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Laguna Beach

Dennis’ Tidbits


July 3, 2020

Prepare for extreme highs and lows in July – tides, that is

Dennis 5The highest and lowest tides of the summer will occur this month on the appearance of the upcoming full moon, with a high tide of 7.1 ft around 8:30 p.m. and a low tide of minus 1.7 ft at around 4 a.m. the next morning. 

The same extreme tidal swing also occurs in January, but the time of the high and low tide is reversed, with the high tide occurring around 8:30 a.m. and the subsequent low tide happening around 4 p.m. 

Remember, the higher the tide, the lower the following low tide about seven-and-a-half hours later. The least extreme tidal swings occur during the first and last quarter moon.

Here we are two weeks into summer and we have yet to warm up to the normal high of 74. The gloom is still with us when it’s supposed to start mellowing out by this time. There’s been quite a bit of morning drizzle and light rain thanks to a persistent 4,000-5,000 ft thick marine layer. Even our desert communities are well below normal, scratching and clawing to even break the 100-degree mark. Local ocean temps, however, are pretty much at seasonal norms at 66-68 degrees.

The annual Brooks Street Surfing Classic waiting period is underway and we’re hoping it doesn’t turn out to be another long waiting period and eventually a no-go, as it has so many times since the turn of the century. From the event’s inception way back in 1954 until 2000 there was only one no-go, but since 2000 there have been a half dozen or more, not a good record at all. 

It’s becoming more like the annual shoulda, woulda, coulda event as the surf has not cooperated at all on weekends, the only time of the week we have a chance to pull this thing off. In the early years, however, any time of the week was a go. If a swell suddenly showed up on say a Wednesday, the contest was on.

A lot of things have to come together for Brooks Street to have decent waves for the event to be successful, as the break is kind of fickle. You want at least a consistent head-high swell coming from the right direction. Ideally that would be a short interval (10-11 second) Baja swell at 160-180 degrees for the spot to break correctly. That’s because of the spot’s bathymetry, meaning bottom contours necessary to allow the sets to arrive at a severe SSE to south direction, enabling the waves to peel nicely, with minimal sections to disrupt or shorten the rides. 

Heats are only 15-20 minutes long and you have to catch a certain number of rides within that short span. Baja swells are much more consistent than long period (16-18 second) Southern Hemisphere swells, which tend to have long lulls between sets – plus oftentimes these SSW to SW swells will close out shortly after takeoff, thus abbreviating maximum performance on any given ride.

Then the swell has to happen on a weekend. Oftentimes we’ve had a quality swell on days in the middle of the week, only to have that quality swell diminish by that Saturday. My motto is Baja or no-go.

Then you’ve got the tides to consider, as the spot only shines on a medium to medium-high tide at roughly 3 to 5.5 ft in height. On top of that, you’re hoping for decent surface conditions meaning minimal winds, so all these factors have to come together in a positive way. It’s almost like the planets have to be in perfect alignment for the place to shine but when it does, it’s so much fun! Over the decades we’ve pulled off this event as early as June 25 and as late as October 10. 

Here’s hoping for a great classic this year! 



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