Nick Rozsa's guide to Ventura County

| posted on July 25, 2012

Nick Rozsa, capitalizing on the uncommon right at this Ventura beachbreak. Photo: Maassen

One of the main agriculture producers in California, Ventura County is about as working-class as surf towns get. In lineups from Little Rincon to Point Mugu, you’ll find a lot of black wetsuits, and very few stickers on noses. It’s a blue-collar community sandwiched between two of the most ostentatious surf zones in the world, and the locals take pride in that. The sleepy stretch of coast would be easily overlooked if it weren’t for the fact that some of California’s most electric surfers have come from there. From Timmy Curran, to Dane Reynolds, to Nick Rozsa, to Matt McCabe, Ventura County has been farming almost as much surf talent as they have strawberries. I headed up to Ventura recently to meet up with Nick Rozsa and to get a better feel for one of California’s most enigmatic surf locales.

It was a painful first light on a July morning as we hopped across loose boulders lining the beach of a normally inaccessible right-hander. I was with with photographer Morgan Maassen, Nick Rozsa, Dane Reynolds, and a few of their friends. It’s the kind of posse that fetches local stink eyes, and inspires indignant statements made under breath. Dane and Nick understand their occupational hazards, and know that smiles and waves are their best defense. The spot we were checking was the star of Dane’s last Marine Layer production (emma wood is killing me/sitting off the horn), and if you want to know how good it can get, set aside a few minutes to watch and salivate. This morning was different though. It was much, much worse. The inconsistent south swell teased us with the occasional wedge followed by a 20-minute lull. But there was hope around the corner at a more exposed beach, so we made our way with moderate expectation.

On the other side we found predominant lefts with a healthy mix of sandy barrels and bending launch pads—catering to the unique skillset of my present company. Nick and Dane drifted through the scattered pack, mostly picking off the mid-range waves and leaving the best sets to those hell-bent on jockeying for position at the main peak. But for their intentions, the mid-sized ramps were perfect. Dane came out of small, glassy barrels to attempt massive, inverted, twisting rotations. Rozsa pulled a dozen signature backside, fin-blast reverses, and stomped a few no-grab rotations as well. It never occurred to me before, but these two surfers have a lot in common. They both walk a fine line between raw, Cro-Magnon aggression and fluid, musical style. It takes one of those components to even try to launch huge airs in draining sections, but it takes another entirely to keep them looking smooth.

We had two sessions over the course of about 6 hours, punctuated by a round of mediocre breakfast burritos that had been bathed in old, viscous Tapatio sauce. After our second session, we followed Nick and filmer Chris Papaleo back to Nick’s abode to find out how to best spend our day in Ventura, and to bother his infant son during naptime.


Ventura County is home to some of California’s best beachbreaks and a handful of world-class points are only a short drive away when the right swell angle is in the water. Unfortunately, this is only a winter phenomenon. Summertime in the area can feel like a surfer’s purgatory, but that’s not to say that it’s impossible to surf if you’re determined.

“My ideal spot to go to in Ventura in the summer is probably Point Mugu, if I can get on, which isn’t always an option,” says Nick. “Emma Wood gets fun, as well as all the little spots down south like County Line, Zuma, and Leo Carillo. But summertime can be really hard around here because most of our best winter spots don’t have very good exposure to south swells. You can definitely get lucky though.” If you have the time to drive north, you can get out from under the shadow of the Channel Islands and into some pristine waves at Jalama, which is much more receptive to south west and combo swells.


Ventura isn’t necessarily known for its culinary excellence (as we discovered earlier), but that hardly matters after a solid session. “Toppers Pizza is pretty epic,” says Nick. “That’s right down the street and we go there from time to time. It’s a pretty well-known pizza place. I think everywhere has a Topper’s. We’ve got a Mexican food place right here called Yolanda’s. It’s a good place to go to dinner and to take the family out. Then there’s a sushi joint right next to that called Anaba Sushi. That place is always good if you’re craving sushi, but it’s expensive.”

“A lot of the cooks around here are Mexican, so I feel like it’s just a way higher quality of Mexican food around here,” says Chris. “Even the Taco Bells are better. I swear to God, the Taco Bell in Hueneme is world-class. If you go there, it will be the best Taco Bell you have in your entire life.”

