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Matt Warshaw


Paul Holmes’ profile on Gary Propper ran in the November 1999 issue of Longboard magazine.  *  *  *  Before he even hit his teens, little Gary Propper was already a streetwise hustler. Growing up in a troubled single-parent family situation, he gravitated to amateur boxing at the local Boys Club in Miami, just a jab...

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Manual of Surfboard Technique, by Tom Blake, was a 22-page pamphlet made by the Robert Mitchell Company of Cincinnati, one of the makers of the Blake-design hollow surfboard. The text was originally a two-part article published in the January and February 1935 issues of Paradise of the Pacific magazine. Just a guess, but the Mitchell Company...

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“And now, in 1935, it is with pleasure I see the surfriders at Waikiki building their own hollow surfboards after my new, perfected riding design. Everyone who tries them is enthusiastic. They paddle so much easier than the solid board, catch a wave so much easier, and the vibration, caused by the wave undulation, reaches...

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“Better Ways to Build Surf Boards,” by Hi Sibley, ran in the August 1935 issue of Popular Science. Four boards types were described: a plank, a hollow, a “toboggan type” (think wooden sled), and a child’s paddleboard. The text below is taken from the plank section of the article.  *  *  * At the California beaches, there...

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“Improved Hollow Surfboard for All-Around Sport” ran in the June 1939 issue of Popular Science. The text below is slightly edited and shortened, and some of the fractions have been converted to decimals. *  *  *  Native Hawaiians taught Tom Blake to ride the waves, but he wasn’t satisfied with their crude boards. After years of...

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Back in 2014, I posted a short piece on how Miki Dora was influenced by his two fathers. “My own father taught me a gracious way of living,” Dora said, “while my stepfather showed me how to survive. One showed me how to atone for indiscretions and the other demonstrated how to commit them.” The...

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Sam George once wrote that Jimmy Blears is surfing’s “least-known world champion,” and while I’ll always wave the flag for disappeared two-time champ Sharron Weber, Sam ain’t wrong. Blears won his title in ’72, in San Diego, and all anybody remembers about that shitshow of a contest is that a board belonging to crowd favorite...

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I sort of hate myself for the enjoyment I took in putting together this little showcase of bad behavior, all of which took place during the 1972 World Surfing Championships in San Diego, either at the Harbor Island Travelodge or nearby. Bunch of punk-ass surfers being dumb and destructive, is what it comes down to....

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This is a slightly edited and condensed version of “Winning and Losing in Fat City,” which ran in the February 1973 issue of Surfing magazine *  *  * Official headquarters for the 1972 World Surfing Championships was the Travelodge on Harbor Island, San Diego. The events there, and at the contest site, have been succinctly...

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“Waterman: Darrick Doerner Seeks Perfection in the Danger Zone,” by San Francisco sportswriter Bruce Jenkins, ran in the September 1990 issue of SURFER.   *  *  *  Pops Aikau passed away in late October 1989. He had withstood the pain of untold tragedy—the death of one son, then another, and the passing of his beloved wife....

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This article on Mark Foo and Ken Bradshaw first ran in the May 1988 issue of Outside magazine. In the front of the mag, they did a little “behind the scenes” column, which I hadn’t looked at since the piece came out. Part of it reads: “Warshaw says the 20-foot monsters that Foo and Bradshaw...

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January 18, 1985, was a springboard for Mark Foo’s big-wave career. That afternoon he bailed his way through what might still be the biggest Waimea Bay closeout set to ever roll through an occupied lineup, and afterward he paddled into, and was annihilated by, another closeout wave. More importantly for his career, Mark wasted no...

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Chris Brown of Santa Barbara died yesterday, at age 48. Details of his death are still unknown. This afternoon I had this email exchange with Derek Rielly of BeachGrit.  *  *  *  BeachGrit: I got vague memories of a kid with stiff white hair slinging it to Kelly in the late eighties, early nineties. Warshaw:...

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After his stint as a self-described “total drug fiend,” but before he became a surf industry titan, Bruce Raymond was one of those hard-charging Free Ride-era Aussies who were busy reinventing the surf world in their own charismatic image. Bruce spent two years in the Top 16, then made a hard pivot away from pro...

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Greg Noll’s monster drop-to-annihilation wave at Makaha on December 4, 1969, was the defining wave of surfing’s defining big-wave swell. World champ Fred Hemmings watched from the beach and said it was the biggest wave ever ridden. Noll himself said it was five or ten feet over his previous best, and not long afterward he...

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By Tomi Knaefler Star-Bulletin Writer Greg Noll, one of the best of the big wave riders, yesterday came uncomfortably close to being a victim of Oahu’s surf storm. Noll and six other big-league surfers were drawn to the challenge of the massive 25-foot waves at Makaha. About 1:30 pm, Noll chose his challenge which another surfing...

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This is the opening chapter from Greg Noll’s 1989 autobiography, Da Bull: Life Over the Edge. It has been shortened and lightly edited. *  *  * In many ways, the winter of ’69 was the peak of my life. I was 32. I had a built a successful career of surfing and making surfboards. Although...

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This article was originally published in the August 1971 issue of SURFER. Photos of Waimea Bay, above, by Roger Sames.   *  *  *   At 11:30 p.m. on the night of Monday, December 1, 1969, Madeline Valentine awoke to the sounds of screaming sirens. A Sunset Beach fire truck was slowly moving down the road behind...

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Nothing about this job interests me more than throwing light into the ever-grinding tectonic-plate furrow where surfing meets the rest of life. All our heartfelt stories about learning to surf, about the thrills and adventures, the perfect waves, the hairball moments—don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff too. I gather and organize and deal...

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“An Alternative Viewpoint,” by Kimo Hollinger, ran in the September 1975 issue of SURFER. Hollinger at the time was one of Hawaii’s most respected old guard big-wave riders. In the mid-’60s he was a competitor in the Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, and later that decade he worked as a contest judge. By the early ’70s, however,...

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A shorter version of this oral history, compiled by Ben Marcus, ran in the February 2011 issue of Surfer’s Journal, and was titled “Flashpoint: the Op Pro Riot.”  *  *  * SAM GEORGE – SURF WRITER I was there all day but at some point I said to Matty Liu: “This crowd is turning ugly...

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Bryce Ellis is mostly remembered, when he’s remembered at all, as one of two surfers who pulled out of the opening round of the 1986 Billabong Pro, held in monster conditions at Waimea Bay. What a shitty thing to be known for. Then again, not paddling out at Waimea is the most interesting thing on Ellis’...

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Mara Wolford’s essay on Aussie pro surfer Bryce Ellis originally ran in the Spring 2016 issue of White Horses magazine. If you haven’t already done so, click here to read a companion piece on Ellis; it sets up the Wolford’s article nicely.  *  *  *  I met Bryce Ellis when I was 16. He came to...

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Steve Hawk replaced me as the editor of SURFER in early 1991. I was kept on a small retainer that year, to advise as needed, but I don’t think Steve hit me up on business matters more than two or three times—he had it together from the get-go. Drew Kampion always springs to mind (my mind, anyway)...

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This week I posted a clip of Narrabeen Col Smith (not to be confused with Newcastle Col Smith), and the historian in me is frustrated at the complete lack of context. This happens all the time with EOS videos. Maybe one in a hundred people watching Smith will get how advanced his trip was. Everybody...

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