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After 2-year hiatus, one-of-a-kind surf festival lands at Salt Creek in June

By Jake Howard

“We are slowed-down sound and light waves, a walking bundle of frequencies tuned into the cosmos,” Albert Einstein once explained. “We are souls dressed up in sacred biochemical garments, and our bodies are the instruments through which our souls play their music.”

It was Einstein’s view that the universe and cosmos were governed by gravitational waves. In the years since, science has proven Einstein to be a pretty smart guy. But, perhaps, in the words of musician Jimmy Buffet, “Einstein Was a Surfer.”

Either way, skip ahead on the space-time continuum to the present day, and after two years in outer orbit, the Vissla Cosmic Creek Surf Festival is once again touching down on the sands of Salt Creek on June 4-5.

“This is one small step for Dana Point, and one giant leap for surfing kind,” jokes Eric Diamond, who’s been the mastermind behind the Cosmic Creek for nearly a quarter-century. “Unfortunately, we weren’t able to run the contest the last couple of years because of the pandemic, but that gave us some time to get extra-creative and have even more fun.”

The Cosmic Creek is part surf contest, part retro surfboard celebration, part music festival, and solely unique to Salt Creek.

Over the years, everyone from local legend Donavon Frankenreiter to Kelly Slater to Pamela Anderson have graced the sand, and there’s plenty of talent already in the draw this year.

Cosmic Creek Founder Eric Diamond on a 1980s Wave Tools. Photo: Courtesy of Tim McCaig

Soul master Rob Machado is set to compete in the Pro division, as well as the Creators & Innovators division, which will see surfer/shapers riding their own handmade craft. Also, in the Creators division are master craftsmen Donald Brink, Tyler Warren, Nic Melanson, Paul Naude and Justin Adams.

“The Creators is such a fun division. The boards these guys bring down are amazing—so much talent. They’re a tribute to past designs, but still fully their own creation; it’s really rad to see the past and present collide like that,” Diamond says.

Besides the self-shaped Creators & Innovators boards, all other surfers will be riding either a single-fin or a twin-fin, depending on which heat they’re in. There will be divisions for Pros, Locals and Women, as well as a body surfing expression session sponsored by DaFin.

Over the years, Diamond has curated an incredible collection of classic, ’70s-era boards on which surfers will be competing. Heats will alternate between single-fin heats and twin-fin heats.

Before the start of each heat, surfers will draw numbers out of a hat and be able to choose their board accordingly. Some of the boards are magic; some are complete dogs.

As of press time, the Surfline forecast was looking promising for the Cosmic Creek. Surfline’s calling for a playful combo of southwest swell and a touch of northwest swell to cross things up and create peaky conditions.

There could be a touch of south wind on Sunday, but Salt Creek handles those kinds of conditions better than anywhere in the area.

And adding to the entertainment in the water will be a slew of bands keeping the airwaves buzzing. On Saturday afternoon and evening, musical acts Vaguess, Toner and Widowspeak will all be playing at the Bluff Park overlooking Salt Creek Beach.

“Good surfing, good times, good music, a great community—that’s what the Cosmic is all about, and if you learn a little something about space and the universe in the process, well, that’s a win right there,” Diamond says.

Jake Howard is local surfer and freelance writer who lives in San Clemente. A former editor at Surfer Magazine, The Surfer’s Journal and ESPN, today he writes for a number of publications, including Picket Fence Media, Surfline and the World Surf League. He also works with philanthropic organizations such as the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center and the Positive Vibe Warriors Foundation.

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