Surfing Heritage & Culture Center: “Follow The Light” Opens

LARRY “FLAME” MOORE

Break Out

By

Andrew Cowell

Larry Owen Moore, aka Flame, was born in 1948, in the land of Nixon – Whittier, California – as was I, although Flame was six years my senior.  Whittier, at the time of my youth, was an enclave of surfer energy.  I grew up in a neighborhood dotted with characters, like colorful sprinkles on a vanilla-cake donut, where the hardcore guys beat it up and down the coast, from Baja to Santa Barbara, in search waves; school and work were mere secondary concerns.

Coming from inland, our high schools were made up of a soup of diverse cultures. For the most part everyone got along.  Like the natural world, where one ecosystem overlaps another, we’d integrate.  I’m still amazed when looking back on those innocent days, of the joy rides taken in a Mexican friends lowered ’66 Chevy Nomad and cruzin’ Whitter Boulevard on a Friday night.  It was in this salad bowl of humanity that Flame emerged.

Like all hard-core inland surfers, by 1970, Larry found himself posted up at the beach, and no ordinary beach at that.  Larry found habitation in Newport Beach, directly across the Pacific Coast Highway form River Jetties.  In 1970, I was a high school sophomore with a driver’s license, and other than Huntington Cliffs, River Jetties was the place to be.  Back then a pier existed there.  That pier, in an agreeable collaboration with the Santa Ana River, deposited great sand-banks along both sides of the towering structure.  Here, shallow, hard-breaking, barreling waves piled up and spent their energy.  A miss timed take-off often resulted in a sand scrubbing facial, while the very real risk of a broken nose or collarbone or concussion was always present.  This wave was home to all of Newport’s hottest – Ed Farwell, Junior Beck, Lenny Foster, and John Van Ornum come to mind.  These were single-fin days, and these guys would get so barreled in these sand-sucking waves.

On to this stage rides Flame, a good surfer himself, armed with a debtors Pentax K1000 SLR, and 400-millimeter Vivitar lens, without which he may never have taken a photograph.  “The key to a good shot…,” Larry explained years later, “… [was] to have good surfers.”  In the beginning Larry and his friends gave no thought to the magazines, they just wanted to get the “Shot.”  Armed with the trusty Pentax, and either black and white or Kodachrome 64 slide film, Flame ventured forward, constructing a crude water housing and sending his photos to the magazines, and the rest as they say, is history.

For more about Larry “Flame” Moore, his photography, the Follow the Light grant program, and this year’s recipients, head on over to the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center (SHACC) at shacc.org/2019followthelight.

Phil Edwards by Andrew Cowell

“Waves can’t be the god of the sport; if they were, we’d all live in Hawaii.  It has to be getting out in it that counts – surfing because you love to surf, and getting pumped full of life and whip and snap.”

Phil Edwards, also known as “The Guayule Kid” was born in 1938, in Long Beach, California; the year that the Church of England acknowledged the theory of evolution, Benny Goodman introduced jazz at Carnegie Hall, and heavyweight boxer, Joe Lewis, KO’s Nathan Mann in 3 for the title.

Nine years down the road, Edwards and family relocated to Oceanside, California, where the seed of surfing took root in his psyche and blossomed in the physical.  Taken aback by the sight of Oceanside’s surfing lifeguards, Phil recounts that “the sight of them set me on fire…, I went home and came back, dragging my paddleboard in a staggering, waving tail through the sand, my pride and joy, and I wrestled it into the water, [paddled out to the waves, turned and caught one,] jumped up… and rode the board all the way in to the beach….  In the next few minutes a surfer was made, not born….  Don’t miss understand, I was not yet a surfer.  I fought and swam, I paddled, fell down, drowned a little, tipped over, got thrown off, drowned a little more, paddled and worked for another two years before I ever caught another wave.”

By the age of 15, Phil was on his way when introduced to Killer Dana, a graduate level wave, now drowned under the somber granitic rocks and still waters of Dana Point Harbor.  Chaperoned by Jim “Burrhead” Dever, the young Edwards delivered a Master’s thesis on wave riding that has forever changed how a wave could be ridden.  Burrhead and Phil took off on a looming wave together, and when his mentor yelled, “head for the green!” as was custom on such a dangerous wave, Edwards reversed course, cutback towards the curl, then filled his board around and ran to the nose, attacking the wave where those before him ran for safety.  A new standard for surfing had been set.

It is well documented that Phil had a love/hate relationship with surfing competitions.  He entered a few but never won one, and it didn’t matter one bit.  The trophy-chasers won, but it was the unquantifiable areas of his style that couldn’t be scored: his timing, transitions, and gestures that set him apart.  When it came to contest surfing Edwards had two theories: first the stylist.  One who “concentrates primarily on maintaining control at all times – with good form.  This naturally limits maneuverability and tricks…, but looks smoother.  The stylist he states,” [sees] a wave [as] simply a beautiful expression of nature and respected as reason enough to participate.”  On the other hand, there’s the “get the job done” contestant; trophy chasers and performers.  These “surfers do many things on a board and are willing to lose some control and composure and even take an occasional spill.”  The wave is incidental.  “A gym or a track field would serve the same purpose.”

