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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Surf's Up - Memorial Day Weekend

A friend rented a beach house at Pensacola Beach and invited us to stay for the weekend.

It was great!

Friday night a pretty healthy thunderstorm moved over the beach and out to sea. Saturday saw some nice surf and it brought back a lot of memories of surfing trips to Maine. We had the cold water to battle in New England, down here on the Gulf, the temperature will rise into the 80's. The big problem the surfers confront is jellyfish. The tenticles of the jellyfish produce a pretty good sting when they come in contact with them. But that didn't stop anyone.

Just watching made me wonder if I could get out there and try it again. Of course after I lose a few pounds and work out a bit. I can only imagine what my arms would have felt like after about 30 minutes paddleing around out there. All told I probably spent about two hourswatching a group of about a dozen surfers who's sill levels varied widely. Having not followed the sport since I gave it up 30 plus years ago, I was a bit surprised at the mix of short and long boards being used among the surfers whose ages probably ranged from the low teens into the 50 or 60's. Maybe there is hope for me yet.

This guy was having a ball, whipping his board through every wave he caught. Although I don't have the shot to prove it, he did manage to make it through this turn and drop back in and cut a few more sharp turns before ending the ride. As the day progressed, wave height an periodicity began to fall off. By Sunday the storm had passed well out to sea and the surf had dropped to about 3 to 5 feet max. On Sunday there were actually more surfers sitting on the beach watching the 6 or 7 surfers who were in the water dodging jellyfish between rides.

This guy was really fun to watch. He was about 5 foot 9 and the board he used was LARGE, almost the size of what the lifeguards use. As you can see he's holding a canoe paddle. He would stand on the board and literally "paddle" out and "stand" around waiting for the next set to come through. The he would paddle his way into the wave. He had several good rides. Later he shifted to a shorter board. I was probably a bit over 8 feet. He got rid of the canoe paddle and shifted back to conventional paddling.
Here he is riding his "shorter board. The size of the surf wasn't anything to brag about but he managed to milk just about every wave he caught for all he could get out of it.

All in all, both days were beautiful. Even if I don't get back in shape and try it out again, I'll definely watch the surf reports and head back with my camera and see if I can't get some more action shots. Before I wrap this one up for the night here is the last photo. This kid managed to catch some good rides but this was the best wave on Sunday.