Surfing at Cowells at Santa Cruz

(aside: I went and saw “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry” last night, which was surprisingly good for the most part; I recommend it to the general concerning moviegoer ;) )

This morning I went down to Santa Cruz with some guys (and girl) from work to go surfing there. Laura had suggested it earlier in the week, as she’d never been swimming in the ocean before, and I was eager to get back into it a bit. The forecast was that it was going to be pretty mediocre, though – small and slightly onshore, although the weather itself was beautiful. The place we went was Cowells, which is the beach just west of the pier. Some people have called it one of the best learner breaks… I can’t remember how they qualified that, whether “in the world” or just California, or what, but in any case, it doesn’t hold a candle to the Prom. It reminded me a fair bit of Point Leo in general, even though it is a point break.

Anyway, the forecast was pretty much dead on, and my interpretation was pretty much dead on – too small, and waaaaay too many people. There were at least three surf schools there when we arrived, ourselves included (although I didn’t pay for the school part, just board & wetsuit hire; $30 for the day)… I’d say there were a good 100 people on this tiny break. If I had my own gear and had just wandered down, I would never have bothered going out.

But, we were all there and had all paid for our gear before we’d even seen the beach, so one way or another, we were going to have a go.

The guy at the surf shop recommended for me a 10’2″ mini-mal. Standard fibreglass sort of thing… a lot of the surf school people had foam-covered or foam-edged boards, much like the Mac-T’s of yesteryear. It was a pretty big board; I’m pretty sure my old Mac-T was 8′ or so… but my memory’s rusty.

Anyway, it was probably a good thing, given the small waves. We were out there for about two hours, maybe a little more, and I only caught two waves in that time – one was a random three-foot which came through and was actually pretty nice, and the other was just some crappy 2-foot thing which I somehow managed to catch after paddling insanely.

It took a few attempts before I was able to stand up again – and I took some tips from the surf school instructors that I overheard, which reminded me how bad my form was. :) But it was pretty familiar. I’d very much like to do it more regularly. At least a couple of the guys I went with had a good time, even though the waves were pretty sad, so hopefully they’ll be interested in going again sometime.

One completely expected but sad thing it did confirm was just how unfit I am at the moment. About a month or two ago I was at my heaviest ever, that I recall. I’ve lost a bit of weight since then by eating better, mainly, but haven’t been to the gym still, and while riding my bike has improved my legs a bit, that’s about it.

So if I’m to go surfing more regularly, I’m really going to have to go to the gym again. The problem is finding time – I tend to get home from work ~7ish as it is, which once I do dinner and other general chores, leaves me all of about three hours for the rest of my life. Granted, I tend to blow a fair portion of that playing Halo online and getting insulted by 9-year-olds… so I really have no excuse not to go to the gym. Meh.

After the surfing, it was roughly lunch time so we wandered over to downtown Pacific Avenue and grabbed some “sandwiches” (Subway-style rolls) at Togo’s, where Vitali left his bag, and then backtracked to the Coldstone creamery we’d past on the way there, because it smelt so good. And indeed it was – very very good ice cream. I may have to avoid passing through Santa Cruz simply for the sake of my health. ;)

And then we went back to the beach and chilled for an hour or so, sunbaking for the most part and just chatting, before people all disbanded and we headed home.

And traffic on 17 was a pain in the rear both directions… it’s a nice drive when there’s not any traffic, but, that’s basically never the case, and when there is traffic it’s frustrating, dangerous and terribly fuel-inefficient. Still, the average fuel economy for the trip was 5.6L / 100km (41.8mpg), which isn’t too bad considering the hills between here and Santa Cruz are actually pretty high, and fairly steep.

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