Sunday, November 27, 2011

Post Thanksgiving Musings

T-minus two hours till I’m headed to Long Beach for the second surf lesson of the weekend. Nice to be booked the last weekend in November! Yesterday’s lesson saw amazing conditions. Once I again I was transported nostalgically back to my many years in California - water in the mid-50s, air in the low 60s, clear blue/green water, and not a soul in sight. The waves were one foot longboard perfection. My pupil, M., had no expectations other than to get to feel comfortable on a surfboard. It was her first time ever. So amazing how many muscles are used (that people don’t even know they have) in order to just keep oneself balanced in the middle of the board while paddling. For those of us for whom laying on a surfboard is second nature it’s all unconscious - that is until you begin to teach and then your student makes apparent to you all of these tiny things you’ve mastered over the years that are really quite difficult for a beginner. M., like a lot of people, got out the back fine, but then when it came to sitting on the board and maneuvering it, it looked like she was wrangling a bull. After many capsized efforts she finally tamed the beast and started looking comfortable. There was a slight eastward current, which meant that she also had to paddle west quite often, and this knackered her about an hour into the session. But she was all smiles. It was such a gorgeous day and we were pinching ourselves that we were just a forty minute drive away from Manhattan.

M. met her goal for the day and I managed to snag a few knee high spinners all the way across the beach. The amount of time it takes for me to catch a wave in a lesson and make it out the back to my student is about 30 seconds. With no one out in the water, they need to see an example of surfing, and who better to provide this than yours truly? Exactly. (Disclaimer: I am not “surfing” during the lesson. As I mentioned in a previous post, when I “surf” for myself I do not talk, let alone sit out the back patiently guiding a person in their paddling skills, board control skills, and wave judgment. In a lesson I catch about 5 waves in an hour. In a real surf I’d catch about 30 - especially on a longboard in knee high surf.) M. called it a day after three whiter waters and then we lugged the longboards up the white sands and proceeded to the bimmer’s trunk to de-neoprene and re-clothe. M. remarked that the wetsuit bit is it’s own part of the lesson. I laughed and agreed - it truly is. Wetsuit entrance and exit is another one of those little skills us lifers take for granted until we have to help someone else.

The drive back was quick and painless. My little N. Conduit to Atlantic to Eastern Pkwy to Flatbush over the Manhattan Bridge route is almost fool proof - this is also because I never drive it at rush hour. We had a nice chat about the importance of patience and I told some stories about Moss Landing back in the day - the tribal nature of it all (M. studied anthropology and is interested in surfing from that perspective - she was actually worried about surfing near locals and experiencing that aspect of surf culture. Fortunately for the both of us, people are much nicer on the east coast, and no one was out surfing anyhow). It was a smooth drop back off at Saturdays in Soho - they were crazy busy with their usual ultra hip crowd. I dropped Charlie’s board off in the back yard (I didn’t want to ride my fish and Charlie’s in CA so I borrowed his log and left my fish for collateral), but I held onto big red and stored it in my apartment building’s confined trash area (the super knows its my board, but I never leave it there for over 24 hrs), so I only have to make one trip to Saturdays today, not two.

When I got home I stuffed down all the Thanksgiving leftovers and went to my waiting tables job, which was rather slow and painless, and of course provides a little extra income stimulus for which I am very grateful. It’s actually so cool that they let me work there only 1-3 days a week. I seem to be the only non-jaded employee. Hmm, I wonder why...........

At 10:30pm I received a text from my best friend and total shredder, Andrew Dolan, that he had surfed from 10am to 5pm in Moss Landing. I haven’t had time to get back to him and needless to say I am a bit jealous. But I know how to counteract this emotion. Tuesday is supposed to be epic. I have PhD exams on Friday. So....I am going to drive out to Long Beach on Tuesday and bring all of my exam material with me - surf a couple of times and study in between. I don’t know why I haven’t already employed this method more often.

Last but not least, for you pro surfing fans out there, the Triple Crown is well on it’s way. Haliewa is complete - Taj nailed it. He should have won the contest based simply on that soulful lay back tube ride in the quarter or semi finals (I can’t remember which it was). The World Cup of Surfing at Sunset Beach is geared to start today and they have a bunch of good swell expected. Carissa Moore’s got entrance into that one - so look for her heat. She can totally hold her own with the boys. After Sunset comes Pipe, and let’s pray for swell and big barrels. I have my Fantasy team all locked in and don’t plan to change it at all. More on that as the time nears.

