The Single Fin Experiment

3 08 2014

As I sit here watching the Men’s Semi Finals of the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, live on the internet, I thought I’d write about an experiment I did yesterday. It happened to be inspired by the very same US Open of Surfing from Friday’s Duct Tape Invitational.

The Duct Tape Invitational is the longboarders showing their stuff in between the pro surfing qualifying and Jr. Rounds. I love it because I just love surfing, whether I watch the pros on the WCT, or the Jr’s, or even the longboarders. If I understand it correctly from the announcers, they are required to have a board at least 20 lbs in weight, 9’2″ in length, and it must have only a single fin and no leash plug. My guess is that if it has a leash plug, so what, just don’t wear a leash. Another cool thing about the contest is they encourage sharing waves by offering extra cash for the best shared waves.

As I was watching it, I knew Saturday was my surf day with my crew and our forecast was 1 to 2 feet. That said, I figured I’d be riding my longboard, which today is the 9’0″ Walden Magic Model 3 that I have written about in the past. It has a 2+1 fin set up, a single fin that is 7″ long and two small side biters, about 3″ or less, I haven’t measured them.

In the garage I have a 9’8″ Kennedy single fin with a 9″ Josh Farbrow fin in the box, so I thought I’d experiment a little and remove the 2+1 off the Magic Model 3, then attach the 9″ JF fin. I wasn’t sure how much of a difference it would make, but I have ridden one of my Magic’s in the single fin set up with the 7″ that came with it and it rode fine. A larger fin was going to make the board feel bigger, though, and I wanted to see if my nose rides would get better.

The first couple of waves I rode I could tell right away it felt slower and bigger, but as I got used to it, I could also tell that I was going to love trying it out and experimenting. I was already able to get 5 toes over on it in the old set up, but I wanted to make it less a cheater five and try to get my feet closer together. A few more waves and I really felt comfortable up there. I got my back foot on top of the logo, which is the farthest up I have gotten it.

It was a really fun small day and as I continue down the road with the single fin experiment, I will be adjusting the fin back in 1/4″ increments. Gonna try to hit it tomorrow before work, but with the possible swell picking up I’ll probably ride one of my fish. No Mini Simmons, yet.

Until next post, take care and God bless,

Surer Yoda


Too Long Between Writing

22 12 2013

Well, it’s been a few weeks. I’ve surfed a few times in that time frame. I haven’t really had the time to sit in front of my computer to write my thoughts on surfing down. I got some hits on my last piece, about the Red Bull Decades series. Thank you for reading that.

As of today, 3 days before Christmas, Gooch and I are friends again. We saw each other yesterday at Leo Carrillo and it was like there was nothing wrong. It’s better that way because I’d rather have a friend than worry about whether I’d see him again or not.

This week we had a forecast pretty much the same from Ventura to the South Bay, all of the areas I’d most likely surf. So we made the decision to stay near our favorite spot, Staircase. We planned to meet up at 6:30 or 6:45 and hope for the best.

Baby Gorilla had some snore surgery, so he was out, and Rip Van Ronnie had a recent near death car accident he walked away from, but was too sore to surf. We had Spock, the Rev, Uncle Chris, Gooch, and Dave Mac.

As we drove by Leo to meet up at Staircase, Gooch was getting ready to hit it. I knew Spock was probably at Staircase, so we continued up there. He was and had also looked at the surf. Since Gooch and I hadn’t officially made things right between us I wanted to just skip looking at Staircase and head back to Leo to surf with Gooch. After all, I wanted us to be friends again. Gooch had the right idea anyway. There were a few knee to waist high waves coming in when we pulled up.

It was pretty cold getting ready, but it was the place to be along that stretch of coast and I was glad to get a warm reception from Gooch. We all paddled out with a couple of random surfers and ended up catching quite a few waves. It wasn’t stellar, but it is always fun to get wet. There were sets nearing chest high, too, so I can’t say it was even a “get wet” kind of day. I just didn’t seem to have my own abilities together.

It’s kind of funny, but sometimes that’s how we describe things. I remember when I was in high school and we’d drive the canyon roads. If you were on your way to the beach and saw a car with boards on top, you’d give the thumbs up thumbs down sign a few times asking the other guy how it was. Mostly I think it had to do with size more than conditions. I always hoped if I got a thumbs down it wasn’t because the guy just had a bad session. Also, I guess it didn’t matter because I’d find out for myself. It wasn’t like I was going to turn around and go home because of that sign.

Anyway, my session was still fun and even though I didn’t catch all of the waves I would have liked, I’m so glad to have gone and met up with Gooch again.

