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SUPERBANK: The Super Debate Over Man-Made Perfection?

| posted on July 22, 2010

Dig if you will this picture: The County of Santa Barbara wants to dredge the mouth of Santa Barbara Harbor to make it a more navigable waterway. Needing a place to dump the tons and tons of ooky sand they are going to dredge off the bottom of a harbor entrance. Santa Barbara County looks down the coast and decides to dump all that sand at the top of Rincon – like at Rincon backbeach. Rincon is in Ventura County, so Ventura County freaks, the Surfrider Foundation freaks, local surfers, the Sierra Club, Yvonne Chouinard, everyone freaks. Shaun Tomson chains himself to a fence. Tom Curren sits in a tree and won’t come down: He gives long, impassioned speeches that make Obama look like President Bush. No one knows what all that sand will do to one of the world’s most perfect waves. But Santa Barbara County and Ventura County come to an agreement, set up a pipeline and begin dumping tons and tons of sand just up current from the top of Rincon Point.

Schools empty, the divorce rate goes up, that sketchy, killer, landslide-prone real estate at La Conchita skyrockets in value, because it’s walking distance from what is now one of the seven manmade natural wonders of the world.

Imagine they start the pumping in the summer, when there is no swell. For several months the sand is pumped – kachoonk, kachoonk – as surfers and environmentalists pace back and forth, watching nervously. By fall, all that sand has created a massive sandbar 100 to 300 meters wide, extending all the way down to La Conchita Point – little Rincon. The beach becomes very popular with beachgoers, but no one knows what will happen when the first winter swell hits.

Then the winter swell hits, and everyone freaks. Turns out all that bottom sand was fairy dust, and the perfection of Rincon has been extended by a factor of three. That sandbar has created a wonderland of spinning barrels from the top of Rincon all the way to La Conchita Point – and beyond. There are several new surf spots extending off Rincon, but also one less because La Conchita Point has been filled in and is now just the end part of all that spinning madness.

Schools empty, the divorce rate goes up, that sketchy, killer, landslide-prone real estate at La Conchita skyrockets in value, because it’s walking distance from what is now one of the seven manmade natural wonders of the world.

Unbelievable waves are ridden. There are 15 second tuberides, and then Bobby Martinez does what they said could not be done: He takes off at the very top of Rincon, connects several kilometers of sections, gets barreled five times, shoots the pier at La Conchita and kicks out, two and a half miles later, thumbing his lips – blub blub blub – in shock over riding that perfect piece of west swell energy, for that long, going that fast.

Impossible? That is what happened in Queensland. That is the miracle of Superbank, which Nick Carroll summed up like this: “So… let’s sum it up again… surfers fought to stop the finest accidental piece of surf engineering in history. And now, surfers, Tweed Council’s natural enemies, fight like lunatics over the results, while real estate developers, surfers’ natural enemies, use the unbelievable freakshow Souped-upbank to sell their high-rise crapola. And it all works!!!”