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SURFING

So-So Summer Is Out of the Way

September 16, 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. and

The summer of 1993 is almost over. The kiddies are back in school, and the ocean can be reclaimed by die-hard surfers.

Figgy, what did you think of the summer?

Well, weather-wise it kinda sucked. It was overcast half the time, and we had June gloom through August.

And the waves?

Wave-wise, I thought it was OK. We had a lot of Southern Hemisphere swells that saved the day. In fact, this last one (two weeks ago) was kinda fun. We had a coupla hurricane swells that weren't too bad.

The water seemed colder than normal, didn't it?

We never did get the real warm water. And, the last two weeks, it's actually been chilly, with ocean temperatures about 65 to 68 degrees.

Anything from New Zealand?

Well, just checked in with ol' Sean Collins, from Surfline/Wavetrak, and he said the Southern Hemisphere was very active and was cranking out the most energy.

What's the difference between waves generated by a Southern Hemisphere swell and say, a south swell generated by a Mexican hurricane?

Well, it seems like the hurricanes are more southerly and more lined up.

According to Christopher Borg, meteorologist with Surfline/Wavetrak, the primary characteristic is the wave interval.

"A Southern Hemisphere swell lasts longer, usually a period of several days," Borg said. "Some swells have long intervals (between waves) of 20 seconds to 14 seconds for the lowest or shortest interval. Longer interval swells travel faster, so the longer interval swells arrive first, and the slower later. The whole swell could last in California three to four days. Typically, the hurricane can last maybe just over a two-day period."

There were a lot of interesting things that happened during summer. We had the first Richie Collins' Drug Use Is Life Abuse surf contest, with surfers making a statement against drugs here; more shapers got into "grab rail" board designs; and the Huntington Beach International Surf Museum launched its hall of fame search.

Unfortunately, it also was the summer that The Fig Man lost his title as the No. 1 rated surfer on the West Coast for amateur senior men's division in the U.S. Surfing Federation.

And a lot of retailers had a tough time, with a little bit of the recession lingering around and the so-so weather.

According to a recent Surf Industry Manufacturers Assn. survey, wholesale sales are projected to notch a 5% gain to $1.05 billion, up from $1 billion in 1992. Sales for equipment such as surfboards are up 10%, and accessory sales up 6%. The big news is that apparel sales remained unchanged in 1993.

SIMA spokesman Mike Kingsbury said the apparel makes up 40% of the $1.05-billion total, equipment, 35% and accessories, 25%.

More than 285,000 surfboards are expected to sell in 1993--which is up from 250,000 in 1992.

I agree with SIMA's findings, especially where they predict that board sales will be up. But clothing was kinda down, and you can attribute that to the June Gloom.

The weather put a few nails in the apparel coffin, huh?

Yup. Nobody wants to buy new trunks when it's cloudy.

The crowds didn't seem as bad this year, Fig.

Yeah. Overall, the crowds at the beaches in Orange County were mediocre. But not at Huntington Beach, which was like the new Palm Springs, just out of control all summer.

Then on Labor Day, it was the most crowded I've ever seen it. Out in the water it was wall-to-wall people, elbow to elbow. And on the street it was bumper - to - bumper.

But now the kids are back in school, and the waves can belong to us again.

'Cept for the south side of the pier. Huntington Beach High and other schools have their morning surf classes from 6:30 to 8 there.

Figgy, you looking forward to a good fall season?

Hopefully, we're going to have an Indian summer. I'll be looking for some offshore winds and smaller crowds. Contests: Lower Trestles is the spot for watching pro surfing this week with the Bud Surf Tour now through Sunday. Rob Machado of Cardiff is No. 1 in the rankings, followed by Chris Brown of Santa Barbara, Taylor Knox of Carlsbad, and Shane Stoneman of San Juan Capistrano. Heats begin at 7 a.m.; finals are Sunday about noon.

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