Today the wind was gusting to 35 mph from the northwest, and the wind-swell was 12 feet every 7 seconds from the west. In other words, epic conditions for experienced downwind paddlers, however I’ve never before paddled in anything quite like it.
S. and I went to check the flag at Trump Natl Golf course, to see what the real wind direction was, only to discover they had taken it down in the high winds. So we walked out to the point at Trump and could see large waves rolling past with the chop breaking at angles to the swell, so … messy, but as good as it gets around Palos Verdes California. It was brrrrr and windy with no golfers in sight.
After a couple of errands it was time to go. I left the camera at home because i really needed to focus on not damaging my board or myself today, so you get the above buoy data instead! My plan was to paddle (or get blown) the 8 miles from TerraNea to Cabrillo, and stay a mile or so further out than usual, to pickup the larger waves that were heading more downwind. But the first challenge was finding a parking spot at TerraNea!
Once I parked and got down the rock beach, I could see 6 foot waves breaking every 3-4 seconds directly on the rocks. The trick is to get the board across the rocks and impact zone between the waves. The problem was that the ocean was sucking out horribly in between each wave and then exploding onto the boulders which you could hear loudly grinding themselves into sand. There was no gap between normal waves, so I had to wait. Eventually two waves canceled each other out and there was a 5 second lull … time to go! I made it out almost completely dry with no damage.
I paddled out a few hundred yards, turned more downwind and stood up. The wind immediately starting pushing me towards Cabrillo, no paddling necessary … unless I wanted to catch the waves. A few paddle strokes and the board was making a wake. The downwinder was on!
After about 90 seconds a wave hit me from the side and launched me into the refreshing;y cold water. Another minute or two, and a breaking wave from behind knocked out the board from under me. Another few minutes and two waves collided and catapulted the board and I into the air. And on it went, about 20 falls in all. Eventually I started to get the hang of it and caught some of smaller bumps. I couldn’t seem to get the speed needed for the bigger, more developed waves. I needed to catch the smaller ones to be going fast enough to catch the faster, bigger waves. But I couldn’t seem to get the timing right, except when the waves caught me. That was fine with me though, just getting home would be good.
I had to stop a rest a number of times and would usually turn around to see what the waves looked like. Some of the bigger waves would stretch out the bumps of the wave face and become smooth, steep, perfect walls of beautiful clear blue water. One such set of waves was significantly bigger than the rest. I shouted when the largest one of all rose in front of me. This was IT!