stand up paddle surfing the wedge
Destinations

Brennan Rose: Laying Claim to sup at the Newport Wedge

Born to “Wedge”: Brennan Rose talks about his first time out at the gnarliest wave in Cali.

To most folks, the Wedge has something to do with cheese & crackers.  To a surfer, it is an icon of respect.  Located in Newport Beach CA, surfing The Wedge requires a skill set, a mentality and a savoir faire attitude that takes “What will be, will be” to a whole new level of meaning.  Breaking on hard sand, sometimes as big as 20-30 feet, The Wedge is a wave that dominates, controls and dishes out punishment like no other.

Brennan Rose is one of the pioneer surfers who, in a wave that is heavily localized, has earned himself the respect to sup surf it at will.

Brennan Rose stand up paddle surfing the wedge LEFT

“That wave jacks up at the last second an its really hard to paddle into with going over the falls or air dropping.” – Brennan Rose

“I had made it a focus early on that if I was going to sup The Wedge, I didn’t want it to be a normal day. I wanted it to be maxed out.”

 Born and raised in Southern California, Brennan surfed, “The Wedge every day before school when I was a grom.” He then moved to Maui when he turned eighteen. It was there that he fell in love with stand up paddling.  The power, the turns, the excitement of paddling into Maui’s biggest waves gave Rose the idea that when he returned home, he wanted to sup surf The Wedge. In his life, he’d only ever seen a couple sup paddlers out at The Wedge before. Brennan was determined to try.

“I’ve always wanted to sup The Wedge. I’m comfortable there since I’ve bodysurfed it, bodyboarded it, and surfed it as a kid!”

When he returned to California, he started checking the spot with sup in mind.

“But every time I came back to SoCal, either wind conditions, injuries or small surf never lined it up right for me. I had made it a focus early on that if I was going to sup The Wedge, I didn’t want it to be a normal day. I wanted it to be maxed out. I wanted to sup surf it the right way.”

 

air drop Saeman stand up paddle surging the wedge

Learning how to drop in to a wave that jacks up that fast takes both skill and patience … and a willingness to catch a beating. Bryce Saeman learning to Wedge 2011

“Its breaks right on the beach, says Brennan, “which you would think makes it easy—but if you time the sets wrong you’re getting pounded.”

It was in 2015, when Brennan and his surf buds were closely tracking the action down in Mexico due to a record breaking hurricane and southern hemisphere swell that brought Southern California some decent sized surf. Rose remembers, “Zane Schweitzer was in town for The Stand Up for the Cure. He called me to go sup The Wedge. Unfortunately, I was injured with a sprained ankle. Zane went out by himself and caught some killer waves that made me froth for some myself. The next day he called me AGAIN to go surf Newport. I couldn’t say no a second time!”

Brennan Rose stand up paddle surfing the wedge RIGHT

Cylinders, The Wedge: “I’d never seen anyone sup surfing Cylinders before I tried it that day. Guys had sup surfed The Wedge but not Cylinders. My caption for this photo would be, ‘Ohhhhh sh*t! ” – Brennan Rose

“It’s been a long time since I’ve had the feeling of sand going through one ear and out the other.”

Brennan packed up his truck, picked up Zane with his boards and the boys headed over to see The Wedge. “We pulled up and were both so bummed. It didn’t look good.  We decided to wait around to see if it would turn on. Suddenly,  in comes some 10-15 footers that got us amped to go out. Usually, The Wedge has hundreds of people out which can be scarier than 30-foot waves. We were lucky that day to only have five other guys in the water and that’s what really what sparked my interest to make the attempt.”

Zane was going nuts, running around like a lunatic getting ready to launch as Rose taped his injured ankle. Finally, it was now or never, Rose grabbed his board, switched from 3 fins to a quad-fin setup “for faster drive down the line,” and headed out. Getting out at The Wedge can be the most difficult part.

“Its breaks right on the beach, says Brennan, “which you would think makes it easy—but if you time the sets wrong you’re getting pounded.”

Early Wedge sup pioneer BRYCE SAEMAN 2011

Early Wedge sup pioneer BRYCE SAEMAN 2011

 The Wedge is No Joke

Brennan says, “I’ve seen many back and neck injuries out there since the wave breaks super close to the beach. Being on a standup paddleboard is very dangerous in itself. ” Rose had an additional concern that bodyboarders and boogyboaders don’t have out there. As a pioneer of the sport, “I’m trying to make a good name for sup as most standup paddlers are.” He needed to represent and represent well in his first attempt out at The Wedge.

