What compels Redwood Surfers to chase the swell? By Jacob Klionsky


Although we live just a 20 minute drive from the ocean, surfing isn’t as common as one might guess for a coastal California high school like Redwood. In contrast to notions of many Southern California high schools, Redwood has only a small group of students who surf on a consistent basis. Because of this, there is no ‘typical’ Redwood surfer, and although each surfer’s reason to surf may vary, it all results in the unique and exhilarating experience of riding waves.

Photo by Jenny Tippett

The Search

Senior Jesse Smith was first introduced to surfing as an eight-year-old in Hawaii. However, Smith didn’t fall in love with surfing right away.

“Surfing was very hard for me to get into and it took a while. I feel like most for sports, you can try out and really experience them in a somewhat short amount of time. But surfing is different,” Smith said. “In surfing, you need these perfect conditions and perfect waves which happen so rarely.”

Yet this struggle is actually what drives Smith and his friends to trek across Northern California in search of a good swell.

Senior Will Kepler, a friend of Smith's, shreds at Ocean Beach

“It’s the search for the perfect wave and the perfect experience that pushes me to progress my surfing and to take advantage of what little we got,” Smith said.

While most local surfers would jump at the opportunity to have Southern California style waves and a similar surfing culture, Smith is satisfied with what we have in Northern California.

“[In Southern California], there is this culture where surfing becomes this aggressive sport. Around here, there are smaller crowds and so it’s more of close-knit, almost family feel,” Smith said.

The Feel

Sophomore Corbin Mason has been surfing for nearly a decade. It all started on the beaches of Santa Barbara where he surfed as a young boy alongside his dad and uncle.

Now, if the waves are good, Mason and his friends will surf at both Ocean Beach and Cronkite as often as four times a week after school and during the weekends.

For Mason, surfing is a way to connect with nature.

“There is nothing else like it. You’re on something that the earth created and is constantly moving,” Mason said. “You can do other board sports, but it’s just different.”

Mason surfs in Fort Cronkhite, Ocean Beach, and Santa Barbara whenever he has the time

Here at Redwood, Mason has taken his passion to greater depths as he is the the co-president of the Surf Club. He encourages all students that surf or are interested in surfing to join the club, where they help spread environmental awareness and spread knowledge about the sport of surfing.

Mason hopes his passion for surfing can persist through the rest of his life and would love to pass this down to his kids.

The Passion

Freshman Joseph “Joey” Quirk has always loved being in and around water. One day nine years ago, an opportunity came that he couldn’t pass up: Quirk’s mom offered to enroll him in Big Dog Surf Camp at Sinson and Bolinas. Since that day, surfing has become a constant in Quirk’s life.

“I have always loved the water and I have always loved the surf culture. Once I first started at Big Dog surf camp, I have surfed ever since then,” Quirk said.

To Quirk, one of the most fascinating things about surfing is how it can be a lifetime hobby and doesn’t have to stop when you become an adult.

Quirk has been surfing for almost ten years

“It’s really cool to meet people in the lineup, especially because a lot of people don’t surf here at Redwood. Occasionally you’ll meet an 80-year-old person in the water and it’s cool to see that you can surf you whole life,” Quirk said.

Recently, Quirk has participated in two smaller surf competitions at Fort Cronkhite and looks to participate in many more in the future.

The Tradition

Junior Carmen Monroe-Watts, like Smith, first surfed in Hawaii with her family at the age of three. Ever since she caught her first wave on this trip, family vacations have been oriented around finding places to surf. According to Monroe-Watts, her dad has been surfing his entire life and has passed on the hobby to her.

“My dad grew up surfing a lot and that was a big part of his life. So now he is the main person I go surfing with,” Monroe-Watts said.

Monroe-Watts (left) and senior Marley Eddington smile before surfing at Stinson

For Monroe-Watts, surfing provides an opportunity to escape from the world and to simply enjoy the water.

“Even if the waves are bad, even if there are poor conditions, just being in the water outside from everything else is a nice place to be,” Monroe-Watts said.

The Purpose

Although we don’t have 80 degree weather year round and perfect waves on call, there is something about Northern California surf that makes it special. Maybe it’s the cooler climate, the lax atmosphere, or the fact the Mavericks, home to one of the most famous surf competitions, is just 30 minutes away in Half Moon Bay. But what truly differentiates Northern California surf, are the interesting and unique people who ride the waves.

Created By
Jacob Klionsky

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