Neece, Jim


Flash-in-the-pan regularfooter from Hawaii, nicknamed "Wildman" and the "Surfing Daredevil," who made news in 1973 when he announced his intention to ride a 40-foot wave at Kaena Point, the unconquered big-wave break on the western tip of Oahu. Neece was born (1952) in San Pedro, California, began surfing at age 11, and moved to Hawaii in 1968, where he began riding big waves. He confidence shot up in early 1972, after he helped lead the charge on Huge Monday, a spectacular Second Reef day at Pipeline.

Neece reportedly signed a $12,000 contract with a Los Angeles film company to make good on his Kaena claim. "In order to earn the money," the Honolulu Advertiser reported, "Neece must drop down the face of teh wave which will be taller than a four-story building, slide across the wave and end up standing." Neece had gained confidence in his big-wave skills a year earlier, after helping lead the charge For the Kaena project, Neece planned on wearing a five-minute "mini-lung" supply of oxygen strapped to his waist, and had a pair of special yellow-and-red 12-foot boards built, one of which he broke at Waimea Bay in late 1973 during a practice session. To make the Kaena takeoff easier, the 21-year-old Neece hoped to be pulled into his giant wave from behind a speed boat; he tested what he called the "water-ski takeoff" in the fall of 1974, predating the tow-in movement by more than 15 years. "Ninety-nine percent of people think its a sure death trip," Neece said while preparing for what was billed as the Kaena Challenge. "But I know it can be done."

In December of 1973, however, Neece abandoned the project, overwhelmed, according to Surfer magazine, by "constant pressure and anxiety." In a brief "whatever happened to" follow-up notice three years later, Surfer reported that Neece was working as a ski instructor in the Italian Alps.

Neece appeared in a small number of surf movies, including Fluid Drive (1974) and A Winter's Tale (1974).