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?

scrum

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.

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September to Remember

4 09 2015

That’s what we are all hoping for.

Since June when we called it in our “June Gloom” post, the Summer of 2015 was not much to talk about.  A lot of low energy, small surf with a few single-day, mid-sized tropical swells.

The last week has been nothing but chaotic at Trestles. Multi-directional simultaneous fat swells, with heavy south wind most of the day, has at least made for some fun skateboard ramps.  The other day at Lowers there were three very distinct swells in the water.  Every wave was different from the last.  WNW, SSW, SSE.  We weren’t complaining because it was head high, but it was just odd.

Here is the overview from Surfline’s HurricaneTrak today.  Note the multiple tropical and extra-tropical swells in the northern Pacific, along with a lot of swell activity emanating from the southern Pacific.  We are supposed to get a fairly good run of swell over the next week, but it all looks a bit chaotic, to say the least.  Superimpose water in the high seventies (F) and it is just a bit odd.

Source: Surfline HurricaneTrak; September 3, 2015

Source: Surfline HurricaneTrak; September 3, 2015

One surfer said he surfed 56th Street in Newport on Monday.  One minute, the WNW waves were washing from north to south across the groin, the next minute the SSW dropped a bomb of a wall across the entire Echo Bay.  The WNW felt like a full-on winter swell, but nobody in the water had a wetsuit on.  Odd!

Everyone is talking about the “Godzilla El Nino” that is predicted by some forecasters.  Surfers are pulling out their “step ups” and watching the buoy’s.

Will it be a “Phantom El Nino” instead?

Maybe El Nino is already having its effect — chaos, warm water, and unpredictability.  Or, maybe that is just the climate change that some say doesn’t exist.

Regardless of whether (or weather) the big surf shows up, this is still likely to be a “September to Remember.”

Oh, and as always, some fun waves show up just in time for the pro’s as they fly in for the Hurley Pro at Lowers.  Unfortunately, it looks like it then flattens out when the competition window opens up from September 9 thru 20.  Hopefully, they can get in the water earlier as opposed to later.

Source: Surfline South Orange County Regional Forecast; September 3, 2015

Source: Surfline South Orange County Regional Forecast; September 3, 2015

With that said, the National Weather Service has predicted a busy tropical storm season for the northern Pacific.  So, maybe something significant will pop onto the radar in the next couple weeks.  Last year, Hurricane Marie created Big Wednesday on August 27, 2014.  This year, we are still on the K’s, with Tropical Storm Kevin sending some of the waves next week.  It’s not inconceivable for us to roll into the M’s by September 15 or so.  Could there be a Hurricane Maria waiting in the wings to provide some drone fodder on our So Cal shorelines for the contest?

Laird, how’s the Malibu Pier look from underneath at 20 knots?  Got some SUP’s to share with some pro friends?

Anyway, make sure you stop by the Hurley Lowers Pro and welcome all those world travelers to the Crowd.

Let’s make this a September to Remember.





Faces in the Crowd — Lowers

23 04 2015

The Oakley Pro is coming to town.  You can see them setting up the scaffolding at Lowers on the Surfline live feed [yes, it’s now live, but that is a different conversation].  The buzz has started.

The Oakley folks put together a nice piece on local Lowers faces.  Here’s the link.  Maybe next time they’ll stop by Uppers and snap some shots of The Crowd.  In the meantime, here are a couple.

IMG_0772 IMG_0777

Seriously, we look forward to some great surfing at Lowers.  And, Oakley is an excellent sponsor for the event.  Stop by the show next week.