The Wedge Lights Up!

  • Ride
posted by James Willmott

Though the Fiji Pro is still on hold, it has not stopped the infamous ‘Wedge’ lighting up in Newport Beach, California over the past few weeks. Known for only working in America’s summer months, The Wedge surely did not disappoint with one of the first sessions for the season. Many travel from all over the globe to be amongst it, both in and out of the water. These recent sessions indeed were no different.

For those unaware, Newport Beach is located in Orange County, about an hour drive south of Los Angeles and claims fame and home to the heavy sandy slabs of ‘The Wedge.’ The wave relies on swells from the south of the right size and direction, with cooperating conditions from winds also playing a vital factor. When it hits right, it hits right, providing some surfers with the heaviest, widest barrels of their lives. The waves come in and crash against the northern rock wall of Newport Harbour and the very eastern point of the Balboa Peninsula. It then reflects, combines with the next incoming wave and creates a big wedge A-frame peak, though the left is often favourite due to its longer ride.

When the wave finally does turn on, like this special day close to a week ago, there are no doubt people of all water crafts waiting to jump straight into the line-up. This one shows local lad Daniel Shea scooping into one of the waves of the day. Just have a look how close these heavy slabs break to the sand. People have had some serious floggings out there, that’s for sure!

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Daniel Shea in the right place at the right time – photo by Timmy Reyes

Believe it or not, the famous wave also has its own set of government rules and regulations, and these aren’t your typical ‘pick up after yourself’ or slip slop slap’ ordeals.

The rules specifically prohibit and restrict floatation devices including surfboards, bodyboards and skimboards, being used in the line-up from the hours of 10am to 5pm. This rule came into full affect in 1985 due to safety issues concerning body surfers at the location, and has since stuck. A meeting was held with Newport’s Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission in early February with attempts to overcome this issue. It concluded continuing to keep the same rules and regulations, much to disappointment of surfers in surrounding areas including both Los Angeles and San Diego counties.

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Cory Lopez getting into one at first light, beating the 10am restriction. – photo by Timmy Reyes

Regardless of the rules, ‘The Wedge’ is definitely a wave to knock off your bucket list. Its raw power, combined with hollow barrels and ability to hold large swells are all definitely aspects not to be missed. If you are an experienced waterman get on out there, or if not, watch the wedge explode right in front of you by getting a front row seat on the sand. Either way, you won’t be disappointed as you experience all that the Wedge and Newport Beach have to offer.