So, Can I Cut The Mustard?


As I’m now at the end of the San Clemente part of my trip, and therefore the end of the focus on surfing, it’s time for a reckoning on progress and status. The last few weeks have all been at either Doheny and Oceanside beaches and I’ve been using both the soft-top 8ft board and a 6’6” shortboard to practice and hone my skills. I’ve enjoyed using the latter and have been able to catch and ride some bigger waves than before as well as do some good turns and fast moves. However, as I reported before, it’s much more unpredictable and pernickety to use and as the waves have not often been of the right size and power I’ve not been able to perfect it as much as I would have liked, which is a bit disappointing, but not a lot can be done to change it.

My surfing knowledge has increased hugely – for instance, I’ve learnt a vast amount about wave formation, how to anticipate and read how they’ll behave; I now know about the different types of break and how they can be approached as well as be confident of looking at incoming surf on a beach and knowing whether or not I’d be able to get out and ride or whether I’d be better off chilling until the risk to life/limb is reduced.

So, the end summary…

Ability: big improvement all round, wave selection not quite 100%, but easily in the 70-80% level and ride rate now up to 50%.

Technique: pop-up is very clean, feet landing in the right place 90% of the time, there’s the occasional miss, wobble and getting dumped in the ocean, for sure, but they’re much rarer; paddling – both out to the line-up and to catch a wave – is a lot stronger, it still takes up a great deal of energy, but that’s the same for everyone and I now find I’m way less knackered than I was once I get outside the breaking water.

Style: hmmm, yeah, ok; this is never going to be my strong suit, but I’m looking less like a puppet on a string than I used to and I’m a lot quicker to address any unbalancing – not that I always stay on obviously… Aside from that though, I can cross step to the nose of the board and back without tipping off (i.e. walk the length of the board and back), but the fabled “hang ten” movement (where you stand still on the nose of the board with all ten toes hanging off the end) is not yet in my grasp. One to aim for.

Approach: confidence much better with the larger waves, I might not always get them, but then, I wouldn’t really expect to quite yet – the main thing is that I’m happy to go for them.

Enthusiasm: Boom!! Oh Yeah! Bags and bags of this, in all honesty, this is never likely to dip below the “Bring it on!!” level

Best Day: caught 6 waves on the trot, each one a majestic line of unbroken water, ridden for between 50 and 80 meters each – I even got a “woah, sweeeeet ride, dude” from a gal in the lineup when paddled back out. Yup, it felt good.

Grade: A-

There’s still room for improvement, especially with the shortboard and some of the main tricks and skills, but from the standing start of 8 weeks ago, I’m unrecognisable. Very very pleased 😊

The below are a selection of video clips from my last day on the water, where I was also joined by Evie and there’s a cracker at the end where we caught the same wave and rode it in together.

This is not the end of the blog as the two of us are now off on our road trip from here up the coast to the top of California and into Oregon, then back down the middle and far side of the state, before we finish up in San Francisco.

First of the Day – a good ride to start the fun

Sweeeeet, dude – nice…

Cool dismount – nice to just not fall off at the end…

Good wave, unfortunately got water on lens

Wipeout – not everyone’s a winner, baby

Evie takes flight – it’s a family affair