Summer’s looking swell for L.A. surfers

first_imgMALIBU – The waves rolled in as precision half-pipes, perfect 6-footers curling toward the beach. While residents along Atlantic and Gulf coasts girded for a fearsome hurricane season, Southland surfers waxed their boards Friday for what some expect to be a surf’s-up summer. “I’m so excited,” said Britlyn Coleman, 16, of Malibu, pointing her 9-foot-4 longboard toward the breakers off Surfrider Beach. “It starts to get, like, a vibe to it – like, whoa, a good summer now.” They predict that steady southern storms and neutral Pacific currents – between a warm El Ni o and a cold La Ni a – will make for glassy summer surf with few riptides. “Along the beaches, it’ll be average or slightly better-than-average for southern-facing beaches – Malibu to County Line,” said Nathan Cool of Newbury Park, chief forecaster for, a popular surf prediction site. “These storms will definitely make for a good surfing summer – not flat surf, but not dangerously big, either.” While they hunt the Internet each day for positive surf predictions, most surfers took a laid-back approach when it comes to prognosticating their favorite pastime. Patzert said researchers are able to predict high surf only a week in advance, using satellite images of ocean typhoons and knowledge of the “great storms of the roaring ’40s and ’50s.” “My board’s waxed. I’m good to go. And I’m optimistic,” said Patzert. “But that’s not based on anything scientific – it’s just the surfer’s credo.” Internet predictions have changed surfing, some say for the worse, as everyone with a board becomes as savvy toward summer swells as a seasoned oceanographer. But Bill Robinson, captain of lifeguard operations for the Los Angeles County Fire Department, is among the seasoned few who can predict the next day’s surf based on the swells that roll past Malibu Pier. “We’re gettin’ some pretty good swells this year,” said Robinson. “It’s lookin’ pretty good. … With the Internet, everybody drops work and as soon as there’s a swell, they’re here.” A milky mist rose off Malibu as the sun broke to highlight dozens of surfers north of Malibu Pier. The sea, 58 degrees last week, had warmed to a relatively toasty 65. Longboarders mingled with shortboarders. Valley surfers lined up with Malibu locals. “Shredders” kept their distance from less skilled “barneys” or “kooks.” Pelicans hovered past a roiling sea. “I’m ready to go,” said Chris Wilder, 48, of Santa Monica, readying his four-fin quad. “It’s a good day today and when the tide comes in, it’ll be even bigger,” said Ray Torres, 63, of Simi Valley, waxing his 10-footer. “Whatever the summer brings, it’s usually good enough. There haven’t been many summers where it isn’t good, especially here.” [email protected] (818) 713-3730160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2As news of the third major swell of spring swept over the Internet, surfers paddled like penguins through morning June gloom to meet the breakers offshore. Friday’s 4- to 6-foot swells, formed by a storm deep in the Southern Hemisphere off Antarctica, had taken nine days to cross the 4,700 miles to Southern California. “Waves are the great travelers of the ocean,” said Bill Patzert, research oceanographer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Ca ada Flintridge. “Some of those great swells will barrel out of the Southern Hemisphere, across the Equator and take dead aim at southern-facing California beaches.” Patzert, a surfing veteran of the North Shore of Oahu, was loathe to predict high surf until the end of summer, while other forecasters see a better-than-average season. last_img read more

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