North of the Gate: With Anthony Tashnick

posted by / Magazine / April 10, 2013

Anthony Tashnick. Photo: Taras
Anthony Tashnick. Photo: Taras


While we do cover a fair amount of ground in the latest California issue, from an Ocean Beach super-score to Baja drainers, we leave out a measly little section of the state known as Northern California. To put things into perspective, LA to San Diego is about 130 miles. And that “measly little section” — over 400 miles of coastline. Now, Northern California is no big secret; it’s not like there aren’t roads there or it’s Kauai or something. But it does remind one of the mysterious northern region of Westeros in HBO’s Game of Thrones, known as “North of the Wall.” Both are cold, rugged, foggy and teeming with dangerous creatures. And apparently, the waves (if you can find them) get very, very big. Santa Cruz’s large wave addict Anthony Tashnick has spent many hours and many miles exploring the lands beyond the gate. He’s surfed with the small, core communities up there, and he has surfed by himself. He tells us of this strange land… –Beau Flemister

SURFING: Talk to us about surfing in Northern California; what’s it like?
Anthony Tashnick: I’ve been all the way to the border and back and it’s a weird Catch-22. On one hand, it’s always easier to show up and do things by yourself, but in my case it’s hard to find someone to surf larger waves with. And you’d always like at least one buddy when you’re doing that.  A lot of people go out there to get away from the crowds, but honestly, when I surf up there, I’m always looking for someone to surf with. It’s eerie up there, surfing by yourself. But there’s a few waves that are phenomenal, but there are also some locals up there that can give you a headache. [laughs] There’s also some scary situations where you can get sucked out to sea by rip currents. Sometimes you’ll even go out with a couple buddies and you won’t even see them the whole session because it’s so spread out.

Are there a lot of spots up there?
Yeah, tons. People think Santa Cruz is getting up north, but if you look at a map of California, Santa Cruz almost seems like southern California, or at least half-way.

And I think that there’s just as many spots going north as there are going south, the spots just aren’t as friendly.

So what makes a spot “unfriendly”?
I’ve met Bigfoot a couple times; he’s pretty gnarly [laughs]. The shark factor…but I guess there’s sharks everywhere. I think just being on your own. Up there there’s no one around to find you if something goes wrong. Like what happened to Parsons in Ocean Beach. If it happened up there…God. A lot of the waves I surf up there aren’t even real waves, they’re more like novelty spots. Like slabby boils or big wedges off cliffs.

What’s it like up there, like in the towns in stuff?
Just a bunch of really small towns. Eureka’s pretty gnarly, like with meth-heads and stuff. Arcata’s more of a college town. You got tree huggers and loggers, so basically like democrats and republicans. Some hippies, some crack heads. A lot of old surf dogs that look more like cowboys. Like, some of the old surf guys up there look like Clint Eastwood from staring at fires for so many years because of the cold and wind. In some of these places, if you wanna go out on the town, you go to the bowling alley. [laughs] Like, people actually post up at gas stations or where ever there’s cell reception, because sometimes it’s hard to get service out there.

Do the waves get big up there a lot?
Listen, when it’s flat in Santa Cruz, there’s a spot that breaks up there whose magic number is when it’s rainy, flat and bad winds down here [in Santa Cruz]. And it’ll be huge. I was house sitting a buddy’s place up there one time for a month and rode my Mav’s board — a 10’6’’ —  like, three days a week. It was my main board. I rode the thing maybe 20 times that month.

Any advice for people looking to go surf up there?
North of the Gate, predicting the conditions and swells is so much more difficult than in Southern California. If you go up there on a whim, you’ll probably get completely skunked. It takes time to know the spots. It really is a wild goose chase sometimes. And up north it’s a different world. No nonsense. The surfers up there are only into what’s new with boards….and that’s it. No colors, no stickers. You don’t go up there with a colorful wetsuit [laughs] When I go up, I peel off all my stickers, ride an old, yellowing beat-up board and double-arm paddle to fit in.


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  • jeff

    Stay away, fuckin kook

  • surferdude69

    Seems like a pretty chill stretch of coast for me and my bros to cruz up and find some hollow ones!

  • Mik

    @jeff: here we come!!!!!!

  • nomoresecrets

    Just north of The Wall: Rca’s, Palomarin, Alomere falls, Double Point. To name but a few. Do some research and go. Take the coast trails. Fuck the local Marin County Whitewalkers. Buncha spoiled, middle-aged crackers who can’t surf. All paranoid froth, no bite. (Unlike, say, Santa Cruz locals, who will actually bite you). These spots tend to work best on solid souths/southwests/wests in the Summer/Fall with favorable winds. Roughly 180-270 degrees depending on the spot. 225-ish for Double Point. (Also, look into the Shelter Cove area while you’re at it).

