Words & Images: Spike Kane
It’s Sunday morning and I am sitting in my van watching the swells roll in from the Pacific Ocean. It is 6.30 a.m., cold and overcast. My motivation is low. I look to my right and realize I am not the first of the Dog Patch Crew to arrive at this unholy hour. G-off (Geoff) is sitting in his van to my right and unbeknown to me, Zach Tapec, from team Hawaii, is asleep in his van a few cars down, having driven through the night from Las Vegas just to get in the ocean. Yeah, it really is that important and yeah, he really is that motivated.
G-off and I roll down the windows and chat about conditions, wet suit thickness, what the rest of the crew are up to and who will show up. “No, Alana’s in Mexico and I think Chris is up in Santa Cruz”. Two of the regulars are out for today’s session. Then Freddy Carrillo rolls up and my stoke level redlines. Patient Zero, one of, if not THE, reason we are all here and our little group of hardcore chargers exists. Now I am motivated.
The Dog Patch Crew is a group of surfers who are regulars in the line up at a section of beach aptly named “Dog Patch” in San Onofre State Beach in California. They have been around for the last 16 years thanks to Freddy.
We have paid our dues and we belong here. We are a part of the landscape. I have been involved since 2014 after meeting some of the crew in Hawaii at the AccesSurf “Duke’s” competition. Most of us compete regularly in the WSA, and three of the gang ended up on the podium at the first ISA World Adaptive Surfing
Championship in La Jolla last year taking Silver, Bronze and Copper medals home. For me, this is ground zero for independent adaptive surfing.
It is the same stoke and formula that surfing had for me before I was injured. Dawn Patrol, hoodies, coffee, bananas, laughter and power bars. A small group all getting ready and B.S-ing by their surf vans then paddling out into the line up, catching up with the regulars and surfing our brains out. This is usually followed by a late breakfast at the SC Cafe in San Clemente, where story time begins and, occasionally,
we go drinking. Yes, no doubt about it, this is 100% surfing as I knew it before spinal cord injury. But it’s more, so much more.
Chatting with Freddy, he gave me a brief history of the origins of the Dog Patch Crew. It went like this….
So Freddy. tell me how it all began:
F : Well, I grew up around here in San Juan Capistrano, Laguna hills, surfing and skating. My local spots were Trestles, Churches all up and down that area. I got injured in 89 and tried to surf prone for a while with my buddies. I have two 10” rods in my back so I couldn’t arch and get a decent ride. I didn’t really surf for about 11 years after that.
Infinity Surf Boards in Dana Point were a local institution and I would see their boards everywhere. So after 11 years of not surfing I was introduced to Steve Boehne, the owner and legendary shaper at Infinity by a guy named Eugene Roberts, another local legend. He was like “we can get you surfing, I guarantee it”.
We met up at Dog Patch and Steve got me out on a tandem Wave Ski. It was awesome. The next week I came back and Steve loaned me a single wave ski and that was it, I was hooked man! I came back the next week and it was epic conditions. 6 foot A-frames just rollong in non
stop. It took me an hour to get out, but when I finally did I got some insane rides. That was the day I ordered my first waveski from Steve and never looked back.
So when did other surfers start to show up?
F : Steve really got into the fact that waveskis were a great platform for disabled surfers. There was a wheelchair tennis tournament going on locally. He went and put flyers up and
that’s when Richard Julian showed up Rich helped get Access Surf going in Hawaii. Not long after Rich was John Davis then around 2009 is when Chris Oberle started. Steve is totally selfless and he will help anyone get on the water.
Do you think that's why Dog Patch grew like that, because of Steve?
F : Yeah, Totally! He is still stoked. I don’t think we would be here without him.
Yeah, I know what you mean. The whole family are amazing.
It should be noted that the Dog Patch Crew is not just adaptive surfers, in fact it would not be possible without the many able bodied friends that congregate on a regular basis to go surfing.
With that said, I think our dear friend Alana Nichols hit the nail on the head by stating,
“The culture we have at San Onofre and the crew that we call ‘Dog Patch Crew’ has been instrumental for me and so many others. ‘San’O Sundays’ would not be possible without this subculture, this stretch of beach where the microcosm of adaptive surfing is being embraced whole-heartedly, or without Steve Boehne, shaper for Infinity Surfboards, Mr. Infinity. He’s had a vision for adaptive surfing that has been all-inclusive and seamlessly integrated us as adaptive surfers into surfing. One of the things happening at San O is this crew of people that make it possible for us to get in and out of the water; just last Sunday we had eight wave skiers out there. These able-bodied guys are cranking us in and out of the water with a wench. They’ve got a whole set up going with a trolley that gets us in over the rocks and into that
break, and there is no separation there. No, ‘you’re adaptive and we’re not’. We are all surfing.”
To continue reading more stories from Adaptive Surfing Magazine Vol. 1, Click here.