Opinion: The Truth About Localism

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By Chad Towersey
Whether you’re getting shacked at Pipe or riding your first wave at Doheny, if you catch the surf bug it’s only a matter of time before you come face to face with localism.

Localism occurs when you show up to surf a spot and you don’t know a single guy in the lineup. It’s that pack of edgy dudes, sitting deep in the lineup and occasionally looking back at you like an appetizer. A local surfer will spot a non-local from a mile away, and eight times out of ten you’ll get vibed and harassed. Whether you’re “The Next Big Thing” or a random sponger, it really doesn’t matter. How you deal with localism determines an ass beating or getting that one sneaker wave making your session. Personally, for me, one of the most humbling experiences is showing up alone to random surf spots in California. From Ocean Beach to Moss Landing, I’ve encountered some heavy locals, and although it wasn’t all smooth sailing, I’ve never been sent to the beach.

Localism has changed not only in Orange County but in all the populated surf spots in California over the last 20 plus years. Just ask Deano about San Clemente or Ruffo about Santa Cruz. My generation was the tail end of something special. We weren't distracted by live cameras, cell phones, and social media. You met your friends at the beach, surfed all day, and woke up burnt to smithereens frothing to do it again. You put in work, learned the ropes, and found your place in the lineup. 54th Street had a different mystique than it does today. The surf magazines called it the "Hottest Hundred Yards" or "Echo Beach." Kinda lame nicknames if you ask me. I prefer to keep it simple; it's just "Five-Four." From the old crusty leather face to the young grom with a sunburnt lip, we all knew each other, had each other's backs, and together we embodied a local community in and out of the water. When pros came to town they didn't just casually paddle out and nab the wave of the day off the 56 jetty. Back in the day there was heightened sense of territorial pride for our local surf community. Strength in numbers equaled less opportunity for those we didn’t know. Today that’s flip flopped; the locals have become the minority being out numbered five to one, especially during summer months. It’s just the natural progression of an ever expanding human populate, media hype, and live webcams. Back in the day when you pulled up and saw it pumping you couldn’t just hop on the cell phone and send a mass text “OMG. The Surf is so good in Newps. C U in the water—».”

As long as humans breed and raise their keiki’s in coastal communities, you’ll have localism. As long as a meat heads, driving sports cars, with brand new CI’s out the moon roof, you’ll have localism. As long as the 55 freeway connects the entire IE to Newport Blvd, you’ll have localism. As long as Mother Nature blesses our shorelines with pounding swells, you’ll have localism. Surfing isn’t just a Hawaii or Cali thing anymore, it’s global. Entire communities like Puerto Escondido have been developed because the sea in their backyard produces world class waves. I’m sure Coco and Oscar can tell you a few things about regulating dangerous lineups! I’ve surfed all around the world, and the spirit of localism is alive and well. The spots we can’t talk about are still as localized now as they were back in the day. When was the last time you heard of someone tell you about the great session they had at Lunada Bay?

It’s my opinion that all spots need to be regulated by the locals who surf there every day. With the financial crisis, California State Parks aren’t going to pay anyone anytime soon to be a Lineup Regulator, but heck if the Newport Beach Lifeguards are looking for someone, I’ll volunteer.


Chad Towersey is a 33 year old scratch golfer, athlete, and jack of all trades. When he’s not surfing he works a 9-5 selling online advertising and would like to win the lottery one day so he can pursue his dream of being an international playboy … like Bunker Speckles!

Image Credit: Chad on the best wave at Cylinders we've seen in years. Photo by Matt Doheny


Posted by: Ghetto JuiceGhetto Juice at: 04 Sep 2013 21:53




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By Chad Towersey
Whether you’re getting shacked at Pipe or riding your first wave at Doheny, if you catch the surf bug it’s only a matter of time before you come face to face with localism.

Localism occurs when you show up to surf a spot and you don’t know a single guy in the lineup. It’s that pack of edgy dudes, sitting deep in the lineup and occasionally looking back at you like an appetizer. A local surfer will spot a non-local from a mile away, and eight times out of ten you’ll get vibed and harassed. Whether you’re “The Next Big Thing” or a random sponger, it really doesn’t matter. How you deal with localism determines an ass beating or getting that one sneaker wave making your session. Personally, for me, one of the most humbling experiences is showing up alone to random surf spots in California. From Ocean Beach to Moss Landing, I’ve encountered some heavy locals, and although it wasn’t all smooth sailing, I’ve never been sent to the beach.

Localism has changed not only in Orange County but in all the populated surf spots in California over the last 20 plus years. Just ask Deano about San Clemente or Ruffo about Santa Cruz. My generation was the tail end of something special. We weren't distracted by live cameras, cell phones, and social media. You met your friends at the beach, surfed all day, and woke up burnt to smithereens frothing to do it again. You put in work, learned the ropes, and found your place in the lineup. 54th Street had a different mystique than it does today. The surf magazines called it the "Hottest Hundred Yards" or "Echo Beach." Kinda lame nicknames if you ask me. I prefer to keep it simple; it's just "Five-Four." From the old crusty leather face to the young grom with a sunburnt lip, we all knew each other, had each other's backs, and together we embodied a local community in and out of the water. When pros came to town they didn't just casually paddle out and nab the wave of the day off the 56 jetty. Back in the day there was heightened sense of territorial pride for our local surf community. Strength in numbers equaled less opportunity for those we didn’t know. Today that’s flip flopped; the locals have become the minority being out numbered five to one, especially during summer months. It’s just the natural progression of an ever expanding human populate, media hype, and live webcams. Back in the day when you pulled up and saw it pumping you couldn’t just hop on the cell phone and send a mass text “OMG. The Surf is so good in Newps. C U in the water—».”

As long as humans breed and raise their keiki’s in coastal communities, you’ll have localism. As long as a meat heads, driving sports cars, with brand new CI’s out the moon roof, you’ll have localism. As long as the 55 freeway connects the entire IE to Newport Blvd, you’ll have localism. As long as Mother Nature blesses our shorelines with pounding swells, you’ll have localism. Surfing isn’t just a Hawaii or Cali thing anymore, it’s global. Entire communities like Puerto Escondido have been developed because the sea in their backyard produces world class waves. I’m sure Coco and Oscar can tell you a few things about regulating dangerous lineups! I’ve surfed all around the world, and the spirit of localism is alive and well. The spots we can’t talk about are still as localized now as they were back in the day. When was the last time you heard of someone tell you about the great session they had at Lunada Bay?

It’s my opinion that all spots need to be regulated by the locals who surf there every day. With the financial crisis, California State Parks aren’t going to pay anyone anytime soon to be a Lineup Regulator, but heck if the Newport Beach Lifeguards are looking for someone, I’ll volunteer.


Chad Towersey is a 33 year old scratch golfer, athlete, and jack of all trades. When he’s not surfing he works a 9-5 selling online advertising and would like to win the lottery one day so he can pursue his dream of being an international playboy … like Bunker Speckles!

Image Credit: Chad on the best wave at Cylinders we've seen in years. Photo by Matt Doheny

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