Sunday, November 27, 2011

Giving Thanks

As the Thanksgiving holiday winds down, it got me thinking tonight about giving thanks and being grateful.  As much as I complain about not having enough time to surf – I even got skunked earlier today – I’m seriously so fortunate that I don’t have any real problems.  After all, I have my health, I have a roof over my head, I live in a safe neighborhood, I have a loving family and I could go on and on and on.  It’s amazing that so many of us have these basic necessities yet we find all sorts of crap to complain about.  So, I thought I’d make a list of all the things I’m grateful for as they relate to surfing.  In no particular order, I’m so very grateful for:

1.       Having discovered surfing; I can’t imagine a life where I’d be excited to play golf or video games

2.       Being fit (enough) to surf in my 40s

3.       Living in an era and country that enables me to have free time to do something as frivolous as surf

4.       Having a family that understands what surfing means to me and what it does for my peace of mind and demeanor; I’m a lot more pleasant to be around if I’ve gotten some surf

5.       Joel Tudor, Dave Parmenter, Greg Long, Bruce Brown and Kelly Slater

6.       Point surf

7.       Wetsuits

8.       Living in California and close (enough) to the beach

9.       Being able to surf in (generally) clean water

10.   Statistics that tell me how unlikely it is that I’ll be attacked by a shark

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving.  Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Trying a new board can be both fun and frustrating.  A new board is, well, new.  Different length, different thickness thus buoyancy, different sweet spot for paddling and turning and, if you’re really mixing things up, a different tail, fin configuration, and rail edge.  With all of these adjustments in a new board, you have to make adjustments in your surfing too.  You may have to paddle harder or sooner to catch a wave, stand farther back to drive a bottom turn or one off the top, and you may have to work harder to get more speed to get through the flats or around a section.  They say variety is the spice of life and it’s definitely true when it comes to surfboards. 
I bought this 9’2” John Peck Penetrator a couple of months ago off of a seller in Reno, NV of all places.  I was intrigued for a couple of reasons.  For one, John Peck is a legendary surfer who only recently returned to shaping – and is only doing it on a limited basis.  So, I was curious to see what he liked in a board.  One thing he sure likes a lot is Christianity.  There’s a ghost-like portrait of JC (no, not John Carper) on the nose and scripture and other spiritual messages written on the stringer on both the deck and bottom.  Second, I was intrigued by the interesting tail block which is essentially a dovetail off of the center stringer.  Lastly, it has a pintail and I was curious how a pintail would perform on a longboard.  By comparison, the longboard I’ve ridden for years is a little longer and a little thicker, it has a little more rocker and a square tail.  So, the Penetrator was a departure for me and what I’m used to surfing on as far as longboards go.  It looks like it’s taken a beating and I wonder if it almost buckled given the stress cracks running horizontally across the bottom and the dings on the deck at the rails just down from the half way point.  Regardless, the board is solid and sound with no delams.  I’ll clean these dings up and fix the cracks someday soon; I just couldn’t wait to take this board out and see how it felt.

I’ve only surfed it a few times, mostly in waist-high surf.  I liked the responsiveness of the pintail but definitely noticed that, with less rocker, I had to sit back on it a bit on takeoffs otherwise I’d pearl.  This weekend I took it out in head high surf and because there’s less rocker, the takeoffs are more critical.  On the steeper waves, the thin rails held really nicely in the face of the wave and the pintail would really pivot sharply but I’d inevitably bury one of the inside, knife-thin rail and...splash.  So while the board is ultra responsive, I have to adjust to how much more responsive it is to what I’m used to.  I look forward to getting a better feel for the board even though it’s going to come at the expense of some nice waves that I know I’d normally catch on another board.  So again, a new board can be both fun and frustrating.  But by switching it up every now and then we’re reminded of how exhilarating surfing is.  Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy.  Oh, and happy birthday Dad!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Just Another Circus

As most of you know, the circus came to town last week for the Rip Curl Search ASP contest.  It was a great event in that San Francisco provided sun and Ocean Beach provided clean offshore waves, both anomalies for much of the year.  Kelly won his 11th world title twice in one week, the first time prematurely due to an ASP scoring oversight and the second time officially after becoming the uncontested points leader.  This should make for an interesting Triple Crown in Hawaii as competitors will either go all out with nothing to lose or just phone it in with nothing to gain. 

Regardless, the Bay Area surf scene has returned to normal, kind of.  While the ASP circus has left town, filming has begun in earnest for the upcoming Jay Moriarty story, “Of Men and Mavericks.”  Starring Gerard Butler as Frosty Hesson, Jay’s big wave tutor, Johnny Weston as Jay, and the beautiful Elisabeth Shue as Jay's mom(?!), movie crews have been filming scenes in Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Pacifica and spots in between on the Peninsula.   If you’ve followed Maverick’s for awhile, you know this story well.  If not, think of it this way: Frosty was like Yoda to Jay’s Luke Skywalker.  I'm talking zen master.  Hopefully the finished product will be more like In God’s Hands and less Point Break. 

Until October of next year, I’ll be cautiously optimistic.  There just haven’t been a lot of good surfing movies made.  The better ones have been documentaries like The Endless Summer and Riding Giants.  I won’t pile on because I suppose anyone can find fault with a movie’s depiction of a sub-culture.  I for example love Big Wednesday but realize full well that it’s cliché and hokey.  On the bright side, as surfers we get to watch surfing movies and say, “I’ve surfed there!”  That’s pretty cool. 

Regardless, I hope “Of Men and Mavericks” does justice to Frosty, Jay and his family, the Maverick’s crew, and of course, those beautiful boards they ride out there.  I hope not to see scenes of Maverick’s chargers on 9-oh longboards or 6’4” thrusters or something in between.  I don’t know who they’ve hired to advise on these matters (is there a Jeff Clark in the house?), but do I hope the Hollywoods heed his or her counsel.  Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Congratulations to Kelly Slater for winning an unprecedented 11th world title.  Hell, his ASP title trophy collection was unprecended six titles ago.  Speaking of unprecedented, he has the amazing distinction of being the youngest World Champ AND the oldest World Champ.  If memory serves correctly, I think he's the only one from Florida too.  Oddly enough, this was his first title clinched on American soil.  And in beautiful OB conditions, another first! 

All 11 titles, and the notoriety that comes with them, couldn't happen to a nicer, more deserving guy.  Congratulations Kelly.  It's been so much fun watching you dominate and innovate all these years.  I'm excited to see what the future brings for you and what you bring for the future of surfing, whether that's a new tour, a wave pool, more titles, more dogs in the competitor's area or whatever.  You're an inspiration for surfing, staying healthy, and being true to yourself.  Peace and love.  Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy.