Sunday, March 15, 2009

State Guard Re-Qual 2009

The surf conditions weren't nearly as bad this year as last year. The wave period (time between waves) was much longer this year, which meant you could make progress getting past the surf between sets if you timed it right. Last year, I picked my entry point wrong and paid a high price; this year would be different.
Park vehicles all lined up. Yes, I get to drive them and, yes, driving on the beach is COOL!
Cold and overcast; typical March weather for SD. I would be returning guard number 5. The numbers mean nothing; just a way to keep track of who drowns; er... where you finish. NO, you cannot use fins for the swim (top right corner of the photo), we use them for rescues. Wetsuits are allowed, however. No one told me you could use wetsuits my first year and I swm it in a Speedo. Some people "trunk it" every year; the average water temp for March? 58 deg F! Brrrr.....
I got there plenty early and watched the surf for a while, guaging the current (pushing HARD South) and the surf: a long-ish period with plenty of chop...
...and head-high surf. Oy. Water entry would be ctirical so I picked a spot where a rip would occasinally pop up and where there seemed to be a trough between peaks. If I could catch the rip and shoot the gap between peaks, I'd have a better chance than trying to swim through the set.
Last year, I started too far away from the jetty......and wound up at the cliffs in Encinitas. D'oh!

Lousy focus, but you can almost make out the bouys. The thing making the wake is Al on the PWC (Personal Water Craft).
The dark object in the water is Al on the PWC. Note how he disappears behind the wave as he moves from right to left. I'm stading on an elevated sand berm that's 8' high and Al is standing up on the PWC...Al is 6' tall. Some BIG sets coming in.
We line up and at 9:05 we're off. The water takes my breath away it's so cold and it's tough to get into a rhythm with the chop, I fight though the current and white wash until the lull hits and I charge out. I picked my entry spot right and make it out just as the next BIG SET breaks inside me. A little skill and a little luck on that one.
If you surf swim , you know the hard part's already over. I round the bouy (not working hard since I might need to hold my breath on the way in) and just keep the arms turning over as the swell pushes me back to the shore. Thanks to the swim I did with Trevor on Friday, I'm keeping tabs on my left turn tendency and taking a fairly straight path. I sit up to let the last big wave break and make my way in. I dolphin through the shallows (momentarily caught in a rip current) and jog through the line: 17:12.
Not my best swimming, but I'll take that time in head-high surf and a wicked current.
After our swim, the returning guards got to shadow the new recruits trying out. You can wear your fins, but it's stil an extra 1000 yards to swim. I should mention people trying out also need to pass a 200-400-200, run-swim-run in 10 minutes. Back in the water for me and the rest of the guards to shadow swimmers; a 2400 yard swimming day.
We spent the rest the day going over paperwork and reviewing skills; it would turn out to be an 8-hour day. Meh. Got paid for it though!
So now I can get back to working for the State and back to making double what the bike shop pays me. Only the Governator slapped us with a 9% cut in personnel pay and a 17% cut department wide. As if times weren't hard enough.
This season I'm going to start keeping track of how many rescues I make, just to see how many I make during the course of a season. I'll see if I can put up a counter on the side or something.
Build 2 coming; up next week, Xterra REAL in two weeks and US Cup #3 the following week.
Race season is here!


Luke said...

keep up the good work brotha!! i would dig watching the rescue counter!

PacMan said...

Sounds tough. Congrats on getting through it OK. As far as tracking your rescues, I'll round up some friends and see if we can languish in the current in front of your tower. LOL. ;-)