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THE OUTDOORS ALMANAC | NIGHT LIFE

No snoring

You snooze, you lose out on the few empty waves left.

August 31, 2004|Jamie Tierney

The night surfer not only escapes the oppressive summer crowds at spots such as Malibu, Topanga, Trestles and Huntington and Oceanside piers but also the annoyances of the UV index, the ticking parking meter, the scorching sand and the scrutiny of spectators.

But even under a klieg like last night's full moon, smacking the lip in the dark is tricky.

Board shapers and wetsuit makers haven't gotten around to adding reflectors, so some collision-wary wave riders have taken to watching their backs by wearing rave-scene glow necklaces, which cost as little as 19 cents each.

Now, if only the water lighted up.

Luminescent dinoflagellate can give the coastal ocean an extraterrestrial glow, but algae are slippery to harness.

The ATN Night Storm 3 waterproof night-vision scope can offer paddlers an early wave-selection advantage, but it's an unwieldy monocular to stow and pricey at about $2,195.

Lights along Southern California's piers can spill onto lineups and allow fewer no-paddle takeoffs. (And the brightest pier of all, Santa Monica, adds live music during its free Thursday night Twilight Dance series; at the season's final concert this week, Clarence Clemons Temple of Soul will serenade surfers.)

But all these options pale visibility-wise in comparison to night surfing Rio de Janeiro's Arpoador Beach, a shore break that basks nightly in stadium-wattage spots. A round-trip ticket from LAX to Rio goes for about $725-- plus that stoke-spoiler of a board-handling fee.

-- Jamie Tierney

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