Weekend Break: Riding the wild surf

A flock of Surf Scoters watch as a surfer catches green water at The Cove in Seaside. Ron Baldwin.

The light is mesmerizing among the gray-white beach, the white foam on the tips of the waves and the gray-white horizon.

The green water of the breakers reflect a verdigris copper, cast from smoke that turned the moon blood red on the prior eve.

It is highwater. We begin walking the quarter mile to the beach. A few of the dozen or so surfers gathered at the parking area recognize my companion, Larry Moore, a veteran surfer. Nods and smiles are exchanged. Moore has been surfing the north Pacific coast for 52 years.

We approach the beach and ascend to the highest point on the dunes, where several figures of varying ages stand, sit and kneel — all watching the waves. Keen eyes scan the waves and wait for the right conditions. Some of the younger surfers spread apart, allowing room for Moore — a subtle show of respect.

We return to the parking lot. It’s obvious that some unuttered, mutual decision has been made. The stoke level has raised a notch or two, even though the so-so surf conditions may not warrant it. The younger surfers are prepared to go and return to the beach before us, quickly entering the water while Moore and I stroll along, clucking and cackling like a couple of old roosters.

On the beach, Moore zips his wetsuit up. He suddenly gives off a distinct air of command. This is his element. Quickly, he attaches his leash to the board and plows off toward the surf like he’s after something. In the water, the younger surfers spread out and make room for him, just as they did on the shore.

A growing interest

Cold-water surfing on the North Coast is popular. The North Coast has become a destination for surfers, largely because modern improvements in wetsuits enable more comfort in an ocean that does not vary far from 55 degrees yearround.

Even in this COVID-19 era, surfing is an attractive physical activity. Surfing, being a solo sport, is all about social distancing. Locals and tourists alike can, and mostly do, spread out on the break and keep safe.

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Dennis Smith, owner of Seaside Surf Shop.

Ron Baldwin

According to Dennis Smith, owner of Seaside Surf Shop, the growth of surfing has shown no abatement. Surfers who are idled by the pandemic still go surfing. Tourists come to the North Coast to surf because the chances of finding yourself alone on a wave are greater than on California beaches, where warm water and proximity to a large population make competition for every wave.

Lexie Hallahan, owner of NW Women’s Surf Camps & Retreats in Seaside, said the pandemic caught her off-guard this season, her 15th.

“The shutdown really cost us. All of our camps were planned out and we had to miss all of the first part of our season, three and a half months,” Hallahan said. “That won’t happen in the next sessions. We’ve made changes that will allow us to offer programs for women, as well as men and whole families safely, while still keeping it fun.”

The rise in the number of female surfers has increased exponentially since the 2002 release of the women’s surfing film “Blue Crush.”

“That was the one event that changed the image of surfing as an athletic activity for women,” Hallahan said.

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Larry Moore walks to the surf as his wife, Debbie, watches from the jetty.

Ron Baldwin

Women’s surfing was given a boost last February when Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira conquered a 73.5 foot wave during a competition in Portugal.

Business meets community

Surf shops have always been among the drivers of the local surf scene. Josh Gizdavich’s Cleanline Surf celebrates its 40th year in Seaside and Smith’s shop was established in 2003.

Online marketing is driving the surf industry, along with other sports equipment and apparel companies. It’s a growing market and most shops now sell online. Advertising appeals to one’s emotions and dreams. The sense of freedom, stoke and self-reliance are powerful attractants. With the north Pacific, there is always an element of danger — this too can be an attraction.

Among offshoots of surfing are SUPs, stand up paddleboards, and kiteboarding. A paddleboard is shaped to use riding waves like a surfer but the rider stands on the board and catches waves by paddling.

The beach in Manzanita is the most popular on the North Coast for kiteboarding, which is just what it sounds like. The operator rides the waves on a special surfboard, operating the kite with flying lines while suspended from the kite by a harness. Then, the operator flies up into the air at death-defying speeds, only to splash down in the waves to fly again.

Surfing magazines that have driven and reported on the industry since its inception have visibly suffered during the pandemic. In May, Surfer magazine, the first popular surf publication and a model for all the rest, announced its last edition, citing the pandemic as the cause. The surf publication business, like other print publishing endeavors, is languishing in the shadow of online powerhouses. Some industry analysts predict the same fate for the others.

Catching waves, together

Jacob Moore is in his early 30s and grew up on the Long Beach Peninsula. He is a homegrown surfer of 17 years, having learned how to surf in the peninsula’s limited surfing spots.

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Larry Moore returns from the sea.

Ron Baldwin

While his eyes don’t gloss over at the talk of surfing like the old diehards, he is a dedicated surfer. He admits that Oregon’s beaches offer better opportunities for catching a ride.

A talented singer and mandolin player, Larry Moore (no relation), is a member of the local “crabgrass” band, Brownsmead Flats. In a long, rambling conversation, we reflect on the parallels of music and surfing — waves, of course. Rhythm. Timing. Randomness. Balance. Agility. Strength. Judgment. Respect. The list goes on.

Like the loose-knit music community of the North Coast, local surfers also have such an unspoken, informal community.

