Posts

Maya Gabeira Surfs Biggest Wave by a Female Surfer…Gets Blown Off by WSL

On January 18, 2018, renowned Brazilian big wave surfer Maya Gabeira charged the mountainous peaks of Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal. According to videographers, oceanographers and academics, her wave clocked in at 80 feet.

8-0, people.

Let’s take a moment to marinade on that number.

That’s eight stories tall…when the rest of us are shaking in our boots over 10 feet, multiply that by eight and that’s what Gabeira rode. The hard-charging waterwoman matched Garrett McNamara’s November 2017 record of 80-feet at the same break.

“Since 2013, I have been trying to bring the idea that we should have a women’s world record,” said Gabeira. “I started talking about it through emails with The Big Wave Awards, which, a couple years back, was bought out by the World Surf League. Since 2013, I have had very vague responses on it…nothing was clear at all.”

Aside from being one of the most decorated and pioneering females in the big wave arena, her 2018 wave was not Gabeira’s first record-breaker. In 2009, she broke the record for biggest wave ridden by a female at Dungeons in South Africa clocking a 46-foot ride, nearly half the size of her Nazare wave.

With her mind focused on riding the world’s biggest waves, Gabeira set her sights on Nazare’s massive size-holding capabilities, a wave that nearly ended the young charger’s life.

In 2013, Gabeira nearly drowned after wiping out and losing consciousness on a massive wave at Nazare.

“It almost ended my career with the complications I had with injuries and to come back and be able to surf, it was already my dream,” said Gabeira.

After five years of dedication, recovery and training coupled with her passion for big waves, Gabeira put pedal to the metal and caught a massive mountain of water–a wave large enough to put her in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Photo Courtesy of: Stephanie Johnes Maya would go.

Photo Courtesy of: Alex Laurel
Maya would go.

When Gabeira approached the Guiness Book of World Records, they referred her back to the WSL for certification.

But despite reaching out,  the WSL gave very vague and inconsistent responses to Gabeira’s amazing accomplishment. Every few weeks, Gabeira followed up with the WSL and still no confirmation of any progress. Frustrated with the organization’s lack of support or responsiveness, Gabeira let them know her intentions and in August 2018, started her petition.

Although, the organization did at the last minute ask her to present at the annual Big Wave Awards this past April for the Men’s Big Wave Award of the Year. To add more salt to the wound, during the women’s division, none of her clips were displayed.

“I had to hold my tears, breathe and go back stage to then present the men’s division,” said Gabeira. “I was kind of really baffled because I flew all the way to LA to not see any of my waves [displayed], to be celebrating the winter and pretend I wasn’t participating in the winter. While all my [male] peers had all their waves they rode on the same day exposed and won awards and records.”

After multiple backstage apologies from the WSL’s director post-awards, Gabeira sat down with him where he reiterated the WSL’s interest and dedication to her accomplishment. But radio silence from the WSL soon followed…again.

“I just want this [record] to be established because I think it’s important for women–it’s always been to me, at least” said Gabeira. “When Garrett [McNamara] discovered Nazare, it’s always left such a big impression on me to be able to see somebody credited with “The biggest wave ever” and have a number on it. Being in a sport that’s very subjective, it was something that I got attached to. I just want to finish it off so the next person doesn’t have to make it all happen from the beginning. They can just have the category established, surf a bigger wave and break the record and BOOM–it’s registered.”

With the WSL’s recent leadership falling under CEO Sophie Goldschmidt, Gabeira was hoping this would propel the industry and open a new chapter for women in the sport. The WSL gave this response via email:

“We have a huge amount of respect for all our big wave surfers. We have been in active discussions with Guinness for some time on the topic of reviewing Maya’s incredible ride from Nazare earlier this year for submission, and look forward to continuing to celebrate men’s and women’s big wave surfing with an announcement soon.”

The WSL got back to me within hours with this response, however, when I asked them specifically why the process took as long as it did and why the WSL couldn’t give Maya a solid answer, I was told…(am I surprised?)–> all they could say was just that.

“I don’t know if it’s just a lack of professionalism or if it’s just a lack of care for an athlete,” said Gabeira. “It’s my job, it’s what I’ve done for many many years of my life and to not take that seriously, it’s extremely disrespectful and it really hurts.”

To no surprise, after Gabeira’s petition launched and the world became aware of what was going on behind the bro-curtains of the surf industry, the WSL now crowds her inbox. :)

Best of luck, Maya. We are rooting for you! <3

Check out Maya’s video:

 

One Man’s Reflection of Two Separate Great White Shark Attacks

 

Royce Fraley, long-time surfer and Northern California local.

