Surf’s Up!

Surf’s Up!

Art/Photo by Sullivan Kolakowski

Sullivan Kolakowski, Staff Photographer

   Did you know that West High has a surf team? While you’re enjoying the extra sleep you get every Wednesday morning, there is a group of surfers jumping into ice-cold water at 7:30 am at RAT Beach. This might seem like torture to some, but after waking up at 6:30 am to go photograph the surf team, I can see why they love it.

Connor Gilligan (12) 

SK: How long have you been surfing?

CG: I’ve been surfing since I was a little kid. I got my first surf lesson on vacation in Hawaii at a young age, but I was a strong swimmer well before that.

SK: How has COVID impacted your sport?

CG: COVID has made it so that we haven’t done any competitions at all yet. We haven’t done much team conditioning either. We’re just required to surf three hours a week, and more recently, attend in-person meetings.

SK: Advice for beginning surfers?

CG: My advice for beginning surfers is just to get out there and practice. A wave storm or other foam board is a perfectly acceptable board; don’t feel like you need an expensive board to do well. It’s also good to check the surf forecast before going out in case it’s just flat.

SK: Anything else you want to say to those interested in joining the team next year?

CG: The surf team is fun and relaxed, and welcomes people of all skill levels. If you want to get a wave storm and start surfing, go for it!

Sean Orpe (10) 

SK: How long have you surfed?

SO: Since last Summer.

SK: How did you learn about the surf team?

SO: My dad’s friend told me about the team, so I went out.

SK: Why did you join the surf team?

SO: I wanted to try and have a good time with it.

SK: How has COVID impacted your sport? 

SO: COVID hasn’t impacted my sport that much. It’s been alright.

Coach David Rizzo  

SK: How long have you been surfing?

DR: 40 years! 

SK: Favorite local surf spot?

DR: Right here, at Torrance Beach, and I like to surf the cove.

SK: What is the best part of being on a surf team?

DR: The comradery for sure! And just watching somebody catch a wave – that stoke. When you see somebody get a wave, it’s almost as good as doing it yourself.

SK: Any advice for new surfers?

DR: Just get out there and have fun! Don’t worry about doing tricks and all that at first. Just worry about paddling and understanding the ocean. Understanding the tides, ebbs, and flows is key. 

SK: Anything you want to say to those interested in joining the surf team next year?

DR: Come on out! We want more girls to join! It’s totally chill, and we’re all about just having fun and getting some good waves. Yeah, there are the competitions too, but that’s not the primary focus. So come on out, cause we would love to have you!

Shant Mazmanian (11)

SK: How long have you been surfing?

SM: Around 3 years.

SK: Favorite local surf spot?

SM: Hermosa Pier is probably my favorite surf spot.

SK: Favorite surf team memory?

SM: When we all went to El Porto to surf.

SK: What is the best thing about being on the surf team?

SM: We get to skip class and surf!

SK: Any advice for beginning surfers? 

SM: Just keep practicing.

Cohl Lopez (10)

SK: How long have you been surfing?

CL: I have been surfing since I was 7 years old. I was on and off with it, though. At the beginning of last year, I really started to try harder and started surfing every day.

SK: What does a normal surf team practice look like?

CL: We show up at Torrance Beach at 7:30 am. If the waves are good we go out till 9 am. If not, we run to the RAT beach tower and back or go for a paddle. We are also allowed to go wherever the waves are firing if Torrance is flat.

SK: Favorite surf team memory?

CL: Since we just started meeting in person and not over Zoom, I don’t have super good stories to tell. However, there is one that stands out. We log our hours of surfing every week, and it was probably my fourth Zoom call with the team and I had surfed a lot that week. I logged 24 hours of surfing for that single week. I surfed about 3 hours or more every day, and in the end, it added up to 24 hours exactly. Coach was impressed with the hours I had put in that week. 

SK: Any advice for beginning surfers? 

CL: Surfing is the best sport in the world! You just have to practice and most importantly get comfortable in the ocean first. Learn surf etiquette so there will be no problems in the water. One really good piece of advice is when you are learning make sure you are surfing waves you are comfortable with. Never go out if you feel you aren’t capable of keeping yourself up in the water.