The Encyclopedia Of Surfing Goes Digital

Help Kickstart Matt Warshaw's New Project

| posted on November 08, 2011

Former SURFER Magazine editor Matt Warshaw is considered by many to be one of the top surf historians in the game.

In 2003, Warshaw’s project The Encyclopedia of Surfing was published to rave reviews. With more than fifteen hundred entries, it delineates the entire history of surfing in a mere half-million words. It’s become the industry standard in surfing reference, a solid resource for any surf historian or journalist. The compiled works cover history, culture, commentary and more, with entries ranging from the Beach Boys to Sex Wax and most everything in between.

But ask Warshaw and he’ll tell you that now, like many things from 2003, his book is collecting dust. In keeping with the times, he’s going digital.

Here’s Warshaw’s vision: a constantly updated, searchable online archive of surf, with all of the content from his original book as well as media and stories from the now. An e-cyclopedia with supplemental photography and video from some of the most esteemed lenses in the sport. Warshaw claims he’ll keep it core—clean, functional, and ad-free. The original Encyclopedia, reborn for the digital age.

The project is already making steady strides. Along with the grinding hours Warshaw put into his homemade iMovie project trailer, the site has already been designed, with archive info uploaded and new content in the works.

But there’s no such thing as a free website, and Warshaw is looking for funding to help launch the project. He’s set up shop on Kickstarter, where he hopes surfers will pledge their monies to become investors in their own history.

Kickstarter is the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects, where people pledge dollar support to independent projects of all shapes and sizes. The funding is all or nothing—a project must meet its set goal before the deadline, or no money changes hands. For Warshaw, that means at least $20,000 must be pledged by Wednesday, Dec. 7 for his dream to become a reality.

Pledge your support for Warshaw on Kickstarter here.

  • Sam Drazich

    Have you considered letting everyone help you write this…., point being, that you will never really get the whole picture when you’re looking through a distorted lens of the popular media…, if you know what I mean. I’m attempting to give a little constructive criticism without insulting you or the rest of the surfing publications.
    I do not consider myself to be a surf historian by any stretch of my small Florida world, but I’m just thinking about all the good stories out there that really need to be captured. And fast. The old farts are kicking the bucket left and right. We are loosing some good stories.
    Here’s my suggestion: Wikipedia is a great source of knowledge. How about a similar format to allow folks to submit stories about there local group of surfers and you and or a team can review and edit as required?
    Thanks, Sam

  • Steve Wimer

    I’m telling my nephew at VMWARE about your project. He may be interested.

  • Hank Chinaski Kahikilani III

    No entry for Paul Gebauer? Perhaps the first “underground” North Shore soul surfer . . . just ask Ricky Grigg and them. Further, Gebauer (who still lives in Haleakala Crater, communing with ETs) was also the first surfer-doper. That aside, he was certainly the FIRST big-wave hot-dogger. That’s plenty “firsts” and and an otherwise inexplicable omission in an “encyclopedia” of surfing.


  • Randy Laine

    Please feel free to contact me regarding information the Early Pioneer days of Tow surfing beginning in the 60’s – 70’s with the 30 H.P. Stand up Jetski, aluminum boats, etc.
    Cheers, Randy Laine

  • http://CoolMan/Facebook CB

    Yes, I agree that (at least some) of the content should come from surfers. So why not give an incentive for the best contributors. Also why not use social networking to contact surfers from around the globe and get feedback. As well you good do something similar to surf mags where there are freelance cotnributors but still maintain cotrol. Maybe you good hookup with other surf sites as affiliates and what about trying to get surf related companies to sponsor you. I am not sure about the comment regardign kickstarter being so big as I tried to use it for a project unrelated to surfing and since I live outside the US it seems that this is not possible, I tried to contact them and did not get a reply. also you have to provide an incentive to the contributors and meet deadlines

  • Mike Tabeling

    Hi Mat,
    I inadvertantly deleted your email to me when I cam back from vacation. You contacted me through Facebook. If there is any way I can help you with your project let me know. I loved your Encyclopedia!!! My email is: and phone: (949) 294-7847. I’m living in Baja Norte just across the border. Denis Jarvis speaks highly of you.
    Mike Tabeling

  • hank Chinaski Kahikilani III

    When the kooks write (or post) “history” then one & all get: Kook History . . . so it goes.


  • David

    Hank, Sorry, I personally would not like to see the ” 1st Surfer Doper ” in the mix. He might be a hero to you, but not the rest of us. I remember, but was never impressed with bad role models in or out of the water to begin with. I am still waiting to see surfing acknowledged as a REAL athletic sport in the eyes of the Olympic Committee?
    Wait a minute…..who cares??? haha

  • Blake Ostrosser

    Matt I agree with Sam and others that you have a great platform for gathering histories from previously obscure areas off the media radar screen. I am involved with the Florida Surfing Project affiliated with Fla Atlantic Univ and I have a narrative they plan to publish as part of their project on Deerfield Pier history let me know if you are interested in reading it. Thanks

  • frederika beesemyer roeder

    I think I sawmyself in one of your books. It was a competition in front of the Riviera district in San Clemente. Also, have you come across my brother Willey Beesemyer