Best of 2001: Best Rip Currents

    Mission Bay Channel Entrance
    North and South Jetties

    Ah, rip currents. A curse for the unwary dough-people visiting from middle America, who are rescued in droves each summer by weary lifeguards, but a blessing for the surfer who uses them like an HOV lane to the outside waves. The water breaking onto the shore needs a place to travel back out to sea. On a sandy beach this creates a confluence of currents, and the water will naturally find channels where the bottom is slightly deeper, carving them out even more with its seaward motion. But the stationary jetty offers the outgoing water a passage where it has to contend with the incoming waves only on one side. The best and most obvious rip currents in San Diego run along the Ocean Beach jetty and the Mission Beach jetty, which form the south and north walls, respectively, of the Mission Bay channel entrance. Surfers hop on: On a day with decent-size breakers, the jetty rip currents will carry you at Olympic-swimmer speed out to the best waves.

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