And so now I bid you adieu. I need to eat more than coffee and get all the gear together.
Pax. -Di

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Surf Like This

Take note everyone. This is how you do it. Any board any wave any time. Soul style. Unidentified (could be you) in Bali by Stacy (A-Frame) as found on

A Surf in the Life

REALLY FUN WAVES TODAY! I saw it coming like a week out. I woke up at 5:30am, made my cuppa French presse coffee, gathered booties and wetties, yanked clothing over my hazy self, and walked out the door with two boards under my arms at 5:50am. The fish is back in action, and I knew I’d probably end up on that, but I brought the standard shorty just in case it was really really really good (which it wasn’t - it was just good, which is good, but not the same as really, really, really good aka sick, firing, or going off - and there needs to be a lot of steep face to work with if I am going to ride the standard shorty - it's just more fun in those kinds of waves). It was foggy in New York, which never happens. I felt nostalgic for Moss Landing while driving over the Williamsburg bridge - that was bizarre. The funny thing about east coast morning fog, however, is that the sun is rising in the east, so the fog is actually already burning off at the beach. Not so much in California. Opposite in fact. I arrived at my favorite little spot at just shy of 7am and was greeted by 3-5 foot glassy groomed predominantly left-hand peaks. I snapped a few “evidence” photos with my phone, and ran down to the car. As I said earlier, my setup would be: 3/2 with hooded poly pro shirt and 3mm booties. I hate booties but they were a welcome addition today. The tide was super high and I saw the potential for burgering so I predictably rode my 5’6” Channel Islands first generation maroon colored glass-on finned fish. The thing is an absolute wave magnet. Out in the water the feeling of nostalgia hit me again. How many times in my life have I been surfing 3-5 foot waves in 55 degree water? Counting would be futile. There was a gaggle of pre-work super dorks doing lovely cockroach dances and epic drop flails all over the place. They had “paddle-around-me” written all over them, and so I did. Now this is not a skill that I take lightly or that I necessarily recommend, but like all secret weapons, it is called for in extreme situations. These situations are when you are a very skilled surfer in a large group of non-skilled to intermediate surfers who clearly aren’t locals, but who have figured out where is the best place to sit and catch waves. They surf in large groups, which makes me think they found each other on SurfGrindr or some such app, are generally jovial, but in most cases, are just in the way. I always look out for the decent surfers, locals, etc. and make sure that I take turns with them, don’t drop in on them, and generally just keep my safe distance. These types are easy to spot as well because they don’t chat a lot, and they make all of their drops with ease. There were two such guys out there today - Leo and his friend - older dudes who were pretty darn surf stoked. Leo was a little chatty - that’s how I know his name - but this happens to me a lot. For some reason East Coasters doubt the ability of their homebreak to generate good surfers so they usually paddle up to me and say something like, “There’s no way you can surf like that and be from here. Where are you from?” Then I say, “Monterey Bay California.” And they reply in no particular order: “What are you doing out here?” and “Aren’t there a lot of sharks there?” Then I say “graduate school” and “yeah, there are sharks there,” and then I probably catch a wave. I don’t like to chat for too long. Once you start chatting you stop surfing. Surf lessons are a completely different story here of course - in a surf lesson I’m chatting nonstop about wave judgment, etc., but not too much about life details (plenty of time for that in the car). So there’s a bit of lineup politics for you. Needless to say, I caught a ton of waves, and ruffled zero feathers. The only feathers that were ruffling were mine from the sheer speed at which that fish travels down a wave face. I love the glide! Seriously there is no better feeling than achieving a neat trim on any piece of wave craft. I do prefer, however, trim with fins. I love that feeling of your back foot firmly planted over the fins, which lends stability, control, and turnability. But hey that is primarily on account of the fact that I’m really a shortboarder at heart. A longboarder or alaia rider will tell you different. And their stoke is just as valid. Oh and to continue the thought regarding people paddling up to me - I find their shock at my ability weird because there are shredders from New York - serious shredders. Maybe it’s the addition of being female - not sure - but I guess it used to happen to me in SF too, so yeah, hmm, I dunno what’s up with that. Back to the session: head dips ala Rob Machado (my favorite kind - I seriously watched videos with Rob in them for like ten years straight); fin release cutties; white water climbs; and one really good fly away kickout to straight dive. I went left all session until this wedging right came straight to me. I took it and got a little Larry layback backside under lip action. Love that view of the lip! The waves were still good when I left and I know they pumped the rest of the day, but I have some serious exam studying to do, so it was back to the village for me. I swooped in at 10:35am just in time to grab a sweet post alternate side parking (9am-10:30am) spot on W11th st. Had a breakfast of eggs, sweet potatoes, yellow bell peppers, english muffin, and tea with my love, then right when I needed to do work I zonked out on the couch for two hours. Freakin surfing - it can be pretty draining. Now I’m back to life, with a copy of essays by Hannah Arendt a friend bequeathed to me on my birthday this year. One of the questions for my PhD entrance exams is: What is action in Hanna Arendt’s philosophy? And so, after an action-filled first half of the day, I’m wrapping my head around the conceptual nature of that. I may have a surf in me tomorrow, but I’ve also got to fit in about four hours of Aristotle. We shall see!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

