Everyone saw it coming last week. A tight LOLA blob of purple and red spinning off the coast of Japan. Big-wave contests from Hawaii to NorCal to Oregon went on amber alert. Big-wave chargers started pricing plane tickets and re-waxing guns. Regular-wave surfers began eyeing the closest pointbreak and putting hours on the homefront in hopes of some free weekend time.
Like most swell events, turns out some places were better than others. Here’s why:
“As the storm tracked to the northeast it grew in both size and intensity, with satellite measured wind speeds of 45-65 knots
over a large area and confirmed seas of 40-45’+,” said Surfline’s Kevin Wallis. “This kicked up a very long-period northwest groundswell that moved across the Pacific, and impacted California January 19th-22nd, with significant swell energy in the 20-25 second period band.”
This swell may not have been the biggest or the most consistent, but the shape and conditions were epic, especially at Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Long period swells mean that there are breaks between the sets that are long enough to actually paddle out at OB without getting completely denied, though there were some heavy beat downs dished out. Massive, perfect peaks awaited those with big enough cajones to paddle out. One of the best swells I have ever seen at Ocean Beach.
Former pro, XXL winner and big-wave charger Mike Parsons suffered a near fatal freefall on a triple overhead wave in San Francisco on Sunday.
After seeing the forecast for more long-period NW swell and offshore winds all weekend, Snips drove up on Saturday with Taylor Knox and Garth Tarlow. They were the first to paddle out in the middle of the beach at 7:00am on Sunday.
“It was amazing out there, I was having the best time; everyone was getting waves,” Snips said. “I was having a blast. About four hours into the session, I was looking for one in, and a nice set was coming. I paddled for the third wave, thinking I’d get in a little early with a chip shot out the back.”
Turned out to be not the case. “I thought I was into it, then suddenly realized I wasn’t. I took two more strokes and tried to stand up in what turned out to be the lip. I freefell, and remember my feet hitting my board for a second, then my head hit the water really hard.”
Hard enough to get serious whiplash and crack the C7 vertebrae in his neck. “I thought I was paralyzed under water,” he said. “I had that crazy tingly feeling. My right arm worked a little bit, but it felt like it was dangling; like it had been ripped off my body ‘cause I had no feeling.”
There were also several rescues made during this swell. Ocean Beach is amazing at this size, but even the pros of the sport can get a severe beat down out there. It is a very humbling spot to surf.
(02-10) 10:00 PST SAN FRANCISCO — A woman suffered minor injuries this morning when she drove her car into the water at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, authorities said.
Firefighters arrived around 6:30 a.m. and found the woman sitting in her partially submerged sedan near Lincoln Way. Rescuers waded into the water and pulled the woman out.
The middle-aged woman, whose name has not been released, used a ramp near Lincoln to get onto the beach and managed to drive across roughly 350 feet of sand before coming to a stop in the surf, said Fire Department Capt. Jeanne Seyler.
One has to wonder why this happened. The woman had to know what she was doing, because there is no easy way to get a car from the road all the way to the water on the north end of Ocean Beach where this occurred. You have to be a pretty skilled driver to negotiate the ramp and the thick piles of sand that accumulate on it. After the ramp, the beach is over 100 yards wide before you hit the water. Amazing that she made it so far.
Today in the cold onshore winds of Ocean Beach, Slater claimed his eleventh world title by winning his Round 4 non-elimination heat against young Brazilians Miguel Pupo and Gabriel Medina. By advancing straight to the quarterfinals, Slater now has an insurmountable lead and the title race is officially over.
The morning was marred with unfavorable winds for the Ocean Beach sandbars, but the event ran just enough heats to finish Round 3 and start Round 4, giving Kelly a chance to nab the title that he thought he had three days ago. As far as the ASP miscalculations earlier in the week are concerned, Kelly seemed to be a good sport about the whole episode. “I was upset about it, but I also thought it was really funny,” Kelly said. “We all make mistakes.” Although they may not have been the most ideal circumstances for winning the title, the 2011 ASP World Champion has now officially been crowned. Click here to watch Kelly’s entire heat against Miguel and Gabriel, as well as Slater’s post-win interview.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this is the fact that the 2 Brazilians he surfed against were 17 and 19 years old. Neither one was even born when Kelly won his first World Title, and their combined ages are less than Kelly’s current age of 39.
At the end of the heat, after the horn sounded, Kelly pulled into the best barrel ridden so far in the contest. To find a wave like that in those kind of conditions at Ocean Beach is almost miraculous. The man has a very special relationship with the ocean, no question about it.
