With the big waves coming in at Santa Cruz, the surfers were working in a way we had not seen before. They were split into two groups, both of which were further away from us than normal. I assume that being closer in to the rocks with such waves was not good for your health! One group was further in to the bay and I assume that they were the less skilled/adventurous surfers. They seemed to be doing okay with the waves that were coming their way.
Another group was a lot further out. They seemed intent on picking up the biggest waves as they came in. Getting on to these big waves was not a straightforward exercise. Plenty of the surfers started paddling as the waves came in but they weren’t all able to get up to speed. The big waves with their long wavelength must require a different technique. Once up, some of the surfers were getting a long run as the waves didn’t always break right away. Other times the wave would break and they would head either towards us or away from us. When they went away, we often couldn’t see much of what was happening to them unless a board flipped up in the air. When they came our way, we had a far better view.
There was a decent swell coming in of the Pacific while we were in Santa Cruz. People were surfing at a number of locations. The majority were off the headland by the lighthouse. A lot of the waves were carrying the surfers a long distance but they weren’t getting a lot of action in during their runs. Every once in a while, though, someone was able to really get things moving. These are some of the shots I got during the day.
If you have a nice Sunday morning with nothing planned, heading to Santa Cruz is worth it. The shore on the north side of the bay is a great place to hang out. Everything is so laid back. I guess people don’t go there if they are up tight. It always seems that everyone is having a nice time. That includes the regular contingent of surfers.
The conditions on our last visit were mixed for surfing. Occasionally a good swell would come ashore and everyone would jump on the opportunity. Most of the time things were calmer and the surfers would sit on their boards waiting patiently. There is a line close to the rocks that offers more but seems to be the territory of the more capable surfers.
To get pictures needs as much patience as the surfers have. Of course, it is Sunday morning so I am not in any hurry. I am happy to wait and see what happens. Every once in a while, someone comes in so close to the rocks that you don’t realize that they are there until they are past. In that case, you miss the shot and instead appreciate the skill.
The winter in our part of California is not exactly harsh compared to many parts of the country. However, we do get a lot of cloud and rain at this time of year. Having a lovely clear day is a good time to just get out and go to somewhere pretty. Santa Cruz certainly fits the bill. The coast there is both picturesque and full of interesting things going on. A variety of stuff was happening while we were there and some of those things will get a post of their own so keep an eye out for them.
The rocky shoreline is very cool. It has a beach below it which makes it look even better. Add in to that people surfing, walking their dogs or just being a little different, you have a fun place to be. Not often you see a bunch of guys on unicycles come by on their afternoon ride! I wasn’t the only one out with a camera either. I was actually testing a lens while we were out and I met another guy with the same lens so we were obviously doing similar things. Meanwhile, someone had a Phantom getting some aerials over the shore so cameras were busy that day.
Santa Cruz is a popular spot for surfing and I have previously posted some shots from there here. With a great sunny winter day and the weekend combining in our favor, we decided to take a trip to Santa Cruz and enjoy a walk along the coast. Plenty of people were doing likewise and there were lots of surfers in the water. I don’t think the conditions were ideal since there seemed to be long periods with little wave activity but they were a patient bunch.
The majority were further out into the water where the wave action was pretty variable. I few hardy souls were close in to the rocks where the waves could be a lot more active. I imagine this is a spot for those that are more confident in their ability to avoid getting pulped on the shore!
I will freely admit that I am a lucky guy. There are plenty of times when I can say that things have worked out well when there was no good reason for them to do so. One such occurrence was a recent trip to Santa Cruz. This was not intended to be a long stop but I was heading by en route to something else and I wanted to pay another visit to the overlook to Natural Bridges State Beach which has a large colony of pelicans. I had been there before as described here and was hoping to get some better light for another chance to get some shots. As it worked out, the weather was not to clear when I arrived and then I discovered that the pelicans were amazingly absent and the rocks were covered in cormorants instead. (No bad thing if you like cormorants as I do but that wasn’t why I was there.)
So, we turned and headed along the shore for a while and what should we come across? A surfing competition. We had watched the surfing here before but having a competition combined with a decent swell from recent offshore storms meant the there were a lot more surfers out and they were of a pretty high caliber. The plan was not to be here too long but we couldn’t resist catching a bit of the action. Finding a parking space was a bit harder due to the popularity of the event but we found a spot and walked along to catch some action. Some of the juniors were competing while we were there. The commentary from the event organizers was hilarious as they discussed the “squids” and some of them were surfing very well. Meanwhile, a lot of the locals were also out enjoying the conditions. I liked the idea that passersby could be in there with the competitors. It seemed a bit like playing football on the side of an NFL game!
The surfers could go either left or right the way the waves were breaking so we sometimes had them coming right at us which was cool. Watching them all trying to catch the wave as it came through and seeing who actually got up was good fun. One guy was out on his paddle board and he really did get some speed up as he surfed back in. As a lucky add-on to the day, this was certainly worthwhile.
The bay in Santa Cruz was not only filled with wildlife. It also had a fair number of surfers. Since I was looking at a calm surface of water, I was not entirely sure what they were hoping for. Then, all of a sudden and with no apparent warning, a wave blasted up the rock face below us sending spray above our level. I was a touch surprised! It seems that there are periodic waves that come in from offshore and funnel into the bay providing some surfable waves. The guys were hanging around waiting for these.
Since I was more focused on the wildlife, I wasn’t always paying attention to the surfers. However, periodically I did see one of them getting ready to try and catch a wave and I switched my attention to them. The angle often meant that they were getting obscured by the wave they were riding. Some of them weren’t being too successful at catching a wave at all. There were a few, though, who seemed to be a lot better at this and managed to get some decent rides in. One even helped me out with a spectacular dismount!
If I were to ask you what sport you would associate with Hawaii, it might depend on your age as to what you choose. If you are a bit older, it might be ocean going canoeing (is that how you spell it?) that you think of, perhaps accompanied by the theme to a 70s TV police show. However, if you aren’t in that group, your choice is more likely to be surfing.
Did I go surfing while in Hawaii? Ah, no. Did lots of other people go surfing while we were there? Oh yes. Half the vehicles we passed seemed to have a board on the roof or so it seemed. There were plenty of places to try your skills since most beaches seemed to have breaking surf in some areas. The large numbers of reefs might, of course, make some of those areas a touch risky.
Anyway, I didn’t spend a lot of time tracking down the surfers. Instead, we saw a bunch of people closer inshore not always on full surf boards. Here are some shots of the action we saw. One day I will have to make more of an effort to go out and shoot some surfing since it makes some great shots!