Saying goodbye to WindandSea's iconic shack.
WindandSea Beach lines the historic coastline located in La Jolla California. It is named after an oceanfront hotel that burned down in the 1940's. Historically it is defined by some of the most progressive and colorful characters in California's surf community. WindandSea has almost become like a home to my girls and I. It is the first place I learned to surf and the first place I taught my daughter. I was married on this beach, and to this day it is my favorite place to capture client portraits!
The focal point and cultural icon at WindandSea is a simple palm-covered shack located beneath the narrow parking lot just in front of the main break. It was originally built in 1946 by the original locals Woody Ekstrom, Fred Kenyon (RIP) and Don Okey. On May 27, 1988 (I was just 8 then) it was designated as a historical landmark by the San Diego Historical Resources Board.
The main peak at WindandSea is a classic reef break and has been favored by San Diego's most skilled surfers for it's reliable waves and consistently good from. The location of the reef creates an array of swell directions, especially the fickle south swells that often seem to elude other San Diego County beaches. During the summer when most locations are only maxing 2-3 footers, WindandSea is strutting it's 6-8 feet surf! On a SouthWest swell, 15 foot plus waves are common. It is San Diego's best kept secret among the locals. If you want to experience some of San Diego's choice waves you will also find the following breaks around WindandSea: Turtles, Big Rock and Simmons. Simmons was named after Bob Simmons who died at that break in 1954.
Since the 1940's WindandSea has been know for it's beach partying. Police began to crack down on some of it's earliest luaus in the late 1950's. The most epic and out of control parties didn't begin until the Mac Meda Conventions where swarms of police were called.
No doubt WindandSea is a "locals only territory" (good thing I'm born and raised here in San Diego). You will find no tourist or visitors facilities and we like it that way. There are only 16 spaces in it's parking lot with no intentions to expand. There are no restrooms, showers or water fountains.
WindandSea has served as home break at one time or another to many legendary surfers, including Pat Curren, Mike Diffenderfer (RIP), Joey Cabell, Micky Munoz, and Butch Van Artsdalen (RIP). As far as it's impact on surf culture as a whole, it ranks in the top of the list along with Malibu, San Onofre and Huntington Beach. Many San Diegan's are not even aware of this fact.
Steve Pezman, former publisher of Surfer magazine and current publisher of The Surfer's Journal, called WindandSea locals in the late 1960's, "the heaviest surf crew ever...ever."
Sadly this year in 2016 during our first round of monster El Nino storms, we lost our iconic shack to violent waves.
All that remains of the San Diego hidden gem is what you see in the image I captured below. Locals erected a flag on it's solo pole symbolizing it's historical contribution and San Diego's vow to rebuild the cherished landmark.
In over 13 years I have never had our family portraits taken, despite the fact that I am a family photographer myself. This year I decided it was time, no more putting it off or shying away from the camera I know so well. So I called up local and fellow photographer Neka Rae who was happy to oblige. She captured breath taking imagery of my daughter Kailani and I nursing on the beach just a few yards south of what remains of the shack. Images my daughter and I will treasure for a lifetime.
My daughters and I returned last weekend to pay tribute to our favorite place in San Diego. We enjoyed playing around on the sand despite the cool cloudy day. Many never think to venture to the beach unless it's 70 degrees and sunny out. We locals here tend to crave the cold stormy weather we see so little of. Not only does it mean bigger waves, the atmosphere is near heavenly.