Return of the "Big, Damn, Terrorizing Swell"
The Swell of 1983 was the John Bonham flaming gong-blast that finally woke up our slumbering interest in big waves. It wasn’t one swell, actually, but a whole zombie battalion of swells, lurching out of an El Niño-juiced North Pacific, one after the other, week after week, without letup—my knees were knocking from early February
Cintra Wilson's one-off blew our doors off back in '99
Cory Lopez’ EOS page went up last week. When Lopez famously vanished into that spinning black grindhouse of a tube at Teahupoo in 1999—wipeout of the year, easy—I was deep into the final draft of Mavericks and out of touch with surf-world events as they existed beyond Taraval Street, San Francisco. Nonetheless, I still had
The mysterious exit of Mickey Dora's stepfather
Gard Chapin of Hollywood was California’s best surfer in the late 1930s and early ’40s, which meant he was the best surfer in the world, not counting Hawaii. Chapin took off deeper than anybody, angled harder, and probably invented the cutback. “He was fantastic,” Windansea regular Woody Ekstrom told writer David Rensin a few years back. “He’d drop his knee to
The Wedge, Newport Beach
Marie vs. The Monster. Hurricane Marie, 2014. The Monster from New Zealand, 1975. The two greatest West Coast–hitting south swells of all time. There was another big one back there in 1938, or 1838, or whenever, but they couldn’t even be bothered to name storms back then, so let’s put that one aside. Plenty of
Rest in peace, Dave Sweet, 1928-2015
I liked Dave Sweet before I admired him, for the simple reason that in 1969, about 10 minutes after we met, he tossed me a brand new short-john. I was nine years old. Jay Adams and I were standing in Sweet’s showroom, on Olympic Blvd. in Santa Monica, having been driven there by Kent Sherwood,
The rebel cartoonist Ed "Big Daddy" Roth revved up everybody, I tell you what.
There was a bright line down the middle of America in 1966, and everybody had to choose a side. You loved Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, or you hated him. Big Daddy was a lot of things. First and foremost, he was a car guy. Designed and built the coolest, craziest whips during the High Renaissance
Ron Stoner, The Ranch
In his early 20s, just before the shortboard revolution, Ron Stoner remade surf photography into what it is today. And he did it with one foot dangling over the abyss. At 22, Stoner all but owned the SURFER masthead.
The IPS Tour set the benchmark for competition weirdness
Come for the surfing. Stay for the comedy. Three out of four times, when I dial up the latest WSL webcast and begin lopping off irreplaceable half-hour chunks of my life for the privilege of watching two surfers float on their boards artfully ignoring each other while two more surfers sit in a booth and
Forty years before GoPro, this is how you got a P.O.V. shot
George Greenough brought the inside-out tube view to the big screen for the first time, in 1970’s Innermost Limits of Pure Fun, and he did so with hulking 25-pound shoulder-mounted camera rig that by all rights should have popped his head from his slender shoulders like a cork during the first wipeout. The tube, at
Nat Young, surfboards on fire, and hazy recollections from Margaret River in 1969
“It’s just so raw!” The WSL announcing crew, and the surfers they love, have lofted this description so many times this past week while talking about Margaret River that you’d think the place is a still-wiggling chunk of yellowtail, rather than an upscale, vineyard-covered, carpaccio-scented engine of tourism. You like it raw? Tell you what.