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A lone surfer catches green water at The Cove in Seaside.

Ron Baldwin

There’s nothing like the respect and fellowship of homies. To illustrate — when legendary Seaside surfer Jack Brown died in 2015, the Seaside surfing community did just what he would have wanted — they all went surfing together.

I asked both Moore’s if they ever thought of quitting, which elicited lots of head shaking. Away from the beach, you would never know that these men are both stoked on surfing. But for both of them, surfing is not just a sport or a pastime — it’s a way of life, a way of being.

Vitamin Sea Collective Launches

From professional surfer Mahina Maeda, fitness instructor Tehillah McGuiness and surf coaches Andrea “Mona” Picasso and Maya Degabrielle, to yoga …

Launching October 14th 2020, Vitamin Sea Collective is a global community for the surfing sisterhood and ocean lovers. From the all-female power team that brought you SurfGirl Magazine, the biggest female surf media in the world, this new members only global platform focuses on the positive benefits of the sea. Providing surfing, health and fitness content under one roof, it’s an empowering space for all women, whatever age or ability, to come together to expand their knowledge, improve self confidence and do something for themselves.

With Vitamin Sea Collective, members will be able to learn from real professionals, interact with instructors and have access to engaging live classes, workshops, tutorials and materials. Covering nutrition, health, wellbeing, mental health, surf, yoga, swimming, travel and more, it’s a one stop shop to becoming a better surfer and a stronger person. All content is categorised into a comprehensive catalogue making the platform easily accessible to match difficulty levels, preferred activities and mood. Membership benefits include full access to all content, videos, workshops and newsletters.

Douglas Burke’s Surfer Will Soon Resume Its Theater Tour

Earlier this year, indie director Douglas Burke released Surfer: Teen Confronts Fear to the traveling theater circuit. Unfortunately, those theaters started …

Earlier this year, indie director Douglas Burke released Surfer: Teen Confronts Fear to the traveling theater circuit. Unfortunately, those theaters started closing down shortly after the opening, and most haven’t reopened their doors yet. But Burke isn’t one to give up.

Surfer is a movie about — what else — a surfer. Sage (played by Sage Burke) loved riding the waves until the day he had a huge run of misfortune. Not only did he wipe out, but the current kept him pinned to the bottom and he barely escaped with his life. Ever since, Sage has never been able to work up the nerve to surf again. Can he confront his fears and PTSD and enjoy his former favorite hobby once more?

How do you see Surfer if it’s not in theaters? You really don’t. Douglas has resisted putting his movie on digital or disc formats for several months now, insisting Surfer was made to be experienced on the big screen. Not only is he still pushing the movie, he’s also created a new 35mm version on black and white film stock, for cinemas that still use film projectors.

Douglas says Surfer will remain in the theatrical circuit throughout 2021, and will play at whatever theaters are open. It’s his hope that eventually, everyone can see his labor of love, even if it takes them years to do so.


Surfing since as young as he can remember, at the age of 13, Sage (played by Sage Burke) is crippled by fear after suffering a wipeout on a huge wave. The wave slammed him to the bottom and held him pinned there without air until he nearly died. With his whole life still ahead of him yet now paralyzed by fear, Sage no longer surfs the waves. But unable to ignore the mystical and powerful pull of the ocean, he fishes in the surf, and finds more than he bargained for. This is the story of a teenager who confronts fear…

California Lyft driver rescues toddler found alone in the rain

(SANTA ROSA, Calif.) — Del Hedrick was driving for Lyft and had just dropped off a passenger at an apartment complex when something startled him.

(SANTA ROSA, Calif.) — Del Hedrick was driving for Lyft and had just dropped off a passenger at an apartment complex when something startled him.

“I see a baby, right in front of the car!” he said, according to ABC affiliate KGO. “Rain is pouring, it’s 40 degrees outside and I froze. It was scary. It was a really scary moment.”

The father of two jumped into action, scooping up the toddler from the Santa Rosa, Calif., apartment complex parking lot around 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday night.

“She was barefoot, soaking wet, onesie soaking, wet hair, full diaper — yeah, it was heartbreaking,” he said.

Hedrick knocked on some nearby doors to try and find the toddler’s caretakers. But when nobody recognized her, he took the toddler into his car and turned on the heat, trying “to warm her up and calm her down,” he said.

A video shot by Hedrick and posted by the Santa Rosa Police
shows Hedrick in his car with the toddler, explaining what had happened.

“Cops are on their way,” he said in the video.

Santa Rosa Police arrived soon after and were able to locate the toddler’s family and reunite her with them, the department said in a Facebook post.

The case does not involve neglect or abuse, police told KGO, and the toddler likely walked out an unlocked door. ABC News has reached out to Santa Rosa Police for more information.

In the Facebook post, Santa Rosa Police praised Hedrick as a “community hero,” saying his “actions demonstrate how we all work together to keep our community safe.”

While the toddler is now safe at home, Hedrick was shaken by the incident, according to KGO, and hugged his own kids tight when he got home that night.

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Lyft driver rescues toddler found alone in the rain

Del Hedrick was driving for Lyft and had just dropped off a passenger at an apartment complex when something startled him. “I see a baby, right in …