A guy tries to surf Malibu during a really good south swell. Finding it too crowded, he gives up and drives up to Leo Carrillo State Beach, his home surf break, to try and surf there.
Who in their right mind would want to attempt surfing Malibu in the middle of a firing summer New Zealand-generated south swell? There are other forms of masochism to partake in: Diving with Great Whites comes to mind. Extreme cave diving in Caribbean Blue Holes is another. Cage-diving with sharks, anyone? You can practically walk across the fiberglass getting to the lineup, it’s so crowded. If you think this is an exaggeration, take a look for yourself! But crowded conditions is only the beginning of this challenging experience.
Surfing is supposed to be a relaxing, fun experience. That all changes in the summer when surfers are competing for those much-desired south-swell waves. Malibu is at the epicenter of the south swell exposure, so naturally every surfer for miles around ends up there.
The tension is in the air. Shortboarders snarling at longboarders, and vice versa. Shortboarders and longboarders snarling at each other. Young surfers snarling at old surfers. Guys snarling at girl surfers. Even girls snarling at guys and girls. Everybody snarling at spongers. (At least there’s something everybody can agree upon: Everybody hates bodyboarders, except at the Wedge).
I negotiated my way into the lineup. There were guys out there dressed head to toe in a 5/4mm wetsuit, replete with hoods and gloves. C’mon now, the water is 70 degrees! I sat so close to a guy next to me I could smell the Hai Karate he wreaked of. Another guy sat so close, I could smell what he had for dinner last night on his breath. (It was clam sauce, if you want to know.) After two hours of trying to find a decent wave, I finally found a little ankle-slapping insider I took in.
Then I decided for more abuse, and drove up to Leo Carrillo State Beach which is my home surf break.
At lot of guys drive up to Leo for the first time, take one look at the pack of one hundred surfers jammed around the one take-off spot, The Rock, the hundreds more suiting up on the highway, not to mention the wind surfers and the kayakers and the divers with all their scuba diver equipment clogging the stairway – and drive off. I’ve surfed there for many years, so by virtue of sheer tenure, you earn your place in the line-up. Surfers at Leo figure if you are a glutton for so much punishment, for so many years, you deserve to surf here.
Leo Carrillo is one of the great natural wonders of the California coast. The wave is epic, 200 to 300 yards on a good day when it breaks off the second reef. It’s kind of a scary drop, right in front of that rock, but once you’ve done it for a number of years, it’s actually not so bad. You can’t surf Leo when the tide’s too low, though. When it drops to minus a foot or two, the tide pools are magnificent. Divers also love Leo Carrillo, the water is ultra-clear, and the kelp forests are home to many color fish.
Moral of story: don’t surf Malibu. If you want a great wave, go to Leo Carrillo.