Windansea Surf Club


Rowdy but well-organized surf club from La Jolla, California, with a roster including many of the America's best wave riders in the mid- and late 1960s. The Windansea Surf and Ski Club was founded in 1947, but died out shortly thereafter. Former high school teacher Chuck Hasley reformed the club in the summer of 1963 in order to field a team for the Malibu Invitational. Joey Cabell, Butch Van Artsdalen, Rusty Miller, Skip Frye, and Mike Hynson were among the first recruits.

The day prior to the Malibu contest, Hasley rented a bus, hired a generator-powered rock band, loaded in more than two dozen cases of beer, and picked up a cheer squad of friends and groupies. Wretchedly hungover by the time they arrived at Malibu the following morning, Windansea Surf Club members nonetheless took five of the six slots in the finals, and won the contest easily. "The attitude of Windansea," Hasley said years later, "was, 'We're going to win the contest; we're going to the dance and take all the girls; we're going to out-drink everybody. And if they don't like it, we're going to beat the shit out of them.'"

Windansea continued as a kind of talent-studded surfing frat house, although it toned down a bit as the decade went on. Structure and protocol remained loose. Many club members rarely if ever surfed at Windansea, La Jolla's best-known break; membership had no hard and fast criteria, and was by invitation only; few meetings were called, and the club's best riders generally didn't bother with the formalities at all. "Windansea doesn't have any residential qualifications," world champion Midget Farrelly wrote in 1966, "and the cry, since this club's inception, has been that it has snatched the best surfers from other clubs." Still, as Farrelly noted, most surfers "would give their left arm to get in."

But no other surfing group of the era, including the United States Surfing Association, had the pride or the high profile of the Windansea Surf Club. Members included Hobie Alter, Mickey Dora, Barry Kanaiaupuni, Linda Benson, Pat Curren, Ronald and Bobby Patterson, Phil Edwards, Mickey Muñoz, Donald Takayama, Joey Hamasaki, Joyce Hoffman, Mike Purpus, Margo Godfrey, Mickey Munoz, Corky Carroll, LJ Richards, Debbie Beacham and Mike Diffenderfer. Members were issued club T-shirts and matching nylon club jackets. At every event, the Windansea tent was raised, along with a red-on-white flag proclaiming "Windansea for Victory."

Windansea won the team relay paddle race at the 1963 West Coast Surfing Championships, among other events, and later that year was given the key to the city of Honolulu by Mayor Neal Blaisdell; in 1964 and 1966 it again won the Malibu Invitational; in 1967 it won the Baja Surf Club Invitational. Affiliate WSC groups were formed in Australia and Hawaii. (Club members in Australia included Peter Drouyn, Bobby Brown, Bob McTavish, Paul Witzig and Kevin Brennan.) Public relations pro and WSC club executive director Thor Svenson meanwhile arranged a number of well-publicized Windansea trips and events, including a November 1967 visit to Sydney, Australia; the journey was filmed for The Fantastic Plastic Machine, a 20th Century Fox movie, and written about in a like-titled companion book. But this was Windansea's last hurrah, as the club arrived in Sydney to find that Australian boardmakers had just developed the new short surfboard; the Windansea surfers were thrashed by the Aussies in a surf contest, and club surfing in general faded quickly over the next few months as the shortboard revolution got underway.

Windansea was dormant for more than a decade, then made a minor comeback beginning in the early '80s, during the longboard resurgence.

An exhibition titled "The Magic of Windansea: Five Decades of Capers, Shapers & Stories of California's Legendary Surf Club" was staged at the California Surf Museum in 2013, to mark the club's 50th anniversary.