For a few days before our trip to the West Coast desert shores, I had been intensely watching the charts.
Swell on this coast is so raw that sometimes less is more. We had been tracking a swell heading towards the coast, giving rise to a flurry of conversation between Tristan Roberts and I. We had mentioned the possibility of the wind either going off, or turning into something great. As far as we could determine, and according to some of the most amazing-looking charts I had seen in a while, it would be all systems go!
By the time we left, we had a good crew together. Tristan, with whom I have done many trips, and I with James Clayden and Kyle Bornochis on their first trip.
We arrived on the Friday and were greeted by some of the most beautiful offshore conditions.
Driving through puddles, left from the previous rain, we watched lines of perfectly groomed waves reeling off onto clean beach breaks. And to add further value, there was nobody else in sight!
We arrived at our camping area a little uneasy as the off-shore had not yet reached the wave, but we knew it was on the way. With the warm off-shore winds, things started to change as we watched the wind swoop over the sand and groom yet another beach break to perfection. It was happening right in front of our eyes and it was just mind-blowing to see.
Filled with excitement and anticipation, we decided that we would head out for our first of many sessions that weekend. We suited up, jumped out and started trading off, set after set, flying through the air and getting barreled!
As the early afternoon went on, we took a lunch break. Getting to the top of the beach we were able to look back down on the nonstop near perfection, wave after wave. The banks had been cleaned by a previous swell and there was still nobody around.
Just before dark, we entered the water yet again. We were heading for the second session that day with tired bodies. I started on the left of the beach finding some good lefts to get into and hitting some big ramps while I watched Tristan and James getting pitted on the right.
We eventually left the water reluctantly, deciding that it was time to have dinner while watching the sunset. We headed up, lit the fire, set up the tents and watched a beautiful sunset behind us. A bite to eat and tired bodies had us in bed by 8pm!
When we rose in the morning, we were into some more good waves. The swell had stuck around and looking down on it, we were in for another crazy day.
We grabbed a coffee, ate a small breakfast and suited up, enjoying the dry wetsuits as the warm offshore winds blow fairly constantly. We were lucky to get a gentler wind all day, giving us incredible offshore conditions yet again, noticeably smaller than the previous day. We were still in for some amazing rides.
Getting in at the middle of the beach, we looked left and right to see waves barreling all around us. We started with a long morning session before some lunch.
Watching down the beach we could see the waves starting to pulse yet again. After a quick lunch and some discussions about the wave situation, we were back into the pumping waves. This long session made me realise that I was not as fit as I had been prior to my trip to South America to compete in the APB events. I had lost a great deal of fitness in this time; not training, just riding waves.
James, Tristan and I stayed in the water while Kyle sat on the beach filming. We were fortunate to have him along with us but now we had to perform at our best to get some good footage. Tristan started the second session by going left and launching some big air reverses while James continued to scream his head off while getting barreled for some time on the rights.
I was riding my new boards, just starting to get the feel for the different NRG material. The boards were going well and I was starting to get in tune with them. We rode waves for about four hours that afternoon before I, with strength reserves running very low, decided it was time to go in. One by one, each of us got our last wave and headed up to the camp.
Tristan and James could not resist heading out again just before dark for some last waves in the great conditions. They headed back out and got straight back into action with Tristan getting a good air forward and James flying through some right barrels. I took a welcome break from the action and lit the fire for the last night. On their return we huddled around the fire, sharing accounts of our day of pumping waves, eating good food with good friends.
The next morning, we woke to the sound of thunder in the ocean. Mother Nature had pushed all she had and raised the swell to about 10-12 feet. We watched as set after set came through, building with every set and sending some of the most beautiful waves through.
Tristan and I decided that we would paddle out and give the waves a try. We walked down the beach, over some rocks and waited for a break in between sets. Standing on the rocks, we could feel the energy of the ocean coming through it. We started to paddle as the ocean seemed flatten briefly. Both of us were humbled by the sheer size of some of the sets coming through.
We conferred and decided that we would be getting one wave in, hoping that it would be a good one!
After some time of sitting out in the open ocean, I saw a wave building up. Shouting “I’m going in on this one!” I was on the wave. With a long bottom turn, I flew into this reeling right-hander. I pushed up as it started to barrel. It began to offload with a huge pit. I gained enough speed to come flying out of the barrel. I was so stoked to have completed the ride. Now it was Tristan’s turn. He started with a short cover-up and came out with a massive air reverse, unfortunately landing in the V and not riding out.
At the top of the beach, Kyle had recorded both of our waves. We watched the footage while packing up all our gear into my trusty Subaru Forester. We were in for a long drive back.
We knew that, with all the swell around, we would see some amazing waves as we headed back along the coastal road.
And we did! We witnessed some of the craziest waves we had seen all trip. All the reef breaks were firing, all beach breaks were firing, but we were heading home and all we could do was watch.
Our trip home was marked with talking and laughing about an amazing weekend. We looked through footage and just saw that it just wasn’t able to do the weekend justice. Being in the moment, with your mates as waves pump all around you, has to be better than any footage can show. The moral of the story: “Enjoy every moment with friends in great places.”
What an epic trip!