Here is the cover of my new forthcoming book, Surfing the Border: Adventures at the Edge of the Ocean. It is a collection of essays and articles I’ve written over the past three years about my adventures and life in California, Mexico and around the world. I’m hoping it will be out this summer if not before.
Over the past few days in Imperial Beach we’ve had “King Tides” or the highest tides of the year (over 7 feet). The tides caused with larger than average surf (in the 4-8′ range and out of the west) resulted in coastal flooding. The San Diego Union-Tribune came down to shoot this video and was lucky to have Dr. Bob Guza of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography to explain why the flooding was happening. You can see the U-T video here: http://bcove.me/zyhb25e7
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s a report on my top stories of the year for 2013.
Paris is a beautiful city. But in addition to historic landmarks and incredible museums are nuggets of street art and very smart urban design. Here are some things that caught my eye on a recent visit to see my family on my way to the Wild10 Conference in Spain. Public and street art is everywhere. You just have to look for it. Mixing formal and “informal” art in a city makes it interesting.
In the past few weeks little pulses of southern hemisphere swell energy have lit up the reefs, points and beaches of the Pacific Coast from Chile to Canada. San Diego does especially well this time of the year with combo swells firing up beach breaks across the county. Here’s a guide to your best travel choices to catch springtime swells.
Trestles: You’re going to fight crowds and the some of the world’s best surfers at the top of their game. But if you want to surf some of the best lined up waves designed for high-performance surfing, than Trestles—Middles, Lowers, Uppers, and Cottons—is the best game around. Don’t like crowds—then surf at midnight. Just remember that we all need to fight to Save Trestles.
San Diego County Beachbreaks: Our more than 70 miles of coastline suck in combo swells this time of the year. Beachbreaks especially do well in the springtime when multi-directional ground and wind swells can make random beachies fire for a couple of hours or a few days.
Baja: Southern Baja can light up with southern hemi swells. The surf can go from flat to overhead in a few hours and then die just as fast. Winds are notoriously fickle on the Pacific side and water temps plummet through June. The dreaded northeasterly winds on the East Cape can kill your epic session in about five minutes. Baja has a rhythm all its own but bring along a fishing pole, SUP, and a friendly attitude, you won’t be sorry.
Vancouver Island: Snow capped peaks, bald eagles, friendly surfers, fun beachbreaks and mysto reefs, along with great springtime snowboard and ski runs make this Canadian adventure outpost worth a visit. Great food and arguably some of the most beautiful surfing vistas on the planet make this island and its wave-riding capital of Tofino one of the most unusual and worthwhile surf destinations in North America.
Mainland Mexico: Pick a point or beachbreak. There is a reason why some of the world’s best and bravest surfers flock to iconic and heavy waves like Pascuales and Zicatela. There is no other location on the planet where you can as easily and cheaply score barrels that can spit you out into the light of day or grind you into the sand. The mellow points and reefs of Punta de Mita, Saladita and Sayulita offer a more fun reality for less danger inclined surfers. All in all, mainland Mexico is arguably the most cost effective and wave-worthy destination on the planet. If you’re adventurous there are thousands of miles (literally) of wave-rich coastline that largely go unridden.
Central and South America: Pick a country. Chile for long left points and the opportunity to ski and board early season snow. Peru for even longer lefts and the world’s best ceviche. Nicaragua for offshore A-frames and El Salvador for perfect but crowded right points. Ecuador is the newest surf destination with warm water, consistent waves and a friendly vibe.
Australia and New Zealand: Unfortunately prices have shot up, so make plans to camp and cook your own food, but with some of the world’s most beautiful and iconic landscapes and diversity of waves, Oz and Kiwi-Land are great surf and adventure travel destinations.
So get out there. Whether you’re at La Jolla Shores, Bells or Chicama, remember that the more experiences and adventures you have, the happier you will be. And congrats to Brazilian surfer turned San Clemente local Adriano de Souza for his victory at the Bells Rip Curl Pro and all of the other ASP surfers for putting in awe-inspiring performances at one the world’s most iconic surf contest venues.
- Sharing Waves and Stoke at the 6th Annual Rincon Invitational (sergededina.com)
- Top 10 Surfing Destinations in America (americanlivewire.com)
“What a stoke and a privilege to share good waves at the cove at Rincon with only seven friends for an hour,” said Jeff Knox, a longtime Imperial Beach surfer and retired elementary schoolteacher.
