rob gilley

Sands of Dependability

| posted on April 24, 2012

Oh my god...there are waves. Photo: Gilley

Rob Gilley

Previously in denial about his photographic past, Rob Gilley now rummages through his trove of mediocrity.

I’m not sure if it’s climate change or what, but we’ve had a lot of good late-season surf here in Southern California. April Fool’s Day saw a particularly solid short-interval swell, and it was followed by a fairly similar storm on the weekend before tax day.

I woke up on April 15th to find my local spot over-loading with swell and an extreme high tide. I did the math and couldn’t really come up with an ideal alternative, so I just hopped in the van and drove north, hoping that the upper-reaches of the San Diego crescent would be handling the north-west swell.

Driving up the coast highway, I noticed that most spots were suffering from the same fate, but then in the middle of Oceanside came a weird sight: fat, sizeable waves capping on the outside but then re-forming near the sand into perfect, clean, running barrels. Not necessarily breaking in the same spot every time, but by far the best waves I had seen all morning, and a few inside runners even spitting. It was super fun looking, overhead, hollow surf with only two bodyboarders and two surfers on it.

I was out there.

While surfing and enjoying a good shorebreak pounding, I was reminded of how underrated places like Oceanside are. How taken for granted they are. Up and down the coast—and across the globe for that matter—there are certain surf spots that might not be 5-star, but are extremely dependable. The kind of spots that will never make the world’s 100 best waves list, but are surfed extensively.

And what I realized is that these spots give us all the love they can, and we show very little back. At least publicly. Off the top of my head, some of these spots include: Oceanside, La Jolla Shores, T-Street, County Line, Emma Wood, Tullan Strand, Santa Clara, The Wall, Ehukai, FreddyLand, Johanna, Papara, Magnatubes, and the better part of Brazil.

So I’d like to take a moment and raise my tall Decaf and say a silent thank you to these under-heralded workhorses—these loyal friends.

I’m sure I’ll see one of you tomorrow.

As specific proof of dependability, and as an overall tribute to under-claimed spots, may I present an Oceanside gallery below:

Photo: Gilley

Mike Losness. Photo: Gilley

Photo: Gilley

Seth Elmer. Photo: Gilley

Mike Todd. Photo: Gilley

Mike Todd. Photo: Gilley

  • John

    These waves are incredible, you should see my home break here in NC, shoulder high waves are a blessing

  • Christy

    I don’t get up to Oceanside nearly as often as I should anymore, but summer is coming and sometimes that’s the only spot we can surf! I hope this post doesn’t bring the crowds though. :/

  • tyler

    Yea you Californians have no idea how lucky you are with consistent waves. Us on the east coast drool for 3 day swells, above waist high, without 20 mph winds. Appreciate what you have.

  • Baydreamer

    Sometimes LaJolla beachbreak comes together beautifully and I have memories to reflect on — the scattered glassy head-high peaks in a purple orange-y dusk. Most likely the reefs and Blacks were better… but I was happy there. So cheers!

  • Nrthcty

    Those photos are not of Oceanside. Oceanside is always flat or blown out – dont waste you time coming here.

  • miguel

    Great article. Have had many a fun surf in Oceanside. Great place.

  • Meter

    WTF Gilley, why not just hand out a map too! Not that these spots are secrets but keeping the under the radar spots that way. Next time is crowed here, I’ll have you to thank.

  • Whamo

    Oceanside A-Frames, that’s the winter call. Lots of empty peaks when its big.

  • Danp

    I agree that o-side has it’s fair share of days. I moved to Boston from Carlsbad and was super stoked to see the wall get as good as it does. Nice call! And by the way most decent days are more crowded in new England than o- side, (with Canadians) that’s a commute for some waves for ya. we are very lucky to have plenty of beach to find your peak.

  • Kirk deffebach

    Surfing since the mid 60’s I found that if you don’t like crowds then YOU should stop surfing! Great sport and if you don’t like others doing it, well, as a long time surfer on the Big Island we have a lot of fun with our waves and the people who love to surf them. My only problem is with the people who think waves are theirs, age old beef! Get over it and share or find a sport that you don’t have to get so agro over everything, including waves. Chess or checkers is great, then you can talk politics too! Whoo pee. Be kind or don’t come to our Island, the sport doesn’t need people like that.