How To Keep Surfing Weird Behind The Orange Curtain
Cosmic Creek Surf Fest turns 21 this year.
It’s a surf contest, but not really.
The annual Cosmic Creek Surf Festival is more like a gathering of surf’s (remaining) counterculture figures. For the last 20 years at Salt Creek, Eric Diamond has been waving the freak flag; 2019 will be no different.
“Every year were try to figure out how to make it more fun, more special, and I think this year we’re in for a great time,” Diamond says. “Not only do we have some incredible boards in this year’s quiver, but there’s going to be a lot going on around the beach. It’s a full family shindig.”
The action is focused around the classic single-fin and twin-fin designs of the 1970s and ‘80s with competitors having to select a board out of Diamond’s diabolical collection. Some boards are considerably easier to ride and perform better than others but that’s all part of the fun. Before each heat, competitors meet on the waterline to draw a card, which indicates who picks first and who, unfortunately, picks last.
“There’s always a couple boards that people are fired up on, then there are some dogs too, so drawing the cards kind of equalizes things. You can be the best guy in the water, but if your board’s not working, well, you’re beatable,” Diamond laughs.
This year’s contest will feature five divisions: Locals, Creators & Innovators, Pros, Women and a Body Surf Expression Session sponsored by bodysurfing fin company DaFin. The Creators & Innovators division is comprised of shapers from San Clemente to Ventura riding boards inspired by the ‘70s and ‘80s that they’ve shaped themselves. Meanwhile, the local entrants, Women and Pros will ride the real deal original boards.
The list of Creators & Innovators and Pros that will be in attendance this year has yet to be finalized, but Diamond and company always seem to come through with some big names and heavy hitters. In 2018 it was Jason Bennet and Kevin Schulz winning the Creators & Innovators division. Schulz also won the Pro division. Other winners from last year include Patrick O’Connor, Ian Gottron, Kolton Sullivan, Nic Holdman, Bob Tassin and the vibrational Frankie D’Andrea.
Besides the competition in the water, for the second year in a row Vissla is bringing down a mobile shaping bay, so you can experience first-hand the sweat and toil that surfboard shapers go through. Local foamsmiths Tyler Warren and Donald Brink will be in the bay on Saturday, while Gary Larson and Ryan Engle takeover on Sunday. New York artist Jason Woodside will also be on hand with his mixed medium works, including an old Mercedes Benz that’s he’s pained and dubbed the “Cortex Cruiser.”
“We really want to showcase the creative side of surfing and all the artists and craftsmen that make it so interesting,” Diamond continues. “This area has such a rich history of surfboard building and art, that we gotta pay it forward and keep that tradition going. Having guys come down and shape boards—that’s really a connection to what’s going on in the water because surfboards were so experimental in the ‘70s and ‘80s and things were changing so fast. It’s great to bring that experience to the beach.”
But the hits don’t stop there. The airwaves get a melodic dose of goodness on Saturday night when The Babe Rainbow, Holy Wave and The Soul Beacons play at the Salt Creek Bluff Park. During the day on Saturday and Sunday, the lineup of bands includes Seacliff, The Alive and Parlea.
The Cosmic Creek Surf Festival will take place June 1-2 at Salt Creek in Dana Point.
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