Newport, Old Memories

28 10 2009

Every time I go back to Newport to surf, it brings back those memories.

Next to Trestles, 54th Street (formerly called 56th Street; or “The Bay” for those of us who were there in the 70’s) is my favorite place to surf.  I’ve been planting my fin in the sand there since about 1970.   I think that is just about the time they dismantled the temporary pier at River Jetty (correct name–not River Jetties, not RJ’s).  Enough old guy “I remember when” crap.

Anyway, I think anybody who has been surfing 54th for any time has seen the cycles.  The cycles of guys that dominate the place for a few years, then move on.  

Probably every 8 to 10 years, you see a new crop of guys discover the cylindrical perfection of that right that starts at 53rd and smokes past the 52nd Street jetty, or the left that winds off the end of the wall that stretches from 48th to 52nd.  They graduate from high school, hone their skills between college classes, get married, have their first kids, then disappear.  The cycle repeats and repeats.

Each cycle is like a subculture.  There are leaders, good guys, bad guys, surf stars, drug addicts, and entrepreneurs.   They form a tight-knit network of “locals.”  Those years are some of their best years, though they don’t know it until they are gone.

I used to get offended when I would show up in the 80’s and 90’s and have the new guys look at me like some kind of alien intruder.  Now that I’ve seen some more cycles come and go, it doesn’t bother me.  I know our crew was the same way and I’m glad to see they have the chance to experience that same camaraderie we had.

I salute the new 54th Street locals and I send my heartfelt regards to our old crew:  Nick, Jim, Briggs, Bob, Cliff, Charlie, Lance, Brian, John, Andre, Billy, Mike, and all the other guys who were my brothers during some of the best years of my life.  Thanks for sharing all those days watching waves and dreaming of what was to come.

Norris–the Mayor

So,who owns Trestles?

28 10 2009

No, really. Who owns Trestles?

Answer:  Nobody!

Even the Native American fishermen were only transient visitors.  Before the Marines, it was the missionaries, Pio Pico, Don Juan Forster, the O’Neills, the Floods, and the Baumgartners.  The Marines didn’t show up until 1942 and then only planted their flag until 1970 when the State took over as caretaker.

All this to say nobody in the water owns Trestles.  So, get over yourself and just enjoy one of the most soulful places on the planet to surf. 

We don’t own Trestles.  Trestles owns us.

Why else would so many of us give up those mornings on the soccer field with our kids, take in those classic sunsets without our wives or husbands, spend bank on gas, cars, bikes, and equipment; just to escape to Trestles’ allure?  How many times have you been late for a business meeting, conference call, church, temple, dinner, or even a wedding; just to get “one more wave” in the bay?

Next time someone asks you why you surf Trestles, tell them you have no choice.  You’re a slave.

Troy the Warrior

18 10 2009
Troy the Warrior

Troy the Warrior

The word envy comes to mind when watching Troy surf Uppers. 

Not only does Troy dominate the spot when he’s out; he rips.  In fact, I think Troy surfs better now than he has ever surfed.  I know I envy his skill and dominance.

Troy is a teacher. [We need to all tip our hats to all those teachers out there.]   So, he gets to surf sometimes while we’re all stuck at work.  In Troy’s case, more time in the water translates to more practice, and thus more skill.

Over the last year or so, Troy did something especially admirable.  He lost a ton of weight.  You might not even recognize him if you haven’t seen him lately.  That is a tough thing to do at his age.  Most guys at that age are busy enough just trying to keep all the balls in the air between work and family.  I think the fitness has also helped his surfing, though he was already a force to be reckoned with.

 The other Troy who comes to mind is Troy Donahue, another surfing star.  Maybe they’re related.

The Faceless Crowd on a Fun Day

18 10 2009

Just thought I’d share this video.  Not sure who shot it, but it shows a bunch of the Crowd getting a ton of waves.  Grab your stick after watching this one.

Hey, hey, hey

18 10 2009

Don’t you just hate those words?

Sometimes, it just encourages me to take off on the guy behind me for screaming those words.

A better way to get the attention of someone taking off on the shoulder — “Excuse me” or just “Got it, thanks”. Best yet, just don’t say anything. There is no better way to psyche a would be shoulder hopper than to just quietly pull up close and pop out the back.