Surfline has posted a wrap up of today’s action here. From the article, here is Kelly’s take on the wave I described above:
Slater’s last wave was just about as glorious as any trophy. First there was a, “No way he’s coming out of that thing!” by the crowd. Then, “No way! Insane!” Kelly’d found a wave that hit the sandbar properly. “After my heat, I got the best wave I’ve got out here by miles,” he laughed. “I probably would’ve got a ten on the thing. The wave was amazing. It was perfectly clean, and spit me out for some reason.”
Local filmmaker Powerlines Productions has posted a video of Kelly’s heat and the amazing post-heat barrel on YouTube.
Planners have revealed a sweeping set of recommendations for guiding San Francisco’s Ocean Beach over the next several decades. The plan is predictably complex, especially with the necessity to protect important city infrastructure, but the changes deliberately aim to preserve the natural habitat, surfing, and the sweeping views that many residents enjoy.
Ocean Beach faces challenges including destructive coastal erosion, rising sea levels and a myriad of competing demands as the biggest beach in a densely developed city. In response to these challenges, the draft recommendations of the Ocean Beach Master Plan call for changes such as rerouting part of the Great Highway, reducing the number of lanes on most of that road, and installing cobblestone berms and other features to blunt the erosive impact of waves on the shore.
When it is completed early next year, the Ocean Beach Master Plan will provide a set of principles and concrete suggestions that city, state and federal agencies can use to guide the management of the beach over the next several decades.
I am hoping that this plan is drafted. For many years, the city has been woefully negligent in it’s attempts to preserve the coastline. The current strategy of dumping huge rocks and chunks of concrete on the dunes at the south end of Ocean Beach has failed miserably. You would think that after part of the Great Highway collapsed into the ocean down there that planners might rethink their strategy and do something positive for a change.
To get a full grasp on Kelly Slater’s 11th world title, made official today in Round 3 of the Rip Curl Search Pro at San Francisco’s Ocean Beach, consider the perspective of Owen Wright, the man currently ranked second behind Slater on tour.
“I just remember chasing him up the beach when I was like six or seven years old,” said Wright, the 21-year-old year-old Australian from New South Wales. “I was just this tiny little grom chasing after him at a contest. Now I’m running down the beach next to him, wanting to go out and beat him. That’s a pretty surreal experience.”
There’s a clock in play for all world-class athletes, from distance runners to the greats of the NBA, but Slater’s has its own mechanism. It’s more of a time machine. As soon as that horn sounds, signaling
the start of heat, Slater magically becomes 20 years old again.
Which is kind of cool, considering that he’s 39.
No matter who you’d care to name - Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Joe Montana, Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, Wayne Gretzky, Roger Federer - nobody was the unquestioned king of his sport for two decades. Slater won his first world title in 1992, and No. 11 signifies an even 20 years.
Ocean Beach produced truly epic conditions today for day 2 of the Rip Curl Search Pro. For the first time in 20 years, Kelly wins his title on US mainland soil (or water). This is a truly amazing achievement in sports and this record may never be broken. The next most winning surfer in ASP Tour history has a mere 4 titles, which was considered a superhuman record prior to the current reign of King Kelly. Perhaps his perspective on aging has something to do with it.
As for his age, Slater offered an interesting perspective. “People always ask me about that,” he said. “I’ll be 40 in a couple of months. To me, it’s literally just a number. You see people 100 years old and you can’t believe they lived that long, but to them, it’s not baffling. They took care of themselves. To me, I don’t see why at 50 I can’t be in better shape than right now. I think I’m gonna be.”
Watch the event live or replay the video by visiting the official Rip Curl Event site
The 9th event in the ASP World Tour is underway at Ocean Beach in San Francisco this morning. Round 1, Heat 1 is in the water now. It will be very interesting to see how these great surfers do in our cold, shifty waves.
October 28, 2011 / Ocean Beach, San Francisco – The Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco, Event No. 10 of 11 on the 2011 ASP World Title Series, will bring the world’s best surfers to Northern California for the first time in history next week with the ASP Top 34 doing battle at Ocean Beach.
The penultimate stop of the 2011 ASP Dream Tour season, the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco boasts the dual importance of playing a crucial role in the requalification campaigns of elite ASP Top 34 as well as the possible deciding event of the 2011 ASP World Title.
Kelly Slater (USA), 39, reigning 10-time ASP World Champion and current ASP World No. 1, is just two heat wins away from clinching a historic 11th title, needing to finish ninth or better at the Rip Curl Pro Search San Francisco to end this season’s race.
“Being this close doesn’t change my approach too much,” Slater said. “I have to ride four waves as well as I can against probably a really good wildcard. The approach doesn’t change because of the situation. The approach got me to this place and I’ll stay in the same headspace as much as possible.”
The Rip Curl Pro Search event, Somewhere in San Francisco, gets underway this coming Tuesday. I think we now know exactly where “Somewhere in San Francisco” is:
somewhere at Ocean Beach, across from the Beach Chalet