Oregon Wind Surfing

I would be remiss, if I didn’t at least write a short article on the Oregon windsurfing phenomena. The first location is on the Columbia Gorge.  Last summer I traveled from Portland to Hood River, which sits on the gorge, and then on to Bend, Oregon–where I took an awesome brewery tour.  They have 21 craft breweries!  But I digress. When I stopped  to eat at Hood River the river was full of windsurfers battling the frothing surf.  I started talking to my food server, who was a local, I learned that the waves are nuke when the water is so frothy it is white and the mist is so fine, it looks like smoke over the water.  He said the reason he was working as a waiter that summer was so he could hit the waves every day.

Windsurfing is a sport that combines surfing and sailing.  The windsurfer stands on a board that is similar to a short board.  Attached is a sail that can pivot 360 degrees on a dime.  It consists of a mast, 2-sided boom and the sail. Windsurfers not only ride the waves by combining the energy of the wave with the lift of the wind to mimic the wave riding of the traditional surfer, they also bump and jump, which means they use the short choppy waves to launch themselves several feet in the air.  Advanced riders do complicated tricks while they are catching airtime.  Extreme winds and water have to combine to create choppy high speed waves that carry the energy for surfing.  Regular surfing relies on  a large fetch to generate the perfect ground swells.  Windsurfing needs a smaller fetch to capture the energy so it builds momentum against itself.


Oregon has two of the best windsurfing locations in the world.  The first is at Pistol River, 8 miles south of Gold Beach.  The season runs from April through September, but the waves are consistent and reliable beginning in May.  The immediate area surrounding Pistol River is the windiest spot in Oregon.  It is not a spot for beginners.  They will want to go a mile north.  Windsurfers hit the waves from 9:00 A.M. to nightfall.  The conditions are so prefect, the America Windsurfing Tour added the Pistol River Bash.  This year it ran from June 11-14.  Windsurfers streamed into the Oregon to try their skills bumping and jumping on the nuclear waves.  The locals can just step out their door to windsurf before or after work.  The rest of us will have to drive up Highway 101 or fly into Del Norte County Regional Airport and take a shuttle or limo to Pistol River, 46 miles away, or you can fly into Portland Airport, which may have cheaper airfare, but it is 365 miles away.  The closest airport is Gold Beach Airport, if you fly your own plane.   Read more Oregon Wind Surfing

Innovative Surfing Fashion Takes Custom Designs To A New Level

Many surfers live life on the edge, but that doesn’t prevent them from enjoying the latest fashion trends with a twist.  Fashion has long been influenced by designers such as Billabong and Hurley.

However, the newest fashion influencers are Gal Larar, a custom surfboard maker, and his friend Chana Weinberg, a designer. Both are Israelis, but they met in Australia.

When Larar returned to Israel and started his own surfboard company, Weinberg continued to spend time between Australia and Israel, while working on Chanabana, her swimwear brand.

Weinberg decided to check in with Larar on one of her visits to Israel.  She shared some ideas from her visit to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The amazing colors and patterns of the fish she saw while diving in the Great Barrier Reef had inspired her.

From their collaboration, The Surf Set was born.  A brand of custom-made surfboards and matching swimwear immediately caught the eye of serious and recreational surfers.

They began with singular designs for exclusive customers. The first was the Milky Way Galaxy, which was sketched across a surfboard. Clients seek them out from all over the world.  Weinberg and Larar meet with the client then work together to design the project.  It takes about three weeks to finish a project.

Every Surf Set is tailor made.  The suits are made of polyamide lycra. Weinberg’s Chanabana line includes modest activewear, also.  She even designed a Surf Set suit for women who want to cover their bodies modestly while surfing.  She was inspired by a family of five surfing sisters who were from a religious family. She has expanded her modest sportswear line to tennis skirts, running skirts.

Israelis and Australians share the love of surfing.  The two shared that the energy of both cultures fuel their innovations.

An enthusiastic seamstress since age 15, Weinberg studied fashion design, illustration, and printing at Israel’s Shenkar College of Engineering and Design.

Larar learned to make surfboards during his time in Australia and crafted them for friends for five years.  He finally opened his custom surfboard workshop in 2016.  He is a skilled shaper, tailoring the boards to meet his client’s style and body shape..


