The Coast News Group
Grauer School founder Stuart Grauer showing stoke for the waves and the new year. Photo by Chris Ahrens

Waterspot: A good start to the new year

A sizable north swell is an event in San Diego akin to first snow in other regions of the country. While I arrived too late to catch the peak of the Sunday, Jan. 3, swell, my friends on the beach were not shy about sharing stories of the waves that hit that morning.

While the waves in our region were sizable at times, most of the swell was missing our shores and hitting further north, where places like Mavericks challenged even the most stouthearted among us, and to the south, the Island was being jolted by Aleutian juice.

By the time I had my feet in the sand, the show was all but over and 4- to 5-foot onshore lines slowly crumbled into nothingness. Still, it was nice to wish old friends Happy New Year. Kat and Aaron Smith, Josh, Sutton and Wyatt Tudor toasted the day with invisible glasses and quite visible smiles.

The joyful buzz emanating from them and all others who had scored set waves earlier that day was still evident in the afterglow of the crew who now towel changed in the sand or the parking lot before heading off to dinner.

My longtime friend Stuart Grauer approached me on the beach, offered a Happy New Year and said he wished he’d brought a board along. He then made a 2021 resolution to always carry a surfboard with him whenever he visited the beach. Even his being dry docked, however, did little to hinder his enthusiasm for those who were out riding waves.

Bill Dice took a late drop and swung into a deep bottom turn as Stuart turned toward the ocean and beamed, “Look at that.” Aaron wove his way through to the inside section before the wave closed out. Then a solid 6-foot set rolled through and Sutton, or was it his brother Wyatt Tudor? ripped the top off of a fast-folding section.  Perhaps a new year requires a new generation to bring it in with a power turn or two.

As the light faded, friends stood in the parking lot wondering how big the waves were in the prime locations. Someone produced a cellphone to show a quick video of Pipeline from earlier in the day where jackhammer waves slammed into coral heads.

Oh, and speaking of Pipe, congratulations to North Shore surf genius John John Florence on his win there last month.

Most people I spoke with were optimistic that the coming year would be better than this one had been. Without saying so, it was evident they hoped the swells would continue pumping, that people of all races would learn to love, or at least tolerate each other more, and that C-19 would be just a bad dream by this time next year.

As I contemplate the sad state of a nation in shutdown, I contemplate a possible solution: Open everything up, make masks and distancing mandatory and, after a stern warning, issue heavy fines for violators. Then, take the money garnered from those tickets and give it to local small business.

Anyway, Happier New Year all! Much love and many blessings.