Name: Timothy “Harps” Harper
From: Pacific Beach
Location: Ocean Beach Pier
Occupation: Disabled combat veteran for the U.S. Army/college student
I saw Harps on the north side of the Ocean Beach pier on Superbowl weekend. He just loaded up his 6’8″ Sharp Eye, 6’9″ Black Beauty shaped by Al Merrick, and another board after he surfed the 1-2 footers.
“The Dog Beach jetty is my favorite [spot] because I’m a regular foot so it makes it much easier to take off on the points,” he said, “[as opposed to] a goofy foot, and if you are going into the wave to the left and your backs to the wave.”
Harps had his share of injuries during his 28 years of surfing, but hurt himself bad while going to his first surf tournament by Corpus Christi, Texas. “I had a chance to go to the U.S. open in my first year and a half in surfing,” he said, “but I got in a car accident on the way to the contest.”
Shortly after, he then signed up for the military and was stationed in Oahu, Hawaii. This is where he received preliminary training to be part of the Quick Reaction Force – and he learned to surf the big waves.
Harps was then stationed in San Diego and has been surfing in OB for about 20 years. He wrote a Reader story in 2009 called “Surf Nazi Hate Crime,” when he was bullied by locals (at the time) and he punched a dude.
“It’s a public beach,” he said, “people will be held liable for what they say and on the spot sometimes.”
Becoming a local at the Dog Beach and Avalanche jetties doesn’t exempt him from wipeouts, though. A few years ago, he sustained a herniated disc in his lower-back from a nasty spill by the Dog Beach jetty.
“That sandbar shifts every once in awhile during winter swells,” he said. “I took off on a nice overhead wave, it picked me up and slammed me and pushed me down to the sand below. I ended up landing on my [buttocks] so it compressed and my legs went completely numb for like about 20 minutes, then after [they] started to get feeling while I’m just sitting on my board half way out.”