California should definitively be on everyone’s surf trip list. Even better if you live there – like Andi. He is an old friend from high school and was not only so kind to give us a bed to crash but also to take us to his favorite’s surf spots in the area. Of course we wanted to know more about his passion for surfing and how it developed since he works and lives in the sunshine state.
Where did you learn how to surf?
I was with friends in a surfcamp in Fuerteventura, in Corralejo to be exact. Two weeks we were surfing non-stop. It was an intensive course with video analysis and everything. I even got a muscle strain in my, but still kept going. I was hooked. Never, in any other sport have I experienced such a great connection with nature. Riding down a wave, that mix of thrill and joy is just amazing. And since I moved here to California I improved my surfing a lot. I really enjoy being in the water and getting so close to the amazing marine wildlife that San Diego is famous for.
What is your fascination with surfing?
Surfing challenges me and I love challenges. As a scientist I am used to that 90% of my experiments fail – so I have to be that kind of person who keeps trying and never gives up. Surfing fascinates me in many ways. Being in the water, waiting for the next wave has almost a meditation effect on me. But I am also addicted to the adrenaline that kicks in when I ride a wave. In the ideal case surfing is like a well-functioning clockwork – everything is perfectly interlocking with each other and to reach that perfection is what we all are striving for.
How much did your surfing change since you are in California?
I definitively improved a lot. As a Swiss surfer it is always hard to make progress. Most of us only get a chance to go surfing during vacation. In those few weeks you need to build up your muscle strength and power and as soon as you think that you finally made progress it is already time again to go home. I guess that is why surfing never had the same importance to me in Switzerland that it has since I moved to California. Here, surfing is part of my daily lifestyle. I try to be in the water as much as possible, at least two days per week. I like to get up early and do a session before I go to work. Surfing helps me a lot to relax and to get my mind off from work. I’ve always been an active person but I am much more sportive since living in San Diego. Mostly this is because I am surfing that much. Every day in the water is just a good day!
How would you describe surfing in California?
California has a great variety of surf spots to choose from. The vibe is really relaxed and laidback. There are a few spots with localism, which I try to avoid. But so far I only had one bad encounter. The local surfers are mostly experts, and if they see that you can surf, then they also expect you to know the rules. But nevertheless also beginners are respected. My best bet is to talk to the people and get to know them – it helps a lot to get along and you also get a few insider tips from time to time.
Describe your homespots
Scripps is best at medium tide with a NW Swell. It works at 2 ft +. During the week it is less crowded and people are mainly relaxed. It’s a very consistent beach break with an international crowd and beginner friendly.
Blacks works at low to mid-tide and is very consistent. In the summer it produces more lefts with a S-SW swell and in the winter more rights with a NW swell. The crowd is definitively more competitive and you should be at least an intermediate surfer to go there. Paddle strength and endurance are another pre-condition.
Torrey Pines is my favorite surf spot and also the one where I started to surf in California. Unfortunately, it isn’t the most consistent spot. If it works then it is really worth to go there. The conditions are especially good if a strong off-shore wind is blowing.
Swell coming from the west is mostly bad for all of these three spots, it will only produce close-outs.
What was your scariest surf experience?
So far I never had a life threatening experience in surfing. Knock on wood. However I once destroyed my board with my head. It’s really true. Initially I actually wanted to go for a run with my wife at that day because the waves were mostly close outs. But she wasn’t in the mood so I went for a surf anyway. With those waves I was always too late with the take off. The sun was already getting low so I kind of went for any wave just to get at least one. And then it happened: I paddled in the wave, got up but was to late again, so I fell head first on my board. Not sure if I blacked out for a bit, but when I came up again I was certain that something happened - I had a hole the size of a fist in my board. I couldn’t believe it. Obviously that was the end of my sunset session, but I am a lucky guy that I didn’t hit the fins – my head wouldn't have been stronger in that case!
Andi is now back in Switzerland and is missing surfing dearly. He still goes paddling in the lakes and river surfing as often as possible. Thanks again Andi for an awesome time with you, great surf and a comfortable bed. We hope you will be back in the ocean soon!