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2/10/19

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...

2/09/19

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....

2/08/19

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...

1/24/19

“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....

1/24/19

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...

1/23/19

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...

1/20/19

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:...

1/18/19

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...

1/06/19

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...

1/06/19

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...

1/05/19

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...

1/03/19

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...

12/14/18

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...

12/13/18

“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,...

10/17/18

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...

10/11/18

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’...

10/11/18

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...

10/02/18

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)...

8/25/18

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...

8/17/18

This 1968 Surfing magazine article by Margo Godfrey might be the saddest piece of surf writing ever published. Godfrey, 16, was the newly-crowned world champ. She didn’t yet have the big-wave chops that would define her career as a professional in years to come, but was already a mile ahead of her contemporaries nonetheless, and...

7/28/18

Two weeks ago I introduced my eight-year-old son to Kookslams. Together we laughed as kooks of every description were slammed in various and sundry ways. Teddy noticed that Kookslams has 1.1 million Instagram followers, and his enjoyment shot up. (My enjoyment dipped as I felt Teddy’s unspoken judgment against Encyclopedia of Surfing’s paltry 15.3K followers. Click...

7/15/18

Art Brewer was the hottest teenage surf photographer in the world in 1970—or forget the “teenage” bit, Art was the best photog in the game, full stop—when he piled into a battered camouflage-green bus for a SURFER-directed trip to the Ranch. A few days earlier, in a vacant lot in San Juan Capistrano, Brewer photographed...

7/15/18

Drew Kampion’s “Almondeyes No. 2” originally ran in the September 1970 issue of SURFER. This version is slightly edited and shortened.  *  *  * The Ranch is a thing that happens to your mind. It covers you and moves into you and changes you. The Ranch is California at its best. It is clean and...

7/15/18

Brad Barrett was the unsung hero of SURFER Magazine’s High Renaissance (I like my double-entendres the way I like my Twitter victims: easy and weak), from 1968 to 1972. Most of Brad’s contribution was photo-related. He and Ron Stoner were the only two masthead-listed staff photographers in 1968 and ’69, and a year or so...

7/15/18

This art-project-slash-surf-trip took place in January 1970, lasted three days, and was filled with good vibes, small waves, and soft drugs. You can read more about it here and here, and see some fantastic Art Brewer pix of the trip here. John Severson and Spyder Wills filmed the sequence above for Pacific Vibrations, Severson’s last surf movie,...

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