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The "Wedge"

  • At the very tip of Balboa Peninsula.
    Balboa CA 92661
  • Phone: (949) 644-3309

The Wedge is a famous surf spot with large surf breaks close to shore. Every summer, swells that begin life off New Zealand, half a world away, finally slam home in North America at the tip of this famous breakwater. As the waves approach shore, they bounce off the jetty's boulders and, in the final seconds before landfall, merge and morph into a backbreaking and monstrous wave known as the Newport Wedge. The Wedge is an elusive wave that breaks only a few times a year-it peaks during the summer months-and because of its unpredictability, it's no place for a board. Because of this, it remains a site for wave riding in its purest form: bodysurfing. The Wedge breaks so hard, in such shallow water, that even highly skilled bodysurfers sometimes get seriously injured, proving that this is not a wave to be taken lightly. Unlike Oahu's Banzai Pipeline, Northern California's Maverick's, or any other world-class big break, the Newport Wedge has the unusual distinction of being entirely man-made. Built in 1918 to protect the harbor, the jetty creates a wave effect unlike any other. Here's how it works: Grinding alongside the boulders and headed for shore, each wave generates a reflected wave that bounces off the jetty and moves sideways behind the original. When that "side wave" hits the next incoming wave, the two combine to form a double-size mutant triangle. Precisely where the waves converge, the ocean floor rises abruptly. The big peak has no place to go but up.