“It’s almost like a religion in a way,” said 31-year-old “professional surfer Julie Cox.
When Cox described
what draws her to the waves, it’s not hard to understand why many Californians find
spirituality in surfing. “You find your peace out there, looking out at the horizon,”
Cox said. “You’re out catching a bunch of waves, watching the sun go down,
while birds are diving down to get their food, or a dolphin pops up right next
to you. For me, that’s as good as it gets. That’s my kind of church.”
native, Cox has surfed professionally for most of her adult life. In 2007, 2008
and 2009, she placed fifth in the world championships for women’s longboard
surfing. She even has her own line of women’s longboards, called the Jule Collection.
These days, she
runs the California Surf Museum, an institution in Oceanside that displays
artefacts of surf culture, surf art and surfboards that date back to the 1900s.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Surf Museum is
currently hosting a retrospective on
Hansen Surfboards that takes visitors 50 years into the family company’s
California is known for its mellow surfers and less-than-mellow waves, we
turned to Cox for some insight into the world of west coast surfing.
T: What surprises people who visit
California to surf?
C: That the
water’s cold. Our image is bright and sunny, but a wetsuit is a good idea
year-round. In general, [autumn
is] a nice time of year. There are usually waves and it’s not too cold. You can pretty much surf every day
of the year somewhere around here.
If you’re an
advanced surfer, know that you’re not going to find may places that rent
advance-style boards. So, you might as well bring your own board and wetsuit.
T: What are some good spots to check
out in autumn, both for beginners and advanced surfers?
C: In San
Surf Park is a good beginner spot and Blacks
Beach is a good advanced spot. In the Central Coast [area], Mondos is a
good beginner spot in Ventura and Rincon is a
more advanced spot. And then in Santa Cruz, Cowell’s is a
good beginner spot and Steamer
Lane would be for advanced.
T: The legendary Mavericks, a big wave surf spot in
Northern California boasts one of the biggest, most dangerous
waves on earth. Would you recommend this as a good spot for spectators?
C: Yeah, it’s a
really thrilling thing to watch. It’s scary-looking. It’s cold, it’s rocky,
there’re sharks [and] it’s a lot of current. In Hawaii, there are big waves,
but the water’s warm; in California, it’s got an edgier side to it.
check Surfline [for] the surf reports before going. It’s a beautiful
spot to see on its own, but if you really want to see [surfers riding] the big
waves, you’ve got to check the conditions.
T: Can you recommend some places for
beginner surf lessons?
C: Cowell’s in Santa Cruz – a bunch
of my friends are surf instructors there. There’s a girl named Ashley Lloyd who teaches in Santa Cruz;
she’s really good. There’s Carla Rowland in Malibu who’s a great
instructor. And there’s the SoCal Surf School and Surf Diva in San Diego.
T: Any advice for
advanced surfers visiting California for the first time?
explore. There are so many amazing places around here. Rent a car – a roadtrip
is a classic California thing to do. Get a guidebook and just go exploring.
are so many ways to immerse yourself in the culture. You can get into a lot of
surfing related things without even getting wet. There’s always a movie premier
or book signing or fashion show or industry trade show or gallery events. Or
you can watch a contest. Or come to a Surf Museum event.
T: What makes California stand out from
other surfing destinations?
consistency of the surf in California is world-class, and just the beauty of
California. The mountains going right into the ocean. The beautiful cliffs.
It’s so raw and wild. I just love California. I don’t know if I’d ever leave.