Waves, Storms, Scientists and Surfers

Cover of "The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rog...

Cover via Amazon

My Southwest Surf column for November 24, 2010, published via Patch.com.

I got the inspiration for the Dempsey from the good times at the JR Longboard Surf Classic. It is a charitable event that supports youth athletics and education. The level of surfing is generally very high and in the past luminaries such as Nat Young and John Peck have also stopped by for a surf.

Laird Hamilton

Image via Wikipedia

With the unstable weather and lackluster surf, it is a good time to get in shape for future swells and read Susan Casey’s riveting new book, The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean. In the book, Casey documents her time following Laird Hamilton, Dave Kalama and the rest of the Jaws crew on Maui.

Not only does Casey track storms and surfers around the world from Mavericks, Tahiti, Cortes Banks to Todos, but she also investigates the research on the increasing number of giant storms that produce ship-killing waves.

This is a book I could not put down and was as fascinated by the stories of surfing as well as the description of the research. The Wave is the perfect gift for any surfer.

Speaking of big waves, surfing legend Flippy Hoffman rode the Sloughs back in the 1950s and passed away recently. Local surf scribe John Elwell said, “Flippy was just an all around water man who tried everything. Had plenty of guts like Dempsey. A great character.”

Someone who also has plenty of character is world-renowned oceanographer Dr. Walter Munk of the Scripps Institute. A La Jolla resident, and the father of surf forecasting, Dr. Munk is a great friend of surfers.

Chuck Quisenberry and Professor Walter Munk. Photo: Chuck Quisenberry

Dr. Munk helped invent surf forecasting when he had to advise Allied Forces on the weather and surf conditions favorable for the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II. In 1963 Munk and John Tukey tracked a southern swell from New Zealand to Alaska. They were the first scientists ever to track a storm swell across an entire ocean.

I was at reception last week at the Faculty Club at UCSD and ran into Dr. Munk, along with longtime IB resident (and my parents’ neighbor) and UCSD Transportation Services Training Coordinator Chuck Quisenberry. Chuck was lucky enough to be Dr. Munk’s driver for the evening.

“I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Munk,” Chuck said. “I was really in awe of him. He is amazing man. Some days at work are better than others.”

Since I am a surfer of average ability trying to ride shorter boards (6’6″ Novak quad), I have to workout to keep up with my surfing. And when the surf and weather are bad I head to the pool. So here’s a shout out to the morning swim crew at the Coronado Pool who keep me in shape.

As a former ocean lifeguard who worked in Imperial Beach and at Silver Strand State Beach, I enjoy swimming laps with Imperial Beach lifeguards Don Davis and Benny Holt, as well as my former Silver Strand colleagues Karlyn Pipes (visiting from Hawaii on her way back from Paris recently) and Randy Coutts.

I am also lucky to occasionally join current Silver Strand Lifeguard Captain Mike Martino, when he leads his crew through a rigorous workout. Mike is also the author of the very interesting Lifeguards of San Diego County, another great stocking stuffer.

By the way, after it rains you need to check in on the Tijuana River plume tracker or follow http://twitter.com/cleanwaternow for updated water quality reports.

Have a great Thanksgiving and see you at the JR.

Barrels for Breakfast: Nado Version


Image by MattGrommes via Flickr

My surfing column, Southwest Surf is now running in Coronado Patch. This is sligthtly different than the Imperial Beach Patch Version. This is from November 17, 2010.

Our south county coast does very well on peaky combo wind swells. That is
why the fall is my favorite season in Southern California.

Last Tuesday, Nov. 9, was a classic morning. The South Side of the Imperial
Beach pier finally came alive. There were also peaks from the pier to the
Boc’s to be had.

On Wednesday my two groms Israel and Daniel patrolled the South Side.

Israel, a freshman at Coronado High School, said, “Matt Wilson was running
into the water yelling, ‘Barrels for breakfast.'”

On that morning, Zach Plopper, Ben McCue and I crossed the border early and
surf checked the TJ-Ensenada coast.

We settled on San Miguel for a session with no crowd and 2- to-4-foot crystal clear
waves. Just like Baja Norte is supposed to be.

Early Saturday morning, Israel, and my youngest son, Daniel, a seventh grader at
Coronado Middle School, departed for Ventura with surf dad extraordinaire
Jason Stutz, and his son Jake.

Jason called me later in the day and said, “The boys surfed with Dane
Reynolds at Emma Wood. I told them that we could go home. It doesn’t get
any better than that.”

Daniel said, “Dane is super cool. He was shredding and almost landed a

It was great to see Nado shredder surfer Taylor Jensen ripping it up in the
new surfing DVD, Fresh Fruit for Rotten Vegetables. I love watching Taylor’s new school approach to longboarding.

On Sunday morning I checked the surf at dawn and was surprised to see waves
breaking at the Sloughs. Chris Patterson and I surfed the shorebreak alone
for awhile.

Speaking of the Sloughs, Phillip “Flippy” Hoffman, a North Shore and Sloughs
pioneer, passed away on Nov. 10. Flippy surfed the Sloughs with Dempsey
Holder and a crew of Coronado surfers, including John Elwell and Chuck Quinn.

“Flippy often came down to IB to surf the Sloughs with Dempsey when my
brother Jim and I were just starting out,” said Jeff Knox. “We were very
impressed by his ability and his impish humor. He was an absolute classic.”

Dempsey’s grandson, Nado resident John Holder, is serving in the Peace Corps
in the Dominican Republic. He writes, “Been busy travelling around a bit and
trying to get things done here on this crazy island. Finally settled into my
cottage so I can sit and write and think in peace.”

John will be home for holidays and is looking forward to some surfing
solitude south of the border.

A chapter about the Sloughs and its pioneering surfers, including Dempsey and
Walter and Flippy Hoffman, John Elwell and Chuck Quinn, among others, can be found in my new book, Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias, which will be out just before Christmas.

Don’t forget to register for the 28th Annual J.R. Memorial Longboard Surf
Classic on Saturday, Nov. 27, 7 a.m. at the Coronado Shores parking lot.
This classic event, sponsored by the Coronado Surfing Association, is one of
the highlights of the surf season and is a benefit for the CHS and CMS surf

And finally—best of luck to the Islander Water Polo team during the
challenging CIF tournament. I really enjoyed my first year as a Nado H20
Polo dad (Israel played on the Frosh/Soph team), especially talking surf
with fellow polo and surf dads Chris Carroll, Howie Frese and Steve Merrill
during the games this season.

See you in the water.

Serge Dedina is the executive director of WiLDCOAST and has surfed in IB and
Coronado since 1977.

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