Body Whomping – WindanSea, Sea Lane, Marine St

This Whomper is just a split second from eating it at WindanSea. Photo by Brian Munzon

This Whomper is just a split second from eating it at WindanSea.
Photo by Brian Munoz

WindanSea’s claim to fame was its surf.  Sea Lane and Marine Street’s claim to fame is its wicked shore break otherwise known as ‘whomp,’ or what locals dubbed when you body surfed it, Bodywhomping. The term originated in the early 1960s at the three beaches due to the sound heard when the wave closed out over you like cupping your hands and a single loud “ whomp” of  air rushed out due to the  heavy blow, slap or bang that the wave gives you.

Unlike body surfing where one puts on a pair of fins and rides waves for  x amount of distance … then gracefully kicks out after you have enjoyed your ride …then swim back to the break to catch another one, whomping has a stranger approach.

The true art, which takes a ton of skill of bodywhomping uses the wave’s surge as its momentum … no fins are used! And the ride is for only a few seconds at best.

Fins become cumbersome when wading out and almost impossible to maintain balance after you have been thrown into a few inches of whirl pooling backwash of a wave.

Jon Sarrett shows how it is done at Marine St. Photo by Doug Moranville

Jon Sarrett shows how it is done at Marine St. Photo by Doug Moranville

First, you either are standing in chest or waist high water or treading water just a few feet from shore. Then name of the game is wait for a wave that will not close out (almost impossible) push off from the sand and/or take a few quick, yet powerful stokes and ride the wave for those few seconds. Your ending is most graceful, the body gets slammed into the sand or in a few inches of water with tons of water whirring around you like you are in a commercial washing machine.

If you have done the whomp good, your reward is a mouthful or noseful of sand.  So, unlike body surfing, days later you are still digging out sand from your ears. Fun? You bet!

Women risk loosing their tops int he Shorebreak

Many a women have lost their tops at the brutal Shore Break of Marine St, Sea Lane and WindanSea

In other words, you get short, deep tube rides just before the waves hits the steep shelf that unloads onto the shore.

The key is very simple; time it so that your body rolls with the curl of the wave because you want that few inches of water to cushion your fall and if you don’t you, well, you eat it.

Either way, it is dangerous. Serious injuries are common for those you do not know what they are doing.  Wrist and arm sprains and a few minor concussions here and there usually are the favorable ones along with many sandpapered body marks.   Others more serious can be broken arms, collar and necks … it is not for the novice and or girl with the string bikini. Many of women have walked out with arms crossing their necks as their tops gets sucked out into deep blue.

And I know I going to be getting some serious shit on this, but people like La Jollans Jim and Dennis Downie, and Rick Prouse were forefathers in whomping. All three become some of the first or the first to body surf/whomp the infamous Wedge.


  1. paul davidson says:

    Let,s not forget teem goon. Ray “byrd”,mitch anderson,”Lamb,ricky desanto to name a few. The goons ruled marine street in the late 70’s thru the 80’s.Plus,I think it,s pretty safe to say,we we’re the first ones to surf it. not outside marine street but the whomp. right in there with the whompers and sponges.oh yeah,on longboards,the oldest,ugliest,thickest glassed boards we could get,for obvious resons.looking back on those days,the whomp was the safest place to be.on the beach with a bunch of drunk goons,that,that was dangerous.say hey to byrdy jackie mac. teem goon,mac meda,woo-hoo!

    • Teem Goon OG says:

      The Goons surfed little boards in the shorepound too.
      Mitch never got his hair wet, he was the annoying musician guy.

    • Claire Jardine Reader says:

      Yes Ray Bird! RIP and The Mayor of Marine St. Terry Swartz! RIP!

    • Yo cool post. If yall still around to answer this (I see your posts be from 09), how packed was the water at Marine during the 80s/90s? My pops was there everyday during the 80s with no issues, my heyday was the 2000s and I don’t remember it being packed with kooks. Now 2016, still go often and just frat dudes sittin in the water with their heads up their asses, gettin in the way of us whompers and skimboarders. Was it always like this??

  2. Susie Kelly says:

    Kathy Kelly, Gayle Kelly, and Susie are still alive!

  3. Any body there from my days miss you all!

  4. Bill Sowles says:

    Dave, do you remember the ‘banana whomping’ party on Prospect. I think Mike fell through a glass top table and cut his back open. No body noticed, not even Mike.

  5. And walking up to Li-Mar(sp?)Market on the corner of La Jolla Blvd. and Marine St. for a $0.15 piece of bread to sunstain us through the day of sun and sea! No plastic water bottles, just some carbs!

  6. Some of my fondest childhood memories were summers at Sea Lane whomping all day with my friends. One of the girls would bring her “Omidaomidacongobars” for us all the chow down on. Laying in the hot sand getting warm after hours in the water. What awesome memories…

  7. Chris May aka "Amp" says:

    We used to skimboard in the 50s down at the shores too. The plywood was always liberated from some construction site. My uncle Natt Hudnall had a well equipped home workshop with a bandsaw, so they wound up pretty nice. The best ones we set on blocks and piled more blocks in the center to warp them. At that time no one was on the beach except in summer, and with the boat launch by the Marine Room, well, who could help driving down to the pier for long rides.