At Trestles, “hey, hey, hey” is usually a signal that the screamer has just shown up for the first time and hasn’t yet learned “the rules.”

There are certain people you just don’t take off behind. They know who they are. They don’t even hear “hey, hey, hey.” For those who do hear you, if your mere presence hasn’t convinced them not to take off, screaming isn’t going to help. Rarely is somebody going to hear your screaming and decide not to take off.  That’s just the way it is.

Surfing is a soulful activity.   Don’t ruin it by trying to assert your position.

Greg the Pharma King

10 10 2009
Greg sharing his high wave count for the day

Greg sharing his high wave count for the day

No, Greg is not a drug dealer. He’s the guy that is saving us from the Swine Flu. This month has been a real push to get the flu vaccine in the hands of doctors and clinics by November 7. Fortunately, the surf has been mostly flat.

Anyway, Greg is the one who taught us about “wave count.” He keeps track every hour he’s in the water. It’s a great way to make sure we’re pushing ouselves to take advantage of every set that gets through the crowd.

Beyond just wave count, Greg inspires us all by bringing a friendly, positive attitude to the crowd.

Don’t get me wrong–he’ll let you know if someone doesn’t follow etiquette or takes something (like a wave) that doesn’t belong to them. But, he also is good at pumping up our egos with a kind complement.

Finally, it’s got to be said that Greg is a solid performer. I think his continued involvement in local competitions has kept him on his game. [Don’t read that as support for pro contests from Trestles Surf Crowd, just an endorsement of individual improvement through friendly competition.]

Anyway, Greg is to be commended for his abilities and demeanor. Rock on dude!

Contesting Contests

10 10 2009

Let me start by saying that I have some friends who are fortunate enough to make a living by surfing.  This is not directed at you.  It  is directed at contests, especially pro contests.  I’m glad you are able to craft your great skills to feed your families.

Also, it is great to have excellent surfers around us.   Just watching them encourages us to press our own skills and get full enjoyment from surfing.

But, why does surfing have to be promoted with contests?

Seems like the underlying reason for surf contests is simply to provide a living for the select few:  dozens of the best surfers and the surf industry paparazzi that follow them around.
Surfboard and accessory companies do a great job of pushing performance without contests.
Surfwear designers and exec’s have their fingers on the pulse of fashion.  They set the fashion. They don’t need contests and the associated costs of feeding the prima donnas and their agents.

A lot of resources are spent to send the pro’s around the world and shut down beaches to other surfers for days at a time.    They turn a soulful experience into a job.   How many times have we heard or read stories about how the WCT can be such a drudgery–small waves, crappy conditions, strange people, . . .

Trying to make surfing into a high-paid professional sport only sets us up to have kids miss out on their childhoods as their “Hollywood parents” push them to drop school, miss their friend’s birthday parties and  practice, practice, practice, all with the intent to have a limited chance at the big money when they grow up.  Kids should surf because they love surfing, not because their parents told them to.

Let’s bag the contests and free the beaches and the kids.  Surfing is not a sport!

Here is the letter/report that inspired this post.–on-the-eve-of-historic-board-meeting-ian-cairns-offers-advice-to-the-asp_31201/

The Financial Whiz

3 10 2009
Tim the Financial Genius
Tim the Financial Whiz

Let’s meet more of the Crowd.

Here’s Tim.  Tim sold retirement investments until he got an early retirement himself several months ago.  Now his biggest decision is whether to surf Trestles or head south to his casita in Cabo.

Tim is a versatile surfer.   He can style his way through the curl as smoothly on his thruster as he can on his 15′ (or something like that) log.

Tim helps keep order at Uppers.  If somebody steps out of line, Tim helps officiate.  It takes a lot to get him steamed, but it doesn’t mean he won’t let you know when you shoulderhop the wrong person, especially if it’s him.
Tim rides his bike from home, day/night, summer/winter — tough as nails.  At 5:00 am, that shadow you see darting down the road is none other.
By the way, if you don’t already know the Crowd folks we introduce, don’t forget we all need to earn our relationships.  It starts with respect.  Part of the purpose of this blog is to build a stronger Crowd.  If you plan to join the Crowd, you’ll need to earn it.  Please don’t act like you know us until you really know us.  Then, welcome to the crowd.