Surfing at the JR

Israel snags a good one near the Pier. Photo: Alan Jackson

The surf is flat. Luckily there were a few corners to be had on Monday and Tuesday.

According to Kevin Wallis, Chief Forecaster for Surfline “’With La Nina conditions likely to prevail through the winter and into at least the early part of the 2011 spring, we can expect dryer than normal weather with our swells generally coming from a more ‘northerly’ direction. The northerly direction of the swells will limit size for Southern California, particularly at those breaks that face southwest.”

And despite the flatness, last Saturday the JR was once again a magical time on the beach for all.

Contest director John Gillem said, “It is the smallest surf ever, but we couldn’t ask for better weather.”

It was so warm that Tom Christiansen surfed in his speedo.

Alec Mackenzie, the best contest announcer of all time (he trained as a boat driver at the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland), said, “What looked like a six inch day turned into 12 inch surf.”

Reminiscing about old surfboards, Alec recalled, “I have an original Simmons board. And I bought a Dempsey board bought for $17 at Value Village.”

Anyone who knows thrift stores knows that you find cool stuff at Chula Vista’s Value Village thrift store. The groms once bought a board sock there for 75 cents. And I bought a 1970s O’Neill front-zip long-arm spring suit for four bucks.

But nothing beats scoring a Dempsey surfboard for less than a double sawbuck.

The first couple of surfing, Taylor Jensen, and Nava Young, were at the JR. Nava is the author of, Surf Food: The Ultimate Surfers Cookbook, a musician, and the daughter of surf legend and historian Nat Young. Taylor of course is one of the world’s best surfers.

I caught up with my neighbor, fellow surf scribe and SUP expert John Ashley before he paddled out for the SUP final. “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail,” said John, quoting John Wooden.

John came in 2nd in the SUP division after Kelly Kraus.

Kelly is always prepared.

Russ “Mr. Fitness” Elwell was on the beach. A former lifeguard and schoolteacher, Russ is 76 and in better shape than most guys in their 40s. “I do yoga, weights and paddle,” said Russ.

Russ also remembered surf sessions with Dempsey Holder. “He used to take me out in the lifeguard boat out at the Sloughs. Jimmy Voight was one of the best surfers out there,” said Russ. “Dempsey knew more about surfboard design than most people give him credit for.”

Terry Gillard swept the Masters, Open, and Best Noseride divisions. The first time anyone has taken all three. Terry is an outstanding surfer and a pleasure to watch in the water (see below for complete contest results).

Congrats to the Coronado Surfing Association for once again holding a great event that benefits youth education and recreation.

See you in the water.

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