"As strange as it is, part of California culture is surfing, and riding inside a barrel is something awesome that more people should experience."

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Braithe Warnock

warnockAbout himself, the writer tells West: My name is Braithe Eagle Spirit Warnock. I am an avid beachgoer and wave-riding enthusiast. I have been a surf instructor in Manhattan Beach and a competitive body boarder. I starred in the national “Make It Real” Coke commercial in 2005. Currently, I am into bodybuilding, and I hope to earn my A.A. in Political Science from West Los Angeles College in spring 2012, after which I will transfer to CSU Dominguez Hills, where (after much thought) I have decided to major in chemistry.


Go Catch a Wave

California is home not only to many different types of people like myself, but also to a myriad of other people: cholos, soccer moms, surfers, yupsters, the works. A good place to see all the different types of people is Venice Beach, California. There, everyone mixes and some people try to stand out, like the buff guy who works the steel ball, the guy who gets people to gather around him so they can watch him do absolutely nothing, and the legendary guitar guy.

At Venice Beach, one might happen to pass by the places renting bikes and surfboards. Have you ever taken an interest in these wares? I recommend at least renting the boogie board for 10 bucks, and with flippers if they have them. Flip your way out past the waves, and then flip, flop and flip your flippers like the beat of a drum until you finally manage to catch some measly white wash. Everyone’s first surfing experience tends to start something like that—unless you were lucky like me, and you got to surf the white water for what seemed to be clear-blue miles over the reefs of Waikiki Beach on Oahu as a first surfing experience (thank you, Grandma!). As strange as it is, part of California culture is surfing, and riding inside a barrel is something awesome that more people should experience.

But don't feel left out—you can feel great and stand out by catching a wave.

Summer is a great time to start surfing in California. The days are long, and the temperatures can be relatively cool along the beach, but the water is inviting, and there is no need for a wetsuit. However, surfing in Los Angeles during the summer means small waves. This unhappy phenomenon has to do mainly with swells, and the different ways they can be generated during certain times of the year. Come to think about it, one of the most critical things in regard to surfing is timing. Swells have timing, the parking meter at the beach has timing, moves have timing, everything is precisely timed—and it is time I try to inspire someone to take a look at something that is universally appreciable and fun: surfing the wave.

We will start where everyone is already, Los Angeles. Surfing in Los Angeles is not always the greatest, because the waves are small, but it can be good, and there really are surf-able waves every day. The trick to getting the good surf is understanding the wind. Believe it or not, just a slight onshore breeze can cause worsening surf conditions. If it is a small day, and the waves are only 1-2 feet, then you would need to surf before the onshore winds come and crumble everything out. What this means is that there is a window. The window is from sun-up to about 7-9 am. After 9 am or around 10 am every morning, the onshore winds come and screw everything up for the surfers. It can happen in as little as 5 minutes: One minute the waves are good, and then the winds come and in 2 minutes the waves are bad. Only on a few days out of the year are there offshore winds. The offshore winds are usually the Santa Ana winds, and these winds give an awesome power and energy to even a small wave. While onshore winds destroy waves, offshore winds scramble up the face of the waves, extending the lip, turning almost every wave into a nice and hollow barrel.

One of the best ways to enjoy a wave is just with a pair of fins, but a body board can come in handy also. Bodysurfing and body boarding are good ways to intertwine with the ocean. Also, these two sports have an awesome fun-to-ease ratio. Surfing may take two months to pick-up, but body boarding is less stressful and is a good workout for the legs. A good tip for learning how to surf is to use a soft-foam long board that is long enough for your weight. I weigh 180 lbs, and I would need a nine-foot longboard. Long boarding on a soft board is extremely fun.

Lastly, I know you are probably wondering, "Where are the huge waves?" The only huge waves I know of in California come during the wintertime every year, smack on the money, late December-January. That is when the big swell rolls through every year. Some years the swells are bigger than others. The biggest year I ever saw was the year 2005; the swells turned the whole bay into a giant wave machine.

Do your body and mind a favor. Don't let yourself go without finding eternity inside a barrel this summer.


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