by Corky Carroll
It’s time for my annual “Surfers Ear” column featuring the incredible Dr. Carol Jackson, leader in the care and treatment of this condition. The following is direct from the Doc’s mouth.
“Despite jumping up and down, head tilting, and tapping the ear; surfers often experience ear blocking when benign bony nodules called exostoses grow to occlude more than 70% of the canal diameter. Then they often trap water and debris. “My ears plug for hours or days after surfing and I can’t get them unplugged!”
Exostosis forms slowly over years due to mother nature’s attempt to protect the eardrum from the forcible rush of cold water against the tympanic membrane. Forceful water, as in actively wiping out, is the strongest growth stimulus followed by how cold the water is. Exostoses don’t form in swimmers, divers or wind surfers who have not also surfed for years.
At large sizes in advanced severity, they muffle hearing and disrupt the ear’s normal self-cleaning and protective wax coatings. Instead, infectious yeast, fungus and bacteria, plus sand and dead skin plug the ear becoming trapped in crevices between the large rounded exostoses. The material becomes a cheesy consistency which won’t drain or flush off. This often leads to an acute or chronic infection of the sensitive ear canal skin called “swimmer’s ear.” Occasionally, a rip-roaring acute infection will cause the kind of severe pain that makes a grown man cry!
Preventive tips include custom vented swim plugs that allow sound to be heard while wearing them! They float, come in bright colors, even with glitter, can be put on a lanyard, and are rarely lost in the water. Also helpful are portable surfer’s ear dryers available on the internet for use after water sports to evaporate retained water. They’re portable, plug into vehicle power ports and work on batteries. No water, no germs!
When plugging is frequent or hearing is muffled, it’s time to see an otologist with an office microscope. That’s an ear specialist for debris clearing, treatment of the underlying skin infection and stepped-up care. When bone blockage is over 80%, it’s time to consider getting them removed. Laser-assisted microsurgical excision is minimally invasive and always definitive. No need for repeat removals. If you’ve had repeated removals before, the exostoses probably weren’t completely removed or the bases weren’t sufficiently treated.
Laser-assisted removal is outpatient and now better than ever with return to most non-water activities the next day. There is surprisingly minimal postoperative discomfort. External skin incisions are no longer necessary so there are no visible scars or pinna numbness and protrusion. There have been no repeated removals with this technique in twenty years of follow-up. It’s a permanent solution to put “surfer’s ear” in the rear view mirror. Since recovery and healing is faster under age 70, it’s best to have them removed when they are 75 to 90 percent occlusive. Return to water with precautions is usually in four to six weeks; sometimes longer if occlusion is more than 90% preoperatively.
If you feel plugged or it seems like some people mumble, you could have reduced hearing either due to surfer’s ear or unrelated such as from prior loud sound or some age-related changes over age 60. People with ringing in the ear, dizziness, or imbalance may have unrelated ear conditions that would benefit from separate assessments and treatment such due to a benign tumor or elevated inner ear fluid pressure, called hydrops. Oral medications, balance therapy, or current technology hearing aids may be indicated. There can be more than one cause of ear symptoms at the same time which can be different in ear each.
Learn about the severity of your exostosis on camera and receive an ear checkup. It’s wise to see an ear doctor who uses an office microscope and can show you your ear, possibly photograph it, for you to understand. Have a hearing test by an audiologist in a sound booth for accurate assessment and determination if any reduction is related to exostosis or from an unrelated condition.
At home, to try to ease mild itching, discomfort, or plugging it’s safe and can be soothing to instill and massage in a few drops of original plain baby oil while lying on your side with the affected ear up twice a day. For any ear discomfort or drainage, keep the ear clean and dry. First aid measures include Tylenol PM. Don’t use over-the-counter chemical preparations or devices, rubbing alcohol or soap, swabs or flushing. These measures risk pushing material deeper or causing more irritation and swelling.
