As we sometimes do, we ended up at our favorite Mexican joint on yet another Friday afternoon. And, as we also sometimes do, we were enjoying a margarita served up by our favorite bartender, Chuck.
Chuck was going on about something, as he often does, of which had something to do with May 1st. We inquired as to the significance of May 1st and we learned just what it was that Chuck was onto.
Let’s back up a minute. Our favorite bartender Chuck, who works at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Mi Casa, just so happens to also be a long-standing member of the Wedge Crew. The Wedge Crew being a loose group of gentlemen, mostly bodysurfers, who have been frequenting the Wedge since the late 60s or something. Some of these guys being well into middle age. Like Chuck. Regardless, they still throw themselves into the pit of some very large waves wearing nothing more than a pair of speedos and some swim fins.
If you haven’t see the movie Dirty Old Wedge, watch it here.
As the story goes, back in 1993 the City of Newport Beach decided to review the draconian “Black Ball” rules which govern who surfs when and where. If you’ve ever surfed Newps in the summer you know how frustrating it can be when just as it’s getting good, the Black Ball flag goes up and all hardboard surfers must exit the water. Arrests have been made, fights with lifeguards went down, etc. As the story also goes, the Wedge guys had been pretty much running shit down at the south end of town without much hassle from surfers, save a few locals like Erin Hodges, Al Lehman, and Danny Kwock who were begrudgingly allowed a few waves simply because they lived right there. For the most part, however, the Wedge was a bodysurfing joint and the Wedge Crew were posted up hard and tight.
When surfing’s eccentric Tom Morey unleashed hell on earth with the release of his eponymously named Morey Boogie, it was quickly adopted at the Wedge, much to the chagrin of the boys. Soon after there were skimboards coming in from the side wave, surfers dropping in at the peak, boogs everywhere, while the bodysurfers were damn near left to a few scraps here and there.
When the NB City Council met back in ’93 it was mostly about beach control up in West Newport, but the boys from the Wedge saw an opportunity and jumped on it. While the surfers and homeowners argued about the hardboard surfing rules up west, the newly formed Wedge Preservation Society quietly petitioned for a rule to allow only bodysurfing at The Wedge from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, May 1st to October 31st.
And they got it.
Rightfully, the Wedge was returned to its roots as one of the premiere bodysurfing spots in the world while still allowing some mix, and ensuing chaos, of boogs, skim, and boards before ten and after five.
Now, every year on May 1, the Wedge Preservation Society gathers on the sand early to do a volunteer beach clean-up while waiting their turn to don a tight pair of speedos and some fins and happily swim back out to that friendly little wave called the Wedge.