Smirking (pictured). Photo: NBC News.
Smirking (pictured). Photo: NBC News.

Local California news affiliate ruthlessly mocks adult learners who even thought about chasing glory during bomb swell: “Not a beginner’s day!”


California’s “bomb” swell is now but a grand memory, something that surfers will tell their children and grandchildren about whilst sitting around the open door of a late model Sprinter van, semi-worn bit of astroturf lovingly placed out the front in order to minimize sand and dirt entering the mobile lounge.

Like fishing stories, I’d imagine there might be some light exaggeration. Maybe where one actually paddled out, what one was surfing, the size of what one caught.

Well, San Diego’s local NBC News affiliate, hoping to catch some laughs at VALs’ expense, sent a reporter down to Windansea where heavy waves lapped up the rocks.

Audra Stafford stood on the those rocks, smiling wide above the chyron that read “Not a beginner’s day” and gleefully told stories of kooks that got washed around before pivoting to a tale of two experienced surfers who even needed saving.

Turning the microphone to local surfer Dick Hansen who had decided not to paddle but spectate instead.

“Look at what nature has to offer; pretty cool,” he told her. “I haven’t seen on the surf report 15+ foot waves maybe as long as I live here.”

San Diego lifeguard chief James Gartland came next, who declared, “This is not a beginner’s day. One of these big waves catches you, pushes you inside. You got the rocks, the reef and all that energy so it can be really dangerous.”

Stafford merely smirked some more.

Watch here.


Logan (pictured) laughing in the face of mortality. Photo: Instagram
Logan (pictured) laughing in the face of mortality. Photo: Instagram

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan terrifies onlookers, nearly gets swept into sea by monster Manhattan Beach surge during Southern California’s recent “bomb” swell!

Laughing in the face of danger.

“But where were did you paddle out during the “bomb” swell?” will be the question asked for the next fifty years amongst Southern California surfers. Surfline had been telegraphing the event for days though the area’s surfers were disinclined to believe. The World Surf League’s official forecasting partner, you see, had set up camp on the other side of the patented Wall of Patented Noise™ and had been delivering such cartoonish wave heights for the Bells Classic, Margaret River Pro, Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch Pro as to become assured.

Though they were correct this time.

Massive monster waves lashed the shore from San Diego to Santa Cruz and where were you? Blacks? Huntington? El Porto? The super secret Silver Strand?

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan found himself at the Manhattan Beach pier, just south of the aforementioned El Porto. While social media is well aware of his diverse quiver ranging from mid-length SUPs to full volumed “short” boards, Logan stunned fans by pulling out a heretofore unforeseen blade.

A Nikon D7000.

Per Instagram:

With the huge swell hitting California, the South Bay saw some of the biggest surf we’ve seen in a very long time. So, I dusted off my Nikon D7000 and tried my best to be like these world-class photographers who shoot our sport.

Shooting over a thousand photos, mostly shaky, out of focus, and almost getting washed away, it was a HUMBLING experience. I landed the plane on a handful of very ‘iffy’ photo’s, but nowhere close to what these pros do. Swipe across to see the attempt! (and me almost washed away)

Checkout the video, then the “GREAT” photo. LOL

The waves were huge, fun to be on the shore and shooting with all the crew! Always ready to learn more!!!

Swiping across to the moment of sudden doom, my heart nearly stopped.

Logan, there, crouched, capturing is so focused on the action he doesn’t even see the angry whitewater approaching. It slams into what appears to be a sand bank, gurgles upward, and nearly wets the Oklahoman who escapes certain embarrassment by yelping to the heavens.

Light a candle of thanksgiving LOL.

One-armed “jumbo” surfer’s wild racist rant at gas station attendant goes viral on TikTok “Go back to Iraq…Muslim piece of s**t, look, get the f**k out of my country!”

"People are always in awe, especially when I go to places I have not performed yet."

Jimbo Pellegrine, now there’s a name that rings a few bells.

Jimbo is the plus-sized surfer who lost his arm in an auto collision and was charged with two felony counts of terroristic threatening when he “unleashed on first responders transporting him to the hospital.”

BeachGrit covered every step of Jimbo’s journey through the court process,

“World Famous Jumbo Surfer” back in news!, Update: Jumbo Surfer officially “insane”!, Fast times: Jimbo’s even wilder ride! and Just in: Jumbo Surfer Walks Free!

His well-worn clip where he wrangles a cave at Padang Padang proves his surfing chops and this clip, below, of Jimbo lighting up on a gas station attendant in California demonstrates, I suppose, his antipathy toward Iraq and its mostly Muslim inhabitants.

