Posts Tagged ‘nature’

I know that when surfers plunk down sixty bucks on a pair of wetsuit boots they are not making a lifelong committment.  I am fully aware that these boots, and even the gloves and suits for that matter, are consumer products with a shelf life in alignment with the average Hollywood relationship.  I also hypothesize that there is some grand marketing plan behind it all; with a CEO looking at the prototype, asking his team of designers, “are you sure that these boots will fall apart after six months of normal use? Because that will truly alter my bonus and our bottom line if they don’t.”

None the less, and maybe because I am a cheap SOB, I feel like these products should offer more of a return on the investment.  Afterall, when they are through being useful, the rubber generally ends up in a landfill, free to release toxic compounds for generations to come.  So why, as a half-awake buyer, should I not anticipate a long and happy marriage with this costly gear?

So fast forward to my second season in my Infinity 7mm boots.  Snug as a bug in a rug when purchased, but more torn than a pair of Union Solider boots during the Crossing of the Delaware, as the second February came closing in. 

I knew I was in trouble given their current state of repair and the 36 degree water temperatures.  So I borrowed a bottle of this product that is essentially rubber cement glue on A-Rods vitamins, slathered every hole in my gear, and paddled out for a friendly Sunday surf session.

As soon as the waves wrapped around my ankles I knew I was in trouble.  My boots took on water, or should I say ice water, faster than an oil company raises gasoline prices.

Still, I decided to play through the pain.  I was suited up, and the waves were glassy and fun.  About an hour into the afternoon my foot began to throb mercilessly.  I will spare you the dramatics, and let you know that I dodged a few more waves and then grabbed one for home.  

The glue did help with this hole... I think...

The run, I mean limp, up the beach was excruciating.  The rock solid sand, coupled with the ice and snow, made matters worse.  By the time I reached the car I was cursing these blasted boots, and the glorified Elmer’s Glue. 

Sure my digits were intact, right down to the smallest toe, but my session was cut short, and that is the point right?  For sixty bones you might think I could get a little bang for my buck.

Advertisements

As the last winter storm pushed out to sea it left some damn fine surf in its wake.  The waves turned on for an a few hours in the middle of the day and the wind shifted off-shore.  It should not go unsaid that the water temperatures were hovering just above 37 degrees, which meant that the crew who made it out were able to feast as opposed to famine. 

Below are a few of the photos I snapped. 

No need for a GPS to find your way here.

An unknown rider summoning his inner guide

Make a right at the light and go straight into night

More tube time than the Holland Tunnel

A mid-winter traffic jam

With barely a soul to see

 

Which suits this guy just fine

 

As I write this New Jersey is digging out of a massive snowstorm which left several feet in its wake.  In a few words, it is cold, it is icy, and it is mean.  Flash to another time and place with me though.  The palm trees are swaying to the hum of the paradise breeze, while crystal blue barrels fire in 78 degree water.  The air lightly hints of sunscreen, but in actuality it is the coconut trees in the distance that are so fragrant. 

Well, the first account is my reality- the latter is the reality of Mr. Gene Wahl, owner and lead shaper for Essence Surf.  He is currently in Hawaii testing out some of his new designs.  Fortunately, I had the chance to catch up with him before he left about all things Essence Surf.

SSS:  So what is happening in Gene Wahl’s world?

Gene Wahl: I have been shaping a bunch for one thing.  I have also been getting prepared for my trip to Hawaii.

SSS: Is this more work or vacation? 

GW: It is hard to tell (laughs). As a company Essence Surf has been in expansion mode to a degree and so there is definitely an angle that pertains directly to the business model.  On the other hand, I will be surfing a bunch of new designs I have been working on, and that does not feel a bit like work.

SSS: Are you talking about one off designs, or are you crafting signature models at this point?

GW: These are defiantly models for future shapes.  For instance, I have the latest update on the Quasar where I decreased the nose width so that it holds better in the high line.

SSS: What else is in the board bag?

GW: Well, the Misfit is something that I am really excited about.  There are three variations; the standard short board, the 5 fin set up and the quad channel. 

SSS: What can someone expect from the Misfit?

GW: It is a solid go-to shortboard.  The quad channel is extremely fast and is a little wider in the turn.  This make is great for big cut backs on an open face.  Both the standard and the 5 fin are made to get up into the lip and to go vertical on demand.

 

SSS: So outside of the new boards what else will be happening for you?

GW: I am really excited because while I am in Hawaii I will be meeting up with Ben Aipa.  He is such a classic surfer and shaper.  I have had the chance to spend time with him in the past and to learn from him and it caused my shaping and surfing to grow in leaps and bounds.  It is an honor to spend time with a master of the craft. It is a blessing to see the tool work and technique of someone who shapes at his level.  Of course, at the end of the day my goal is to bring that knowledge back to New Jersey.

SSS: So we have a small branch on the historic tree?

GW: Maybe more like a leaf, but yeah. (laughs)

SSS: So Essence Surf is positioned to have a good run in 2011?

