Sunday, May 11, 2008

Surf Break Maps: The Point, Salt Creek, Dana Point, Orange, California

The Point is generally considered the “anchor” spot of Salt Creek beach. It is usually the most consistent, the most crowded, and it usually has better overall wave shape.



The Point is a left-hander that breaks off the pile of rocks along the south end of the beach. While it is called “The Point” it actually has a lot more in common with a reef break than an actual point break. The rocks that you see above the waterline and on the beach are actually just the base of a longer underwater rock shelf. Sand moving down the beach from the north has a tendency to get piled up next to those rocks and helps to extend the “point” further away from the shore and smooth off the transition from deep to shallow water.

If you have ever surfed The Point you know that the primary take-off section is pretty small…it is a section maybe about 10-15’ across…sometimes smaller or larger depending on how the tides, wind, and swell is affecting it. On most crowded days it can be a proper bitch to get set waves. There are a lot of guys that have got the Point dialed…they know how the wave is going to set up and have a good idea on how the tide is affecting the take-off, put 10 or 12 of those guys into a little box of a take-off zone and mix in an inconsistent southern hemi swell and you have a recipe for frustration. After a couple of sessions like that you will have a good idea why a lot of people head over to Middles.

On the right swell the left off The Point is a damn good wave…sometimes even worth the wait if it is crowded. The takeoff at the top of the point is fast but not hyper-critical so you have a good chance of making the drop. The wave does set up fast though and right after your bottom turn you hit a speedy section that has a tendency to barrel for a couple dozen yards. From there the wave slows down a touch but you do have to push through some racy sections on the inside. Eventually the wave does a semi-closeout as finally nears the beach…occasionally you will get a small shoulder that you can drift off and back into your paddle.

Check out this super old photo of the point…you can read a cool story about the Dana Point/Creek Surf scene that came with this photo here http://habig.com/fremember.html



Man I wish that the Coast still looked like this...

The best swell for the Point is generally a medium sized (5-7’ faces) long-period S-SW swell (180-210). It generally needs a medium-high tide to really get the wave to stand up but occasionally the sand will shift around and it can stay playful on the low-mid tide as well.

Rights off the Point
Occasionally, on large WNW-W swells, enough energy will push past the point and form a right-hander that breaks back toward Strands. It takes a lot of energy to actually make it break with any sort of shape but it is a good standby spot if other areas are having trouble with winds/weather. It is worth noting that Strands has a ton of randomly submerged rocks and can be pretty sketchy…it is one of those spots probably better left to experienced surfers.

Spot details:
Best swell direction:
Healthy S-SW swells (180-210) and large W-WNW swells (270-280)
Best Wind: NE-E, light-moderate winds are the best. But it can handle light-moderate winds out of the S-SE
Sea Floor: Mostly rock-reef with some patches of sand and sea-grass. More sand as you get closer to the beach.
Best Season: Fall, Winter, Summer and sometimes Spring
Crowds: Generally mellow but it can get a little thick when the crowd at the point is overflowing.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I tried to post this on Wavewatch but can't seem to make stick. So...

A Story For the Salt Creek "elite"


On a recent early morning down at Salt Creek, my daughter was about to compete in her first surf contest. She had surfed at Point only a couple of times and was a bit nervous about competing. Having only a year of surfing experience under her belt, a healthy dose of nerves was totally normal, I told her. At the very least you'll have a chance to surf with only a few others out and if you end up last in your heat you'll still get your team one point.

Well that turned out to be not the case.

Her heat went off first and despite the jersey's over their wetsuits and signal horns indicating a contest in the water, the locals didn't give a rats butt and cut-off, dropped in and other-wise disrespected the event in every way.

My daughter managed to catch a few waves and wound up taking first in her heat. After congratulating her, I ran up the access road, close to the tunnel for better cell reception. I called home to forward the news and started back down toward the beach. There where two surfers, probably in their forties, walking behind me with boards under their arms. They asked another guy coming up the hill how the surf was. He said its good but there's a contest going on. One of the surfers responded, "fu** 'em, I'll run right over their asses". I turned and looked at him and just shook my head.

I could almost understand their grievance if this was some secret spot that's been exposed to the masses, but it's not. And these high school contests only run for two hours, then they're gone, off to class.

It's sad these guys cant display a little class of their own.

myspaceidid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

Salt Creek is a public beach and that's that. I've been racing mountain bikes since I was 11 years old, and the trails we raced on were more often than not, open to the public. Deal with it. I live to surf and ride my bike and I also work 50 hours a week. That small window I get in the mornings to surf is swamped with children four days out of the work week; they are disrespectful, loud and often litter the beach. It's time they have surf class after school, just like the other sports. Until then, you can bet your ass I'll be paddling out at the point if it's decent, screw the contests.