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SURFING

Beware Snowbirds Plugging Beaches

April 01, 1993|RICK FIGNETTI and DAVID REYES | Rockin' Fig is Rick Fignetti, a Huntington Beach surfer/shop owner. Times staff writer David Reyes has reported on U.S. surf teams competing in Bali and Brazil.

I checked in with Rockin' Fig, and was he ever excited.

March had roared to a close with Orange County surfers getting tubed on eight-foot wave faces from a combination of swells from the north Pacific and the strongest Southern Hemisphere swell of this year.

And, the Fig man said, spring break is just around the corner. In fact, some colleges are already off this week.

Words of advice from the Fig?

Beware! The crowds will be here. Already the amp level's going high, with lots of people from all over the United States hanging out.

Late-winter storms on the East Coast, including the Blizzard of '93 that caused more than 110 deaths and brought freezing temperatures to the Deep South and along the Eastern Seaboard, also has brought different talkin', different lookin' visitors to Orange County, said Fig.

They're just a little whiter than our average folk, though they do wanna learn how to surf. (And in Fig's best down-home, Southern accent drippin' in bacon grease) They jus luuuuuv to go out in that guuuud water out there, cause it's sooo warm heah.

People from all over pay to travel to the West Coast, which might surprise Stephen Leatherman of the University of Maryland's Laboratory for Coastal Research.

Leatherman has ranked 650 beaches in the nation on the basis of 50 criteria, ranging from ocean-water quality and temperature to trash and dog poop on the sand.

For the best beach in America, Leatherman picked Kapalua Beach in Maui. The top beach in Southern California was Santa Barbara, which was ranked No. 70. And Huntington, right in Rockin' Fig's back yard, was No. 113.

I don't blame him. It's pretty much of an urban beach. But hey! I have fun out there, and so do all my bro's. So who cares what he ranks it? He doesn't surf in it every day.

Malibu Surfrider Beach was down on the list, at No. 372. Figgy said Malibu's got some of the most perfect waves in the world. But look at it, it's right near a creek that sends thousands of gallons of pollution with each rain.

Also on Leatherman's list:

Carpinteria, No. 185; Zuma Beach, No. 199; Venice Beach, No. 266; Manhattan Beach, No. 279; Corona del Mar, No. 334; North Malibu Coast, No. 335; Malibu Surfrider, No. 372; Redondo Beach, No. 380; Long Beach, No. 499, and Laguna Beach, No. 578.

Updates: Sean Collins from Surfline scored another knockout with his prediction of four- to six-foot waves for March 24. On the extended outlook, Collins said, the Southern Hemisphere continues to be "very active," with new storm activity off Antarctica.

Contests: Kim Hamrock of Huntington Beach took first in women's division at Pleasure Point near Santa Cruz for the West Coast Regional of the U.S. Surfing Federation. Dick Whited of San Clemente took the grand masters; Jeff Moysa of San Clemente was first in junior longboard, and Ryan Etherton of Laguna Niguel took first in senior bodyboarding. And Rockin' Fig was first in the senior men's.

Travel notes: Huntington Beach surfers Robert August and Rick Karren recently returned from Costa Rica, where waves were about waist to shoulder height on the Pacific side.

I just got back from Puerto Escondido, Mexico. Waves were four to six feet. Air temp: 89. Water: 74 degrees and melted my winter wax. Trip bummer: Mexicana Airlines charged an extra $30 EACH WAY to carry my surfboard.

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