top of page

History of The Wedge | Newport Beach California

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

History of The Wedge in Newport Beach California

About The Wedge

The Wedge is a spot located at the extreme southeast end of the Balboa Peninsula in Newport Beach, California known for its large waves that makes it a popular spot for surfing and bodysurfing. The Wedge is located at the intersection of the beach and the man-made jetty that forms the breakwater on the western side of Newport harbor entrance. When a south or south/southwest swell is running in the right size and direction, the Wedge can produce waves up to 30 feet (9.1 m) high.

surfer at The Wedge Newport Beach, California
Bodysurfer rides massic waves at The Wedge in Newport Beach, California ©John Supremo

Popular Culture

In the early to mid-1950s The Wedge was known locally as "102 Beach," where teens held frequent evening beach parties at which Brew 102, a popular (and inexpensive) Southern California beer from the Maier Brewing Co. was liberally consumed.[citation needed] The Wedge makes an appearance in Bruce Brown's The Endless Summer. Balboa is mentioned in the opening song to seminal 1963 surfing movie "Beach Party".

Legendary surf music guitarist Dick Dale memorialized the Wedge in an eponymous song on the 1963 album, Checkered Flag. Pop punk band All Time Low also mentions the Wedge in their song "Let It Roll" from their 2007 album, "So Wrong, It's Right".

John Wayne attended USC in the 1920s, where he played on the Trojans football team. "While still playing football, Wayne went to the Wedge for a bodysurfing session and wound up — as so many others do — getting injured at the famously fast and heavy spot. Because he could no longer play football, he lost his athletic scholarship. And without funds, he had to drop out of USC. After leaving school, Wayne went to work at the studios, beginning with a summer gig in a prop department."

surfer at The Wedge Newport Beach, California
"Broken Dreams" by ©John Supremo

History of the Wedge

The formation of the surfing spot known as the Wedge was a by-product of alterations to the Newport Harbor, which were completed and re-dedicated on May 23, 1936. Before those renovations and extensions of the West Jetty wall, the Newport Harbor was the premier surfing spot on the entire west coast of North America. However, while the Newport Harbor was popular with surfers, it was also at that time a tragic place to be for boaters and swimmers alike, especially during big swells.

In 1926, George Rogers Jr., a 15-year-old with polio, drowned in the Newport Harbor as his boat capsized amidst the heavy waves. As a result of polio, George Rogers Jr. was reliant on leg braces, and due to the weight of his heavy iron leg braces, his body sank to the bottom of the harbor and was never found. To prevent such a tragedy from happening again to boaters or swimmers, the boy's father, George Rogers Sr., a successful southern California road builder, was motivated to sell his business and focus his remaining years of life on seeking local and federal funding to alter the Newport Harbor. From 1926 to 1936 George Rogers Sr. campaigned to raise funds. Despite the scarcity of money during the Depression, Rogers Sr., helped raise approximately $2 million in federal aid and local bond funds.

A month following the re-dedication of the improved Newport Harbor entrance, George Rogers Sr. had a heart attack while on his boat as he entered the harbor entrance. He died at approximately the same location his son died, ten years earlier. In 2014 the documentary, The Wedge: Dynasty, Tragedy, Legacy, aired on PBS SoCaL, recounting these events.

ATTENTION: Please View The Copyright Disclaimer HERE


bottom of page