In December, 1961, Hawaii’s Bonzai Pipeline was deemed too dangerous to ride.  The cavernous wave roared out of deep water, rose to the heights of skyscrapers and broke over flesh-shredding coral and lava rock, in very shallow water.  While on a causal afternoon surf check, Phil and surf film maker Bruce Brown, of Endless Summer fame, stood alone on the beach at the Pipeline.  Could this wave be ridden?  Phil determined that the time was now.    He believed it was possible to ride the Pipeline.  As he waxed his board, Bruce ran to the car for his camera.  On his return, he found Phil already entering the water.  While Phil positioned himself, Bruce setup.  Sighting his wave, Phil spun his board shoreward, arms digging gaping holes in the ocean’s surface, in order to catch the approaching thing.  Standing, Phil plummeted down the concave face, turned at the bottom as the wave through its guillotine-like lip over his head.  Entombed and racing the cascading swell for daylight, Phil emerged to the relative safety of the wave’s shoulder, rode directly to the beach; mission accomplished, and Bruce had the historical ride on film.

Edwards’ surfing skill, contribution to the sport, knowledge of the sea, and public persona won him the inaugural, 1964 Surfer magazine reader’s poll.  Phil was different, wrote one journalist.  His surfing was elegant and improvisational, smooth and fast.  It appears as though he was having a conversation with the wave.  Phil Edwards surfed into history bring an endless stream of surf riders along with him.  For his part in surfing, he will be forever enshrined in surfing history.

Cate’s Stoke: Duct Tape Invitational Recap

Earlier this month, the Duct Tape Invitational Festival, a traditional longboard contest, took place at Rockaway Beach in New York. This contest was organized by Joel Tudor and Vans to showcase professional longboarding at its highest level. The Duct Tape is an invitational, so best athletes, along with up-and-comers, are provided a platform to showcase what longboarding has to offer.

New York was the third stop of the Duct Tape tour this year, and the event was held at a super fun beach break on the east coast. On the women’s side, it was almost an all Hawaiian final, with Kirra Seale taking her first-ever Duct Tape win. In second, was Kelis Kaleopa’a, Haley Otto got third, and Brazilian, Chloé Calmon placed fourth. All the women surfed terrifically, and it was so fun to watch! For the men’s contest, Harrison Roach came out victorious, while Orange County’s Kevin Skvarna came in with a close second. Hawaii’s Kani Stewart placed third, and David Arganda was in fourth. This event is one of my favorite contests because it is so fun to see high level surfers competing in a fun, laid back contest.

SHACC “Temples of Stoke”: A Summoning Perspective

“STAY CLOSE TO THE SOUL”

A CALL TO ACTION

SURFING HERITAGE AND CULTURE CENTER

TEMPLES OF STOKE EXHIBIT CLOSING

By

Andrew Cowell

Surfing has seen many changes, some extreme and dynamic, like the Shortboard Revolution, or Simon Anderson’s Thruster, or the reemergence of the longboard.  Other developments have been understated and hairsplitting, almost incomprehensible.  It’s here, I believe, we find the evolution of the “surf shop.”  The revolution has been subtle.  There’s little dispute that Dale Velzy opened the first shop in 1949; little more than a dimly lit, dilapidated, one room store front in Manhattan Beach, California.  Jack O’Neill upped Velzy’s ante in 1952 with the opening of the “SURF SHOP” on San Francisco’s Great Highway.  (It’s interesting to note that Jack was the first to use the moniker “surf shop.”)  Hobie was nipping at O’Neill’s heals, opening the first dedicated, purpose-built surf shop at Dana Point, California in 1954.  By ’61 beach communities were littered with them.  Peterson’s Surfing Yearbook of 1963 notes that there were 41 in Southern California alone.

For these early adventure seeking, passionate, inventive, nonconformist surfing entrepreneurs the haunting speculation of turning a profit weighed heavily, often consuming more time and energy than their surfing did.  Relying on the sale of surfboards just didn’t pay the bills.  Some, like O’Neill, with his life-long passion for discovery and innovation, saw a great opportunity in living and surfing in such harsh conditions.  He foresaw the creation of the wetsuit and how it would provide for him and his family the freedom to build a life around surfing.  We are all indebted to Jack O’Neill for keeping us warm and surfing longer.  Others saw the need for accessories: wetsuits, wax, car racks, rentals, and lessons.  Still others, like Hobie Alter, set their sights on adventure and tropical isles, developing catamarans and other ocean and wave friendly craft.

