In early 1954, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin sent 26-year-old Korean-American reporter Sarah Park to do a human interest piece on a group California surfers who were wintering in a weather-beaten house in Makaha. Park was tough. She was just back from a year in-country covering the Korean War, where she did time in the trenches, came under fire, and earned bravery honors from the […]


Buzzy Trent Week is coming to an end—but we’ve saved the best for last! Click forth for a Trent remix built from the ground up with A-grade Bud Browne film stock. Browne, the sainted Father of the Surf Movie, was the only guy to capture Trent in full charismatic glory, and oh just feast your eyes—Buzzy rubbing those cobblestone abs, […]


Big-wave pioneer Wally Froiseth knew better, but told this story anyway. “In the mid-’30s, when I was 15 years old, they were going to have a surf contest at Waikiki. The first day the waves were too small, so they brought a Kahuna down to the beach, right in front of the old Outrigger Canoe Club. I watched while he...


Phil Edwards, patron saint of power surfing, was the last of the greats to switch from balsa to poly. He didn’t like the smell of foam, didn’t like industrial blank-blowing process, and especially didn’t like the way the new boards felt underfoot. “Good on wood, spastic on plastic,” as Edwards liked to say. In 1957 or ’58, […]


Gene “Tarzan” Smith spent most of the Depression in Hawaii or Southern California, surfing and lifeguarding. Smith was superhuman on a paddleboard, and in 1940 he became the first to cover the 90-mile rough-water gap between Oahu and Kauai. But to those who knew him personally, friend and foe alike, Smith was best remembered as a bull-sized, bloody-fisted, never-say-die street fighter. Laguna […]


Most of us think pro surfing began in 1976, when the IPS jumped off Randy Rarick’s kitchen table and took its first wobbly steps into the world. Or maybe a few years earlier, with the debut Smirnoff Pro-Am. But pro surfing goes further back. Jantzen paid Ricky Grigg $2,000 in 1964 to wear their not-very-surfy gear. New world champ […]


The graph you see below ran in the September, 1969, issue of SURFER, as part of editor Drew Kampion’s interview with Miki Dora. I always thought this neatly-drafted illustration, reportedly in Dora’s own hand, was smart and funny and cool. Only now, in 2017, nearly 50 years after I first saw this bit of surfy-sociological handicraft, does it occur to...


“Interview: Mickey Dora” ran in the September, 1969, issue of SURFER. Dora himself continued to write the occasional article for the surf press, but this was his final Q&A. All photos by Craig Stecyk.  *  *  * What part does surfing play in your life today? When there’s surf, I’m totally committed; when there’s none, it doesn’t […]


The vertigo is now upon me, having just pulled focus from the beer-scented louche magnificence of Terry “Tubesteak” Tracy to the hardcore surf jockism of Fred Hemmings. But that’s what we surf history professionals train for. Stick and move. Stories come at you from every direction. Be ready. That’s just Surf Historian 101. I’ve always had mixed […]


Writer and former SURFER Magazine senior editor Ben Marcus interviewed Terry Tracy in 2003 and 2004. Portions of those interviews ran in Surfer’s Journal and Marcus’ book “Surfing USA.” It is true you lived in a shack on Malibu for a couple summers? I did. Not a myth. Nope. Where was it, exactly? Halfway between...


Part Three of a three-piece article published by SURFER in November, 1969. John Scott, a Santa Cruz surfer and photographer, wrote in opposition to professional surfing. And threw in a protest poem for good measure. See also “Pro Surfing is White!” by Fred Hemmings, and “Pro Surfing is Gray!” by Jock Sutherland.  *  *  * By now, […]


Part Two of a three-piece article published by SURFER in November, 1969. Jock Sutherland, that year’s SURFER Poll winner, had some doubts about how professional surfing might affect the nature of the sport, but ultimately decided it was worth pursing. See also “Pro Surfing is White!” by Fred Hemmings, and “Pro Surfing is Black!” by John Scott.  * […]


