Nancy Nelson

San Clemente, 1964

Who said it was just a man’s sport? I don’t like all of the restrictions that men seem to think are necessary for women.

Excerpted from “Some Chilling Facts About a Woman Surfing Champion,” by John Fowler, which ran in the November 1964 issue of SURFER. 

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How old were you when you started to surf?

I guess I was 10 or 11 years old. I used to stand up on surf mats and ride them to shore. Then when I was 12 I got my first board. It was an old waterlogged thing that could hardly float, but I was sure proud of it.

How old are you now?

Eighteen.

Have you lived in San Clemente long?

Ever since I can remember. A...