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How to Surf a Crowded Lineup

[dt_fancy_title title=”1.) Do your Homework” title_size=”big” separator_color=”custom” custom_separator_color=”#009dd6″]

Thought you could escape class for a surf? Hahahahahahaha–No. If you are a newcomer/beginner/slacker, it’s good to study up on the actual break or else allow the locals to school you. And hey, we all learn in different ways! Just be sure to get a good understanding of “when the wave breaks here, don’t be there” concept and try to stay out of the impact zone. Often times perfection and hastiness will get the better of us and we charge out to the peak only to discover a side shore current that conveniently drops us off right where we don’t want to be.

Damn, there goes that Clif Bar.

In case it’s not totally obvious, ask yourself: Is it a point break, beach break or a reef? Where do you want to paddle out? Where is the impact zone? What waves are people avoiding and why? If you can stand it, take some time to chill on the sand and watch a few waves roll through before jumping in. Chances are there is a Surfline cam dedicated to that spot, so you’ve probably already watched it online, anyway.

[dt_fancy_title title=”2.) Patience, Young Skywalker” title_size=”big” separator_color=”custom” custom_separator_color=”#009dd6″]

As amazingly perfect the wave might be, patience is truly a virtue. Once you paddle out, this is also a great opportunity to sit back, relax and observe the natural flow of the lineup. Try not to be pushy and paddle straight to the peak. Paddling out there like Billy Badass won’t score you waves unless you’re a pro…but most of the time, these guys are humble and kind when they paddle out any way. The peak is not a place for an undeserved sense of entitlement. Stow the ego.

Do not–I repeat–DO NOT snake, back-paddle or drop in on a local. That’s a great way to leave your wave count at 1 and local respect at 0.

No matter how popular or populated, always show respect for the people who have already put in their time at the break. But remember: much like they taught you in preschool, everyone gets a turn and you will get yours.

If you’re constantly getting snaked and this is your fourth or fifth visit to the spot, forget what I just wrote. (see ‘Tales of a Back paddling Player‘)

[dt_fancy_title title=”3.) An Attitude of Gratitude ” title_size=”big” separator_color=”custom” custom_separator_color=”#009dd6″]

Yea, you might not get the same amount of waves as you would from your usual spot at first, but showing appreciation towards the locals goes a looooong way. Remember how awesome it is to be a surfer! Think about the first time you ever paddled out and how excited or nervous you were and then think about the first wave you ever stood up on! Typically that will bring a smile to your face, right??

When the crowd grows to overwhelming proportions and your wave count is in the single digits, forget the small stuff and be thankful you have the capability to be out there in the first place. Didn’t we just celebrate Thanksgiving? ;)

 

:D :D :D :D :D

[dt_fancy_title title=”4.) Fight for Your Right” title_size=”big” separator_color=”custom” custom_separator_color=”#009dd6″]

Just keep that Beastie Boys song in your head while you scour the lineup for a ride. If you’re a newbie, take what scraps you can get before working your way into the lion’s den. You gotta earn your stripes first, so get out there and take what you can! A little inside runner at Lowers can sometimes be a better shaped wave than the peak, anyways! Some places are gold mines with elusive perfect peaks that sneak through the outside or swing wide from the peak. Those, to me, are fair game. Just be sure come prepared with a strong paddle game! Do those extra push-ups and keep that cardio in check because in a crowd, cardio is key.

Keep hunting grounds open for any opportunity to legitimately place yourself in a priority position and fight for that right to party…with a smile. :)

[dt_fancy_title title=”5.) There Will be (more) Waves” title_size=”big” separator_color=”custom” custom_separator_color=”#009dd6″]

It is not the end of the world today…at least I hope not. Good thing for us several million surfers around the planet, the ocean never sleeps or goes on vacation. It will bring more of those luscious rippable lines again…and again and again…every day, somewhere on the planet. Unless you have the time, grapes and/or benjamins to go on an epic journey in search for your perfect private peak, crowds will always be a reality. So stop whining and put those big girl panties on!