After Hours:

Although Ventura has its share of dive bars, you aren’t likely to have the night of your life out on the town, unless your ideal night consists of pitchers of Budweiser and jukeboxes with the entire Creedence Clearwater Revival catalogue—which is totally awesome. “There’s a sports bar called Rookees that I’ve been to a couple times and it’s fun to go with a few friends and watch a game or something,” says Nick. “There’s also a spot called Aloha, right by the Ventura Pier, where where you can grab a few beers after a long day of surfing. Honestly, Ventura is pretty mellow. It’s not the kind of place you wanna go out solo and find chicks or something, but it can be fun to cruise out with some of your friends. It’s good though. There are less distractions for surfers up here. You get to bed early, and as a surfer it lets you focus on the things that matter more. I don’t really go out anymore, but if you’re coming through here and you want to go out, I would just bypass Ventura and go straight to Santa Barbara.”

Video highlights from Nick’s weekend in Ventura:

Dream team, Chris Papaleo and Nick Rozsa. Photo: Maassen

Dane, enjoying the comforts of Ventura. Photo: Maassen

Dane, finding his share of left-hand ramps. Photo: Maassen

Dane, throwing fans to the wind. Photo: Maassen

Reynolds and Rozsa, heading out for session number two. Photo: Maassen

Rozsa, pulling some rotations. Photo: Maassen

Rozsa, getting loose in Ventura. Photo: Maassen

Post-surf Dane Reynolds. Photo: Maassen

  • Tee Time

    Great perspective (positive) Great Vibe! : )

  • Actually form Ventura

    Kuddos to Nick for taking the time to sit down with you guys. But he hasn’t the slightest clue as to where and what is in Ventura.

  • DrG

    The surf in Ventura is actually horrible. It is a well known fact that Nick Dane Timmy and Matt all surf in LA mostly. You should go with them.

  • Dane

    What’s with all the Dane pictures?

  • OneBlockOffOfSeaward

    Fun read, though not much substance.

  • Rowdy

    Stop naming and exploiting surf spots. People actually from VC would not be naming spots for magazines and videos.

  • you have no idea

    seriously, what the hell are you talking about? you have no idea what Ventura has and does not have. obviously you have not been to the City of Ventura since the mid 90’s (i’m not talking about Oxnard or Port Hueneme, which you mentioned several times, places in those towns several times in your ‘article’). City of Ventura has incredible dining…most of our restaurants are locally owned a operated…and the owner is also the head chef. you don’t get that in Santa Barbara or Los Angeles but on special, very expensive occasions. in Ventura, that’s the norm. Most of our shopping and night spots are locally owned and operated, not tacky cheap chain places like santa barbara or los angeles. it’s quality here in Ventura. obviously you have the mind set of a 40-something year old who thinks they know what local, real california looks like…but you don’t. the real california (local, organic, small farms, great surfing, a national park, a downtown shopping dining and nightlife scene that has stayed true to itself) is in Ventura. You can still see early California living and land out at the Islands and you can still see genuine, classic California living here on the mainland in the City of Ventura. Get with the times, man. You sound totally outdated.

    on second thought, go ahead and think that way. maybe it’ll keep people like you away from Ventura and away from spoiling this place. and i agree with DrG, go with Nick, Dane, Timmy and Matt…stay in LA.

  • steve

    its funny because nick is actually from oxnard but for the sake of not making all the agro oxnard locals cry he decided to claim ventura instead of oxnard. ventura is white trash and stuck in 1982 anyways. who gives a f-k nick owns you kooks in his sleep bro

  • Internet Toughy

    I knew that a bunch of bitter, grumpy Ventura locals (dirtbags) would chime in on this. “Oh, quit naming all of our spots!”. Ya, Mugu, Emma, County Line, Jalama etc. are real secrets…LOL


    NICE! We are going to be stopping in the Ventura area for 3 weeks of 8 week surf mission! See you all in the water! You know its my crew when 60 of us are walking to water with short boards, and another 30 with long boards, and 25 of us with body boards. Heck! We have a handful of body surfers! While we are out, our chicks will be pimp slapping lippy locals. If we were in the south bay we would need the boys for security but Ventura is super light duty so the girls can handle. C-Street, Emma Wood, Silver Strand, Mondos, Brunswick Street, whatever….we’re on it. I would say Rincon but Ventura isn’t on that level. The fun starts next week! YES!!!!!! And to think we almost past this place up on the way to Jalama. Anyways, you can check out later on my blog complete with spot names, pictures, and gps coordinates. Just google “Ventura surf is weak” and the blog link will show up. Look for the first Ventura blog to be up in about 2 weeks. Later fools! 818 DOMINATE!

