By Jim Kempton
Surfing Heritage Day will kick off a week of surf celebration that includes the Hurley Pro Trestles, the only World Tour event in the USA as well as the home-town favorite contest hosted by the San Onofre Surfing Club. Where else but San Clemente would the Rotary Club sponsor a celebration of a city’s surf history? Even our finest civic citizens know the Spanish Village by the Sea is truly a surf town.
But it’s way more than just a surf town. It’s the best surf town in the world. It’s time somebody said it. As surf cities go, it’s the best. Take any criteria you want to choose: Talent? No other city has fielded as many ASP professionals, or as many National Amateur Champions. San Clemente High School holds the record for the number of surf team titles for any school in the nation. But that’s just the start. The two junior high campuses boast the largest winning record for middle schools as well – and are often number one and two in the country.
Waves? At San Onofre State Beach we have four world class point breaks that have been labeled the “Yosemite of Surfing.” Within the 10-mile stretch of beach between Beach Road on the north and Trails on the south, there is a myriad of punchy beach breaks, sandstone reefs, cobblestone points, crunchy sandbars,pier set-ups and outside mysto spots.
Media? We are the surf media – the Fleet Street of surf. San Clemente hosts the three oldest and most respected surf publications in the world (Apologies Australia). Over the years, half a dozen more have called this home.
We not only have the top pro contest (Hurley Pro) we have the top amateur championships as well. The National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) and Surfing America (the national governing body of the sport) hold their Championships here as well. The Ocean Festival brings every type of surfing activity to the pier in the peak of summer too.
The world’s finest and most prestigious collection of surfboards anywhere on the planet resides right here in our industrial park at the Surfing Heritage Foundation. It is the premiere repository of surf history and culture – bar none. How about the Surfrider Foundation, which has the largest membership of any surf organization in the world? Or the San Onofre Foundation – protecting the State Beaches that give us so much access? Right here.
Surf industry? Well if you count all the surf shops, board manufacturers, sunglass companies, sandal businesses, wetsuit outlets, surfboard shapers and well-known surf brands located here, we are now the heart of the surf industry too. And we have enough surf bars and restaurants to fill five towns. We even have our own Surfer’s Row of stars and legends from San Clemente, on old El Camino Real – a list that rivals anything in the history books anywhere.
When it comes to all things surf, San Clemente is the best. End of story.
Jim Kempton was the former Editor & Publisher of Surfer Magazine, director of the Quiksilver Crossing and Media Director of Billabong USA. He is currently the President of the California Surf Museum and the CEO of the San Onofre Foundation.
He has been surfing Trestles since sneaking in was required, and still feels like catching a wave there is a secret thrill.