Northern California Surfing

Southern California is an internationally known surfing destination, but its cold-water sister offers epic waves for those willing to brave sharks, 50 degree water, and hostile locals. Due to a large population of seals and sea lions, sharks sightings are plentiful.  Thirty foot swells can be intimidating to all but expert level surfers.  As you descend from the North Pacific coast on Highway 1, the water warms up a bit and waves that appeal to all surfing levels, intermediate, advanced, and expert-level surfers will be impressed.  Right in the middle of the “Red Triangle” there have been more shark than any where else in the world.

Called the “frontier of surfing,” beginning at the Marion/San Francisco county and continuing up through Sonoma, Medocino, Humboldt, and Del Norte, Northern California features some terrifying yet unforgettable surfing experiences.

Ocean Beach is an iconic part of the San Francisco coastline. Eight to fifteen foot waves are not unusual, attracting surfers who want to build their skills.  With well-shaped tubes on a sandy bottom, the surf can be big trimming in toward the shore. Heading south along the coast will bring you a quieter paddle out.

Traveling to Sonoma County, the Salmon river mouth waves break over a sandbar.  On good days the powerful waves can be rewarding for advanced riders.  Average days yield smaller waves suitable for beginners.  The sandy bottom makes it forgiving for wipe-outs.

The coastal area near Point Arena in Mendocino owes its occasional high quality wave to a rocky reef. Right breaking waves are steady and fast.

Humbolt County is knows for the North Jetty.  The locals have guarded this secret and are not always welcoming to guests.  But consistent breaks with clean barrels, make it worth the invading the beachhead.

Some of the most nuclear waves off Northern California shores are found in Patrick’s Point  State Park home to dense forests with a dramatic tidal pools while surfing you can watch whales, sea lions and brilliant sunsets. Although there are submerged rocks, the waves can be excellent, if you are an expert surfer.  The swells can be large and dangerous.  Agate Beach can also produce good consistent waves.

Although you will not find monsters at Moonstone, it is a good spot for a wide range of different surfing styles and skills levels. This is a wide open beach will deliver perfect speed barrels or right and left waves depending on the wind and tidal swell.

When you reach Del Norte and the Klamath River you will have reached “The Home of Hardcore Surfing.”  An advanced surfer will enjoy a right-hand barrel from the river mouth. Wetsuits are still required.

As you can see, although Southern California is the most popular destination for surfers.  Northern California offers unique experiences for even the most experienced surfers.

Disrupt Surfing Company Steps Into the Future with 3-D Technology

Surfers are rugged individualists who are their own brand.  They throw down the gauntlet to the wild forces of the sea and face the challenge head on.

Custom shaping a board that reflects their technique, theories,  and styles is an integral part of the hard core surfing experience.  They love to be creative with their boards, but not everyone can shape or design their own board from scratch.

Purchasing a board from a custom shaper can be expensive and not always satisfying.  It is difficult to communicate exactly what you want on your board.  Also, it can be difficult to bring your ideas to life.

Young entrepreneurs who making waves are two MBA students from the University of Sydney, Gary Elphick and Jason Rogers.  They are the founders of Disrupt Surfing, are giving customers the opportunity to design a prototype of their dream board  utilizing 3-D technology.

A file is created from this prototype that can be used to guide a shaping machine.  The entire process can take up to six weeks.  The inventors hope to eventually create the actual board using 3-D technology.  You can check out the process here.

Located in Australia, on the Bondi Beach, Disrupt Surfing Company allows surfers to select from a variety of over 500 board shapes and sizes.  Next, they choose  an art design.  Backgrounds are available from local artists, upload personal graphics or logo and finish it off by adding a name or message.  From there a 3-D technology creates the board which is then shaped, glassed and sprayed and finished by hand before being shipped to the customer’s door.  They can make boards from 2 feet to 20 feet or more long.

Not sure of the style you want?  There is a large gallery of pre-designed boards for sale, and another inspiration gallery under the About page.  There is a 365 day return or remake guarantee, so that every surfer is satisfied with their board.

Wish your skateboard was innovative as your surf board?  Disrupt Surfing Company now creates your custom designed skateboards as well.  Yoga more your style?  You can design an amazing, inspiring yoga mat also, using Disrupt Technology.

