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E L P M SA E L C I T AR #18

Issue #18 R.R.P $14 USD

R.R.P $20 AUD / NZD


Words by Darshan Gooch | Photos by Chris Klopf

>>Darshan Gooch hits the shallows at the end of a long day of California wave-hunting.

A campfire crackles amongst the dark of an Indian summer evening, somewhere along the remote Californian coast. Flames leap up on either end of a strangely shaped surf craft as the plywood and the carpenter’s glue it was assembled with begin to bubble. An offering from our huddled group, perhaps to entice the surf gods, to give thanks and praise for being allowed to dwell within this realm of infinite possibilities, while wordlessly pondering what lies in the cards for the days to come.


>>Beers and burning alaia.

>>Golden State sunset score.

Tucked inside a wind-protected cove, we spot a small wave rolling through thick beds of kelp and jagged rocks. 26 ¤ SLIDE ¤ THE STILL-WILD WEST

>>Camping quiver.

The morning prior we found ourselves wandering through countryside nestled alongside massive coast redwoods, before driving straight into a blanket of thick fog, cursing ourselves. However close we may have come to the ocean wouldn’t have mattered, it was buried right beneath our noses. Along this seaside highway, common pit stops are fewer than far, so we regrouped with a warm coffee outside this tiny gas station. As we stand in awe, a shirtless, lumberjack-looking man dressed only in boots and overalls carries enough beer to fill an entire

refrigerator, walks the stock to his car at seven in the morning. We might’ve been in Kansas, after all. Hours passed like miles on the odometer as we drove aimlessly to the north, trying to peer through the dense marine layer and catch an eye of what the surf looked like. Scribbled on a piece of scratch paper are a few vague notes, listing half-a-dozen clues suggesting where we might find a few waves along this unfamiliar coastline. Jumping out of the vehicle frequently at a moment’s notice, we peek around every corner and look down every rocky canyon,

>>CJ Nelson, high five along a quick, hidden nook.

scratching our heads at the thought of what kind of goose chase this may turn into. Luckily we stumble upon a dirt path leading us up a hillside in the distance, and our excitement grows. Tucked inside a wind-protected cove, we spot a small wave rolling through thick beds of kelp and jagged rocks. We knew that the swell was on the rise and, with a bit of luck, we may have found something to our liking here. This spot ended up having potential. After some debate within the crew, we explored the options of camping nearby, deciding it may be wise to post up for the time being.

Tents were assembled, all our gear slowly poured out of the vehicles as we began to remember the few things that often get forgotten when leaving in a hurry. As boards were unpacked we started to see the vast diversity of equipment around the campsite. The thought of having so many boards available sent me into a fit, leaving me no option but to throw on a wetsuit, ready to slide my heart out on a wooden plank. Skipping along the rocky shoreline, neoprene-bound and stick (literally) in hand, surrounded by sheer cliffs, it was easy to be taken captive by

the immense beauty of this mystical place. Paddling through boils and cracks in the reef, the solitude of sitting in an empty lineup was therapeutic. The crowds common these days can take their tolls. It turned out the wooden alaia was a great choice of equipment and suited this spot, well. Trimming, sliding, and gliding down the point, negotiating rocks and bulbs of kelp, until…SNAP! The pressure of pulling through the back of a wave had caused the board to break, dead center, and fold beneath my front foot. It was back to the drawing

board from here. Meanwhile, Drake had paddled out on his twin-fin and began to warm up, laying down some long, sweeping turns on the kelpy walls while Klopf settled into the rocks, establishing the best angle to frame his shots. Our crew huddled beside the shore, basking in the unusual afternoon sunshine while continuing to put different boards through their paces. The tide continued dropping, leaving us little time before the wave began to break into fragments of pointy reef and tide pools, ultimately sending us back on our way to the campsite. Unfortunately, our food supply


>>Winding coast road.

>>Chris Klopf’s local knowledge pays 10 dividends for Darshan.

was pretty pathetic, forcing the crew to split up—some gathered scrap branches of wood around the area for the fire pit, others sent out in search of the nearest store or market. It was just over an hour when Drake, Klopf, and Daniel returned, their heads hung low with defeat, meaning things weren’t looking good in the way of dinner that night. Other than a few boxes of crackers, tuna cans, and fixings for Hershey s’mores, we shared beers and talked story in the flickering, alaia campfire light. Calling it an early night, we buried our heads in our pillows, expecting 28 ¤ SLIDE ¤ THE STILL-WILD WEST

the fog to hug the coast until midmorning. Morning dew rolled down the sides of our tents, words of excitement mumbled from Klopf’s sleeping bag when he discovered that the early sky was bright and clear. Stumbling out of bed, we scurried down to get a glimpse of what the day had in store for us. To our surprise when peering over the bluff, it was clear the waves had jumped to almost twice the size, meaning it was time to pack up our campsite and continue down the coast. Along the way we stopped frequently, trying to seek

shelter amongst the raw power of the rapidly growing swell. Most spots were already washing out; surges of whitewater hammered the beaches relentlessly, dwindling our possibilities for an user-friendly surf. Pondering our next move, we happened across a wave tucked inside an inlet offering light winds and few people out. Considering it was a bit closed-out, Klopf mentioned another spot two hours south. Sunshine beamed across the land as we rolled down the coast, cows roamed in the distance near rustic farms, ranches, and colorful vineyards. The surroundings and

sheer beauty of the land made me marvel at how fortunate we were to experience this lesser-developed California in 2010. As gorgeous as the weather and conditions were, it was clear the tide was causing the waves to break too far outside the sandbar upon our arrival at this new location. Hiking optimistically for miles down the beach, we watched the howling offshore winds rage against the surf, the waves crashing destruction down on our hopes along the way. All day on the road had left us defeated. The sun sank into the sea as we discussed leaving and cutting our losses. Drake, along

>>Darshan discovers a perfectly catered wall for his displacement hull.

