A Surfer's Nemesis - The Standard Black Ball Flag
It’s that time of year again! Yeah we’re all fired up for longer days, southern hemi’s and shedding our rubber, but summer also means the beginning of the Black Ball at most of our local beaches. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the Black Ball is a flag raised by the lifeguards to help designate certain areas as swimming or surfing only. While many surfers irritably regard it as a blue ball, the flags are raised to help reduce injuries between hard boards and swimmers in the surf line.
Regulations change from day to day and beach to beach, so the best way to avoid a heckling (or a possible ticket from the smurfs) is to ask the lifeguard where you can surf before you paddle out. In general, body boards are permitted in the swim area, but surfboards, skimboards, and other hardboards (doyl’s considered hardboards) must stay in the designated areas.
It’s easy to get upset at the lifeguard yelling at you for crossing an imaginary line when the surf is pumping, but in reality the flag is only up for 3 month out of the year. Those of us accustomed to the early morn dawn patrols or post-work sessions will barely notice it’s there. For those of you still upset, you can always grab a beater or a pair of fins and have just as much fun at the beach. With that said.. I’ll still be counting down the days until that damn flag goes down!!!
The beater can beat the black ball at certain beaches
Below is a black ball list for Orange County – Check with local LGs for more details:
Huntington Beach Black Ball Times & Areas:
Black Ball determined by how many people are in the water at City Beaches. Usually it will be on the South Side of the Pier from 11:00am – 5:00pm during the summer months.
At State Beaches Black Ball is up from June 14 to Labor Day starting at 11am until the Lifeguard leaves. Weekdays at Newland St. Tower 9 to Tower 11 is not blackballed. Everything south of Tower 2 is never blackballed. On Weekends everything north of Tower 2 is Blackballed.
Newport Beach Black Ball Times & Areas:
From May 1 – Oct. 31, 10:00am -5:00pm the Black Ball is up in Newport. That means no boards at the Wedge and 40-44th Streets, and just about every spot except River Jetties. River Jetties is open to surfing all day. There is NO Stand Up Surfing until Oct. 31.
Laguna Beach Black Ball Times & Areas:
Black Ball is up June 15 – Sept. 15 on all city beaches. There are only 3 areas where surfing is permitted all day: Rockpile, Thalia Street, and Brooks Street. Other small skim areas are posted at Crescent Bay, Lagunita and TI. Times are subject to change but are generally open from 10:00am – 4:00pm Mon through Fri. However the lifeguard may close these down at any time. Black Ball is enforced only while the lifeguard is on duty. This is anywhere from 9 – 7 (most towers are 10-6) depending on the beach.
Aliso has a skim zone that’s enforced from June 15 to Labor Day. Subject to change by surf, crowd, and weather conditions.
Dana Point (Salt Creek / Strands) Black Ball Times & Areas:
Black Ball starts Memorial day and is enforced every weekend until June 25th. On the 25th the Black Ball is in effect every day until Labor Day. Enforced while the lifeguards are on duty. Check posted Flags/signs for locations of surf/swim zones.
San Clemente Black Ball Times & Areas:
Black Ball is enforced from Memorial Day to Labor Day. T-Street to the South Side of the pier is Blackballed from 11:00am – 6:00pm on weekdays and 10:00am – 6:00pm on weekends. Surfing allowed all day from the Pier to the Clock Tower/HQ and Mariposa point to 204s. Trestles is open all year round, but good luck finding a parking sport during the summer.