The ocean is sparkling like it has diamonds floating on its surface. The sun is blazing, proving again summer never really ends in these parts.
The vista is the iconic Swami’s Beach and if it’s not the prettiest spot on earth, it’s near the top of a very short list.
Regulars to this perch above the famous break know it’s more than the elements that makes it special. There’s a Swami’s groove that starts when entering off Highway 101 that stays with visitors until they reach the water, which soothes the surfers and beckons the bystanders.
All of this serves as a backdrop for the Return to the Reef Surf Classic at Swami’s on Oct. 21 and Oct. 22. The Swami’s Surfing Association is checking off its to-do list as it presents one of the North County’s premier events for the 23rd time.
“It’s looking good,” Marcelo Lobos said. “But we’re juggling a lot of things.”
Lobos, who is moving from Solana Beach to Oceanside, is the president of the Swami’s Surfing Association. That means he needs more than 24 hours in a day. He’s doing logistics for the different heats for the surfers and the eats for everyone else.
“We’ve been told by the other surfing clubs that our contest is among the best,” said. “I think it’s because we feed everybody and we have the best stuff in the raffle.”
Well, there’s that — cool beach art is in this year’s prizes — and no one likes sunning on an empty stomach.
But this annual shindig also allows others to tip their board to the good work these surfers do.
For 54 summers the SSA has kept its head above water and let others ride along, too. It’s a club that numbers around 250 surfing souls and if you count the honorary members, it’s nearly 400 people strong.
Many of them will congregate at the Return to the Reef, as much for the cresting waves as to reconnect with others.
“It’s the camaraderie of all the brothers and sisters coming together during the weekend, having fun and seeing friends that haven’t seen in a while,” Lobos said. “Some of them come to just one contest a year and a lot of people pick this one.”
Select a reason on why Swami’s will be the place to be. The waves are supposed to cooperate and the weather will be the envy of the nation.
“It’s the flow of the smiles from the people, combined with Mother Nature,” Lobos said. “It’s just phenomenal.”
The same could be said about the SSA. It benefits the region by spreading funds to numerous worthwhile causes. Among those feeling the SSA love is Adopt-A-Beach, school surf teams, Vietnam veteran surfers and a blind surfing program.
The SSA wants to mimic the tide, in that it always rolls in when help is needed.
Lobos, 50, noted that some SSA members are getting a little long in the leash, so to be speak. So Lobos said there’s a push to pass the torch and embrace younger surfers. That even includes those on stand-up boards.
“That’s why we have a lot of family oriented things for kids and teenagers,” Lobos said. “They are the future of the club and we want to get them involved.”
Finding a following wasn’t hard at last year’s Encinitas Holiday Parade. Two surfboards, valued at $1,500 each, were shaped on the SSA float and handed out randomly along the route.
“We’re all about giving back to the community,” Lobos said. “And it’s all through the love of the water.”
That water should be sparkling again this weekend for the Return to the Reef. With the SSA, the shine of its contributions after 54 years never dims.
Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @jparis_sports
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports