New WSL Format — the Scrum

14 09 2016

In what can only be seen as a wink and nod to its fiercest critics, the World Surfer League (WSL) has adopted a new contest format for its cadre of professional wave riders.  It’s called the “scrum” format.

For years critics, who are also, oddly enough, usually also fans of professional surf contests, have complained (or whined) of organized events that only test participants in a rarefied environment.  Two to three contestants surf against each other in perfect waves (sometimes) while the beach is completely closed to any other surfers.  The critics wonder how well these contestants would fare if they had to surf in crowded, competitive conditions “like the rest of us.”

So, here is how the scrum works.

At 4:30 am, all 34 pro contestants simultaneously receive a text message on their phones telling them the scrum is on, along with the wind and buoy reports.  They must then race to the Cristianitos parking lot, drop their bikes, and ride like crazy down the trail to the beach.  Those who happen to live closeby can ride their bikes directly to the beach.  But, no headlights allowed for anyone.

There is only a single 3-hour heat, all in.  Last man (this is the men’s contest) standing wins.  They can bring their best game faces, but the rules are the local rules.  No such thing as priority.  You’ve gotta earn it through tactics learned through years of experience.  Mad-dogging, blocking, shoulder hopping, back paddling, rail bumping; it’s all legal, if you can get away with it.

Some of the new contestants will try to work  their way to the peak by giving a few set waves to the veterans, hoping for some scraps or nuggets.  They may even try chatting it up with the vets, but there is not much hope for the nice guy approach in the scrum.

In some cases, disputes over priority may have to be settled on the beach by individuals or “teams.”

Longboards are allowed, but are generally discouraged.

That is the scrum.  Sound familiar?  Here is a photo, courtesy of the Surfline Lower Trestles live stream. Scrum in progress.  Anybody keeping score?


We hope you enjoyed this fictional story about a zany idea that has no basis in fact or any relationship to any real surf industry persons or organizations.

Trestles Surf Report — September 7, 2015

8 09 2015

Wow!  What a day!

It started with a full parking lot by 5:45 am.  Followed by full Cristianitos Road street parking by 6:00 am.

Everyone’s expectations were mostly kept pretty low for getting waves to oneself on this likely the most crowded surf day of the year.  Fortunately, there was a substantial swell that provided some size.  Unfortunately, at most tides there were lulls that allowed everyone to reload,

Bike Traffic on the Busiest Day of the Year -- Uppers

Bike Traffic on the Busiest Day of the Year — Uppers

meaning the crowd was not spread out temporally (ie, the surfers who caught the previous set of waves have enough time to paddle back out to the lineup before the next set).

First stop:  Lowers.

There were at least 100 people in the “slot” at Lowers, from the guys acting as “indicators” on the outside to the groms on the inside.  It was possible to get some boomers to yourself, but you had to paddle for a lot of party waves first.  Warm water, mens and womens pros sprinkled through the crowd, and lots of competitive juice flowing through everyone.  Got about 10 waves, then paddle, paddle, paddle to  . . .

Second stop:  Uppers

Even more people, though they were spread out from Barbed Wires to the Bay.  Definitely some sneakers coming through.  Swing, stab, and go.  It was also a little more consistent than Lowers this time.  Lots of waves, but lots of surfers.  Nice long rights, with lots of speed and energy.  Sometimes the walls would gobble you up.

That’s the Trestles report in a nutshell.  But, there were waves everywhere along the coast.  I  thought Kayo was crazy peddling back to his car at 6:00 am, mumbling something about checking out Doho.  Looking at the Doheny camera this evening, now I see what he was talking about.  Check out this report from Surfline; only “good” rating on the coast.  Hmmmm.

Source: Surfline Doheny Beach camera/report

Source: Surfline Doheny Beach camera/report

Everyone is getting pumped up for the 2015 Hurley Pro at Trestles, with its window being from Wednesday, September 9 through September 20.