To the younger generations of surfers and everyone with less than 70% canal occlusion, remember that exostosis growth can be halted or completely prevented by ear plugs! Any plug that’s comfortable enough to consistently wear that keeps most of the water out most of the time will keep your ear canals open. Over the counter moldable silicone or shallow ear plugs are advised over long hotdog or Christmas tree plugs. Those can rub on deep thin skin.
Take care of your ears! We only have two, they don’t re-grow and they cannot be replaced!”
You can reach Dr. Jackson right here in Newport Beach at (949) 574 7744.
by Corky Carroll
It’s that happy time of year again when we are starting to prepare for the upcoming holidays. First off we have Thanksgiving, our yearly license to pig out and visit with family we might not see all the time. Then Christmas, yay. And to help us get ready for that somewhere along the line they came up with “Black Friday.” A huge sale day for early bird holiday gift buyers.
This is for all of you non surfers who want to buy something special for that surfer in your life and don’t have a clue on what to get ‘em. I happily do this community service piece each year to help out. So grab a pen or pencil and let’s get to it. Note: some of this stuff I mention each year, but this is for newbies so bear with it
On the low end of the price scale, stocking stuffers and the like, here are a couple of perfect ideas. Surf Wax. A couple bars is a great idea, just pay attention to the “temperature” of the wax you are buying. It’s mid-winter, so a good choice is “Cold Water” wax. If they are taking a trip to the tropics then get “Tropical Water” wax. Other low-cost items would include t-shirts. Everybody wears them and everybody loves them. Make sure you have the correct size. It’s a drag to get one you love but can’t wear it because it’s too small. Think big. (I’m a 3xl, just sayin’).
There is a company that is making great surf related puzzles that I really like. Madhouseartco.com, located in San Clemente. They have “San Onofre,” “Lower Trestles,” “Doho,” and “Tsunami” versions. Fun for the whole family kinda deal.
This would lead into more formal shirts, and we all dig Hawaiian. If you really want to get something ultra-cool go visit “Dirt Cheap Hawaiian Shirts and Plants” in Costa Mesa. The owner’s name is Nik and he has the vintage goods that you just can’t find everywhere these days. I get mine there.
Next up would be books. There are always a lot of them out there. This year I wanna point out one that I think is fabulous. A photo book documenting the surfing community on the North Shore with gorgeous portraits, lush landscapes, and jaw-dropping action shots. “NORTH,” by Brown W. Cannon III. It’s available from Damiani Books.
This is my favorite part. I get to shamelessly plug my own stuff. Go to www.bluemangosurf.com for all kinds of cool surf stuff. From CorkyART t shirts and hoodies, my latest book “Not Done Yet,” to custom made surfboards and SUP’s. And for that super special someone you might want to invest in one of my original paintings. Art is a great gift, it lasts forever. You can see a gallery of my stuff on the Blue Mango site and contact me direct to purchase or order one special. CORKYSURF@AOL.COM Awhooooo. End of shameless plug.
Now getting into the more expensive gift ideas. There is always the new surfboard thing. Warning here though, this is a fantastic gift, but you must know exactly what they want before you buy it. A surfboard is a very personal thing. Size and shape are critical. So, best to know, down to what kind of glass job, what to get. Or get a gift certificate. Most any surf shop has those. Or you can deal with a custom board manufacturer, nothing quite like having your own custom board made special for you.
If you really want to go over the top, I can’t think of a much better idea than a surf trip. Surfers love to go on surf trips. The more exotic the better. This can range from a weekend in Cabo to an adventure to a private island in the South Pacific, and anything and everything in between. Just depends on your budget and how much you really dig this person. If you might want an all-inclusive adventure to Mainland, Mexico, which includes hangin out with me a little bit, or a visit to the jungles of Costa Rica and the CC Surfcamp, shoot me an email and I can hook ya up. The only thing to make that surf trip better is that you go along to keep them company. Awhooo.