Afterwards we hit Lily’s Cafe and Pastries and had our favorite breakfast burrito, reminiscing about our morning.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and if for some reason I can’t get back to my writing before then, a Happy and Safe New Year. Thank you and God bless.

Surfer Yoda

Too Much Fun!!

13 10 2013

I know I repeat myself a lot in this blog, I’m guessing. However, it bears repeating that I’m always so stoked to hit the water.

Take, for instance, the trip two weeks ago to San O: On Monday I was still basking in the glow of the stoke that I had taken in still from only a couple of hours of surfing two days prior. That kind of thing is way too cool. Who needs to wreck it by taking drugs or drinking too much? Seriously, that is something that happens to me.

And as of today? Well lets just say yesterday was too much fun!!

When I looked at the surf forecast last Sunday Swell Watch was forecasting up to chest high waves for south facing beaches. I was stoked because I was headed to Chicago for a few days and though at the time I didn’t know what to expect in Chicago, if it wasn’t that great I had something to look forward to. By Tuesday’s and Thursday’s report, nothing had changed: up to chest high at south facing beaches.

Chicago was actually great. I work for a great company and I love the vision our corporate headquarters (based in Rosemont, IL) has. So even though it was a very full three days (travel and meetings Monday, meetings Tuesday, and meetings and travel Wednesday) I was coming home excited for the company I work for.

That said, the best day at work never beats the worst day surfing. It’s just a fact. So looking forward to the possibility of swell and even somewhat warm water temps (maybe up to 63 at my favorite spot) made for some “I’m going to Disneyland” type feelings inside on Friday night when I went to bed.

It was really turning into a small crew, too: Baby Gorilla had to go to Brazil; Uncle Chris was going fishing; the Rev was feeling ill; Rip Van Ronnie had the week from hell I found out later, but since his cell didn’t work, we never connected; and no one else really got back to me to surf. As far as I knew, it was Spock, the Sailor and myself. Gooch was maybe coming back from August shoulder surgery next time we surfed, so just the 3 of us.

When I left my house at 5 am my intent was to look at Zuma in the dark before arriving at our favorite undisclosed spot (or Dagobah, as I now call it). I really like Zuma and though I had both my longboard and shortboard, I wanted to ride my shortboard. Though it was still pitch black at 6 am when I arrived, you could tell there were waves there. Every bit the chest high forecasted for a south facing beach in the Malibu area.

I went ahead and drove up to Dagobah, kind of seeing other spots and how cars were lining up already in the dark. Powder was already there waxing his board (Powder is an honorary member of our crew, but he never joins us for breakfast because he surfs all day). We had the usual talk, but it was apparent we were all going out at Dagobah, Yoda’s home planet of exile. 🙂

Guess who showed up with us?! Gooch!! Turns out this was the weekend he was cleared to surf again! So it was Powder, Gooch, Spock, the Sailor and myself to ourselves for a little bit before the sun came up. And Dagobah did not disappoint.

I carried both boards down the cliff, but I only rode the short Quad Fish. The surf was absolutely perfect with the tide and it was a little bigger for those of us under the 5’10” mark. I got Powder on one that looked just slightly over his head, which means maybe chest high if you’re 6’6″, which none of us are.

It was so, so fun. I never once thought about grabbing my longboard, something I usually switch over to when the crowd starts to thicken (because I can catch more waves that way). It was a good crowd, though, too. Respectful and not dropping in on everyone.

Gooch was out first, which is understandable. He caught a lot of waves, though. Powder switched shortboards in the middle of the session. Spock and the Sailor were in the water almost to the point I had finally gotten out so we could go grab our favorite breakfast burrito. All in all it’s one of those days I’ll be basking in until at least Monday!

Just the four of us (without Powder) headed to Lily’s and enjoyed that savory delight known as a breakfast burrito. They just do it right there.

I hope you get that kind of stoke in whatever it is that you call your verb.

Take care and God bless.

Surfer yoda

San-O-No-Fre, Here We Come

29 09 2013

In my 32 years of surfing I’ve never surfed San Onofre. I’ve surfed Trestles, which is basically along the same coastline from San Clemente south to Camp Pendleton, but I’ve never surfed “Old Mans”, or any of the other spots south of Uppers. Yesterday all of that changed.

Spock had invited the crew to meet up with him at San Onofre State Beach Campground. He and a co-worker, Sean (or Shaun, or Shawn; no real nickname, yet) were camping for the whole weekend and it happened to be on a weekend that we were to meet up. So the plan was for myself, Rip Van Ronnie, and Uncle Chris to meet at the Revs and carpool down, while Baby Gorilla headed there from his waayyy inland neck of the woods. Anyone else was welcome, but they had to find their own way there as our vehicle was full.

