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Stood Up by Linda

Hurricane, Giant Waves a Washout, but Surfers Had a Swell Time


No rain, no wind, no terror.

Just bigger waves.

Save for the surf, it seems Hurricane Linda has, well, petered out.

But while Linda will not be remembered as the first-ever hurricane to plow head-on into Southern California, the big, meaty waves she sent barreling into Ventura County's shores brought the surf crowd out in force Monday. And out of work, as hooky-playing surfers probably offered every made-up malady in the book to their bosses.

"I'll show up at work tomorrow all sunburnt," quipped Erik Lytthans, 22, after he spent five hours in the waters off County Line Beach at the county's southernmost border.

With gusts to 215 mph late last week, Hurricane Linda broke records as the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the northeast Pacific. The hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday morning as it spun out over cooler waters about 700 miles southwest of San Diego and headed out to sea.


All she left in her wake were waves that averaged 8-foot faces as they broke along south-facing beaches in Ventura County.

"There's some nice waves out there, man," said surfer Ron Higgins at County Line Beach.

"Some of these waves . . . pummeled, man," Higgins said. "All you want to do is come up and breathe."

The National Weather Service issued a heavy surf advisory through this morning, calling for an average of 4- to 7-foot wave faces along the county's coastline, and some swells on south-facing beaches with an occasional set of larger breakers.

County lifeguards, who had been bracing for Linda's arrival, reported no problems as the swells rolled in smaller than expected.

But even when the high-surf advisory expires, weather service meteorologist Vladimir Ryshko said waves bigger than the 2- to 3-footers that are normal for this time of year should continue through Wednesday and even into Thursday morning.

Robert Schreiber of Port Hueneme said he felt cheated after all of the media hype about huge surf.

"The way they were predicting on the radio about 10-foot sets, the whole bit, it's kind of disappointing," said the 26-year-old Navy man. Yet he clung to the hope that something better was just over the horizon.

"It's supposed to get a lot bigger, but if that happens or not, who knows? I'm praying. I'm about ready to burn a surfboard for a sacrifice."


Although it was nothing compared to the surf in Orange and San Diego counties, some of the county's biggest waves to reach this far north hit Surfers Point at Seaside Park in Ventura. About 100 surfers crowded into the long lineup early Monday morning.

"It's just been a nice, solid fun swell," said Tom Matkov, 25, of Santa Barbara, who planned to head home from the Ventura surf break for some longboarding at Santa Barbara County's Leadbetter Beach. "This is fun."

Sitting at Surfers Point, 22-year-old Matt Chaissonof Santa Barbara had no trouble finding the right perspective.

Sure he had wished for bigger, cleaner, more perfect waves.

But he wasn't complaining.

"You can't be too upset," he said, gazing at the surf with his mixed-breed retriever. "Waves in the summer. . . ."

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