That’s all the space I’ve got for this one. I hope this helps you out. Have a super cool and groovy Holiday season. And, by the way, I like getting’ stuff. So if you feel the urge, go ahead and send something over. Fa la la la, laaaa!!!
by Corky Carroll
One of the most often asked questions that I get is “what is the biggest wave you ever rode?” Or, “What is the biggest surf you ever saw?” That one sometimes comes with, “in Orange County.” Just to get that first stuff out of the way; the biggest wave I ever rode was at Makaha, on the west side of Oahu, in December of 1969. At that time it would have been considered 30 ft. In recent years they have gotten better at estimating wave height, so it was probably closer to 40. In my mind that sucker was at least 300 ft. That was the biggest “rideable” surf I ever saw. Biggest surf was off the coast in Oregon, don’t even know how big it was. But it was huge.
OK, now to the story for today. The “Orange County” version. I have a couple of days that stand out as “the biggest,” or at least “one of the biggest.” One is the biggest “south swell (summer).” The other is the biggest “north or west swell (winter).
Let’s start with the summer version. There have been some epic south swells. Probably the most famous would be the epic day in 2014 that was produced by Hurricane Maria off the tip of Baja. They call it the “100 year” swell. But, sadly, I can’t comment on that one because I wasn’t around that day, was surfing on the other side of that storm in Southern Mexico.
The biggest south swell I ever personally saw, and rode, was on August 19, 1969. That was a banner year for surf. I had gotten up early in the morning and drove to “the Wedge,” in Balboa. I was with Mickey Munoz. We thought the swell might be so big that we could board surf that famous body-surfing spot. There was a low tide early in the morning. At that time nobody had board surfed it yet, we wanted to be the first. Bud Browne came to film us. But it wasn’t working right. So, we raced back down to Cotton’s Point. On todays wave height scale it was probably 20 ft. We called it 15 then. At the peak of the swell that morning only Mickey, Rolf Aurness and I made it out and rode it. Some great waves that day, long hard paddle out though. In the afternoon when the tide was higher a number of other guys make it out and it was one of those epic sessions that I am sure each of us that were there still remember vividly.
There have been a lot of huge winter days. The same day we got the monster surf at Makaha there was reported 15-foot waves at Rincon, near Santa Barbara. Once again, I wasn’t there personally. I was at Makaha. But word was that it was one of “those” days.
I think the biggest, or at least one of the biggest, but for sure the best, of the huge winter swells that I saw and rode would have been on Jan 23, 1993. My day started by a walk out on the pier at Huntington Beach to check it out. I ran into my good pal Zack Lindborg and we decided to head south together. The idea was to go to “Swami’s,” in Encinitas. But we stopped to check out the “Trestles” area just south of San Clemente. The spot called “Church” was pumping. The swell was very north, and that spot works best on that exact direction. It was big and very good. Again, I was thinking 15 ft sets that day. It was bigger. We paddled out and had a fantastic session.
But the real story of that day was what happened later when we got back to Huntington Beach. The conditions were fantastic, offshore winds and giant lines marching in. There is a reef off on the cliffs area called “Boxcars.” The rumor is that there is a submerged boxcar out there, but who knows? Huge perfect shaped peaks were breaking out there. Impossible to paddle out through the surf. So where raced to Long Beach to get Zack’s boat, throw our boards in it and motor back to surf it.
Problem was it was late in the day. By the time we got the boat into the ocean there wasn’t enough time to go all the way back to Huntington Beach. But, to our surprise there were huge peaks breaking just inside of the big oil platform off Seal Beach. So, we rode that. We later found out that famed Seal Beach lifeguard, Tim Dorsey, had paddled out there and rode it earlier in the day. Then we tried to surf some big peaks off the south side of the pier in the boat, but the lifeguards chased us away. What a great day that was.
