Glassy: Rod Hepburn

Rod Hepburn is a San Diego based bodysurfer and photographer. He first salted his fins while studying the masters of Panics, Sandys and the North Shore in the late 60’s and early 70’s. He fondly recalls surviving the brutal Backdoor and cruising the Waimea shoulder. When he moved back to San Diego the cold waters kept him out of the water. Rod didn’t find his way back to bodysurfing regularly until his buddy, Emilio, traded him a Desoto Tri-Suit in exchange for photos Rod had taken. These days he enjoys his time with the strong and storied San Diego bodysurfing culture. He and the other “old-school old timers” dig the uncrowded lineups. If there is a swell, Rod is around sometimes in the water, but if not he’s sending out glassy stoke from the rail. The following photographs are Rod’s original work.


Damon at Sandy Beach
Dolphins at Blacks
Exuberant Donny
Jeff Admiring the Green
Mike, Jerry, Larry Watching Over Last Light
Tom’s Clinic
Splash Zone Fun
Hal Heading Left
Mark at Low Tide
OB Sunset
Nick “The Seal” Menas
Big Wednesday, Lotza Lookers
DSC_7919 - Copy
Mikey at the Cove
Big Wednesday with More Onlookers
Larry Going Left
Empty, But Beautiful
Slippery Durdam
Jerry Stylin

Thanks to Rod for providing his unique photos. If you have questions for him or would like to request a purchase email Rod:

Fin Quiver: Jonathan Steinberg

unnamedJonathan Steinberg is a dedicated mat rider on the Westside of Santa Cruz. With many years of fin wearing experience, Jonathan’s collection and knowledge are unlike any others. He recently had an art show at The Great Highway Gallery in Ocean Beach, SF with Mark Cunningham. The show, titled “Shorepound Lost & Found” featured treasures found by Cunningham on the North Shore of Oahu and swim fin artwork created by Steinberg.

Jonathan’s fin story:

Fins? I really like fins. Always have. My first fins were an adjustable pair I had when I was a kid. Sorta mini Duckfeet pattern with a nice graphic of a sailfish on them. We used to bodysurf, mat surf and ride foamies (Styrofoam paipos) at Zuma when I was a kid in the 60s and 70s. I kept the sailfish fins long enough to give them to my son. They disappeared in Kauai on a visit 20 years ago. Next, I had a pair of green soft Churchills. I got them at the Goleta Flea Market in maybe 1977 (or 76 or 78). I still have then. Really soft and comfy but not much thrust.


Next, I had a nice mismatched pair of Churchills. Black and Yellow Boogie Fin and a classic Makapuu. Those where my warmer water fins. Good all round and a solid choice. Not bad on the feet without socks. When it got cold I would wear trimmed down Duckfeet (Super XL) over surf booties: good thrust, not too heavy but not a great fit. Then I started wearing Redleys with booties. Good thrust, good fit and comfy. A little heavy but that was the jam for several years.

Then I started wearing Dafins in warmer water maybe 5 years ago. Again good all around fins. I especially enjoy their lightness. Instead of the Redleys I started wearing Viper MS fins over 3 mil surf booties. Really liked the feel, the thrust, weight and fit over boots. Viper and Dafin are core surf companies, I liked supporting them.


Recently I have started wearing the new formula Duckfeet (green and blue) and have become a convert. The fit (with thin fin socks), the weight, the thrust all fantastic. I surf long righthand points, with the ducks I can cover a lot over ground on the swim back.

Untitled1I also use fins in my art. My friends kick over found singles, orphan, outgrown and broken fins. I now have hundreds. The neighborhood groms know they can come by if they lose a fin or grow out of their pair. Someone gave me a nice pair of red Redleys. They are lighter with a better fit without a fin sock so I am looking forward to trying those.

Fins I tried and didn’t like? UDTs, Classic Vipers, the new yellow and orange vipers, most oddball boogie fins. I have super long narrow feet. Not everything works for me.

Check out more from Jonathan at:

Jonathan Steinberg

Perspectives: Prepping for a Big Swell

Bodysurfers around the world take on challenging waves. Each of them risk life and limb to experience the Ocean in a way few people even dream of. A few bodysurfers have offered an inside perspective on how they get ready when big swell is headed their way.


