This blog is dedicated to the surf trips and surfing memories of Justin Sampas.
Since I live down in San Diego the chances when I come back home to Santa Barbara at the same time good waves are present is rare. I wanted to start adding to my content a bio of a handful of breaks in Santa Barbara first and then some memories of surfing each of these breaks. Here we go in no particular order.
A great right point break that has a nice long fun ride and can support double overhead waves and still maintain a great shape. Further down from campus about 75 yards to the south is another break called logs and it is slower wave that is better suited for long boarders. Campus point is a break that you can not only see from the freeway as you are driving into Isla Vista but it has a parking lot on the cliffs that overlooks the entire beach. When the waves are breaking it is quite a site with the Marine Biology building off the right.
Hope Ranch Beach
Hope Ranch is one of those breaks that does not break very often but the conditions are right it has a handful of beach breaks that break both left and right. The wave has a great shape and can get hallow if the conditions are right. It is a sand bottom break and the break usually does not have much of a current. Hope ranch is one of the few beaches that is private and you need an access card to get through the gate. The parking lot overlooks the break and there is a road down to the beach so people can drop off items before they park.
Mesa Lane is a point break beach that you have to walk down over 200+ steps to surf. Most people surf the wave to the right and the ride is longer than most of the beach breaks that are around mesa lane. The bottom is rocky and the seaweed can be an issue here as it sometimes ends up in the lineup. Tide can also be an issue here as when the tide is low the rock reef is exposed in certain areas.
Memorial Day weekend was a great start to summer as the sun was out shining for most of the day and it was another great day to go to the beach in San Diego. I went to a beach called Tourmaline which is a nice beach break a little north of Pacific Beach. While it was sunny the wind was onshore and was probably 20+ mph by the time I arrived. While the wind certainly did not help the waves there was still some chest to shoulder high sets coming through so I put my wetsuit on and paddled out.
It has been a cold winter this year and the water is slowly warming up for the summer. There were 2 people out that were trunking it and they were defiantly tougher than me. The wave had a some chop to it and there were patches of seaweed throughout the lineup and in the impact zone. I managed to catch about 8 waves and with the south current I ended up about 200 yards south of where I paddled out. It was nice to see so many people out in San Diego enjoying themselves, from the locals in PB hanging out on the beach to the pilots with custom planes that were flying over the ocean it looked like everyone was enjoying the holiday. I hope that there are many more days like this in summer to come.
I left the gym on Saturday morning with my car packed with all the gear that I would need to go surfing that day and Surfline had predicted that there was going to be some waves in the waist to chest high range. I stopped at several spots before settling at dog beach in Ocean Beach. The waves were not great that day but there were a few sets that were coming in that people were enjoying so I got ready to paddle out. It was low tide that day so I was able to walk about 75% of what would normally be a paddle to get to the lineup. The waves are about what I expected but for the first thirty minutes I was there the lineup only had about six surfers in it which is a low amount for a Saturday. After catching a few waves that changed as over the following thirty minutes twelve more surfers paddled out as the wind picked up which lowered the amount of rideable waves. Over the next hour the waves were hit and miss but I was still able to catch a handful of waves. The final wave of the day had a little momentum and was able to ride it all the way to one of the shallow sandbars, where I walked the rest of the way in. I will remember that day how clear the water was (for CA at least) and surfing over some shallow sandbars, fortunately the surf was small and the bottom was sand.
I had been working like crazy the past few weeks and had not had too much time to go surf or do anything else for that matter. I had my board in my car and was running errands on a Sunday afternoon and I was planning on going to a meeting in the afternoon and the person canceled so I decided to paddle out for a couple of hours. It was sunny with a crosswind that was affecting the waves and there must have been over a hundred surfer scattered over the beach breaks. I stretched in the sand and looked to see which break not only looked the least crowded but the best break. As I started to paddle out I noticed how cold the water was! It’s August and it felt colder than it did in June or July. I had been out for about 45 minutes when the conditions started getting worse. The wave on the inside was not breaking was well as it did in the morning and as a result more short boarders were leaving and more long boarders were coming out. I did not have my long board so this became a problem as I was unable to catch the few waves coming in. I caught only a handful of waves that day and came in as I noticed that I did not put enough sunscreen on one of my shoulders and it was starting to burn. I hope the waves are good next weekend and I have some time to enjoy them.
I was talking to my neighbor who had gone surfing only a couple of times in his life and he wanted to try and pick it back up again. I was already meeting another friend that weekend that I had taught over the summer so I thought the two of them would work well together. It was a nice sunny day in San Diego with swells chest high to two feet overhead on the big sets. Swell of that size are fun for an experienced surfer but not ideal conditions for beginners. However, we had already driven out to the beach so we decided to paddled out and see what happens. We were surfing Dog Beach in Pacific Beach which is a sand bottom beach break with a right point break that is adjacent to a jetty. At first we paddled out at the beach break to catch the small closer to shore waves to practice standing up, getting used to riding a wave, etc. However, that was easier said than done as there was a strong current and the waves would sometimes come for five minutes straight before calming down. This quickly drained our energy and we need to come up with another game plan. We decided to paddle down next to the jetty and have the current take us out to the lineup. I was able to get out but the current swept me away from the two other surfers. The current from the river out into the ocean is a different current than the one on the beach break. I was probably 15 feet away from my friends and a large wave came in a swept me to 100 feet away from them in less than 10 seconds. I was out in the lineup and was lucky to have a shoulder high wave form right next to me and I was able to ride the wave to one of my friends. From there we saw our other friend close to shore and waved to him that we would come to him on the beach. We came in rested, talked about some of the waves we just encountered and where we would paddle out one last time for the day.
We went out one more time and they were both able to stand up on a couple of small waves on the inside break at the beach. It is always cool to see surfers on their first dozen or so waves they stand up on as they remember those rides for the rest of their lives. I was able at the end to make it thought the breakers on the outside sets and catch a couple of set waves before calling it a day. Another fun day of surfing in San Diego!
The final weekend of January was a weekend that Californians pray for, 70+ weather with sunny skies, calm wind, and fun surf. I was able to get out and surf in Del Mar Ca. at a place called 15th street. Just the walk to 15th St. is amazing, a walk through well kept green lawns, across the train tracks and you end up on the bluffs that overlook the beach. The waves were chest to head high and were inconsistent, but there were still three main packs of surfers trying to ride some waves. I walked down to the left about 75 yards to the furthest pack of surfers from the main entrance to the beach. During the summer months there is a lifeguard tower placed there to look after tourists but during the winter months they are removed from the beach and the water has mostly experienced surfers out there.
I was able to catch about eight waves in a little less than two hours, a little disappointing but there was two lulls of fifteen minutes apiece that cut into the wave riding time. Not all of the waves lined up because of the conditions and there were times when one wave would catch another or two waves would break into one another. Overall, it was nice to get out and catch some waves on a warm winter day.