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For anyone that recreates outdoors, forecasts — snow, weather, wave, wind, etc. — are an integral part of our lives. They help us make plans and break plans according to what’s coming in the next two to 14 days and, with technology as good as it is, we can do so with increasing confidence.
This ability to see into the future is often good. We can optimize our lives for wind direction and powder and swells. But sometimes it’s bad. With the masses staring at the same data as you, making and breaking the same plans as you, it’s tough to surf or ski or bike alone anymore.
But the best thing, maybe my favorite thing, happened on Friday. The forecast was wrong.
Maverick’s — the big-wave surf spot 30 minutes south of San Francisco — hadn’t broken in a couple of months and I was determined to get in one final session before taking off to travel (more on that next week). So, even though the wind was forecast to be strong and the swell wasn’t predicted to arrive until the afternoon, I just woke up and went. I could see on the webcam that it wasn’t breaking but I was stubborn and went anyway.
A friend and I paddled out together and found two other stubborn souls bobbing in the flatness. But there wasn’t a breath of wind and soon, waves started showing up a few hours ahead of schedule. For two hours the four of us harvested wave after wave without the typical crowd of 30-plus people, or swarms of spectators on boats and Jet Skis.
Eventually, a dozen or so more people trickled in, having seen our four-pack scoring by ourselves. By that time, we were done. I’d caught 15 waves and paddled more than five miles. What a gift. To have technology fail. To have the weather surprise. To ride a big wave on a sunny spring day.
Here's a few more good reads from our resident wordsmith.