“Most of the surfing world discriminates against standup paddling especially at breaks like The Wedge. I was stoked to see that the Cylinders section was breaking that day, which is a very steep and hollow wave that breaks right on the sand. Cylinders is typically a close out wave with a potential barrel you can escape. I had never seen anyone sup surf this spot before.  Some people have surfed The Wedge on a sup but never have I seen Cylinders ridden like that.

I took a few sick lefts and rights there then ended up breaking my board. It’s been a long time since I’ve had the feeling of sand going through one ear and out the other.”

Brennan Rose broken board stand up paddle surfing the wedge

It’s not often that a sup surfer gets greeted on the beach by cheers, but Brennan Rose did that day. “Multiple people came up to me to tell me how awesome that was,” he said of is solo sup session at Cylinders.

“It was cool to see people understand how hard it is to paddle standing up into a heavy wave like that.”

“I was the only sup paddler out there that day. It was pretty big. Not a lot of people on the beach have seen a sup out at Wedge so everyone was cheering pretty loud. When I broke my board at Cylinders, I came out of the water and multiple people came up to me to tell me how awesome that was. It was cool to see people understand how hard it is to paddle standing up into a heavy wave like that.”

Brennan is stoked that now he is starting to see a LOT of surfers beginning to understand standup paddling and it’s myriad benefits.

“With everyone I meet or teach, I try my hardest to teach them good surf etiquette. Yes, we all hear stories about standup paddlers taking all the waves, cutting people off or going out at spots they shouldn’t be. Whether we like it or not, in all sports there are ‘kooks.’ It’s up to us to teach the right surf etiquette.”  Gaining respect for the sport as the momentum of standup paddling continues to grow is one of Brennan’s main focuses.  “We have pro surfers like Kelly Slater and others moving to standup paddling when the surf is small, or for exercise, balance, adventuring, or relaxing. So, the sport is going in the right direction.”

Bryce TJ Saeman early Wedge sup

SAEMAN’s brothers Bryce and TJ, early Wedge sup

Brennan Rose Looks to the Future: 

Brennan looks ahead to his upcoming race season and the overall future of the sport and believes ALL paddlers are responsible for promoting positive growth and gathering respect for the standup paddling industry.  And, he also reminds us that, even as paddling grows in it’s recent popularity, to remember that the reason we’re out there is because it’s FUN.   “This past year I have been really working on my stroke technique, my nutrition, and getting my body ready for a long race season. I try to stick to races that are fun, since fun is why I started paddling. If you’re not coming off the water with a smile on your face then why do it? I think the hardest part right now in my career and for most paddlers is our schedule and knowing which events to do. There are a lot of races throughout the year but we can’t compete in all of them or we would get burned out. This year my biggest focus is building the sport and making it worldwide.”

For Rose, his observation is, “Some aspiring pros have gotten money hungry in standup paddling, a sport that really doesn’t have much money. Yes money rules the world, and we can’t survive without it. But I would hate to see such a great sport fall off because everyone’s interested in ‘now,’ when it’s really the future we have to push toward together as a community and a team.”

Brennan Rose Cylinders sup surfing the Wedge

Cylinders is a very steep hollow wave that breaks right on the sand. Brennan Rose seeks shelter at The Wedge. Photo: Wade Saunders

“The stoke comes from inland to the coast, mountains to the desert, lakes, rivers, oceans, and even pools. The biggest factor that will help all of us be successful is to work together as a team and a family.

 It’s About the Next Generation

Feeling very fortunate to be a part of such a great sport like standup paddling, Brennan Rose is feels it is, “a privilege to have met so many amazing people throughout my travels, races, events, and just by being out in the water. You can’t ask for a better life to live than living a waterman’s life. Standup has endless opportunities to explore all over this water-filled world.”

“The stoke comes from inland to the coast, mountains to the desert, lakes, rivers, oceans, and even pools. The biggest factor that will help all of us become successful is to work together as a team and a family. I see companies and magazines like Standup Journal doing their best to get stories, photos, events and products out to the community to grow this sport! I have been reading the Journal ever since the first issue came out, and love the energy and hard work their staff puts in for our entertainment.”

Working hard to garner respect for the sport of stand up paddle surfing, pioneers like Brennan Rose have blazed a trail. It takes a certain stoke and tenacity to sup surf a wave like The Wedge, but guys like Rose,  as well as TJ and Bryce Saeman continue to put themselves out there and test the boundaries so that WE may all get deeper respect.  Keep on sweeping, brothers!  And watch out for that shore break.

For additional footage of Brennan Rose at the Wedge, check out:  Who Has the Balls to Take on Double Overhead at the Wedge?

 

Brennan Rose: Laying Claim to sup at the Newport Wedge
To Top