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By Jake Howard
Sessions at Trestles are kind of a treat. Even if you have a deluxe e-bike, there’s no “quick dip” at Uppers or Lowers. Getting down to the cobblestone takes an investment in time and energy (albeit a good investment).
“I surfed for three hours this morning,” a friend of mine told me the other day. “It was pretty good.”
Good. Good for him. With a kid in elementary school, a steady stream of work deadlines and all the other wildcards that come with being a semi-functional adult, three-hour sessions aren’t always that easy to lock in. Sometimes all I have is 30 minutes at lunch to break out and get wet.
Sneaking in a short session is definitely better than no session at all. In such cases, refining the art of a quick paddle-out is essential.
It starts with a plan. Know exactly where you’re going to surf, what you’re going to ride and how much time it all entails. Check the tides, buoys and webcams before you get on the road to ensure success. The Surfline app is helpful for all of this (just don’t get in an accident checking the cams while you’re driving).
You’re also going to want to have your gear situation “on lock.” This means boards and a wetsuit should be organized in the car, fins in boards, leashes at the ready, and don’t forget leash strings, wax and sunscreen. Click-and-go fin designs like the FCS 2 series make getting the right fins in your board a literal snap—no fin screws needed.
You’re also going to have to have the ins and outs of getting to your spot dialed in. As noted above, no Trestles session takes only 30 minutes, so you’re going to be looking for alternatives closer to the sand. The San Clemente beach breaks are ideal for this, as is Salt Creek and even San O. (Just be ready to run up and down the hill at Creek, and forget San O if the summertime line of cars is flaring).
When you get to your spot, park as close to the water as humanly possible. That doesn’t mean circle the block 10 times waiting for a parking place to open up, but be efficient. Park, suit up and go. Traffic is your enemy. Cutting down on wasted time translates into more time in the water, which means more waves.
With your vehicle in park, it’s go time. No bro-chatting on the street. Get into your suit and get going. If you can get out your session in trunks or a spring suit, all the better. It takes precious time to yank wetsuits on and off. You’re only going to be in the water for 30 minutes max, suck it up (Maybe don’t try that just yet as local waters are still hovering in the upper 50s).
When time is of the essence, wear a watch. Marriages have been ruined and jobs have been lost when surfers lose track of time. Any waterproof watch will work, but the Rip Curl Search GPS Watch is handy because you can literally document every move you make during your session, and then when you’re back at work later, you can analyze the data and see how you did.
As far as your actual strategy when you hit the water, get busy right away. Pick off a small insider to get the rhythm going. If you paddle out and sit for 10 minutes, a third of your session is already over. Keep moving the whole time. Think of it as “sprint surfing.” This doesn’t mean annoy everyone around you, but take advantage of opportunities you might ignore if you were going to stay out longer. Getting the wave count up is key.
Also, try and pick off at least two or three waves that you can be satisfied with. Sometimes all it takes is one. Don’t get so distracted by trying to catch everything around you that you put yourself out of position for the good ones. Like everything in surfing, it’s a balancing act.
After the clock runs out, hustle back to the car, bust out your rinse to get the sand and salt off before you jump back into your civilian clothes. Nobody will be the wiser that you just took a shower in the parking lot. Reload your gear and get on your way, your perfect 30-minute session is a success.