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#39 Barry Kanaiaupuni

SURFER Celebrates the 50 Greatest Surfers of All Time

| posted on July 22, 2010
North Shore, 1976. Photo: Jeff Divine

North Shore, 1976. Photo: Jeff Divine

In Hawaii in the ’60s no one had any money. So when Barry would show up at Sunset he’d borrow Herbie Fletcher’s Brewer gun, and would just take Sunset apart. We’d see turns that no one else could make, and that’s just the way it was.

Barry Kanaiaupuni had power and could generate more energy out of a bottom turn than anyone had ever seen—in fact, he reconstructed our thoughts on what a bottom turn really was. He was the man. He was the best surfer in the world in the early ’60s. When we first built mini-guns, Barry was on an 8’6” at big Velzyland, and he came into the beach where we were all watching him in amazement and said, “Dick, I could ride one a foot shorter at Sunset.” He came to that conclusion right away—that he could ride a 7’6” just like it at Sunset. Barry really triggered my thinking that we needed to go even shorter, because I was primarily interested in building surfboards for big waves—I was a big-wave guy. BK could lay it on a rail as good as anybody to this day. He made Sunset into a performance wave on bigger boards and he was the first guy to get fully laid out in his turns—and that is the bottom line.

On a trip to Trestles in ’66, he was the first one that did really good rollercoasters—just one after another. He was on the red-fin Hynson model, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in surfing. —Dick Brewer

Previous #40 Sunny Garcia | Next #38 Matt Archbold

  • Fiona

    I used to ride an 11ʻ6″ BK gun (thruster) in Hawaii in the 90ʻs but someone stole it from my locker…it made the sharpest turns and was so much fun!