Jimbo ironically channels the Iraqi kid in the Mos Def/Slick Rick classic, Auditorium, when he tells the presumably Arabic-looking attendant to gimme my oil and “get the fuck out of my country.”

A hero to many in the High Mass Individual (HMI) community, Jimbo told founder Bruce Sturgell a few years back,

“People are always in awe, especially when I go to places I have not performed yet. Usually people get strange looks on their faces and snicker, and kids talk shit. Then there are the places I have been known to frequent where you can find my name carved into cement and posters of me everywhere, so I have a ton of hype at my favorite spots and all the pros and homeys are with me so that makes a difference.”

So many disappointed HMI’s and surf fans tonight.

Insane scenes in California as vulnerable adult learners on Costco Wavestorms attempt to tackle biggest swell in fifty years, “A red search-and-rescue helicopter hovers overhead. A surfer is missing. I think about the Wavestorms from earlier in the day”

“We are all the idiots,” my friend writes in a text. “We just don’t know it until our luck runs out.”

There’s a sound the big waves make. Sometimes it seems like something we feel as much as we hear.

If you live in Hawaii or an exposed coastline, you hear it so often, it must become so much aural wallpaper.

But here in Santa Barbara tucked under the curve of Point Conception, it’s more of a rarity to hear that deep pounding of waves slamming into sand or the sharp crack of a reef exploding.

Big is relative, of course.

And here, the big swells are often more interesting for the unique places they light up than for the sheer size of the waves.

But this time, the forecasts look completely unhinged. We watch as an outer buoy hits 41 feet, the biggest we’ve ever seen it. Something wicked this way comes.

Thursday, I ride out around lunchtime to have a look around.

The Sprinter vans are few and far between. Instead an armada of pickup trucks, shells over the bed, two guys in the cab, swarm the nearby streets.

Out on the pier, the parking lot is full. I overhear a guy on the phone through an open window.

“We’ve been driving around all day like idiots looking for a place to surf. We’re in Santa Barbara now.”

Like everyone else on the pier, they’re watching the spot with the breakwater and the flags, the one that’s in every video. Like everyone else, they’ve seen the forecasts and felt the hype. They’re dreaming of perfect barrels.

They’ve come to the wrong place.

Disordered swell funnels into the harbor and brushes the pier. I watch as a surfer drops into a peak at the harbor mouth near the green buoy that marks the starboard side of the channel. It doesn’t barrel. Instead, he wrangles the open face, scarred by the storm’s violence and twisted by the winds.

The biggest sets pass by the harbor altogether and continue down the coast. I remember a long-timer once told me a story about catching a wave on the east side of the pier and riding it a mile or so down the coast. It sounded improbable at the time, the kind of trick memory might play on a man.

Now I can see how that ride might have been possible.

I cruise down the beach and pass through a parking lot littered with sand and kelp, the sure signs of a high tide and a big swell. Normally, there aren’t really even waves on this part of the beach. I look out to overhead sets, brown with churned up sand. Even from the beach, I can see how the long period swell is moving water deep beneath the surface.

It’s anything but playful.

A pair of guys walk down the beach carrying Wavestorms under their arms.

I laugh.

Where there’s a wave, there’s a Wavestorm.

They look excited and optimistic. The Harvest buoy off Point Conception reads 23.3ft, 18 seconds, 283 degrees. The ocean laughs at your optimism.

“We are all the idiots,” my friend writes in a text. “We just don’t know it until our luck runs out.”

Late afternoon, I ride out into the golden light of California in winter. The low tide has done nothing to slow the swell. In fact, it’s bigger now and the angle has shifted more to the west: 25.9ft, 18 seconds, 276 degrees.

I join the crowd on the breakwater.

A surfer pulls into a barrel, easily double-overhead. It slams shut. It’s a brief moment of glory with a tumultuous ending. Another gets rocketed over the falls.

Out on the horizon I can see the waves feather on a reef I didn’t know was there. The light catches the spray, fragile and ethereal, as the wind blows it to the sky. Closer to shore, the waves slam into the sand, dark and heavy.

Across the way, emergency vehicles gather on the cliff, lights flashing. A red search-and-rescue helicopter hovers overhead as a pair of jetskis trace ever-widening circles. A surfer is missing. I think about the Wavestorms from earlier in the day. I think about how we’re all the idiots when our luck runs out.

