The SSW swell came in full force last night and by the time we were up and outside drinking coffee, the ocean was full of breaking waves and we could see whitecaps all over in places that are normally flat. Even the extreme distant breaks (like First Break, Pops, Paradise and others) were visible from the beach. Watching Queens and Canoes, it seemed the sets were coming in about every 17 minutes with more than 8 waves per set. The Surfline forecast was calling for 2-3′, but by my guess, the wave faces at Canoes were at least 3′ and probably about 4-5′ at Queens, depending on the particular set.

The paddle out was punctuated with choppy waves from the wind and felt more like our NorCal surf spot, Linda Mar/Pacifica. The crowds were out and Canoes was a wall of beginners on the inside and the more experienced (or the more daring beginners) on the outside. You can see from the video below that it was packed and catching and riding a wave was as much about dodging people and flying boards as it was about one’s own timing and ability.


After hanging out in the center between Queens and Canoes and watching for a bit, we decided to try Queens, as it was much less crowded and the waves seemed to be coming in faster. I shot several videos before paddling into position near the outside.

The first set came through and the first wave I went for was too small and petered out before I could take off on it. I paddled more to the center of the take-off zone and saw a perfect swell coming at me. I paddled hard and before I knew it, the wave had caught my board and was pushing me along with great speed – quite possibly faster than any wave I’ve ever been on. It was so fast I could barely pop up and since there were three other surfers in front of me, staring at me as I headed straight for them, I just stayed on with my hands on the rail and my knees on the board. Not the most stylish approach but it seemed the safest. As soon as I passed between them (matter of a few seconds) I popped up to my feet and was soon zooming along the wave on my longest and fastest ride ever. I rode it for a good 15 seconds (?) before easing down on my board to catch my breath – adrenaline buzzing. As I paddled back to the outside through the channel on the right, another girl was doing the same. “It’s my first time surfing after three years. I just caught my first wave and I’m so tired!” she exclaimed. “I just caught my first of the day too!” I answered back and we both had stoke smiles.

I shot more video of other surfers at Queens, given that it was mostly locals out today. A father and son had come down from the North Shore to surf Queens, and I recognized an older blond surfer from the other day. Some of the locals were really ripping, making it look so easy.

[flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilychang/4212040943/[/flickrvideo] [flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilychang/4212786390/[/flickrvideo] [flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilychang/4212780560/[/flickrvideo] [flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilychang/4212778546/[/flickrvideo] [flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/emilychang/4212018845/[/flickrvideo]

After hanging at Queens for a while, we headed over to Canoes, which was still really packed with people and the sets were fairly chaotic. After being really happy with not wiping out at all during this whole trip and saying so last night to Max, I had a nice wipeout on the first wave I went for at Canoes. It just goes to show, you can never underestimate any break, no matter how confident you feel or what the conditions are. The ocean likes to keep you humble and on your toes. I love and respect her for that :)

#39 / 12:00 pm
[2-3 ft + knee to chest high. Early Xmas gift with out of season south filling in at southern locations this morning. Most spots have fun waves in the knee to waist high range with larger chest high sets at the best spots. Chilly morning with light winds blowing to provide nice offshore conditions for southern shorelines and beautiful sunny weather.]
[Sub and Clif bar before; crazy eat-until-you-can’t-eat-anymore dinner at Duke’s after]