Royce Fraley, long-time surfer and Northern California local.

It’s no secret that surfing comes with its lists of risks. From drowning, bacterial infections, reefs and rocks, jellyfish and stingrays, crazy locals, to random freak accidents, the list can go on and on… There’s even rogue dolphins who miscalculate their beautiful leaps onto the unsuspecting surfer. Ouch.

But none other than one of our most widely whispered topics, SHARKS, are more associated with the risks of being a surfer.  Royce Fraley, a long-time surfer based in Occidental, California, is incredibly aware of this risk and has encountered our infamous grey suited landlord not once, but twice in the chilly Northern California waters.

“In both situations, it’s amazing how your brain kicks into a ‘fight or flight mode’ real quick,” said Fraley. “You automatically want to believe it’s not happening to you, but it is. All these thoughts happen within milliseconds.”

Like jelly to peanut butter, sharks and surfers go hand-in-hand by reputation, sans, well, let’s hope tastiness. In fact, based on my personal conversations, one of the most cited reasons why folks decide to not surf is because of our association with our oceanic toothy counterpart.

But consider statistics—for the average surfer who is in the water maybe not every day, but most days and is floating in the ocean for an extended period of time, what is the actual risk?

“No one plans to paddle out and hit a rock,” said Sean van Sommeron, Founder and Director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation in Santa Cruz, California. “Of course, every time you paddle out, you’re taking a risk. The statistics on shark attacks on surfers is very low on the list of possibilities. Surf board accidents are much higher on the list.”

Surfer Magazine did a lovely and realistic calculation for California surfer folks and concluded that California surfers have a 1-in-25,641 chance of being the victim of a fatal shark attack.

We’ve heard it all before—“you’re more likely to get struck by lightning.”

But sometimes lightning can strike twice for those special outliers, although they are few and very–VERY far between. For Fraley, who has logged more than 40 years of surfing around the world, charging double-overhead mysto reefs smack dab in Northern California’s “red triangle,” a little “brush” with our toothy landlords may be expected. However, for Fraley, not once, but twice did he pay rent and came out relatively physically unscathed.

Royce Fraley charging in Northern California. Photo: Scott VanCleepmut Photography

No hesitation or barrel dodging–Royce Fraley charging in Northern California.
Photo: Scott VanCleepmut Photography

Northern California’s got a reputation among the salty-haired to mean two unpleasant things with one tempting caveat: cold and sharky…but lots of uncrowded spots! For Fraley, 10 is a crowd and spots are most often protected from wanton commercialization by thick blooded locals, that is if the break and pirate-like foggy coastline doesn’t scare you off first.

I got to know Fraley over the interwebs and he shared both stories of his attacks, which were covered by the SF Gate in 2006. More than 10 years has passed since his latest attack in 2006 and I was curious to see how he still manages to charge the crazy Northern California surf.

First Attack: September 1, 1998

Royce Fraley hacking a little off the top in Northern California. Photo by: Patrick Parks

Royce Fraley hacking a little off the top in Northern California.
Photo by: Patrick Parks

A smallish surf day brought Fraley and a few of his good friends to surf Russian River, a spot located north of Bodega Bay, which is known for beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife and draining barrels. The trio were the only people in the water. Just as Fraley’s friends caught a few waves towards the inside, Fraley laid down on his board to rest from paddling along the sandbar.

Out of nowhere, he was launched around four-to-five feet into the air and disappeared into a giant burst of whitewater.

“If you took both palms of your hands and slam them on the hood of your car as hard as you can, that was the sound of this incredible impact,” said Fraley.  “All I could see was whitewater all around me.”

Luckily, after that shocking launch, Fraley landed perfectly on his board in the water. The nose of the shark left a half-inch imprint on the bottom of Fraley’s board, even leaving behind a little skin.

“I think that shark was very surprised it hit something that was so damn hard, which was my fiberglass surfboard,” said Fraley. “That strike was like an ‘okay, I’m going in big time’ attack.”

After he landed, Fraley did not hesitate to paddle his 6’10” Campbell Brothers pintail towards the beach, his friends waiting on the sand, when he saw the water close to him swirl and watched as the shark drew up alongside him and chase him in.

“All I saw was the shark’s back and it’s dorsal fin,” said Fraley. “His dorsal was parallel to me and I was like ‘are you kidding me?!’ And before I knew it, I was in super shallow water and the shark just turned off.”

