Small surf city Cocoa Beach worries about going big time under the lights of a surf stadium


Cocoa Beach local Dan Colburn weighs in on what could be a major artificial surf project on his home break.

If you are a Central Florida surfer, you have probably heard the term “Surf Stadium.”

This is the term coined by Cocoa Beach mayor Dave Netterstrom, and a few other proponents, to describe the proposed pier to be constructed in downtown Cocoa Beach. But to call it simply a “pier” is a bit misleading.

When I think “pier,” I think of a wooden, pelican poop covered structure extending out into the ocean, the primary function of which is to allow crusty, salty fisherman closer to their catch or a place to drink beer and talk about fishing … either one. Usually both.

While this “Surf Stadium” will undoubtedly have its fair share of pelican poop, its primary purpose is vastly different.

The construction methodologies are intended to result in wave energy congruent with the old Sebastian Inlet jetty (circa 20th century) and the Newport Jetty on the north side of Newport Harbor (aka “The Wedge”), producing a bouncing wave off the pilings that significantly increases the size and power (that would be “refraction” for you educated types).

Sounds pretty awesome right?

By and large it is. But it’s the intangible byproducts of the project that have many locals, including myself, questioning its merits.

Have you ever found one of those sleepy little towns where most of the residents know each other? There’s that quaint little café downtown that has a chill vibe and the owners know you by name and by order, you can navigate the entire town via bicycle, you know everyone in the lineup at least by face, if not name?

Well, Cocoa Beach is one of those towns. We fly under the radar here. If you ask most anyone from other parts of the world they will know us only by virtue of our favorite son, Kelly Slater. Most don’t know exactly where it is and those that do will be quick to tell you the waves suck in Cocoa Beach. And that’s just fine by me.

I first came here in 1985 with my brother and learned to surf at a spot we called “Driftwood,” because of the beach house there rumored to have been made entirely from driftwood. We ate tacos at a family owned taco joint on the south end of town with terrible salsa and talked with locals at a small, privately run surf shop where the owner was the guy shaping the boards he sold. Cocoa Beach has a rich history and is deeply seeded in east coast surf lore claiming residents and Hall of Famers such as Bob Freeman, Dick Catri, Skip Savage, Claude Codgen, Mike Tableing and of course Mr. Slater.

But all in all it’s a small town not unlike one you might find in rural Nebraska. You drop a “surf stadium” in the middle of town and all of a sudden things get a little hairy when a swell clears the 12-second mark. We get every Jabroni from Orlando and Tampa making their way to our little slice of heaven thinking that because they shelled out $800 for the latest model from Lost they can drop in on us old salts riding our locally crafted Mayos, Neilsons, and O’Hares.

Listen, I’m not entirely against progress; I understand that the town I fell in love with will never remain the same.

However, I suggest we tread with great care here else it be turned into some version of the hell that is southern California.

Like the waves he misses, one HCSR contributor goes off on something we can all relate to

By Dan Colburn, Cocoa Beach, FL

Is it wrong to envy?

I mean, Biblically speaking, it is one of the “7 Deadly Sins,” right?

Maybe “envy” isn’t even the right word for what I’m getting at here; but I have something I feel when I know there are good waves and I see a picture of my favorite spot or read a Facebook post from one of my online “friends:”

It was really fun this morning, shoulder high, glassy a frames for 3 hours with only 5 guys out!

That crap gets me all worked up inside, especially when I’m stuck shredding cubicle reef™. (Credit to my buddy JT for that term).

So there I sit on my grey, carpeted beach trying not to get burned by the fluorescent rays of my artificial sun looking at pictures of everyone else surfing, thinking to myself, “What am I doing with my life?”

Why am I doing what I am doing? For money? Based on my account balances I’d be a fool if that were the reason. Some corporate ladder BS? Nah, I don’t care in the least about working my way to some VP-level nightmare. So what gives? Why would I do this?

Honestly, as I sit here I can’t come up with a good reason. Having a few extra bucks is nice but if you don’t ever use it for things you love, then why bother?

Think about your situation for a second. You work for money to do what? Pay bills for shit you really don’t need anyway. Do you need a new car? Do you need 1200 HD cable channels and Internet speeds that rival the Space Shuttle (RIP)? Do you even care that your clothes have some fancy label on them? I don’t.

It’s so easy to get sucked into this ideal of what it means to be successful and what you do and do not need in your life to be comfortable. All the garbage we see in magazines, on TV … it’s all crap that is designed to keep us in this effing rat race, spinning our wheels so we keep buying the next useless chotchke that you’ll forget you even have in six months. What was it Donovan said? “Didn’t exist last week but now it’s what you need.”

In light of my previous comments, I am beginning a new tradition of one surf trip every year. I might not be able to swing a boat trip in Indo but my goal is going to be getting away for a few days every year with no other goals except surfing abundantly.

What was it Donovan said? “Didn’t exist last week but now it’s what you need.”

Me and some buddies did a short one last year and enjoyed five days in Puerto Rico, some surfing, some beer drinking, but mostly just enjoying some good times. We didn’t do one this year but plans in the works for a Spring 2016 trip. Nicaragua? OBX? Tofino? Who knows.

But we will do something in an effort to shed this concocted idea of the American Dream.