West Jetty View Park
Ocean Blvd. and Channel Road (on the peninsula)
Newport Beach, CA
As the thunderous roar resonates through the beachfront neighborhood of cute cottages and expensive castles at the end of Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, locals hardly notice the sound. But visitors have their ears "to the ground" and them be their guide to finding The Wedge.
The Wedges is considered the launch point of mainland bodysurfing and is still the best place to go if you bodysurf. Waves approach shore with force, then bounce off the jetty's boulders and form a perfect triangle or wedge shape. It's a wave machine, creating incredible waves through a process of incoming water bouncing off the jetty to create reflected waves that move sideways outward from the structure. When those reflected waves bump into the new set of incoming waves, the two combine to form a triangle shape. Precisely where the waves converge, the ocean floor rises abruptly, pushing the peaks upward.
And seasoned wave riders and brave youngsters find The Wedge one of the best spots on the California coast for a thrill ride! While rules in the past have put limits on surfers who can endanger the bodyboarders in this location, we've seen them cross paths just recently so are not certain about current regulations.
It used to be that only bodyboard or skimboarding was allowed at The Wedge. And what a history the place has had--some good and some bad! Necks have been broken, lives lost, but most the time it's just a raucous ride and will to survive during those special days when storms bring killer waves.
The history of the Wedge goes back to guys like Fred Simpson who began surfing it in the 1960's, around the time that he served as a Long Beach Lifeguard. Roll forward in time and to when Simpson, the Xerox salesman, wore swim trunks under his business suit so that he could catch some rides while out on sales calls, away from his Santa Monica office some 30+ miles distance. This legend of The Wedge invented the Viper Surfing Fin, and was honored at the Surfers Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach.
Simpson liked to surf the Huntington Beach Pier but was told by a friend about the a cove where the waves crashed on shore in a situation rarely seen anywhere. The waves formed by the action of the ocean swells arriving on shore in Newport Beach peninsula at the Newport Harbor entrance, receive an extra punch when they hit the jetty and bounce back.
Simpson loved the excitement he discovered at The Wedge near the jetty entrance to Newport Harbor and even moved to Newport Beach so he could be close to the Wedge on a daily basis.
Simspon's Wedge Tips:
Don't make the locals mad. That's Simpsons' biggest gripe or pet peeve. The locals love their Wedge and they hate to have to teach the beginners or spend time in rescues, which can happen frequently.
Simpson advises to start with small waves and grow into the bigger sets.
If you have the right wave stuff, Simpson and the older guys (Simpson hit his 70's recently), will help you out.
It's hard to understand until you visit and see what the fuss is all about. Some days the waves are too blown out.
Danger, don't try this! Many have been paralyzed by the force of the Jetty, not knowing its strength and the way it can drop you into the sand, smacking your down (sometimes upside down), thus causing spinal fractures.
Some days the waves are blown out. When it's summer in Newport Beach your chances of catching a ride improve as global ocean currents as far away as New Zealand powerfully build strength and culminate in the Wedge experience.
Newport Wedge is the best mainland location for bodysurfing, a sport that is gaining momentum and respect in the surfing and sports arena.
In 1961 when former UCLA water-polo player Fred Simpson redesigned stronger fins, body surfers gained a new tool to allow them to surf the Newport Beach wedge with less likelihood of being injured. A club formed to create and foster a social environment for the small group of brave souls willing to risk life and limb.
Cashbox Kennedy, Terry Wade and Kevin Thoman were the tight-knit group of Crew members who sprang into action when a new threat, boogie boards, began appearing on the scene. "Boogers" at The Wedge filled the shore with their boards, pushing out bodysurfers. The small club or crew formed the Wedge Preservation Society and petitioned the City of Newport Beach to keep The Wedge open only to body surfers. In the name of public safety, the bylaw prohibits all board surfing--including boogie boarding--at the jetty between 10a.m. and 5 p.m., from the start of May to the end of October.