Royce charging big cold water A-frames, sans crowd. Photo: Scott VanCleepmut Photography

Royce charging big cold water A-frames, sans crowd.
Photo: Scott VanCleepmut Photography

Once he reached the beach, Fraley collapsed while his friends quickly checked him for wounds. A little shaken, Fraley and his friends decided to conclude their session with much needed tequila shots and local Indian cuisine to celebrate his most interesting, rare and harrowing encounter.

“If you’re tracking the shark, it will be eyeing you, too and eventually it will take off,” said Dr. Chris Lowe, director of the California State University, Long Beach’s Shark Lab. “If you lose track of the shark, the first place you should look is behind you because that’s what a predator, like a shark, will do–they’ll move out of view.”

Dr. Lowe explained they often see this tactic while tagging great white sharks off of Southern California’s coastline. The smaller, more juvenile great whites are more easily scared off, however, the bigger guys and gals will often move off to the side and sneak up from behind. Dr. Lowe recommends that if a surfer loses track of a shark, to do a 10-second count and look behind. Sharks can identify an animal or person’s head and might often consider the surfboard’s nose as a person’s “head,” therefore recommends a surfer to also track with their board, too.

“If their prey know they can see them, there’s a chance that the predator won’t be able to take them down and may get hurt in the process,” said Dr. Lowe. “Your surfboard’s ‘head’ will make them sense they are being watched.”

Second Attack: December 10, 2006

captionm

A pack of dolphins catches waves in Northern California. Photo: Royce Fraley

Eight years had passed since Fraley’s Russian River encounter, and surfing was still on his to-do list. Fraley was itching for an evening session at Dillion Beach at a spot the locals like to coin as “the shark pit.” About 1,000 yards off the beach awaits a perfect and incredibly long A-frame peak that used to produce 3-500 yard rides in the 90’s. The spot is still filled with it’s fair share of big wave action as, according to Fraley, they will often see Mavericks crews and tow-in folks cruising the out-to-sea style lineup. If the location doesn’t make you flinch, then maybe a nice long paddle over the deep channel will.

“At this point, I had been surfing this spot for 15 years, had done this many times before,” said Fraley. ” It was a beautiful sunny December evening, right after a storm. A big set came through and I caught a couple of waves, which pushed me over into the channel.”

With the increasing swell, Fraley took his time getting back to the lineup, pacing himself for more waves. He rested on his brand new 7’6″ big wave board and as he was gliding over the channel, the water around him began to boil like a cauldron, the right side of his board lifted out of the water and Fraley rolled off the board.

“It was almost like the shark was a submarine surfacing,” said Fraley. “His bottom jaw hit the underside of my board and I started rolling off as the shark bit down.”

Fraley felt a sting in his right  hip as the shark dove down with Fraley’s 10-foot big wave leash wrapped around it’s mouth. As Fraley instinctively grabbed ahold of his board for flotation, the shark dove even deeper beneath the surface with Fraley in tow. In the time spent below the surface, he experienced a gamut of emotions beginning with strong denial, anger and pain–to acceptance.

“There’s a part of me that accepted what was happening, I felt peaceful,” said Fraley.  “Right when I felt that, I bumped off the side of the shark. It felt like someone pushed my whole right side up against a school bus.”

Royce shows relatively minor cuts after his attack. Photo: Royce Fraley

Royce shows relatively minor cuts and board damage after his attack.
Photo: Royce Fraley

When Fraley reached the surface, incredibly shaken, he paddled towards a surfer, who immediately paddled away from him towards shore, and Fraley was left to make the long paddle on his own. A lifeguard, Brit Horne saw the commotion and quickly came to Fraley’s rescue where he found three imprints from the shark’s teeth on his right hip, which did not require stitches.

The University of California, Davis’ Bodega Marine Lab estimated the great white shark Fraley encountered to be about 15 feet long and weigh about 3,000 pounds.

“Not all bites may be predatory, sharks may be sending signals saying ‘you better back off,'” said Dr. Lowe. “Surfers often don’t even know the shark is in the area, and the shark hits and takes off. We just don’t know what the motivating factors are prior to those bites and it’s very rare that people actually witness those behaviors happening, so we have no context.”

Post-surf/attack session, instead of tequila shots and yummy food, Fraley was greeted with a barrage of news media at his front door when he got home. Even Good Morning, America! wanted an interview, but Fraley preferred to keep the news media’s often jarring sensationalism out of his evening and simply reflect on the greater lesson.

