Column: California Surfing Day is coming


There was a kind of unwritten rule among surfers, as least for those who could get away with it.

If the waves are good on a weekday, you might get in the water, get a few and go in late to work, or maybe miss a couple of classes of school in the morning.

But that rule is no longer “unwritten.” “Stop” what you’re doing, “Drop” everything and “Surf” is now a thing in California, officially. “Stop, Drop and Surf” is the campaign promo and SCR 122 is the official resolution that was introduced to the state Legislature earlier this year by state Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove).

It passed unanimously in both the state Senate and Assembly, proclaiming Sept. 20 as “California Surfing Day.”

Now all that’s needed is for Mother Nature to cooperate on that day. Go surf, and be sure to print out a copy of SCR 122 to bring to work or school. It’d be like having a doctor’s note or a note from your parents, right?

Specifically, SCR 122 says: “This measure would recognize September 20, 2018, and every year on that date thereafter, as California Surfing Day to celebrate the California surfing lifestyle, would commend all those who honor the history, culture, and future of surfing, as well as the sport of surfing and the protection of our beach and ocean environments, would express support for future surfers and encourage potential surfing Olympians to work diligently, and would encourage all Californians to enjoy California Surfing Day.”

Just last month California declared surfing as the state’s official sport and we have International Surfing Day every June 20, so did we really need a California Surfing Day?

“After the Circle of Honor, when we did the [world record] paddle out, there was this buzz, ‘What should we do next?’ ” said Diana Dehm, executive director of the International Surf Museum in Huntington Beach.

Dehm said she was approached by Huntington Beach Mayor Mike Posey, looking to “create something cool for the state.” So Dehm grabbed some surfers and some colleagues at the museum and came up with the idea of California Surfing Day. She contacted Nguyen and Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach), presented the idea and got the ball rolling. Then she gathered a group to go to Sacramento in the hopes of making if official.

“They brought us onto the floor into the Senate and they were so welcoming,” Dehm said. “They did a live vote on the floor and it was unanimous. And this is pretty funny, the senator from Lemoore, where the Surf Ranch is, gets up and says, ‘I could not be more supportive of this because we have the best waves in the world,’ and everybody laughed.”

For Dehm, California Surfing Day is just another in a growing list of activities and events the museum has initiated, shining a spotlight on the surfing community. Three Guinness World Records have been set in recent years in Huntington Beach — biggest surf board, most surfers to ride on a single board (66) and largest paddle out (511).

Dehm said they are working on “something big” for California Surfing Day in 2019, and there is the issue of the paddle out record. It seems earlier this year a group of 992 paddled out in Herzliya, Israel, to protest the construction of an oil rig nearby.

The record, however, is not official because there was no representative from Guinness to verify it. So the event is still going through an extensive verification process in which video and photographs are being examined and eyewitnesses are being interviewed.

In order for the record to be established, the circle of surfers must hold hands continuously for one minute. It certainly didn’t hurt Israel’s attempt that the ocean was flat that day, compared to the six-foot sets that hammered the break at Huntington Beach. More than 100 surfers were unable to get out past the break and be counted in the record attempt.

“Who knows? We may be doing it again,” Dehm said. “It’s been pretty funny, everybody’s saying, ‘We’re going to have to go back and go for a thousand,’ so we’ll see.”

Surf Ranch

The World Surf League held the Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore on Sept. 6-9, the first wave pool event ever in a Championship Tour contest, to mixed reviews.

Brazil’s Gabriel Medina won the men’s division and Hawaii’s Carissa Moore won the women’s division, and there were plenty of highlight-reel maneuvers, including 9.80 put up by Brazil’s Filipe Toledo, who finished in second place.

But unlike the Founders’ Cup of Surfing last May in the Surf Ranch’s first public event, the event did not sell out. It might have something to do with the ticket price, which was $99 for a one-day ticket as the lowest price option available. Throw in the cost for travel, gas, hotel, and it can be a little pricey.

Then there was the mechanical glitch with the plow, which is the machine that creates the wave. For a while there was a problem with the plow when it went in the direction that creates a left-hander. Apparently the wave was about half the size it should have been, so a handful of surfers got a chance to re-surf their left.

Keeping up with Kanoa

Huntington Beach’s Kanoa Igarashi thrived at the wave pool, finishing in fourth place overall behind Medina, Toledo and the wave pool designer himself Kelly Slater.

With the finish, Igarashi moved up to No. 9 in the world rankings, the first time he has cracked the top 10 in his career, now in his third season on the CT. And even better news for Igarashi is that he’s always been better in the latter half of the CT season, thriving in the European tour stops and Hawaii.

Huntington Beach High recognized

Huntington Beach High’s surf team was recognized during the Surf Ranch Pro for winning the Interscholastic National Championship in June, its 19th national title.

On hand representing the team were coach Andy Verdone and surfers Sage Guinaldo, Ethan Hurst, Zach Lyons and Chiasa Maruyama.

JOE HAAKENSON is a Huntington Beach-based sports writer and editor. He may be reached at