George, Sam


Passionate, prolix surf journalist from San Clemente, California; a ranking surf magazine editor from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s. George was born (1956) in Bethesda, Maryland, the son of a naval officer; he moved often as a child, began surfing at Waikiki in 1967, was California's top-ranked men's division amateur surfer in 1978, and surfed as a professional—along with younger brother Matt—in the early 1980s.

George began publishing articles in Surfing magazine in 1982, and later that year was listed on the masthead as a contributing editor; from 1985 to 1993 he was a senior editor. George did dozens of interviews for the magazine's "Conversations" column, but was better known for his short, funny, well-crafted, and often lightly exasperated first-person articles on virtually any surf-related topic, from tandem surfing to surf art to localism to the surfwear industry.

George began writing longer features after becoming associate editor at Surfer magazine in 1995 (he was promoted to editor in 2000, a post he held until 2005), including "Soul Search," a nuanced critique of the theory and practice of soul surfing, and "Is Surfing Hip?", a limber essay in which George affirms surfing's prominence in the trendy new world of "extreme" sports. "Hip is where you live," he noted. "It's something you do, someone you are. It's got to make someone else want to be like you, to wonder about what you know, and why they don't know." As commodified as it's become, George finished, surfing nonetheless remains "hipper than hip." Meanwhile, George  earned a reputation as one of the world's best-traveled surfers, having ridden waves in Ghana, the Andaman Islands, Easter Island, Mozambique, El Salvador, Scotland, Guam, and dozens of other exotic locations.

George has contributed articles to Outside and Men's Health, and worked on more than a half-dozen books (as primary writer, contributing writer, or editor), including Surfing: A Way of Life (1992), Surfing (1994), Tom Blake: Surfing 1922–1932 (1999), and The Perfect Day: 40 Years of Surfer Magazine (2001), and Surfer Magazine: 50 Years (2010). In 2000 and 2001, he moonlighted as editor for Surf News, a tabloid-style monthly, often publishing articles under the names Rod Cox and Gina Makin.

Putting his celebrated vocal cords to good use, George has narrated dozens of surf movies, videos, and documentaries, and was himself featured in the PBS-aired documentary Liquid Stage: The Lure of Surfing (1995); he also appeared in Going Vertical: The Shortboard Revolution (2010) and White Wash (2011). A George-led visit to the remote West African island nation of Sao Tome led to a 2007 George-directed documentary titled The Lost Wave: an African Surf Story.

George co-wrote 2004's Riding Giants, and co-directed (along with IMAX legend Greg MacGillivray) Hollywood Don't Surf!, a 2010 documentary. In 2013, George directed Hawaiian: the Legend of Eddie Aikau; the program was part of ESPN’s "30 for 30" series, which won an Emmy for Best Documentary Series

In 2013, George and then-wife Nia Peeples (Fame, North Shore), were featured on ABC's Celebrity Wife Swap.