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Cowells Beach

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Cowell's Beach, as seen by SlugVideo! Click for an updated image!

Cowell's Beach

In town, right next to the City Wharf. In the summer, you can rent sailboards and get lessons from Club Ed in this sheltered safe spot. 'Cowel's' happens to be the very best beginner wave for surfers in the country. Check out the surfers right now. Click on the picture for a bigger version. In the winter on the very biggest storm days, sailors will go out here in 60mph white-out 'Victory at Sea' conditions. Not for the faint hearted, or the sane. Sharks are rarely seen here. Park on parking meters.

IT's Beach

West of Lighthouse Point, this popular launch has good parking and a rigging area. Gear has to be carried across the street, and down steps to the beach, and the sailing is a combination of fast slalom next to a big kelp bed which makes for flat conditions and wave sailing on a really nice slow breaking wave which erupts into a notorious 'killer' beach break. Masts get broken here! The wind is often less than other sites. Great Whites have been seen here. Free. Its called IT's Beach for a reason. On hot summer days you can sometimes see why.
IT's beach is right next to the surfing museum  and just around the point from Steamer Lane, one of the best waves in the USA. Here's a live picture of Steamer Lane.
   Updated every five minutes. Click on 'Reload' to get an update.

Natural Bridges State Park

'NB's' is at the far West end of West Cliff Drive. More wind and less beach break than IT's, but it does cost $6 to park in this State Park. Locals usually buy an annual pass. It has great parking, a super grass rigging area, a very long walk to the beach across soft sand, plenty of kelp to snag the unwary, and sometimes a swim to the wind line. Outside the wind line, conditions are usually between 4.0 and 5.0 with lots of BIG ocean swells further out. The kelp beds are a great source of amusement to locals, and a major source of frustration to visitors. Great Whites have also been seen here.


And if you are curious about exactly how hard it's blowing right now, check right here! 

To find out more, take a look at Long Marine Lab which is part of UCSC.

Davenport Landing

20 miles North West of town on Highway 1, this site is free and features rugged wave sailing conditions with upwind slalom conditions. Slalom is a slight understatement because ocean swells can get enormous. Top professional sailors rate this as a top wave location. Ian Boyd is a regular here, and the Angulo boys have been known to make the trip from Maui just to sail these waves. I had my bare feet lacerated by the mussels on the reef. Others have been lacerated by the Great Whites known to frequent this spot.

Here's a nice sequence taken on a typical Davenport day:

dport1.jpg dport2.jpg dport3.jpg

Photographs by Dave Turner of Lightwave Design.


Scotts Creek.

A couple of miles further up the coast from Davenport. No decent parking, an OK rigging area and a scramble down rocks to the beach, some locals prefer Scotts to either Davenport or Waddel, probably because it is less crowded and the downwind launch is easier (but not easy). Ten sailors is a big crowd here. Sharks cruise by here. Good upwind wave sailing with bump and jump straight out. Sometimes the wave son the reef suck right out leaving the unwary sailor to attempt a 'rock jibe'. Its nice to be fully powered right off the beach. The inside break is often big and breaks close to shore.

Waddel Creek State Park

North of Scotts Creek, just South of Anno Nuevo. Classic wavesailing at the State Park. Site of the 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 'Seatrend Challenge' marking the return of professional wave sailing contests to Santa Cruz.  Alex Pang has a nice web site featuring all the contestants performing loops. Check it out at Loops Galore. Rig on abrasive gravel and dirt. Its a great place though, and on mellower days is a good place to try wave sailing. Sometimes crowded. The Great White Shark just loves the Elephant Seals that live right next door at Anno Nuevo. Don't imitate seals here! The beach break is often big but tends to break further out. Waves can be logo to mast high.  Say hello to Steve West, he's always there!
Here are a couple of whales in the shorebreak at Waddel. 
And here is a Great White shark at Waddel. Whoops, I mean here is another whale showing a fin!

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Copyright Jim Munro 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999