Monday, February 18, 2013

Unleashed 021713 @26th Street

Surf: 2-4 feet
Water: Cold
Winds: Null to slight off shore
Atmosphere: Morning sickness and clouds

I woke up soooo late today… man, it’s so hard to wake up on Sundays.  I get to the beach around 7:00 AM and snag a parking spot in the lower lot.  I can see Calvin and Roy are here and in the water, so I make haste to change into my wet wetsuit. 

I see Robert, Jose, and Orlando lollygag in the parking lot, but they change quickly to catch some waves.  I for one couldn’t wait to hit the water.  After yesterday’s paddle out, I felt the spirit of Pabs still with us. 

The tide was drained out and let me walk out pretty far into the line up.  The skies were grey even if the sun was out.  There was just too much marine layer on the beach.  The water was clear and clean.  I paddle and duck dive a few waves and say wsup to the locals.  Eric catches a nice right and says hi to me.  Then he says, “GO KLAUDE GO!!” as a bump forms right in front of me.  I flip around and go, not thinking and just going.  I don’t stick the pop up on the close out wave, and I feel my board slip from under my feet.  Then, I feel the tug on my leash, and the quick release.  Oh crap.

Just as I suspected, the little string that connects my leash to the board has snapped off AGAIN.  There are no remnants of the little string.  I just have my leash wrapped around my leg and my board is all the way in shore.  I start to swim in.

Tom waves me down from the shore.  “Ey, you getting out?” he asks.

“Naw, the leash snapped, but I just got here, so I’ll be right back.”

“Oh, do you have a spare leash?”

“Yea I do, but that’s not the part that snapped.  It’s that little string that snapped off.  I don’t have any of those in my car… and my keys are in my leash too… do you have pockets?”

“I do, but I don’t trust this thing,” Tom replied.

“Ok, that’s cool, I’ll be right back!”

And I left my board where it was and hustled up the beach to leave my leash on the car. 

I hustle back to my board, and grab my board.  “Well, this is probably not the best day to go leashless, but oh well.  I can’t go home now.  I just have to go for it,” I told myself. 

This paddle out was super easy, and I made it to the line up with ease.  Roy hollers at me, and Calvin comes by to say hi.  The drift was deceivingly strong today, and there were a few rip currents that kept pushing surfers out of position.  Ray was on his yellow and red rail board, and came by to say hi. 

To my pleasant surprise, CC showed up!!!  I was so stoked to see her in the line up.  It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her in the water.  We give each other hug-humps in the water. 

Earlier in the session, the waves seemed to dump, then become mushy.  Or they would just mush through.  The waves were hard to read, and a lot of them were dumpers.  I definitely felt my surfing was different going leashless.  I was a bit more picky, but I took off on an angle every single time.  On top of that, I wouldn’t ditch my board after a close out or the ride ended.  I would carefully crouch down and grab my board with both hands.  I made sure to not let go of my baby today. 

But of course, on more than one occasion, I found myself lose my board.  Luckily, the paddle in wasn’t so far, and so I would relaxingly swim in, grab my board, and head back out again.  It felt refreshing to surf like this.  This was different.  This was new. 

Roy was killing it out there.  He snaps his turns so vertical and aggressively, but makes it look so easy.  It’s amazing that this guy has so much style and ability to link all his turns together. 

Don was out doing his thing too.  I saw him almost pop an air on a backside wave where he pumped and blasted the lip.  His tail was almost off of the lip on that one turn… one day… one day.

Tom had a few rides… but I was surfing away from most of this session, so I didn’t get to catch any good glimpses of his waves.  He left early saying that his ass was freezing.  Perhaps time for a new wetsuit?  Or just move to Hawaii… hahaha

Damon caught a nice first ride today.  I hooted him into a right, and he was able to go backside pretty far until the thing dumped.  He also got pulled out far by the rip current and sat way the fuck out there.  Dolphins splashed and frolicked around him.  It was pretty fun watching the dolphins do that with him. 

I had a few memorable rides today:

One was a left that I consciously pumped on, and then set up for a cutback into the white water.  Then, I pumped further down all the way until the wave closed out. 