Scribbled on a piece of scratch paper are a few vague notes, listing half-a-dozen clues suggesting where we might find a few waves along this unfamiliar coastline.



Each wave seemed to break further out into the horizon, easily stretching the length of a few football fields while running down the point.

>>One of those Heaven-on-Earth days for these lucky four.


>>CJ burns through a round little reefer.

Weaving hard off his bottom turn and grabbing a rail, water flew off the outer edge of the board as he blazed past each section.


>>Backhand Holdfast grab-rail point connector. CJ Nelson.

with Daniel, decided to call it and wander back to the north. Onward we rolled, further down the coast in hopes of striking gold. Good fortune seemed to be on our side, as the best west swell of the fall had appeared to peak the previous night, combined with unseasonably warm weather and offshore winds, leaving us with more options than we originally anticipated. Driving alongside a sheer cliff on our passenger side, we pulled onto a bluff to watch corduroy lines stacking out to sea. Each wave seemed to break further out into the horizon, easily stretching the length of a few football fields while running down the point. We passed many scenic

locations, empty bays and beaches. Pulling over at a particularly perfect setup, our excitement boiled over as we literally jumped into our rubber suits. Rummaging through the van, we pulled out different boards and discussed what might be best suitable for the session. CJ grabbed his trusty 9’0 Holdfast highperformance thrasher, while I pulled a 6’2 Akila Aipa twin-fin out of the boardbag. Considering how light the crowd was, there were plenty of waves, leaving our legs burning with every ride, followed by the long paddle back to the lineup. After one long ride, as my eyes laid fixed on what was about to go down, a large set loomed in the distance, Ceej holding position. Looking at how

this wave wrapped into the bay and bent, you could tell it would be strictly pedal-to-the-metal. Weaving hard off his bottom turn and grabbing a rail, water flew off the outer edge of the board as he blazed past each section and displayed proper rail work with speed to burn. Ceej returned to shore sunburned and stoked. Within the time it would take most people to change, rest, and consume a meal, we happened upon a hidden left that was pulling against the current and peeling for 15 yards or so before disappearing into the depths of the channel. Although fatigued, wet hair still dripping from the prior session, CJ was already cracking the whip on

Klopf, rushing out with the froth of a surf-stoked grommet, ready and determined to nail the shot. Scratching our heads, we couldn’t really figure what all the excitement was about. After four waves were ridden, we gazed at each other with jaws dropped in utter shock, observing the technical display of fancy footwork happening right beneath our noses. Judging by the giddy laugh and the way Klopf was running about with his camera, you could only wonder what was happening behind the lens. In the blazing afternoon sun, many beachgoers stopped in their tracks, turning to observe Ceej work his magic while doing laps in an empty lineup. It was just outside an hour THE STILL-WILD WEST ¤ SLIDE ¤ 33

>> Tricky hands-free tube tuck on a knife-railed log. Darshan.


>>Even fickle bay waves woke up.

>>Will Kolb, head hanger.

>>Tricky hands-free tube tuck on a knife-railed log. Darshan.


>>Drake Stanley, twin-fin top turn.

>>Indian summer evening sky.

We had seen a photo in a local café that showed a very large great white shark patrolling this area, shockingly close to dry sand.


>>Darshan, buried bottom turn on a borrowed Cooperfish foil.

when we decided to pull the cord and call it a day, retiring to a big dinner and a well-earned rest. Early the next morning came a phone call from one of the area’s finest up-and-coming traditional longboarders. Bright blondhaired, 15-year-old grom phenom Will Kolb jumped onboard as we headed off to check a few of the surrounding breaks near his coastal neighborhood. This particular part of the coastline offers miles of sand-bottom beachbreaks, giving us plenty of options for picking and choosing different types of waves to surf. Agreeing on a sandbar was rather easy once we spotted a

bunch of log- friendly peaks further south down the road. We had seen a photo in a local café that showed a very large great white shark patrolling this area, shockingly close to dry sand, just yards from the waters edge. Regardless, we decided to roll the dice and nabbed a quick surf. Paddling out, we discovered that the bigger sets were washing through the surf zone, ripping our fingers right off the boards and sending us swimming to shore for their retrieval. The waves, however, provided plenty of opportunity for trim work as well as tip riding, and it wasn’t long before we worked up a major appetite fighting the strong

current that continually swept us down the beach and back into the shore pound. After a hearty meal at the local deli, we pushed on to another location we thought might be a little better than the last. At first glance, the waves seemed to be rather quick and close to shore, yet Klopf must have spotted some photographic potential and persuaded us into the water. About as fast as you could jump to your feet and run to the nose, the lip would already be pitching into the shallows. Other than a few exhilarating rides, this place seemed much more sharky and dangerous than it appeared.

Becoming quite paranoid, I started getting weary just as one of us pulled into a whomper and whacked his head on the sand bottom. Desiring to quit while we were ahead, surfed out and baked by the sun, we slapped hands, one by one. Everyone was pleased with how fortunate we had been to explore the coast during such an amazing run of weather and waves. If this adventure happens to be any indicator of what lay in store for what’s left of this winter, the west coast should remain a bunch of happy campers.


ISSUE 18 SAMPLE The Still-Wild West  

Slide #18 is out and raises the bar, yet again. Chris Klopf grabs a group including CJ Nelson and Darshan Gooch when powerful swell smashes...

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