BY CHARLES MEMMINGER – Surfers have a reputation of being laid back dudes and dudettes, one with nature and Mother Ocean. But the nasty little secret is that they actually are feral, territorial creatures who both jealously guard their own favorite surf spots from outsiders while shamelessly raiding other surfers’ home breaks at will.
With summer swells already rolling into Oahu’s South Shore, we can expect tempers to flair and battles erupt at some of the best known surfing spots as surfers from the north and west shores migrate south in search of waves.
Having turned more into a beach buoy than a beach boy, I don’t surf anymore but I can report that our little Aiea High School surf gang aggressively protected our spot off Ala Moana Park.
It wasn’t much of a spot. It was called “First Hole” and it was kind of a sloppy leftovers piece of reef between Courts and Concessions where the big boys rode. If you tried to go out at Concessions in the 70s you likely would be run over by some guy in purple trunks.
The Purple Trunks owned Concessions, which, not ironically, was located off shore from the concession stand were you could buy chili and rice for a mere 55 cents. Courts, not ironically, was located off the tennis courts and broke big in the summer. It was a little more democratic place where surfers wore shorts of all colors. First Hole had just one small take off area so it couldn’t hold more than a dozen surfers at one time. It was fairly easy to keep intruders out because they just wouldn’t fit even if they tried to wedge themselves into the pack of kids sitting at the peak.
Such territorialism among surfers is global. When I lived in Oregon I surfed with locals who would flatten the tires of any cars bearing California license plates with surfboard racks. But, of course, we thought nothing of driving down to Santa Cruz, south of San Francisco, and snaking waves from the locals there. The northern California water was so “warm” at Santa Cruz ( 60 degrees vs 48 degrees at Agate Beach) that we didn’t have to wear gloves with our top-of-the-line, full-body O’Neill Super Suits. We’d go back to Oregon with hands handsomely tanned.
Southern California surfers likewise think it’s fine to snake waves from the indigenous surfing residents of Baja and Mazatlan. Some accuse our brown brothers to the south of sneaking across the border to steal jobs from Americans while saying nothing of Norte Americanos crossing the border to steal waves in Mexico.
This musing on the territorial tendencies of surfers arises because of one of the most amazing confrontations between rival groups of surfers took place this week. It happened at Trestles, one of California’s premier surf spots near San Clemente. Trestles at one time was a “secret spot,” hard to get to. It was especially hard to get to in the late 60s and early 70s when President Richard Nixon established his “Western White House” there. Talk about protecting a surf spot. Surfers who wiped out and lost their boards at Trestles in those days (before leashes) found their boards confiscated by Secret Service agents on the beach and themselves under arrest.
Today it’s a crowded surf spot – or collection of surf spots – but territorialism still reigns. But that came to a dramatic end this week when a group of non-local surfers dressed up as pirates (and other strange characters) raided the primo surf peak at Lower Trestles, engaging the locals in battle.
Luckily, the whole thing was captured on video and can be found at the Internet blog site of two Hawaii professional surfing brothers, Alex and Koa Smith. News coverage doesn’t explain how Alex and Koa – who get to raid some of the best surf spots around the world as part of their “job” – came into possession of the attack video but their blog site at Last Name First TV ( http://lastnamefirst.tv/) is an eclectic collection of surf videos and, inexplicably, an eHarmony online dating video by an attractive young women who apparently caught the attention of Alex or Koa.
People use the term “must see” too liberally these days but this video of the massive takeover of Lower Trestles by surfers dressed as pirates and armed with plastic swords definitely is must see. It plays out like one of those “flash mob” videos where a bunch of people show up unannounced in a mall and start singing and dancing. But this is much more entertaining.
Mainly because you know that the “locals” who control the main peak at Lower Trestles were not amused when their sacred spot was overrun. The intruders, one strangely dressed like a green gecko, wantonly drop in on every wave, running over the locals until the locals surrender the peak to the Visigoths. One blonde local kid is seen leaving the beach, dripping wet, shaking his head in disbelief. County lifeguards just stood next to their trucks broadcasting – in vain – pleas toward the water for someone to just come tell them what was going on.
I don’t know if there will be such flash mob takeovers this summer at Ala Moana Bowl, Queens, Kaisers and Concessions but it would be a pretty cool thing to see. Avast, mateys! We come for your waves and your wenches!
SEE THE TRESTLES TAKEOVER VIDEO HERE: http://lastnamefirst.tv/