Up the 101: A Tour of California College Surf Towns

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We were on the beautiful Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus on the second day of our college and surf tour of coastal California. My youngest son Daniel, 14, was along for the waves and to get a peak at cool college surf towns.

“I can’t believe they have a surfboard shaping bay in the Student Union,” said my 16-year old son Israel.

The first stop on out trip was Ventura where the boys were determined to surf in the wake of Dane Reynolds.

Reynolds skipped in and out of the ASP World Tour and made the hollow beachbreaks of his laid back hometown world famous.

But the spot of choice was closed out. So we checked Emma Wood, a reef and beachbreak on the northern edge of town. A couple of years ago the boys surfed there with Dane.

“I even talked to Dane,” Israel said. “He was so cool, and of course he was shredding.”

But Emma Wood was sort of small and the offshore reef was only just starting to show the rising swell.

So we decided to head back further south and check out beaches known for their excellent wave quality and territorial locals.

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Upon our arrival at the parking lot at the north end of the beach we could see it was good. A-frames broke up and down the half-mile long beach with small packs on every peak.

California juice.

Our next stop was Santa Barbara. This beach town is the Beverly Hills or Monte Carlo of coastal California. It is so over-the-top gorgeous and so luxurious that it makes Laguna Beach, its sister-city in upscale chic, seems almost run-down.

We were on our way to a campus tour of UC Santa Barbara, one of the four universities we planned to visit on our tour.

If you’re the parent of surfers, you know that expensive and overrated East Coast private universities are off the list of acceptable schools. Thankfully our great state has the best public university system on the planet and a few of them are close to great waves.

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UCSB is situated on a pointbreak and counts surfer-singer Jack Johnson as an alum.

At the end of our tour, we head down to for a peak of Campus Point. Only a few surfers enjoyed the knee-high point waves.

“This place is awesome,” Daniel said.

The next morning, two hours north, we dawn patrolled Morro Bay. Overhead A-frames broke up  and down a beach that seemed endless.

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The boys and I shared peaks for a couple of hours and then headed to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

After our surf session, a wonderful campus tour, and the visit to the on-campus shaping bay Israel said, “That’s it. This is where I’m going.”

I hope he gets accepted.

Daniel checking out the shaping classroom at Cal Poly.

Daniel checking out the shaping classroom at Cal Poly.

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Nike Lowers Pro 2012

I spent the morning of Saturday May 5th at Lower Trestles for the final day of the Nike Lowers Pro 2012 professional surf contest. Amazing to see some of the world’s best surfers in action including Dane Reynolds, Gabriel Medina, Pat and Tanner Gudauskas, Julian Wilson, Ace Buchan, John John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Evan Geissalmen.

Ace Buchan.

I had watched the event via the webcast and while impressed with Gabriel Medina’s surfing, I wasn’t sold on him as a complete surfer (lack of style). But after watching his dominate his heats with his effortless and amazing aerial and vertical surfing, I can easily predict he will be World Champ and dominate professional surfing.

Gabriel Medina.

Additionally John John Florence also demonstrated why he will also be a World Champ and dominate Professional Surfing. He surfs with the savant of Andy Irons combined with the strategic brilliance of Kelly. Medina to me is more of a Kelly Slater and just an intuitively brilliant surfer. No one can really even touch him. He doesn’t even look like he is trying.

John John Florence in his quarter final heat against Tanner Gudauskas.

After the final between Glen Hall and Gabriel Median, the ebulliant Brazilian fans carried Medina on his shoulder.

Gabriel Medina in a pensive moment right before the awards ceremony.

The Brazilians  clearly love their country, surf with passion, are determined competitors and are hungry for victory. There is no Dane Reynolds embarrassing lack of clarity on being a professional surfer.

Gabriel Medina and his sister Sophia.

When is the last time you saw an American professional surfer celebrate a victory with an American flag? Brazilians are not ambivilent about victory. Americans almost seem embarrassed by it (not so the Australians who are equally committed to winning and being professional athletes).

Nike Lowers Pro champion Gabriel Medina and runner up Glen Hall with Gabriel’s sister Sophia.

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Barrels for Breakfast: Nado Version

Surfer

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
backflip.”

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
teams.

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.

Barrels for Breakfast Take 2

My Imperial Beach Patch surfing column from November 16, 2010.

I.B. does very well on peaky combo wind swells. That’s why the fall is my favorite season in Southern California.

Last Tuesday was a classic IB morning. The South Side finally came alive. There were also peaks from the pier to the Boc’s to be had.

I paddled out in the South Side channel just after 7 a.m. and greeted Todd and Tim Lang. Tim and I were second grade classmates at Berry Elementary. I shared the wedgy rights with Dave Thomas, Billy D., Ben McCue, Dave Parra, Dave Santos, Randy Putland and Zach Plopper among others.

On Wednesday the groms were out in the water at daybreak.

My son Israel said, “Matt Wilson was running into the water yelling, ‘Barrels for breakfast.'”

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

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

Thursday morning IB offered up Santa Ana winds and 3-5 feet A-frames up and down the beach.

“The waves were typewriting,” said Billy D.

“I was there at about 6:30 a.m.,” said Alan Jackson. “I saw Terry and Josh on the south side and a few dolphins, but they were out a ways. It was so clear and beautiful that we could see the cross on Mt Soledad.”

With good waves come increased crowds at a few select sandbars. According to Andrew Pate, one way to maintain order in the water is to, “Never paddle out and swing into the first wave coming through when there are other surfers in the lineup.”

Early Saturday morning, my groms Israel and Daniel 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 backflip.”

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 a while.

Dave Thomas paddled out later in the morning.

“I got out at the Sloughs in the late morning just as the onshore winds started,” he said.

Dave is looking for someone to caravan to southern Baja with on December 26.

Speaking of the Sloughs, Phillip “Flippy” Hoffman, a North Shore and Sloughs pioneer, passed away on November 10.

“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 and John Holder is 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 southern desert solitude.

A chapter about the Sloughs and its pioneering surfers including Dempsey and Walter and Flippy Hoffman among others are included in my new book, Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the Californias, that will be out just before Christmas. Look for an IB book launch party in January.

Finally, I end with this quote from Zach Plopper, “Surfing for me means endless fun. There is nothing more fun than surfing.”

See you in the water.

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