There ya have it. These are my personal memories.
by Corky Carroll
I was in third period typing class that morning. Don’t remember who the teacher was. There are certain teachers from HS that stood out in my memories. Mr. Neil, made stuff I didn’t care about interesting anyway. Mr. Hunter, he surfed and borrowed a board from me. Miss Brickner, had her as a freshman. She was hot looking and I had “thoughts” about her. Mr. Combs, water polo coach (I hated water polo but liked him.). Don’t remember who I had in that 3rd period typing class though. Sometime during the hour the principal came over the P.A. and announced that President Kennedy had been shot. And then not long after that he had died. Jackson Browne and I are the same age. He has a line in his song, “Running on Empty,” that goes, “in ’65 I was seventeen and called the road my own.” I always related to that. First because at that time in my life I had moved out of my parents’ house and had a cool little pad in Dana Point. I was making a living in the early years of Professional Surfing and pretty much had it “going on.” Besides that, I have always used that line as the measuring stick to my age and what year it was that something happened. If it was 1970, for instance, I would add forward from ’65 to see how old I was then.
I met Jackson in ’63 at the Seal Beach Pier, although we didn’t get to know each other until we ran into each other at the Four Muses Folk Club in San Clemente later on. But this is not about that. But it is about a day in Seal Beach in 1963. It’s the fall and, as my birthday falls in September, I had just turned 16. And I had just got my first car, a 1958 TR-10. This was a kind of small VW Beetle kinda job that was made by Triumph. I was still living at home in Surfside and going to Huntington Beach High School. Although, that was the year they closed HBHS to remodel and opened Marina HS. So, we were moved over there.
Friday, November 22, started out like most other days for me. I woke up just before dawn and paddled out in front of our house to get in an hour or so of surfing before going to school. It was great growing up where the first sound I heard each day was the sound of the surf and the first smell was of sweet salt air. I could tell how the surf was without even having to open my eyes…. The sound told me.
The rest of that day at school is a blur. It was a strange and sad day with parents picking up kids early and just a whole lot of confusion. “What is going to happen?,” kinda stuff.
When I got home I went surfing and put it out of my thoughts. I had been looking forward to my date with Margaret Ferguson that night. Margaret was a very pretty long-haired “beatnik” kinda chick. She was older than me, 20 I think. It was during a span when I was 15 and 16 that I had a run with older chicks. The summer before I had dated a girl when I was in Hawaii who was going to UC Santa Barbara and I think delighted in enlightening me in things that I had not known much about yet had a great desire to know MUCH more about. There was one other and then came Margaret. I was going through a physical, social and emotional growth spurt, so to say.
We had gone out a few times during the previous summer to see “art” movies at the Bay Theater in Seal Beach. She lived there with her mom. I rode my bike over there and we walked to the movies. But now she had moved out and had her own apartment, and I had a car. Needless to say, my little 16-year-old mind had interesting ideas on how that night was gonna go. I had two things on my mind. Surfing and chicks.
I got to her place all set for a great night. She opened the door and her mom was there and they were both crying. I asked what was wrong. She looked at me in shock and said, “where have you been, don’t you know that President Kennedy has been killed?”
Well, I did of course. But I was 16. At that age things of such magnitude don’t register the same way they do when you are a bit more mature and the world as a whole has more importance. So, the date was off, and I went home disappointed. We never went out after that. Looking back, it was definitely one of those days you always remember in your life. I am not sure which shook me more though, JKF or the unhappy ending with Margaret Ferguson.
What is really blowing my mind at this moment is that was SIXTY years ago. Geeze. Somebody pass my meds.
by Corky Carroll
The 24th annual INTERNATIONAL SURFBOARD BUILDERS’ HALL OF FAME induction ceremony, party, festival and Polynesian Luau will take place this year on Saturday, October 14th. It will be held at the Pier Plaza in Huntington Beach and entertainment begins at 8 A.M, with the induction ceremony at 10 A.M. It is free to the public and a super fun event to go to. All kinds of fun stuff and cool people hangin’ out.
The founders of the ISBHOF, Bob “the Greek” Bolen and Mike “Mickey the Ratt” Ester, are stoked to have one of their greatest line ups of surfboard building talent for this year’s induction. Here is a brief rundown.