The wave of the day peaked its ugly head on the horizon.  Don was North of me, and so was Roy and Christina.  We all paddled out towards the horizon, but I kept telling myself “GO FOR IT!  GO FOR IT!!”  I know for sure Don was too deep, but I’m not sure about Roy.  He must have let me go on it because I was all alone on the wave when I popped up.  The set had a four foot face, and I was pumping frontside.  I did a small turn on the face to stall and not go too far ahead of the wave.  Then, I saw the wave double up on the inside so I prepared for the second drop on the step created by the inside double up.  Once I made it, I pumped up a little higher on the reform wave, and set my line.  I saw the wave was closing out, but I wasn’t going to bail on this one – no, no straightening out on this wave.  I was gonna go for it.  I crouched, and braced myself.  Everything went deafly silent and dark.  I could feel the water rush up from under my board, and in the dark room, I felt the wave close on my upper body.  Then, I could tell my board got flung from under my feet to the top of the white wash as I took my trip into the washing machine. 

I came up smiling, laughing, for my barrel attempt.  That was probably the first time I went for the set and then went for the no-hope barrel close out.  My board was all the way in shore, and so I had to paddle in, but I had a smile on my face paddling in.  A kid on a stubby single fin grabbed my board for me, and I thanked him.  I paddled back out with a smile still on my face.  Pabs, that one was for you! 

Just GO FOR IT! 

Don asked, “You took that last one all the way to shore huh?”

“Oh, did I?  I don’t know… I don’t have a leash on, so I had to swim in to shore,” I said, laughingly.

CC was chatting it up with Roy while going for some dumpers.  I’m not sure if she caught any good rides, but it’s always nice hearing her voice in the line up.  She is definitely part of the DRC Ohana.  I hope she doesn’t move away to Australia like she is planning.  But that is just selfish of me.  She should go out and experience life her way.  GO FOR IT CC!!!  You know we all have your back no matter what!

My last wave was a left.  The peak formed right by me, and CC hooted me into it.  I could hear her “WHOOOOOOOO~!!” as I popped up.  I pumped, and then did a quick cut back.  Then I redirected and kept going until I bogged out and lost my board.  I swam in for one last time and looked back at the line up.  The sun was now out and the line up looked even further away.  I couldn’t even see the people bobbing up and down in the line up.  I guess the waves were still hard to read, but it seemed to have gotten better since the early morning session. 

Overall, it was a great day to surf.  I had a lot of fun surfing with my friends and all the local gang.  I was bummed Matt didn’t make it, but he texted me in the morning and told me that his throat has gotten worse.  He was being bothered by it since Thursday, and even yesterday he seemed to be pushing it, but today was just the boiling point.  He stayed home and mellowed out.  Heal soon bruh!! 

Mahalos Mother Ocean!! 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Paddle Out for Pabs 021613 at Bolsa

Surf: 1-3 feet
Water: Cold
Atmosphere: Sunny!
Winds: Light off shore

Today was our “Paddle Out for Pabs” day.  Pabs was a fellow blogger who passed away recently.  Surfing Grandma of the OC aka Michelle organized a day for all of us bloggers to get together and to do a paddle out for Pabs.  The event was an open invitation to anyone who could show up. 

Matt and I planned to go down to Bolsa Chica’s Tower 27 together in the  morning.  We were going to leave at 7:00 AM, but those plans were quickly thwarted by my gurgling stomach.  As soon as I woke up, I had explosive diarrhea.  After my first round, I had to call Matt to tell him I would be late.  “No worries man, no rush,” he told me.

Just then, the second wave gurgled from my behind.  “Ok, I gotta go, I’ll call you soon.”

The second wave was followed by a third wave in the same sitting.  Phew, got that over with at least.  Hideki had texted me that he was paddling out soon at tower 27.  It was barely 7:00 AM and he was almost there.  Crazy guy.  Love it. 

I picked up some flowers from Ralphs, and headed to Matt’s.  He picked up some donuts and we were off to Bolsa.  On the way over, we talk about what’s been going on lately with our lives and the drive down flies with the wind.  We get to Bolsa right before 9:00 AM and find Michelle and Valerie, aka Surf Mama of Mere-Made Surfboards.  We greet each other with hugs, and chit chat.  More people that I have always read about but haven’t met show up, including Cynthia, Irma, Surf Sista, Lauri, Goofy Kook, and Michelle’s hubby, Brian aka Brownie.  We all look over the pile of donuts that have accumulated, and talk over warm coffee and goof vibes.

