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Surfing Soapbox: An epic summer for surfing

Is there a better feeling in life than waking up to sunny skies, strolling down to the beach, then tiptoeing your way across the hot sand, before finding your spot and jumping into the warm Pacific Ocean?

In my estimation this has been the best summer since the El Niño summer of 1996. Now my judging criteria might vary from others so I will include mine: waves, warm water and sunny days — and this summer has seen a lot of all three.

I remember surfing second reef Brooks Street for almost two weeks straight in the summer of ’96, and although second reef hasn’t broken for two weeks straight, we did have the epic July swell of this summer, now known as the “Chicago swell.” Yes, I know I missed it. However, I can say it was well worthwhile, now that surfing has officially been legalized there.

In some ways missing good days of surfing here in Laguna Beach always reminds me of why I love it so much and why I have chosen the path I continue to walk in life.


Sometimes you just know your destiny, and I certainly knew mine. I’ll never forget that fateful day in my counselor’s office in high school with my mom. Mr. Lawson was lighting me up for being disruptive in class, and I deserved every word of it.

It was in the moment in which he asked me what I was going to do with my life and when I replied “be a pro surfer,” he smirked at me, and boy, did that light a fire within me.

In some way that was one of the most important moments in my life, and I appreciate Mr. Lawson for challenging me that day. Twenty years later, the class of 1989 and I will be celebrating our 20-year reunion this Saturday night in Laguna.

It’s funny because not much has changed for me; it’s time to go surfing.



JAMES PRIBRAM is a Laguna Beach native, professional surfer and John Kelly Environmental Award winner. His websites include AlohaSchoolofSurfing and ECOWarrior He can be reached at Jamo@Aloha