Five days in the fall: A California surfing odyssey

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No season is more celebrated than summer in California, and it’s easy to see why. Summer is prime time beach-going season, and what’s not to like about long days in the sun, girls in bikinis, and beach parties that go all night?

Well, actually, for hardcore surfers, there’s a lot not to like about summer. The crowds make the whole beach-going experience a nightmare. The waves are practically nonexistent. And the foggy June gloom can last well into July and August. But remarkably, the day after Labor Day the crowds disappear, making for some stellar September sessions. Come October, the stiff summer breezes subside, especially north of Point Conception, and the glorious offshore winds groom lineups clean. November is actually California’s prime time: the water is still warm in the southern part of the state, while the waves up north begin to take their wonderful winter form. For this reason there’s no better time to take a California road trip.

In late November, photographer Jason Kenworthy and his buddy Dave Boehne turned a typical surf session in San Diego into a five-day fun-run up the coast of California. After realizing conditions were optimal, and that they both had the time to spare, they stopped at their Orange County homes and loaded a brand new Toyota 4Runner with every possible board they needed. Then, they moved slowly north, all the way past Santa Cruz. “It was a totally spontaneous deal,” explains Kenworthy. “The kind we used to do a lot more often when we were kids. But we’re both a lot older and wiser now, so we knew a lot more about where to go, who to go with, and what to ride.”

In the end their latest California surfing odyssey turned into one of their best.

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