Quiet and graceful regularfoot surfer from Honolulu, Hawaii; winner of the 1963 Peru International, and creator of the cheater five (or "Strauch crouch") noseride. "He was the best surfer in the world," Hawaiian power surfer Barry Kanaiaupuni later said of Strauch. "It was like Star Trek; like something out of the future."
Strauch was born (1943) and raised in Honolulu, began surfing as a goofyfooter at age four, then switched to regularfoot at 12. While Strauch is best remembered as an effortless freestyle surfer, he competed often and well: he finished second in the juniors division of the 1958 Makaha International, then won in 1959; he won the 1963 Peru International, placed second in the 1965 Duke Kahanamoku Invitational and third in the 1965 World Surfing Championships; he also won the 1966 state titles and the 1969 Makaha, and competed in the 1966 and 1970 World Championships.
Strauch has been credited as the first surfer to do bottom turns in bigger waves, something he began working on in the late '50s. At about the same time he creating a new kind of a noseriding stance by squatting on his rear haunch and extending his front foot to the board's tip—mainly as a way to increase stability. It was called the "cheater five" or "stretch five" because, unlike a vertical-stance hang five noseride, the rider's weight is almost completely on the back foot, away from the nose. The Strauch crouch is the only type of noseride used in large surf.
Strauch finished third in the 1963 and 1965 Surfer Magazine Readers Poll Awards, and appeared in a small number of surf films, including Barefoot Adventure (1960), Gun Ho! (1963), and The Endless Summer (1966). For the most part, however, Strauch politely steered clear of the surf media spotlight.
Strauch was co-owner of Alii Surfboards in Honolulu from 1963 to 1965; he received a B.A. in business from the University of Hawaii in 1968, and made a career first in real estate, then marketing. He lived in New York from 1985 to 1991, then moved to Southern California. In 2013, Strauch was named Executive Director at the Surfing Heritage & Culture Center, in San Clemente.