Surfs up! Crowds flock to California beaches A person surfs at the Wedge in Newport Beach, California (AP photos)
Surfs up! Crowds flock to California beaches
Lexile

Hundreds of spectators lined the beach and gasped, cheered and clapped as bodysurfers braved 15-foot waves at The Wedge. It's a Newport Beach, California break known for its powerful waves.

The thrill of challenging the walls of churning water had lured bodysurfer Robin Mohr out of bed before sunrise. He was panting on the sand. A wave had sent him tumbling through the foamy chop. A trickle of blood was on his forehead. That's where he'd been smacked by a surfboard earlier in the day.

"You're just super-alert to where you're positioned. Because the worst-case scenario is you land with your head on the sand," said Mohr, 50. He's a South African who drove from San Diego to Newport Beach.

Big surf has been pounding south-facing sections of the Southern California coast since May 3. It has kept lifeguards busy. The surf has attracted daring surfers and bodysurfers. They arrive with boards, wetsuits and fins in tow. The big surf was created by a major storm thousands of miles away.

The highest California surf was expected the next day, May 4. It was being kicked up by the Southern Hemisphere storm. Six- to 8-foot waves were recorded at Santa Monica. Neighboring Venice saw slightly higher surf.

The Behr family from Colorado brought their sons, 1-year-old Cole and 3-year-old Max, to the beach. Their father, David Behr, called the huge surf a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

"We've been to Hawaii a few times and whenever you can catch some big waves, just watching it is incredible," he said. All the while, he snapped pictures and pointed out extra-big waves to his younger son.

Newport Beach saw 55,000 visitors over the weekend. Even so, more lifeguards were on duty Monday, May 4. It was because of the high surf, said Newport Beach Chief Lifeguard Rob Williams.

The rough conditions extended north along the California coast. They went up to San Luis Obispo County. Avalon, Port San Luis, San Simeon and Cayucos could see currents capable of dislodging moored vessels and docks, forecasters said.

"Inexperienced swimmers should definitely stay out of the water," Seal Beach police Sgt. Ron LaVelle said.

Lifeguards pulled 17 people out of the water over the weekend off Newport Beach. It was the busiest weekend for lifeguards since March. That's when 134 people were rescued during a weekend of big waves and warm weather.

Critical thinking challenge: Why would conditions vary from city to city?

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COMMENTS (119)
  • Owenc-OBr
    5/08/2015 - 02:11 p.m.

    Why would conditions vary from city to city? I think it is from the storm that happed miles away. It said in the pargraph "A major storm in the Pacific made the 15 feet at the beach in California. The wava conditions from the storm make it dangores in the water. All because of that storm in the Pacific makes the water very unsafe.850L

  • frankievwmsteam1
    5/08/2015 - 02:26 p.m.

    This article was very interesting I really like how there were people who witnessed the big wave in Hawaii. Mohr said this"You're just super-alert to where you're positioned. Because the worst-case scenario is you land with your head on the sand." Witch we all should agree because that wave was big and dangerous.

  • jonahmwmsteam1
    5/08/2015 - 02:26 p.m.

    i think this story is really cool , and for the record I would never do this . One I don't know how to serf and number two I think it would be very dangerous .

  • sebastianjwmsteam1
    5/08/2015 - 02:30 p.m.

    It is sad that he got hit with his surfboard so hard. It is sad that so many people are getting hurt from the waves.

  • drakecwmsteam1
    5/08/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

    That sounds dangerous. How many life guards were on duty? Did any people die? How big was the biggest wave? And, how many surfers were their?

  • treypeterson
    5/08/2015 - 03:05 p.m.

    8ft high waves are very hard. I wonder if i could surf? I would probably be bad. Is surfing hard? Ive never tried it.

  • MichaelaJ-3
    5/08/2015 - 04:23 p.m.

    If I were a surfer, then I would head to the West Coast beaches, mainly in California. The swells are up to 8 feet. Many surfers take on this thrilling ride. Locals, family members and friends crowd the beaches of the coast line. Like I said earlier, if I were a surfer I would come to surf these bis swells, only if I were a great surfer that isn't afraid of anything.

  • HannahH-1
    5/08/2015 - 05:53 p.m.

    Waves at a popular surf spot in Newport, California called the wedge had waves reaching heights of 15 feet this weekend. Hundreds of spectators came to watch. Many of the bravest surfers and body surfers took to the water to experience the thrill of riding the big waves. The powerful surf has been pounding the Southern California coast since May 3 keeping the lifeguards busy. Many of the thrill seeking surfers become either minorly or majorly injured in the pounding shore break. I would love to go and watch such powerful and large waves break. However, surfing them would probably not be such a good idea for me.

  • JackS-4
    5/08/2015 - 07:25 p.m.

    At The Wedge in Newport Beach, hundreds of spectators have lined up to watch people bodysurf. The waves get up to 15 feet tall. Robin Mohr has been taking full advantage of the swells. He has been getting up early to bodysurf. There have been many injuries due to the big waves, keeping lifeguards busy.

    If I were a professional body surfer, I would definitely go to The Wedge. The big waves sound awesome.

  • SebastianH-1
    5/08/2015 - 07:38 p.m.

    In Newport Beach, California, people are coming from many places to come surfing. The surfing conditions are great for hardcore surfers. It is one of the busiest times for the lifeguards who are dealing with many rescues. This article was short and had many quotes, but it dragged on a bit towards the end.

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