A look at the competitive side of San Diego surfing
by Bird Huffman
Published - 08/02/13 - 03:57 PM | 4248 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Although San Diego has always been known to be well stocked with great surfboard builders, shapers and designers, it’s not that often that our competitive side is seen.

That’s not so surprising when one takes the time to try and understand the San Diego surf scene. Being blessed with consistently quality surf, surfers here are quite satisfied to stay low-key and surf the local waves, feeling little need to draw attention to themselves. Other areas like to brag about being called “surf city” and so forth, but down here people just surf and they do it very well.

Over the years, however, a decent amount of local surfers have done San Diego proud by surfing competitively and winning many events and titles.

One is Skip Frye, who was once voted the second-most popular surfer in the world, according to Surfer Magazine. The title was based upon the magazine’s readers’ poll, which, back in the 1960s, was the main source of surf information.

Skip was in every magazine and was at the forefront of modern surfing leading into the shortboard revolution. To this day, he logs more water time than most and continues to create his highly sought after boards. On July 26, he was inducted into Huntington Beach’s Surf-ers’ Hall of Fame.

Debbie Melvile Beachum, another notable local, brought home the Women’s World Surfing title in the 1970s by besting all other competitors in hard-fought competition around the world. Debbie still surfs with the style and commitment of a world champion every time she paddles out at her favorite breaks in La Jolla.

Chris O’Rourke was probably one of the most gifted surfers to ever call San Diego home. By his late teens in the 1980s, Chris had racked up more amateur wins in California than anyone — and I believe this record still stands. Poised to take on the World Tour and make San Diego proud once more, he was sadly stricken down by cancer. His influences continue to be felt, especially on the La Jolla reefs where style and bravado reign supreme.

Jennifer Smith is a two-time winner of the Women’s World Championship in longboarding. Having grown up in Pacific Beach surrounded by surf legends like her dad Paul, uncle Andy, Frye and Joe Roper, the bar was set very high for her from day one. She excels at surfing on all types of boards and continues to improve and stay very relevant to women’s surfing.

The San Diego competitive spark is about to flame on again by surfers like Jake Halstead and a very young Ryland Rubens. Jake is fresh off of a third-place finish in the juniors division of the very competitive U.S. Open of Surfing event that finished up July 27 in Huntington Beach. Ryland recently became a member of the amateur U.S. surf team and is showing great potential.

All of these people surf for the pure love of it, but have managed to take their surfing to some of the highest levels in the sport. The coolest thing is that you can surf with them just about any day you paddle out.

Till next time,


Have a question or comment for Bird? Send it to bbp@sdnews.com.
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