Surfers of UC San Diego: Jack Beresford ’88

Jack Beresford ’88, hanging loose.

Jack Beresford ’88
▪ College: Warren
▪ Major: Communication & Political Science
▪ Hometown: San Diego, CA
▪ Currently Lives: San Diego, CA
▪ Career: Director of Communications and Public Relations – San Diego Community College District

When did you learn to surf?

I grew up in San Diego and like a lot of us, we gravitate to the beach pretty quickly as kids. When I was 14 or 15 years old, I got into what’s called kneeboarding, or kneeboard surfing. San Diego was actually a hotbed of kneeboarding—there was kind of a crew of guys really pushing the envelope. And so a bunch of us in high school took up kneeboarding regularly at Black’s Beach, where we came in contact with a lot of the locals there, many of whom were part of the UCSD community. So when it came time to choose a college, it was kind of obvious where I’d be applying.

What inspired you to join the surf team?

It was pretty instant. I already knew the people.  The team at the time was of a bunch of standup surfers, three kneeboarders and I think one or two women. My mentor in kneeboarding was a guy named Bill Lerner. He’s about four years older than me, a former U.S. champion and former world champion. And he was actually UCSD’s athlete of the year in 1982 or ’83. His nickname is the mayor of Black’s Beach because he’s just a fixture down there and knows everybody.

Jack Beresford ’88 still rides Black’s nearly every day, here in July 2020.

How was he a mentor?

Well, we always would hit him up for advice while we were in the water. And even just watching people in their approach is inspiring. And honestly, we were trying to show off in front of him whenever we saw him. It raises your level, you know? You up your game because you want to do well in front of somebody like that. And the ultimate, of course, is getting that compliment. If he saw you get a good wave, that “Hey, great wave, Jack,” really meant a lot. And of course, Bill’s the most personable guy in the world.

So, why kneeboarding?

Everyone asks me that. It definitely has some advantages with regard to how you approach the wave. You have a lower center of gravity for one, and two, if you want to ride tubes, which is kind of the ultimate goal in surfing for many people, there’s no better setup. It’s obviously easier to get up, because you don’t have to jump up to your feet, so it’s good for late drops on a very steep, fast wave, like those at Black’s. And really, back then it was a thing—it was in the magazines, the surf videos, you’d see kneeboarders. But over the years it’s tailed off. Bodyboarding got bigger, in competitions, if not popularity.

Beresford in a burgeoning barrel at Black’s.

What’s your career?

I’ve been in communications and PR ever since I graduated. Now I’m the director of communications and public relations for the San Diego Community College District. I still surf Black’s every other day too. I still see a lot of the old guys from the UCSD years. It’s a neat thing, kind of like the TV show, Cheers, where everybody knows your name, right?

How does surfing complement the UC San Diego experience?

UCSD is a tough school. It’s always been a tough school. And I think those that are successful in school have to have some kind of relief, some kind of alternative thing that they’re doing. Something that gets your head away from the books and the studies. For me, you know, it was the folks that I would see every day while surfing. And even if I didn’t have time to surf, just walking out to the cliffs, to check things out for like 20 minutes, you just breathe in the fresh air and get away from the library for a little bit—that really helped me while I was there.

What’s your favorite memory from the surf team?

My first team competition was in 1984, and it was up at Oceanside Harbor. It was right when Bill Lerner was UCSD athlete of the year, and he was really the guy. So what happened in the final of that contest, three guys from the other schools just sat on Bill, essentially. They surrounded him in the water so that anywhere he moved, they would move—he couldn’t catch a wave. But I’m out there, and nobody’s heard of Jack Beresford. This is my first contest and I was just free to catch any wave I wanted. So I won that contest for Billy, my first-ever contest in the spring of ’84.

…and deep in the tube.

How about a favorite memory outside of competition?

I had a fun rivalry with my brother who kneeboarded for UC Santa Barbara, so that was really special. And I think that the surf team semiformal would be right up there. It was an annual tradition, always in Del Mar, there’d always be a band, and you’d have to get a date and dress up. The dress code wasn’t too strict of course, but it was a blast. The social aspect of the team was a lot of fun. And the Lowenbrau, of course, which ended when I got to UCSD but I used to crash in high school, that was memorable.

Mom and the Beresford boys, back in the day.

What would you share with someone thinking about joining the surf team?

Yknow, I see the current team down there all the time. They’re doing their tryouts its just great to watch. I had this realization recently—my daughter’s a freshman and she could be like one of these kids, throwing their wetsuit on at seven in the morning. And I would totally encourage her. It’s a great experience. Black’s is such a special place, you can enjoy your time at UCSD and use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to surf a special wave like Black’s. That’s what I would say.

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