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
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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:

Mythology of the Orange Cap

I asked a guy who obviously knew his way around NorCal lineups…

“Ever see any other bodysurfers around?”

“Yeah, I’ve seen a couple. Always the orange swim cap. Or is it pink? Well, whatever color it is, she shows up when it’s biggest and heaviest and most perfect…she swims and plays when the local tough guys are salivating but scared on the beach.

IMG_4741She gracefully and joyfully swims around giant, swirling, relentless Ocean Beach and maxed out, draining Fort Point when the Coast Guard plucked a couple surfers headed for Potato Patch. I’ve heard she swims laps through the impact zone at solid Mavericks just to see it and feel it.”

The mythology states she was a swimmer before she was a waverider. She swam La Jolla Cove with the masses but when the NPAC threw heaps down the Canyon, she became the lone swimmer…getting kicks and fun licks in big surf. Locals gave her fins and taught her to glide. Now she quietly dominates heavy lineups all over Nor-Cen California.

Search at Kellys“I pulled up to OB one February morning- predawn. Buoys read 20ft at 20sec. High pressure Santa Lucia winds whistled offshore A-frame, all-time perfection. She appeared…orange cap moonlit with the swell lines…way outside. The horizon accordioned with XXL energy. She swam to the set’s very apex and gracefully swam into myth.

Other guys in the lot that morning still talk about it reverently- Greg Noll Makaha like Story. The Sun rose shortly after, most local experts couldn’t get outside, too big too perfect too much. But there she was, perfectly pocketed in the most perfect wave. Maybe she has webbed digits and mutated gills…Anyway, she’s super radical. Maybe she doesn’t even exist.”

She is either a mythological creature or one of most radical waveriders in California. There are plenty of extreme heavywater, “orange cap” stories around to make the case.IMG_5177