There will always be more waves and you will only be that much more prepared once they roll through again! All the more reason to cherish those epic days when everyone at your break is scoring waves, even your newbie self. Some of my most memorable and special moments were at Lower Trestles with 50 people out during a firing swell. Smiles all around, enough waves for everyone, sunshine and dolphins …it’s magical. But don’t expect this every time. More often than not, waves won’t be perfect and the locals won’t always be in a giving mood. So sack up and practice that cardio! It’s not the end of the world! :)

Until then–absence makes the heart grow fonder.

// Post-Surf Mood //

PRESS PLAY.

You know that feeling.

It happens right after you pry yourself away from a notoriously crowded lineup where the surf was not only perfect, but you also managed to gorge yourself on said perfect waves…like the surf glutton that you secretly are.

Don’t worry: I won’t tell.

~So~

There’s only one thing left to do: A happy dance…to this song.

Soak it up while you can.

Summer’s a-comin’…

Photo: Seabreeze.com.au

Photo: Seabreeze.com.au

 

Surf like a Girl

The phrase “like a girl” has been dissected by most of my women’s studies college courses, friends who majored in the subject along with many other intellectual literature set to empower women in sports and society. While we can probe about the importance of gender equality in athletics or perhaps the subliminal messages advertisements and scantily clad athletes sends to young girls, I think you can get the jist in this clip featured by Always.

Ladies, case in point: SURF LIKE A GIRL.

The Return of the Evening Session

Strands Point evening session.

Strands Point evening session.

Evening surf sessions are back and in full-throttle for this surfer girl and I couldn’t be more stoked. However, I still wait for the day when I can sprint to Trestles and surf my beloved points and walls and catch up with my local friends.

But I’ve realized: Sometimes you don’t need to sprint to the good times and good friends. Sometimes the good times, waves and friends come to directly to you.

Random surfer goes a sweet evening cruise.

Random surfer goes for a sweet evening cruise.

I CONFESS: I’ve been scoring at this pictured spot lately. It challenges me while allotting a certain amount of forgiveness, albeit not much, but a little slack is there. Before I know it, I’ll be back to parts unknown again and as masochistic as this may sound, I want a good ass-whopping. I need to be freaked out, kept in check because I’ve been getting a lot of fun days. And if you believe in that whole ‘checks and balances’ system, I’m over-due for a checkmate.

There was a nice south swell in the water and most of the big sets were walled with a few smaller corners to pick off on the inside. Aside from spying Humpback Whales peaking their humongous heads and spouting outside the kelp beds, I wasn’t too impressed with the conditions. After a few waves, I decided to go in. While walking down the beach contemplating dinner, I spied two of my best surf buds strolling the opposite direction in seach for a better peak. A Grinch smile spread ear-to-ear across my face, as the last time I saw these guys was almost a year ago.

Three amigos: Dave, Jackie and Chav share good times, good drinks and good waves.

Three amigos: Dave, Jackie and Chav share good times, good drinks and good waves.

Dave and Brian (a.k.a. ‘Chav’) have traveled all over the world in search of good waves and good times and they are, by far, some of the most fun guys to surf, drink and have a good laugh with. Whenever either one of these travel junkies bounce to parts unknown, they always come back with tales of epic proportions. They inspire me to travel and have fun, to let go of inhibitions and just go.

The two did not hesitate to convince me to get back in the nippy water and catch a few. But I really didn’t need too much coaxing. Suddenly, the conditions weren’t so bad with my good amigos around. We shared wedgey peaks off the point, dropped in on eachother and hopped from peak-to-peak laughing and playing catch-up.

Chav is off to the Philippines and Cloud 9 and who knows where Dave’s next stop will be, although there were talks of mainland Mexico and the infamous Mexican Pipeline Puerto Escondido floated throughout our convos. Dave seems to emobdy a vagabond spirit with Hunter S. Thompson’s post-hangover perspective. With his crazy wit, salty humor and knack for dropping in on his best pals, I’ve often though he is secretly an Aussie and won’t come out of the closet…just yet.

Sandpipers hunt for dinner.

Sandpipers hunt for dinner.

So here’s to random awesome sea creatures, much needed checkmates and serendipitous run-ins with old friends!

The Cars have an excellent song that is so often imitated but not too often duplicated: Let the Good Times Roll!