Hideki comes out dripping wet, and he helps himself to some water and a tangerine from Michelle and Brian’s place.  Brownie recruits a kid to get a donut since we have so many of them.  It was definitely a fun morning to start off with. 

Yesterday, I had gone to a funeral ceremony for a client who’s son passed away.  I think the greatest pain for any parent is to out-live their own child.  Our client and friend is a super nice, amazing human being and is always a cheerful man.  However when he lost his son, he understandably went into a funk.  I hope the ceremony helped him, his wife, and his daughter cope with the loss of their beloved son and brother.  The ceremony was amazing, with nearly 100 people showing up for his son.  They read passages, sang songs, and gave moving speeches.  At the end of it all, my boss and I were drained, emotionally and physically.  I was feeling kinda down, and to have two ceremonies seemed to be a bit much for me.

However, this paddle out seemed to help with the heavy feeling.  Michelle gave a nice speech before our paddle, citing Pab’s blog writings in her speech.  “Pabs would want us all to be stoked and having fun,” she said, and so “We should all feel that stoke that he was always chasing after.” 

The emotional up and down wasn’t so bad after this.  I just felt pure joy holding hands in the line up with flowers clenched in my teeth.  We splashed water for Pabs as we threw our flowers in to the circle of friends.  Just imagine, a man that I never even met has connected me with all these lovely people. 

I talk with Michelle in the line-up.  “I wonder who’s gonna draw first blood?” I asked her, with a smile. 

“Oh, I know!  I wonder who it will be,” she said.

Just then Matt catches a wave on the inside.  He pumped on the inside to milk it for everything it’s got.  And then he comes back out, only to catch another insider left.

“Guess Matt draws first blood!” I said.

“Oh, what a show off!” Michelle teased.

The sun was shining, and the water was cool.  The winds were slightly off shore, and I just felt some joy in my heart to be a part of this surf community.  And right on queue, Pabs sends me a wave.  It was a small right, but it was good enough to pump on the face and go down the line.  I had a smile from ear to ear, baby. 

Michelle’s hubby Brian, aka Brownie, got a nice right that I hooted him into.  He seemed pretty stoked on it.  The wave peeled perfectly from the outside to right where he was, and he popped up right to his feet and took the right as far as the wave carried him. 

Goofy Kook had a high wave count today.  He caught a lot of nice rides on his board, and always came back with a huge smile on his face.  One wave had some backwash on it, but he somehow muscled his way into the wave and took the wave all the way to shore.  On more than one occasion, I would see him paddle back out from a long ride to shore.  I think he had the highest wave count out of all of us. 

Michelle got some nice waves.  She was going for the bigger ones, which is a “new” thing she’s been trying to do.  I feel like Pabs was sending her some extra oomph on the waves for her though.  She would get some rides all the way to shore too.

Hideki was going for it on his yellow board.  However, he was already double seshing it and so his arms weren’t able to muscle in to the waves.  He did catch this nice left that peeled perfectly for him.  He popped up perfectly and did one pump on the face before bogging out. 

Laurie had a gnarly wipe out for the day.  She went for a close out that engulfed her right in front of me.  But, like a champ, she came up and paddled right back out. 

Cynthia went for this wave, and as the board picked up, she hesitated, and put her legs in the water, immediately pulling the e-brake on her board.  The wave passed her up, and I gave out a long, drawn out “Awwwww” for the missed wave.  She said she didn’t think she had it, but I told her that she did. 

“Next one, next one,” I told her.  And just like that Pabs sent another wave for her.  This one, she didn’t pull back on, and popped up perfectly on the shoulder.  She glided down the face all the way to shore on a right. 

Valerie surfed with style, going both left and right.  When she took off on a left, she would grab rail and direct her board down the line, let the rail go and just glide down the face. 

Matt got a lot of waves going both right and left.  I’m not sure what was cooler, him going for the waves, or him doing the 360 twirl at the nose of his board.  Even Goofy Kook was laughing about that one.  And I think that was what today was all about, laughing and spreading the joy and aloha. 

The “heat winner” was clearly Surf Sista.  From the get-go, she was just killllllllin’ it.  Her first wave was a right, and once she set her line, she walked up towards the nose, flipped the switch and went switch foot, walked another step and came back to her regular stance, and walked up more. 

