Some how, by the time I became a senior at Fallbrook Union High School, I had become the guy younger surfers would beg for a ride to the beach. Much to the annoyance of some of my contemporaries (Mark Metzger mentioned how uncool it was; I replied by asking when he’d last gone surfing), I gave in several times.
Actually, Scott Sutton and Jeff Officer became the only other members of the (unofficial) Fallbrook surf team in 1969, competing in the (radio station) KGB/WindanSea High School Surf Contest. In 1968 I was the entire (unofficial) team. Another story.
But, staying with this one, Scott and Jeff and my girlfriend, Trisha Scott, and our gear, all went about fifty miles down to Pacific Beach stuffed into my Morris Minor, boards on top. Forty-five miles an hour. Neither of my teammates advanced out of the first round, though I did, and, after dropping Jeff and Scott off in secluded hilltop locations, and dropping Trish off, the Morris Minor’s clutch burnt completely out at the bottom of Debby Street.
The next day, my Dad again disappointed by my latest car-damaging, I got to take my mom’s new car down, without Scott and Jeff. I let Trish drive it just a bit in PB, and she smushed the right fender against a curb. “It’s okay; I’ll say I did it,” I said, nobly; “they’ll believe that.” “Okay. Yeah.” “Really? You’ll let me take the blame?” “So sweet.”
I got second in my heat on Sunday, didn’t advance. I blamed it on the pink jersey looking white over my wetsuit, surfing too close to the pier, and, anyway…
Anyway, for some reason, Jeff and I decided one day to ditch school to go surfing. It seems like Jeff and Scott both had parents who were, maybe, a bit more ‘protective’ than mine. They were definitely older. On one occasion I had to drive Jeff to his house, way out of town (seems like it was almost Escondido), to get his stuff and see if he could go surfing with me. “It’s kind of late,” his Dad said, looking me over, then asking,“don’t you agree?” “Probably is, Sir.”
“It wouldn’t have been if we’d just gone,” I said, privately, to Jeff; irritated because it was now too late for me to go. I almost drove off his mountain on the way out, fishtailing around the corners on the dirt road.
Caption- Somewhere between 1969 and now; not a sin to just watch.
So, we ditched. We met in the parking lot before school. The problem was, when we got to the coast, the surf was huge, stormy, out of control. Even Swamis and Cardiff Reef were too big; though I’m still trying to remember how we checked them out and kept on driving south. South wind, maybe.
La Jolla Cove, the protected swimming beach around the corner from the swell, was now the mid section of an extended left point break starting at Boomers and headed toward the usually flat end of La Jolla Shores. No one was out, or even watching. With the south(ish) wind blowing nearly offshore, it still looked insane.
Actually, the waves looked clean, rideable; makeable; just not by me. Though I’d never ‘haired-out’ because of wave size (by itself), I wasn’t in any way ready for this. This wasn’t a spot I’d surfed before. Maybe no one had. And, with no one out, it was difficult to even estimate the size. But BIG. Way overhead.
Jeff was more than ready; he was excited, ready to go for it. I wanted to check it out longer; figure out where to paddle out, where the rips might be, even where to park so we didn’t get caught by the possibly-just-rumored-to-exist Truency Officers.
Somewhere between the car and the Cove (almost to the Cove) two lifeguards in a jeep did stop us. “Are you saying we can’t surf?” Jeff asked. “Don’t argue, Jeff,” I said, allowing myself to breathe out.
Was I relieved? Oh, yeah. Was Jeff disappointed? Probably. In me? I may have cared at the time. Would his father be relieved if he knew? Not something I even considered (at the time).
Later in that same year, 1969, an even bigger swell hit Hawaii and the west coast. I surfed (with some success) at Swamis every day of the run, and Ricky Grigg got his photo in “Surfer” magazine riding a half mile on an eighteen foot wave that wrapped around and past La Jolla Cove.
So, um; Jeff; sorry.
I have seen video of more recent sessions at the Cove, a lot of surfers going for it. Jeff?
Erwin, don’t know if you remember me, but I was also on the trip to the KGB contest. Still have the program. Remember riding in your Morris Minor. My name is Steve Roy and have spent most of my surfing life at Cardiff Reef. Lived just up the hill for 25 years. Now live in Vista, Fallbrook’s arch enemy. Fun reading your stuff.
Steve, I will admit to having a few holes in my memory. I haven’t really written about the contests, do know I blew out the clutch on the Morris Minor just before getting home on Saturday. Perhaps you could email me at email@example.com I’d love any info from the time, any photos and/or stories between Fallbrook, Cardiff, and Vista.