The Inertia for Good Editor

The Inertia

Southern California has its fair share of guaranteed-to-always-be-crowded lineups. Malibu’s Surfrider Beach may be top dog, with the crowd at First Point turning into a bonafide minefield during the slightest hint of south swell.

We know this. I know this. And yet I can’t avoid the place. In fact, even when I’d planned to surf a less crowded point miles up the road one late afternoon during the Code Red 2 madness, I couldn’t avoid First Point’s draw. It was the classic scam: driving north on Pacific Coast Highway 1, a judgmental smirk on my face as I passed Topanga and imagined all the angry bickering that must have been tossed around in that lineup. A few minutes later I came up to First Point, rubbernecking as I drove by. I had no designs on surfing here but still had to at least catch a glimpse of a wave rolling through because this is what surfers do while driving by the ocean with swell lines stacked on the horizon. It looked good. Just like I expected. Really good, actually. A few moments later traffic was slow enough that I could rubberneck one more time while passing the bridge over the lagoon. Maybe I’d see something rolling through Third and Second Points? Yes, yes I did.

“Suckers,” I thought to myself as I drove past the lack of parking on both sides of the road. “Good thing I’m not trying to navigate that mess.”


When I got to my not-so-secret destination a bit later I was perfectly content to take my time watching several sets come through. There’d still be another 90 minutes left before sunset, maybe I could squeeze out another 30 minutes or so in the water after that. The only problem is…man, it doesn’t look all that great here. And I expected a crowd but this is pretty bad, especially with so many people huddled on one single peak.

With every passing minute, my original game plan for a fun sunset session with a high wave count felt like it was going to crumble apart. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Gosh, now that I think about it, this place isn’t even getting its usual protection from the wind. Oof, and that last wave that came through might have been about chest high at best. Weird, I’ve been sitting here for 15 minutes or so and the cons are definitely outweighing the pros at this particular spot.

Meanwhile, just a bit back down the road I rubbernecked like I was passing a car wreck and instantly mind surfed the best session of my life. And now that I think about it, there were actually some parking spaces clearing up as I passed by so maybe the crowd isn’t actually that bad at Malibu tonight. I bet everybody emptied their tanks during the afternoon rush. Yeah, that’s it! In fact, this little jaunt up the road was probably really productive — killing time while an always-crowded lineup empties out in a karmic turn of events.

So I go back. Like the sucker I am. It’s like a car wreck you just can’t turn away from.




Only the best. We promise.


Join our community of contributors.