An Ode to Malibu
This right-hand point break is likely the most popular, famous, and culturally-significant surf spot in California.
Clearly visible from Pacific Coast Highway, this Summer-time favorite has been at the epicenter of California longboard culture since before there was a surf culture.
My experience with Malibu is a bit unique in that the first six times I surfed it were all at night.
Surfing under the full (or semi-full) moon is not for the faint of heart, but it's thrilling. You watch for the waves to break the horizon, squinting your eyes to make out the incoming wave. You swing kinda wide because everything happens faster in the dark. When you get one, it feels like a freight train. Being goofy-footed, I generally kept a low, crouching parallel stance and just held on. You've never traveled so fast on a surfboard as when you can't totally see what's ahead of you.
Let me tell you, surfing Malibu during the daytime was a real eye-opening experience.
The first time I surfed Malibu during the daylight was one of those days the LA surfers dread—because there were like 20 guys from Orange County who all happened to be there that day. (The recipe for when Malibu is going to be really good isn't all that hard to figure out.)
I was happy to pick off inside waves that snuck by when the four people up and riding all fell or kicked out. That's a trick I learned from Nathan Adams... he's always either the furthest guy out to sea or the closest guy in toward shore. And because he tends to live on the extremes, he manages to keep his wave-count very high, regardless of how crowded the lineup is.
When I finally got a waist-high wave to myself, I was thrilled. I rode it as far in as I could, knowing I needed to milk every last ounce of any wave I got today. I kicked out of the wave, feeling pretty good about myself, and a surfer whose name rhymes with Toel Judor happened to be knee paddling out beside me. I gave him a polite wave, as we've met on several occassions.
As he paddled by, on his way back up to the top of the point, he said "don't worry, I won't tell anyone I saw that", and I thought to myself "don't worry, I won't tell you that I was actually quite pleased with how that wave went."
Whether you've surfed Malibu once or 150 times, it leaves an impression on you. The history and natural beauty are undeniable when you're sitting in the lineup waiting for a wave to slip through the crowd. When you get a wave there, set your rail, and point toward the pier, you mirror some of surfing's biggest personalities from the last 70-or-so years.
If I were surfing Malibu tomorrow, I would bring a 9'6 Walks on Water.
I have this Slightly Choppy Malibu flag hanging in the hallway of my house, one of. several surf spot flags that serves as a reminder of some of the warmest memories and best days in the water.