Miller, Rusty


Loquacious regularfooter originally from Encinitas, California; America's top-ranked surfer in 1965. Miller was born (1943) in La Jolla, California, the son of an aeronautical engineer, moved with his family at age five to the north San Diego County beach town of Encinitas, and began surfing at age 10.

During the early and mid-'60s, Miller put together a sturdy competition record: in the West Coast Championships he finished runner-up in 1961 and fourth in 1962; in 1965 he was awarded a color TV set for winning the KHJ Hermosa event, was invited to the inaugural Duke Kahanamoku Invitational, and at the end of the season was the United States Surfing Association points leader. He competed in the 1966 World Championships, and was a Duke finalist in 1967 and 1968.

Miller also became one of the country's best big-wave riders; a dynamic 1962 Don James photograph of the well-muscled Miller (5'11", 165 pounds) bombing down the face of a Sunset Beach monster was bought by Hamm's Beer and used on billboards across the country.

The freckle-faced Miller received a B.A. in history from San Diego State College in 1964; while in school he occasionally attended surfer parties dressed in a tweed jacket and loafers, took to smoking a pipe, and tried with little success to engage other surfers in conversations about art, politics, and world affairs. He then spent two semesters with the University of the Seven Seas, boating with 350 other students to Tahiti, New Zealand, Japan, Australia, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean.

Back in Encinitas in 1968, Miller and top California surfer Doyle cofounded the Surf Research accessory company and introduced Waxmate, the first commercially successful surf wax. Miller sold his interest in the business in 1969, spent two years living the counterculture life on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, then moved to Sydney, Australia. In 1971 he was among the first to ride the beautiful and soon-to-be world-famous waves of Uluwatu.

Miller was featured in several surf movies in the '60s, including Gun Ho! (1963), Angry Sea (1963), and Golden Breed (1968); as a superbly fit man in his 50s, he also appeared in two longboard surf videos, Full Cycle (1994) and Powerglide (1995). Miller has worked as a surf instructor near his home at Byron Bay, northern New South Wales, since the early '70s. He's married and has two children.

Turning Point: Surf Portraits and Stories from Bells to Byron 1970-1971, a book of Miller's photographs taken during the middle years of the shortboard revolution, was published in 2013. A follow up, Turning Point II, came out in 2014.