Interview: Rob Rojas

Professional StandUp Paddleboarder and San Clemente local Rob Rojas.

Professional StandUp Paddleboarder and San Clemente local Rob Rojas.

In recent years, StandUp Paddleboarding, a.k.a. SUP, has become quite popular when the surf goes flat. The sport has seemingly grown into its own subculture ushering in race and relay competitions and, of course, a new form of surfing to our oceans and breaks. Professional StandUp Paddleboarder and San Clemente resident Rob Rojas has taken this sport to a new level in the racing realm and does not hesitate to ride some waves, as well. However, when surfing on his ginormous board at his local break, his attitude remains old school and summed up into one word we can all take a page from: RESPECT.

His repertoire demands it and his actions show it at his local breaks.  So turn up your Aretha and take some notes:

How did you get into StandUp Paddleboarding?

I’ve been around the ocean all of my life…the whole stand up thing came around some time in the early 2000’s. I saw people doing it in the harbor and remember trying to figure out how to get a board and the prices back then were just sky high. I ended up buying a board from a friend. It wasn’t even a SUP, it was just a big longboard.  I bought my first board during the summer of 2006, when I first did SUP. That summer I did an event for lifeguards and we basically did a surf-ski paddle competition from Dana Point all the way down to La Jolla. SUP was the last leg of it.

How far is it from Dana Point to La Jolla?

It was about 50 miles.

Ever since then, you were hooked?

I thought ‘wow this is pretty cool’ and I was pretty much hooked after that 2006 competition. At first I just wanted it as a means of working out and having fun…that sort of turned into a racing career.

What drove you to race in competitions?

I’ve always been a competitive person. I really enjoy the whole racing thing with SUP and the whole idea of standing up and paddling. All of a sudden, I find myself in races and that competitive drive just kind of set in. You just want to be the first one to cross the line…you’re not always the first one, but it’s still that competitive drive to always go out there and do your best.

What kind of races do you participate in?

I’ve raced a lot of local California races.  I’ll do long distance races. One of my main sponsors is O’Neil and they have a race series in Tahoe, for example, and it’s a three-race series. So I’ve raced anywhere from Lake Tahoe, the Cayman Islands, Peru, New York City to Manhattan Island…I definitely travel all over…even Utah..The race scene is pretty much all over the place.

Rob Rojas and his SUP race board.

Rob Rojas and his SUP race board.

What’s your favorite race?

I got to say the race I look forward to the most is the Island Waterman Relay. It’s a race from Santa Barbara Island to Catalina Island off the coast. It’s such a cool vibe and cool event. It has such a waterman vibe to it. And it’s always near the opening of lobster season, so this past year I woke up, dove, got a little lobster and jumped on the escort boat. We hauled butt out to Santa Barbara Island and raced back. You’re just out there in the middle of nature and in the middle of the ocean, it’s just incredible.

Do you have a favorite spot?

For paddling in general:  hands down my favorite SUP spot would be Mammoth Lakes. There are no races up there, but you’re just up there by yourself and it’s extremely quiet. There have been times where we take family vacations and I just get some altitude training. It’s amazing.

Have you ever tried surfing on your SUP? What do you think?

Yea absolutely, I love it! I grew up surfing in San Clemente. I’ve always loved surfing, but a lot of the big breaks get crowded when the waves are good. Our society is getting more and more crowded, but the cool thing about stand up surfing is you can surf waves that are normally not populated by regular surfers.

You can explore a little bit more and look for a spot where there’s nobody out. For me personally, I want to get away from people when I’m surfing, I don’t want to surf in a pack. You have a gazillion really cool surf spots and that’s the cool thing about it. You don’t really have to be around a ton of people to SUP surf.

What’s your take on the tension between the SUP and surf crowd?

It’s definitely a free ocean…but I think it’s all about respect and there are certain rules you got to follow. When you’re surfing, you got to understand right-of-way.

 I like to do things like sit down on my board…lower myself in the water… It looks less imposing. I let a few sets go by and I’ll call out sets for the guys.  As a stand up surfer, you’re six feet above the water, so you can see sets coming.

