By Jasmine Smith, Aug. 24, 2021

As the last days of summer breeze by and the semester begins anew, the CPP campus community is prepared to keep catching gnarly waves amid surfing’s pandemic popularity.

Due to the pandemic, contact sports like basketball and football were put to a halt while socially-distanced activities, like surfing, became a popular alternative at the start of the pandemic and has remained so in 2021.

Joel Navarro, a fourth-year business administration and marketing management student, has been surfing for ten years and was inspired by his late cousin to begin surfing. The way Navarro’s friends and family described his cousin’s dedication for the sport motivated him to try it out for himself.

“COVID has affected surfing in my life in the best way possible,” said Navarro. “Cheap airfare for strike missions south of the border, an incredible winter spent on the north shore of Oahu, and no traffic up and down the coast of California. Some may say it was the best year to be a surfer and the worst year to be anything else.”

A strike mission is when a surfer goes to a destination on a whim for surfing since not all beaches have the best water year-round. Going on a strike mission allows surfers the chance to catch amazing waves through different seasons.

To those new to surfing, Navarro advised going to a beach break called Blackies, located between the 28th Street Jetty and the Newport Beach Pier in Newport Beach, California, stating that it’s the best place for beginners.

Before the pandemic, Navarro participated in the annual Ocean Beach Pier Classic surfing competition. The competition is presented by the Hodad’s Foundation & AWOL Productions which encourages more youth sports, summer surf and skate camps. Many local competitions, which were previously put on pause, have slowly resumed as restrictions are lifted throughout the state.

As the months of September and October approach, local surfers will have the chance to enjoy “perfect” barreling waves and the best offshore winds brought by the fall season, according to Navarro.

Joel Navarro expertly maneuvers the summer waves at his favorite beach. Courtesy of Navarro.

The rising appeal of surfing has helped surf shops stay afloat due to the decrease in sales and production brought about by the pandemic. According to the OC Register, surf retailers had a 15% increase in sales since reopening in mid-June 2020, which was double the amount of 2019.

Carsten Lange, an economics professor who has been surfing for 15 years, says that surfing is a sport that keeps him healthy, in shape and helps with balancing relaxation.

Lange continued to state that since the COVID-19 pandemic, San Onofre and Doheny beaches have been crowded with people who used to play indoor contact sports but are now trying socially distanced sports like surfing. According to CNBC, beaches are the number one choice for travelers following the data from Trivago showing there was a 27% growth since March 2020.

“Well, I think we have to be a little bit patient with COVID and I hope not too many people go back to indoor sports too soon,” said Lange.

Professor Lange spending quality time surfing with his son Max. Courtesy of Lange

Emily Frisan, a third-year geography student, has been wanting to surf since she was a child, and started learning how to surf with a friend right before the pandemic hit in January. Frisan was disappointed when she was unable to continue and lost her surfing ability after staying quarantined for months. However, Frisan was able to start again when the beaches opened back up.

“Surfing is like an outlet for me, I think of it as an opportunity for what life has become,” said Frisan. “Technology like being on your phone and laptop, which I don’t enjoy all the time and I think you need to find time for yourself.”

During times of uncertainty surfing has been a safe haven for all to enjoy regardless of experience.

Featured image courtesy of Joel Navarro.

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