After a lackluster winter of big North Pacific swell, it seems like a good time to reminisce about last season's El Niño. Below is an excerpt from a journal entry, dated 12/08/09.
[Entry begins on a drive north to shoot Mavericks, on the day the Eddie is running on the North Shore.]
Instead of providing an occasional update about the world's most prestigious big-wave surf contest and athletes who are risking their lives, the sports radio talk shows on the drive north are consumed for the entire day by talk of Tiger Woods, how many women are now coming out of the woodwork, and how no amount of spin will be able to get him out of this mess.
One caller even suggests that Tiger is remaining silent because he has entered the "Mistress Protection Program."
What's wrong with the world?
Make it to Half Moon Bay after midnight and spend the night in Chez Sienna. Outside air temperature is 25 degrees. Long underwear and a pee cup make the night bearable.
Check Mavericks. It's super clean, offshore but not nearly as big as everyone thought--a very inconsistent 12′-18’--so much for the Eddie swell. Use the situation to try a new land angle.
Drive north. Double overhead plus and going off. The middle of the beach is as hollow as I've ever seen it at this size...especially the lefts. The sun is out but it's cold-freezing cold. Fargo cold.
Shoot overviews. Patch refractors to the horizon.
Check Fort Point. Two-foot, but a really, really, really scenic two-foot.
Drive back south. Pull up to the Half Moon Bay Straw Hat. Order two Sierra Nevadas (always have a back-up) and a personal pan. Watch SportsCenter on ESPN and realize I might be able to catch Eddie highlights.
Tacked on to the end of an endless parade of basketball clips, the sportscasters whip the riding-a-five-story-building cliché into submission and make a poor joke about Frankie Avalon.
But then, for a total of 7 seconds, the sportscasters are rendered speechless as my friend Greg Long appears on the big screen taking off as deep as you can be on a 40-foot, cerulean blue mountain-and sticks it...which subsequently tosses the previous clip parade of no-look passes and outside-the-paint jump shots into a trivial pile of Puppy Chow.
For 7 seconds, all is right with the world again.