To further pull surfboard creations into the future, Gary Ephick, CEO and founder of Disrupt, is launching SmartSurf.  SmartSurf is uses a microchip that is embedded in the surfboards designed on Disrupt’s platform.  Surfers can simpy tap their phones against the board to access their surfboard designs, images from the production process, their registrations and surfing destination logs of their travels.  No app is installed as it uses cloud technology.

Disrupt Surfing is clearly on the cutting edge of custom surf board shaping.  It will be interesting to see how this technology affects the future look and function of surf boards.

Oregon Cold Weather Surfing

The Oregon coast is pounded by waves that come rolling down the Gulf of Alaska gathering energy until they break along Oregon’s pristine coastline. Northern Oregon’s uneven coastline creates reliable impressive waves all year long. As the coves, reefs, headlands, and curved beaches face different directions, excellent waves can be found whether the wind is blowing from the north, south or west. With a 363 long coastline, Oregon has one of the longest unbroken beaches in the world. From Seaside to Pacific City, surfers will find laid back coastal towns and gorgeous uncrowded surf. Unless you own your own plane, your only options to get to the coast are to drive up 101 through California and Southern Oregon, or fly into Portland or Eugene and rent a car or take a shuttle to Newport or Lincoln City. You can also drive from Bend or Corvallis, Oregon.

At Seaside, Oregon aquatic ninjas, hard-core surfers will be out when dawn breaks to catch waves before dawn. But no matter the time of day, the competition for the best waves is low as Oregon waves are part of the secret cold equivalent of Malibu. Read more Oregon Cold Weather Surfing

Oregon’s Unique Surfing Destinations

From Seaside, Oregon to Pacific City frigid waves beat against the Oregon Coast on 362 miles of open beach. Unlike Washington State, the entire Oregon coastline is public. Northwest coastal waves gather their energy rolling down the Gulf of Alaska. With its uneven coastline and facing north, south and west, there are reliable good surfing waves no matter the wind direction. With coves, headlands and curved beaches there is a wide variety of waves to choose from depending on the weather and time of year.

Regardless of the time of year, dawn will find surfing ninjas riding the swells in their wetsuits waiting for the perfect wave. They are hard core local skiers out at dawn to catch some waves before work. If a perfect storm at sea creates optimum waves, it is not uncommon to see the sign “Out surfing, back later” on the door of smaller local businesses.

In the summer the waves are smaller, ranging from knee high to head high, so beginner and intermediate surfers can enjoy the waves. Some of the coves, such as Short Sands, are so broad and curved that there are smaller swells on one end increasing to larger swells for intermediate surfers. Beginners will want to check out Seaside Beach, Short Sands at Oswald West State Park and Indian Beach at Ecola State Park, which was also the location in The Goonies, Point Break and Twilight. The water is always frigid cold, so you will need a full wet suit. You can rent everything you need at the local shops for about $40.00.

Winter brings the tremendous waves that more advanced and experienced surfers look for. The Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic event is sponsored by Lincoln City and has a sister event in Hawaii. It runs over the winter and big wave athletes are given three days notice when a XXL wave is headed in. The minimum size is 30 foot. Ridable waves have reached up to 60 feet. Riders are judged on specific parts of the ride. Last year the event did not take place for the first time as the big waves did not roll in. This year extreme surfers will be on alert from October to March. Sponsors and organizers are confident the big wave will come.

Expert level waves can be found any time of the year, but surfers will have to watch weather reports and follow surfer alerts to track down the biggest, baddest waves.

All of the Oregon beaches have lush vegetation and stark breathtaking rocks and cliffs. That combined with the uncrowded beaches and reliable wave patterns, make Oregon an ideal place for surfing for those who don’t mind donning a wetsuit.

Surfing Washington State-Bring Your Wetsuit

Waves along the Washington State coastline can be large and brutal.With a large fetch, the entire Pacific Ocean and sustained winds from the deep ocean storms, the average wave ranges between 8 to 12 meters high, or from 26 to 39 feet high.  You will want to bring any specialized equipment and gear you might need, although there are several excellent surf shops along the beach,. With ocean temperatures that vary between 40 and 50 degrees, wetsuits are not optional.  The  surfing is definitely seasonal, but you can find some decent waves without much competition for the crest.  Read more Surfing Washington State-Bring Your Wetsuit

Terms Used When Evaluating Waves

There are many terms that are specific to surfing. Most of them apply to waves  At the most elemental are the terms that are used to describe the direction of the wave spell and break.  Swell direction is important to surfers.  A “Left” wave breaks from left to right.  A “Right” wave breaks from right to left.

