It's been my dream since I started
surfing to visit Southern California. Although surfing is of Polynesian
origin, it was certainly in this part of the States that the surf
culture we enjoy and endure today was born. And so it was that I
decided to treat myself to a long weekend in SoCal for my 40th birthday
(yes I'm an old gimmer!).
I got a cheap flight (£175 rtn) on American Airlines (no charge
for boards) through www.priceline.co.uk , and luckily I have a friend
who lives right near Manhattan Beach so I was pretty much sorted.
This was my first surf in the
Pacific Ocean and I found the waves at Manhattan Beach Pier pretty
juicy. Fast, sucky waves that often barrelled on take-off. I lucked
into what the locals said was their best swell of the year at the
time. Overhead, lined up and beefy.
back in '69
ordered a new longboard from Harbour Surfboards and collected it
on my first day in SoCal. I got to meet Rich Harbour and have a
personal guided tour of his shaping bay at Seal beach. This guy
has been making surfboards since 1959 and is still stoked with the
whole business and still surfs regularly. A true gentleman and a
true craftsman - his boards rock! The board I picked up is a 9'0"
Wing Pin single fin - without a doubt the best turning longboard
I've ever ridden.His shop is like a museum
- with loads of vintage Harbour longboards hanging from the ceiling.
You can't go to SoCal without
visiting Malibu. I decided to hit it for a dawn raid as the swell
was coming out of the south-west and the wind light. The traffic
at 5.30a.m (yes, A.M) was ridiculous. Five lanes solid of gas guzzling
monsters. However, my heart warmed when I pulled into the car park
at Malibu. Clean waist to chest high swell and no more than 10 guys
out - makes you wonder why Shoreham gets so crowded on a sloppy
one foot day.
The sign on the beach at Malibu
shows that they've got their priorities right - stay out of the
water unless you can surf standing up!
And check this longboard fin
- pure Malibu!
I was travelling alone I hit as many beaches as possible in the
short time I was there. Up to three different spots a day and as
much as seven hours surfing! This place is a right point near Malibu
- again waist to chest high and clean and only three other guys
The paddle out at Swamis (Encinitas) can look
pretty daunting. The small dot on the right is a surfer paddling
out just before I hit the water myself.
But the rides, were long, long, long. Hang five,
cutback, hang five, cutback etc etc.
It was a superb trip that pushed my surfing to
another level. The standard of wave riding from longboarders like
myself, shortboarders and boogie boarders, was incredibly high everywhere
I went. I found a generally friendly vibe, with most people stoked
to meet a surfer from England. They tend to take the quality and
consistency of their waves for granted - so you can score a good
surf with just a few other guys out. If you ever get the chance
to go.. TAKE IT!