“It’s so fun going switch foot!” she said.

She also went for lefts that she was able to pump and walk casually to the nose and back.  And the best part?  Her smile that was bright as the sun today. 

Everyone was just so stoked today.  Although it was a somber gathering, I think it was undeniable that the spirit of Pabs was around us and inside of us.  We can all feel the stoke and pure joy that Pabs always wrote about. 

My last ride was definitely my longest ride, and I felt that Pabs had sent me just one last wave before getting out of the water.  It was a right, and the peak formed just for me.  I paddled and popped up, and started to pump down the line.  I saw Goofy Kook paddle for it, but he backed out for me as I kept pumping down the line.  It was a perfect way to end the session. 

Back at the lot, we all hovered over the mountain of donuts we had accumulated, and tried to recruit the people biking or jogging or walking to have a donut.  Some obliged, most denied their inner fatties.  They all wanted to eat a donut, but they shut out that little kid inside of us like a smelly wet dog on a rainy day. 

Overall, this day was just perfect.  I was really glad that I got to see everyone.  I was really stoked to have shared in the vibe.  I was simply STOKED.  Surfing is such a funny sport.  We are all united with this one silly activity of riding a wave that formed thousands of miles away on these planks for just a few seconds at a time, and keep coming back for more.  I would never had met any of these people if I hadn’t surfed, and if I hadn’t written a blog. 

I am so grateful that I was part of this Paddle Out for Pabs today.  Mahalos to Michelle for organizing this.  Mahalos to all of those who came out today.  Without having a group of stoked surfers, the Paddle Out for Pabs wouldn’t have been so joyous!  Mahalos to Mother Ocean for bring us some great weather.  And Mahalos and Aloha to Pabs for being there with us today.  We know you sent us those waves to us.  We’ll be surfing with you always!!!  

::Post Script:: 

An entry from Pabs (one of my favorite entries written by him, and also read by Surfing Grandma before our paddle out):

"But think about it...that's what makes it so rewarding for me: You're no longer in TOTAL CONTROL.

Moreover, when you surf, you're entering a realm that humans have no control over. An environment that can kill you at any time.

Though we would like to think we know what we're doing when immersed within the stoke-zone, we are in fact mere passengers upon a liquid carpet that can either unfold in glorious beauty, or be pulled out from under you in a surprisingly and humbling wipe-out.

Giving up and allowing yourself to abandon all control, including all of the life shit that we carry into what makes it such a spiritual experience for many of us stoke seekers.

You have to simply allow yourself to "BE" in the moment...that also includes those times when mother water forces us into "going deep"...a metaphor for reaching into ourselves and finding our soul."

Lessons Learned 021013

Surf: 2-3 feet, with the occasional 6 footer
Water: Cold
Atmosphere: Sunny
Winds: Offshore, not as strong as yesterday

Four times the amount of people, and half the size.  I remember this session being fun, but the crowd factor was getting to me.  Luckily, Dais showed up.

The session started off slow, because I was running late.  I was out until 11 something the previous night because it was my homegirl Lydia’s birthday party.  We went to a “meh” Italian place, and then to a bar called Villains Tavern.  That place was fun, and there was a live band playing, which we couldn’t see since the place was packed to capacity.  I cut out early since my body was tired and I was feeling a sore throat coming on all night.  The waves weren’t as big, and there were already a lot of people in the line-up by the time I arrived.  I guess that’s what happens when you sleep in for a few minutes more. 

There were a lot of the locals out today.  Davey paddled up and sardonically said, “Where were all of them yesterday??”

“Well, when it becomes half the size, they come out to play,” I said, matter-of-factly. 

This session I kept telling myself GO FOR IT.  Go for it.  Go for it.  Go for it.  It was a really fun session, but I wished that one of my homies was out.  It’s great surfing with the locals at 26th Street, but it isn’t the same without surfing with one of your mates. 

And as if on queue, Dais showed up.  And as soon as Dais showed up, the waves started to pump like yesterday. 