DMatt Rankings Post Ripcurl Pro

Excuse the font size and type switch up. Little tweaks sometimes elude me.

The Ripcurl Pro Search at VFWs is over. The 17-year-old stylish air-hucking and power surfing protege, Gabriel Medina, took the thing. Yep, he was on my team and will be for the rest of his career. In fact, I’ve had someone on my team in the final in every event (except Jbay where I did soooo horribly - had both Kelly and Dane on my team). In SF came in 190somethingth place, still leaving me at 1700something in the overall rankings.

Medina surfed SF better than I’ve ever seen anyone surf it, except another Brazilian, Alex Martins. Truly all the guys hacked and boosted and floated so well out there, but then again, all but Medina fell a lot and had off and wonky heats, proving that OB is no easy slice of pie even for the world’s best. I bet a lot of OB surfers felt vindicated after watching the event whether live or online. Marcus Sanders’ article on Surfline seems to point in that direction. I know I was sure feeling good about myself. Not that I’ve ever surfed OB as well as Gabriel and Parko et. al., but I’ve had some pretty darn good surfs out there in the past ten years. It’s also more fun when “junky” than most people suppose - which the world’s top 32 made crystal clear. And bad surfers can make OB look really BAD, which happens probably about 200 out of 365 days a year. No offense to the locals, most of whom are decent, but hey, it’s a big city. Big cities have a high kook/beginner factor - it’s just the way the kookie crumbles. (I did make myself laugh right now.)

If I were to power rank the top 32 after this event I’d still have Ke11y at #1 because of Teahupoo. Until we see Gabriel in pumping pipe pits we can’t place him above #3, even though on the beachbreak circuit he’s clearly #1. Who for #2 then? You know, Parko is a cheeky devil, and he’s still got all the tricks plus retarded awesome style. He will be deadly at Pipe, as I think will Kerr. We’d nearly forgotten about Taj and Mick in the SF comp with old dogs like Knox and Perrow throwing tons of power flash and young pups like Pupo, Muniz, and Medina showing us that they clearly have the whole bag. Without much explanation this is how I’d rank the boys after SF:

