Follow the Money

California was the sleeping giant of pro surfing. Nothing much changed here during the second half of the '70s in terms of surf-world commerce and production. Wetsuits, trunks, skateboards, skimboards, bodyboards, logo T-shirts, surfboard blanks, car racks, and every other specie of beach culture merchandise—most of it was designed and assembled, packaged, warehoused, and shipped out of Los Angeles or Orange County.

California wave-riding, however, continued to lag. Ultra-orthodox soul surfin...

Pro tour prize money was ramping up. Or was it? Photos circulated of world champ Mark Richards in mirrored aviator shades, behind the wheel of his brand-new silver Porsche 911SC. On the other hand, he was still living at home, rent-free, with his parents.