Saturday, December 31, 2011

More Pics from My Last Surf Adventure of 2011

My Last Surf of 2011

This shot was taken at about 11:30am on Wednesday, December 28, somewhere in Northern New Jersey. I say somewhere not so much to protect the spot as that I actually do not even know where this is. Yes, I paddled out and yes, I surfed rights similar to this one, but I only have a rough idea of where I was because it was only my second time surfing down there. Clearly I need to surf there more, but I think it will take at least another year to figure where the spots are and to know where and what I'm actually surfing. As it stands I just kind I drive down and poke my car around in different corners looking for the best thing going, in a reasonable amount of time. After checking about 4 other spots my buddy, Juan, and I pulled up to this spot and watched the two dudes out there get shacked silly. Not wanting to spoil their fun, we checked another spot just up the beach, but it wasn't as mechanical, so we flipped back around, parked and paddled into this gorgeous lineup. The original two guys had gotten their fill of perfect shacks and had left, but there were now about 4 to 6 other guys their stead, only two of whom could actually surf, which made it pretty easy to get in position for the spinners. My second wave was the best backside barrel I've had in ages — since I left San Francisco definitely. I just sat there with my bum on the face, almost Indian style, watching this brownish green cylinder throw out in front of me with no sign of clamping shut. I came out of that first section, saw a second, and got greedy trying to do a fancy layback and then got sucked over. I was a bit mad at myself for ruining a perfect ride, but still, it was sick, and I shouldn't be too hard on myself. I was also shocked at how I can go from two weeks of academic sedentariness into 4-5 tubing backside pits with little to no awkwardness. There's always a little anxiety at first, but it disappears after the first wave, when the competence has been proven. After that sick one I got a bunch of long barrels that closed out on me near the shore (it's so cool how dark and deep the barrel gets when you're riding into the bottom of it). After a few of those I slid into another magic one and made sure not to try any fancy stuff at the end — just keep the line and come out clean, which is what I did. I am still trying to recollect all of these in my head. The silence. The vision. It all happens so fast. Just gotta go do it again. Or write about it. Or bring a photographer along. Pick one or combine a few. Definitely bring a buddy. I saw Juan do some sick backside hacks and witnessed him emerge from a rare left barrel (frontside for him — we're both goofy) that he found down the beach. At that point the tide was getting too low and the swell was dropping rapidly, making the rights too fast to make. As fun as closeout barrels are, they get old after about the 10th one. Still I highly recommend them to anyone working on his/her tube skills. The best way to learn how to barrel ride is to pull into closeouts. We surfed for about two hours then came in and still hungry for surf, changed half way (left the bottoms of our suits on) and drove around looking for another wave. But nothing really spoke out to us. We wanted ramps and walls to carve on and instead were offered fast, small racy rights with hard offshore winds. Looked great for bodysurfing, but not worth it with how cold the 30 knot offshores were making the air. I will post some photos, however, of the spots we checked, and they do look pretty darn good, but I'll admit right now, most of the waves are closeouts. At any rate, it was a great way to have my last session of 2011 and reminded me of why I was stoked to move to the East Coast: any time you move somewhere new it's like you're living your own version of The Search. Even though there's people who know Jersey and all other East Coast spots like the back of their hand, it's all new and adventurous to me. Keeps perspective fresh and inspired. Here's to "discovering" more waves in 2012!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Post Pipe

Pipe is over. Kieren Perrow won the thing. John John had the highest heat tallies throughout the event, but sometimes the guy with that stat doesn't win. Slater had his heat of the comp against JJ, and in my opinion totally legitimately beat the kid. Word to the wise: do not let Slater have priority when he needs an 8+ ride. KP was on fire the whole event, and if I would have read my pre-pipe post a little more closely I probably should have taken my own observations from that winter watching pipe and put my money on him. Hindsight always 20/20. And now the moment all the guys on tour and all the fans of surfing have been waiting for for 9 months is here: the break between ASP seasons. The guys on tour can chill with their families and the rest of us can stop watching contests online and get some real work done. One thing I kept hearing/seeing/reading over the past few weeks is how the surfers really feel that they "have the best lifestyle" of any one in the world. Every time I hear that I get a bit jealous - I feel like I am not in it enough - I don't surf three times a day any more. But then I sit back and remind myself that even though surfing is not my sole occupation any longer, it is still a massive part of my life. I mean I am not being flown around the world searching for perfect warm water reef passes, but I am in it. Every session gives me enough joy to last at least till the next one, clears my head, invigorates my limbs, and sends pulses of stoke through the core of my being. And at the end of the day after this PhD coursework is all done and dusted who knows, I just might write my dissertation in between sessions at random firing locations. All that said, surfing is a great lifestyle, definitely one of the best, but I'm sure there are some other folks out there that are pretty happy with the paths they've chosen, and good on them for that. If there is one thing that I agree with Aristotle about it is that happiness is both fleeting and relative. -D