If I’m with surfers, I want to be least imposing as possible. Nothing will anger me more than a guy that’s just out there doing laps…just paddles out, sits right on the peak, catches every set wave, comes in, just keeps doing laps and loses his board and basically kooks out and pisses everyone off and ruins it for the rest of the standup community.

When you get out there, you got to respect the people that were there before you. There’s room for everybody. Bottom line:  it’s all about respect.

For more about Rob’s training and how he got into SUP, check out this cool video!

Yoga and Surfing

Most commonly referred to as Warrior pose, this Yoga pose is one of many that helps surfers balance and alignment. Give it a try!

Most commonly referred to as Warrior pose, this Yoga pose is one of many that helps surfers balance and alignment. Give it a try!

During the months of inescapable early sunsets, evening sessions for me are pretty impossible…unless I surf with a headlamp…which I have seen done….but brrrrrr.

I confess…While inching towards home along the I-5 freeway, I often watch the sun disappear and the surfer inside me stomps up and down like a four-year old pitching a tantrum. All those uncrowded waves, empty trails, quiet moments before the sky turns a deep orange and purple and sends chilly surfers to the beach…all waiting for me to meticulously scan the medical dictionary for a garden variety of seasonal illnesses to fake.

But I’m a bad liar.

And a little darkness should never put a damper on a surfer’s schedule.  The key are distractions!

This is the time of the year where I like to turn my focus to yoga as its physical and mental benefits force me to clear my mind (much like surfing) while keeping my body limber for the spring and summer. When I practice yoga, I not only see a huge difference in my surfing’s posture and technique, but I also maintain better focus and breath control.

“Surfing and yoga definitely complement each other,” said Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher Carolyn Long.  “There is a lot of core strengthening, in fact, you notice a lot of yoga poses surfers do anyway: warrior, pigeon, down dog, cobra, up-dog, to name a few.”

Long has been practicing Yoga for 13 years and teaches a wide variety of yoga classes across Orange County, California.

Pranayama (breath) work is a HUGE edge for surfers,” said Long. “It allows them to ‘stay in the moment.’ Just like a moving meditation in our asana practice, on a wave this could mean life or death.”

Photo Courtesy: Sean DaveyMonica Dell'Amore uses Yoga as part of her training to charge Pipeline on O'ahu's North Shore.

Photo Courtesy: Sean Davey
Monica Dell’Amore uses Yoga as part of her training to charge Pipeline on O’ahu’s North Shore.

Mental clarity is a must while battling rush hour on a daily basis. In between blaring car horns, accidents and zooming motorcyclists, anyone’s patience can be strained, especially when all thoughts end with “could’ve been surfing right now.” But after a few deep yoga breaths, perhaps a change in playlist, I am content to know that after March 10th (daylight savings), my evening sessions will be back before I know it. But I don’t rest in that fact…I just simply rest and breathe deep oceanic breaths.

“Yoga has been an immense part of my training,” said Professional Bodyboarder Monica Dell’Amore.  “With surfing one of the things Yoga has helped me with the most is the ability to control and slow down my heart beat in moments of struggle and fear in the water.”

This is most important when Dell’Amore charges heavy waves like Pipeline on the North Shore of O’ahu. This break needs no introduction in the surfing community and it is a well-known fact that if you’re going to surf Pipe or any heavy water, you need to train.

Photo Courtesy: Sean DaveyMonica charges!! Yeew!

Photo Courtesy: Sean Davey
Monica charges Pipe!! Yeew!

In just about every pro surfer/waterman-woman interview I read, Yoga plays a huge role in their daily routines and continues to be an essential tool for breathing techniques.

But surfing community aside, the average Joe or Jane uses it as a form of stress release, a way to calmly connect with themselves and their surrounding environment.

“Yoga also reminds us of the interconnection of all things,” said Lindsey Plumier, Founder of the Non-Profit Organization My Own Two Hands. “Once we can connect to this truth, we can remember that we are all connected in this web of life and can take our yoga off the mat and into the world around us.”

So keep breathing deep…March 10th is almost here.

Photo Courtesy: Nate Trodd Monica Dell'Amore charges Puerto Escondido in Mexico. Yeew!!

Photo Courtesy: Nate Trodd
Monica Dell’Amore charges Puerto Escondido in Mexico. Yeew!!