Top 5 Steamer Lane Surfers of All Time


According to Peter Mel

From Surfer Magazine


Despite being wonderfully consistent and friendly to all swell directions, Steamer Lane has its nuances. Surfers who know this beloved Northern California pointbreak like the back of their hands are often the ones you’ll find ripping the best sets to pieces. So before a cast of international competitors descends upon the Lane for the O’Neill Coldwater Classic, we asked Santa Cruz native Pete Mel (pictured here) to identify five guys who have surfed the Lane better than anyone else.

Photo: Trefz

“From my generation, I think Anthony Ruffo was one of the top guys out at Steamer Lane. He’s always been my mentor. Ruffo was one of the first to win there when it was a PSAA event. And he’s still at it. He’s actually entered in this year’s Coldwater Classic. He just turned 50 so he’s been out there for about four decades now, and he still gets good waves. He’s been through ups and downs and he’s been able to come through the other side and be a mentor to the kids. I love that about him.”

Photo: Trefz

“Richard Schmidt was talented at Mavericks, but he was also really talented at the Lane because he could ride it in the small stuff, but especially in the big stuff. He was able to surf it in all sizes. We all tried to emulate his graceful style. He made it look really easy and would always be in the best position. That’s how he was always able to get the wave of the day.”

Photo: Trefz

“Tom Curren was the surfer that I emulated when I was growing up. The year he won the Cold Water Classic was classic, all-time Steamer Lane. His clean lines and smooth approach to the walls of the Indicator will never be forgotten. I still reminisce about the surfing that Tom and Elko were doing that day.”

Photo: Craig

“In the modern era, Nat is one of the best guys out there. Because of all the right-hand pointbreaks, Santa Cruz breeds goofyfooters who are all really good on their backhand. If you look at all the Santa Cruz champions, a lot of them that are up there are goofyfooters, guys like Chris Gallagher and also Randy Bonds. Nat falls into that category. He knows every nuance to Steamer Lane and is really good at being able to find the quality waves, which is the most difficult thing to do.”

Photo: Craig

“Flea is somebody who has transitioned through it all. He’s a good gauge for me. He’s always pushed me to be a better surfer. The Lane is one of those places that you can use as a training ground because it can handle any wave from 2 feet to 25 feet and Flea can surf it in all conditions. Vince Collier gave him his nickname for surfing the Lane when it was really big. Flea still puts in more time at the Lane than anybody.”

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