Nick Menas

The one thing I do to get ready for a BIG SWELL, like on the North Shore, in town at Panics, or on the Westside, is check and make sure my Handboards are in good shape the night before. They require constant repair and I believe you’re only as good as you’re prepared, but you have to know your limits, and the tide matters! I mentally envision GOING BIG at home on the computer with all the forecasts and cam views, but getting “Eyes On” the break provides me all the information I need before heading out to the line-up. Seeing where the rips, rocks, and peaks are located help me understand the conditions that will put me in the right place, at the right time, for a great ride. It doesn’t matter if the surf is big or small, just catching waves makes me happy.


Kalani Lattanzi

For tell the truth I didn’t train for that, I live at Itacoatiara beach the heaviest wave in the world in my opinion, so it’s already a big surf training there. The most important thing is mentally, I use to say ” it’s only water.”


Daniel Williams

I‘ve been a part of the old guy crowd for a while now. This means I’ve lost a step or two and what used to be muscle mass is now more or less jelly donut density. This of course means that when it comes to big waves I have come to rely on accumulated wave knowledge over time and muscle memory. Muscle memory being the one thing I work on before a proper swell shows. Putting in my water time the day(s) before the arrival of large surf allows me to tap into that muscle memory so hopefully when I hit the surf I’ll have developed a flow and rhythm that might just help keep me from getting my ass handed to me…sometimes it seems to work.



Chris Ford

I just get extremely amped when I know it’s gonna get big, then immediately find center and begin to visualize. I may visualize the source of the power and it’s relationship with the Earth. I might visualize my relationship with the swell, the when and where possibilities/probabilities, my current ability and getting barreled, making sections, body positioning etc. This all happens very quickly. When I’m on the beach I am calm. I may imagine myself as an old man on the beach watching the raw ocean and all my surfing ability dried up. I become thankful, focus on charging and making it to the beach safely for my family. I think of my grandpa.



Ron Pringle

Besides the obvious wind and tides check and how it will affect the best times to get in the water, I like to drink a couple of quarts of coconut water to really hydrate – If I can I get on the Pulsed ElectroMagnectic Frequency device available to us at WaveBalance Wellness in Dana Point ( John John and Kelly among many others have been known to make great use of this astoundingly rad technology there with Dr. Burton Lucich) and I take a product called master amino acid pattern at least 10 of them an hr or so before the sesh – for sure the power of positive thinking comes into play and only using the spoken words that pass my lips to talk only about what I want, and never about what I don’t want. Most of all seeing myself in the bowl laughing with my bros and the best possible outcome enjoying what Neptune and Nature delivers. Good Vibes!!

Photograph by Morgan Launer

Tim Barnes

I get much more focused and excited about a strong storm in the NPAC because they are much easier to predict.  I am studying models, tracking buoys – I even created my own forecast tool in a spreadsheet to calculate the exact arrival time at my favorite breaks.  I never get much sleep before a big swell due to the excitement and anticipation but I certainly make sure to eat very well the night before I expect the surf to show up.  The morning of I always put my wetsuit on first thing because there is no way in hell I am going to walk away if the conditions don’t look “perfect.”  Driving in the dark to the beach I am pumping music – “Beat the Devil’s Tattoo” is a great song by Black Rebel Motorcycle Gang and a big-swell favorite.  Also – a little liquid courage goes a long way – I usually pack a tall-boy beer in my bag to drink while I measure up the swell.  Loosens me up for when I inevitably get my ass handed to me as I sync up with the rhythm of the new energy.

The Science of Coastal Geology- Part 1

IMG_2376We’re all beach people. We’re attracted to the coast for the beauty, serenity and the waves. There are many variations to coastlines around the globe and these changes are the factors that create the great variety of waves. In this multiple-part article, we’ll analyze coastal geology to better understand how differences in a coast’s dynamics dictate how waves break in a given area.

Geology is the Science of the rocks that create landforms and the processes that change those rocks.The coastal environment has many dynamic factors. Plate tectonics, wave energy, weather, rivers, and humans all have an impact on coastal geology. The coast is always changing. Some changes happen daily, like the movement of sand. While others, like the uplifting of land from plate movement, take place over the course of hundreds, thousands and millions of years.

