Rising from the ashes

Rising from the ashes
The late Gary Taylor, journalist and club president in 1987 and 1992. Photo by Jim Pigeon

This is the sixth in a series of articles on the Swami’s Surfing Association, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Special to The Coast News

Rising from the ashes of the anti establishment ‘70s, the Swami’s Surfing Association woke up to the new reality of the ‘80s.  Surf goods were now being sold on main streets from Doheny to Dallas, Hollywood had started to invest in surf movies, and families out for a day at the beach were often seen negotiating their way to the sand sporting newly minted soft surfboards for dad and the kids.

The leaders of the club returned older and wiser and brought with them a broader agenda.

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While the core focus would still be on hot surfing, contests and fun, they were also witnessing the pressure on local beaches from pollution, development, and trash.

To help fight this degradation, the club decided to pursue a core value of all surfers, clean beaches.

Armed with plastic bags and a determination to do their part, club members would choose a weekend and descend on Swami’s to comb through the driftwood and dry seaweed plucking out trash left by beachgoers or brought in by the tide.

This pride in the beach led to the club courting an unusual bedfellow in the form of the City of Encinitas.  Puzzling to the membership was that not all of the beaches in the area were referred to by the names given to them by the locals.  Swami’s was Seacliff Park and Beacons was Leucadia State Beach, the given name when the city acquired it during incorporation in 1986.  To lobby the city and get the names changed needed a polished approach from someone who knew how to network at city hall.  That person turned out to be the successor to president Steve Anear, a journalist by the name of Gary Taylor who went on to become a much beloved beach reporter.  Gary tragically passed away in a Singapore airport in 2003 on the way back from an Indonesian surf trip.  Helped by Gary’s lobbying of the fledgling city, Swami’s and Beacon’s became official names and a new milestone had been accomplished by the club, community involvement.  Encouraged by this success, and with the beach clean ups now a regular fixture on the monthly calendar, two members set their sights on what seemed to be a reckless challenge, teaching the blind to surf.

Next week:  To give is to receive.

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