Decades ago, between First and Second Streets on Orange Avenue stood a place called Mexican Village. A popular hangout at the time, locals who have been here for a while can tell you all about it. It was a favorite hang out for aviators from the Korean and Vietnam Era. It was here, at Mexican Village, where a young lady from Indiana met a Navy pilot and decided to tie the knot.
Stan Searfus is the fifth of six children born to the couple mentioned. His older siblings were born when there was still an OB clinic on Naval Air Station North Island (NASNI). He was born at Naval Medical Center San Diego, commonly called “Balboa Hospital”. When Stan was six years old, in 1967, his father was killed in an aircraft mishap at sea during the Vietnam War. After his father’s death, Stan’s mom moved the family back to Coronado where Stan has lived, on and off, ever since.
Raising six kids was stressful and difficult and at a young age, the officers’ club pool (now called the Island Club) and the beach became a guardian for Stan and his younger brother, Tim. “We discovered the ocean and got into that and it was really great and lots of fun,” shared Stan. He and Tim would often sneak out to surf. They had a neighbor who was retired Navy and loved surfing. He would take the boys down to Mexico for a day, or sometimes for a week at a time, to catch some waves.
As a seventh grader, Stan remembers that there were twenty five to thirty kids who would ride bikes together to the beach and surf. “It was tons of fun.” He surfed all through high school. He remembers the crazy times he enjoyed throughout his childhood, explaining that as young teenagers he and his brother caught a bus from Tijuana to Mazatlan to surf and their mom didn’t think twice about letting them go. As a teenager, surfing on the Navy base, Stan would often make rescues while he was surfing. He figured he might as well get paid, so after what Stan describes as “failing miserably” at college, he secured a job as a lifeguard at NASNI. He reminisced that NASNI was a “fun place to work. We had a really cool group of guys back in the 80’s and 90’s. We kept everyone safe and caught a lot of surf.”
Stan has seventeen years of lifeguarding experience over a roughly twenty-five year period. Three years ago, he gave up lifeguarding about and started Blue Wave Surf Camp. Last year, in the summer of 2013, he offered the Blue Wave Surf camp through the Coronado Recreation Services. He also oversees both the Coronado Middle School and Coronado High School surf teams. “We have a surf club that encapsulates all kids to age 18 years”, Stan explained.
The surf club meets Wednesdays after school and Sunday mornings. CMS and CHS surfers meet Sunday from 8-10 a.m. and elementary aged surfers meet at 10 a.m. Stan provides surfboards and wetsuits to children who want to try the sport. He explained that this often saves parents from investing a bunch of money, only to have their child surf for a few weeks and decide they don’t like it.
Stan believes that it is important to teach kids to be strong in the water, strong in the ocean. “The more they can learn from someone who is experienced, the safer they are going to be as they get older.”
Membership in the surf club does not require one to compete, but there are many CMS and CHS surfers who choose to try their skill in competition. These members, (Stan estimates it to be about 30% of the Surf Club) compete in the Scholastic Surf Series in San Diego County. The series offers one competition a month during the season, with the state championship held in the spring. There are a total of five competitions during the season. Athletes have to compete in the series to qualify for the state competition.
“The team is getting better and Coronado kids are getting stronger,” says Stan. “We’ve done good enough that our kids qualify (for state).” He estimates that there are about forty elementary aged surfers in the club. This is promising for the future of Coronado surf, because in many places youngsters start surfing as young as four years old. The sooner you expose children to surfing, the more time they have to become proficient at it and be competitive outside of Coronado.
Parent of an elementary and a middle school surfer, Alice Zoehrer shared that “Stan is super good at getting the kids stoked about surfing. He is a big kid and I think that’s what helps him stay so energized and get everybody pumped.”
This year, on the day historically known for hosting the Jimmy Reilly Memorial Longboard Classic, an event started by Reilly’s friends to honor him after he died in a car accident, Stan organized the Crown City Surf Classic Competition. The “JR” committee decided that the competition they created and arranged for thirty-some years had properly honored the memory of their friend, and that this year, it was time for something new. The sponsoring organization, Coronado Surf Association, agreed to take a year off before initiating a new competition in November 2015.
Saturday, November 29, 2014, the beach was busy with surfers and spectators of all ages. With a lot of help from parents of surfers and friends, Stan was able to pull together the competition in about a month.
Stan’s advice for a beginning surfer is to find a board that “floats you well. A beginning surfboard needs to be 2 feet taller (or more) than you are. You need to have a stable platform to learn how to go from your belly to your feet. Don’t be afraid to fall off and be silly for a while. Consider taking some lessons.”
A full list of Crown City Surf Classic sponsors can be found here. Results are as follows:
1) Chrissy Seggerman
2) Dani Hill
Jr Men 13-17 Shortboard