Out of Office Reply is Associate Editor Taylor Paul’s column on surf travel, big waves, and other manly bits

The Search has found: Rip Curl is taking the World Tour to San Francisco this November. Photo: Nate Lawrence

Out of Office Reply

The sun will shine brightly (if from behind clouds). The wind will be offshore (unless it's side- or onshore). And the waves will be big (assuming they're not massive). The Rip Curl Search, stop No. 10 on this year’s ASP World Tour, is going to Ocean Beach, San Francisco from November 1-11, and I am floored for the following reasons:

  • San Francisco is one of my favorite cities in the world
  • Ocean Beach is one of my favorite waves in the world
  • Fall is my favorite season in the world
  • The city will at that time be buzzing from the Giants' second consecutive World Series win
  • The Golden Gate Bridge

The who's who will arrive to Central California in mid-October to simultaneously train for the Coldwater Classic at Steamer Lane and Rip Curl’s Ocean Beach event. They'll bring their winter coats and 6mm wetsuits with built-in hoods, only to find that it's 4/3-able and 70 degrees outside. Indian Summer temps. Offshore winds. They'll surf up and down the coast and even give Maverick's a try when a long-period swell collides with a glassy day. Guys will get comfy. But all the while Central California will be drumming her fingers ("Muahahaha"), luring the surfers into thinking that the reputed raw weather and unruly waves are merely a hoax. And then: Cold snap. Southwest winds. Hail. Everyone will dive for their coats and six-mils, only to find that by the time they fetch them it's beautiful once more.

Of course, Rip Curl still has some kinks to work out. As of now there is no Jet Ski assist, and that presents a problem because this isn't a paddling competition. I surfed OB last Saturday about as small as it gets (well overhead) and was battling shifting peaks and currents for 10 to 20 minutes at a time between waves. And if it's big, damn near every heat will be restarted because nobody will catch waves in the first 10 minutes (as per the ASP rule).

And then there's speculation that the locals are upset about the contest. Surely some of the salty old dogs are a bit sour on the circus coming to town, but the most visible locals, the Kelly's Cove Local Boys (AKA the San Franpsychos) aren't upset. They're in the thick of it, meeting with Rip Curl and likely making some plans of their own. Because this crew, despite their silly monikers, are clever entrepreneurs. When big events come to their city they're on hand to make a quick buck. Need a ride home after Outside Lands or Bay to Breakers? That's a KCLB driving that rented 12-passenger van ready to take you where you need to go -- for $10 a head. That warehouse party on Halloween? A San Franpsycho production. And now that there's the opportunity to exploit an event that exploits their city that exploits their wave, they'd be San Franstupid not to present a skyward palm to every visitor entering the City by the Bay this fall.

And we should all be visitors! Pay whoever the hell asks us for money. It will be worth it. Because The City (that's what people in Central California call San Francisco) and the waves (cold and difficult and barreling) and the vibe (friendly and pretentious and gay) and the San Francisco Giants (World Champs and black and orange) and the Golden Gate Bridge (just orange) await us all. The biggest problem facing Rip Curl with this contest is the question: when you've found the perfect place, is there a reason to keep searching? --Taylor Paul

Note: Rumor has it that Rip Curl is in talks with Palos Verdes locals for the 2012 Rip Curl Search Los Angeles. Don't know...just a rumor.