  • Rowdy

    Surf media sucks…let people speak their minds. Nick and Dane do not hang out. Proctor is not even from the area.

  • StevieMac

    Love all the trash talk from other surf spots. What a difference from the other night at the Billabong Festival which was a love fest with surfers from all over from Huntington, Manhatten, El Porto to C-street Ventura. I noticed 818 wasn’t there. Oh, that’s right you don’t have a beach, you’re in the “Valley”, Can’t wait for u to try and surf Silverstrand braa. Locals only dude.

  • Qwerty

    It’s absolutely hilarious that all these old clowns are claiming Ventura so hard. You girls can hardly do a cut back. All the people talking crap on here only use 20% of the actual potential of the wave. Ya you’ve been surfing for 40 years. Wow that’s amazing, why do you still suck then? Why isn’t this article about you?

    **correction PROCTOR is from OXNARD since he started shaping 15 thousand boards ago.

    *** Just cause Nick and Dane don’t hold hands at the local dive bar or arty gallery doesn’t mean they don’t surf together 80% of the time they are in the water. So many donkeys on here it’s heavy. Ya you are white trash/poor and can’t surf….. We get it. Pull up your white socks, tighten you dicky shorts and sit back and watch some of the most entertaining surfers of our generation destroy your “local” wave. Matt, Dane, Rozsa & Timmy shit all over anything you could ever fathom of doing on a wave in the 805. Go back to your cubicle and take notes next time you see those rippers at your local spot barney.

  • tutor

    Ventura is epic (repeat epic for all u southy tards} I know I lived there and lived to surf. i surfed all those breaks.


    @StevieMactard. Oh really you didn’t “notice” 818? Wow! Way to go boy scout! We don’t do “festivals”. “Try” and surf silver strand? You mean cutbacks, floaters airs, etc. aren’t considered surfing any more? The only thing about silver strand is sometimes you have to listen to some chihuahua barking “local” while you put your leash on. What I find amazing is that the “locals only” policy in Oxtard/Ventura area is even weaker than the North Shore, and Malibu. South Bay/Palos Verdes, Rincon, Santa Cruz is way gnarlier than any where in Ventura County. Oh no Ventura girls, don’t call me a “souther”. I will say though its fun seeing the look on some ventura or oxnerd guys face when they are getting punked by the local guys at Rincon or SB, but the best is at Jalama when they get put in their place and then the same local guys find their camp site later that night and further punk them while they are trying to enjoy their camp fires! Anyways, I don’t blame Ventura/Oxterd “locals” for trying to keep the crowds down, but they really need to step it up in my opinion. If I was from there, I would be very embarassed at how soft they are as a group. There might be one or two individual real deal tough guys I have not come across yet, that I don’t doubt. As a group though, they have been pretty soft since the 80’s but even softer nowadays. Half the fun used to be the hostility we would encounter while we were surfing, what happened to that? Now I have to pay for that dang MMA studio membership or go skate some bad hoods around here to get kind of action. But yes, we don’t have a San Fernando Valley Beach but we do have beaches, any beach we feel like using that day, including yours if we want. “Can’t wait for u to try and surf Silverstrand braa. Locals only dude.” Thanks again for the formal invitation, but I have already been utilizing the resources there for quite sometime. And its “brah” not “braa” you got that “dude”? And don’t let the “real locals” at silver strand catch you claiming their beach, they might tickle you and cut the strings on your bikini.

    Why you trying to claim whats not yours fool? Go ask Todd yourself since you know all about him.

  • dsmcwall

    Ok I’ll be moving to Ventura soon! That, being said I look for ward to the laid back approach to just and not talking trash. This KOOK from the 818 has a mouth on him for sure and is most likely trying ever so hard to still stand up! Speaking of the South Bay/Palos Verdes crew? What do you know? I surfed Redondo BreakwaLL with these so called locals from Carson. NOT! A team of brothers and their spoiled kids. The kids are lame. The peak is soft take off on the biggest of days, then to a inside barrel section that closes out before you hit the drain pipe, then kick out and raise your arms like a hero. NOT! They are all talk , unless they are together in their pack. Not one dared to actually throw a punch but, merely went back to the pack for a pat on the back or ass that is… Just surf and shut up, treat people like you want to be treated and maybe even grow up and stand up too!