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Windansea – California’s World Famous Beach

Apr 26, 2011 by Lisa Newton

Over the last two years, we’ve featured many historical landmarks, including buildings, a trailer park, a cemetery, and monuments; but this is the first shack to make the list.

Originally constructed in 1946 by Woody Ekstrom, Fred Kenyon and Don Okey, this palm covered shack aka "The Surf Shack at Windansea Beach" was designated as a historical landmark by the San Diego Historical Resources Board (PDF) on May 27, 1998.

Extending north of Palomar Avenue and south of Westbourne Street, Windansea Beach is a surfer’s paradise with winter waves as high as six to eight feet, if not frequently larger. Indeed, this Point Break, is one of the few beaches in the world where the waves resemble the larger Hawaiian North Shore surf.

To just walk the beach, hearing its waves crashing and feeling the cool ocean breeze makes for a fabulous day.

Within the vicinity of Windansea Beach there are various sections of reefs including Middles, Turtles, and Simmons, named after Bob Simmons (who died at the northern break in 1954), and Big Rock.

The Surf Shack at Windansea Beach

Windansea’s Beach contribution to the development of modern surfing as we know it, is stranger than fiction:

It’s where Bob Simmons, who tragically died at the northern reef named after him posthumously, was the first person to develop resin and polyurethane in lieu of the extremely heavy balsa wood surfboards, changed the nature of surfboards forever.

It was home to the notorious Butch Van Artsdalen (January 31, 1941 – July 18, 1979), a legendary surfer, a pioneer of surfing 25-foot waves at such North Shore locations as Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach; and tube riding in Hawaii during the early 1960-1970s. He was a member of the Duke Kahanamoku Surf Team.

But, beyond all these accomplishments, he was the first surfer to ride Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu, thought unsurfable. The challenging waves of Oahu’s North Shore soon became Van Artsdalen’s home. He was among the first to master the powerful, hollow waves at Ehukai Beach known as the Banzai Pipeline. This, along with his reputation for riding switchfoot in the large surf at Waimea Bay, earned him the nickname “Mr. Pipeline.”

The Pump House Gang” a book by author, Tom Wolfe, chronicled the wild anti-establishment surfers, and its legendary surfers along with their wild antics.

Windansea served as home break to Pat Curren, Mike Diffenderfer, Chris O’Rourke, Joey Cabell, Mickey Munoz and Butch Van Artsdalen. Steve Pezman, former publisher of Surfer magazine and current publisher of The Surfer’s Journal, called Windansea locals in the early 1960s–”the heaviest surf crew ever.”

The Windansea Surf Club was founded by Chuck Hasley in 1962, and included members such as The Endless Summer star and first Vice President Mike Hynson, Skip Frye, Joey Cabell, Del Cannon, Mike Purpus and Rusty Miller, Andy Tyler, Tom Ortner, Brew Briggs, Chris O’Rourke, Richard Kenvin, Miko Fleming, Debbie Beacham, Peter King, Saxon Boucher, Karl Engstrom, Randy Lind, “Big Steve” Jones, Ian Rotgans, “Big George” Felactu & Longboard Larry.

Many of these surfers were later to appear in the seminal surf movie of all time, Bruce Brown’s, “The Endless Summer.”

Isn’t it time for a visit?

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Beaches, Recreation, San Diego, SoCal
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