This past Saturday, July 25th, Southern California was hit by a huge south swell that lit up the coast with larger than usual waves. Anytime I hear news of a large south swell heading towards the coast my ears perk up and I immediately start watching for the Newport Wedge to kick into high gear. When the Wedge starts firing, the Balboa Peninsula in Newport turns into a circus. Hundreds to people descend on the end of the peninsula to watch the freak show that is the Wedge. Wave after wave rolls in crashing on the beach, shaking the ground. Certifiably crazy body surfers, boogie boarders and surfers attempt to make a fast steep drop into a death pit that breaks in just a couple feet of water. Countless people break arms, legs and backs at the Wedge every year. Sometimes even a life is lost as was the case the day before I went down.
After driving around for an hour for a parking spot we finally found a spot and walked out to the beach. From the road we could see water flying up in the air before even seeing the beach; a sure sign we were in for a spectacle. Once we cleared the boardwalk we got our first view of the Wedge running at full tilt. Sets were breaking in the 15-18 foot range with maybe every other set being a standout set in the 25-30 foot range.
My idea was to shoot from the spots where everyone else wasn’t. That concept was quickly thrown away as we approached the beach and saw that pretty much every single person watching had a camera. It seems that whenever big waves come in everyone becomes a professional surfing photographer. All the big glass and fancy cameras come out of the woodwork. The best part about the wedge is that the action is right in front of you, literally a hundred yards off the beach. Close enough to feel the energy and feel a part of the action. Watching the wedge at its best is an experience not to be missed. This weekend happened to be the largest anyone has seen the wedge in a decade. I count myself lucky to have witnessed a freak of nature and some brave watermen go up against such a beast. These waves were easily the biggest waves I have ever seen.
For more photos click HERE