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Surf Boom Redux

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Surfing using gloves and traction pad, 1989
1985 Billabong Pro
Poster for 1964 Surf Fair, Santa Monica
Action Sports Retailer booth, 1983

By the mid-'80s, a second commercial and pop culture surf boom was on. By almost any quantitative measure, this new boom was bigger than the Gidget-launched craze of the '60s, and it lasted until 1990, when it crashed with a familiar abruptness.

There were plenty of new products for what marketers now referred to as “core” (short for hardcore) surfers: the glue-on rubber nose guard to prevent spearing injuries; an Aussie-developed safety helmet to be worn at menacing shallow-water breaks like...

Surf-themed goods and products rained down upon America’s vast waveless interior. The New Gidget on syndicated TV, Wisconsin-made Surf City Brew, wavepools in Cleveland, Allentown, Palm Springs. Twenty-thousand sunburned Midwesterners flocked to an afternoon “surf party” in Williamsburg, Iowa.