A License To Chill

A License To Chill

By Steven Wilcox

Everyone saw this swell coming a mile out. A massive purple blob emerged on the swell maps just south of New Zealand and we watched, like hawks. Could this be it? Is it solid enough? For years we’d had this plan in our back pocket. We’d studied a few swell charts, gathered some break info (which is damn near impossible to find) and looked into how the hell we could actually access this novelty wave. We learned a couple things.

1) If we touch land the military literally has the authority to shoot us… Cool.

2) If they don’t manage to shoot you and you’re caught touching land, it’s a hefty $2,000 dollar fine… Also cool.

SOLUTION: We’re gonna need a boat.

Time to put our money where our mouth is. We pull the trigger. The call goes out on the IG:

“Solid swell coming, we’re getting a boat, we’re going to this secret (ish) location off the California coast. If you’re in, bring beer!”

Within no time the calls are pouring in.

Where is this spot?
Can’t really tell you… You’ll have to cruise with us.

How big is it gonna be?
Probably 4-6ft? We’re not sure... Prepare for anything.

How many spots you got on this boat?
4 left, actually, kidding . It’s 3. Just filled another.

How much is this gonna cost?
Depends on the size of the boat we round up? Probably a hundred bucks max…

Is it worth it?
Depends? How much do you value surfing with only your best friends at a secret little reef off a boat for an entire day?

7 Surfers jump onboard, boats full, everything’s lined up… now we wait… swells not here for another 5 days.


Wednesday, July 25th.

It’s go time! Everyone pulls up to harbor around 830 am. A few exchanges of surf story since everyone’s last seen each other and it’s time we load up. Fog is overhead, the winds are light out of the south, the harbor is quiet and the water is still as can be. The advantage of weekday surf expeditions, everyone else is at their 9-5.

Our group heads to our home for the day, a 33ft sailboat we’ve rented from a local sailing company. Bless their souls for letting a handful of surfers potentially risk one of their fleet for the promise of killer surf. Boards, coolers, backpacks and cameras in tow, we load up the boat with everything we need for the day. 12 boards of all shapes and sizes run up the starboard side of the boat all the way to the bow. Coolers of food and beer are stuffed below deck and everyone grabs their spot aboard as the captain prepares to depart. We’re on our way.

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Fast forward 45 minutes and we’re here. Winds are still light and the waves look fun. A few others seem to have had the same idea as us today. Not to worry. There are only 3 people in the lineup. Looks slow… then a set approaches.

IT’S REELING! Wait to chest high right-handers start running down the point. 3 waves go by un-ridden and everyone on the boat is left to mind surf these beauties from the stern. Jacob dives below deck, throws on a wetty, waxes up and is off the side of the boat. The rest of the squad follows.

10:33 am: The first wave of the day goes to Jacob. He cruises down the point in classic cheater 5 style, inching towards the nose of his 5’7” twin fin. Behind him comes Andrew, and behind him, Jake ripping a few turns into the tapered wall. The rest of the boys on the boat watch and rush to get in the water. A few sets later and it’s noon. The boys call it. Seems like a good time for a beer, food, and definitely a new spot. The tide has slowed the surf a bit and there’s a lot more potential around the corner.

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“Pull up the anchor! Throw it in reverse? We gotta shake the seaweed off the damn thing.” Yep, we’re stuck. This is exactly what we were worried about. We’re surfers, not sailors... Our anchor has decided to become best friends with a nice pile of kelp and getting our anchor back on the boat is damn near impossible. "Anyone got a knife?" Luckily one of the crew has a blade. Brian, our pirate bearded board shaper, dives in and starts choppin’ away. On deck, Steven and the Captain pull the chain up the groove in the bow, desperate to to break her free. SNAP! She’s free and we’re good to go. “Alright, see that Kelp bed to the right? We’re going around that. Not dealing with that again.” Aye-Aye Captain.

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Around the kelp bed are a handful of reefs, each with a different wave of varying degree and difficulty. From the back, we can’t exactly tell what we’re looking at. It just looks like whitewash rolling into 30 ft cliffs with rocky boulders as shoreline… but, there’s only one way to find out. Steven jumps overboard and paddles in to investigate. Jacob and Jake are right behind him. Ryan’s quick to strap up and follow suit. The boys find out they’ve stumbled across something special. From the perspective of the boat, they really had no idea what they’d be paddling into but, they’ve found gold. It’s a left reef break with chest to slightly over headsets, peeling perfectly and it’s all to themselves. Jacob yells out to the boat, “I’ve never been in a line up like this before! This nuts!”

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3 and a half hours, tandem rides, close out elevator drops, 5 turn waves, 2 snapped leashes... it’s sunburns and smiles all around. Without another soul in sight, the boys' trade wave for wave and board for board trying everything from thrusters to twins and quads, even the occasional single fin Bonzer. The ocean surface is sheet glass, there’s not a speck of water out of place, and finally, the sun breaks through the fog. It’s a dream and the only thing to do is soak it in. Ryder brings out his camera, water housing and all to capture these incredible moments from the water. Our sailboat is anchored out back, our friends are trading jokes and set waves. Life doesn’t get much better than this…__________________________________________________________________________

Surfers: Brian Bressinger, Jacob Brighton, Ryan Torres, Andrew Wilcox, Ryder England, Jake Tyler, Steven Wilcox

Boat Captain: Alex Merida

Photography: Steven Wilcox, Ryan Torres, Ryder England, Jacob Brighton