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UC San Diego a Top Surfing School

November 19, 2008

By Christine Clark

Photo of UC San Diego’s nationally ranked Surf Team at Black’s Beach.
UC San Diego’s nationally
ranked Surf Team at Black’s Beach.

A popular surfing magazine has ranked UC San Diego the third-best surfing college in the nation based on academics, surf quality, life experience, cost, and partying. In announcing its 2008 ranking, Transworld Surf praised UC San Diego for its diverse student population and high academic standards, but also noted its convenient location adjacent to the famed Black’s Beach. Surfer Magazine and Sports Illustrated also have ranked UC San Diego a top surfing school.

Noting to prospective students the demands of academic life and high cost of traveling, Transworld’s editors wrote, “You aren’t gonna be taking surf trips, so if surfing is a priority for you, choose a school near some decent waves.”

Sometimes wild waves are within easy walking distance from the main campus. “You can see freshmen without cars crossing the street all year with boards tucked under their arms,” said Clayton Claiborn, UC San Diego’s Aquatics Director for Recreation.

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More than 160 surfers belong to the UC San Diego Surf Club, which was founded more than 30 years ago and continues to host surf movie nights, concerts, beach clean ups, and other social events. Of course, the waves are the main attraction. "We surf together a lot," said Alex Israel, president of the club.

UC San Diego is known for a lively student culture full of live entertainment, concerts, recreational opportunities and championship intercollegiate athletics as well as a packed slate of events organized by more than 400 student organizations focused on everything from Argentine tango to foreign films. UC San Diego is ranked as the 7th best public university in the nation by U.S. News & World Report and was named the “hottest” institution in the nation for students to study science by Newsweek. Professor David Sandwell at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography offers a freshmen seminar titled the “The Physics of Surfing.” The professor explains how waves form and travel through the world’s oceans. Students not only learn that surfboards follow the laws of fluid mechanics, but also put that knowledge into practice.

Photo of Surf Team member Chris David hits the waves.
Surf Team member Chris David hits the waves.

UC San Diego’s Recreation Department offers surf classes to students throughout the year, and the university has a nationally ranked surf team that has made it in the National Scholastic Surfing Association’s (NSSA) national competition every year for more than 30 years, winning six national titles. The team meets at first light at Black’s Beach throughout the academic year. “These students are taking tough classes, but they’re also out there in the dark each morning, training in the cold water,” said Tyler Callaway, coach of the surf team.  “Surfing is an individual sport, but they root for each in their heats and really bond as a team.”

Photo of Surf Team Captain Mary Weinstein is a fierce competitor on the waves and a surf instructor for the UC San Diego Recreation Department.
Surf Team Captain Marty Weinstein is a fierce competitor on the waves and a surf instructor
for the UC San Diego Recreation Department.

Scott Lembach, a surfer and skater from Baltimore, MD, in 2005 opened the Muir Surf & Sport Shop, one of the only surf shops located on a college campus. The shop sponsors the Surf Club.

“For many students who learn to surf at UC San Diego, the sport becomes a lifelong passion,” Callaway said. “Just look at UC San Diego alum Rusty Preisendorfer: he’s the founder and CEO of Rusty Surfboards, one of the largest surf brands in the world.”


Media Contact: Christine Clark, 858-534-7618

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