Tom Morey Invitational


Surfing's original prize-money competition, held in Ventura, California, on Fourth of July weekend, 1965; better known as the Tom Morey Noseriding Contest. Surfboard manufacturer Tom Morey—who would later create the wildly popular Morey Boogie bodyboard—developed the Invitational as a way to promote his new factory-retail surf shop.

The Morey contest was notable not just for its $1,500 purse (gathered for the most part by the $50 entry fee paid by each of the 24 competitors), but for its original scoring system. Instead of the traditional subjective method, with judges awarding a 1 to 10 score for each ride, surfers were clocked as they rode the nose, and ranked according to accumulated nose time. The noseriding craze was then at its peak, the "sport within a sport," as described by Surfer magazine. Professional surfing had meanwhile been introduced two months before the Morey event, when prizes for the Laguna Sportswear Masters in Hermosa Beach, California, included an MG sedan, a Kawasaki motorcycle, a hi-fi set, and a new wardrobe.

Entrants in the Morey Invitational turned up on the first morning of competition with an array of customized boards (including brick-weighted tail sections, squared-off noses, and winged fins), all designed to improve noseriding. The front quarter of each board was marked off with a thick spray-painted black stripe; surfers would be timed only while standing in front of the stripe.

The all-California field included David Nuuhiwa, Corky Carroll, Mickey Muñoz, Dewey Weber, Mike Doyle, Mike Hynson, Robert August, Skip Frye, John Fain, and Donald Takayama. The surf was a lackluster two to three feet, and only a few hundred were on hand at Fairgrounds, the rock-lined Ventura pointbreak picked by Morey as the contest site. The competition was exciting nonetheless, with Muñoz edging Hynson by seven-tenths of a second to pick up the $750 winner's check—although years later Morey announced that he'd just discovered a timer's error, and Hynson should have won. Skip Frye finished third.

In 1966, the event was renamed the United States Professional Surfing Championships, the number of contestants was raised to 43 (and the per-surfer entry fee went to $125), and the purse was $5,000. For the first time ever, surf contest spectators were charged admission: $1. The waves were excellent for much of the contest, and local surfer Terry Jones won $2,000 for first place, followed by Skip Frye ($1,000) and Bob Purvey ($500).