“Epic” – by far the most overused word in the world of surfers and surf stories. Surfers drop the E-bomb at a frightening frequency to describe their most insane rides from years ago, or even their oddly fun chest-high wedge at Sands. It’s common to hear surfers huddled around the keg listening intently in their little powwow circle, as one of the tribe meticulously describes the scene. “Man, this one time in Mexico, you shoulda seen it! It was just lines stacked to the horizon, it looked like corduroy. It was so epic.” Everyone has at least one of those, the lucky ones have more than a few, but you can spot these spinners of surf lore a mile away from the twinkle in their eyes as they tell their tale. Their faces glow red with a sunburned euphoria, and their eyes light up like disco balls as their mind sinks back into their barrel on that one beautiful day. Surfers love to talk the talk when winter comes to an end, because we’ve got no more waves to walk the walk.
It’s a sad fact, but in December we were looking down the barrel of a loaded winter, and it fired, again and again. Shockingly, we have actually been able to ride decent waves on an almost daily basis for the last few months, as swell after swell churned through the local point breaks. This winter brought pros from up and down California to Rincon, and pros from Australia to Sandbar. Even the champ himself, Kelly Slater, rode in on his golden horse to surf Campus Point with mere mortals. They came from near and far for the feast that the Pacific served up, as our coast was massacred by the relentless pounding of surf. We have witnessed El Cap living up to its legend, we have seen Rincon so massive that it looks like a close-out, and we have seen the one and only holy grail of Santa Barbara surf come to life multiple times. Sandbar must be the California Surfer’s Mecca, and if I prayed, I would undoubtedly face that pile of sand that has sculpted the most perfect waves that have ever broken. Some of the waves there this season looked as if someone had strategically placed every single drop of water on the face with such precision that the result was nothing less than mind-boggling. To put it bluntly, if God were a surfer, then he would paddle out at Sandbar. With that said, God would still get tossed by half of the set waves that have torn their way through the sand at that spot.
Sadly the feast is over, last week’s swell was dessert, we have maxed out our tab and here comes the bill. We should have dine-and-ditched. Now we are about to enter the long lull, as the waves leave the beaches and the beer arrives. This is the time of yearly transition in Isla Vista, the water gets warmer, the days get longer, the beer tastes colder, and the clothing, well, the clothing just isn’t. It’s bittersweet for surfers who have been spoiled with waves all winter, and though we can all appreciate the warmth, the beach just won’t be the same without the winter wonderland of waves. So let’s remember what we had, it’s better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all, and let’s all raise our drinks to toast this epic winter. Pardon the E-bomb.