Teens looking to catch a monster wave are lining Northern California’s beaches on any given weekend has taken an uptick during the coronavirus pandemic as it has become an outlet for exercise while still socially distancing with friends.
“I picked up surfing because I love being at the beach and it’s something I’ve always wanted to start,” junior Bridget Mills said. “Especially during the pandemic, I have a lot more time to practice.”
Junior Shelby Low took her first surf lesson during the sophomore class trip to Costa Rica, where she took her first lesson. Low said she decided to pick up surfing again during quarantine when she found she has a lot of time on her hands.
“I started to really like surfing when I tried it for the first time on the trip,” Low said.
“Being out on the ocean was super pretty and relaxing, so I continued to practice even outside of the trip.”
Some students have grown up with the sport, and surfing is something they can do with family as well as with friends.
“I love surfing because I can enjoy it with my sister and my dad,” sophomore Callie Akel said. “My dad taught me how to surf when I was young, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago that I picked it back up again.”
Even if surfers are not advanced, surfing can be a new activity to do when hanging out with friends, according to senior Eloise Lalyuyaux, who surfs at Ocean Beach.
“I started surfing with my friend from St. Ignatius College Preparatory, we both got into it at around the same time,” Laluyaux said. “It’s just a good way for us to connect and stay in touch.”
The sport, however, is not without risks. Undertows, rip currents and water temperature in the low 50s are common in Northern California waters. A number of surfing accidents in the Bay Area have occured over the last few months. In late December, a surfer from San Francisco, Haruwn Wesley, died from a surfing accident at Fort Point under the Golden Gate Bridge.
“I usually practice water safety by knowing the tide, wind and wave period before I get into the water,” Akel said. “I also make sure I am never in the water alone and that the currents are not too strong.”
It is important to make sure to surf either with a friend or when there is a lifeguard present as well as obey any warnings or signs, according to Mills.
“I only surf at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica because they have waves that are my level and I’m still learning,” Mills said. “The waves are pretty mild, but occasionally we are told to look out for riptides.”
Bolinas and the Princeton Jetty in Half Moon Bay are other good spots for beginners, according to Bay Area lifestyle magazine 7×7.
“I definitely recommend that other people learn how to surf,” Mills said. “It is a great way to get outdoors, connect with friends and get some exercise.”