Last week at this time I signed off with a promise that our next Joint would be filled with uplift and positivity. I have failed. Or mostly failed. “Rebel for Hire,” the latest History of Surfing post, is all hard cases, starting with Johnny-Boy Gomes, moving on to Kala Alexander, and finishing up with the Abberton brothers.
There have always been tough guys in our midst, but only from the 1980s forward has it been possible, in the surf world, to actually capitalize on your hardness. You know what, skim the chapter, it’s not worth dwelling on. Or skip it altogether and just watch this Johnny-Boy edit, and be amazed at what aggression and ambition a lot of muscle can do when yoked together and whipped forward. I remembered Gomes as Hawaii’s heavyweight tuberiding champion, along with Dane Kealoha. I’d forgotten how devastating that backside under-the-lip hook was. A knockout surfer.
I finally dug out enough footage for a short Mark Sainsbury clip. Three things I know about Sainsbury. He was the 1988 World Amateur Champion. He had a long, feathery floater move that, at the time, seemed to defy gravity. He died while surfing at age 26, of a brain aneurysm. Oh and Mark Richards called Sainsbury one of the sport’s nicest people—game recognizing game.
Linda Merrill! There is our uplift. Again, like with Sainsbury, I’ve got less footage than she deserves, but here’s a two-minute mood-improver, and here’s her Above the Roar interview, and I’m going to ride that ray of sunshine into what’s left of my Sunday evening.
Thanks everybody, and see you next week.
[Gomes photo by John Seaton Callahan]