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Blackball Blues

San Diego, 1961. Photo: Les Herling
Blackball, Newport Wedge
Bondi, 1964
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Bondi Beach Inspector, early '60s. Photo: David Beal

The origins for the word “hodad” are long forgotten, but it came into use during the '50s and was popular enough to get an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary: “An ill-mannered or boastful surfer.” By the early '60s, according to the sport’s nascent organizational establishment, “hodads” were interchangeable with the “bad element,” and their actions were responsible for what was often called “the surfing problem.” The United States Surfing Association and the surf press did a lot of hand-w...

One surf magazine editorialized that the "tough boys" and "showoffs" and “non-conformists” in surfing might benefit from a city-enforced program of board confiscation. John Severson himself ominously warned that "It's the start of a new era. Or it's the end of surfing!"