Jeff was at Rincon to surf with the WILDCOAST team in what is arguably the world’s most unusual surfing “competition.”
This year more than 200 surfers representing 22 surfing organizations were blessed with two days of consistently fun waves and a great weekend of camaraderie and hospitality and the 6th Annual Rincon Invitational.
“We designed the event to recognize surfers for their public service efforts,” said event committee chair Glen Henning. “It is not about commerce or competitio. It is about community.”
According to Henning, “Each team had the famed point at Rincon to themselves for an hour. The Black Surfers Collective rode 143 waves. The Best Day Foundation had two or more surfers on over 70% of their weaves. The Barbara Surf Club logged an astounding 247 rides. The surfers from the Third World Surf Company had up to eight riders linking hands.”
“They had their entire 10 person team all riding on three different waves,” said Henning.
Probably no one is more stoked on sharing the wealth of the ocean than Josh, a surfboard shaper and student of legend and stokemaster Skip Frye. Hall, a longtime visitor to the surf coast of Spain invited a couple of Spanish friends to join the PB Surf Club team at Rincon.
Josh even let me borrow his 12′ single fin pintail which I managed to maneuver on a few of my early waves. But I couldn’t figure out how to ride far back enough on the tail to avoid wiping out. So I ran the board back to the beach, thanked Josh, and ended our session on my 6’0″ Stu Kenson “Pleasure Pig.”
I shared all of my waves with teammates. But my best ride was a long ride with my two sons Israel and Daniel. At one point Daniel hopped on Israel’s 5’10″.
When the boys are off to college in a few years I’ll think back fondly to that wave. For a surf dad sharing a wave with your kids is as good as it gets.
“There’s so much competition for waves these days, and amateur and pro contests are a constant presence,” said Henning. “So we think it is important to keep alive a version of surfing that’s all about sharing. And ironically, we end up getting really good waves, and a lot of them.
Thanks to Glen Henning for the invite and reporting.
Results 6th Annual Sharing the Stoke Rincon Invitational, March 16-17, 2013
1. Sunset Cliffs Surfing Association, 2. Malibu Surfing Association, 3. Great Lakes Surf Crew
Total Shared Waves
1. Third World Surf Co., 2. Coast Law Group, 3. Surfrider Advisory Board
1. Best Day Foundation, 2. Pacific Beach Surf Shop, 3. Huntington Beach Longboard Crew
Wave of the Day: Project Save Our Surf
Spirit of Surfing Award: Ventura Surf Club
1. Black Surfers Collective, 2. Santa Barbara Seals Surf School, 3. Wildcoast
Total Shared Waves
1. Doheny Bob’s Surf Crew, 2. California Adaptive Surf Team, 3. Oceanside Longboard Surf Club
1. Santa Barbara Surf Club, 2. San Diego Surf Ladies, 3. Surf Happens Surf Kids
Wave of the Day: Pacific Beach Surf Club
Spirit of Surfing Award: Childhood Enhancement Foundation
No one has done more to educate the public on ways to preserve our coast and ocean than David Helvarg. Author of six books and the founder and Executive Director of the Blue Frontier Campaign, Helvarg will be speaking about his newest book, The Golden Shore: California’s Love Affair with the Sea at the Birch Aquarium on Tuesday Feb. 26 from 6:30-8 p.m.
Serge Dedina: What is your first memory of the coast in California?
David Helvarg: Flying into San Diego at night to help out some friends in trouble in the Ocean Beach neighborhood and then staying up ’til dawn watching the Pacific lapping on the shore, small breaking wavelets sparkling with silvery luminescence. Two days later there was a concert on Sunset Cliffs. Watching the young OB residents dancing on the beach and wading into the bracing 68-degree water where silky-haired California girls in bikinis were tossing Frisbees, I knew I’d come home to a place I’d never been before.
Dedina: What does the coast mean for California?
Helvarg: The Pacific defines California and its spirit of adventure, exploration and enterprise. Teddy Roosevelt called California “West of the West.” It’s where U.S. expansion ended, but not the promise, where the frontier turned to liquid and a gold rush and World War transformed the golden shore. Without the ocean and coast, California is just a long skinny, seismically active clone of Nevada.
Dedina: What did Jack London have to do with the development of surfing in California?
