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Acrobatic, no-brakes surfer from the North Shore of Oahu; winner of the 2004 Pipeline Masters, a leading figure among a small but popular group of corporate-paid anti-surf-establishment pros;  named by Surfer magazine in 2003 as one of the top five free-surfers in the world. O’Brien was born (1983) and raised on the North Shore, grew up in a beachfront house at Pipeline, and began surfing at age three under the guidanc... Read More
Pro surfer from Laguna Niguel, California, best known as the skipping, giggling, permanently cheerful shortboarder from Bruce Brown’s 1994 surf movie Endless Summer II, described by Surfline as “the happiest surfer alive.” O’Connell was born (1971) and raised just outside of Chicago, Illinois, and began surfing at age 12, after moving with his family to Southern California. Eight years later he was getti... Read More
Wispy regularfooter from Sydney, Australia; winner of the 1964 World Surfing Championships. O’Donell was born (1937) and raised in Sydney, the daughter of an auto mechanic father and stenographer mother, and began surfing at age 23. Four years later she was the surprise winner of the Australian National Titles, and just a few weeks after that, at Sydney’s Manly Beach, she defeated American champion Linda Benson of California to win... Read More
Industry-leading wetsuit company founded by Jack O’Neill, based in Santa Cruz, California. O’Neill opened the Surf Shop in Santa Cruz in 1959, seven years after he began making wetsuit vests at his original San Francisco-based shop. Boards made up the majority of the business at first, but O’Neill was already shifting attention to the development and marketing of his wetsuits; by the late ’50s he was visiting boat trade... Read More
Low-key and savvy surf industrialist from Santa Cruz, California; founder of O’Neill Wetsuits, the world’s leading manufacturer of surfing wetsuits. O’Neill was born (1923) in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Southern California and Oregon. He started bodysurfing in the late 1930s, and continued to do so after moving to San Francisco in 1949, where he got his B.A. in liberal arts from San Francisco State. O’Neill ... Read More
Smooth-riding but combative regularfooter from La Jolla, California; lauded in 1976 as California’s best surfer by Pipeline ace Gerry Lopez. O’Rourke was born (1959) in New Jersey, began surfing at age 10 after his family moved to California, but didn’t really take to the sport until he began riding Windansea, La Jolla’s best-known break, at age 12. His talent was instantly recognizable—as were the shrill, obscenity-l... Read More
Gifted and resilient pro surfer from the Hawaiian island of Kauai; world champion in 1968, 1977, 1980, and 1981, and often cited as the original female big-wave rider. Born Margo Godfrey in Pennsylvania in 1953, the daughter of an aerospace engineer, she moved with her family at age five to the wealthy San Diego beachfront community of La Jolla, and began surfing at age 10. Two years later the reed-thin regularfoot beat an all-boy field to wi... Read More
Camera-friendly pro surfer from Warner Beach, South Africa. Oberholzer was born (1972) in Port Elizabeth, raised in Warner Beach, south of Durban, and began riding waves at age nine on a discarded ironing board. He proved to be a surfer of rare talent, with only a passing interest—and virtually no skill—in organized competition. In 1991 the amiable and somewhat aimless regularfooter signed a four-year contract with Rip Curl Internat... Read More
Revered Australian power surfer from Sydney, Australia; a teenage phenomenon in the mid-1980s who suffered a physical and mental breakdown in the early ’90s, then rebounded in spectacular fashion to win the 1999 world championship. Occhilupo was born (1966) and raised in the industrial Sydney suburb of Kurnell, near Cronulla, the son of an Italian-born civil engineer who’d emigrated to Australia as a young adult. He began su... Read More
Southern California–based surfwear company founded by San Diego surfboard shaper Jim Jenks. Ocean Pacific was originally the name of 1969-launched surfboard line out of Cardiff, San Diego. When Jenks bought the small company he was working as a sportswear rep to surf shops up and down both American coastlines. Launching Ocean Pacific Sunwear in 1972, Jenks continued to use the “Op” surfboard logo. Ocean Pacific did $50,... Read More
Land-to-sea wind, loved by surfers. Unless it’s overpowering (about 20 miles per hour or stronger), an offshore breeze will groom and clean the surf, and hold the curl up so that it’s more likely to pitch into a tube. It also lends a dreamy quality to the wave zone. Offshore winds are common during the early morning hours in California and Australia; in Indonesia and other tropical surf zones, offshores will often pick up in... Read More
Gracious Brazilian regularfoot pro surfer from São Paulo, Brazil; world-ranked #11 in 1994. Olivenca was born (1968) and raised in São Paulo, began riding waves at age 11, and developed into a rangy, limber, unpolished, but explosive surfer. Brazilian national pro champion in 1991 and 1993, Olivenca was a 10-year minor league pro veteran in 1994 when he finally earned a slot on the world tour, during which the 27-year-old lifted his p... Read More
