The back half of summer is upon us which means one thing – surf racing!
Love it or hate it, it’s a mix of surf skills, athleticism and who has the fitness to pull off the sprint for the cans and the crazy wave manoeuvres when you’re legs at are their most fried.
It’s been a while since I got to bust it out around the cans but I love it.
There’s always something about the leveller of the ocean to keep it interesting and the importance of maintaining a ‘never-say-die’ attitude that is required no matter if you’re in front or trying to come from behind (not to mention entertaining).
I’d heard a whisper that something might be going down this month.
Sure enough, the leaks turned into a three week notice that Quiksilver and Jamie Mitchell were resurrecting his ‘Survivor’ race format, this time at Huntington Beach.
Having had my year somewhat turned upside down in May and June and all planning thrown out the window , I was sitting on the fence as to what I would do after Molokai 2 Oahu.
With a 50:50 decision hanging over me – it was either head home to make the most of the all time snow conditions or do a 180 and go back to the mainland US for the back half of the summer (and before you sarcastically mutter under your breath “shit life” – yep, it’s #firstworldproblems but you create your own path and it’s these times that I like to have a few skill and tricks up my sleeve in the athletic department to deploy regardless of the situation, season, country or environment).
So less than a week ago (most probably while sitting in the water waiting for a wave while watching another tropical sunset over the Pacific) I flipped the proverbial coin and bet on the shorter flight back to the West Coast and the golden sands of California.
Coming off a month of riding the downwind sleds in Hawaii to jumping back on a 12’6 race board has been just what the Dr ordered this week, but realistically I’m probably well under gunned in comparison to the Orange County crew who almost exclusively only hit beach sessions in training.
But as they say a change is as good as a holiday and man it’s been fun to jump back on a shorter board that accelerates, turns, surfs. I have a whole new level of appreciation to be back riding something that is nimble and quick (if only a downwind board had the attributes of what I have spent 6 years putting into my 12’6 boards!).
It’s been a good refresh to get back into the groove of the surf zone while getting the mind and body tuned back into the much sharper sessions that are on the menu for the next couple of months as we head into the business end of the season.
Tomorrow will be a great chance to see where everything is at regardless of the outcome (queue Huntington Shorey below for reference).
With a format that rewards those that finish at the front of each heat (multiple 1x mile heats in and out of the surf zone held over 45 minutes) there’s an incentive to get after it right from the gun.
Holding maximum efforts repeatedly for 45 mins with minimal recoveries will no doubt start to wear people down after the first couple of rounds and I am sure that endurance will play a critical factor at some point (likely sooner rather than later!).
And for those of you that are unawares, Huntington shore pound likes to eat boards and people for breakfast lunch and dinner. With a pretty much flat swell forecast for Huntington tomorrow, navigating the shore pound will be critical.
After Huntington it’s goodbye to Ca for a couple of weeks as I do a nippy turn around to fly out to Portland on Monday morning to hit Hood River for the Columbia Gorge Paddle Challenge the following week with some other exciting adventures on the radar for the following week.
My bike kit and trail shoes are packed so regardless of if the wind turns up or not, you’ll find me making the most of the what the Gorge is famous for – REAL coffee, CRAFT beer, JUICY peaches, EPIC trails and Post Canyon!
Bring it on.