Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Everybody’s Gone Surfin’

The Rincon
You may not surf, but that doesn’t mean that a visit to the Central Coast should be devoid of surfing. The surf culture is iconic at the Rincon, that long right break straddling Santa Barbara and Ventura counties but it doesn’t matter where you go, from Ventura to the Hearst Castle, you’ll see surfers everywhere.

Best Surf Spots
The Rincon is the Central Coast’s most famous surfing landmark; a small thin strip of land with a large point, hence the long right break. In the early 1920s a road was built to connect Ventura to Santa Barbara as there was barely much room there since the cliffs plunged directly into the Pacific Ocean. At first the Rincon was built of rustic logs, then wood planks, but they kept getting washed away by the pounding surf. Finally Highway 101 was built, though as you drive it, you understand how little room there is between the cliffs and ocean. Much of the Rincon portion of the highway still abuts the water and during storms, it’s common to have the ocean splashing over onto the highway, soaking cyclists and drivers alike. But this is surf central.

Lakey Peterson

Santa Barbara native and 2011 USA Surf Team member Lakey Peterson says; “Rincon is unbelievable to have in my back yard, and all the right hand points are so fun. I’ve grown up at the Rincon my whole life, and you get to know everyone. I love home in the winter - that’s when we get our ground swells, and when it’s good here it’s unbelievable.” And she should know: she’s been in the water since forever and you can check her out in Nike’s latest surf film, “Leave a Message.” (http://www.lakeypeterson.com/) Wintertime is when the Rincon is at its best as north and west swells sweep in, wrap around the shallow cobble point and peel off with an almost predictable evenness around the bend. To access the Rincon, exit at Bates Road from the north or south off Highway 101 and head south to the parking lots. There’s a small gate that leads down a path behind several residences, which drops you at the rocky beach. If you head to your right you’ll get towards the point and you can jump in the water.
Surfers are a protective lot; they don’t want you horning in on their special breaks. Nonetheless, Santa Barbara has many prime surf spots. The best time to surf is in the winter and after that, the fall. The primary swells are from storms in the North Pacific which generate waves as they approach the West Coast. Spring swells tend to be wind generated and often less powerful.
C Street in the morning
C Street is the nickname for California Street, which is near what is commonly called Surfers Point at Seaside. For surfers, it’s simply referred to as “C Street.” Early mornings are favored for surfers in this spot close to the pier. There are three distinct zones along this mile long stretch of beach. At the point is the Pipe, with some pretty fast short breaks. Moving down the beach is the Stables which continues with the right breaks, with a low shoulder, and then you have C Street breaking both right and left.

Leadbetter Beach and Point

Santa Barbara
Leadbetter Point near City College is small, fun, easy waves and good for beginners. There are a lot of peaks along this small right point break. Take

Cabrillo Blvd.
past Stearns Wharf and turn left into the pay parking lot. Campus Point at UCSB is a small right point break with a small beach break and the cliffs lead west to Devereux Point, another right with many peaks. It gets crowded sometimes as students simply cross the street from their dorms and hit the waves.

Catching the waves in Pismo

Pismo Beach
The Pier is one of the more popular spots and the waves peak on the beach and also on the south side of the pier. Generally there are beautifully shaped waves though they are likely to section on you, but you can still catch a long ride from time to time.

Surf Classes
If surfing is new to you or you want to brush up on your skills, in Santa Barbara, Surf Happens Surf School (http://www.surfhappens.com/) will teach you the basics individually, as a couple, or even for a team building exercise. Surf Class (www.surfclass.com) in Ventura teaches everyone from novice landlubbers to rusty shredders. Their two hour classes limit class sizes for individual attention. They will also teach you surf etiquette and lingo. The Ventura Surf School (www.venturasurfschool.com) will also teach you to surf and they offer a week log surf camp as well. They provide classes for just kids too. If you just need gear, swing by Seaward Surf and Sport (http://www.seawardsurf.com/) which is the place to go to buy or rent most anything for the water. Bikinis, body boards, sunglasses, wetsuits. They are a half a block from the beach so you can rent, then jump directly in the water.

Everyone surfs, even these winemakers from the Central Coast!