Photo

Sandbar Bombs

A long-period northwest swell lights up San Francisco's Ocean Beach

| posted on January 24, 2013
  • Jimmy the Saint

    Since reading ‘Playing Doc’s Games’ I am fascinated by this place. It looks beautiful. If I am ever travelling through that area I’ll have to give it a go! But also read that Mike Parsons really hurt his neck there on Sunday. Any update? I hope he makes a speedy recovery!

  • Robert Bunket

    Don’t wanna spoil the fun, but…the truth is OB has never, ever been as good as that in the 10 years I’ve been surfing it, not even close. Check OB on 100 big swells and 99 of them will be out of control, impossible to get out, and unsurfable. And your car will get stolen. Amazing 3 days but it will never happen again.

  • dude

    I hope Parsons doen’t get better because he is an asshole cockmunch. God bless his soul, lets hope he returns soon.

  • lip smacker

    yeah i bet the paddle out is easy as shit and i will get tubed all day long in and out man.

  • Ben

    Recognize!

  • http://www.yankaus.com Mik

    Ocean Beach is heavy at this size. Cold water is denser than warm water, and you will get worked.

    Add in a nasty current that is caused by water movement going into the Bay (high tide), and out of the Bay (low tide), which can increase when the swell direction is moving in the same direction of the tide (North Swell away from the Bay / South Swell towards the Bay)… So you will find it hard to sit on any one peak, and will also find it hard to swim in if you lose your board. Things can get dramatic if you are swept towards some of the beach’s rocky sections (if you’re swept South of Sloat St., or North by Seal Rock), or you can also be pulled out to sea in a massive rip (in shifting intervals all up and down the coast), or held under, in a sand trough undertow section. So it looks beautiful, but it has an evil underbelly.

    Mike Parsons has surfed 60ft waves, and almost died in 15′ SF surf.

    A 24 sec. interval swell at that size has shitloads of power.

    I’m glad he’s OK. He’s a legend… But so is SF surf. It is unforgiving, and not to be taken lightly. I really admire the locals there because they are in amazing paddling condition, and that is needed to both get out, and also to be able to anticipate where the peak is shifting to, and sprint there in order to catch it… And it also can take allot of paddling just to get back in.

    I surfed it at 10 –12′ once, and it took 30 minutes to get out, I experienced a long lull, so paddled in a bit to catch a smaller set, got caught inside by a clean-up set instead, washed back in, and took another 30 minutes to get back out, the whole time wondering if I was crazy to even keep trying.

    But yeah…

    You can get a bomb or two, and never forget it…

    As the SF band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, lyric’s go: “Ain’t no easy way, ain’t no easy way out”….

  • Ted

    OB is heavy…don’t forget it. The locals know this and dominate the break. If you want to come surf here bring it on the wave will decide for you. Tman!

  • phil Y

    Mik said it best.

    I have surfed the place for 10 plus years and it is the most fickle break with super strong rips that will knock you right off the peak in 10 minutes and often will knock you off even if you are paddling the whole time. A river runs through it. Iron Man at size ONLY.

    Do you like cracking crab to eat it. Thats OB. you have to work very hard to mine the nuggets and at size look out – channels can close out and sneaker sets can clean you up. Sets DOUBLE the norm size of the day. 10ft is good for me any higher no way I have a family. Its serious you are playing with your life.

    For locals and pros. I wouldnt waist coin traveling to it. Its the dancing frog in that Cartoon if you are trying to hit it you almost never will. NOT USER FRIENDLY and if you cant swim and know rips, RIP/ I guess a wave that broke m parsons neck is enough you need to know.

    But it is glorious and magestic and incredibly humbling! Ask the pros.

  • Tony Bisson

    I have driven by that beach 100 times and only saw waves like this one time. I had to squint to see the lone surfer taking off on an impossible huge and COLD set wave. Looked like a pounding beach break with walls, rips and relentless sets. I have no idea how the guy even got out.

  • Jimmy the Saint

    Just out of curiosity, I know ‘playing doc’s games’ was written about 20 years ago, but do Doc and Pee Wee still surf there?

  • Wolf Larsen

    You will die if you surf here

  • Lefty

    If you come to SF to surf, go to Bolinas. Its way better than OB.

  • Lefty

    Wow. Imagine if the 2011 Rip Curl Pro search would have been held in these conditions. Then imagine the best locals were seded in heats with ther pros. Perhaps the best surf contest of all time.. One for the ages.

  • turpentine

    I think it’s funny that these locals are emphasizing the negative aspects of OB in order to keep surfers from southern california away. Everything they are saying is true: hard paddle, fickle conditions, etc. But the truth is that every winter sees a handful of great days that make all the nasty ones worth it and on these days it is the best beach-break in the state. The place deserves recognition in the surf media, just know what you are getting into.

  • turpentine

    I think it’s funny that these locals are emphasizing the negative aspects of OB in order to keep surfers from southern california away. Everything they are saying is true: hard paddle, fickle conditions, etc. But the truth is that every winter sees a handful of great days that make all the nasty ones worth it and on these days it is the best beach-break in the state. The place deserves recognition in the surf media, just know what you are getting into.

  • Rick cane

    They can have it, cold water, sharks and a city of freaks. Three things i dispise. Ill stay in so cal and reap the harvest of all that water we steal from them everyday. It is a steamy wave but I’d put Baja Malibu blacks and pt mugu in the Pepsi challenge against ocean beach any day!!!!

  • Guillermo

    Please come surf here. Always sunny and warm with perfect 2′ -3′ mellow waves.
    And you can spend the night at Golden Gate Park with all the other maggots.

  • flat tire

    pffffffftt

  • jonnie wonnie

    In 07/08 I was in SF the whole Fall/Winter and scored heaps of good days there.
    All this current and worst wipeouts hoopla is BS. Every point I’ve ever surfed has a major current and usually major crowds. This place has scattered peaks and nice channels to take you straight out. If you seriously paddled for 2x30min to get out it means you didn’t spend some observation time before the paddle or you were just unlucky. Obviously this article is of a primo day there, but OB has heaps of big, good days. Thanksgiving day 07 OB was the highlight of my tour.
    Bigger and less fast than these ones so you could make them easier.
    Only problem was all the geezers on 9′ guns catching the waves 60yards further out than us SB riders – so if it’s this big take a little more foam.
    Go there and score.

  • Pee N Tehsuit

    OB is about 4 miles of beach from Sloat to Kelly’s. There’s plenty of room to find peaks for all. Outside of a few Kelly’s Cove stickers, a silly man named Bad Vibe Bob and a guy with Tourette’s syndrome who randomly curses at all, the idea of OB being localized died out about 20 years ago with the late 90′s tech boom adding the final nail in the coffin. This is not true at a few other, smaller SF spots that cannot handle a crowd well. If you hide your keys under your car at OB, your car may get stolen (yes, people are watching you at Sloat). If you lock your car and take your key with you, you will have no problem. There has never been a shark attack at OB so always find it funny when people summarize as shark infested waters. The ocean is the biggest enforcer. The thump is managable for many until it gets about two to three feet over head. Then the line up thins out quickly, myself included. Much respect to the SF locals, or transplants that go out when it bombs like this, which ain’t often. It was a magical week.

  • dutchie

    Epic view

  • Peter Thoma

    Samuel Lewis’ writing usually sucks.
    At least he can surf.

  • Randy savage

    Dont surf ob unless youre a local or pro.