Dais was riding his Rocket too, but his is the twin-fin.  His board was the original Rocket that made me decide to get a Rocket shaped by Don Kadowaki.  He took a right that set up perfectly for him to pump front side.  He also got this left that I hooted him into, and at first, I thought he ate it, but he made the wave all the way onto the inside.  I was super stoked seeing this.  I haven’t surfed with Dais in a while, but seeing this means he is still paddling out and is getting better.  It’s always cool to see your friends getting good, fun rides. 

I don’t really remember too many rides for myself for this session.  I just remember Dais’s two really good waves that he caught right near me. 

Actually, I remember one wave.  It was a set wave, and I paddled hard for it.  I was on the peak.  It was my wave.  Dais was on my inside, and so was Oscar.  I can hear the wave start to lift and feather in the wind.  My board was picking up speed and I felt my heart race faster and faster.  “Go!! GOOOO!!” Oscar shouted.  And then, I backed out.  UGH!!!!!!!! What the fuck man!!?? What are you doing?? I asked myself.  Why didn’t you go for it??? I couldn’t believe myself. 

In the parking lot, there is a man and his wife, who have two dogs named Orca and Princess.  Orca is a beautiful Alaskan Husky, and Princess is a precious mix-breed (?) of some sort.  I love petting these dogs, and they love the attention.  The man, Al, said that he used to ski, and even taught skiing in his younger days.  He was saying how the double black diamond runs he used to go on used to scare the shit out of him, but not as much as a wave has ever scared him.  He used to scuba dive, and tried to body board in California but got worked and never tried it again.  He said that on the double black diamond runs, you can see just a steep drop, and you just HAVE TO GO.  There’s no half way in on these runs.  If you do the double black diamond run, you do the whole thing with all your guts and glory. 

“If you fell,” he said, drawing out the last word, “then you just get dragged down a few hundred feet.” 

He smiled.  “Hopefully there aren’t any rocks in your way when you’re falling down the cliff side,” he laughed.  “But, I always remember you just had to GO FOR IT, and then you’ll see if you can ride the double black diamond runs.” 

He also said while teaching skiing, when a kid fell and started to cry, he would distract them or divert their attention away from whatever was making them cry.  He would compliment a girl’s cool jacket, or a point out a tree fallen down sideways to a boy.  

And so, there you go.  I learned two lessons in one talk. 

CC showed up as Dias and I were getting changed.  She told me how she went to see the Lunar New Year with Khang and DK the previous night, and how she was talking with her Aussie boy in the morning.  She was about to paddle out, so I wished her good luck and gave her a hug. 

I hung around the parking lot a little while longer, just relaxing and talking with the people who came around.  It was definitely a good day. 

Mahalos Mother Ocean!!

Go For It 020913

Surf: 4-6 feet, with the occasional 8 footer marching through
Water: Cold
Atmosphere: Sunny
Winds: Strong off-shore

I’ve been lagging on my blog posts, so here we go…

I remember this day to be an awesome and challenging day.  The day was awesome because there were only three guys out for the majority of the session.  The day was challenging because there were only three guys out for the majority of the session.

The few days before, it had rained lightly over the skies of Los Angeles.  I knew Matt was at National Guard duty, Khang was still nursing his neck, and the rest of the crew… no idea, really.  I just knew that I will be surfing on Saturday.

I got to the parking lot and the lot is one-third full.  Ross was getting changed.  He seemed pretty psyched about surfing.  There was still no one out in the line up at 6:40.  I scratched my head in confusion.

Then a set rolled in, creating hurdles of white water on the inside.  A lot of the locals looked at this, shook their head, and mumbled amongst themselves.  Ross changed his mind and said he was headed to the Avenues in Torrance. 

“Is it any better there, than here?” I asked him.

“No, but it will be closer to where I live.  Go Klaude, GO!”

Well if Ross told me to go, then I have to go.  I marched down to the sand and watched Calvin and Davey paddle out.

The paddle out wasn’t so bad, just a few sets on the head, and I was ducking them all with ease.  I got out to an empty line up, and stared at the horizon.  When a surfer is out alone in the big empty Ocean, it gets a bit lonely. 

Calvin waved me down and said, “Man, I’m glad you came out,” as if he shared the loneliness in the line up. 

Davey paddled towards us from South of the tower, and we three bobbed up and down together. 

Davey got a nice right to start off.  He hacked the first turn and made a sweeping cut back on the second before kicking out. 