Part One of a three-piece article published by SURFER in November, 1969. Fred Hemmings, reigning world champion and soon-to-be founder of the world tour, wrote in support of professional surfing. See also “Pro Surfing is Black!” by John Scott, and “Pro Surfing is Gray!” by Jock Sutherland.  *  *  * Surfing needs professionalism! The most important […]


I was a good swimmer as a kid, but small and skinny, and I went from alert to panicky in a flash. Couple times a year somebody would have to pull me from the ocean. I got rescued on the north side of Santa Monica Pier once, which isn’t quite the same as getting rescued from a wading […]


Dewey Weber is remembered and loved, and rightly so, as surfing’s original high-performance boy wonder, the hotdogging messiah. But what really fascinates me about Weber is the crazy drive and ambition. The white-hot coals, so to speak, beneath the hotdog. The will to achieve, to focus, to defeat, build, create, rise. I’m fascinated because I run on...


Bill “Flea” Shaw’s page just posted. If you’re an old ASP fan, you’ll remember Flea as the intense, arm-waving, extravagantly mustachioed coach and husband of four-time world champ Frieda Zamba. If you’re really old, you might recall Flea from a star-making cameo in Greg MacGillivray’s 1965 movie The Performers. Ten-year-old kid gets his own segment! What an honor! Or wait, was it? Listen […]


I am grateful, almost daily, for Dale Velzy. Not so much because of what he did for board design, although that too. Mostly for the style, the grin, the flask in his back pocket, and the fact that he was one-third cowboy and didn’t give a rat’s ass if that wasn’t “surf.” I am also deeply grateful for writer...


This article below is excerpted from a much longer piece I wrote titled “Articles of Faith: 35 Years of Surf Magazines.” It ran in the Spring, 1996, issue of Surfer’s Journal.  *  *  * John Severson and SURFER rolled through the early- and mid-’60s and took rear-guard action as needed, as a dozen or so American upstarts...


I tried to steer this post away from the sentimental, but it’s no use. Unless you’re bitching about the crowd, it’s almost impossible to talk about Malibu without going misty-eyed with appreciation.   *  *  * SAM REID, 1965 Visualize a beautiful Fall day in California, September, 1927. Coast Highway was a two-lane road, dirt most of...


This article was published in the December, 1982, issue of New York magazine. Writer Michael Daly originally wrote for the Village Voice, and was a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist for his Daily News columns on life in New York following the 9/11 attacks. Daly now writes for the Daily Beast.   *  *  * A pistol fired once, and […]


Rick Rasmussen won the 1974 United States Surfing Championships at more or less the exact moment Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll Animal went to the front of my small but not-unworthy record collection, and I’ve come to believe that the two men, together, planted a seed from which my fascination and love for New York would sprout, grow, and blossom. […]


Bob Simmons, Joe Quigg, and Matt Kivlin overhauled surfboard design after World War II. Reasonable people may disagree, but by my reckoning what these three guys collectively did from 1945 to 1952 was a greater leap forward than the shortboard revolution. Kivlin, younger than the other two, was also the hottest surfer on the coast—tucked his back...


Bob Simmons died while surfing Windansea sometime around noon, on September 26, 1954. He was 35. Simmons was the first name surfer to go down in the water, and along with all the crucial surfboard design work he did, his on-stage death created a legend. This account of Simmon’s final wave is pulled from people who know Simmons, plus […]


We love the shortboard revolution because it radically, wonderfully, and forever changed board design. We also love it because it’s so well documented. Photos, movies, articles—the whole shebang is there, in primary sources galore, for us to examine and exalt and argue over. But surfboard evolution actually made a greater leap right after World War II. In 1940 we’re on...


Calvin “Tulie” Clark rode a horse to school. He was born halfway through World War I, and grew up in Palos Verdes. Learned to surf on an ironing board. He wasn’t a founding member of the Palos Verdes Surf Club, as is usually reported, but got voted in just a few months later, and was a club standout....

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