Long, thick, narrow, finless surfboard, usually built from wiliwili wood, thought to have been used exclusively by pre-20th-century Hawaiian royalty. The largest of the three olo boards in Honolulu’s Bishop Museum is 17 feet long, 16.5 inches wide, nearly six inches thick, and weighs 168 pounds. The ... Read More
Sea-to-land wind, detrimental to wave quality. A light to moderate onshore puts a ruffle on the water surface, makes the wave crest break unevenly, and in general takes the sparkle out of things, though the surf usually remains ridable. A strong onshore, however, will ruin the surf outright. In popular surfing coastlines around the world—including Australia and mainland America—the wind is often still or offshore (a grooming land-to-sea br... Read More
Clamorous midsummer professional surfing contest held between 1982 and 1998 at California’s Huntington Beach Pier. California had previously hosted international pro events (the Katin Team Challenge, the Sutherland Pro, and the U.S. Pro, among others), but this was the first time the sport was tied into high-end West Coast marketing and promotions. For its first 10 years, the Op Pro was the world’s biggest and best-publicize... Read More
Surf-themed pulp fiction series written in the late 1960s and early 1970s by Patrick Morgan, featuring the adventures of Bill Cartwright—a bourbon-drinking, skirt-chasing, tough-talking, ex-champion millionaire surfer turned CIA operative. Morgan (one of several pen names used by California author George Snyder) wrote Hang Dead Hawaiian Style, the first of his 10 Operation Hang Ten books, in 1969. Other titles included Cute and ... Read More
Tireless producer of surf videos, documentaries, and cable TV shows from Solana Beach, California; best known as producer-director for the acclaimed Surfer’s Journal cable TV series, which aired on the Outdoor Life Network from 1997 to 2001. Opper was born (1949) in Hollywood, California, and began surfing at age 15. He received a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism from Arizona State University in 1971, and f... Read More
Kinky-haired goofyfoot pro from New South Wales, Australia; world-ranked #7 in 2013. Otton was born (1979) and raised in Tathra, a tiny coastal town 260 miles south of Sydney. He began surfing at age 12, after his father gave the bodyboard-riding Otton a surfboard. Unlike most top pros, Otton didn’t have much of an amateur career. He started competing on the World Qualifying Series tour at age 24, after years spent earning a livin... Read More
Beachfront club in Waikiki, Hawaii; the world’s oldest surfing organization, founded in 1908 by eccentric Hawaii booster and former New York newspaperman Alexander Hume Ford. The Outrigger Canoe Club was chartered on one and a half acres of land between the Seaside and Moana hotels, and the original clubhouse consisted of two grass shacks purchased from a nearby zoo. Surfing had become almost moribund in the late 19th century, an... Read More
The region just beyond the breaking surf; a staging area where surfers wait for incoming waves, as differentiated from the “inside”—the broken-wave area leading to the shore. “Outside,” in this usage, is synonymous with “lineup,” or the Australian-derived “out the back.” “Outside” is also used to signal an approaching bigger-than-average set of waves, and is sometimes spoken... Read More
Majestic but inconsistent big-wave break located on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii, between Waimea Bay and Pipeline. Outside Log Cabins is the site of one of the biggest waves ever surfed, a 40- or 45-footer (about 60 or 70 feet from trough to crest) ridden by Hawaiian big-wave veteran Ken Bradshaw in 1998. A right-breaking wave, Outside Log Cabins—also known as Outer Logs—forms over a reef located three-quarters of a mile offshor... Read More
A type of wipeout, or stage in a wipeout, in which the surfer is pitched out with the lip as it hooks over and drops into the trough. One of the sport’s most dangerous type of wipeout for a number of reasons: the surfer has little or no control of his body position or where he’ll land; he’s generally dropped smack into the wave’s exploding core; and momentum gained in descent might drive him to the bottom. A surfer c... Read More
Riding a surfboard that is too big for prevailing wave conditions. “Gun” is shorthand for “big-wave gun” or “elephant gun.” Being overgunned is often the result of misreading the surf: a surfer takes out his 7’6″ board, for example, thinking the waves are eight feet; when the surf turns out to be six feet, the rider feels overgunned, wishing he brought a faster-turning 6’10”. A... Read More
A wave that is slightly bigger than the height of a surfer. Double-overhead is twice the surfer’s size, and so forth. This method of assessing wave height, while imprecise—overhead to a 12-year-old grommet might not be overhead to Maverick’s surfer and one-time Trinity College power forward Grant Washburn—was developed to lend some measure of consistency to an area of the sport where numbers have become almost meaningless. A 10... Read More
Congenial freckle-faced Hawaiian pro surfer from the North Shore of Oahu; world- ranked #10 in 1982, but best known for his fast and fluid riding on the North Shore of Oahu. Owens was born in Italy (1957), the son of a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, and moved with his family to Oahu in 1966, where he began surfing. Ten years later he turned professional. Owens placed second in the 1977 Duke Classic at Sunset Beach; in 1980 he wo... Read More

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