The morning started out a little rough as RVR missed his opportunity to make it on time due to a serious accident at an intersection that blocked his ability to catch up to us in a timely manner. If he had followed my directions carefully none of that would have happened. So we left, just the three of us without RVR. I drove Uncle Chris’ truck.

On the 5 south in Burbank, we ran into another emergency situation where we had to slow down, but it didn’t block traffic and we were on our way. Then down the 5 a little bit later in Downey all lanes were closed. There we sat for 30 minutes trying to listen to the radio, wondering why the stupid Sig Alert App on my phone showed green freeway in front of me when all lanes were blocked (should have shown red lanes)

We managed to work our way over and get off the freeway to work our way past that accident and back on Interstate 5 south.

Our plan was to be at the campsite at 6 am, but now we were behind. No matter.

We got to our destination and Baby Gorilla was already there suited up and ready to go. We all suited up, headed down this crazy path to the beach, and the rest it history.

Anyway, we were in the warm San O water by 7 am and surfed till about 8:30. It was literally all we could handle. The waves weren’t perfect by any stretch, but they were perfect for us to enjoy and have so much fun surfing. All of our waves were long and it was probably knee to almost chest high. Long paddles back out after catching waves. Lots of waves caught. Just an all around super fun morning.

When it was all over we walked back up that treacherous trail, legs burning by the top, and showered off. Spock had brought the ingredients to make us all breakfast burritos and I’m telling you, as much as I love Lilly’s nothing ever beats homemade. Egg White and Chorizo with Refried Beans, plus all the accessories wrapped in a 12 inch tortilla made for a great breakfast.

As we headed out for our long trek home we came to the realization that we now have a new surf spot on our places to consider. I’d surf there again, easily. Super stoked about that spot, and it wasn’t crowded (this day, anyway).

Take care and God bless.

Surfer Yoda

Short, But Sweet

15 09 2013

Today is going to be very short. I am headed to Disneyland with my wife and son. My daughter is missing out because she has to work a double shift at Chili’s. Such is the life of a teenage high school grad. I will let my vids speak for themselves. 🙂

This was done on Thursday of this last week. My work brought me to the coast and I just had to take a break while I was there.

<p><a href=”″>GoPro Dagobah 9-12-13 Fineline Quad Fish</a> from <a href=”″>Surfer Yoda</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

It was a swell building day as there really weren’t any waves to speak of at the beginning of the week. Friday was going to be best, but I had a meeting to participate in running and I knew Saturday was forecast to be a good day.

I rode the longboard Saturday because I just needed a little more umph to get into them. I was not disappointed.

So Disneyland, here we come.

I hope you get to hit the lineup soon. Take care and God bless.

Surfer Yoda

4 Day Weekend, Not!

1 09 2013

A couple of weeks ago I had worked a Trade Show at the LA Convention Center for my employer. I had to work on a Sunday, which is fine as I normally have weekends and holidays off anyway, so no big deal. Coming into a 3 day weekend, Labor Day being on Monday and a paid holiday in the US, I was trying to work into a 4 day weekend. The problem was my partner in my department was on vacation this last week, so I was doing both of our jobs. No easy task to work ahead.

I decided that realistically I’d still have to check my e-mails, do all of the quotes that came in, and answer my phone, but all that I could from home. A Friday dawn patrol was an easy do and I was going to surf Saturday, too.

Rip Van Ronnie has trouble making it on Saturday mornings because of his restaurant job and I offered for him to come along Friday morning. JB also wanted to surf, since we chose the ‘Bu to surf and so all was set.

RVR and I met JB at Malibu! We were there in the dark and JB was already on it. So RVR and I suited up and headed out to knee to chest high waves with 25 others. This was actually going to be a great test for me after my confession of 2 weeks ago. If I could handle the crowd here, I could handle it anywhere. I’ve been so spoiled surfing waves with my buds with only us out that it just seems normal.

Malibu was super fun for the time we spent in the water. I didn’t get as long of waves as I probably could have, but I was trying to get as many as I could and that helped take care of all of the wave sharing that happens there. RVR, JB and I really had a good time, and by the time we got out of the water the forecast for Saturday was looking better!

On Saturday’s dawn patrol, JB and I rode to my Uncle’s house and met the Rev there. The four of us met Spock at our favorite spot where Powder was already suiting up and getting ready to go down. Forest and his son were meeting us there. From the cliff it looked really good. The waves at our favorite spot can be really mushy, which is one reason I like riding a longboard there. This day, however, was one of those days that does happen, where the tide, the swell direction, and other factors I am unsure of, brought nice peaky steep faces and more hollowness than normal.