There are several terms used to describe small waves.  Capillary waves are the first small waves created deep in the ocean when the low system begins–baby swells.  Corduroy waves are a series of rolling waves that do not crest.  With crumbly waves are when the lip of the waves crumble along the edges.  Offshore waves are created when the wind blows from the ocean toward the beach.  This can cause closeout waves break on the beach or reef at the same time.  The wave is breaking a long its entire length at the same time.  It can also be called by shallow sea floor topography.   It can also be called “shutting down.” This makes the waves crumble.  Winds can also cause chop waves.  They are little waves caused by moderate wind. One thing all these types of waves have in common is that they are unsurf-able.

As a surfer you want to hear that grinder waves are coming in today.  These are powerful breaking waves that are coveted by surfers.  Glassy waves have a smooth face.

The next post will take a look at popular surfing locations.



Discussing Types of Waves

Understanding the types of waves is important when analyzing and talking about famous surfing locations.  Waves originate deep in the ocean when low pressure systems create storms, which in turn generates wind. The longer wind blows on waves, the larger the initiating waves.  This is called the duration of waves.  The speed of the wind also affect wave size.  The final element is fetch, which is the area being affected by the wind.

Each storm even creates a combination of the three.  There is a maximum wave height that can be reached for each combination.  When this is reached, the seas and waves are called “fully formed.”  The waves created by each event vary by size and speed.  The wave periods, which are the times between each wave crest.

As waves travel farther from their wind source, the larger waves begin to group together.  When they have traveled out of the influence of the originating wind, they become ground swells, which are then ridden by the surfers.

The ocean floor affects the type of wave as it travels toward land. A swell from the deep sea floor transitioning to the beach or reef will have big, barreling waves.  If the waves travel or cross a long, shallow ledge, the waves slow down. Bathymetry measures the water depth.

When waves break close to the shore in shallow water, it is called dumpy shore break or shorebreak.

The combination of location, weather, and water conditions create the perfect waves.  Clearly some geographical areas are more likely to have he perfect wave.


Compare the Bascom, Hawaiian and Surfable Wave Methods

The size and intensity of waves are dependent on many factors.  Some can be measured and predicted.  Others are affected by shifting weather factors.  In the case of tsunami like waves, events can align in once in a lifetime combinations.

Measuring waves can be described in scientific or surfing terms.  In surfing, there are three popular ways to measure wave height.

The first is called the Bascom Method.  Popular in California, it was created by Willard Newell Bascom.  He was a pioneer oceanographer and ocean treasure hunter.  He proposed that waves could be measured by standing on the beach and aligning your eyes with the wave crest and horizon.  The wave is measured from the crest point to the average sea level.  In boating terms this is also called the wave height–the distance from the trough to the crest.  Some surfers feel the result is an overestimation.

The second method originated in Hawaii–aptly named the Hawaiian Method.  The waves are measured from the back, which is just after the crest, as the wave begins to curl down.  This measurement is usually about 1/2 the size of the Bascom results.  Using this format, can be difficult because small dense waves are hard to gauge. In nautical terms this is called Wave Amplitude is the distance top where the water is undisturbed to the trough–the bottom undisturbed water surface.

The final, more balanced approach is based on an the actual area ridden by a surfer.  This is called the Surfable Wave Method.  Right when the wave begins to barrel, you measure.  This matches well with the Hawaiian Method.

Of course, measuring the height of a wave is more important to surfers who are not riding waist high waves.  Once waves are neck high or higher, the competition for catching and riding the perfect wave becomes greater and the bragging rights are more serious.  The use of the Bascom method in California leads the surfing world to view their claims to nuclear rides to be questionable as this way of measuring tends to inflate the height of the wave.

Expert surfers who travel to find the most challenging conditions take wave height seriously.  They are not going to be showing up for 10 or 15 foot waves, unless they are there for the beach, friends, or happen to be traveling through.