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Surfing Laguna: Finding heaven at Oak Street

The pre-Christmas holiday swells showed up right on time in Laguna last week, complete with brilliant sunsets and memorable surf sessions.

Out in the water at Oak Street were many familiar faces from around the Laguna ‘hood, and while surfing was the main draw, getting caught up and sharing a laugh was also standard fare.

There was Coach Brett with his son Tye effortlessly nabbing several silky peaks at Gene’s Reef. Tye is completing his third year up at college.

Brooks Street aficionado Allison left her usual spot and paddled north to grab some rather accommodating corners at Oak Street proper. Her new shortboard, aka the “glass slipper," looked to be working well in the head-high waves.

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Laguna Beach High surf team members Sean and Adam had the Broak Street (Brooks + Oak) left-hander covered, as they surgically destroyed seemingly every wedge that rolled through, lightheartedly ribbing each other throughout the session.

And that’s when it happened "” in the midst of the surfing, chatting and general buffoonery, I spotted a gorgeous peak headed right toward me. Immediately I invoked the “old guy" card (complete with growling) in a blatant attempt at scaring the young bucks, which indecently worked like a charm. To my delight, everyone else in the lineup was out of position and proceeded to encourage me by hooting me furiously into the oncoming wave.

It was a classic Oak Street freight trainer that peeled beautifully from Gene’s all the way down to the steps of old man Haggerty’s place by the Brooks Street stairs.

As I was paddling back out collecting my thoughts, I remember thinking what a wonderful early Christmas present that wave was, when I looked up toward the horizon and saw a shockingly vibrant sunset that looked as though the sky was set ablaze with paint and palette from the divine!

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Just then someone in the lineup yelled out, “Where are we right now?" To which another mesmerized surfer fired immediately back: “Heaven!" I reached down and pinched my arm, just to make sure.


CHRIS WILLIAMS is a surfing coach and Laguna Beach resident, and father of four surf-crazy sons. He can be reached at chris@soulsurfingschool.com or (949) 497-5918.


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