Helvarg: Jack London arrived in Hawaii in 1907, saw the Hawaiians surfing at Waikiki and tried it himself. He was so taken with it, he wrote an article in the Women’s Home Companion (and a chapter in his next book), titled, “A Royal Sport” displaying the kind of unbridled enthusiasm for surfing he usually reserved for brave dogs. This was the first mass-media reporting on surfing on the U.S. mainland. He also wrote a letter of recommendation for Hawaiian surfer George Freeth, who used it to find work in California, where he is often credited with introducing the sport to the state.
Dedina: Sometimes we overlook the role of the military transforming our ports and managing our coast. How have our armed forces aided in the development and conservation of the California coast?
Helvarg: It started with the Navy and Marines seizing California from Mexico and expanded with the military port towns of San Pedro and San Diego (today SD remains the second largest naval complex in the U.S.). The war in the Pacific transformed California during World War II with millions of Army and Navy personnel training and deploying from here. California also became a major industrial war producer with its shipyards and aircraft factories.
Population increased, and the state became a center for the aerospace industry during the Cold War that followed. The Navy even jump-started the electronics industry in Silicon Valley. Today the Navy is working on reducing its C02 emissions by half in the next decade. Working on my book, I visited a new amphibious assault ship that burns one third the fuel of other ships of its class in a massive combat training zone off the coast.
Dedina: What was the role of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill in developing our California coastal protection system?
Helvarg: California was where the first offshore drilling was done on piers near Santa Barbara. And because of blow outs and oil pollution Santa Barbara banned drilling off its beach till 1969 when the federal government promised new technology made it safe. Within days of the first wells being drilled there was a massive blow out and oil spill. Three years later, still shaken by the spill’s impact, the people of California voted to create a Coastal Commission to protect our shore even though opponents of coastal protection (real-estate interests, PG&E and the oil companies) outspent its supporters 100 to 1. Today, 30 years later, the commission continues to limit reckless development along the shore while guaranteeing public access to our spectacular coastline.
Dedina: What is your favorite place along the California coast?
Helvarg: My home on San Francsico Bay, also most of what exists to the north (Mendocino, the Lost Coast, Del Norte) and the south (Monterey, Big Sur, Baja)
Dedina: Is the Coastal Act still relevant? Do we really need to worry about protecting our coast anymore?
Helvarg: To Quote Peter Douglas, who wrote the act and headed the Coastal Commission as executive director for many years, “The Coast is never saved, the Coast is always being saved.” The Coastal Act is for California what the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts are for the nation.
Dedina: California institutions such as Scripps lead the world in ocean exploration and research. How did California become a pioneer in marine research?
Helvarg: Appreciating what we had and how little we understood it, George Davidson began exploring the marine frontier that was California in 1850. The newly established Stanford University set up the nation’s third-ever marine lab, the Hopkins Seaside Lab in 1892 and the Scripps family in San Diego supported zoologist Bill Ritter in creating another lab a few years later that became the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Today, California marine science is leading the world in understanding marine ecosystems, marine wildlife, upwellings, ocean acidification and other anthropogenic (human-caused) changes in the world ocean. Also exceptional is the fact that state ocean and coastal policies are driven by the best available science.
Dedina: How has the the mythology of the beach and the coast in California defined or influenced popular culture in the U.S and globally? Has Hollywood played a role in that?
Helvarg: From Gidget and The Endless Summer, to Sea Hunt, Baywatch and The OC, not to mention surf music and language, dude, California has taken on a mythic place in world culture. Southern California’s major industries are maritime, military and fantasy (Hollywood) and so they mix naturally along the shore. But that’s nothing new. When Richard Henry Dana wrote, Two Years Before the Mast in the 1830s, his tales of life along the California coast fascinated the nation and that sense of wonder, envy, inspiration and interest has yet to fade.
Dedina: What is the purpose and mission of the Blue Frontier Campaign?
Helvarg: The Blue Frontier Campaign works to build the seaweed (marine grassroots) constituency of citizen activists needed to protect our ocean, coasts and the communities that depend on them. We do this through actions like this spring’s Blue Vision Summit in Washington DC May 13-16 that will include the largest Capitol Hill Healthy Oceans day in history with hundreds of people letting their elected representatives know we expect them to restore the blue in our red, white and blue – in other words to follow the California model.
Dedina: California is the home of the some the world’s most iconic and popular ocean animals – white sharks, gray whales, sea otters, harbor seals, bottle nose dolphins and even giant blue whales. What is your favorite California ocean animal?
Helvarg: The California Sea Lions (all 300,000 of them) because they’re loud, smart, kinda messy and often rowdy, just like us humans. Know what they call a congregation of sea lions? A mob.