Surfing is an amazing lifestyle, sport, adventure and since when it was first written of in 1777 by Captain Cook surfing has been filled with colorful pioneers and characters that have created a ‘tribe’ of millions that are drawn to the ocean and enticed with everything above and below it.
So let’s take a look at this wonderful life and all the Surfers that have made us dream and pursue a lifestyle that many only dream of. Being in and around the ocean on a daily basis gives one an understanding of our ocean, tides, storms, wave and wind direction, what a reef, sand bar, points, piers and jetties mean to our everyday life. One day, after years of experience, we may be lucky enough to be thought of as a true ‘Waterman’ or ‘Waterwoman’, a lofty and honorable quest not understood by many, but a place of true understanding of our fabulous oceans. Not a bad quest considering our oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the Earth’s water! Interesting as that 71% number is, few realize that the ocean represents more than 99% of the Earth’s Biosphere!
So, before we begin exploring our colorful characters in the surfing world, how about a bit of quick fun, science?
-Ocean depths vary greatly but when you multiply that 71% of ocean surface by those depths of ocean you get that 99% figure!
-The biggest biomass on our planet is composed of the tiniest plants, phytoplankton, and these little creatures provide us with about half our oxygen!
-Phytoplankton is the base of the marine food chain, every animal in the sea eats plankton, and it is the most efficient food energy system on the planet!
Enough science for right now…time for legends!
Have you ever heard of ‘Duke’, ‘Rabbit”, ‘Whitey’, ‘Snow’, ‘Buffalo’, ‘Bluey’, ‘Woody’, ‘Wheels’, ‘Midget’, ‘Da Cat’, ‘Corky’, ‘Skip’, ‘Dewey’, ‘Nat’, ‘Buttons’, ‘Occy’, ‘Kong’, ‘Wingnut’, ’Rell’, ‘Layne’, ‘The Hawk’, ‘Da Bull’, ‘Buzzy’, ‘Eddie’? No? Well without these surfers and many more legendary figures we wouldn’t be where we are today. These Surfers changed our world, and created a vision that anything is possible, all the more so when you are a colorful and exciting individual, so, sit-back, hang-on and enjoy this ride through the history of surfing…
One of my all-time favorite Surfers, Lisa Anderson had a Surfer magazine cover blurb that said so much…
‘Lisa Anderson Surfs Better Than You Do!’
4-time World Champion, 1994-1997
How cool is that?
What does 1912 has to do with modern surfing? Duke Kahanamoku was returning from participating in the Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden and on a stop on The East Coast Hawai’i’s Aloha gift to world of ‘Duke Kahanamoku International Surf Exhibitions’ awakened the world’s beginning fascination with surfing! With stops on the West Coast and later Australia, Duke and his legendary humble manner and unique ethnic Hawai’ian sense of humor inspired so many with the true ‘Aloha Spirit.’
Duke was an all-around ‘Waterman’, canoes, bodysurfing, and one of the original Big Wave Surfers Duke rode the ‘Kings Surf’ a huge wave off Diamond Head all the way to the beach at the Royal Hawai’ian Hotel!
Duke Kahanamoku is truly ‘The Father of Surfing’
Alexander Hume Ford
Founder of the Outrigger Canoe Club
When Alexander arrived in the ‘American Territory of Hawaii’ in 1907 he checked out the surf, made a ‘plank’ and paddled out and went surfing. Alexander realized that surfing had been stunted by the missionaries of the past he created the ‘Outrigger Canoe Club’ in 1908 and started promoting Hawaii’s surf culture, his whole purpose was directed at “Reviving and preserving the ancient Hawai’ian sport of surfing on boards and outrigger canoes.”
Thank you Alexander.
Charles “Snow’ McAlister
The Father of Australian Surfing
When ‘Snow’ was 10-years old he saw Duke surfing at Manly Beach, Australia, his life changed. He built a copy of Duke’s board and began surfing. In 1926 he won the Australian National Title 3-times, the last one by performing a handstand all the way to the beach!
Surfing was his life, he authored stories, supported Bob Evans and his surf movies, and co-founded the Australian Surfriders Association. In 1985 he was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame, his 78-years of surfing and contributions to the sport make him…
‘The Father of Australian Surfing.’
During the 1950’s Bob was a dynamo of surfing energy, promoter, big wave-rider, publisher, he just flat-out loved surfing. His publication Surfing World and his 16mm surf films helped spread the word about this wonderful ‘new’ sport. Co-Founder of the Australian Surfriders Association and 1987 inductee to Australian Surfing Hall of Fame, Bob was a Pioneer in the Australian Surf Culture.
Albert “Rabbit” Kekai
‘Rabbit’ got his name because he could run the 100-yard dash in 10-seconds flat, the world record at the time was 9.3 seconds held by Mel Patton. From the South Shore of Oahu, Rabbits surfing was “light years ahead of anybody” that Malibu surfing icon Matt Kivlin said after working the waves of Waikiki. Rabbit is considered by many as the first ‘Hotdogger.’
At 5-years old when Rabbit first paddled out he was blessed to be the protégé of ‘The Father of Surfing’ Duke Kahanamoku! In 1956 at the age of 35 Rabbit won the Makaha International surfing contest and continuing wining contests until the age of 79!
‘The Legend’ was inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame in 1991 and in 2001 was awarded a plaque on the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame.
Rabbit has been one of my idols since I first met him in 1972, a true Waterman.