Riding Mini-Giants

It was a mid-winter day in January, and the offshore flow was in effect for another consecutive day.  The Maverick’s surf competition had gone off the previous day, making due with a lull-filled, big period yet subsiding swell.  The morning after the contest, the residual swell had diminished to 12ft at 14sec and with a decent offshore breeze reading 22-30 mph on the ocean buoy, it was a rare opportunity to get out for a session of open-ocean kitesurfing.

With a low tide in effect, we were aware of the potential for swells to break on Potato Patch Shoal.  We wouldn’t know for sure until we got out there.  At 11am, we boarded the Windseeker and headed outside the Gate and into the open Pacific.

Being so accustomed to the chill that comes along with the summer onshore push, it felt strange to be comfortable in just shorts and a sweatshirt so far out away from land.  The sun was shining bright while the east winds carried the dry, warm air out to sea.  Pushing against the energy of the ocean, the wind had a grooming effect creating a smooth water texture that helped define the giant, lumpy swells as they marched through.  The newly generated wind-chop was small and a welcoming sight compared to the usual size that exists with the opposite wind direction.   No swells were breaking, however, just rising and morphing into massive bulges as they passed over the shallow depths of the shoal.

The winds were gusty and becoming weaker during the gusts.  We put up a 14m Cabrinha Switchblade.  With the 14m up and flying, it still felt a little light.  After some delay, the wind got steadier, likely due to our offshore drift.  It felt strong enough for the session to begin.  Erin was first to go out.  He took a 5’7” Ocean Rodeo strapless surfboard.  I watch him glide into expansive troughs and disappear over the oncoming swells while the kite remained pinned in the sky.  He lined up and got a hold of a swell that had a semi-defined shape to it.  In my imagination, I envisioned it standing up, peaking, and cresting into a white-water lip.  Instead, the thick wave slowly bulged up then eventually distributed it’s mass into deeper water as it passed on.  It was nonetheless a great 10 second swell ride.

After some more swell rides, Erin came back to the Windseeker.  I hooked up to the 14m kite and rode a MHL Foil Board.  I navigated my way onto and around the swells, looking for extra acceleration from wave energy.  I constantly scanned the scene, in full 360, taking in the new location.  I’m thinking to myself -there’s a lot of change that can take place here in a small space, and there’s a lot of space.


I came back to the Windseeker and boarded.  Erin looked satisfied and I felt the same.  We had ridden with mini-giants.