A Day at Trestles

We had a surfing “exchange” student spent a few weeks with us this summer. Eneko, 16, hails from the Spanish-French border city of Hendaye and thoroughly enjoyed his time in California. On his last afternoon we hustled up to Trestles to catch a new southwest swell. While Imperial Beach was small, blown out and closed out, Lowers was firing, with a bevy of pros to inspire the boys. It was a fitting end to Eneko’s trip that he called, “The best experience of my life.”

They surfed hard.

Daniel on a left. The waves were perfect A-frames.

Israel.

Pro surfer and Trestles local Tanner Gudauskas was shredding.

Eneko

Josh puts it on a rail.

WCT surfer Heitor Alves was ripping. He made this.

Alves couldn’t have been nicer. Eneko (left) and Israel (right) were stoked. There are very few sports in which boys can compete in the same venue as their heroes.

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The Swell Chasers

From my IB Patch Southwest Surf column May 26, 2011:

Last Thursday, when the first real south swell of the season hit, the beach was closed in Imperial Beach. No roping lefts off the pier, or grinding tubes at the south end of the beach.

Shane Landry scores a left.

Luckily Zach Plopper and I happened to have a meeting at the WiLDCOAST office in Ensenada. We decided to try our surfing luck on the way home.

We headed north to check out San Miguel. The surf was washed out. So we turned around to check out a nearby reef.

The surf was firing and the lineup was empty. The reef offered up a fun selection of 4-5 foot, semi-lined up and punchy lefts.

Again on Friday, serendipity played a role in finding great waves.

On Thursday evening, an old friend, Greg Tate, arrived for a visit. Greg’s a backyard shaper and goofy foot from Florida.

Israel, Greg and Daniel.

Israel, Greg, and Daniel at Scripps Pier with boards Greg shaped.

Twelve hours after his plane touched down at San Diego International Airport, we found ourselves traipsing down the trail to Trestles, and the surf exceeded our expectations.

The wind was offshore, the waves were hollow and the non-stop sets were way overhead.

Greg paddled out at Cotton’s. I needled my way through the lineup at Uppers.

While surfing I caught up with Mark Rauscher of the Surfrider Foundation. He  updated me on the still ongoing effort to prevent the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) from building a toll-road through San Onofre Beach State Park, the home of Trestles.

“The TCA is still trying to get that toll road through. But we are monitoring them,” Mark said before catching a great set wave.

Nothing like talking about saving a surf spot while surfing epic waves at that very  break.

A few hours later Greg and I regrouped. Like everyone that morning we were both hammered by sets that swung wide and outside.

On the way home we stopped at Beacon’s in Leucadia for a surf check (the wind had come up so we didn’t paddle out) and ran into legendary IB surfer Shawn Holder, who now lives in North County, where he owns a Pannikin Coffee and Tea in Encinitas.

“I’ve been surfing and stand-up paddling northern Baja most of the winter. Most of the time I surf alone,” Shawn said, a former IB lifeguard captain who is still as stoked on the surf as ever.

On Saturday we returned to Trestles for an IB gromathon.

Surf dads Dave Lopez and Jason Stutz joined me in the lineup at Lowers along with grom squad members Daniel Dedina. Loukas Lopez, Vinnie Claunch, Noah Bender, Jake Stutz and Shane Landry. As usual the groms scored wave after wave on the inside.

After our session we picked up my son Israel at the CIF swim finals at Del Norte High School in Poway and drove to La Jolla. At the Scripps parking lot we ran into two hardcore members of the IB underground who raved out scoring perfect waves at a local reef the day before.

“Dude,” one of the surfers said, “We never even check IB when it is polluted. We don’t want to get sick.”

Scripps wasn’t working so we headed south to the La Jolla reefs. The boys found some fun lefts at an empty slab while Greg and I sat on a bench and watched the show.

On Sunday morning a southwest wind was blowing so we headed to La Jolla to see if we could snag some sideshore peaks. The ocean cooperated with A-frames up and down the beach, which brought out a moderate crowd and fun waves to play around in.

