Lesson Number 9 (June 20 - 22): Choosing Your Local Surf Spot

If you are relatively new to surfing or if you have recently moved to a new area and you are trying to find a surf spot where you will be both comfortable and still be able to get some good waves here is what you are up against.
            There are over 700,000 people who consider themselves surfers in California alone. It is a big state but hey, it’s not all surfable. Then figure all but 50,000 surfers live south of San Francisco and about half a million live south of Ventura. It is going to be pretty crowded in places especially during the summer months. After September, unlike summer, the number is cut almost in half but still pretty crowded.
           My advise is to find a spot that is close to home but not a big name spot that has a nice clean secondary wave where you will not be competing against the most skilled veterans on their turf. You need to feel very confident with your surfing skills and your understanding of proper wave etiquette before you attempt to surf a big name spot without getting in the way and causing a problem. For now be willing to walk down the beach to the other peaks that are not so crowded. There will be more waves for you down there and the vibe in the water will be friendlier. Once you have found your little spot continue to surf it until it feels like home. High tide, low tide, morning, noon and sunset, get to know it inside and out. Along the way you will become a familiar face and if you are nice and give some waves away the others surfers who already surf the spot will accept you in time.
            Surfing the premier spots should be a goal for you when you are ready. Attending these liquid churches of higher learning can be uplifting and down charging all the way to your soul. However, just like in skiing and snowboarding, going up to the cornice after a few days on the mountain is just not a good idea. Mostly because you can’t handle it yet and you might get hurt, but also for the innocent by stander you might take out as you fly out of control through the surf.
            The good news is that our oceans are vast and wonderful playgrounds with the worlds surf spots still only 1/3 surfed. Here in Southern California there are not a whole lot of secret places left and there are not a whole lot of secret spots left. We are left to ride what we can. Luckily the surf here is very consistent with swells coming to us from all over the throbbing pacific.
             Avoid river mouths and lagoon openings, as water quality is an issue at these spots and prolonged contact with the “stuff” can and will affect you negatively. The most crowded time of day in the water is in the morning between 7:30 A.M. until 11:00 A.M. and then again for the evening glass off after the school and work crew paddle out. Mid day is always the least crowded time of the day as the unfavorable onshore wind can make the surf messy and choppy.
            So remember, there is a lot of surf out there if you know where to look. Be creative with your surfing lifestyle, break away from the crowd or the thundering herd will mow you down. Take a walk down the beach to those other peaks away from the bright lights of the main peak and have some fun.

Kahuna Bob