Reflection

"The shark pit" looking good enough for a surf. Photo: Royce Fraley

“The shark pit” looking good enough for a surf.
Photo: Royce Fraley

Since his latest shark attack, Fraley has had time to contemplate his extremely rare attacks. Although from time-to-time, he understandably experiences a form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Fraley still manages charge big waves, but, seemingly remains more vigilant and paddles out with friends, on most days.

“The biggie for me was to actually go back out at the same spots,” said Fraley. “I had that need to be around other people and even now, I’ll be surfing any spot and sometimes I have a mini-panic attack, It’s almost like PTSD, but I usually tell myself to calm down and breathe and that definitely helps.”

Even still–it certainly hasn’t deterred him from charging full NorCal swells. In fact, he and a few friends will often search for lonely peaks along the less traveled areas of the north coast.

“Since the shark attacks, it really made me look at the way I carry myself and the way I am with others,” said Fraley. “The sharks taught me to get over myself, be humble, be considerate of others in and out of the water, to have a reverence for every moment you have, and to get over your own bullshit.”

Similar to how Native Americans often associated these experiences with predatory creatures, Fraley relates to this school of thought and sees both encounters as blessings.

“That’s how I have to look at my situation,” said Fraley. “It taught me to have a little bit more respect for yourself and life. It helped me realize how precious things are. So much of our society is ‘dog-eat-dog’ when we should be giving waves away, hooting someone into waves–bottom line: don’t be freakin’ selfish.”

Another Royce NorCal nugget. Photo: Scott VanCleepmut Photography

Another Royce NorCal nugget.
Photo: Scott VanCleepmut Photography

 

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.

Update: My MIA Theory

For a while now, I have been pretty MIA on my blog. It hasn’t been easy, since I have at least five blogs in progress (Anyone want to be my model for art??) and have yet to hit the publish button, while more ideas continue to chew at my noggin. However, essentially, I had to hit “pause” because life tends to happen at any given moment and, as I discovered, sometimes you can’t do it all. There are times where you should sit back, take a breath and just watch the waves.

Essentially, that is what I had to do after my sweet fur baby companion sadly developed an aggressive cancer and I had to say a very painful goodbye to him over a month ago. Three weeks after I lost my sweet cat, I also lost my job during a company-wide layoff.

Case-in-point: Always be prepared for those random rogue sets because they happen.

Emotional rollercoasters are taxing on the soul and not a fun ride, but they are essential for inner growth. Like waves have peaks and troughs, life has ups and downs. Through pain and loss, we can discover more about our strengths and opportunities for growth.

It seems there is no rhyme or reason for life’s ebbs and flows, but it is important to take charge and stay the course–to never give up on goals. Whether it’s popping up on your board or perfecting a proper roundhouse, it is always doable, no matter the board, age or skill set. The great thing about a hobby like surfing is it is a ‘forever challenge,’ which creates tenacity.

I like to think surfing plays a big role in training me for life’s victories and disappointments.

Like getting caught inside or surfing an aggressive crowd, life’s frustrations tend to appear more than the benefits. But scoring that perfect ride keeps us frothing, coming back for more, despite those closeout sets. Focus on that ride, keep paddling out, no matter how many waves crash in your face.

Schwack Attack

When surfing frustrates me, I focus on one of my most cherished memories: The first time I caught a wave and the smile it brought to my face.

After this past month of ebbs, I am focusing on paddling towards the peak because I deserve my dreams and so does everyone who sets their course for the horizon. My grandma used to say: “Hitch your wagon to a star.”

Case-in-point: Never give up

Confess: How Does the Ocean Make You Feel?

Sometimes no words can describe how it feels to be in, near or on the ocean. There are times where one simple word pinpoints it all. Conversely, the ocean experience has produced many essays, books, poems, songs, art and even scientific studies. Like individual personalities, our ocean experiences are often unique and special.
In one word, I found out what the ocean means to some of my agua-junkie pals.
Mahalos to my friends who shared their photos and words!
"Wet."-Rob Grasska
"Wet."-Rob Grasska
"Wet."-Rob Grasska
"Alive." -Bekah Baylock
"Alive." -Bekah Baylock
"Alive."-Bekah Baylock
"Tranquilo."-Josh Baylock
"Tranquilo."-Josh Baylock
"Tranquilo."-Josh Baylock
"Home." -Devyn Hartnett
"Home." -Devyn Hartnett
"Home."-Devyn Hartnett
"Present."-Jen Castelo
"Present."-Jen Castelo
"Present."-Jen Castelo
"Life."-Lucho Soto
"Life."-Lucho Soto
"Life."-Lucho Soto
[dt_fancy_title title=”Confess:” title_size=”h3″ title_color=”title” separator_style=”dashed” separator_color=”custom” custom_separator_color=”#00dfef”]

