SANTA CRUZ (KPIX) – The storm brought large and dangerous waves and high surf warnings to Bay Area beaches much to the delight of thrill-seeking surfers.
Major swells rolled in on Tuesday and were expected to get even bigger on Wednesday.
But the big waves are definitely risky. One surfer was caught on camera as he miscalculated a big wave. After getting wiped out, he resurfaced and only had few seconds to catch his breath before the next big wave rolled him over for a second time. He eventually paddled out to the flats.
Longtime Santa Cruz surfer Rym Partridge said that was happening to everybody Tuesday.
“I went for a big one and I didn’t make it. I got washed in for about ten waves.
I was almost banging into the cliffs and that wouldn’t have been good,” said Partridge.
Santa Cruz lifeguards said if the waves can do that to experienced surfers, it’s even harder on the newer ones. They are beefing up staffing levels for an expected spike in rescue calls.
“On swells this large, we either get surfers who get injured, or we get beginners who aren’t quite sure of the conditions and get in over their head,” said Marine Safety Officer Brendan Daly.
The waves also pose a danger to those on shore, especially if they turn their backs to the waves.
“With social media and selfies, we see people going into dangerous areas to get photos that just aren’t worth it,” said Daly.
It was spectacular to watch from behind the safety of the guard rails.
“You have to respect the waves,” said Barbara Schmidt. “You have to respect the power that is out there.”
For surfers like Partridge, the big waves are a powerful lure especially when it all goes right.
“It’s pretty exciting,” he said. “It feels like you’re going fast.”
The swell is expected to peak by Wednesday.