Freshman year living in the dorms, as much as I tried to go to bed early, it would always end up being one o'clock or something like that. Even still, me and one or two of my buddies from the surf team would get up at five o'clock and we'd be down at Black's beach at sunrise getting waves that were 10 times better than anything I had growing up in LA. And then I would just be back in the dorm napping for two or three hours before classes started at one or 2:00 PM. Those were the days…. the sleep deprivation, the camaraderie, the sense of adventure.
--Britt Joyce ’03
My dad drove me from Long Beach to Tioga Hall (newly opened) Muir college, my 6’8” Sunset pintail under my arm. No leash, no surf team, no contests, no Surfline. I chose UCSD because of Blacks. My typical weekday started with a quick elevator ride to the roof and a glance out at Blacks. If glassy and inviting, I hit it. My girlfriend would take notes for me for our 8:00 a.m. French class. Had many pristine uncrowded perfect surf days. Incredibly powerful waves. Almost drowned one day-a small 4’ cross swell but lost my board, got caught in a rip and couldn’t get in for over ½ an hour. Started to panic. My buddy flagged down a lone surfer who was just paddling out. He came over and brought me in. I still surf...just don’t last too long in the water. Thanks for the memories. 🙂
Kurt Drumheller - Class of ‘74
My funniest and most classic memory, which was maybe really more about the surf club more than the surf team, was when we ran the Spring Surf Classic sponsored by Lowenbrau for the last time. It was the last time because the radio station 91X found out about it and started advertising on air that there was going to a surf contest at Blacks with music and beer. Of course this meant that the police heard about it too, and they decided to show up and see what was going on and discovered that we were serving beer without checking ID’s (and no liquor license), and they started to arrest all of the minors who were drinking. They caught so many underaged drinkers that they had to bring a bunch of vans over from La Jolla Shores to haul them off to booking or jail or wherever. But the tide was coming in, the vans got stuck, and while they were figuring out how to get the vans out of there someone (I don’t remember who) went and opened the back doors of the vans and let all the arrestees out. The police were so pissed off! The police then started trying to figure out who was in charge, and when I was asked I said I don’t know, even though I was one of the people in charge. They never figured out who was in charge, but they did call the Lowenbrau distributor who had given us the kegs and threatened them and Lowenbrau cancelled their sponsorship of the surf club. No more free kegs for parties and no more Lowenbrau Spring Classic!
--Ron Carl ’83
As a freshmen scrub on the ‘B’ team - and the possessor of a very convincing fake ID - it was somehow decided that I should go solo to Claremont Liquor and pick up the 10 kegs for the 1980 Lowenbrau festival. I drove a UCSD cargo truck to the store around noon and secured the load. When I drove down from the lower parking lot at Black’s, I realized that I would have to drive the heavy truck down the beach on the soft sand without 4-wheel drive. At that point I had never driven on a beach before in my life. As I sat there in the truck pondering the situation with the engine idling, I could see the crowd in the distance notice me. Their college instincts must have kicked-in and told them that beer was close - I could see hands raise in the air in celebration and could even hear cheers begin to rise. The pressure was on, and only one course of action became available: floor it. The next thing I know, I’m fish-tailing a university vehicle down Black’s Beach with just enough momentum to get me to the contest area, which was a considerable distance. I arrived to a huge cheering crowd, and still to this day it represents my sole moment of true glory at Black’s.
--Rob Gilley ’84
I never surfed in the Lowenbrau – we were all still in high school and these were college team events – so I never got a T-shirt. But I definitely tried acquiring one.
As a grom growing up at Black’s Beach, life was pretty good. A bunch of us (including me, CB, Dave Weinbaum and Greg Little) started kneeboarding in 1980-81 and we quickly gravitated to Black’s. On weekends, our parents would drop us off in the morning and pick us up late in the afternoon. We would surf two or three times, make a fire from anything that would burn, and generally cause trouble.
Once a year – typically around Memorial Day – the UCSD Surf Team would host the Lowenbrau. Part surf contest, part beach party – the Lowenbrau was for us the best weekend of the year. There were college girls, there was free beer, punk bands, and yes – some pretty incredible kneeboarding.
I think it was 1982, the kneeboard division of the Lowenbrau included Bill Sharp, Rex Huffman, and local favorite Bill Lerner. For a bunch of high school kids growing up as kneeboarders, it didn’t get any better. We, of course, tried to blend in as much as possible with the college crew and did our best to steal any contest schwag that we could get our hands on. I don’t remember who won that year, but it was an incredible show and the waves always seemed to pump during the contest.
Sadly, the Lowenbrau ended its run just before I made it to UCSD as a freshman in 1983. So I never got to actually surf in it. But it was still one of the most fun contests I’ve been around!
--Jack Beresford ’88
It’s all about THE KEY!
I applied to UCSD to surf Blacks, and I joined the UCSD Surf Team because of THE KEY!
Freshman Year 1982- First meeting of UCSD Surf Team, my line of questioning was;
Do we really get to use The Key if we are on the Surf Team?
How do I get The Key?
How many Keys are there? ( I think we all shared 2 key until Leland found someone in LA to make a few duplicates )
--Rob Tremmel ’86
I had the famous key for a few summers. It was designated to the surfer who lived the closest to Blacks. I lucked out because I grew up across the street from Revelle and was still living at home. Any of the team could stop by to pick up the key if they wanted a surf!
--Izzy Tihanyi ’89
By senior year at UCSD (believe it was 2000) our group had locked down all student keys to Blacks. Four gate keys in one house on Shores above Blacks. (Surf Team, Surf Club, Surf instruction & Beach Cleanup Club). We thought we had pulled off the ultimate scheme, except we were dumb enough to use the same stupid "Reef Sandal" key chain holder for each key.