  8. Jamie, to follow up on your inquiry. Skim boards at the beginning, say 1948-49, were cut from 1/2″ scrap plywood, rounded, then varnished. The ride at Windansea was short so we all went down to the Shores. Paul Blankenship came along and fashioned a “skeg” on a steel strap that retracted when beached. We rigged a 100′ rope from behind the ubiquitous Model “A”, give a thumb up and with one hand on the board, the other on the rope, have a wild tow from wet sand to wave back to sand, 100 yards or so. Blankenship was a “master”.

  9. Bob Baker says:

    I remember whomping Windansea in the mid to late ’50s just south of the shack and north of it sometimes. Use to compete with Earl Gildea on who had the biggest stones.

  10. Henry Hester says:

    In High School (late 60’s), I whomped Windansea a few times. I remember my very last try at it. Just South of the shack, I took off too late and ended up going straight instead of trimming. I hit the sand with my chest and it arched my back pretty badly. I certainly felt the “tingles”. Even at 17 years old, I knew this wasn’t for me. It could have ruined a very physical career throughout the next 20-30 years.

  11. One of my best whomping experiences was at Windn’sea in 1976. This 5’5″ Navy Seal was out with us in eight to ten foot winter whomp. David Sternbach, Kenny Sproul, Bill Arno and I were having a blast and the Seal was going right over the falls. He was so tough, he just came up laughing and saying what a great time he was having.

    LJ Whomper- How cool that you whomped at the SolMar. I hit that too… the spectators were shocked… convinced I was going to die.

  12. Skimboarding originated in orange county at aliso beach. The founding father and biggest influence of the sport is tex haines, the owner of victoria skimboards, and it is still done and becoming more popular. Marine street is good for it in the spring/summer and on occasional winter days the sand and swell sets up just right for a fun day. Skimboarders and wompers do not have a good relationship though. Marine street has a large amount of frat guys and just flat out idiots who go there in the summer and have no idea how to womp or where to womp. So they end up getting in skimboarders ways and occasionally getting hit… which does not feel good. So to everyone who womps at marine street. please respect the skimboarders and give us a little room. This beach and windansea are really the only consistent san diego beaches for us to skim in the summer.

  13. This is just an inquiry…

    Does anyone know anything about Skimboarding? Where did it originate? Who were the best? Could you buy skimboards or make them? I remember seeing it at the Orange County beaches in the late 50s and early 60s…and then it seemed to disappear…

  14. We were the true boys back in the mid 70’s and 80’s. Hanging out all summer long, taking B loads and womping for hours

  15. Jack said from time to time, that if he had to do life over, he would have been a trapeze artist (or a dynamite operator)…he was a phenomenal athlete…power (weight lifting), speed and finesse (gymnastics and diving)…

  16. Dennis Downie says:

    I first learned whomping at Sea lane and Marine street by watching
    Mac , Jon Sarret and others. I was always impresed by their abillity
    to turn in the air and land on their backs in six inches of water.
    Actually, they would bounce off that cushion of water and land upright on their feet. They made it look easy

  17. Jack Mac always said he and Pirie invented body whomping. He also said he was the first one to dive off the clam. I’m not from here…anyone have the skinny on this?

  18. Ronzz took me to Marine Street a few years ago and when we got there it was a little intimidating for me…There was an ambulance there pulling a guy out of the water with a neck brace on…My bathing suit turned immediately brown as I generally don’t go swimming without water wings..I am the worst!!!..Luckily I had five or six beers at the West End beforehand and I survived the big womp…Ronzz couldn’t stop laughing….Hi John, I miss your nazi imitations

  19. ” Womping” all over the world, WindanSea, SeaLane, Marine Street,(when there big) rival anything Sandy Beach,Makapu,Makaha can throw at you.The Biggest Womp I’ve ever been in/seen is in Cabo,in front of the Solmar Hotel….you could fit a school bus inside these barrels..breaking in knee deep water, no one out but us..SCARY!!!It used to be so fun in the old days, just you and your friends in the WOMP, now it is so friggin crowded….Winter Womping only now-Empty. Womping with Mac, McCartney, Pierre …good old days/awesome memories..Hi Turtle

  20. Dan Dameron says:

    The slope of entry of the sand at Sea Lane and Marine Street varied from 20 to 30 degrees (or so it seemed)for proper “Shore Break”. When the combination of tide and swell was the right size you could do the “Over the Falls” roll, flipping completely over into 6 inches of water, landing on your feet and letting the momentum and tons of seawater propel you uphill. About 45 minutes of that would call for a beer break. Of course we all remember days when there was absolutely no water below and locals chose to “Hair-out”. It was always fun watching the Cajon Zone folks pulling a crumpled body out of the surf because they hadn’t read the “Instructions”.

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