If you observe any stretch of coast, you’ll see that waves break differently on varying parts of the beach. This is because the Ocean bottom varies. Bathymetry is the underwater contours of the seafloor. It is often overlooked as a surf variable. We cannot directly see it and much of it is fixed for our lifetime. But a closer investigation reveals the dynamic and vital story of our coastlines.


Swell approaching a coastline will always refract and bend toward shallow water. Reefs, sandbars, points and submarine canyons cause swell energy to focus and shoal. Because there is a variety of depths along a coast, waves break differently everywhere. Sandbars frequently shift and move as the sand is carried by longshore currents. California reefs are uplifted remnants of the coastal bluffs and marine terraces. Points are created by the uneven shape of a dynamic coast. Submarine canyons form when fresh water runs off the land and erodes a chasm in the continental shelf.

California’s coast primarily consists of sedimentary rocks in identifiable layers. All of these layers are associated with ancestral rock formations and their subsequent weathering, erosion and deposition. According to a sign at San Elijo State Beach, “The coastal bluffs were formed by the accumulation of mineral and organic sediments. In more recent times, the Ocean level has receded, leaving the sedimentary deposits exposed in elevated marine terraces. Once exposed, these terraces were eroded along the seaward margins, leaving the steep coastal bluffs present in the park today.”

Three prominent layers include:

The Del Mar Formation– the bottom and oldest layer of the San Diego coast sedimentary rocks. It is often greenish or gray mudstone, containing many fossils, laid down in muddy lagoons 45-50 million years ago. The Del Mar Formation now forms many of the reef wave setups we have in San Diego.

Del Mar Formation
Del Mar Formation

Torrey Sandstone– a large layer of light colored sandstone that is the main constituent in San Diego’s coastal bluffs. It is roughly the same age as the Del Mar Formation and was laid down as a sandbar and beach deposit.

Torrey Sandstone
Torrey Sandstone
Monterey Formation
Monterey Formation

Monterey Formation– an oil rich layer that is responsible for the tar on beaches and the offshore oil rigs towards Santa Barbara. It is 6-16 million years old and comprises the remains of billions of microorganisms that once swam in a shallow sea. When they died, they sank to the bottom and were covered by sand and silt. With pressure, heat and time, the organisms became hydrocarbons: the source of our much beloved oil. The Monterey Formation is seen throughout the Central Coast and into the Coastal Range Mountains. It makes up many of Central California’s reef breaks.


Mark Bordelon- Irvine Valley College 
PBS Coastal Geological Processes 

Vacation Bodysurfers

img_4786It’s summer in the United States. Millions of people from all over the country flock to the beach: Jersey Shore, Outer Banks, Cocoa Beach, Oceanside, Huntington Beach, etc. Coastal communities filled with inlanders and local businesses happy for tourist dollars. People wait all year for their week at the beach. They cherish the sand and sunburn.

What do they spend more time doing than anything else? Bodysurfing. Finless, jumping off the sand and riding whitewater waves as far as they can, swimming back out and doing it again and again.

Do they pull into slabbing barrels and do clean spinners on the open face? Probably not. But do they have fun? Very very much. Hooting and laughing the whole time at the exhilaration of an extra-long ride or an unexpected, underwater thrashing. The most supreme pleasure being driven so fast and smoothly by the sea. Sure, some buy cheap boogieboards or rent surfboards or take surf lessons. But many are perfectly content with the freest form of waveriding.

When there is an increase in swell, the vacation bodysurfer will encounter forces unlike those in their landlocked lives. They might mistime the takeoff and go over the falls or put themselves in a bad spot and catch a heaving lip on the head.  Rip currents keep the lifeguards busy. The vacation bodysurfer will return home and regale their buddies with tales of 10ft. monster surf and near drownings.

interior_image_10010There are usually one or two members of each vacation family that spend as much time in the Ocean as possible. Sun up to sun down. It could be a six year old, mom or dad, grandma or grandpa, perhaps the whole family together. I was that person in my family. Every morning at dawn of our summer vacation, jumping on the motel bed, “C’mon! Let’s go to the beach! Hurry up! Let’s go to the beach!” Once we hit the sand, I’d sprint into the Ocean and ride waves for hours. I was instantaneously drawn to the feeling and it shaped who I am today.