Calvin was further North of us, and took a nice, long left.  He snapped three turns off before reaching the inside. 

Then came my turn… a nice set right.  I paddled and gunned for it.  This wave was all mine.  I felt the board flutter and feather from the wind rushing up the face of the wave.  The sun was in my eyes, the spray was covering my face, and I popped up.  I start pumping long lines on the face.  I never felt so fast on my Kadowaki Rocket shape.  Before I knew it, the wave mushed out from the tide, and I had to kick out. 

Davey was the clear cut stand out performer of the day.  He was going both left and right on his tiny board.  He always rides boards around 5’5” or smaller, and tears shit up!!!  He has the overall greatest skill set of 26th Street.  He was taking off deep on the rights and making almost every drop.  He would kick out on a lot of the rights because they mushed up so much though.  The lefts were definitely where the open faces were, and since Davey is goofy footed, he took full advantage.

Some of the real sets of the day bludgeoned me.  They made me realize that I needed a bigger board for these sets.  On two occasions, I had to ditch my board in an effort to save myself.  These rogue sets were solid four foot Hawaiian scale, with eight foot faces.  The set that clobbered me first was a behemoth that boiled from the outside.  The peak was beginning to spike up as I saw and paddled furiously to the outside.  The crest of the wave broke right where I wanted to be, and so I ditched my board at the last second and plunged into the dark, sandy bottom.  I felt the lip pushed me down, and so I protected my head with my arms and balled up my legs.  The wave washed me around and around, and then picked me up once more.  The same wave washed me up, and pounded me all the way down.  I felt my right leg being tugged by my leash.  “I’m probably tomb-stoning,” I thought to myself.  As bad as this was, I didn’t feel any panic.  I knew I could hold my breath, so I just waited until the wave let me go.  Once she let me go, I paddled back up, and laughed.  I smiled all the way back to the line-up. 

“Yo, I saw your board tomb-stoning,” Davey told me.  “I was wondering if you were gonna be ok, but you came up and laughed so I figured you were ok.”

“Yea, that was heavy, but it wasn’t that bad.  I felt my leash tugging on me, so I figured the board was tomb-stoning,” I told him. 

After I got a small left, I got caught inside.  I drifted passed the lifeguard tower, and so I got out, ran around, and waited to paddle back out.  Orlando called me over to say hi, and we both waited for the sets to die down.  And then we see Davey, paddle for an outside set – the bomb for the day.  He took off at the perfect spot, and tagged the lip once.  Then he pumped a few times, and did a sweeping carve.  Then he pumped a few more times and hacked the lip for a third turn.  Oh, but he wasn’t finished yet!  The section ahead of him started to break, so he put the pedal to the metal, and bolted off to the races.  He made it around the first section, then around the second section, and finally came to the inside.  He then tucked in, and disappeared from our view.  The wave was sandy and brown-white from the inside froth and then the exit started to close.  At the last second Davey gets shot out of the closing barrel and exits through the doggy door.  Elvis has left the building!!

Orlando and I hoot and holler like little groms at Davey.  He gives a wide grin at us and acknowledges us.  Then, he paddles out for more. 

The second paddle out was definitely gnarly.  I thought I waited long enough, but I was wrong, getting caught on the inside.  Water started to shoot down my suit and I thought to myself how in the world did I get out so easily earlier? 

The rest of the session is a blur, except for the fact that I got worked on the inside a few more times.  I had a few waves but they weren’t as good as the first ones I got.  And now, the line-up was crowded.  Well, crowded was a relative term for a day like this.  We went from three people in the line-up to about eighteen.  Still a 500% increase in the crowd is a lot.  

The session was awesome because of the lack of a crowd.  The lack of a crowd allowed for me to pick and choose which waves I could go for.  The session was challening because of the lack of a crowd.  The lack of a crowd meant that I had to go for waves I might normally not go for, and I felt that I backed out on a lot of waves even if I was in position.  I am kicking myself in the ass for that.  Today, I learned that I need to GO FOR IT.  I really felt like I could have pushed a little harder than I did today.  I could have gone for bigger waves, I could have put more oomph on my turns, and I could have done better.  I need to go for it.  For anything in life.  Go for it.  Go for it.  Go for it!!!!

Mahalos Mother Ocean.