Stab Magazine | San Francisco's Great Suffering And Occasional Joy

San Francisco’s Great Suffering And Occasional Joy

Beware: Ocean Beach will mostly just make you mad. 

cinema // Jan 5, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: < 1 minutes

Sometimes I feel so happy, sometimes I feel so sad, sometimes I feel so happy, but mostly you just make me mad – The opening verse of The Velvet Underground‘s Pale Blue Eyes is tailored to San Francisco’s Ocean Beach. While admittedly we–along with every other surf media source–are responsible (to the local’s dismay) for blowing up the space west of the Great Highway, the truth is, OB only has a handful of moments per year. And while there are a few windows a week to go out and get a couple (if you know when and where to look), the typical day there is heavy onshores, 50 degrees (10 C) water, frozen fingertips, 400 duck dives, three-to-ten waves, and one or two that were maybe worth it. From Sloat up past the Beach Chalet you always seem to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, while 100 yards north and south, you watch proper tubes cave over the sandbar you’re not on and spit their guts out. In which case you paddle against the freight train current, or get out and walk down a block or two only to look back at where you once were to see the exact same phenomena take place.

It’s a big open beach that sucks in every swell direction, magnifies it and challenges the most skilled watermen. And I use the term watermen deliberately because surfing the wave’s more battling the ocean than anything. But when you catch the right sandbar with offshore conditions, shining sun and overhead-plus swell it can result in the most thrilling, hardest-fought-for-barrels of your life. Just make sure you bring some foam. 

Here Nat Young and Luke Davis enjoy one of the best days that will break this winter. 

Film and edit by Perry Gershkow 


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Pipe Preview: This Year Feels Different

With John and Gabs healthy — and the arrival of the femme next-gen — here’s…

Jan 29, 2023

WSL Tells Competitors: ‘You Better Like Them Apples’

Will mandating competitors to wear Apple Watches make the 2023 tour more or less engaging?

Jan 29, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: John John Florence, Italo Ferreira, Balaram Stack, Rolo Montes, and Shaun Manners

Day 9: "You can't do better than his year last year." - John John Florence

Jan 28, 2023

Full Moon Surfs, Impassable Puddles, And A Few Nights Spent Sleeping In A WSL Commentary Booth

A reader-submitted collection of nonconformist surf stories.

Jan 27, 2023

Kael Walsh Now Owns A Bitcoin, And Watched One Crypto Video

He’s officially your Stab Edit Of The Year champion.

Jan 27, 2023

Carissa Moore And Finn McGill Are Your 2023 Vans Triple Crown Of Surfing Champions 

They both pocket $50k and tickets to this year’s Vans Pipe Masters.

Jan 27, 2023


The Pick-Up, Presented By Vans, Episode 5

Mason Ho helps us ring in our final week on the North Shore.

Jan 27, 2023

Goofyfoot Brazilian World Champion Stars In Stab’s Biggest Board-Testing Franchise

Can you guess who?

Jan 26, 2023

Surf Community Rallies To Raise Funds For Eddie Winner And On-Duty Hawaiian Lifeguard Luke Shepardson

Because it's the right thing to do, of course.

Jan 26, 2023

Interview: Caity Simmers On Machete Wars, Rihanna, Personal Project Problems, And The Rise Of Female Surf Content. 

A toast to ‘Toasted.’

Jan 25, 2023

Stab Surfer of the Year: Creed McTaggart, Albee Layer, Laura Enever, Dane Guduaskas, and Selema Masekela

Day 8: "65 years young and charging just as hard as ever at Pipe, Backdoor,…

Jan 25, 2023

“I’m Not A Big Wave Guy”

How Kai Paula accidentally made his mark at Jaws three weeks after surfing it for…

Jan 24, 2023

Everyone Went.

A toes in the sand, phone in the lagoon account of the 10th Eddie Aikau…

Jan 24, 2023

Breaking: Another CT Rookie Injured Before First Event

Sophie McCulloch pulls out of Pipeline due to Snapper Rocks snafu.

Jan 23, 2023


Watch: ‘Toasted,’ By Caity Simmers

Your favorite surfer directs, edits, and stars in her first feature film. 

Jan 23, 2023

On-Duty North Shore Lifeguard Luke Shepardson Wins The Eddie Aikau

Local man prevails over 39 big-wave heavyweights at 29ft @ 19 seconds Waimea.

Jan 23, 2023

The Eddie Aikau Invitational Is On

Grab a beverage and enjoy surfing's Super Bowl Sunday

Jan 22, 2023

The Women’s CT Is About To See A Generational Shift 

Only three women have won a Title in the past 15 years. Here's why that's…

Jan 22, 2023