No favorites yet!
If you took a poll of long time San Diego surfers asking for their opinion of the most dangerous breaks in the county, your top ten would certainly include places like Blacks, Big Rock, and Tijuana Sloughs. Placing about 643rd on the list would be Tourmaline Surfing Park. Even the name sounds innocuous… it's a city park fercrhissakes! A "surfing park". The kiddie pool of San Diego surf spots. Its very name conjures images of merry-go-rounds and flying kites and family outings and whatnot.
A quick StartPage search for "tourmaline surfing park accidental death statistics" brought up only two recent stories of any consequence: one a well publicized 2013 incident that was deemed a likely suicide (followed by a post-mortem shark attack), the other a tale of a gnarly leg injury sustained by a surfer who readily admits that they probably stayed out much too long after sundown.
Still, compared to Hawaii's famous Banzai Pipeline, or even many local spots along nearby Sunset Cliffs, "Tourmo" is a walk in the park… usually.
This is my story of one such day at The Park.
Introduction: As I write this I find myself wishing I had taken notes along the way. There are details that got lost in the mix, comments made by many old timers about the boards that I wish I could recite verbatim, and names that I wish I could attribute them to that I never made note of. Since we have decided to make this a regular series, I promise to do better in the future. Make sure to leave any comments below, we'd love to hear from you!
OK, let me first say that I am hardly any sort of authority on surfboard design, nor am I a particularly skilled surfer. Though I'm a fourth generation San Diegan and I grew up with a lot of friends who surfed, I got bitten by a different bug of the two wheeled variety at a young age. That steered me off into a long and successful career as a Lambretta guru, but as a native San Diegan I always respected and admired our legendary surf culture and the crazy characters it has spawned.