Chasing the Loch Ness Monster of Los Angeles

February 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

Somewhere along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH), past the breaks of Malibu but before Point Magu, hidden amongst the jagged coves and inlets that litter the coastline, is a surf break more myth than wave, called Supertubes. I’d been obsessed with the spot — along with everyone else in Southern California — ever since a video clip came out in 2007 of heaving top-to-bottom barrels running fifty yards down the right-hander reef.

But it turns out, the mystical break only rears its head every couple of years, needing a big west swell coupled with an ultra-low tide. Even those that have ventured to the location when the conditions are right have arrived to unsurfable conditions and settled for better things to do in LA, like a surf session with Matthew McConaughey and a hundred other people at Malibu Surf Rider beach. As such, most people don’t take the trouble to venture along the windy road, and unless you’ve already surfed it before, you won’t even know where to look.

After five years of living in Los Angeles, I still hadn’t tried to conquer the beast. But when the long-range charts last winter showed for an ultra-strong storm with a massive fetch and westerly direction heading our way, the elusive wave popped into the back of my mind. I proposed the idea to my surf buddy Blake, who at least knew which cranny it was tucked into. At first he was reluctant, saying it wasn’t worth wasting the biggest day of the year chasing a wave that might not be breaking, but then I used my super-awesome persuasion skills (mainly offering to buy him Duke’s Malibu afterwards), and we had our plan set.

It was a Wednesday, and the clear air was doing nothing to help the cold bite of the winter morning. We headed north on the PCH, whipping past break after break, tempted to stop every time we passed another firing surf spot. But we had a mission. We winded along the hill-sides, far away from the concrete jungle, and finally pulled over. It must have been the right spot, because a few other cars of surfers were posted up, all of us looking out onto a completely flat ocean.

Overcome with disappointment, we were ready to turn back around and settle for another spot, when on the horizon a set of lines began to stack up. The incoming swells grew as the deep-water hit the reef, the first wave smacked against the giant boulder sitting outside, and then the wave broke, nearly on top of the rocky coast, racing along perfectly down the point, dangerously close to the cliffs. The next wave was bigger, breaking farther out, still dangerously close to the rocks, but makeable. The dozen of us watching all hooted, and then raced to our cars, all trying to be first out to claim their own wave.

I had to jump straight off of the rocks into the strong surf, adrenalin pumping too hard to feel the sting of the 55 degree water. Blake and I made it to the outside unscathed, and before the crowd got too thick, dropped into the biggest barrel of my life, as wide as it was tall, hucking water across the reef as I reeled along inside of it. I spat out of the barrel, totally stoked, scrambling back to the line-up for more. We stayed out in the water for hours, taking some of the worst beatings of all-time, sand in every crevice, enough near death experienced for a lifetime, but all for the occasional unforgettable wave that we would never forget. After nearly dying trying to scramble up the rocks out of the water, we made it out of the pounding surf, and I had to make good on my promise.

We strolled into Duke’s like the king himself, full of swag, knowing that we might be the last group of people to surf Supertubes for years. It’s nice to know that even in a city with 15,000,000 people, Los Angeles still has its secrets.

Daniel Hogan is a writer at Party Earth - a global media and entertainment company that publishes reviews and listings of the best social experiences around the world including: bars in Paris, pubs in London, beaches in Ibiza, plazas in Rome, parks in New York, festivals and concerts everywhere, and more.

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