  • Matt

    Classic! This Jeff guy above calls Tazy a kook. Tazy surfs very well, is very respectful and doesn’t name any spots or give any hints on where he’s surfed up the coast. Get over yourself Jeff! You’re probably much more of a kook than Tazy, you f@#kin barnstar!

  • jeff

    @Matt: J/K, I’m from the valley and just wanted to see if anyone would respond to a stereotypical comment(is that trolling?). Anyway, this “Tazzy” guy is actually a super mellow dude – I’ve seen him at Creek a few times. Anyway, I liked the original post and find Northern CA pretty intriguing.

  • Mik

    to pile on Jeff a little more LOL:

    Taz is on the “A” team of surfers in Santa Cruz, and Mavericks… He’s so far beyond just “good”, it’s laughable.

    and , having lived and surfed in the Bodega Bay region, i will add in that there is world class surf to be found, that the locals are core and amazing people, and that they deserve respect. my few years surfing with them was one of the best experiences of my surfing life.

    so if you are ready for deep ocean power, 44 degree water at the better spots, the ever present possibility of Great Whites, long drives on two lane roads that make driving 40 miles a 2 hr ordeal, and radically fickle swell conditions that require constant (CONSTANT) monitoring for wind and tide, then the door is open…

    if you know where the door is.

    colon/hyphen/close parenthesis

  • Pete

    I live up there, all the way up there. with the meth heads. it can get good. it’s got gems, but you will get skunked. no doubt.
    even when it fires. it fires for a matter of hours, not days. tidal, ripped out, windy, cold, sharky.

    come visit, it’s beautiful. but you won’t score unless you put years in.

  • Frogger

    Bottom line: “Mr mellow dude” you are poseing to be someone you are not and never will be. That position” up there” has already been filled and will never be replaced. In your spoiled attempts to ” make a dollar” by hideing your camara man behind a log on the beach and getting dropped off by a jet ski ” two hrs late” exposed your true nature and proved yourself ans a disrespectful sell out much like your compadre that dropped u off that morning. There does exist a man that surfs by himself all the time and does get bit by the locals but they are 18-24 ft and actually have teeth…if you ever showed up one time you wouldn’t be by yourself and hopefully you would walk back with more than a buckled board, a head butt and a broken camara. For characters like u deserve nothing north of the gate. So I’ll end it by saying the ones that know, know and don’t have a need to bullshit attempting to fill the void from a very unsuccessful short lived visit to another mans haven. Hope to see you out there soon Tasnik….

    P.s. your level of respect matches your skills on the pool table .. I truly wish I would have saved you the drama and wooped your ass the night before at “Hawg Wild….

  • Frogger

    Editing one line…. I meant to say if u ever showed up on time … Excuse the typo…I hope u stay in Santa Cruz with your biting “a team…

  • kook

    stay away from MY waves

  • Gerard

    Hostility in surfing is lame… Everyone out there acting all tough when they got their boys with them… Y’all are fuckin bitches… you know who you are

  • Bryan

    Is “Frogger” Chad in the third person(I sure hope not)? If you’re trying to keep Tazy and everyone else away from your spot why would you begin to bother posting on a forum that just creates attention? Is this amateur hour? Quiet down already you sound ridiculous. And relax, we all know that it’s the wrong time of year anyways around your parts and everyone will have long forgot about this article when the wind finally comes around.

  • drama!

    Frogger is not chad. frogger is chad’s sidekick.

    and bryan , you are correct. the drama never stops. it feeds itself.

  • A Team

    You guys are all a bunch o barnyards and no one even reads this shit! Its too cold and the waves suck up there!

  • IsoscelesTriangle

    6 and 7 year old children gunned down with banana clipped, mad max style semi-autos while ( slightly ) more in depth background checks are denied by a bunch of bought and sold politicians, limbs and lives blown apart in Boston and people are pissed of about who’s allowed to going surfing and where?
    Wtf …

  • RH

    Froggy, you might be remotely easy to take seriously if you didn’t claim that the upper size limit for White Sharks is the lower limit for your area… and that you have 24 footers. A 16.5 foot white shark weighed on a research vessel this winter weighed 3500 hundred pounds, and an 18 footer must weigh around 5000. A 24 footer would probably weigh 10,000 pounds, which is twice as big as any credible man of the sea has ever claimed to have seen, anywhere. So, do the math, and realize that you’re about half what you think you are… and that you should probably avoid real life confrontations.

  • Tj

    Please go north more often Tony. Go south east west, who cares. It’s nice when your gone. One less idiot in town.

  • they can have it

    i met an Aussie while on a surf trip in Central America who knew this guy called Chad from North of the Golden Gate. Chad was surfing alone at a heavy remote spot in October of 2005 and was bitten and spit out by a white shark. Chad made it back to the beach and then had to drive himself 60 miles along slow back roads to the hospital. the punch line was that Chad’s health insurance classified the bite an act of god and would not make good on the health insurance claim!