How does the Ocean make you feel? Share your photo and include the hashtag:
#TheOceanMakesUsFeel

You Missed Out

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

9 Simple Rules for Dating a Surfer

When it comes to the dating world, surfers can be a “special” bunch. One minute you think you’re going for a nice romantic walk on the beach, the next thing you know, you’ve got a DSLR in tow, no idea how to use it and your guy (or gal) is saying “Ok, babe! Just remember to hold down the button when you see me on a wave!”

Good thing for that  tan chiseled bod, right?

Sure.

If feelings progress from “eye candy” status and you do not partake in the salty agua pleasures, here are some pointers you might consider while dating your little surfer girl or boy. RESULTS MAY VARY.

How many fins do you think he's got on the face?   Always a crowd pleaser, Wedge can produce one heart-stopping drop after the next.

How many fins do you think he’s got on the face? Always a crowd pleaser, Wedge can produce one heart-stopping drop after the next.

    1.) Waves, baby…

It’s all about those bumps in the ocean. And he or she will probably want you to watch them surf, too. Don’t try to understand the obsession, just go with it. The more your significant other tries to explain their love for surfing, the crazier they might sound. Just keep in mind this is a part of their life that keeps them connected/sane/calm, so don’t try to take it away—or consider your relationship done-zo.

   2.) Expect global maps and charts to be part of your internet browser favorites/wall decor.

Don’t be surprised if  your browser’s homepage is NOAA, Surfline, The Inertia…A typical surfer loves to travel in search of the endless break, the endless summer, the endless beer bottle/coconut farm/smoothie…whatever “endless” journey they have in mind, know that there will be a map or chart on the wall depicting this journey…or a dream scene from it.

"Look at that huge trench off the coast of..." (expect that to be your next vacay spot.

“Look at that huge trench off the coast of…” (expect that to be your next vacay spot.)

3.) You will always know what the weather’s doing

You’re the first one who knew it was going to be 85 degrees in the middle of February and you dressed approps…that’s a plus, right? You’ve got your surfer to thank for that.

4.) Your dates will be based around the tide schedule

Let’s just hope your surfer significant other understands that meeting the parents is not as “tide-friendly.”

5.) Expect sand in the bed

Unless your surfer significant other is OCD, know that your bed sheets will inherit the beach. If sand critters are beginning to establish colonies and form hierarchies under the sheets, that’s when you might want to establish boundaries…and a terrific outside shower system.

Clearly you do not want this in your bed...unless you like overnight exfoliation.

Clearly you do not want this in your bed…unless you like overnight exfoliation.

 6.) You may travel to locales you didn’t know existed. Bring a hat, sunscreen and distractions.

Where the heck is Lombok? Don’t see a Groupon travel special for that one. FYI: Most surfers base their travel  around maps, charts (see ‘Wall Decor’), last minute web rates and friends with standby hook ups… The words “all-inclusive” don’t register to the briny haired.

7.) You like talking on the phone or texting for long periods of time?

TOO BAD. Those charted journeys often require several days with no cell service or if your surfer is still local, they might just be in the water–of course: the day I see someone chatting away on their phone in the lineup is the day I quit– This is a reality you will have to face. If your surfer has a travel bug, investigate your phone’s international coverage and remember apps like “What’s App,” “Viber” and Skype. It’s important to chime in while they’re submerged in a foreign country and possibly surrounded by dangerous happenings…like other half-naked, tanned and chiseled bods.

Feeling a little lost in translation? Don't fret.

Feeling a little lost in translation? Don’t fret.

8.) Do not attempt to decode surfer jargon.

Whenever he or she is around fellow surfers, it’s as if they speak another language, right? Don’t stress. This is what surfers like to refer to as “frothing” and it’s completely normal. Surfer Today has a decent basic surf speak guide.

Your first test: “Bro, did you see that perfect A-frame peak I scored on the outside?! Dude, that set was macking!! My alaia launched an air on the inside right over the kook chillin’ on that airplane wing!”

Tales can become as tall as the barrel they chat about...unless the have a camera.

Tales can become as tall as the barrel they chat about…unless they have a camera.