Then in the 1970’s three enterprising Australians: Alan Green, Carol McDonald, and Tim Davis, and later a fourth, John Law formed the Rip Curl Wetsuit Company, from which Quiksilver apparel was later spawned.  Right out of the box, they saw success with a boardshort design that was leaps and bounds ahead of anything the surf shop owner and customer had seen or worn.  These shorts were maneuverable, manageable, and comfortable making them brand leading exponents.  These four, along with Americans Jeff Hakman and Bob McKnight saw the writing on the wall.  The coming revolution gained a foothold, apparel would be king, while the surfboard, that on which the industry was built became second fiddle.

Still the focus for most of the tanned, motley crew of surfing misfits was the surf shop. With the mass acceptance of the Quiksilver boardshort, others jumped into the fray.  As the surf/beach lifestyle was trending across middle-America, Billabong, Gotcha, Instinct and a Waimea sized wave of others swept over the market place.  For a while the ride was great.  Everyone, industry leaders and consumers alike were goovin’ on surfing and getting barreled.

Today many of the apparel manufactures have gone through a restructuring and the surf shop is seeing a more balanced approach to their offerings.  Surf shops that stay close to the soul of surfing are a true celebration of the lifestyle, where the unknown creatives who happily toil in dimly lit rooms creating the agents we so enjoy riding waves on thrive.  These Temples of Stoke have always been hallowed ground; a house of community, a bullpen were the generosity of spirit – aloha – is spread from one corner of the surfing world to another.  A surfing life is a deeply rewarding and meaningful existence.

As the twenty-first century plods along, the race for your dollar has become increasingly competitive.  Everything from wax to surfboards is offered for your shopping convenience online.  I’m not knocking e-commerce, here at Hobie Surf Shop we offer you that accommodation for shopping our inventory, but today’s surf shop, much like yesteryear, are independently owned by surfers working to make a living by creating handmade surfboards and offering the goods and services needed to enjoy the surfing life.  All the while employing many people smitten with the surfing bug.  Unfortunately the internet forces many of these enterprising entrepreneurs to close their doors.  Your support is needed.

Journalist Craig Stecyk has said that the surf shop “functions as the sport’s information centers, supply depots, halfway houses, classrooms, libraries, churches, banks, and museums.”  Although Stecyk spoke thus in 1996, his view is still true today.  Here’s the point: the surf shop functions as a societal glue.  Support your local shop, and the next time you’re hunting waves, either in your community, or someone else’s, stop into the local shop.  Buy a bar of wax, a tee shirt, or a hat.  Chat up the kid behind the counter, the experience will be gratifying.

Lastly, check out the richly rewarding “TEMPLES of STOKE” exhibit that the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center (SHACC) is currently curating at http://www.shacc.org.  It’s a guaranteed good time.

“GO Faster!”: Surfing Heritage & Culture Center’s Latest Exhibit

georgegreenough

 

Part 1: Speed Thrills

By Andrew Cowell

History tells us that the “Total Involvement,” or “Shortboard Revolution” exploded onto the surfing world stage when Australian, Nat Young won the 1966 World Surfing Championships at San Diego, California’s Ocean Beach.  Nat, with his gunslinger attitude, came prepared. He rode a short, thin, narrow, extremely foiled 9’4” surfboard, (most contestants were riding the standard ten footer)   dubbed Magic Sam.  Competitors, media, and spectators alike witnessed Nat’s staccato bursts of speed and maneuverability as he pin-balled his way to victory; the harbinger of death for the longboard and the hang-ten posing Americans.

Truth be told, the insemination of the Shortboard Revolution’s seed occurred two years prior to Nat’s victory.  In ’64, the inquisitive, innovative, trailblazing George Greenough visited friend and California expat Bob “The Beaded Barb” Cooper in Australia.  George, traveling with his cameras and balsawood “spoon” kneeboard “Velo” with its tuna tail inspired flexible fiberglass fin, was introduced to the itinerate surfer/shaper Bob McTavish and others who were gobsmacked by the other worldly surfing performances of Greenough.  Bob McTavish from his biography, STOKED: “I witnessed George kick into a six-foot wave and get to his knees in a snap.  He took off fast, his right arm flying, his left grabbing the front rail of the short kneeboard.  With all the speed he gained form the drop, he planted a hard bottom turn, and shot forward along the hovering wall.  But he didn’t run straight along it as we would have on our big boards.  No!  He carved back up into the pit.  Again he drove off a long bottom turn, and flew along the threatening section.  Amazing surfing.  So fast!  And those turns!  Most impressive… I gotta get me some of that speed and acceleration.”  The only real stumbling block to Greenough’s approach, McTavish later lamented, was Miki Dora.  “He was so darn cool!  His walking, trimming, and noseriding style.”