Meeting California’s Most Dangerous Wave

Take a wild ride.

You’ll need fins to catch

 the prized “bounce wave” of the set.

You’ll also need years of time in the line up

to compete successfully with Newport Beaches’ “wedge specialists”.

You will recognize them  by their thick necks, over- developed

shoulders and body markings that say, “I’d rather lose my job than miss a

south swell.”

You  swim out further from the pack and start waiting.

Waiting for a set that makes the beach crowd howl and

the lifeguards stand poised.  Waiting for the horizon to rise up to meet the

lowest clouds.

Waiting for the third wave.  When the set comes and

jumps upward,  the locals swim frantically toward you, but they will

not be able to get over the mountain of water coming at them and coming at

you.  For like an iceberg, most of the wave’s mass is beneath the surface.

And, this mass has just felt the sandbar and has nowhere to go but

straight up into the sky.

You are the only one out far enough. The only one with a chance to ride

this beast.

The crowd on the beach is screaming, but you can’t hear them.

A Coast Patrol boat sounds a warning horn.

All you hear is your heart beating and your now involuntary hyper breaths

induced by real fear.

Bodyboarders race under the crest of a perfect “Wedge” wave.

The twelve foot high wave climbs up the jetty and then

bounces outward doubling in size to over twenty feet.

You put your head down, stroke and kick.

You aim for the intersection of the two colliding masses of water.

This is the sweet spot,  the steepest, meanest, most vertical precipice.

A momentary launch ladder on a lurching wall

that is  sucking up everything in its path.

This is the wedge.  It lifts you  three stories up and

throws you forward and out into nothing.

You drop out of sky, see the shallow sandbar below, and then the wave

heaves over you.

You hope to land on its face  and

skim across its surface. If you are skilled and strong, and lucky and its not

your day to die, you get a few seconds of fame. The beach crowd screams.

Camera motordrives click and whir.    Drones video from overhead.

Instantly,  water detonates into a spine

snapping shore pound. In this moment  your legend is born or the lifeguards

come racing for your body.

Welcome to the Newport Wedge.