Parking will be interesting.  For those planning to attend the event, you likely won’t be able to find parking at the Trestles lot near Carl’s Jr.  It will be full by about 6:30 am at the latest due to the swell.  So, just follow the event signage to the official parking area.  That will work best for everyone, surfers and spectators alike.

With that said, do plan on attending the event.  The lineup is incredible this year for both men and women.  And, it looks like there will be waves throughout the entire window, though they may vary in height a bit.  Weather is perfect as well.  What an idyllic place to enjoy some of the best surf and surfers in the world.

Welcome to the Crowd, where respect is mutual and expected.

That’s the report for this week.  Surf’s up!

The Shot Heard Round the World — Really?

30 03 2015
Source:  Robert Fogelman, Syck Shots (FB)

Source: Robert Fogelman, Syck Shots (FB)

Could this be anger among the Trestles Surf Crowd?

Sure looks like it.

In actuality, Mark (blue board) just finished flying around, underneath Norris (green board) as Norris shoulder hopped him.  Norris geeked out.  As he fell, trying not to let his board hit Mark and add insult to injury, Norris tried to fly his board away into the offshore wind so it would pop out the back.

Mark, in his gracious manner, was quick to say he shouldn’t have surprised Norris.  But, it would have been a better, safer wave if he had it to himself.  Thanks to Mark for the kindness.

Kind of fun to ponder other stories it could have been — but not.

See you in the water.  Stay safe!

Lowers at Its Worst

23 03 2015

Need I say more?

Take a close look.  Surfline has gone, at least temporarily, to a live HD camera for Lower Trestles.  Note the rolling time stamp below the video frame when you pull it up yourself.

I’m not sure if this is good or bad.  Will it mean more surfers see an uncrowded morning, load up their bikes and race down the trail to load up the “slot” on the point.  Or, will it result in a sort of “self-correcting” whereby surfers see it is already crowded and head to a different beach,  preventing an over-saturated “super crowd.”  Regardless, it feels like a bit of sanctity may be gone with a live feed.

At least we don’t yet have a live feed at our favorite Uppers — yet.

By the way, note in the photo that there is absolutely nobody in the water or on the beach at the moment of the screenshot–at 8:23 in the morning.  It proves my assumption wrong that Trestles always has people in the water even when there are no waves.

At least the honey dipper driver gets the beach to him/herself.  I guess that’s why they are No. 1 in the No. 2 business.

UPDATE:  The Lowers camera seems to be a permanent feature.  And, now Uppers has its own live feed.  To be honest, it can be of some help.  The other day,  I noticed Uppers was sheet glass through the noon hour.  I hopped on my bike and caught some clean, head high, buttery waves for a couple hours, with only about eight people out. Then, the wind picked up.  Not sure I would have caught it without the camera.

Surfing Rules for Upper Trestles

7 07 2014

Welcome to all who want to surf Upper Trestles!

Visitors by the Thousands

Visitors by the Thousands

But, let’s get something straight — there are some rules.  Contrary to the opinions, or perceptions, of some guests (and I use the term loosely), Uppers is not some sort of free for all where you just paddle into any wave any time you want.

Most of us on Dawn Patrol are pretty nice guys, easy to get along with.  Unfortunately, sometimes that easy going approach is misinterpreted to mean “go ahead snake me.”

On a related issue, because Uppers can be one of the most crowded spots on the planet in the summertime, it may seem to some that there is no order to the crowd.  On the contrary, it is only because of the strong order in the water that everyone is usually able to get waves to themselves, even on the most crowded days.

All this to set up my social comment.

This morning, I watched as some infrequent guests showed up late, about 7:00 am, and immediately started snaking anyone and everyone.  Yes,  including me.  When I paddled back out, I heard a couple of them congratulate each other on their endeavors.  It went something like this.

Funboarder:  “Hey, I just saw your buddy blatantly take off on a guy who had perfect position on that last set.  He even looked the guy straight in the eye before paddling in front of him.”

