Joe Surf: Big waves hard to find

We hear it when the surfing superstars of the world make their little comments about the waves in Huntington Beach.

They say it all the time, and they were saying it during the U.S. Open a few weeks ago. After Lakey Peterson won the women's title, she said: "The final was really slow and I was pretty bummed because I wish we both could have got some really good waves. I'm so stoked and I really wanted to win on a high note."

Granted, the waves aren't always slammin' like the North Shore in the wintertime, but still, it gets a little old.

So I had to chuckle a little bit when I read that the Billabong Pro in Tahiti, the latest stop on the men's Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour, had to call a lay day for the fourth consecutive day on Tuesday because of a lack of waves.

Kelly Slater, competing for his 12th world championship, found it hard to leave California last week and go to Tahiti because he was having so much fun surfing at "home" in California.

Slater has homes in Santa Barbara, Hawaii's North Shore, Florida and Australia. Slater has been known to skip a contest entirely if the wave at one of his "homes" is pumping. But already having missed one of the ASP contests on tour this season, he couldn't afford to skip another with five contests still remaining.

"I actually caught the last plane I could have caught to make my heat and I barely made it this morning," Slater said last week. "It's not often that the waves in California are better than Tahiti, but there hasn't been a whole lot of surf here and we've had pretty good waves at home. It doesn't look like there's a lot forecast for this year, which is a shame, but there's still fun surf to be had.

"It's Teahupo'o, and you can sometimes take for granted how beautiful the waves are here."

There's certainly a different vibe in Tahiti as well, as everything gets smaller — from crowds to corporate influence.

"I've been coming here since '93, so it's about 20 years and I still love it," Slater said. "It's still so raw. There's no real big business here. It's all families, and we stay with them and it's still a very special place."

Slater began the Tahiti contest in second place in the World Tour standings, trailing Mick Fanning. Both Slater and Fanning, as well as Huntington Beach's Brett Simpson, had reached the third round of competition before the lay days hit.

Speaking of small waves, Doheny is a great place for longboarding, and it's also a great place for a luau.

The Doheny Longboard Surfing Assn. will host its 23rd Dale Velzy Surf Contest and Luau on Saturday at Doheny State Beach.

The event honors Dale Velzy, who passed away in 2005 and was a pioneer in surfboard shaping. The event is family-friendly, starting in the morning with a surf contest that includes tandem riding.

The luau begins at 3 p.m. and will continue into the evening when the musical group the Soul Surfers performs.

For tickets and contest information, go to

"The Innovations of Hobie," the Surfing Heritage Foundation's current exhibit, will run through Sept. 9. And you can get an idea of what's on display by visiting, which shows parts I and II of the expanded Hobie Exhibit.

There are incredible photographs of Hobie Alter and his work. The museum is at 110 Calle Iglesia, San Clemente.

JOE HAAKENSON is an Orange County-based sports writer and editor. Reach him at

Copyright © 2019, Daily Pilot
EDITION: California | U.S. & World