Best of the West
With beach temps dipping down into the low 30s in the mornings, contrary to popular opinion, occasionally it does get pretty cold in Southern California. But with offshore winds and abundant west swell, few were deterred.
Some lineups look more like skate parks than others. This rocky Central Coast spot has it all, complete with good transition and a solid bowl section.
Tuning up for his rookie year on the world tour, Nat Young blows the fins out in Santa Cruz. The town is rallying around the kid; its hopes are on his squared-off shoulders.
It looks so peaceful from up here. With Half Moon Bay laid out before it, Maverick's rumbles to life with a set that probably measures close to 18 feet.
Younger and quieter brother (if that's possible) to Tom Curren, Joe is equally as stylish. A talented photographer in his own right, lately he's the one behind the lens rather than in front of it.
Ocean Beach, San Francisco, long regarded as one of the best beach breaks in the world on its day. This would appear to be one of those days. The salty "Beach" crew has had a fantastic run this winter.
When the waves are this good in so many different places up and down the California coast things can get a bit blurry. From the Mexican border to Oregon it seemed every break had its day.
Geoff Brack once went to jail for biting somebody's finger off in a fight. He's a much reformed character these days, and his performance at Salt Creek was as on point as ever.
Kyle Buthman is well engrained in Santa Cruz's storied surf scene and has been enjoying fun days like this at the town beach breaks that spend most of the year dormant.
Although Central California waves like this often go unridden with the only witnesses being the white-tailed deer on the surrounding hillsides, occasionally somebody does get lucky ... but we're not telling where.
Up close and personal with Tanner Gudauskas on the Central Coast. With his native San Clemente being shadowed from the majority of the winter swell, Gudauskas and his brothers wander the coast in their white minivan looking for surf.
The great thing about a place like Half Moon Bay, besides the fact that it's home to Maverick's, is that there's a talented local crew that stalks the beach breaks for hints of perfection. Dominic Spinardi is one such local who's been on it.
Hailing from up around the San Luis Obispo zone, Nate Tyler has his haunt on lock. He knows where to be when the surf's big, when it's small, when the sun's shining and when it's setting. It's not hard to figure out why he gets so many shots run.
Austin Smith Ford
Austin Smith Ford applies his "Oh Face" as he redirects off the bottom in Santa Cruz.
The wonderful thing about surfing in the winter is the crowds disappear and glassy, empty peaks are easy to find if you know where to look.
What's better than getting barreled? Getting barreled while your friends watch. Jimmy Herrick & Co. slotted in Santa Cruz.
When east meets west, Peter Mendia's frontside power gaff is not restricted purely to Florida. Occasionally he makes it out to California and reminds everybody that Kelly Slater's not the only guy from the Sunshine State who can surf.
The winter's the offseason for Trestles, it's more of a south swell haven. But with the right angle and the right period, swell does sneak in there.
With the light just right, Burns turns on a dime at Steamer Lane.
Over and Out
It hasn't been big or out of control in California this winter, but it has been fun. Here's to hoping the ride keeps on going this January and February.