After a great year in the surf, let the good times roll!

By Jake Howard

Here we go, sliding in 2019! What a year it’s been. What a surf community we have here in San Clemente and Dana Point.

As I was trying to think of something special to write for this week’s column, I thought about hitting on all of the important moments and milestones we’ve seen in the water this year.

But as I dove into my archive of stories and notes, I realized there’s too much good stuff happening around here to highlight just a few people. So, instead, I thought more of an overarching list would be more appropriate and to pay respect where respect is due without risking leaving somebody out.

As Lightnin’ Hopkins would say, “The fact of the business is,” that as surfers in this area, we have so much to be thankful for. Great waves, great boards, great people. So, to everyone out there who caught a wave this year, thanks and happy holidays. Here are a few things that are especially rad:

The Schools

When I was in high school in Northern California, my school didn’t have a surf team or club or anything. My history teacher was a core surfer, and we asked him if we could start one. He said no. He didn’t want to bother with the hassle.

I think about that every time I see one of our local schools’ surf teams out in the water, practicing, training and having fun.

Not only do San Clemente and Dana Point’s middle school and high school surf programs enjoy tremendous success, they’re helping to create amazing people who are going to be leaders in this next generation.

The only thing that beats a good barrel is a good education, and a heartfelt tip of the cap to all of the coaches and teachers who are turning dreams into reality on a daily basis.

The Board Makers

Because it is impossible to ever have too many surfboards, thanks to all the men and women in the Surf Ghetto and beyond who keep great boards under our feet and make sure that we’re still getting in the water.

Without the shapers, glassers and sanders, we wouldn’t have anything to ride. They’re the cornerstone of our community and culture.

If you’re looking for a New Year’s resolution, try buying only boards made by local craftsmen in 2020. Support the hometown heroes who keep us all stoked.

The Legends

This year, I had the opportunity to sit on Phil Edwards’ back deck, talk stories, share a beer and some chips and salsa. Phil’s the man and always will be.

From the bronze statues of Phil and friends Hobie Alter and Bruce Brown that have been erected in Dana Point to the annual celebrations at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center in San Clemente, honoring, revering and respecting those who rode before us is a wonderful thing.

We’ve got some of surfing’s true pioneers living right next to us as neighbors, and they all have amazing tales to share. Take the time to learn your history; this area is full of it.

The Positive Vibe Tribe

And speaking of passing the positivity, thanks to the examples set forth by Dane, Patrick and Tanner Gudauskas and their Positive Vibe Warrior Foundation, our local community of pro surfers who are giving back and helping to uplift the next generation.

From supporting junior lifeguard and water safety programs around the country to hosting their annual Stoke-O-Rama events, their positive attitude is infectious and has helped turn this area into a hotbed of surf talent.

Fostering the seeds of stoke, the next generation of frothers are out in the lineup right now, stoked out of their skulls, and ready to barrel into the future sharing and caring about all that is wonderful about surfing.

I’ve always thought that we all started surfing for a reason: because it’s fun. With careers, contests, Olympics and all that the sport has become, let’s not forget, at its core, surf is more fun than anything.

The Board Riders

The organization West Coast Board Riders was an experiment when it started a couple of years ago, but, thankfully, it’s since taken off. Modeled after the surf clubs in Australia, Dana Point and San Clemente both boast robust clubs with active, multi-generational membership—from the groms to the salty dogs.

Last year, San Clemente won the state title. Dana Point continues to set the example for public service, hosting a surf day with the San Juan Capistrano Boys and Girls Club.

The West Coast Board Riders’ motto is, “The future is local,” and with an ever-growing number of clubs up and down the state and hundreds of surfers enjoying the friendly competitive environment, it certainly would appear that is the case.

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