I’m like ‘Uhhh…blahblahblah'”
I tried to not listen, but one can’t help to overhear the conversations these guys were putting out in the otherwise silent and peaceful evening. And I couldn’t help but grimace at the thought of two poor girls getting played by some guy sporting a Captain America wetsuit who constantly back-paddled me.
Maybe I will keep those butterflies on my board. In fact maybe my next board should be all pink with some form of glitter and unicorns with which I can scout out the back paddling player and take his waves, too. Regardless if I make the waves, he will remember my board like I remember his conversations: loud and annoying. :)
Despite conversations and aggressive testosterone behavior, I know I belong out there just as much as Capt. America and his clan.
For now I’ve found myself in the middle of a testosterone pit …a minority ..a newcomer.
…Is there a term for the guy version of a “sewing circle?”

2013 Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles

When it comes to wave quality, Lower Trestles has been the SoCal benchmark for decades. Photo:  Jackie Connor

When it comes to wave quality, Lower Trestles has been the SoCal benchmark for decades.
Photo: Jackie Connor

It’s that time of year, again!

The 2013 Hurley Pro will showcase 34 of the world’s top surfers plus wildcards Dane Reynolds and Mitch Crews at California’s most coveted peak, Lower Trestles. From September 15 through the 21, The Hurley Pro is stop number seven on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour. These surfers will carve, boost and annihilate their way to the top for a chance to win prize money, a bad ass trophy and valuable ASP points. The overall small surf that has prevailed for the past three weeks might make the beginning of this comp interesting, however a bit of south swell is forecasted for the final days…for now, it’s about gettin’ creative out there!

Who’s in-it-to-win-it this year? Who’s on your Fantasy Surfer team?? :)
11-Time World Champion, Kelly Slater. Photo: Jackie Connor

11-Time World Champion, Kelly Slater.
Photo: Jackie Connor

I’ve got my eye on San Clemente local all-star and comeback-kid Kolohe Andino. Ever since Andino was a grom, I watched him sky-rocket to the top of NSSA, onto the world tour and then disappear out of the lime light as quickly as he came. But after days of YouTube video clips and watching him tear up the pitiful peaks at crowded Lowers in-person, I think he’s just getting warmed up. Stretch your knuckles, journalism peeps, it’s gonna be a bumpy write.
And of course there is the 11-time world champ, Kelly Slater, who’s dominated this event for the past three consecutive years, one of which was his 50th win of his professional career…will Kelly make 2013 his fourth in-a-row? He certainly can pull out all the stops, especially in those final minutes. As for Sunday, Sept. 15th, we will see Kelly paired with Brett Simpson in heat six, said an ASP article.
Kelly Slater throws some spray at the 2012 Hurley Pro at Lower Trestles. Photo: Jackie Connor

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

Or what about wonder-boy Gabriel Medina? Every time I’ve seen him on a wave on Lowers, he destroys the left with airs and combos that make my eyeballs spin in their sockets.
Who will meet in the final? Parko/Kelly? Andino/Florence?
Time, waves and skills will tell.
These stipulations about the 2013 Hurley Pro are based on no inherent facts about these athletes other than what I’ve observed. Call it what you will, but I’d really love to hear YOUR opinion more than mine! Rep it in the comments!
2012 Hurley Pro runner-up Joel Parkinson may not have won the final heat, however he went on to become the 2012 World Champion. Here, he shows why he's World Champ. Photo by: Jackie Connor

2012 Hurley Pro runner-up Joel Parkinson may not have won the final heat, however he went on to become the 2012 World Champion. Here, he shows why he’s World Champ.
Photo by: Jackie Connor

See you peeps on the opening and final day! I will be covering this for San Clemente’s Patch.com, so for opening and final day tweets, you can follow me!
Instagram: @jackiecmonkeee
Can’t make it down to Trestles? Watch the live webcast here!