Sea Notes

Chistmas thoughts for surfers

I wish I wouldn’t have deleted that last e-mail. It came from a concerned citizen touting the relative merits of living Christmas trees. The idea there is that a live, cut tree is far less damaging to the environment because so many trees are planted, they are not made of plastic and tree farms preserve land by keeping it from becoming shopping centers. I know I’m dreaming here, but wouldn’t a forest of Douglas firs look better in downtown Encinitas than a beehive of so far empty shops?
Another green item for the season is a new surfboard from a local board maker. Local surfboard makers adhere to strict EPA controls and hand-make watercraft that will last far longer than the cheap pop outs from overseas. They can also be purchased in any size, color and shape you desire, and, keep surfers employed, off the streets and out of the lineup during most waking hours. If you look around at the number of handmade things you own, you will quickly realize that surfboards are one of the few items still made by hand. The three custom boards in my racks: a Skip Frye Fish, a Takayama longboard and an Ekstrom asymmetrical are the only things I own of any value that were handmade just for me.
I recently had the privilege of surfing with up-and-coming North County super star Ryan Burch and veteran North County standout, the forever young and ripping Ronnie Phillipy. Since they are both goofyfoots, this left the rights unattended on a clean little 2- to 3-foot day with just a few of us out.
As always, I was impressed with their surfing. Also as always, both were on experimental surfboards that they had designed themselves. While Phillipy’s board was a bit conventional for him, Burch’s board that he had recently built in his Oceanside shaping bay was a strange combination of forces that seemed to fit the little sections perfectly. The board looked like a double ender, with wide point at or near center, with a squared off nose and tail.
The surf was kind of choppy, so I can’t be certain, but I think I noted some Ekstrom influenced asymmetry in the outline also. What was evident through the wind and glare was the off-centered, asymmetrical fin set up that gave the board a sort of futuristic spaceship look as it rose from the water and Birch laid into his umpteenth turn. The ultimate test pilot, Phillipy, then borrowed Birch’s board and ripped his way into the shore break.
Sad to say, but it seems that a good economy is bad for the environment and vice versa. While I heartily endorse the idea of a green Christmas where gifts are handmade, and items are recycled from year to year, local merchants shiver at the thought. My Christmas list is as scant as my wishes, since I can’t think of anything I really want that I don’t already have. They say being spoiled isn’t having everything, but having everything and not knowing that you do. I am not spoiled. I know that I have everything. Well, a few good waves shared with all of you on and around Dec. 25 would be nice. So, here’s wishing you all a Glassy Christmas and an offshore New Year.