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pipe Updates

And so the final day is upon us. The quarters are set: Parko v. J.O.B.; Slater v. John John; Valiere v. Bourez; Perrow v. Medina. I have 4 out of 8 of my FS surf team into the quarters. Would have had 5 if I wouldn't have dropped J.O.B. like a retard. But all along I would have gotten a fat 0 for picking Freddy P, whom shall no longer be picked at all since he has fallen off of the WT. I lost Wilson, Wright, and Payne in Round 3, which will severely damage my FS score this round. Come OZ time Payne and Pattachia will definitely be nixed from my list in favor of the new arrival, Andino. Wilson, Medina, Wright, Andino, and Florence will be my core team - Medina and Wilson's values have already shot through the roof since I first put them on. Slater is a variable at this point. If he does the tour, he stays. If he's off I'll have like $12,000 more to work with. At any rate, I'm not doing horrible at Pipe. If John John doesn't win I'll be shocked. Looking forward to watching the webcast today. -D

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Double Oops!

Well I blew it. Read the directions incorrectly. The FS rule is that ANY surfer has to make it through the first round in order to score points regardless of whether they're on the WT or not. So my drop of J.O.B. was totally retarded. Trading him for Dusty Payne, however, might not have been that dumb, but I guess I should've dropped Freddy P cuz he lost in the first round, thus gaining me ZERO points for that choice. Fortunately all my other pics are in Rnd 3 already, so I'm safe there. Waves are nuts in Hawaii right now. Bummed I have to work tomorrow - would prefer to watch Pipe go nuts. -D

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The reason why I signed up for twitter in the first place: to help me play fantasy surf. Just learned that the wildcards will win you a big fat ZERO points no matter how far they go at Pipe. According the FS rulebook, if they're not currently seeded in the top 36 they cannot add to your total score. So those Hawaiian specialty guys like J.O.B. - forgetta bout em. Just switched out J.O.B. for Dusty Payne. At least there was one other Hawaiian to pick from on tour! Oh and it looks by the cams that the waves turned on this arvo. Was stuck in meeting and car is still on the island. Shoots! Get em next time. -D

The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For......Pipe!

Well the surf never materialized last Tuesday - that day I said I’d pack up the books and camp out at the beach all day. It materialized on Friday - the day I had my oral examinations for entrance into the PhD program at 10am. The exam lasted an hour and at the end of it I received two “high passes,” which means that I am now a PhD candidate in Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. It also means that I can start asking them for more money (as it is the New School has horrible funding for grad students, but the education is unexcelled - it’s a battle-picking issue). On any normal day I would have headed straight to the beach to celebrate, but this wasn’t a normal day. R. and I had to leave for Miami early the next morning and still had gifts to buy for the in-laws, clothes to pack, errands to run, and I had to be at the waiting tables gig at 4:30pm. Just before work, around 3:45pm, I looked at the Lincoln cam on Surfline and watched a guy pitch a perfect trim across a stealthy little left hander and sighed. But with this test out of the way and the trip to Miami behind me I am now geared to be on the next pulse - if one comes (last winter was surprisingly flat).

Friday was also the final day of the Vans World Cup of Surfing (total misnomer) at Sunset Beach, and man did they score. It was 8-12 feet all day and seemed to turn on most for the final heat. I didn’t get to pay very close attention to the Sunset action, as I was sneaking peaks on the AspTogo app on my iPhone at work, but after the shift I sat down with the heat analyzer. I had an intuition that John Florence would take it and that turned out to be true - he was clearly on fire at Haliewa and if you’ve been watching pro surfing at all in the past three years you would have seen his first few goes at the Pipe event - this kid can read a Hawaiian wave like Dick Bernstein can read Hannah Arendt. All bets are on him to win Pipe.