  1. Kelly: 11x world champ. Nuff said.
  2. Parko: The age-mate gets the nod. Good in all conditions. Looking solid for Pipe.
  3. Medina: Most stylish and well-rounded surfer to ever come from Brazil.
  4. Wright: What happened in that quarter final?!! Otherwise, solid.
  5. Kerr: Is going to put it together. Extreme consistency. Needs to push past 1/4s.
  6. Muniz: 3 semifinals. Vertical backside merciless hacks. Retarded rotations.
  7. Wilson: Has multiple wins in him.
  8. Knox: Power is not dead. We all knew that. It just took Knox + OB to remind us.
  9. Bourez: Eye of the fking tiger. Stop whining about beachbreaks. But deadly.
  10. Taj: What are you doing this far down?
  11. Fanning: The hoody is ugly. Take off the booties. Pipe watchout.
  12. Jordy: We’re still waiting for complete rib injury recovery. 95%
  13. Wilko: Madman. Tailwafts to die for. He’ll grow up and cut the hair eventually.
  14. Pupo: 2nd most stylish and well rounded surfer ever to come from Brazil.
  15. John John: If you don’t put him on your team at Pipe you’re an idiot.
  16. De Souza: Determination and all the moves. Lacks style - always has.
  17. Simpo: My favorite surfer from CA right now.
  18. Jadson: Pupo and Medina make him look choppy, but he still rips. Watch the kids!
  19. Perrow: Barrel master. Best barrel of anyone at OB in the whole comp.
  20. Freddy P: Elite pro surfer of the middle ranks. Surfs better than you.
  21. Durbidge: Also surfs better than you, but not better than some of his mates.
  22. Davo: Wildcard. Thought OB was his jam. Forgot to butter the bread first.
  23. Ace: I love Ace’s surfing. It’s not boring to me, but he’s not winning.
  24. Gudauskas: So weird to me that he’s not up in the top 15. But he’s not.
  25. Monteiro: 3rd most stylish Brazilian. Pipe darkhorse.
  26. Dusty: Too Volcom Hawaiian for the tour. Btw, it was a dolphin.
  27. Logie: In France we believed. In SF we doubted.
  28. Ottz: One o’clock backside hacks. He gets the worst heat draws.
  29. Ross: Power in plenty and a bit of flash. Something stiff in the lower back region.
  30. Pires: Another age-mate I want to see put it together. Wave selection!!!
  31. Flores: Injury, otherwise in the tens.
  32. Heitor: Injury, otherwise in the teens.
  33. Dane: make Tshirts and ride weird boards. We still love you.

So that’s my rap. Didn’t surf today actually. There are little nuggets and I do have a surf in me this week.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Firing Long Beach and Ripcurl Pro Update

I drove out to Long Beach this morning with Anya (a photographer who is also my nephew, Sasha’s, mother). I knew the waves were going to be good. I knew it was good on Wednesday, but I opted for a crazy uptown adventure mission: trying to get to the little red lighthouse under the George Washington Bridge. I almost surfed yesterday and was closely monitoring the cams on my iPhone (Surfline Premium app) from 7am until 10:30am. Jersey was firing. I never want to drive to Jersey. I need a super motivated surf bro for that because I hate driving alone on freeways. One person and I’m good, but with only myself in my head I get tunnel vision. Hard to find a surf bro in NY whose schedule matches up - it’s crazy out here - everyone is on a schedule and if they aren’t then, well, that messes up your schedule. Long Beach and Rockaway were ugly side shore with huge bands of chop running vertically down the beach. I saw a few smashable pockets but there was a neat academic fashion conference (I realize that the words “fashion” and “academic” are hardly spoken in the same sentence - I guess I am trying to change that) happening at FIT, and I was scheduled to work at the restaurant starting at 3:30pm. Not worth it. Plus Anya had free today.

The trip out to Long Beach is so short in a car. I picked Anya up in Williamsburg at 9am. I was listening to NPR. The EU is scared of Italy becoming “the new Greece” and current investigation has found that NY cops have been altering and tampering with violation tickets for decades. Astonishing. In forty minutes I was running up the boardwalk with strong offshores at my back. I looked up. Yep. Firing. 3-4 foot lefts. Back to the car. Today I wore my 3/2 fullsuit with a poly pro hooded longsleeve shirt; no gloves; no booties. Water temp was around 60 degrees. Air 50 or so. Maybe 45 with windchill. A guy told me I was crazy. I told him it was like a summer in California (except the offshores).

It looked super barreling but they were really hard to squeak into. The tide was quite low and it was obvious that you would have to be very deep and very inside to grab the good ones. I started off quick and caught a few runners. I felt a little rusty on my shortboard, but was paddling strong. I saw a handful of guys blow what seemed to be very easy takeoffs. To their credit, the wind was pushing hard up the face. But I didn’t want to blow drops or miss opportunities so I vowed to takeoff no matter how late I thought I was. I still missed the two best sets of the day because I was out of position, i.e., out of rhythm. Years of surfing and especially the past five years paying close attention to professional surfing has taught me that this happens to the best of us. Yes, even Kelly has bummer heats. I’ve seen them. They’re rare, but they do happen.

