Having a Swell Time

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Michael Sampson--Christian Cannon tarp surfs in the bright southern warm California sunshine.

Surf’s up, dude! This statement has taken on new meaning to a group of students at California Baptist University.

Surfing is an important part of the Southern California culture. With popular beaches such as Huntington, Newport and Laguna close by, students are able to try their luck at gliding across the salty blue seas.

Although these beaches may be close, a new type of surfing has emerged on the CBU campus: Tarp Surfing.

It is possible that you may have seen this happening recently on the CBU campus while walking to the Alumni Dining Commons or an afternoon class.

Generally taking place on the basketball courts located by Lancer Arms, junior Christian Cannon and sophomores Geoff Gouveia, Matt Suarez and Alex Wright have turned these courts into a sea of blue tarp, riding the barrels and catching waves.

“I heard about people back in the ’70s doing it and then I saw a YouTube video, so I decided to work on getting a tarp of my own and I did it,” Cannon said.

Cannon does not currently have a car on campus yet loves to surf. This desire and his love for skateboarding also led him to the alternative of tarp surfing.

“Growing up by the beach and surfing, yet not being able to during the year is too hard for me,” Cannon said.

Inspired by said viral YouTube video, the boys set out to create and surf the perfect wave. But how does one create the perfect wave when surfing on a tarp?

“Some slight swell and wind coming out of the northeast at a good warm temperature,” Wright said.

“Conditions for tarp surfing are crucial. We need wind. When that wind comes the waves are usually pumpin’,” Suarez said.

Logistically, the perfect wave cannot be created without a few key elements. “You need at least a 30×30 tarp, the bigger the better. We have 30×50. Probably some weights or enough people to stand on the corners and maybe a tiny bit of wind if any,” Cannon said.

Tarp, wind, skateboards and weights. Pretty simple elements in order to create this unique and intricately crafted art form. “It’s a really fun way to turn something plain, a tarp, into something epic, a huge barrel,” Cannon said.

Though nothing can compare to the power of a wave in the ocean, there are perks to surfing the sweet and simple waves of tarp.

“Tarp surfing is pretty close to surfing as far as how the barrel forms and how it is when you’re riding through it. The only thing that is different is we stay dry and never have to paddle out,” said Suarez.

There is also no fear of sharks, your skin does not dry out from salt and drowning is not a possibility.

Tarp surfing has not seen its end here on campus. Although the cooler weather is beginning to roll in and tarp surfing conditions are not what they need to be, there is hope for bigger waves and brighter days in the future.

“Tarp surfing is just getting started! As for where and when, we’ll just wait and see where the swell leads us,” Cannon said.

As the fall semester ends, Cannon, Gouveia, Suarez and Wright are preparing for a gnarly spring semester.

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