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A SWELL SUMMER : They're Waving Goodby to Some Great Surfing but Know That the Best Is on Its Way

October 01, 1992|Rick Fignetti and David Reyes | Fig is Rick Fignetti, a 35-year-old Huntington Beach surfer/shop owner. He surfed for Huntington Beach High School's 1974 team and is known as "Rockin Fig" and does the morning KROQ radio surf reports. He rides short boards and has a No. 1 rating among senior amateurs. and David Reyes is the older guy, who at age 44 remembers surfing Tin Can Beach at Huntington in a 7-6 Greek surfboard. He has reported on U.S. surf teams that visited Bali and Brazil and loves to hang out at K-39 in Baja. and Their column appears in O.C. Live! the first three Thursdays of every month. and

Welcome to the maiden voyage of Rockin' Fig and Dave's surf column.

It is for those who eagerly wake up early in the morning after hearing last night's weather report that big ocean swells are pushing toward Orange County beaches.

Whether you dawn patrol, hit the waves after work or just love the ocean, give a read. Even if you jog the beach area or surf one day and boat the next, we're going to be talking about beach stuff, personalities, clothing, surfboards, and innovations in the surfing world.

Recently, Fig man and I got together in Huntington Beach and sat down for an almost serious talk about the summer of 1992, which roared to a close Sept. 22 after a Labor Day swell of four- to six-foot waves.

Agreement: We had consistent, though small, waves throughout the summer that combined with an El Nino effect that made ocean water warmer. In short, it was another crowded year with water temps high enough to fry plankton.

Fig: And I definitely noticed a lot more people being darker this year!

Hee hee. Fig man often says crazy stuff like that.

'Member last year? said the Fig man. It was sooooo overcast, it's like we had only one week of sunshine in 90 days. This summer was so warm.

It's like everyone had a surfboard this year.

It was IMMENSELY crowded. It was kinda like the '60s all over again. At the beginning of summer, we had all the kids out of school, tourists from the East Coast, tourists from Japan, tourists from everywhere. The good thing is they're now gone, and we can look forward to winter surfing less crowded waves.

Fig, did I tell you about a friend of mine getting snaked by someone who took off on him?

Well, both paddled into a wave, and my friend had priority, but this guy gets up anyway and drops right in on him. He never said he's sorry or apologizes or said it was his fault. My buddy gets steamed and gives the intruder some lip. But the guy's ready to fight and yells: "Hey, THESE ARE THE '90s, DUDE!"

These are the '90s, Fig, but do you know the good thing about summer being over?

What? That the best months for surfing are late September and October 'cause the water's still warm and you don't have to wear a wet suit?


Light crowds and waves going off?

Nah. Nah.

Well, what then?

The fact that older guys like me can plan for morning surf trips to San Clemente or Trestles without worrying about whether school's in or out. It's been bad, Fig. Imagine a carload of older surfers, some who are married and with kids of their own, some with big paychecks from important jobs and stuff, and we spend all morning worrying about how many kids will be in the water.

Yeah. Cool.

(Sometimes, Fig is a man of few words.)

But, like, Fig, wasn't it a good summer?

It was a great summer! Though as far as overall size is concerned, we didn't have the super giant, giant swells. But as far as consistency, we had it. It went from waist to shoulder to possibly head high coming through. Don't forget, the Huntington Beach Pier opened, and we can now surf near it without getting arrested.

You're right, Fig.

I asked Fig to help me figure out a weird swell--which brought sweet, three- to four-foot waves--that only Fig could explain.

Actually, there was a tri-combo swell out there today. (Oooooh. Tri-combo. If you want fun, order pizza with this guy.) We had a little south, southwest, from the two tropical storms there spinning; we had a southwest from the southern hemisphere and there's a little northwest wind swell in there as well, making for really great conditions.

PEOPLE TO WATCH: East Coast professional and teen heartthrob Kelly Slater is tentatively No. 1 in world events leading with 400 points with only two events to go in the ASP tour. Fig said Kelly recently signed a big contract with Quiksilver without winning a major title. But it looks like it's paying off right now. Kelly's also gonna be starring in several episodes of "Baywatch," the lifeguard TV series, soon.

Shane Beschen, a San Clemente pro surfer who has been killing it on the U.S. Bud Surf Tour, seems locked in for the No. 1 spot. Next up is Ocean Beach, San Francisco, on Oct. 12.

KUDOS: Surfrider Foundation. After receiving hundreds of calls from beach-goers complaining of stomachaches, diarrhea, vomiting and sinus infections, the San Clemente-based foundation has launched a water-testing program. Tests will be taken three times a week at 60 beaches from Point Conception to the Mexican border.

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