Thursday, March 30, 2006

Surfing the North Swell

Tomorrow is the last day of March. The first quarter of the year is officially going to be over by the weekend. And technically, this also means that summer is in full-swing. Photos of beach and out-of-the-country trips are soon going to be all over various multiply accounts. Friendster photos will change to feature people basking with their new tans. Fun for everyone!

But for me and other weekend surfers, it also heralds the end of the north swell season and the seemingly long wait for the start of the south swell. We're all looking at a no-surf-in-Luzon spell unless:
- a freak swell arrives in La Union or Zambales
- we make the long-ass drive down to Daet
- we take the 11-hour bus ride to Baler

The last three months have yielded some very interesting surf trips beginning with the first weekend of January when Kathy, Zeny and I headed up to La Union as an extension of my birthday celebration. Saturday was not that much fun for Kathy (who was stuck sweating buckets in a room with no electricity while Zeny and I mucked around in Bacnotan. But Sunday proved much better as Joncy managed to convince her to get into the water and on to a longboard. We even scored a delicious late lunch at Bali Hai on the way back down to Manila.

Two weekends after that was the Reef @ Manila Surfers Cup competition in La Union followed quickly by the 10th Aurora Surfing Cup in Baler where I spent a week watching waves but not actually riding them. *sigh* Yep, I was in Baler for a week and I didn't get to surf. The initial plan was to paddle out the first few days before the quarter-finals of the comp and then buckle down and shoot from the quarters to the finals. Except that it was cold and choppy and I just was not in the right frame of mind to try and get out to the line-up under those conditions. And then when the weather did clear up, it was time to shoot the real surfers. And yes, I know, I was being picky about it.

We just back from Baler on a Monday. By Friday I was strapping my board to a pick-up and driving up to La Union for the weekend. Now this was the weekend that more than made up for the week of no surf in Baler. Kim, Phillip, Jong, Gab and I had a Super Saturday Session at Bacnotan. I can't even begin to explain it. I'm a firm believer that everyone's stoke is a personal thing -- and that the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun. And this session? FUN.

We had been surfing for nearly 4 hours (and me on an empty stomach) and I was just about ready to take a lunch break when this beautiful wave happened for me. It was just the right size (for my skill level anyway) and I actually made the drop instead of popping-up too late (which happens to me still). The best part was that I had witnesses! Hahaha. And whaddayaknow, suddenly I wasn't all that hungry.

Eventually, our bodies overruled our stoke and we broke for a very quick lunch. On our way back, we were joined by Kim, who had been in Vigan for a work thing. The afternoon session was just as much fun as the morning one. Especially for me because now I had another girl in the line-up to share the stoke with ("yeah, yeah!") We stayed in the water til nearly sunset and on our drive back to the apartments, kept grinning and smiling and talking about our rides.

Not everyone had been with us for the session so needless to say, we were kind of annoying at dinner. Some friends actually vowed to get us drunk so we would oversleep and miss the morning session. But, come Sunday, bright and early... there we all were again, sitting in the line-up with everyone and telling each other "yesterday was nicer no?" Hahaha.

I'm glad we made the most out of that weekend because the next two trips fell a little short in comparison. The first was a day trip to Zambales to promote surfing to members of Power Up. MSA was there to give a talk on surf safety and surf etiquette. Alessa, Aya and I were a little dismayed by the tiny waves but nevertheless decided we would paddle out anyway. And you know what? I managed to catch one despite the fact that it was breaking so close to the shore. A tiny backside wall. A wall so small that my own backside was peaking out over the crest of the wave. But hey, a wall is a wall and stoke comes from many different kinds of rides. Even Aya managed to nab herself a few rides before we all called it quits for the morning.

Compared to what we got in the afternoon, the morning was a blast. Dumpy, close-out waves eventually drove us all back to shore where we decided to concentrate on an art project instead. Led by the creative hands of Alessa the art genius, we managed to make a life-sized Surf Girl out of rocks, driftwood, bamboo splints and my sarong. The other highlight of the trip was chowing down at Meat Plus in Subic where we ate as if we'd been charging double-overhead waves all day.

Kim and I were talking once about how sometimes you just feel "on" about your surf game and sometimes you are "off." I don't know if this still happens to the super good surfers or if it's a malady that affects those of us who are just learning. Anyway, if the Bacnotan Super Session signified that I was so "on" I went up to 11 (points to those that get the This Is Spinal Tap reference), the last trip to La Union about three weeks ago, I was on "off" mode.

A combination of things (including my mood and the waves) basically led to me deciding to cut my trip short and just head back down to Manila with Drew, who was really planning on heading home that same day. Apparently, I wasn't the only one feeling this way because by the time I was packed and ready, Marco and Earl had decided to leave with us as well. (Thanks by the way to Kim and Jong for bringing my board home for me on the bus!)

And that's been it so far. I missed the freak swell last weekend because I was in Caliraya for Captain Cat's birthday... which deserves an entry of its own... which I should be drafting right about now... so... leave comments if you want to.

This entry is brought to you by Brown Belly (perfect clothes for this summer heat!) and Planet Zips (catch the Planet Zips performance at Tiesto tomorrow night!)


Blogger aYa said...

great post kage! it made me just wanna grab my board and head down to partas and forget about work for a while, just a while. but then i more north swell. :( you and kim are absolutely right, may "off" days and may "on" days..but mix an "on" day with kahit just ONE perfectly good set, you'll end up just smiling the whole day.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok no more talk of beach, surfing or sunshine Kage!! I`m drooling for some heat - still early Spring in sushi land. We are back end of April for 10 days so then you have full permission to post beach life stuff. Wheres my jacket......... Doug

11:05 AM  
Blogger sempa said...

"kahit just ONE perfectly good set, you'll end up just smiling the whole day"

....I'm smiling for almost 2 weeks now! Ha ha ha!
at kung kelan atat na atat ng mag surf ulit... la ng alon sa la union! hahaaaay! Dapat kasi nung september session pa nagsimula eh. Ang arte arte kasi.
(pagalitan ba ang sarili!)

See you this Holy Week. Pasakayin nyo ako ha? Please...pleasee...pleaseeeeee...

3:43 PM  

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