All in all it was so great to be in the water attempting to slide down tubes of universal energy until my feet got cold and the sets became fewer and farther in between. But there were still waves. And there probably still are right now. But for today two hours was enough. Anya and I ate at the LBD (Long Beach Diner) and then I picked up my fish from ding repair at Maritime Surf. The guy, Mike, did a fantastic job. They weren’t gnarly dings, just old ones coming undone, a little rail gouge (SUP idiot in Montauk), and the points of the tail had simply ground down over the 5 years I’ve owned the little magenta wave magnet.

The drive back is never as fast. We left Long Beach at 1pm and I arrived in the West Village, after dropping Anya off in Williamsburg, at 2:40pm. But I immediately got a parking spot less than half a block from my apartment building - not bad for NYC on marathon weekend’s eve.

In Fantasy Surf news, the Ripcurl Pro in SF has been on hold for two days. I didn’t do as hot has I had hoped in rounds 2 and 3. As expected, Dane Reynolds lost to Bede Durbidge. It was dumb to pick him, but then again, he’s just so unpredictable - it seems as though he might just freakishly win any random contest he enters. Anyhow, Dane’s the only man I lost in round 2. In round 3 Kelly, Owen, Gabriel, and Miguel advanced. They’re all on my team. But I lost Julian Wilson to Brett Simpson (who was on my original SF team because it can be like Huntington sometimes), and Davo to Parko, which if I was at all good at math or stat I might have been able to see coming. I remember almost wanting to put T. Knox on my team, and in hindsight that might have been a good idea. OB suits him well. Same with KP. Very stoked to see him beat Adriano, who rips to high heaven, but whose style makes me wince. Pupo and Medina are the next Brazilian level - they are so casual - I like it. Oh and I am still waiting to see how Kerr goes in round 3. Would love to see him put it together and take the thing. Him v. Slater in the final would be sweet.

Next surf for me is looking like Tuesday. I’ll wear the same set up except this time with booties.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Start of the Ripcurl Pro SF

Hooked on watching the surf comp in SF. I have three fantasy surf guys in Round Three already - Slater, Medina, and Davo. Now I need Wright to beat Dean Brady; Julian Wilson over Tommy Whits (feeling good about this one); Dane over Durbo (not feeling good about this one); Kerr over Logie (hard to say); and Pupo over Ottz (not feeling good about this one). Owen’s got it, so I’m now four for four, and need the remaining guys to make it and not match up against one another in Round 3. Feeling good for Davo or Slates to take the comp. Davo was a last minute pick, but when I looked at his fantasy surf profile and thought of his personality and his surfing, I realized he has SF all over him. Punk rock power and gritty determination. Is there a better combination? Besides that no one is landing their airs or end section floaters, as expected of course. For this reason I have been looking forward to seeing whether or not this would be the case because I had so much trouble all those ten years surfing there to pull off end section maneuvers. When I did, however, it always felt sweet as candy and also boosted confidence like a spike in blood sugar. My rotator cuffs are probably worse for the wear after those same ten years, as anyone watching the event can see - the water moves at a minimum of 15 knots on a good day. Where would I be surfing this day? Probably would’ve given VFs or Sloat a go around 10am when the waves were good, and if I had another sesh in me I’d be down in Lindamar right now surfing sideshore hightide reforms. Tomorrow morning has Fort Point and heckling written all over it.

Listening to Owen’s interview right now: “Hardest heat I’ve ever surfed. I was duckdiving the whole time.” Damn straight.

The New York event definitely had better waves and is making me feel pretty good about the city I have chosen to complete my PhD in.

As per Dusty Payne’s “sighting”: sharks don’t bite in SF. If you see one he has food in his belly. I’ve seen three there and it is scary, but for whatever reason there is just no history of attacks at OB. Go north thirty minutes and it’s a different story. Or go south thirty minutes and you’re more likely to be “investigated.”

Back to the New York front of things: three days of sick waves forecasted Wednesday-Friday. I’m going try to get two out of the three days in. Stoked to pick up my fish from ding repair at Maritime Surf and have half a mind to throw down on a used Takayama 6’6” egg so I can give the fish a break when I teach lessons.