On the beach I found Craig Engelmann who I grew up with in IB. Now living in Coronado, Craig was carefully watching his son Casey surf with Israel and Daniel.

All in all it was a great weekend. Our sessions proved that despite the throngs of surfers that populate the beaches of Southern California, we can always find plenty of surfing opportunities at beaches south and north of Imperial Beach and Coronado.

Up the PCH

From my Southwest Surf Column of May 4, 2011:

When I learned to surf it was easier to cross the border to Baja then head north, where the rumors of ugly localism, crowds, and higher costs, dissuaded me and my friends from surfing Southern California’s iconic breaks.

So, I have never surfed Malibu, and I have only surfed Rincon in the past few years during the Sharing the Stoke Surf Classic.

But now that surfing Baja is not as fun -or as easy- as it used to be (and the fact that most of the spots between Tijuana-Ensenada are fenced off), I often head north with my two teenage sons and their friends. Especially when IB is polluted.

And, during Spring Break, IB was very polluted. So, I spent three days carting around my sons and their friends Shane Landry and Joe Fernandez to Scripps Pier, La Jolla Shores and Black’s for uncrowded and fun waves.

On the Thursday of Spring Break, my sons and I departed at 5 a.m. (a late start for us) on our way north to Santa Barbara. I was scheduled to give a talk to the Santa Barbara Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation that evening, and we planned to hit Trestles on the way up, then head north on the Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara.

Preparing to head down the trail.

Our first stop along the way was Trestles. Our session at Lowers proved why Surfline recently called it one of Southern California’s “most rippable Summertime attractions.” The mid-morning crowd at Lower’s was manageable, the water was in the low 60’s and the southern hemisphere swell provided great 3-5’ rippable walls.

My strategy at Lower’s is to sit inside the main local crew (who are usually friendly). I patiently wait for the swing sets or the waves the outside crew miss and if I’m lucky can get a great right all the way into the inside. The boys tend to sit on the inside with the grom pack and pick off the waves that everyone else misses.

After two hours, the boys and I headed back on the trail to the Christianitos parking lot. After loading up our gear in the pickup, we made it over to the Pipe’s Café, a true surfer hangout with giant photos of epic waves and surfers at Trestles lining its walls. The breakfast burritos the boys ordered were so big they couldn’t finish them (a historic first). I stuck with a veggie omelet.

The minute we hit the PCH from I-10 in Santa Monica, we were in the upscale world of Pacific Palisades. The upscale shops and houses that line the highway almost obscured Surfrider Beach at Malibu. But it was small and crowded. Not worth a stop after our session at Lower’s.

I hoped that Point Zero, Leo Carrillo or County Line would provide material for our second session of the day. Point Zero and Leo Carrillo were small. But County Line inexplicably had four-foot sets on the beach in front of the highway. The point itself had only one surfer and offered up clean 1-3’ rights.

Getting ready for a go-out at County Line.

The boys chose the beach break peaks. I paddled out on my new 6’2” Mini-Simmons and proceeded to catch about 8-10 fun rights for a quick 45-minute session. After surfing, we crossed the street to the legendary Neptune’s Net seafood restaurant that surfers have frequented since 1958. We scarfed down fish and chips, and a crab cake burger. It was a great finish to a fun session.

My talk in Santa Barbara went well, and the boys and I slept soundly after our long day and two surf sessions. The following day was to be the grand finale—a trip to the Hollister Ranch.

The Ranch

At the invitation of a Ranch resident we spent the morning cruising the amazingly beautiful and bucolic coastal seascape of Southern California’s only private coastal cattle ranch and super high-end coastal residential retreat (one estate is on the market for $22 million!). While the surf was small, the boys scored a fun 2-3’ session by themselves at Rights and Lefts.

As the boys, came in from their session, a pod of gray whales frolicked offshore. It was a fitting goodbye for a great trip along Southern California’s historic surf highway.

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