What better way to escape the Claremont bubble than heading to the beach for a chill surf sesh. With surf breaks around an hour from the 5Cs, finding peace with the ocean for a few hours is totally possible. If you’re interested in finding out what all the hullaballoo is about or just itching to make new friends, then look no further than the 5C Surf Club.
The 5C Surf Club and 5C Surf Team, created in Spring 2016, are currently led by Jesse Jennings CM ’19 and Owen Dubeck CM ’19. While the club is open to all water sports for ocean-loving people, the newer Surf Team is dedicated to those with intermediate surfing skills who want to progress by working with coach Ryan Simmons. Simmons, once ranked in the top 50 surfers in the world, currently coaches the USA Junior National Team and other up-and-coming surfers.
“Most of the members of the Surf Team are from places where the sport isn’t very popular,” explained Dubeck. “Unlike kids who grow up in California, where coaching and knowledge of the ocean are everywhere, we've had to figure it out on our own. Sometimes all it takes to stick a maneuver is one comment that changes your approach. That's where [Coach Simmons] comes in. He corrects our surfing and gives us all of this advice that we've never heard before. After just one session working with him. I felt like [my] pace of progression had stepped up a notch,” he told TSL.
Surf Club and Surf Team are supported by all of the 5C schools based on membership, with Claremont McKenna College and Pomona College providing the most financial support. Students can borrow boards and wetsuits for free from Pomona’s Outdoor Education Center. Though, as Jennings notes, they could really use some more wetsuits for the frigid water.
“We want to make getting off campus and getting to the water an option for anyone interested in doing so at a minimal or no cost,” Jennings said. “My freshman year, we spent hundreds of dollars out of pocket using Zipcar and that was our incentive to remodel Surf Club and provide opportunities for everyone.”
Students can either attend Beginner Days or other days when club leaders organize to take Dean of Students vans to the beach, but, most often, you’ll find on the club’s Facebook page students organizing dawn patrol or weekend trips on their own accord.
“I've been able to surf about 2 days a week and it's great because there's also a bunch of people down to go and finding rides is almost a nonissue,” member Teddy Kahn CM '19 said. “I started surfing this year and now I am riding a short board pretty comfortably.”
Dubeck grew up surfing in Long Island, New York, on his summer breaks, but really picked up the sport when he started traveling on his own a couple of years ago. Jennings, originally from land-locked New Mexico, picked up surfing when she moved to California. He has also surfed in Costa Rica and has “met so many people, especially others across the 5Cs, that also share a passion for the water and surfing and [has] made some of [his] best friends through the club.”
As for the future, Jennings and Dubeck see Surf Team growing and hope to compete in the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) next year, as their “overall level of surfing is progressing fast [that] hopefully by next year [they'll] be able to enter some events,” Dubeck said. “We're also hopefully going to run a beach cleanup this year.”
While the Club received over 200 sign ups at the Club Fair back in September, it’s never too late to join the Claremont Surf Club Facebook group and test out the waters for yourself.