By Jason Hackworth- @SuperBiscuitSC
There’s a spot on the Westside that’s well known as being one of the last holdouts of true, old-school localism; the kind of place where if you’re not a Westsider, or friends with them, you probably shouldn’t be out there. When it’s working, it’s one of the best tubes in town, and every local pro, ex-pro and general ripper will be on it, sitting amongst a small pack in a very compact takeoff zone. Although it shows up in magazines and Surfline quite a bit, it’s never explicitly named in print, to my knowledge… one mag of note even did a feature on it in the 90’s, dubbing it “Weasel Reef”, so for the purposes of this story I’m going to go with that.
I found myself staring at it the other day, leaning against the wooden fence that acts as a railing on the edge of the cliff. The direction was a bit off, it was smallish and kind of blowing sideshore. But it was definitely working. And there was no one out. No one else even watching it.
I had swam out there once before a few years ago, but when I got to the peak it shut off completely. I found myself treading water for 20 minutes before giving up and heading home. Now as I watched another set barrel messily over the reef, I found that I was a little nervous… it wasn’t so much that I wanted to go but I felt that I had to go. Otherwise, I’d probably be kicking myself for the rest of my life. I had just eaten a hamburger and was fairly hung over… so I wasn’t quite feeling one hundred percent.
Suiting up and grabbing the MiniMother and the UDT’s I had recently acquired in a trade, I started back toward the cliff. A couple of cars away from mine was an oversized black SUV, with tinted black windows and various stickers. I felt my UDT’s bump against something on the car, and there was a slight rattling sound. I turned around as I walked, surmising that the fins must have bumped into the trailer hitch that was protruding from the back of the vehicle. Seeing that there was no damage, I moved on.
“Hey yo!” I heard a few seconds later. Rounding the corner of the truck came a younger guy whose look kind of fit with his vehicle- oversized white shirt, baseball cap sitting too high on his head, white socks pulled up past the hems of his low hanging shorts, neck tattoos.
“What the f###, you just hit my car and walk away?!?” He said, raising his arms in the air in a threatening fashion.
“Sorry man, I think my fins accidentally bumped into your trailer hitch there.”
“So that’s what you do? Just hit people’s cars with your f###ing fins and just walk away?”
“It was an accident… sorry man.”
He huffed and puffed a little more, and then turned to get back into the truck, still muttering and cursing to himself. How he thought that the Malaysian rubber UDT’s could have possibly damaged his steel trailer hitch I have no idea, but he was certainly angry about it.
The altercation had actually served to distract me from my nervousness, and I turned and continued toward the edge of the cliff. Still nobody out. I slowly picked my way down the steep rocks, eventually jumping off of the last one onto the sand. Walking toward the other side of the cove, I picked my swim spot just south of where the peak was and walked in, gearing up with fins and camera once I had cleared the shorebreak. I took my time swimming out to the peak; never having caught this place before when it was breaking, I wanted to get a feel for it and not take too many on the head. I also found myself turning to scan the cliff from time to time, expecting to see people with boards coming down the rocks.
“Oh shoot… this place is super shallow!” I had moved to tread water and I came across the rock shelf reef not 4 or 5 feet below the surface. Watching the gurgles and boils in front of the incoming set peaking just outside confirmed this. Given my condition, I decided to err on the side of caution and remain just at the edge of the reef for the time being.
The first couple were too walled, so I swam over them. The next one had a nice corner however and I began to swim in an arc a little deeper, getting into position. The first drop was quick and bouncy from backwash off of the cliff and after riding for a couple of seconds the barrel threw over me and pinched shut. I swam under and through the back.
On two more, I was able to pull in; I thought I was going to make it out of the first, but it pinched shut on my head and I got rolled for a bit. The second was bigger, with a jacking, steep entry. The MiniMother held its edge, as it always does. This one had the crazy drop but less time in the tube as it closed out…my wave selection there had been a bit lacking. My next was another steep drop to a long ride almost all the way in, but no barrel.
Resting at the peak for a bit, I saw the group of groms clambering down the rocks with shortboards. Another set was approaching, and I swam for and caught the second wave, driving down the line until the end section closed out over me, leaving me again almost all the way in. That was enough for me… I wasn’t in the mood to jockey for position with the groms, and decided to call it a day. Back on the beach, I leaned against a rock and watched it for a while, soaking in the scene and in disbelief that I had just scored Weasel Reef to myself for a half an hour or so.
After negotiating the rock climb back up, I noticed that the black SUV was still there, this time with a familiar smelling smoke emanating from it. I approached the open drivers side window and saw its occupant with sunglasses on now, and sporting a big smile.
“Hey man, just wanted to say sorry again about the trailer hitch thing.”
“Ah it’s cool” he grinned. “I was up in Tahoe yesterday snowmobiling with my friends, and on the way back someone nailed the back of my car, you see that big dent there? Anyway, I got back late, and missed my court hearing, so I guess I was just all pissed off about that.”
“Ah, yeah… well, that’s understandable.”
Back at my car, dressed, and wrapping my wetsuit in a towel, I see my new friend get out of his truck and start walking towards me. As he gets close, he holds out an unopened can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
“A little beverage, bro? Always good after the salt water and a boogie session.”
Still a little hung over (and slightly confused about the boogie comment) I hesitate for a second, then find myself reaching for the can. “Uh… for sure, man. Thanks!”
“Have a good one!” he says, returning to his truck.
The Pabst is kind of warm… but as I lean on the hood of my car sipping it, taking in the view of West Cliff Drive and the passing pedestrians, I figure it’s a pretty fitting way to wrap up an afternoon of chasing Weasels.