9.) Listen to their stories

So you’ve heard about how a shark fin surfaced three feet in front of them after their skag gashed their leg open for the ten millionth time… or that time they caught a “30 second barrel” at Huntington Pier…or the double over head wave they scored at Trestles with no one out. It’s always good to just smile and listen, even if the tales grow taller by the day.

Disclaimer: This is based on no sociological or anthropological research other being a surfer girl for the past 11 years. There are many surfers out there who do not adhere to the stereotype, these are known as your “gems.” GO FOR IT…dude.

The ‘Oh Shit’ Files-Vol. 2: Hurricane Norbert

Storm patterns have turned my weekends into glorious photo bliss coupled with daily surfaris up the coast. A few weeks ago, Hurricane Norbert graced our coastline with waves aplenty and warm water temps that I will surely be dreaming about six months from now. The category 3 hurricane veered up the baja coast and onto the inland southwestern region of the U.S. and delivered a much-needed dose of rain …now if only he swung a little more west, California’s serious drought problem might have been temporarily staved.

Save that water people!!

Until then, my journey plopped me in front of Newport’s finest carnage-inducing break: Wedge. Whether you surf, sponge or skin it at Orange County’s premier balls-to-the-wall sandbar slab, Wedge will do more than ‘kick your ass.’ It will turn you inside out, grind you in sand and spit whats left of you out onto the shoreline.

It might be wise to seek some sage advice from a seasoned pro or local before setting a toe in the water. I wonder who would be considered Wedge’s ‘Turtle’….brah….or would that be ‘bro’…?

Either way at Wedge,“…you’re gonna get drilled.”

The ‘Oh Shit’ Files

It’s great to see photos of perfectly shaped waves that make you salivate and re-think jobs, relationships and other potential long-term life investments. This is not the case…just big, not-so-gnarly walls of water mowing over some brave weekend warriors at Trestles last weekend.  I just happen to have my camera, albeit not the right lens, however, I caught some closeout fun at Upper Trestles on this last swell. Jobs, relationships and long-term life investments saved.

Enjoy the sorta-carnage. For real carnage, get your butt to The Wedge on the next south swell.

International Surfing Day: June 20, 2013

Go surf and do your part!

Go surf and do your part!

One of the most important days of the year will be here soon:

International Surfing Day! June 20th, 2013!

Okay, so maybe it pales in comparison to your son or daughter’s birthday, grandparent’s golden anniversary or other such annual celebrations. However, if you’re a surfer or ocean lover who works 9-5, it is a day that might require you to scan a medical dictionary for a random 24 hour illness, forge a doctor’s note, put your pasty butt into some boardies or suit and find something to do in the water or on the sand.

Do it.

As ocean-minded people, we should always find a way to give back to our beaches that continuously provide us with some of our best life experiences.

The Surfrider Foundation is a great resource to find your local beach clean-up as well as ways to get involved with other charitable activities.

Every little bit goes a long way!

Every little bit goes a long way!

Here are some ideas to consider for June 20th,:

  •  Go Surfing…and pick up some trash, too:

Well, DUH. Whatever you decide to ride, get out there and catch some wavos. Oh and while you’re at it, pick up some trash. Don’t deny it. Whether it’s in the sand or the parking lot, even the water, trash is there. And that is very LAME. If you have no time to give a beach clean-up a-go, it doesn’t hurt to pick up a few pieces of trash on your way to the water. Find a sanitary way to scoop it up and put it in the nearby trash can. A little bit can a go a long way! This awesome organization agrees with me.

  • Join a Beach Clean-Up!

There are organizations all over the states and the world that would froth for your time to clean up your local beach. Get involved!!

  • Do Your Homework

If you can watch swell charts and wind speeds on an hourly basis, you can keep up with the issues facing your local breaks and wildlife:

241 Toll Road

New Jersey Fracking

Florida Panther

Off Shore Drilling in Alaska

Washington Water Quality

Water Efficient Landscaping for Texas

  • Be a Smarty Pants!

Take the time to understand the laws and regulations that govern this country’s environment and you’ll be A-Okay.

So get out there, ride some waves, pick up some trash and smile at the locals! Good vibes for all!

Happy International Day of Surfing!!

A Little Litter For Thought:

Litter Item

Time to break down

Glass bottles

1 million years

Monofilament fishing line

600 years

Plastic beverage bottles

450 years

Disposable nappies

450 years

Aluminum can

80 – 200 years

Foam plastic cup

50 years

Plastic bag

10 – 20 years

Cigarette filter

1 – 5 years

Source: US National Park Service; Mote Marine Lab, Sarasota, Florida