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University of Oregon surfers find community surfing the Oregon Coast
Oregon Coast Notes - Surf Report

By Jackson Long  Freelance reporter for the Daily Emerald
Photos by Nick Coté

SouthJettyDailyEmeraldPhotobyNickCoteHuge waves, warm weather and the beaches of Australia, California, South Africa and South America. That is the typical imagery for surfing, a sport that conjures up thoughts of summer days and the music of the Beach Boys.

But don’t think that surfing is just for warm weather beach-goers. In fact, the University has the largest surf club in the entire Northwest.

The club, which was started in 1995 by Bryan Bates, a legend in the Oregon surf community and a renowned surfboard crafter, is still running strong today with more than 30 members. For the past three years, senior Matt Hundhammer has run the club as the coordinator for all things Oregon Surf.

“Surfing is an outlet for us; for me personally, it has been the outlet that has allowed me to stay at UO,” Hundhammer said.

Hundhammer joined the club his freshman year, and by the time he was a sophomore, he was ready to take over the reins as the coordinator.MattHundhammerDailyEmeraldPhotobyNickCote

“I was surfing by myself and I was in search of a community of surfers in Eugene,” Hundhammer said. “Oregon is in the red zone for sharks (great whites), it’s really foggy out there and the riptides can be nasty. It is scary out there alone.”

Being a part of the surf club at Oregon has two main benefits. One is the safety factor.

“Surfing in the Northwest, you have to be aware of your abilities,” Hundhammer said. “You keep a head count of your buddies and always have your eyes open. The ocean is very humbling. We survey the water before we go out there and don’t rush into things. We also have CPR trained guys out there.”

The second benefit of the surf club is the community. Finding a group of people who consistently surf in Oregon, who are stationed over an hour and a half from the coast, is a tough thing to do. The club provides members with not only the opportunity to become friends with those who share a passion, but also information on where the best surf is going to be. The club also provides a weekly route to the water, as a carpool is setup for almost every weekend.

SteveONealDailyEmeraldPhotobyNickCote“Our weekly meetings are at the surf house, where a lot of surfers live, and we watch surfing videos and talk about where to travel to,” said Hundhammer. “Oregon is a finicky spot to surf with a lot of weather so we plan where we can go on trip. We look for the pockets of sunshine and high pressure and good surf. We either have private cars going out there or University-supplied vans.”

The club surfs primarily the coast from Coos Bay to Pacific City, with Florence and Newport as main destinations.

Aside from trips that just include casual surfing, the club does partake in some competitions, most of which are done on an individual basis.

The club’s main competition is the Clean Water Classic in Westport, Wash., which takes place every spring. Travels to more well-known surf spots such as Southern California and British Columbia usually take place on a smaller, non-club-related basis.

Hundhammer, who became club coordinator in 2007, has now officially passed control of the club over to members Ben Hulburt and Max Lalor.

JessyBurrisDailyEmeraldPhotobyNickCote“We are going to become more competitive,” said Lalor. “We aren’t going to spend as much money on renting equipment and funding trips for those who don’t know if they are serious yet about surfing and instead spend it on going to competitions.”

The transition has taken place over this past fall, and with Hundhammer graduating soon, the club vision could begin to change.

“The direction is changing. My main goal was to create a community; we have done that — we have the largest club in the Northwest,” said Hundhammer. “Now it is about talent and trying to make it viable for our guys to compete in bigger competitions and have fun.”

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