World Surfing Championships 1965


The first World Championships to be staged by the International Surfing Federation; held in Lima, Peru, on February 20 and 21, in shifty and difficult six- to 10-foot surf. Peruvian Felipe Pomar and Joyce Hoffman of California were the winners. The 1965 event was the only amateur World Championships held during an odd-numbered year.

The English-speaking mainstream media mostly ignored the 1965 titles, and it was played down in the surf press as well. Twenty-two of the 54 total entrants were from California. Most of the remaining slots were filled by Hawaiians, Peruvians, and Australians, while South Africa, Ecuador, and France each sent just one surfer. All competitors wore blazers and ties (or cocktail dresses) for a lavish opening reception hosted by populist Peruvian president Fernando Belaunde Terry, and local surfers would later talk some of the visitors into trying their hand at bullfighting. "The bulls had their horns trimmed," California competitor Mike Doyle remembered. "But several guys got flipped around, and it was lucky nobody got badly hurt."

The women's competition at Miraflores beach passed by virtually unnoticed (Surfer magazine didn't even bother to print the results), but it was a clean sweep for the Californians, with Joyce Hoffman, Nancy Nelson, and Candy Calhoun finishing first, second, and third, respectively. Hawaii's Paul Strauch won the small-wave hotdogging contest at Miraflores, held as an adjunct to the men's main event. In other specialty events, the California team won the relay paddle race, Nat Young of Australia won the four-mile paddle, Felipe Pomar won the 2,000-meter paddle, and Californians Mike Doyle and Linda Merrill won the tandem contest.

The men's division of the 1965 World Championships was held in big, gray, bumpy waves at Punta Rocas, a reefbreak located 30 miles south of Lima; three competitors in the preliminaries were unable to even make it out through the shorebreak. The 1964 titles, held just nine months earlier in Australia, had favored the sharp-turning, high-performance surfers. Here in Peru the advantage went to the big-wave experts, and the eight-man final for the most part consisted of surfers who'd earned reputations in the heavy surf of Oahu's North Shore, including Fred Hemmings, Paul Strauch, and George Downing from Hawaii and California's Mike Doyle. Felipe Pomar was primed as well, having just returned to Lima following an 18-month stay in Hawaii. Seventeen-year-old Nat Young made up for a lack of big-wave experience with manic teenage energy, riding 22 waves in a one-hour semifinal heat.

Defending Makaha International winner Hemmings was the early favorite in the 90-minute final in Peru, but had equipment problems. Downing, by far the oldest surfer in the final at age 35, lost his board early on and took a long swim to the beach, as did surprise finalist Ken Adler from Australia.

In the end, just two points separated Pomar, Young, and Strauch, with the 21-year-old Peruvian getting the nod for his aggressive, driving attack. A "quiet, smiling Latin gentleman" on land, as Surfer reported, Pomar became "the wild bull of Punta Rocas" when he entered the water. Young took second, and Strauch was third.

Results of the 1965 World Surfing Championships:

MEN
1 Felipe Pomar
2 Nat Young
3 Paul Strauch
4 Mickey Munoz
5 Fred Hemmings
6 Mike Doyle
7 George Downing
8 Ken Adler

WOMEN
1 Joyce Hoffman
2 Nancy Nelson
3 Candy Calhoun

TANDEM
1 Mike Doyle / Linda Merrill
2 Jim Graham / Heidi Edwards

RELAY PADDLE RACE
1 California
2 Australia
3 Peru
4 Hawaii