Monday, December 6, 2010

An Unusual Session at Linda Mar

Yesterday was forecast to be a solid winter storm heading toward the bay area. This time of year, there are only a handful of sailable days every month. About half of the good-wind-forecast days end up panning out to be planing conditions. Usually the storm winds last about a half hour, and are strongest at sites that are an hour drive from San Francisco in Half Moon Bay. That's why people pack their gear up for the winter around here. Not because they are wind snobs, but because chasing fickle storm winds can end up being very frustrating.

By 11 AM we had gotten a "spike" on the meter. Half Moon Bay's wind meter hit 20, then immediately backed off. For all we knew, that was going to be "our storm". A couple hours went by and the meter hits 20 again, then drops 20 minutes later. We were being toyed with, it was certain. I catch up with Jacob and decide maybe we should go surfing at our favorite kiddie-pool, Linda Mar. Linda Mar is located in Pacifica, California. It has a reputation as "bozo beach" for surfing because it's one of the few places around where the waves aren't always completely and systematically humiliating to an inexperienced surfer. The downside is that it's always really crowded and catching a great wave is difficult because everyone paddles for every wave. Party wave city, forget about going down the line.

Jacob and I got there and it actually looked kinda windy. Hardly any whitecaps, but tons of spray coming off of the tops of the 3-4 foot waves. We always joke about windsurfing this spot. A couple times I've seen it be windy there after storm sailing in Half Moon Bay, but was already too cold and tired to give it a go. This time, we had arrived with the intentions of surfing but ended up rigging 5.0's and 100L boards. There were a few dozen surfers out along the half-mile long beach, much less than usual. They were working pretty hard to stay in the line up because the offshore winds were pushing them out to sea.

I heard the surfers cheering on my way out. I guess seeing someone blasting along on a windsurfer added to their self-validation of lunacy for surfing on such a stormy, ugly day. We got some strange looks, but no one seemed to be too bothered with us. The wind was super gusty. Lots of waiting for waterstarts as well as getting the back hand ripped off the boom.

The wind itself was borderline scary-off-shore. The water outside the break was butter flat. It would have been perfect for freestyle had I had any mind to not be worried about losing ground upwind.

The waves were sometimes 4 feet, maybe a little more. The stronger ones were closing out and throwing pretty hard with all the offshore wind. I didn't endure any terrible over-the-falls experiences, but when I did I was underneath my gear in very shallow water.

The following photo is either the Loch Ness Monster, or me riding a wave port tack. Odds are with the former.

The following photo was a pretty common site. Once you took a wave to the inside you were pretty much at the mercy of the wind shadow and shore break. Also, lining up a beach start is difficult when your gear is being pushed upwind. Hard to explain, but we kept getting back-winded in the impact zone.

There was a walk-of-shame to be done. The only place we could make it in was near the north end of the beach.

My girlfriend took these photos with an iPhone (some through the eyepiece of binoculars). Not too shabby! I'll definitely come back to this spot again to check out the off-shore winds. This session might have been pure luck, or maybe just nobody TRIES to sail here. It was challenging, but at this point I think sailing gusty storm wind on flat water is mainly frustrating. Sailing gusty wind with the odd chance ad a full powered wave turn, now that's fun.


CdnGuy said...

Nice, were you worried about a breakdown in the offshore wind?

Catapulting Aaron said...

Hey Carl,

I was a little worried and I didn't venture out too far. I know the spot pretty well from surfing there, so I know where the sandbars and rips are and what I would need to do to self-rescue there. So I was cautious, but not terribly worried.

Unknown said...

I've done a day a linda mar a few years back. It was one of those wild 50+ mph storm days. HMB was "too" windy, and Linda Mar looked doable. The wind was super gusty but we were able to catch a couple. My buddy broke the nose of his board off in the shore pound. Unique, yes, worth it...doubtful.