Surf in the USA - Rincon: California's International Surfing City

Rincon is tucked slightly off Highway 101 between La Conchita and Carpinteria. There are no hamburger stands, no souvenir shops, no proclamations that you have arrived. What you'll find is authentic surfing that anyone visiting California to surf must put on their list of experiences. Its fame is legendary as are the surfers who have driven or hitched a ride to this location. They come from around the globe to surf Rincon, possibly mainland America's top surfing destination. Some say its been a popular spot for 100 years or more.  Open between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily, the park sits next to gated beach houses that enjoy views of the ocean and world-class surfing.


You can't fully appreciate the magnitude of surfing in California until you visit Rincon Point.  As you drive your vehicle into either of two parking lots exiting the 101 at Bates Road, an eery scene reminds non-surfers of the film, March of the Penguins. Dressed mostly in black, wetsuited guys and girls dominate the scene. Looking like seals or penguins on a mission, the percentage of surfers in one place is so overwhelming that it hits you between the eyes as you realize that  Rincon is where surfing lives and legends are created.

What's so special about this bend in the road, rocky shore and ocean filled with bodies and boards south of Ventura and north of Carpinteria can be found as you follow the crowd down the easy-going dirt path lined with trees that leads to a the beach. Greeted by huge piles of driftwood and rocks that require the rock dance, the non-surfer will probably want to watch from that spot or wander along the shore a bit to inch closer to the action. It's there that you'll find a thatched shack with a picnic table and hammock at the south entrance. Maybe you'll notice someone painting.


One of the talented local artists who gains inspiration at Rincon is Robert Heeley, whose work is shown and sold in Santa Barbara at the Delphine Gallery, 1324 State Street. Call: (805) 962-6625.  Whenever he's around, the friendly guy doesn't seem to mind if you watch. Robert paints local landscapes and exceptional waves in plein air style, capturing the moments in frame-able art.  Wearing a knitted cap, he often uses his shirt to block the sun's  reflections from the canvas.


Another artist you'll be glad to come across is Woody Woodruff, who has photographed some of the finest waves around the world. His ability to capture them is matched only with his love of surfing, and in a former life, the hot tricks he performed as a competition skateboarder.  These two surfers represent the amazing talent that frequents Rincon. They are members of the Rincon Pit Crew and as they tell the story, so is anyone who wanders down to this special beach where surfing rules.


While a sub-culture of fishermen exists (we saw some people clamming in the rocks), this surfing destination offers three great locations...each providing constant, steady, surfable sets on most days. Rincon ("angle" or "corner" in Spanish) features The Cove, Rivermouth and Indicator.


The Cove is a flawless section that starts halfway up the point and funnels onto the rocks. Tom Curren developed his skill and style at The Cove. Rivermouth is just what it says, the mouth of Rincon Creek, and as such, is the place to avoid after a rain, due to pollution.  Unpredictable, it's a section that sometimes links the Indicator to the Cove. On a typical swell, waves can shut down at Rivermouth...but you never know. The Indicator is popular when the Cove is maxed out with longboarders. Decent waves that offer a slower ride provide an alternative to The Cove.


Rincon surfers pictured; bottom left is longboard surfer Ted Muñoz. In addition to his love of surfing, he's also involved in promoting water quality and participates in the Annual Rincon Classic Surf Competition held each spring.

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