Santa Cruz may claim to be “Surf City USA” but Huntington Beach has actually registered trademarks on it! It is known for its surf culture and eight mile stretch of sandy beach that gets consistent surf all year long. Alongside the pier is home to the US Open Surf Championships each summer, to which as many as 500,000 spectators come to watch.
I get up early to enjoy a feast of waves in the sunshine here and have a great chat on the phone with my brother James whilst I take in the sights. Straight away I knew there was a reason I came to California.
However it is all about the waves and I have a ball in the clean waves for more than three hours. I lost count of how many I caught, but my GoPro camera took 3723 pictures which I have worn out my delete key distilling down to just 69. This one of me with the sun in the palm of my hand is probably the picture of the day.
However not every one of the shoulder high waves goes as well as others! You can just see the pier in the background.
The skill level is unbelievably high here. I lost count of how many 360 airs I saw people landing. I’m not US Open standard but I put a great account in of myself and even bagged a few lefts which have been rare on this trip. I chatted with a few locals, even doing a bit of networking with a fund manager about job opportunities, which is a different kind of board meeting I suppose. I have good laugh with a surfer called John who has loads of great advice about the forthcoming journey through Mexico where his work regularly takes him, and he may also be able to put me in touch with a few friendly faces along the way which would be cool.
Huntington Beach is also the location of the International Surfing Museum and I check that out after the session. It has a particularly impressive collection of surf wax which I suppose would appeal to some more than others! The town also boasts a surfing walk of fame akin to the stars on the pavement in Hollywood. Miki Dora honoured here is a legendary beatnik surfer who went more than a bit off the rails.
I go for a stroll around the town and along the pier, where I watch these California Girls playing beach volleyball as the sun goes down. Having enjoyed a courtside seat at the Olympic tournament I was casting my expert eye over their form and technique for a good hour before retiring to the Longboard Bar for a few beers.
All in all a fantastic day and the sort of time I was hoping to enjoy when I got to the west coast of the USA.