Overly tan baldy:  “Yeah, what a great wave.  Lucky guy.”

Funboarder:  “It didn’t seem right.”

Overlly tan baldy:  “Yeah, but I guess that’s the way it works at Uppers.”

Funboarder:  “Yeah, I guess.  I just did the same thing.”

My official response for the record is:  “No, that is not the way it works at Uppers.”

Sure, we all occasionally shoulder hop someone, usually by accident, or because we didn’t try as hard as we should have to look way up the line.  But, we at least need to be somewhat remorseful, and owe the other guy a wave or waves they can bank for later.

If you want to come to Uppers, keep that in mind.   A simple “Oh, sorry about that” goes a long way and helps keep order in the water.  It also keeps us all a little safer.

Visiting surfers need to realize that there is order in the water.  If it seems otherwise, it is because you are probably just projecting your own chaotic, reckless demeanor on The Crowd.  So, take a few minutes to be perceptive about the order and integrate yourself into it.  You will have a lot more fun in the long run.

And, you may just make some new friends in The Crowd.


The End of Surfing at Trestles

19 03 2012

Yep.  This is what it looks like — at least up at the parking lot.  Mid-day on a Sunday at the Trestles parking lot.  Really!!!!

Eery--not a car to be found.

Was there an “accident” at nearby San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS)?

Did the toll road ruin the rock reef?

Did the Marines move back into their beach home?

Did the great whites move in permanently?

Did global warming move the break up into the San Mateo Creek valley?

I didn’t think I would ever see the day when not even a single novice would show up to try out the surf, with a gaggle of friends.  Usually, even during the week, there is somebody at Trestles — nature walkers, cyclists, dog walkers, high schoolers looking for somewhere to “experiment.”    But, not today.

The clue is in the middle of the photo.  The Carl’s Jr flag.  Today was probably the strongest onshore wind we have seen in years.  40 knots straight out of the northwest.  Unrelenting.  Cold — high just making it to 50.

Don’t you wish it were that easy to park every day?   Not really.  Then we wouldn’t be The Crowd.

Not Really Localism

19 04 2010

When does localism turn into justice?  I thought about that all week.

On a recent Sunday morning, a guy showed up at Uppers with a longboard and proceeded to take off in front of, behind, and on top of just about anyone who got in his way.  He’s actually a pretty good surfer, but he almost instantly violated every rule in the Surfer’s Book of Etiquette as soon as he hit the water.

Ultimately, a group of enforcers circled around the violator and drummed him out of the water, without violence, only words.  He stuck around on the beach for awhile.  I’m not sure if he went back out once the crowd thinned out.

I have always taught my sons that when you go out at a spot other than your own, you always need to respect the guys who are there day in and day out.  Be calm, be patient, make friends, encourage and complement appropriately.  Wait your turn and you’ll get your share of the waves.  I strongly believe in respect.  Evidently, this guy’s dad didn’t train him the same way.

The week’s consternation came from my other strong belief that pure “localism” is totally against the surfer’s creed and is wrong.  Nobody owns the waves no matter how often you surf a spot.  Brad Melekian has done several great articles on the subject in Surfer Magazine over the years.  Localism is really a menace.

Was the drumming, which I actually supported, an expression of the localism I can’t stand?  Was I guilty of the same attitude I criticize?  Was I a hypocrite?

I think it all comes down to what was in our hearts when we meted out the consequences.  Knowing the guys involved in the drumming, I believe the actions were just natural consequences for the behavior of the drummee.  So, in this case, it wasn’t localism; it was simply justice.

Hopefully, the violator doesn’t behave such all the time.  He is welcome to come try it again, but just like the kid who stole the candy from the drugstore on his last shopping trip, he will be watched closely to see if he repeats his antics.

In the meantime, come join the Crowd, but bring a lot of respect–we’ll return the attitude.  Justice will prevail.