I have surfed Pipe once. I was living on the North Shore in the late winter of 2000/early spring of 2001, just coming off a broken wrist - I had been in a cast from June to November of 2000 (the damn thing refused to heal - I am pretty sure it was because I was vegan at the time). I went over to Hawaii with a friend from growing up who turned out to be a total creep and a wuss when it came to bigger waves - pretty much the worst combination ever. On the brighter side, I was staying in front of V-land with some wackos including this gnarly bodyboard lady, Carol, and her convict boyfriend (whom the FBI ejected from the house one night when we were all sitting up playing cards). Hmm, that’s not quite bright. Well I had a blast surfing V-land. Mason Ho was about 10 at the time, already wearing a gold chain, sporting a funny fro, and shredding. Perry Dane scowled around the line up and visiting pros stopped by frequently to do enormous floaters over the inside bowl (namely a young Dane Reynolds). As I said, my surf bro at the time was a total wuss and I was coming off this injury so charging Sunset and just checking out some heavier North Shore stuff wasn’t happening for me that year. I surfed Rockies and Ehukai and some stuff in between there, but mostly camped out at V-land. Carol offered to take me out to Pipe one day though and I took her up on the offer. It was only 3-4 foot and very shifty. I didn’t really know where to sit - and was wearing a wrist brace. I caught an insider (no barrel) and turned around to have the biggest set of the morning (a rogue 5-6 footer) looming above my head. I had watched Pipe a number of times and no one tries to duckdive - you just ditch. I ditched my board, popped under water, opened my eyes and saw only reef. It was about 2 feet deep and it looked like I had nowhere to go. Then I started swimming along the bottom when I heard a crack louder than bombs above my head. Seriously this might have been the most frightening sound I’ve ever heard. I felt the power near my legs and thought, “I made it,” when all of a sudden a finger of whitewater picked up my stick-skinny body (still vegan at the time) and pulled me over the falls, pile driving me back into the reef heel first. From there the wave proceeded to hold me down on the reef scrubbing me like a kitchen sponge on a pot that has oatmeal stuck to the bottom. I came up spitting water and another wave broke on my head. My leash snapped from this one and I had to swim in with my gimp arm. Once on the beach I noticed I had a nice chunk of flesh taken out of my heel and some lovely scrapes on my thigh (thank god I was wearing shorts and not just a bathing suit as Carol had suggested). And that was my first and last time out at Pipe. I have been back to Hawaii once or twice since then, but have never been in the right mindset to give Pipe another go. It’s a shame because if I’ve ever felt ready or skilled or confident enough to hold my own on the North Shore it would be now - now that I’m not trying so damn hard to be a pro surfer. Ironic, yes, and the reasons comprise an entirely different blog post regarding my personal relationship to pro surfing and the surf industry. But enough of that dark matter. I have surf Pipe - I got my ass handed to me on a small day, which serves to show that the people that rip and charge it are on another level all together. (A small disclaimer for myself: I surfed Ocean Beach for ten years after this Pipe incident. Again, a shame I never gave the whole North Shore thing another whirl, but c’est la vie.) I love watching that wave and would sit there many times on my stay(s) at the North Shore when it was 8-12 feet on the second reef. I remember being impressed by Kieren Perrow, Ross Williams, and that Japanese dude Takayuki Wakita (I think that’s his name). And I still like to watch the webcasts - I have distinct memories of every Pipe event since they’ve been running the tour online. The most memorable to me was the year Kelly won on a 5’9” in brown barrels against Chris Ward. That was perhaps the most mental performance I’ve ever witnessed in a surfing competition.

And so Pipe......“the most respected wave in the world”.........the final event of the highly chaotic 2011 ASP World Tour, is finally upon us. The event starts tomorrow morning, with a first call at 8am Hawaiian time (1pm EST). A good NW swell is on the forecast and rumor has it that the swell that graced Sunset Beach took some much needed sand off of the reef. I have a funny fantasy surf team for this event, but I’m sticking to my guns: Wright, Slater, Wilson, Medina, J.O.B., Florence, Patacchia, and Parko. The most uncanny picks are Wright, Wilson, and Medina, but the thing is with fantasy surfer you’ve got to get a core team that you believe will excel in any event and these guys, plus Slater are my core team. Not only that but Wright and Wilson have already shown us that they have what it takes in thumping pits (Teahupoo and Portugal), and with Medina, well, I’m giving it a go just for the hell of it. Slater is a no-brainer - with 11 world titles, a tube sense beyond belief, and enough confidence to cure an entire ward of clinically depressed individuals, he’s definitely the man to beat. As for wildcards, I only picked J.O.B. (Jamie O’Brien) because according to himself and to everyone else he is an undisputed Pipe Prince. He and John Florence are two white Hawaiians who grew up on the North Shore and have channeled all the native mana from from the mountains, sand, and sea. Same thing for Bruce Irons. Beyond their pipe skills all three have crazy smooth styles. I’ll be rooting for Bruce, for sure, unless of course he lines up against someone on my team. Everyone is pulling for him, especially since this event, like Teahupoo, is dedicated to the memory of his brother, the late great A.I.. Then there’s my other two picks, Fred and Parko. Hard to bet against either of them in Hawaii. Until this year Parko’s won three triple crowns in a row. Also I’ve been noticing a fire in Fred that I think might just be able to build enough momentum to take the whole house down - at least I hope this is the case. At any rate, Fred can surf both Pipe and Backdoor, and is a necessary Hawaiian stalwart on the ASP World Tour. I would love to see him and John in the final. That would be epic.

Now I must get back to the things that need taking care of: editing papers for the journal I publish at school (editorial meeting at 1pm today), reading Freud, writing papers, and going to pick up the car from the mechanic in Long Island (little issue with burning oil - nothing too major). You can bet I’ll have the live webcast minimized with sound off whenever the event’s on GO, unless of course I happen to be at work or surfing. The forecast out here for the next week is pretty grim, however, but I’ll maintain my watchful eye. Until next time, stay stoked! -D