Webster, Dale

Sad-eyed monomaniacal surfer from Valley Ford, California, who as of 2003 hadn't missed a day of surfing for 28 years. Webster was born (1948) and raised in Alhambra, California, began mat-surfing in 1957, and stand-up surfing in 1961. He moved in 1973 to Sonoma County, just north of San Francisco, and two years later came up against a solid week of big surf during what was called the "Monster from New Zealand" swell. "I rode all seven days," Webster later recalled, "and then I thought, 'Let me see if I can keep this going.'"

Surfing magazine reported in 1976 that Webster had surfed every day for an entire year, including 121 consecutive days in sub-55-degree water. A surf day, by Webster's own rules, requires at least three ridden waves, and the last wave must be surfed all the way to the beach.

In the years that followed, Webster's pursuit kept him from serious employment and from visiting inland relatives. He developed a near phobia about injuries, and was afraid to mow the lawn for fear that a rock might fly out of the rotors and strike him. Webster rode under all kinds of adverse conditions: in near-hurricane winds; while sick with the flu; while nursing sprains, cuts, and earaches. Nearly crippled by a kidney stone on one occasion, Webster had his wife carry his board to the water; he gingerly paddled out and rode his three waves, then crawled up the beach and went directly to the hospital.

August 19, 2000, marked the 25th anniversary of Webster's daily wave riding ritual—9,132 consecutive days—and prompted a small burst of national media attention, including profiles in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and on CNN. The 51-year-old Webster was described by the Times as having "a broad back, long stringy blond hair, and piercing blue eyes that focus on the horizon when he speaks." In a slightly melancholy voice, Webster told the Times that he often thought about "all the things I'll have missed in life because of this. The only thing I'll have is the memory of riding all those waves."

Webster was profiled in Dana Brown's Step Into Liquid (2003). In 2012, the streak still going, Topps Allen and Ginter issued a Dale Webster trading card. Webster and his streak have long held a place in the Guiness Book of World Records.

In September, 2015, the streak hit 40 years. "It’ll die when I die," Webster said. That proved not to be the case, however, as the streak ended just a month later, on October 5, as Webster, 66, went in for a kidney stone operation. The final tally: 14,642 days.