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Good luck.

Good luck.

The Inertia

“What fuckin’ high school did you go to, bro?” Those were the first words I heard as I walked out onto the bluff at Lunada Bay for the first time this afternoon as head high, playful waves wrapped around the point and a small crowd of about 25 people observed from way up high.

The words hit me like a big cloud of cigarette smoke you can’t help but walk through. I felt sorry for the two guys exchanging words before me me as they were probably there to surf and enjoy their day off work. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful afternoon–a warm, bluebird day with waves that crumbled endlessly down the point–yet the ratio of people watching from the bluff and the rocks far outnumbered those in the water. About 20 boards leaned against the bluffs, their owners standing on the rocks with arms crossed, watching the handful of surfers in the water. More stood by without boards.

I thought it was bizarre that so few people broke the unwritten rule and just paddled out. I expected to see a relatively sizeable crowd of surfers enjoying the surf, but that was very clearly not protocol at Lunada Bay.

No less than ten of Palos Verdes’ finest were on the scene to keep the peace. As one police officer told me, they were there to make sure “… everything goes smoothly and there aren’t any fights and to dissuade people from fighting over the surf.”

With police regulating the land, and local surfers regulating the lineup, things appeared as peaceful as any other spot with a well-established pecking order. No brawls, no riots, no picketing or rock throwing (aside from one rock pelted at a drone that was kinda asking for it). The only hiccup I observed was one man who complained, after hiking up the trail, “It’s a private beach down there, huh? I’m not even allowed to take pictures. They prevented me from paddling out.”

I listened to the man’s account of what had just happened. He identified himself as a South Bay local, born and raised, yet he said he was confronted about paddling out and taking a photo. A local couldn’t take advantage of his local spot going off.

The police officer who stood next to me listening to this man’s account had a ho-hum look on his face. He later told me, “Lunada Bay is kinda notorious for localism, ya know. It’s been like this since the ’60s where, these guys who normally surf here, they harass people who come from out of town who want to surf this spot.”

What was pegged as a demonstration against localism seems, in reality, overwrought. Lunada Bay locals appeared to go about business as usual, and from the bluff and the rocks below, you could hear hoots and hollers, some clearly not of the peaceful variety. The police supervision kept things peaceful, but appeared to do nothing to dissuade the heavy regulation of Lunada Bay’s lineup. Any kind of call to action to overturn the reportedly decades-long history of localism was nearly undetectable.

If you have any inclination to surf there while the swell continues to pump all week long, I wouldn’t expect open seating. There still appears to be a price for admission.


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