California Surf Safari: 50 Years in the Making

May 22, 2016 Cali Paddler

Cali Paddler is grateful to have this contribution from Judy Shasek (aka Elder SUP) who recently told us about a dream trip she and her husband were going to be taking down the California coast to visit and SUP surf all of the famous spots they grew up listening about in Beach Boys songs. Who knew their finish event would trump them all and re-enforce how special the paddling community is. Thanks! -CP


During the South Florida summer of 1965, my boyfriend, Eddie, and I were on the waves every day. Summer waves in Hollywood, Florida were usually ankle-biters and mushy and we were too young to drive "up the coast" where the surf was better. Obsessed with surfing, we watched ENDLESS SUMMER, and every other surf movie that came to town. The Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffet played on our radio. Our mantra became a quest to see every spot in the famous tune. "Surfin' USA." IN 2001 we moved to Oregon and in 2016 Eddie retired. We packed our boards and trailer and headed to: Del mar, Ventura County Line, Santa Cruz and Trestle... and down Doheny Way. We also hit San Onofre and Sunset, Redondo Beach, LA - and The Wedge.

Our plan was to finally hit the surf at these iconic spots and come home full of memories of our rides and pictures of us as sun-drenched, California surfers - five decades older, but just as stoked on the California dreamin' adventure.

Our first stop was Santa Cruz where we were stoked to enjoy some sunny days and waist to chest-high clean, glassy lines. A couple of hours in the water each day was awesome fun. We were happy to see that SUP surfers were accepted by the local prone surfers, as long as we gave respect, a smile and reciprocated the friendly vibe.

Cruising down the coast past Santa Barbara all the way to Newport Beach we were kids again. This time we were traveling in a burly truck loaded with standup boards towing a sweet Arctic Fox trailer instead of hitting the beach with the (much-loved) beat-up VW Beetle we had as teens.

As the trip went on, a change came over our expectations of what the "bucket list" surf trip was. That change began at the May 7 event, Standup for the Cure in Newport Beach. Inspired by Judie Vivian and fueled by the energy of The Schweitzer family (yes, the Zane Schweitzer family we love) the event has raised over $700,000 for breast cancer.

We parked our trailer at Newport Dunes RV Resort located on the glassy waters of Back Bay.. During the event there was a sea of pink race jerseys on the Back Bay. The sense of fun and aloha spilled over to the campground resort at Newport Dunes. We could easily identify new friends because the sea of pink event jerseys was sprinkled among the campers.

Smiles were everywhere at SFTC as we met new friends and old - along with Zane Schweitzer clinics, a race that was all stoke and support, relays, great food and music. As a Brand Ambassador for Starboard, I had "met" a lot of California paddlers through Facebook. Suddenly, at this event 3,000 miles from where Ed and grew up surfing, along an iconic coastline we'd dreamed about for 5 decades, we connected with so many people.

We shared a core love for standup paddling, an obsession with being in, on and around the ocean and it was beyond expectation.

No doubt, the actual experience of surfing long lines of swells that wrapped around points and grew from the unique conditions that make Cali-surfing all that it is topped the "awesome" chart for us. But the people and the places we experienced really touched on what a bucket list surf safari is all about.

Meeting Starboard Dream Team rider Izzi Gomez at Standup for the Cure

Meeting Starboard Dream Team rider Izzi Gomez at Standup for the Cure

An example of the aloha and energy of event founder, Shawneen Schweitzer

An example of the aloha and energy of event founder, Shawneen Schweitzer

A sea of pink - with The Paddle Academy's Jaime Donnelly

A sea of pink - with The Paddle Academy's Jaime Donnelly

Example of sharing the stoke - Gina De Los Reyes

Example of sharing the stoke - Gina De Los Reyes

Thank you to Judy Shasek (aka Elder SUP) of Water Words for sharing this story!!! Congrats on checking this dream off your list!
See video of this event at

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1 comment

  • Cheryl

    May 22, 2016

    Awesome trip! Thanks for sharing & keep following your dreams!

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