A crew of local groms gather on the sand to paddle out. A few ride old boards they clearly expect to break. They make it during a lull and the current easily pushes them down the length of the breakwater. The biggest waves are out in front of the yacht club, rather than in the usual spot. The long period swell behaves in surprising ways.

Two friends compare notes.

Did you check anywhere else? They list off the spots between here and Ventura. Too big. Yah, that was too big, too. One is holding a narrow gun-shape, roughly 7’0.” He understood the assignment.

Not everyone did.

I see a keel-fin fish with a beautiful gloss coat. No leash. Perfect for a clean day at Rincon, the board looks spectacularly out of place here. A finless 88 walks by, followed by a round-nose midlength. Idly, I wonder how that worked out for them. Probably not super well.

I run into a long-time local. Get any good ones, he asks. Oh sure, I say. I rode one all the way from here to Casino. We watch as someone gets smashed in a close-out. Looks fun, he says, rolling his eyes. More friends, more laughter. It’s a small town, and everyone is here.

A well-known surf photographer saunters by with a camera casually in tow. He stops to chat with a friend who packed a massive closeout earlier in the afternoon. It was like a house fell in on you, the photographer says. His friend is the kind of guy who can take whatever the ocean hands to him and go back for more. He has the instincts that only come with years in the water, and later he scores a good one.

The sun sinks lower.

Falling below the palm trees, a perfect circle, it spins a dream of California. There it is, the image screened on endless t-shirts and postcards. Having a wonderful time, wish you were here.

A nearby radio crackles.

One of the boat owners from the harbor has his radio tuned to the emergency comms channel.

“Surfer found.”

It’s the first time he’s heard that message, he says.

On the cliff, the lights continue to flash.

You can travel the world and see big, beautiful swell just about any time you like, it’s true. The internet makes it all so easy now.

But, there’s still something magical about seeing your local, everyday ocean shapeshift into something entirely unexpected. What a surprise to see deep, cavernous barrels in a place that rarely has swell at all.

Someone slides into a barrel, and miraculously makes it out. The crowd erupts in cheers.

At every wipeout — and there are so, so many — comes a chorus of groans. The crowd on the breakwater is fully engaged.

Beers crack open.

Did you see that?

Holy shit.

One more set! Let’s see just one more set.

All the forecast hype and the nerves, all the fears of missing out and the driving around, it’s easy to get carried away by those things and forget the whole point of it all.

Standing on the breakwater, laughing with friends, watching the swell march through, hooting the good rides, it feels like there’s no better place to be.

The ocean has a way of reminding us what’s real.

“Bomb” swell arrives in Southern California spiking wave heights and drawing severe warnings from Surfline: “Bottom line is that it’s Very Dangerous at all areas so really think hard before you attempt a paddle out!”

Get It!

The “bomb” swell has arrived. Southern California surfers who, days ago, were in literal disbelief after World Surf League forecasting partner Surfline had predicted waves reaching never-before-seen heights across region are, right now, eating crow and/or drinking salt water.

Blacks: 15 – 18 ft.

Swamis: 8 – 12 ft.

Huntington Beach Pier: 8 – 12 ft.

World Surf League CEO Erik Logan’s El Porto: 10 – 15 ft.

First Point Malibu: A celebrity comfortable 4 – 6 ft.

Sunny skies, light winds and it might be thought that Surfline staffers would be relishing a rare victory. Parading around various cities and towns pounding chests, insisting that Nostradamus ain’t shit compared to Kevin Wallis. But those thinking such things would be wrong.

Ever erring on the side of abundant caution, those who might want to test their mettle against nature’s finest were met with stern warnings.

“Massive surf is hitting all areas this morning with Over Head to Double Over Head waves rolling thru many areas,” penned North County Surfline advisor Bird. “Winter focal spots can see waves even larger than that. A 6’+ high tide is further adding to deep ocean surges that are spilling in to the lower lying car parks and breaking over some of the structured areas and piers. Winds are light offshore. Bottom line is that it’s Very Dangerous at all areas so really think hard before you attempt a paddle out. If you want to go watch the action stay extremely clear of those areas that can get flushed out by the rogue Super Sets.”

Will vulnerable adult learners heed the warning?

Will the Donald Trump-esque random capitalizations of Over Head, Double Over Head, Very Dangerous and Super Sets add the proper gravitas to keep them away?

David Lee Scales and I discussed confidence and entitlement outweighing reality in these the post-Covid surfing days of our lives. We also spent time wondering if vision boards are an important tool for personal success. I think you will enjoy the episode much and should listen whilst preparing to Charge The Bomb.