One day one of our cars gets broken into while surfing and the gate key is stolen which we immediately report to UCSD police. Fast forward two days and we are unlocking the gate with one of the other keys and get stopped by UCSD police, who run the key and advise us that it has been reported stolen. Yes, we reported the wrong key stolen.
2 keys gone, and UCSD police are convinced we are scamming them for another key.
They drag us down to the station where they separated us and individually grill us hoping someone trips up. Full-on criminal interrogation! Since being stupid is not a crime, and it is pretty easy to keep a true story straight, they eventually give up.
A few weeks later, with the additional intervention of the administration, they begrudgingly return our confiscated key as well as replace the stolen one.
That key was like the ring in "Lord of the Rings;" it turned anyone who had it into a prick. I surfed way more (I never turned around after walking to the bottom) and was in better shape without the key then during the time that I owned it.
Last time I surfed Blacks was years ago, but my memory is that you could pick out the assholes in the line up by who had a key.
--Saunder Nauenberg, Muir ’00
I was a co-captain between 2013 and 2016 and became Tyler's assistant coach for the first two years after I graduated (they offered no payment other than the key, which is obviously an invaluable resource). During that time, I tried every conceivable trick (including 3D-printing) to make an unofficial copy of the key but failed spectacularly in every attempt.
Then they went digital, which made counterfeiting a copy actually impossible. This was somewhat of a relief as it meant I could stop trying altogether.
--Mike Ciaramella ’16
I think a lot of people would remember, there's official keys and then there's unofficial keys. And when you had an unofficial key, the rule was you did not surrender that key or show it to the police if they asked how you got through the gate. You just say, “it was open,” and you took the ticket.
I know when I was in high school, in addition to the key you needed a sticker on your car, a colorful, La Jolla Farms sticker. One of us smart high school students took graphic design and actually made our own stickers that looked identical. Classic.
--Jack Beresford ’88
I always thought it’d be cool to have the key, but my car probably couldn’t have made it up the hill.
--Norm Garcia ‘83
My favorite part of contests were the road trips. Every year there's a contest up in C street up in Ventura. It was always a good time. I had a Volvo station wagon back then and we’d cram, at least like four people there and just caravan up, we’d stayed up there with friends or someones parents and just hit all kinds of surf different spots all the way up. So many pit stops along the way: Trestles, Newport, where got to show the team where I grew up surfing, that was where the fun was, on the road.
--Marty Weinstein ’10
“Ahhhh the UCSD Surf Team. Wonderful times indeed. Here's a brief rundown of my time with the team. I came to UCSD in September of 2012. Tyler Callaway was the coach and Kokoro Tomatsuri/Shaun Burrell were the captains.
Shaun was a former QS competitor and easily the best surfer that was on the team during my time at UCSD, if not ever. The way he'd systematically dismantle sub-par waves was incredible. I remember at one event in particular where Shaun was in the first heat of the day, and one of the best surfers from our rival school, SDSU, was down at the beach spectating. So I asked the kid—Cody Sherman—what he was doing down at the beach so early since his heat wasn't until much later in the day. "I just like to watch Shaun surf," was his genuine response. So that's the kind of level Burrell was pushing. The fact he never won a national title is baffling. After that year, the team kinda fell off talent-wise, but we still had tons of fun at practices, events, and team parties.
Exceptional alumni include:
The obvious ones... Evan Slater, Rusty Priesendorfer, Nick Woodman, me (kidding).
I also know that Max Hoshino (he was before my time but won a national championship if I recall correctly) became a doctor of some sort and still rips to this day.
Sean Celona does really cool ocean research at Scripps (while still surfing Blacks daily)
--Mike Ciaramella ’16
One weekend we were supposed to have a contest with Saddleback and Orange Coast College, but our coach had to postpone it because some of the team were taking the MCAT. The other coaches agreed to the postponement with one of them saying, some of our guys don’t even know how to spell MCAT.
--Norm Garcia ‘83
My Revelle freshman year coincided with 1983’s non-stop run of El Nino swells. I shot this south peak drainer in November of 1983. That’s UCSD undergrad Dave Hirschman’s board floating up the face. It’s a 7’6”, which gives you an idea of just how big and good the surf was that winter.
The UCSD surf team also ran a series of Beer Open competitions at Black’s and in Del Mar. With kegs stationed on the beach, surfers had to drink 16 ounces of beer before paddling out for each heat. Finalists had to drink two beers before paddling out.
UCSD surf competitions were open to all students, regardless of surfing ability. In this shot, the San Francisco band Translator plays for a TGIF crowd in 1984 while signs on the Main Gym advertise an upcoming contest, a “peso little” Matzalan trip, and a new radio station called 91X,. Less than a year earlier, 91X had followed in the footsteps of Los Angeles’s KROQ and switched from classic rock to a “Rock of the 80s” format. The station sponsored many of the new wave bands like Translator that came to UCSD in the early 1980s.
You can check out even more photos of 1980s UCSD surf team happenings here https://photos.ironstring.com/ucsdsurf
--Mark Johnson, ‘88
My first team competition was in 1984, and it was up at Oceanside Harbor. It was right when Bill Lerner was UCSD athlete of the year, and he was really the guy. So what happened in the final of that contest, three guys from the other schools just sat on Bill, essentially. They surrounded him in the water so that anywhere he moved, they would move—he couldn't catch a wave. But I'm out there, and nobody's heard of Jack Beresford. This is my first contest and I was just free to catch any wave I wanted. So I won that contest for Billy, my first-ever contest in the spring of ’84.
--Jack Beresford ’88