There are waves that are dangerous. And then, there are waves that have been known to take lives. Sitting to the north of Newport Harbor, pressed up against the jetty, breaks a wave that belongs in that second category: The Wedge. Year after year, wave riders of every craft imaginable flock here to challenge its waters for a shot at mutated, novelty glory. Humans become obstacles, lips grow thick, and the depth of water between a surfer and the ocean floor is but a mere few inches. Amazed as we are by the Pacific’s version of a Jackass stunt, we asked local charger Bobby Okvist how he survives his sessions at The Wedge every year. Below are his top five tips for walking away in one piece.
1) Don’t go right. There’s always a bodyboarder or a skimmer on the side wave coming at you. It’s also usually the shallowest part of the lineup and leaves you in a bad position if there are more waves coming. I learned my lesson five years ago after I broke my collarbone. If you want to go right, then go down the beach to Cylinders.
2) Stay away from the jetty. The rocks there are large and slippery. It’s very hard to get out of this zone once you get stuck in it, especially when you’re looking straight at a 10-foot set from a southern-hemi swell.
3) Be aware of other people. They can come from all directions — the side wave, the peak, or down the line. There are also loads of photographers in the lineup. Sometimes there can even be more photographers than wave riders. And guess what? Cameras aren’t soft.
4) Hold on as long as possible if you decide to pack a closeout. Ride as far as you can before falling and be sure to always fall horizontal when you do go down. Stay away from falling vertical because she will break you. Your neck and limbs will be at stake.
5) Be respectful to the locals, especially the bodysurfers and bodyboarders. It’s their wave, and if you don’t like that, then you’d better go home.