I seldom – if ever – call out surfing's youth for being misguided or flat-out wrong. We've all made mistakes in high school; they're our years to live and learn. But an incident yesterday morning at Oceanside Harbor freaked me out so much that I have to speak out – before it's too late.

Here's the scenario: 7 a..m., light offshores and fun, chest-high rights reeling off the South Jetty. As with every weekday morning, {{{El Camino}}} High School's Surf PE squadron was out in full force. They usually group together in the middle of the beach and do their hour's time without much incident. But the rights were the clear call this morning, which prompted about a dozen of 'em to break from the pack and join the regulars on the south side of the South Jetty.

They floundered off the mussel-encrusted rocks, yelling and cackling the whole way, then assembled in the impact zone looking for scraps. About the same time, Mike Lambresi circled around the jetty in hopes of catching a few quick ones before heading to work at INT Softboards. You remember Mike: three-time US Champ, king of the PSAA and Bud Tour for the better part of a decade and hands-down the best surfer ever to come out of Oceanside. In short, he's a legend, and he paddled out with a smile on his face and zero attitude. He sat outside, caught a nice wedge, blew everyone away with his patented high-speed hack and flicked out in pursuit of another one.

Then it happened. A little right wedged in on the inside, and Lambresi – seeing a good opportunity for another quick warmup wave – maneuvered in front of a flailing, drop-knee bodyboarder with gloves on and annihilated it to the beach again. As he paddled back out, the brace-faced, drop-knee bodyboarder, no older than 15 and clearly a certified beginner, started mouthing off. "What the f—k, dog!" he yelled, gloves in the air. "F—kin' split!"


I think Mike was so blown away that he sort of snapped back at the kid, which prompted a hyena pack of other zero-ability grommets to chime in. "Yeah, f—k you, old man," they all yelled. "Get the f—k out of here!"

It got so ridiculous that Lambresi could only paddle away before he did something he regretted. "They're too little!" he said.

But the kids wouldn't shut up. And no amount of reasoning from some of the other local crew did any good. When the coach blew the "time to go in" airhorn at 7:45, the hyena pack left en masse, completely oblivious of who they just disrespected and how low on the totem pole they really are.

Here's a suggestion to the coach and to any high school who runs Surf PE. For every hour the class spends in the water, they should spend an equal hour on the beach or in the classroom, learning about lineup etiquette, surf history, the rules of watermanship and the rest of the library's worth of information necessary to call yourself a surfer.

Until then, these kids may think they're in Surf PE, but they're definitely not surfing.

Click to read the El Camino High School Surf PE coach’s response.