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Surfing Laguna: Looking forward to surfing on San Diego waves

This week our crew is preparing to produce a surf contest in San Diego on Sunday.

As with any event, there is a long checklist to go over. Judges, prizes, timers, music, divisions and waivers are just a few of the elements involved with a surf contest.

These are easy, however, compared with the two big ones: surf conditions and weather.

Our last scheduled surf event came on the tail end of record setting January rain and huge 15- to 20-foot storm surf. Needless to say we had to postpone that event for safety reasons. In stark contrast, this Sunday’s forecast is greeted with cautious optimism as we expect 6-foot surf and sunny skies.


The judging criteria, simply put, is catching the biggest waves and executing the most radical maneuvers.

That is what contest judges (typically a panel of three) are looking for when awarding scores.

Watching the surfers compete is always a thing of beauty as they attempt to harness waves which are inherently shifty.

Like making the winning basket with one second left on the clock or hitting a grand slam with two out in the ninth; many surfers dream of paddling past the pack in the finals and finding a perfect wave awaiting them, seemingly offering a chance to shine under the heavy expectations that contest surfing requires.


With much practice and effort competitive surfers learn to thrive under these conditions and excel.

As the day progresses the drama quotient rises "” culminating in a final heat between four final competitors.

It’s intense and often keeps spectators riveted as lead changes and radical, go-for-broke surfing often prevails.

I’m a nut for acceptance speeches.

I love to hear the often interesting journey a winner takes listeners on while thanking those who made the victory possible.

God, parents, spouse, coaches, friends, a promise, revenge, renewal or maybe nothing in particular.

Sometimes it makes perfect sense, other times no rhyme or reason to be found.

Looking at the winning scorecard tells part of the story "” looking into the eyes of the victorious surfer tells the rest.


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