It also brought a few more people out than normal. The swell wasn’t as consistent as we would have all liked, but we did all catch a lot of waves. Some of the sets hit head high, easy. Every bit the forecast that they said and the water temp was 65. I wore my spring, something I wish I did at the ‘Bu the day before because I was so hot in a full suit.

Here’s the footy from me from yesterday:

And here’s Spock’s version:

All in all it was one super fun day. The waves were so fast I really didn’t feel I could do any walking up to the nose. I really love rail to rail surfing, though, and so I was pretty stoked to put my 9’0″ through the paces. I think in the end I wished I had brought the Quad Fish, but I have no complaints about surfing my Magic Model 3 in almost any type of surf.

After our surf was over, the tide was almost maxed, we hit Lily’s. I know that sounds like a broken record, but the reality is, she has the best breakfast burrito around, whether you surf or not. If you’re ever in Malibu’s Pt. Dume area, you must stop by for breakfast and get a breakfast burrito with bacon and lots of green sauce. Don’t be so picky you butcher the burrito. Get it the way she makes it. You won’t be disappointed.

I hope you get to enjoy your 3 day weekend, or whatever weekend you get to have.

Thank you and God bless.

Surfer Yoda

Old Friends and Head Trauma

4 08 2013

It was a good week. I got to go up to Morro Bay on Tuesday to do an equipment survey at a hotel and on my way home I stopped at Emma Wood and surfed. I hit it for about 45 minutes, just long enough to really enjoy getting wet, and short enough to justify taking time away from work.

I surfed again yesterday, of course, as it was my usual dawn patrol with the crew. Baby Gorilla couldn’t make it. Uncle Chris was in San Francisco. Spock is in Hawaii, I’m sure the Rev told me a couple of weeks ago why he was a no show. The Sailor was doing something with his wife. Others just couldn’t make it.

So Rip Van Ronnie met me at Kohl’s and we rode down and met Gooch, arriving at our favorite surf spot around 5:15 am to check it out. Just the 3 of us, and Powder, who was already checking it out when we arrived, as usual.

Tuesday when I hit Emma, it was the beginning of a South that was winding down Friday. Saturday another South was to pick up, but forecasters kept pushing it to arrive later and later in the day. That meant that our Saturday dawn patrol was in between swells.

Our favorite wasn’t appealing, though very surfable on a longboard. However, it looked like we should at least go check a couple of other spots we just couldn’t see in the dark as we drove by them.

Powder headed to Zeroes and we headed to County Line. County didn’t look much better than our favorite, so we headed south and stopped to check Leo Carrillo. It had potential!

As we suited up to longboard two others paddled out. We hadn’t seen them and really thought we were going to be the first in the water, but Leo is also a campground so we figured they must have walked over from there. Then I noticed a third and figured he was with them.

Gooch and I were the 4th and 5th in the water followed by RVR about 15 minutes later. He always likes to wait for it to get a little lighter out.

The crew of campers was a really mellow crew and in fact, one of them wasn’t a camper, but a friend from High School I hadn’t seen in over 25 years probably! Dave and I sat out there catching waves, catching up on all those years, and reminiscing about the old days. He was good people back then and still is, now married with children. (So he wasn’t with the campers, who turned out to be from San Diego.)

As Gooch, RVR and I decided it was time for breakfast because about 7 more surfers were hitting the one take-off zone Leo has, it was time to say good-bye to Dave. (Not forever as he remembered my e-mail address and e-mailed me.)

I caught my last wave to go in and it wasn’t too bad. Smaller than some, but something I could ride all the way in. After a couple of turns I got up to the nose, lost speed and pearled it. I went under the surface as usual in these circumstances to avoid the board, but the board did a crazy 360 in the air and as it landed back in the water I was almost surfacing and one of the fins caught the back left side of my head leaving a 3 inch gash above and behind my ear.

It hurt right away and happened so fast that I actually thought the rail of the board hit my head causing a blunt force split.

As I got to the car RVR was describing how funny and cool the board looked as it did the 360. I turned around to show him the aftermath and his first reaction had me worried, but by now Gooch was there and was able to snap a pic on my phone for me. It was bad, but I didn’t need Urgent Care in Malibu. From their perspective they couldn’t see what happened.

No breakfast at Lily’s. 😦

RVR drove my car to Urgent Care in SCV and they saw me right away. They did all the “look at this light” exercises and determined I was fine, just bleeding, and put 3 staples in my head and sent me on my way.

I was able to put my footy together and narrate it, so I must be okay. That’s how I figured it was the fin that got me. 32 years of surfing with this being the first serious injury. Let’s hope I can go another 32 years before the next one. 😉

Take care, thank you, and God bless.

Surfer Yoda