Riding the swells

By Leslie Dinkin

It’s early in the morning, and to prepare for his day at the beach, Russell Wolfe ’12 grabs a power bar, surf wax and a big towel. Instead of throwing on a T-shirt and shorts, he zips on a full body wetsuit. He grabs his surfboard and drives to El Porto, his favorite surf spot in Manhattan Beach.

Surfers like Wolfe spend almost every free moment in the water. Some students, like Wolfe and Gabe De La Rosa ’12, even go before school.

“I surf every day,” De La Rosa said. “It’s my favorite thing to do.”

De La Rosa learned to surf when he was four and is now the co-president of the Surf Club along with Wolfe, who became a co-head of the club after his brother, Ernest Wolfe ’10, graduated. Taught by middle school dean John Kim, Wolfe began surfing in sixth grade. Now, surfing at least once a week, the sport is more than just a hobby for him.

“It’s almost like a spiritual thing,” Wolfe said. “Being one with nature and all that. When you’re sitting out in the water, waiting for the waves is really relaxing. It’s like an hour where you don’t have to think about anything except surfing. It’s really the best feeling.”

“Surfing kind of connects me to nature, it’s a way to get exercise, and plus it’s really fun,” De La Rosa said.

As co-presidents, Wolfe and De La Rosa plan surf trips, make tank tops for the club members and volunteer at the Jimmy Miller Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization specializing in ocean therapy, which is a combination of occupational therapies and recreational therapies through surfing.

“We teach foster kids, veterans and Marines with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to surf as a way to cope with the horrors of war,” Wolfe said.
“It’s a great way to cleanse yourself physically and spiritually and to forget about all your issues and just surf. The Marines will go out when the waves are really big. When they come back to shore, they are always like ‘dude lets go again!’ They are really the best and always super hyped.”

Both De La Rosa and Wolfe surf mostly at El Porto.

“There are so many variables that go into a good surf spot,” Wolfe said. “The weather and the swell are big factors. Malibu is also really great.”

Unlike Wolfe and De La Rosa, Mathew Bailey ’13 surfs mostly in Topanga. Although he only started surfing two years ago, Bailey currently surfs three to four hours a day in the afternoon.

“Surfing is fun, and I love it,” Bailey said. “The water makes me feel alive.”

Griffin Morgan ’13 agreed with Bailey about the charm of the water.

“I like the water in general. You forget about everything else when you’re shredding,” Morgan said.

Morgan, who used to surf three to four times a week, has not surfed in seven months because of a leg injury.

“Sometimes I really miss it,” Morgan said.