GW: We are.  There are plenty of custom orders to keep the bays busy.  Local shapers can reach out to us directly if they need a blank as well. We are offering glassing services and if someone wants to learn how to shape we offer classes. 

SSS: Just check the website right bro?

GW: Exactly.

SSS: I hope you bring back some aloha spirit too, New Jersey needs it.

GW: I will see if I can fit it into my carry on.

So, the last great swell that New Jersey and the rest of the East Coast had has gotten plenty of press- as well it should.  There are the pictures on surfline as well as Mikey Ciaramella’s sequence of the week.  Localswell has also posted a bunch of great pictures which they always do.  Kudos to them.

That being said, and I know I am late to the party, I thought I would share a few of the pictures I snagged.  Central Jersey was absolutely firing and the breaks were completely empty.

A Perfect Peeling Right.  Well Over Head.

A View From the Dunes

In other news I recently touched base with one of Jersey’s favorite sons again, Mr. Gene Wahl.  There are big things happening with Essence Surf and he gave me some great information.  Check back right after Thanksgiving for the complete interview.

Another shaper that is beginning to shine is Basil Giletto.  After his first ever wood board worked with some success he jumped right back in.  The pictures that follow are of his second attempt, and this time he made a single fin fish.

The board is currently sitting in my garage and awaiting a maiden voyage.  The prospects look bright.  I feel guilty putting wax on the thing though.  It is just to damn good-looking! 

However, when the waves come it will be going out.

 

While all of those who trick or treated donned their costumes yesterday I pulled on my wetsuit and grabbed a few knee high waves.  It was a bit of a shock to my system to find out that the water temperature had dropped to a brisk 59 degrees.

Fortunately, I had booties on along with my 3/2 wetsuit.

This set-up was fine given that the sun was shining, and I was able to surf for a comfortable hour.  Still, when I got out my fingers were numb, and I suffered from a bit of tooth chatter.  The moral of the story is that winter suit season is rapidly approaching. 

As a matter of fact, the chances are slim that I will surf next time without gloves.

I am sure that there is some hearty soul somewhere who is “trunking” it one last time and they have a club for that type of a person…

 

I on the other hand will be shopping for a new wetsuit.  Something in the 5/3 range to help me transition through the next two months before the heart of winter is upon us.  Then the 5/3 can go away as I dress in what amounts to a seal pelt.

I will let you know what my wetsuit search reveals. 

And speaking of searches; while we in North East prepare for the frigid season, it was awesome to see the WCT Rip Curl Search get underway in Puerto Rico.  The webcast is actually entertaining!

I find myself following the Pro Scene more and more intently.  I guess that is due to the fact that modern media is making it possible to watch the competition between the heavy hitters in real time. 

I must also admit that I really pulling for Slater to win his 10th  world title.  This guy is the Michael Jordan AND Tiger Woods of surfing combined, and I am rooting for him through every heat.

As for the rest of us mortals, the end of the week is looking as though we may be poised for some fun swell in New Jersey too.  Keep monitoring reports and get those booties ready.  It looks as though you may need them if you plan on surfing for any length of time.

I know it may be a little too late (or early) to revisit Earl, but Tim Bourne of Identity Surf shot a great video of some Jersey surfing that I wanted to post up.

For me, the video could not have come at a better time. 

Let’s face it, most of can’t surf whenever we feel like it.  There are jobs, families, responsibilities and all of the other facets and complexities of the day-to-day that can keep us out of the water.

Personally, this will often cause a disconnect.  So wrapped up in my busy life, I will at times forget what it means to be a surfer.  I will even occasionally think that I may be done.  “Who has the time?” my brain will tell me. 

It is in moments like this that I am reminded of the infamous line from the Godfather III when Al Pacino says,  “just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

As a surfer, I don’t mean say this with the same brutal angst felt by Michael Corleone.  I actually apply the line with the utmost gratitude and affinity for those who help share the stoke.  Afterall, if I stopped surfing today I can’t turn State’s Witness.  The best I can do is tell you about a few unknown breaks that work best on a south swell at mid-tide.

So this time, with the burdens of “all things life” feeling, well, burdensome- it was Tim’s excellent video of a bunch of guys getting glad on the waves of Earl that drew me back in. 

 

Now, I will feverishly follow the reports in the hopes that I can get in the water again soon.  Happily thinking to myself, “yes, I am drawn back in!”

Swell Chart

The hype is starting build.  If pre-swell momentum was measured in drops in the proverbial bucket than the East Coast would be experiencing a flash flood right now.

But how good will Igor be to us?  There is one sure way to tell so take this as a tip:

Multiply the number of stars being granted on MagicSeaweed by the number of posts in the forums at NYNJSurfer.  Take that sum and divide it by the number of hours you plan on ditching work, shunning household duties or ignoring incoming phone calls.  That number will give you a total, which when converted to inches and measured against the height of your average 1829 German Beer Stein will reveal the size of the average wave face forthcoming.

Or you can just see what Professor Sak is saying.