Photos of The Wedge at West Jetty View
Park at Ocean Blvd. and Channel Road is known for its spectacular waves that
break offshore. While Rincon has its Pit Crew, the
Newport Wedge has the Wedge Crew, elite riders of the wave who enter the
water with nothing more than a wetsuit and fins.
hard to understand until you visit and see what the fuss is all about. Some
days the waves are too blown out (see top and bottom-right photos.)
What is the
And who surfs the wedge? Read
about a wedge pioneers,
The best waves at this Newport Beach
location are unique and don't happen that often, but when they do, you
better know what to do or you may find yourself pounded into the sand.
In this incredible sport that pits man against nature, one mistake can
paralyze you for life, and unfortunately, it happens routinely. One wipe
out trying to bodysurf the Newport Wedge can cause bruises and broken bones,
but still, there's a hard core group of bodysurfers who face up to 10-foot
high waves for the extreme thrill of a water-oriented sport that isn't part
of most surfing competitions.
When it's summer in Newport Beach, that
means your chances of catching a ride improve as currents from around the
globe roll (as far away as New Zealand) powerfully build strength and
culminate in the Wedge experience. So named for the waves
that approach shore, then bounce off the jetty's boulders and form a perfect
shape, the Newport Wedge is the top mainland spot for bodysurfing.
There's no pro circuit for body surfing. Pipeline Bodysurfing Classic, held
each February on Oahu's North Shore, and the World Bodysurfing
Championships, in Oceanside, California, are the primary competitions.
Offering very little prize money and almost no sponsorship compared to most
surfing events, body surfing is very special to this tiny little section of
Newport Beach, and came about as a result of a jetty being built to create a
harbor. The Army Corps of Engineers added 200,000 tons of rocks between 1934
and 1936, in an effort to extend the jetty's reach.
Built in 1918 to protect
the entrance to Newport Harbor, Corona del Mar suffered the most from the
construction as their great surfing waves were lost. Surfers lost one
of their great spots when the jetty was built. But body surfers discovered
the that the jetty became a sort of wave machine, creating incredible waves
through a process of incoming water bouncing off the jetty to create
reflected waves that move sideways outward from the structure. When those
reflected waves bump into the new set of incoming waves, the two combine to
form a triangle shape. Precisely where the waves converge, the ocean floor
rises abruptly, pushing the peaks upward.
In 1961 when former UCLA water-polo player Fred Simpson redesigned stronger
fins, body surfers gained a new tool to allow them to surf the Newport Beach
wedge with less likelihood of being injured. A club formed to create and
foster a social environment for the small group of brave souls willing to
risk life and limb.
Cashbox Kennedy, Terry Wade and Kevin Thoman were the tight-knit group of
Crew members who sprang into action when a new threat, boogie
boards, began appearing on the scene. "Boogers" at The Wedge
filled the shore with their boards, pushing out bodysurfers. The
small club or crew formed the Wedge Preservation Society and
petitioned the City of Newport Beach to keep The Wedge open only
to body surfers. In the name of public safety, the bylaw
prohibits all board surfing—including boogie boarding—at the
10a.m. and 5 p.m., from the start of May to the end of October.