How much skin do you want to lose?
Some of you would be very surprised that surfing is actually a thing in San Francisco. If you’ve ever visited, surfing isn’t top of mind. You’d think, the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Alcatraz, The Painted Ladies, fresh seafood, world famous restaurants and all the cool technology innovation happening in The Valley. However, only the brave and most driven surfers would plan to surf in the frigid cold and fog. For those that do, bravo! You’re definitely a soul surfer, bradah/sistah!
Surfing in San Francisco can be perfect and sketchy at the same time. Unlike Southern California, Northern California is cold with fog pouring in on a daily basis. There’s a stretch of coast along the westside of the city that offers plenty of beautiful views of sunsets from ashore. However, most of the coastline is too exposed to high winds and strong rip currents that the average surfer would assess as less than ideal.
If you’re an advanced surfer with lots of brovato to test yourself, here’s a surf spot that can take your breath away. But make sure you study the break before jumping in. Read on, if you’re already anxious to surf one of the most epic and dangerous breaks in The City.
The first location to start this series is,
Fort Point is very busy with fisherman, traffic and tourists enjoying the view. What makes Fort Point high risk? First, you’ll see there’s no beach to conveniently walk down to and paddle out.
You will notice the jagged rocks from the sea wall which is sketchy AF.
They (sea walls) are designed to protect structures by stopping the natural movement of sand by the waves. – Beachapedia.org
The waves can be 5-7ft thick and as high as 7-10ft depending on conditions. Check the local forecast here. You will notice that the break will come in around the corner and begin to build up right before it crashes into the sea wall. If you are caught in front of the sea wall as the wave begins to barrel, you need to duck dive into the wave and paddle as hard as you can away from the wall.
Once you make an assessment on how the wave breaks and it’s timing, assess where you will enter. Do not enter with your leash tied. If your leash is caught on a rock the wave will hit you against the sea wall. There are 3 entry points.
The first entry point is conveniently located at the break and will take less paddling to get to the line up, but will be high risk.
The 2nd entry point is at the end of the sea wall. If the white water is small this may be the ideal entry and exit point. I tested the depth and there was sand where you’re able stand up at low tide. This may be the best option to enter and exit.
The 3rd entry point is underneath the pier. It will be a 100 yard paddle to the break. This entry point will offer low risk, but more work. I highly recommend this option if it is your first time and you want to avoid dinging your surfboard and/or injury.
While in the line up
I decided to enter the line up via option 1. I had followed a regular down the sea wall and carefully observed him. He gave me a lot of tips on how to enter and exit, as well as position myself while in the line up. One of the nuances of this break is that there are a lot of rocks close to the break. If you cannot control the direction you’re going, you may hit a large rock where the surf breaks. You will notice the boulder in the pictures above when entering the water. Another observation, there are sets that come in at a wider angle that are very big 8-10ft. Be very alert and aware while you’re in the water. Never lose sight of what’s around you.
Swell is created by boats passing underneath the bridge. All types of boats and sometimes large shipping containers create massive swell that picks up form and barrels further away from the sea wall.
I stuck further away from the sea wall and was able to catch a few larger sets that came in at a wide angle. The ride was fast. The waves had a lot more force than normal beach breaks. They were also thicker and could keep you underwater for 1-2 seconds longer.
You don’t want to drop in on any of the guys here.
Overall, the experience was challenging and a lot of fun, especially watching all the boats, tourists and animals. Some of the tourists even stuck around and were amazed by the athleticism and scenery.
The view was beautiful and the setting was one of a kind.
To avoid injury or damage to your equipment I highly recommend exiting from entry points option 2 or 3. If you decide to attempt to exit via option 1 you will be pushed against the sea wall by the white water. The rocks are slippery and have mussels and plankton growing on them that will prevent you from a quick getaway. Do not exit at option 1.
If you’re able to go unscathed entering and exiting Fort Point, you will experience one of the best breaks San Francisco has to offer.
I hope you enjoyed reading the first blog post in this series. Let me know if you have any feedback, comments and/or suggestions on surfing at Fort Point or other locations. Be safe and have fun out there!