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The Rock

September 17, 2021

Some 55 plus years ago, many of my friends and I surfed a break called Secos. The name Secos was short for Arroyo Secos State Park, which was located north of Malibu, California.

I remember camping there when I was 13 and 14 years old and porting our boards under the Pacific Coast Highway in order to reach the water. Secos had a few good things going for it back then. The break peeled off from a massive rock toward the left. It was therefore pretty much a right break only. On really big days with a strong south swell, one could take-off behind the rock but the choice was always limited to that straight right ending up on the beach south some 100 to 150 yards.

A couple of years later I discovered another great thing about Secos when I started driving there in my own car. There was unlimited parking along the right side of PCH facing south. On crowded days we had to walk a quarter to a half a mile just to reach the beach. This huge “parking lot” was great for spotting people you knew by their parked car. We always approached from the south and there was this long grade down to Secos where you could get a good idea of the surfing conditions as well as who was there.

One late summer day the surf at Secos was really big, perhaps in the 10-12 foot range and definitely breaking outside the rock. I took my turn in the stuff but it was pretty brutal. As I was paddling out between sets in a mountain of white water, a seal surfaced next to my board and barked in surprise. I literally flew off my board in equal surprise. But my goal was to get beyond the soup for the next set.

The wind had picked-up in the early afternoon and each wave seemed to hang a little longer before the break. This, combined with an outgoing tide, gave some to the biggest waves the appearance of being sucked out beneath the face. As I was still inside the break line, I paddled harder but noticed that the next set had already begun. I decided to hang back a bit and not get beat up for nothing.

As I was bobbing in the foam, I saw a guy I knew take off boldly behind the rock. It was Tak Takawara, another surfer I knew, but not well. The wave was big but all of a sudden the bottom was sucked out during the takeoff, tossing Tak onto the enormous rock. I didn’t hear his leg break; the roar of the waves was too great. Tak finally made it to the beach, literally bloody and broken. I heard that he broke both legs but was later informed that it was only one.

It was always popular to take off right next to the rock even in small surf. However, the incident that day always kept me always a bit away from the rock. Also after that day, I just plain refused to take off behind the rock. A few weeks went by after the disaster and I finally saw Tak again. It was up the coast a couple of miles at a break called County Line. This is where Ventura and Los Angeles counties met. I was coming out of the water and I noticed Tak sitting on the rocks that reinforced the highway. He was bored to death because he couldn’t go in the water and he sat there poking with his crutches at ground squirrels that peaked out occasionally from between the rocks. We exchanged a passing smile and a few words before I went up to my car.

That was the last time I remember seeing Tak. I know that he got back to surfing because I heard his name from time to time along the coast. I tried to look him up a few years back and found a man by the same name who was a camera man in Hollywood. I’m guessing it was him. Through all these years the rock, the seal, Tak and that whole strange day have been etched into my mind. They are called memories and I truly hope that all of you have some special ones to cherish as well.

If you get a chance, read a few more of my memories in: Fifty Years Ago – A Surfing Trilogy: And Other Surfing Stories from the 1960’s.

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Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at Amazon.com

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From → America, Books, Surfing

12 Comments
  1. James Rogers permalink

    Secos was really fun but didn’t Like the Rocks that much.. One day when I Had been there all day Surfing I was tired on the way Home .. was driving my Parents 1960 Pontiac with the surf board in the trunk but IT was sticking out about 4 feet.. Didn’t see the Traffic stopped ahead Had to slam on the Brakes but couldn’t Stop soon enough .. so I Turned into the Fence Hit hard and spun around ended up in the middle of the Freeway . Nobody even stopped to see if I was OK.. Couldn’t drive the car but was able to get it over to the side of the Road.. A Tow Truck came by and Towed me Home so I Didn’t have to pay for the Damage to the fence.. But one thing I Could never figure out was how it didn’t Damage My piece of junk surf board.. it was one of those Dave Sweet Pop outs with no Stringer.. Parents were not happy when they got home from a Vacation Trip.. IF I remember right it was only around $50 to get it towed Home..

    Like

  2. Great story, Allen. Memories like that are worth savoring.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting. I can’t imagine having a seal pop up that is nuts. You were smart to avoid the rocks. Sounds like the one guy was a bit too brave. I remember seeing surfers get hurt along the coast of NC. Very interesting share my friend. Big hugs 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

  4. theburningheart permalink

    Secos it’s not El Matador Beach, or somewhere near by?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I know zero! about surfing – LOL. But beautiful story – love all of it, even without full understanding, but, confess to thinking, “Brother Seal was rather warning ya, now wasn’t he…?” LOL But that’s just me – given your poem I just read, figured you would ‘understand’ why I commented this way – 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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