HUNTINGTON BEACH : Oak View Youths Surf, Never Get Board


These youngsters don’t catch waves with a surfboard.

They use their bodies.

Bodysurfer Enrique Najera, 15, said the thrill is in riding the wave directly.

“You can’t describe it. You’ve got to feel it for yourself,” Najera said. “It’s something you can really enjoy. It’s a skill, an art, that once you’ve done it, you’ll have it for the rest of your life.”

Najera is among a group from the Oak View neighborhood who are hooked on the challenges of bodysurfing--an ocean sport that has been overshadowed in recent years by the popularity of bodyboarding and surfing.

“It’s kind of like a forgotten art form. Hopefully, they’ll help bring the sport back,” said Dave Yates, assistant director at Oak View Community Center, located in the northern part of the city.


Yates, 31, an avid bodysurfer, has inspired these youngsters to start a bodysurfing club and to hone their skills for fun and competition.

“It’s a good way to get the kids out of this neighborhood and participate in a sport. Now they’ve fallen in love with it,” Yates said.

Yates said club members, ages 12 to 16, frequent beaches from Oceanside to Seal Beach to surf the best waves to get ready for competition. To help eight club members realize their desire to compete, Mike Abdelmuti, owner of Jack’s Surf and Sport downtown, donated $160 to pay their entry fees for the World Championships of Body Surfing in August in Oceanside. The club also is in need of donations to buy fins, wet suits and other equipment.

Members said being in the club has boosted their self-confidence and has encouraged them to get better grades in school. It also changed the way they dress and the music they listen to.

“It’s got me away from the gang scene, the rap music and the baggy pants,” said club member Jeff Peterson, 15.