They were a group of waterwomen drawn to the secluded sands and sea at San Onofre, surfing by day and partying by night as the sun dipped into the horizon.
The escapades of the San Onofre Surfing Wahines were documented in a 75-page scrapbook that collected dust for decades, a relic recently uncovered and published – at least part of – for the first time. Their tales were added to a second edition of “San Onofre: Memories of a Legendary Surfing Beach,” a now 1,550-page beast of a book that shares the history of California’s rich surf culture.
It could be called one of the most significant finds in women’s surfing history, documenting not only a less widely known group among the pioneers to surf the iconic beach, currently considered State Parks land on a soon-to-expire lease from the military, but also what’s believed to be the first known women’s surf club.
The San Onofre Surfing Wahines started in 1938 during the early years of mainland surfing.
“This one document itself puts a whole new light and perspective on the significance and prominence of women surfers. The intriguing and puzzling aspect of it is none of the dozens of pioneer surfers I interviewed, some who surfed in the ’30s, none of them ever mentioned this group,” said author and San Onofre Surf Club member David Matuszak. “It just completely got by under the radar in the first seven years of the research I did. I kind of stumbled on it by accident. It’s ground breaking for the women’s surfing history.”
The first, limited edition of his book sold out in 2018. So with the women’s surf club scrapbook now in hand and other significant historical facts that since came to light, Matuszak recently re-issued a second edition with about 50 more pages added.
Matuszak first thought his small project to document the history of San Onofre surfing would take a few months and he’s publish a 100-page book. It took him seven years of research – the book features 200 surfers’ stories along with thousands of photos – and another year following tips about the missing