California Surfing Sucks


I'm not a fan of California surfing. Sure, the waves are better and definitely more consistent than here on the east coast... but is the actual surfing experience better? Without hesitation, I say no. Even in the face of dinky summer surfing conditions on the east coast, I still pass on surfing in California. It's really not what it's cracked up to be.

I guess I'm mostly speaking about Southern California, Los Angeles to San Diego. This is one of the most densely packed surfing regions on the planet. Any time of day, any type of wave conditions, it's crowded. I can get to a spot at 5am and I'm still shoulder-to-shoulder with dudes from all walks of life. Unfortunately, there's an alpha male type that runs through the lineup. The guys who take more than they should, just because they can. The guys who just won't stop competing, jockeying, and positioning. How is this relaxing? It's not. I really think California surfers spend too much time showing off and not enough time enjoying the moment. The general attitude is selfish and tribal. I see more surf bullies in one session at a top spot in California than an entire year of surfing in New England.

Recently I was in San Diego for a week on work-related business. Of course I brought a couple of boards, and I even got a little lucky with some decent sized southern-hemisphere swell greeting me on my arrival. I tried to be optimistic about catching a few waves amongst the crowds and I was able to squeeze in three sessions between work obligations and the waves going flat. I logged nearly six hours of surf time to catch thirteen waves. Out of those thirteen, four of them were satisfying without getting dropped in on, yelled at or just blatantly cut off.

During this trip to Southern California I surfed Oceanside Harbor, Upper Trestles and Ponto. I was working out of Carlsbad so I stayed to the north of San Diego. I posted my stats from the Upper Trestles session. I'd say that was the only session even worth mentioning. The 88-yard wave was pretty fun, but I had to zigzag through a constant soup of dudes. My final wave was a bomb and I took it all the way inside. One guy dropped in on the shoulder but I stepped on the gas and he made a wise decision to get out of my way and pull out. I'd had enough of these guys.

I decided to end my session on that 107-yard race track. Any wave where I go more than 100 yards, I call it a touchdown. Since it took an entire hour to score a touchdown, I figured my chances were low for catching another one that good. And it didn't take an hour to catch that wave because the waves were bad, in fact the waves were pumping. These same conditions at my local break in Newport or Horseneck, I'd have caught at least twenty waves in a session. It's just pure aggravation. I only caught two decent waves in an hour session. I spent most of my time paddling around simply trying not to bump or float into somebody.

Where I live you have to go through a lot to go surfing. It's a major commitment. The freezing cold temperatures, the wind, the inconsistent swell, the layers of rubber, the list is long. Compare that to a Southern California surfer. It's never colder than a 3 mil, nobody surfs when there's wind, and there's consistent swell year-round. It's easy access. California surfers are spoiled. And yet despite the spoils, they are the most selfish and act the most immature. You're basically surfing with a bunch of brats.

I guess you could say that this is just me being selfish about surfing and I don't want to share. I suppose I'm just like them in the way that I want to catch a lot of waves too. But I just won't do that at another surfer's expense AND I find it difficult to share with a bunch of show offs and brats. I'm 43 years old now, but there was a time when I was younger where I wanted people to see that turn or watch my surf video. But as I get on in years I just don't care about that stuff. I WANT to break your GoPro. But I won't because that maturity thing gets in the way. Maybe Californians should follow my lead... and grow up a little bit.

In the end, I surf for me. I don't care if you like me or if you like me surifng your break or not. I surf wherever I want, and I want to be in the moment. I can't enjoy myself if I feel like I'm out there competing to show off. Surfing mostly alone in New England, nobody sees my waves, and I'm totally fine with that. Rant over

Trestles Crowd. Photo: Surfline

#California