Although she's been surfing since she was 18 years old, Santa Cruz birth doula, childbirth educator, and surf-photorapher Kaili Reynolds didn't get obsessed with surfing until she had her third child.
When supply chain issues disrupted Ashley Lloyd’s surfboard building during the pandemic, a friend asked her, “If you were to start something, what would it be?” Reflecting on the question led Lloyd to launch Unfurling, a sustainable fashion line that is so much more. As with Lloyd herself — a professional surfer, musician, entrepreneur, and magnetic personality — many fascinating qualities of Unfurling evade easy descriptions.
When I moved from New York City to Santa Cruz, California a decade ago, I spotted surfboards atop cars all over town. Their owners rode them in the cold Pacific Ocean beneath dramatic cliffs.
I spent most of my time trying to recreate my former big-literary-city existence (dimly-lit cafe to write in, readings and workshops, a teaching job). I knew I wasn’t in Kansas—ie, Manhattan—anymore.
“I don’t look like the ‘typical’ surfer,” Marisol Godinez says. “At least not for people who are looking at surfing from further away.” She was once one of those people, despite growing up by the ocean in Puerto Rico. She had seen boys riding shortboards and figured surfing was a sport for them—as the saying goes, if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.
“Kassia is a vibe,” my travel companion, the surf and lifestyle photographer Mei-Li Restani said. We were southbound on Highway 1, headed from Santa Cruz to San Clemente for a Salty Sensations retreat—a brainchild of masterful surfer-entrepreneur best friends Kassia Meador and Leah Dawson. The moment I saw, back in January, their summer retreat in a small group setting in San Onofre, I submitted a deposit. The opportunity to surf with icons in the iconic waters of San O felt like fate tying two bows with one string: Kassia and Leah are my vision board of surfing.
Cross-stepping is one of surfing's most elegant maneuvers, but it's not purely aesthetic. Moving up and down the board allows you to control speed and stay close to the wave's energy source. But how to begin when it's easier, and fun, to trim, turn, and not waste waves while learning this tricky technique? We asked three local surf stars, each with differing stylistic flourishes, to share their paths and journeys to the nose.
How important are fins to surf goals and performance? Former pro-surfer Adam Replogle of Billabong, who rides high-performance shortboards, says, "Fins can turn a good board into a great board, and a good board into a bad board." Given the high stakes, what are the ultimate keys to fin selection? Where do the boundaries of experimentation lie? Fins and fin setups are, much like surfboards, always going to involve a compromise.
When Santa Cruz’s only big surf industry company, O’Neill Wetsuits, put on an event in October that for the first time included females, it could’ve been a happy story of progress at last. Instead it “came off wrong,” according to many who followed it closely, and the company has said very little about it. Others, though, had much to say.
I constantly complain (sorry, surf buddies) that I didn’t find surfing — or surfing didn’t find me — until I was almost 34. If only I could surf until I’m 100, I’d say, to make up for lost time.
But it turns out I will be able to ... in a way.
Continuum Hospice & Palliative Care in Capitola is using virtual reality made by Rendever, and it is designed to be used specifically in senior communities and health care organizations. The user-friendly tech provides experiences to indoor-bound seniors and the terminally ill that anyone walking the earth would long for: African safaris, frolicking in a room full of puppies, touring the Louvre, skydiving — and yes, surfing.
I’ve loved surfing for years, but before the pandemic, I couldn’t regularly go. When lockdown began, though—with my husband’s dawn commute over the hill on pause and our kids out of preschool—I regularly forced myself out of bed at 5:30am and biked to a nearby spot.
A couple months into quarantine, water days outnumbered my under-wetsuit swimwear supply.
No surf cams. No lineups. (Well, at least not while I was there, off-season and feeling cautiously hopeful). On Whidbey Island — a 20-minute ferry ride from Mukilteo, just north of Seattle — waves must be found the old-fashioned way: drive around and look. Even if that’s all you do, it is glorious sightseeing, with empty, long stretches of rock and sand beaches and nary another soul, much less another surfer. Fort Ebey State Park, a bounty of hiking trails and historical interest on the island’s west side, is known for a seasonal point break.
It’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Kainoa Queenan, aka Kai, 12, should know. Watching Kai dominate the lineup one recent Tuesday at Pleasure Point, it’s hard to believe the young ripper is, as his coach Andre Gioranelli describes him, “so mellow” and “shy.” In an Instagram clip from that session, an impressed bystander can be overheard asking Kai’s father, “What’d you guys feed him, raw steak?”
My intro to surfing in Santa Cruz came a few months after I moved, in early 2013. My husband’s friend took me to the beginner-friendly break with long, peeling, gentle waves. You can see the pier and hear sea lions barking. In the summer, screams from the boardwalk thrill-rides echo in the distance.
I was nervous. I loved swimming, loved the ocean. But I didn’t know what to do with the giant board, where to sit,...
It was the best of conditions, it was the worst of conditions, it was the age of cooperation, it was the age of tantrums, it was the epoch of swell, is was the epoch of flatness, it was the season of sun, it was the season of fog, it was the spring of crowds, it was the winter of spaciousness.
With apologies to Dickens, so might go the opening lines of a novel based on Surfing Moms of Santa Cruz.
As a 40-something mother of two who didn’t start surfing until 33—pretty much as far from a pro as one can be—I cannot believe I’ve entered a contest. I’m noncompetitive by nature, reliably intermediate at best in all of my recreational pursuits. But in signing up, I’m now part of the inclusive, celebratory reach of Women and Waves (WOW).
The science- and mindfulness-based activities suggested in Easkey Britton’s 50 Things to Do at the Beach (illus. by Maria Nilsson; Princeton Architectural Press, May)—think seabird watching or rock pooling—come in an accessible format conducive to quick dips. PW caught up with the scientist and big-wave surfer, who grew up on Ireland’s North Atlantic coast, at the end of a cold day in her homeland, when she’d already been out in the water.
Conditions couldn’t be more ideal for Esabella Bonner and the Black Surf Club Santa Cruz’s Pre-Juneteenth paddle-out Sunday, aside from the foot-scorching sand, with sun shining bright and temperatures rising into the 70s.
Though the wind picks up in the afternoon, high tide means Cowell’s is flat, if slightly choppy. Still, it’s near-perfect — unintimidating. Many of the participants are new to the ocean.
It’s a sun-drenched afternoon. We’re sitting in Adirondack chairs in third co-organizer Corey Grace’s lawn on the East side of Santa Cruz. It’s “production day.” Godinez, Zanville, and Grace are assembling and preparing to send out the participator kits, containing t-shirts, decals, a tote bag, and a beautiful commemorative print Godinez designed.
Because of the intimidation factor Zanville mentions, were it a more typical year, I probably wouldn’t have participated. ...