More Sharks in the Future! Thanks El Niño 2017

30 04 2017

We may need to change the name of this site to “Trestles Shark Crowd” in the future.

Over the last few years, the number of shark sightings has increased at Trestles and other local surf spots.  Shark experts say the increase in sightings comes with increased numbers of sharks off the Southern California coast due to improvements in the local fishery.   The good news is that after decades of efforts, the Southern California fishery has improved, reflecting a general improvement in many, though not all, portions of the local ocean environment.   The bad news is that means surfers need to become even more aware of their surroundings while taking advantage of California’s many great surf spots.  And, from time to time, we are going to see beach closures like other sharky areas of the world.

In the evening on Saturday, April 29, 2017, a woman was bitten by a shark while swimming with fins in the shallows of Church, that classic surfing area at the mouth of San Onofre Creek in the San Onofre State Beach, at the northern edge of San Diego County.  You can read more details in this Orange County Register article.   This article references remarks by Dr. Christopher Lowe, a shark researcher at California State University Long Beach.  Not only has Dr. Lowe been quick to remark in the past about the improvement of Southern California fisheries, but in this article he described to the reporter how El Niño conditions a couple years ago extended the amount of time juvenile sharks have stayed in local waters to eat and grow.

Assuming Dr. Lowe is correct (and he is considered an expert for good reason), more shark sightings are likely just around the corner.  The National Weather Service prediction center of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted on April 13, 2017, that it is very likely an El Niño is going to form in Fall 2017.  As the water warms and reverses the effects of ocean currents, it will also be more likely that hammerhead sharks will show up at Southern California beaches, heading north from their usual foraging areas in warm Mexican waters.  And juvenile great white sharks will have less reason to head south to to those warmer waters after birth.  So, they will be hanging out even longer off our coast, increasing the number of shark sightings.

We are not predicting some sort of Sharknado, but we will likely hear more reports of shark sightings near our favorite surf areas.

So, tune into Trestles Shark, er Surf, Crowd.com for more info in the future.

[By the way, we can personally attest that only a small percentage of surf spot shark sightings are reported through the media.  Most surfers would say that sharks are just part of the ocean environment.  We enter their world every time we paddle out to catch a few.  So, why both reporting a natural occurrence.  Welcome to the Crowd Ms./Mr. Shark!]





More Rain for San Mateo Creek, and Trestles

17 02 2017

At 3:00 pm today, the City of San Clemente surf report from the pier reported sustained winds of 45 from the southeast.  That’s enough to grow waves locally.  Below is a screenshot from Surfline.com’s T-Street webcam; and it is only beginning to build.

The weather reports were predicting rain that would be the heaviest in the last 10 to 20 years (kind of a typical weather forecaster’s vague speak).  At any rate, below is a screenshot from Weather Underground showing the radar imagery for what is headed this way.

Lots of rain headed toward the headwaters of San Mateo Creek, our favorite Southern California pristine watershed that flows out to the Pacific at Uppers.  The bottom has already changed this season, with more to come.  It should set up some great waves by the time the summer south swells show up later this year.

In the meantime, maybe California is finally limping out of its long drought.

The El Nino winter last year fizzled out with no real rain, even though all the experts predicted heavy precipitation.  It may be that if you look at the last several El Nino events, the heavy rain doesn’t actually show up until the first rainy season after the sea surface temperatures return to an ENSO-neutral condition.

Regardless, it’s great to see the San Mateo flowing with life again.  Rain, rain, don’t go away.





San Mateo Creek Flows Again!

14 01 2017
Looking southeast at the estuary/lagoon.  Note the breach to the right.

Looking southeast at the estuary/lagoon. Note the breach to the right.

It’s been a few years, but the San Mateo Creek watershed “sponge” finally got full and started to overflow.  That is, all the soils upstream got full of water and started to seep/flow into the gullies that make up the watershed.  And, down to the creek bed and out to the ocean.

The last time it really flowed significantly was in December 2010; and flow it did, for almost six months.  It will be interesting to see how long it continues to flow with the off and on storms predicted over the next week or more.

The Trestles and the watershed.

The Trestles and the watershed.

Could the Southern California drought finally have broken?  Too early to tell, but it’s off to a good start.

Word is the creek broke out of the estuary/lagoon through the sand berm and out onto the reef at Uppers this morning.  You can see by the mud plumes in the ocean that it has been flowing for several hours at the time of these photos about 4:00 p;m today.

As happens with natural water courses, each time it breaks out, the flow “braids” to a new path.  We all got used to the “lagoon” that was dug out by the 2010 storms.  This time, the flow shoots straight out, dumping a lot of sand, and probably some cobbles, on top of the reef just north of what we call “Garcia-land,”  which is the north shoulder of the point. Wonder what new shape the bottom will take now.  Maybe a lagoon on each side of the point?  Maybe a  “north bay” and a “south bay?”

From over Garcia-land.  Notice the muddy surfline water.

From over Garcia-land. Notice the muddy surfline water.

Enjoy the photos.  A video may show up over the next few days.

Liquid gold.

Liquid gold.

Filling the reef with sand.

Filling the reef with sand.





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.





Tropical Cyclones – Then and Now

3 09 2016

History does repeat itself.

Even though 2015 was in El Nino mode and 2016 is in La Nina mode, there seems to be an eery similarity in the tropic cyclone pattern in the northeastern Pacific.  Late August/early September 2016  is looking a lot like the same period in 2015.  Check out this map of just a couple storms being tracked by Surfline’s HurricaneTrak.

090216 hurricanetrak 2

What isn’t shown is the disturbance west of Acapulco that may just be enough to jack up the waves for the 2016 Hurley Pro at Trestles and Swatch Women’s Pro.  Here is the National Weather Service advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

090216 nws hurricanes

Could be some fun contests in 2016, much like the contests in 2015.





A Tale of Two Breaks

25 02 2016

This is a strange swell.  Two different breaks; two different swells.

Here is a screenshot of the Surfline report for Sandspit, in Santa Barbara, California yesterday afternoon as the new swell worked its way down from north to south along the coast.  Looks kinda fun, right?  Typical winter swell, right?

sandspit

It was amusing to watch it in live action.  The dense crowd looked like a flock of ducks fighting the current in a river.  They would all paddle with their noses in the same direction, even though the current was much stronger and faster than they could hope to paddle against.  They would all paddle toward the jetty.  Then the backwash would suck them all out and to the left.  Like the ducks, no real chance to paddle into the ideal position.  Just turn and go.  If you got in the right spot, you were assured of a fun little barrel.  If not, you either became one with the backwash, flying into the air, or you were dropped into the sand with the surfer next to you scrambling to get out of the way.  The swell direction seemed pretty good for Sandspit.

Looking for good waves along the coast to the south, they were few and far between. They either had size and lousy shape or they were too small to be fun.  Something was just a little strange about the swell’s behavior.

Then, this morning it happened.

Our favorite spot lit up!

trestles report

Strangely enough, the strong typhoon-driven swell from the W/WNW that closed the North Shore (Hawaii) beaches manifested itself as more of a southwest swell.  As with most west swells, just a couple degrees of direction can dramatically change where the waves will be good and where they won’t even show up.  I guess it mixed in with a little bit of pure south swell.  As a result, Surfline is calling Trestles “Good” today, a designation seldom used in this area.

Most of us usually don’t like a “Good” designation because it tends to draw a bigger crowd to deal with, but it sure is fun to see our favorite spot start the summer season a little early. So, come on down and join The Crowd.





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!