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CALIFORNIA SPORTS PARADISE
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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA COAST'S BEST SURFING

SURFING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

By Brian Keane

For years, Southern California was just about the only game in town (the state). However, in recent years with the widespread use of the wetsuit, surfing has proliferated as far north as the Oregon border. But, with moderate ocean temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and a local scene that could have been written for a movie, Southern California is still considered by many to be the Mecca of the surfing lifestyle. For serious surfers, there is enough variety on the Southern California Coast to offer challenges to those of all skill levels.

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Ocean Safety

Level: N=Novice, I=Intermediate, A=Advanced

THE RANCH
Level N,I,A

When discussing surfing in Southern California, itís difficult not to mention this hard-to-reach series of points and reef breaks. Located along private land from Point Conception south to Gaviota, The Ranch offers some of the most classic waves in all California.

To reach these spots effectively you must have a small boat or inflatable dingy with a reliable outboard. You can launch from the Gaviota Beach State Park. The State Park operates a pier with a hoist which generally is operable, however at times, it is sabotaged by surfers who have passes to drive in. Launching an inflatable raft from the beach is ideal. Make sure you have all the Coast Guard required items before launching. Sometimes the Park Rangers like to inspect your rig.

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Note: Donít try to sneak onto The Ranch property, itís a real bummer if you get caught. And most who try, get caught!

Government Point
Level N,I,A

This spot starts to happen during strong winter north swells . Long, right lines peel with juice and are usually well shaped. It breaks from 2ft-12ft but works best at 6ft and up. Medium-low tide offers consistent, down the line juice. A great spot for novice and intermediate surfers from 2ft-4ft.

Cojo Point
Level N,I,A

Considered by many to be the best summer south swell spot at The Ranch. Long right lines with fast take-offs that peel and tube. Breaks from 2ft-15ft. Starts to pour on the power at 6ft and up. Best at medium-low tide.

Lefts and Rights
Level I,A

A small rock/sand reef with a two-way peak. The rides are short but with the right conditions it can really deliver some fun and usually uncrowded waves.

San Augustine Point and Reef
Level I,A

Both these spots offer fun waves under the right conditions. Usually works on most south swells, medium to low tide and is ridable up to 6 feet.

Rights and Lefts
Level I,A

This is normally the first jump-off spot you come to on your venture north into The Ranch from Gaviota. This well defined peak offers clean two-way peelers with an easy take-off followed by fast, well-shaped walls that spit and tube on strong west swells. Starts working best at medium-low tide from 4ft-8ft.

RINCON POINT
Level N,I,A

Located along highway 101 just south of Carpinteria at La Conchita, Rincon Point has been listed in Surfer Magazine as one of the top ten classic point breaks in the WORLD! It has power, long lines and flawless shape that offers the surfer some of the best waves on the planet.

First Point

Perfect right lines that are fast with juicy tubes that spit and grind down the point. Starts working on a strong, well lined-up, north swell. Shape is good from 2ft and up but starts to smoke from 5ft and up.

Second Point

This is the next take-off spot as the wave continues to wrap around the point into the cove. Also breaks from 2ft and up but usually is best during a big strong north. Long rides with grinding tubes develop at medium tide. Low tide tends to section out becoming unmakeable.

Third Point

This is the outer-most point at Rincon. Often referred to as Indicators, breaks on any winter north swell but really needs some size before it works well. Tends to section-out, making the wave a short ride before being forced to kick-out. I have experienced perhaps an unusual day at Third Point where the conditions and swell direction were just right causing long, fast, down-the-line rides! Always scope it out, it may be worth it.

Rincon, because of its fame, tends to get very crowded. My experience with the crowds has always been positive, and they tend to thin-out as the swell size increases.

The shore along the point is lined with large rocks. Note that at high tide, and if the swell is up, it can be difficult to get in through the shore pound and the rocks. Use caution. One of the unique experiences of observing the power of the ocean at Rincon Point is to stick your head under water and listen to the rumbling sound of hundreds of rocks being rolled around by the waves. Itís the sound of...power!

BLACKíS BEACH
Level I,A

Located along highway 101 just south of Torrey Pines State Park and just north of Scripps Pier in La Jolla, waves roll in from the deep Pacific, unrestricted, until they meet a shallow submerged reef and then break with power and speed onto Black's Beach. The ocean bottom here is similar to Moss Landing Beach in Monterey Bay, a finger of the La Jolla submarine canyon lies just offshore at Blackís Beach.

This wave offers steep, top-to-bottom take-offs with grinding tubes spitting left and right. Itís ridable on any swell from 2ft-15ft. Medium to low tide is preferred. During large surf, strong rip currents can develop. Blackís is one of the most powerful beach breaks in all California and not recommended as a beginner's spot. Steep cliffs and some private land restrict access but there are many foot paths down the cliffs that will easily get you in.

You're on notice... Blackís Beach has also become a favorite nude sunbathing beach for the locals of La Jolla.

 



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