A Trip To Trestles twenty magazine

Where the world's best surfers gather every September.
And where everyone has a view of the action.

Baseball has Fenway Park. Football has Lambeau Field. In the world of surfing a Southern California wave named after a railroad bridge occupies a similar place of honor for those who love the sport. We visited "Trestles" during the Hurley Pro, an annual event that attracts the world's best surfers to an expanse of sand and cobblestones roughly 50 miles north of San Diego. Join us as we encounter this iconic American sporting venue for the first time.

Trestles' dramatic entrance
Fans cross a set of railroad tracks and wade through tall grasses and wildflowers.

Trestles offered several surprises rare among pro sports:

Athletes and fans park together in the same lot.

Fans get this close to surfers. Wearing the yellow jersey is world No. 1 John John Florence.

And broadcasters frequently enter the field of play. World Surf League's Peter Mel prepares to paddle out for an interview in the water.

An intriguing sideshow was the journey from the clubhouse to the water's edge. The athletes traversed what some referred to as the "beach highway" - a narrow, unregulated part of the beach flanked by fans and event scaffolding.

Mick Fanning walks the beach highway.

The job of navigating surfers through the throng belonged to Michael Simmons, a former security guard for singer Lionel Richie.

"It's a loving crowd," he said.

But he was clearly on the lookout for any trouble as fans chased surfers down the beach.

"Part of our job is to feel that tension" and "keep them safe."

Once surfers reached the water's edge each had a different way of preparing for competition.

Gabriel Medina bowed his head.

Adrian Buchan cycled through a series of stretches.

And Jack Freestone launched into a sprint.

Some fans brought their own surfboards and tried neighboring breaks during lulls in the action.

Others used different ways of passing the time.

The biggest crowds gathered around Kelly Slater, 44, the 11-time world champion. One fan asked him to balance a spinning basketball on a flip phone and Kelly obliged. There were countless requests for group photos and selfies.

Kelly and his fans

After each day of the Hurley Pro there were endless opportunities to surf the areas surrounding Trestles. We tested a few. Those who live in nearby San Clemente enjoy these breaks year round.

Old Man's, where many in Southern California learned to surf.

One local surfer we encountered was 62-year-old Randy Pile, a professional musician who plays classical guitar and teaches at Saddleback College. His favorite spot is Trails, part of the San Onofre State Beach. Randy said he started surfing when he was 12 and had to stop at 17 because "I knew if I surfed I wouldn't go to class." He picked the sport up again in 1990 and now surfs 2-3 times a week. It's "addictive."

Randy Pile and his seven surfboards in San Clemente.


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