Wednesday, April 11, 2007

March Wave Wanderings

HOS In Baja . . .
By John (srf4life)

OK, so it wasn’t like some exotic two-month surf safari to Tahiti, but for a bunch of us working stiffs from the HOS, it was a chance to chill for a weekend in Baja and surf till we dropped. Before I go any further, we gotta give a big muchas gracias to Eddie, who lined up his Aunt and Uncle’s place near Cantamar for the gang to stay. Nothing like being able to wake up and check out the surf from your front window.

Our long-awaited sojourn began on a Thursday in late March after everyone got off work. Despite Trevor’s constant dire warnings of impending gridlock, we actually sailed through OC, through San Diego, and through the border without a hitch. From that point on, we welcomed Trevor’s steady stream of pessimistic pronouncements as a sure sign that everything would work out in the end.

Friday we decided to head further south to check out some spots. Salsipuedes wasn’t firing, but when we pulled up to San Miguel, the point had a nice shoulder-head high swell working, and not too many surfers in the water.

Trouble was, the crew there was mostly shortboarding locals who did not appreciate the nine new faces in the water, many of whom were on longboards that could easily pick up the set waves outside. Our group played it cool, however, returning hostile comments with a Zen-like wave-sharing ethos (Slider and Bobby J’s commitment to nonviolence would have made Gandhi proud). And while nobody got all the waves he wanted, we made no enemies and may have even made a few friends.

Yes, he made it!

Back at the house by afternoon, some of us decided to paddle out into the jacking beackbreak out front after lunch. The sets were running head high or better, and they were coming in at a steady pace. Occasionally you could get a shoulder, but more often than not the sets were closing out. Getting caught inside meant taking a beating. While everyone had his share of good rides, the nod that afternoon went to Todd for his insane drops, and Trevor, who absolutely ripped on his fish.

While Todd and Eddie’s crew (Chris, Daniel, and Frodo) were hooked on beachbreak adrenaline, the rest of us decided to go in search of walls that stayed open for more then 3 seconds. That night, we had dinner in Puerto Nuevo, and could see clean little reef breaks to the north, toward Gaviotas, so we resolved to head that direction the next day.

Saturday morning dawned sunny and warm, with a slight offshore caressing the waves, and Bobby and Lia, Trevor, Jeff, and John set off to a spot we had seen to the north of Puerto Nuevo. We were not disappointed. The reef groomed the fun little SW swell to perfection, and the sets had long, playful waist-to-chest high walls that peeled left and right. If this had been Cardiff or Swami’s the place would have been packed. As it was, we surfed alone that morning. Four of us in the water. Beautiful waves. Meanwhile, Lia got some great shots from shore. It was awesome. The weather was perfect, the water was glassy, and everybody got perfect long rides. After a couple of hours, the tide rose and shut down all but the biggest set waves, so we rode in and decided we would have to come back for an evening session.

When we returned, it seemed that the northernmost break offered a nice little point setup, and we paddled out for our afternoon session. As I paddled out, I saw Jeff get a picture perfect cheater five on one of the waves at the point.

Bobby got a couple of nice, long rights, and Trev got one of the bigger sets waves of the afternoon. Lia was up on the cliff above, taking more pictures of our rides to post on the HOS blog. We were out pretty far, maybe 200 yards, and I had just finished my first ride of the afternoon when Bobby and I heard Lia scream. Up on the cliff one miscreant was in Bobby’s truck and another was ripping the camera from Lia’s hands, threatening her with a rusty scissor. Bobby paddled in like a man possessed, and I followed. Fortunately two surfers at the bottom of the cliff had also heard Lia’s screams, and these good Samaritans climbed the cliff and chased the thieves. Unfortunately, the thieves made it to their car and got away before any of us could get our hands on them. The two good Samaritans helped flag down a police car and the crime was reported. While Lia lost her camera, it could have been much worse, and all of us—especially Bobby—were relieved that she was unharmed.

We were all very thankful to the two young surfers, Jaime and Jorge, who chased off the banditos. While thanking them, the young men explained in passable English that they were just learning to surf. In fact, it was only Jaime’s second time surfing.

I watched the two paddle out on their beat up short boards and flail around clueless in the whitewater. Since Bobby and Lia were ok, I decided to give them a quick surf lesson, and they eagerly agreed. I offered to let them ride my San-O, which is 10-6, and about as stable as the Queen Mary. After some basic pointers about paddling and catching waves, Jaime paddled into his first wave and stood up, riding straight to the shore. It was the first time he had been able to stand up, and he was beaming from ear to ear. He was whooping and chattering rapidly to his friend Jorge in Spanish, and I could tell he was stoked. Remember that first time you stood up? He had that look. He had found his inner surfer. Jorge had a little less luck standing up, but was giggling like a little kid. With practice I know they’ll both get better.

As the light began to fade, they got out of the water, beaming smiles still on their faces. Best of all, in the midst of a harrowing situation in which we saw the worst of human behavior, we also saw the best of human nature from these two young Mexicans. It gave me a good feeling to pass on the joy of surfing across cultures. The thieves have by now fenced their ill-gotten gains and probably pissed it away. On the other hand, Jaime and Jorge, two decent young men, are now stoked on surfing. And that lasts a lifetime.

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