Active young people who enjoy paddling out into the salty waters, waiting for a robust wave to ride and balancing perfectly at that pivotal moment on their boards, certainly aren’t limited to summertime when it comes to surfing.
The waters off the Central Coast provide year-round opportunities for surfers of all ages to use their skills — and to experience the thrill of a ride that might last 20 or even 30 seconds or more.
Enter Coast Union High School student-athletes Chase Volz and Auggie Johnson. Both are surfers, and both were willing to sit down and talk about why they love this sport.
Volz, who is working this summer at the Cambria Shores Inn, said he started out riding waves on a boogie board at the age of 4.
“My parents got me started; they surf all the time,” often at Moonstone Beach, a stone’s throw from where Volz sat for an interview.
One of the most obvious skills necessary to ride a board on ocean waves is balance, which Volz said came “naturally” to him.
“My dad would push me out to a wave, and I’d stand up on the board.” Still, for most people, “It takes a lot of practice,” he said.
When he’s out on the water waiting for a wave to ride, Volz feels “kind of removed sitting out there. If there’s no one out there with you, it’s such a peaceful place out there. And there’s nothing to distract you.”
And on the subject of distractions, Volz does not worry about sharks; he’s heard all the stories and has never had an encounter with a shark.
Weather forecasters are predicting a strong El Niño for this coming fall and winter season. What does that portend for surfers?
“It usually means in the winter the waves are bigger and stormier, and not necessarily good for surfing.
“But in the spring when it comes out of El Niño, there are better sand bars and sand all around and the waves are better then.” Certain sand formations on the ocean floor — if the sand forms an “L” shape — makes for better waves and longer rides, Volz said.
As to competition from surfers coming to Moonstone from other areas in San Luis Obispo County, Volz says, “Most people out here are pretty cool. When the swells are from the south, we get people from Morro Bay and down south, but Cambria surfers know where to go better than those people do.”
The possibility of a Coast Union surf club is exciting to both boys. Volz, whose only team sport at Coast Union is baseball, said that Santa Lucia Middle School Principal Kyle Martin has given indications that he is willing to launch a surf club.
“That would be really good,” Volz said.
Auggie Johnson said during a phone interview that “it would be pretty cool if we can get a surf club started and some trips going throughout the year. I think we’ll start that club pretty soon. Kyle Martin, I think, is going to start a club.”
Both surfers said they would like to have the surf club take road trips to Santa Cruz and to Southern California — possibly as far south as San Clemente.
Johnson, who plays basketball and baseball for Coast Union, is entering his junior year. He surfs “pretty much every day in the summer.” He got started thanks to Jez Lawson encouraging him. “And I picked it up pretty fast — and it was fun.”
Johnson, who is working this summer at Centrally Grown, broke into surfing using an 8-foot board, but today he uses a 5-foot-9-inch board because “you can just rip on the waves, glide, and you can go a lot faster, and it’s fun.”
“I want to catch every wave that comes to me,” Johnson continued. Getting out there and hoping for long rides “is why I go out there every day.”
Both boys say they would be willing to help another willing person learn to surf, and both agree that trying a surf location such as Mavericks in Half Moon Bay is out of the question. Johnson said in order to surf at Mavericks, you have to be able to hold your breath for about 5 minutes, in case you are thrust deep under the giant, churning waves.
For Johnson, the longest he had to hold his breath underwater was about a minute. He’s perfectly happy — as is Volz — to ride the medium-size and larger waves at Moonstone.
“I like the waves in the fall,” Johnson added. “Usually glassy and nice; warm weather, warm water, and the waves are always fun.”