Bruce Brown had a laugh at Conrad Canha’s expense in Endless Summer, mentioning that Canha weighed 200-pounds (no way was it that much, maybe 180, Conrad was portly but short), and the “Willy Willhold” nickname. But everybody, Bruce included, loved and respected him. Canha died over the weekend, at age 85. He is remembered both...
The World Championship Tour, along with hundreds of lesser surf tours and events, have made the standard 1-to-10 subjective scoring system appear to be nearly organically attached to competitive surfing. But the sport’s history is filled with alternative methods for separating winners from losers. Here are a few. ANCIENT HAWAII: WIN OR DIE (From American...
I picked 1982 as the second-worst year in surf fashion, only because of the photo you see above. The Offshore surf team; heavy-hitters one and all. Working from the left, that’s two-time Pipe Masters champ Larry Blair, US pro tour champ Mike Benavidez, North Shore legend Michael Ho, and Pipe Masters finalist Chris Barela. Profiling […]
One comment (the only comment, actually) on my SURFER Q&A yesterday about the origins of surf fashion was from Orange Raindrop, who wrote: “The problem with Californians is their femininish concern for fashion. Just go surf like no one is watching and you don’t have Instagram you fucking self-righteous clowns.” The second sentence I agree […]
Kanvas by Katin was mainland America’s first go-to surf trunk brand. The store, located in Surfside, California, opened in 1956, and was owned and operated by Nancy Katin and her husband, Walter. They began making trunks in 1959—heavy-duty, rip-proof trunks that, when new, could stand upright on the floor after you took them off. “They […]
Got a rousing response to that Foss Foam post earlier this week. No surprise. A plume-helmeted knight holding a blank on a beach in Santa Monica with what appears to be a Grecian hooker at his feet? Surf history clickbait does not get better than that. Former Surf Guide writer and Topanga Beach four-striper Bob […]
My fall into the chemical-scented poly-foam hole continues. I seemed to recall that, even in 1960, with Hobie Alter pushing hard for polyurethane, there was still a market for balsa. Pulled down my funky SURFER Vol. 1 Issue 1 reprint (which itself is ancient; the reprint is now 32 years old), and looked at all […]
Yesterday I reread William Finnegan’s 2006 “Blank Monday” article for the New Yorker, all about Grubby Clark and the fabled Clark Foam implosion. So good. I’d nearly forgotten about the “Blank Monday” piece; it was like finding a 7,000-word chunk of Pulitzer under the couch cushion. One of the things Finnegan does incredibly well is illustrate, […]
Encyclopedia of Surfing, here on the site itself but also on Facebook, has attracted some whip-smart and wicked funny commentators, and none more so than a California woman named Aviva Rosenthal. She’s got an amazing range of knowledge, high to low, and 10 fingers that are as quick as they are sharp on the keyboard. Doesn’t […]
This was filmed on the beach at Malibu in 1986. Not a good decade for Mike Hynson. There are those among us, however, who can wake up in the gutter, step to the sidewalk, throw on a pair of shades, and start beaming out charisma in a 15-mile radius. Hynson’s one of those guys. Keith Richards meets Joe Namath […]
Just posted the Perfect Wave page on Encyclopedia, which really was just an excuse to get back to video making. And oh this clip was so much fun to assemble. Magic in fact. Thank you Bruce Brown. Thank you First Point. Thank you rivermouths and sandbars and reefs and coastal geology in general.
At 28, Reno Abellira is physically much the same as the serious teenager who crouched low and drew long lines off the bottom in 1968, at the World Contest in Puerto Rico, when surfing’s mainstream was off on a different tangent. His surfing is simple, concise and direct; and if he no longer stands out […]
The man knew how to have a good time. I appreciate the wetsuits, but right now I’m warmed up just watching Jack enjoying himself so completely. A long, exciting, creative life. Raise your glass to Jack O’Neill.
I arrived in San Francisco in early 1991 and didn’t know a soul except Mark Renneker, aka Jesus of Taraval, and a nice but droning surfboard fetishist named George Orbelian, neither of whom were going to take me to the clubs, get me drunk, get me laid. Fortunately a pal of a pal introduced me to a trio of […]
The story I heard about Pacific Vibrations goes something like this. John Severson wanted to make one last magnum opus surf movie, then tap out. Sell SURFER, train his replacement, pack his boards and family, and move to Maui. That’s exactly how it happened. Incredible career, as profitable as it was creative, not overly long, capped off […]
Above the Roar is up, and dammit that is the last one. For those keeping score, we’re now at three: Encyclopedia of Surfing, History of Surfing, Above the Roar. I will craft and sculpt this trio of websites till Saint Peter Ubers me up to the pearly gates, hopefully after one last good beachbreak session with my as-yet-unborn […]
To the best of my knowledge, this is the complete eight-man list of the surfers who rode Waimea on November 5 or 7 (the exact date is unclear), 1957. In no particular order . . . GREG NOLL Mea culpa #1. Noll was 20 the day Waimea was busted, not 19, as I reported earlier this week. […]
Two weeks ago I gushed forth on how Riding Giants tweaked my whole understanding about how to present surf history. Dress it up, I said. Make it dance and sparkle—history need not be as dull and lifeless as a Mike Pence tailgate party. On the other hand, a little sparkle goes a long way. Dance with the […]
Surfer and boardmaker Dick Catri of Miami Beach, Florida, died on May 14, after a series of strokes. He was 79. Catri was sometimes called “the Godfather of East Coast Surfing”—with all that implied. He was smart and funny and energetic, hugely likable, and had about him a whiff of danger. As a child, Catri wanted to […]
Jose Angel was 43 when he died while free diving for black coral, maybe a suicide, maybe not, it’s a mystery gone cold. No goodbye note. No body, for that matter. Jose rolled off the edge of the boat holding a big rock to his chest to speed his descent, went past 300′ and never came up. That […]
Drew Kampion, The New Yorker, Riding Giants. Three wonderful things, listed chronologically, to guide my journey to this broke-ass yet weirdly elevated career stage. Throughout the 1980s, my muse, my creative North Star, was to try and be as smart and funny as Kampion was during his ’69-’70 SURFER heyday. My 1991 New Yorker subscription, unbroken to this day, lifted me dripping and […]
American surfers of a certain age, a lot of them, I’m guessing a majority, will say that 1972’s Five Summer Stories is the best surf movie ever made. I will smile and nod in apparent agreement before replying, “Nay, sir! Twas Going Surfin’!” But it is the gentlest of rebukes. The two films are almost twins. Greg MacGillivray and Jim Freeman made Five Summer Stories,...
Yes, output on Encyclopedia and History has slacked off a little the past few weeks. But only cause I’m thrashing away on the next (and, God willing, final) website: Above the Roar. Surf Q&A, and nothing but. Like Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, but wetter and saltier. Hundreds of surfer interviews. I’ve been gathering these gems for years, decades. Duke and Blake and […]
I’m kidding. Sort of. It wasn’t Greg Noll alone who convinced Australian surfers to quit riding for Queen and clubhouse in 1956, and just do it for their own selfish enjoyment. No, peel it back further and I think what this great protean moment in surf history comes down to is how you look while carrying your craft across the beach. It’s like the […]
It felt like I needed permission somehow to make this little Latin-flavored throwaway video, set in fabled old Club Waikiki, on the beachfront of Lima, Peru, during the 1965 World Surfing Championships. Club Waikiki, when it finds its way into the better, more righteous area of my head, makes me squirm. A surfing country club, for God’s sake. […]