The Campbell Brothers, Malcolm and Duncan. I love these guys. Totally original and unique surfboard designers who are responsible for one of the best and most functional board designs to date. The “BONZER.” In 1970, when some of us were working on “twin-fin” shapes, these two brothers from Oxnard were thinking a bit ahead. They could see the pluses and minuses of the two fin and were taking it farther. What they came up with was so much more than just a three-fin board, it was a totally new bottom design that went along with the very different fin shapes and set up. And it really worked great. The first time I tried one I refused to give it back to the owner, Mike Eaton. Three months later he snuck into my back yard in the middle of the night to get it back. And today I am riding a Bonzer SUP. These dudes rock, stoked to see them get some love.
Wayne Brown, local boy makes good. I really liked Wayne, he was one of those “stoked” kinda guys that you just felt good being around. He did a lot of stuff. Started out in 1967 making surfboards, BC and then Wayne Brown Surfboards. This led to him also manufacturing Skateboards and a shop on Main Street in Huntington Beach. Then he began importing Piping Hot Wetsuits from Australia, which led to him making a deal with Aleeda Wetsuits to manufacture here in the U.S. He had a place in the back of his shop where he could make you a custom wetsuit and deliver it in 24 hours. Wayne sadly passed away in 2018.
Craig Sugihara. Founder and owner of Town and Country Surfboards. Craig is one of those totally cool hard-core surfers who came up through the ranks. Started riding a Piapo board in 1957, started surfing in 1959 under the guidance of the beach boys at Waikiki, started learning how to shape and laminate boards in 1965, built his first board in 1967, got his first surf industy job in 1968 working for George Downing at Greg Noll Surfboards doing fiblerglass work, started building complete boards in 1970 for Mystic Surfboards out in Waianae and finally opening his own TOWN AND COUNTRY surf shop in 1971 in Pearl City. Today he has six stores, Licensees all over the world and is still building surfboards. And, the dude is a great surfer and very cool dude on top of all that.
John Kies. A San Diego surfer who began shaping boards in 1965. Four years later he had a growing market for his shapes and began building boards in his parents’ garage, this was right at the beginning of the “underground” garage board era. In 1972 he began shaping for Hansen Surfboards and then became factory manager and shaper for Koast Surfboards. Putting himself through college on his earnings he found that he couldn’t keep up the demand and so he hired up and coming shapers Rusty Priesendorfer, Bill Shrosbee and Mike Slingerland to help him. All became world class shapers on their own. After Koast closed down John seized the chance to open his own business, Encinitas Surfboards. 35 years, and 24,000 boards, later John is still going and stoked that he can “actually do this for a living.”
Also on the slate to get inducted this year are Mitchell Rae of Outer Island Surfboards in Australia and Bernie Crouch from the infamous East Coast brand, Mad Dog Surfboards.
If you are free on Saturday the 14th this is be the place to be. Super cool and groovy all the way.
by Corky Carroll
I get asked a ton of questions about what was surfing like back when I was growing up in the thick of it during the 1960’s. This was the “Golden Era” for surfing in California. Let me give a little background how that came to be.
Leading up to the late 1950’s surfing was mostly known to be going on in Hawaii and in California. I am sure it was happening other places too, Australia for sure, but those were the two main hotbeds of surfing. When boards went from wood to foam it opened the door for anybody and everybody to surf. Right at that time, 1959, the movie “Gidget” came out and surfing boomed as a result. Especially here in California.
During that period surfboard shops opened all over the place, surfing movies were being shown all the time, surf clubs were forming in every town, surfing magazines were starting up, “surf music” hit the airways and Hollywood was pumping out one “beach” movie after another. And, along with all that, surf contests started happening all the time. There was one every weekend.
So, here was the big focusing factor on how California surfing became the leader in the surf world. It was because all the attention was on based on it. The contests here got tons of publicity. The guys that made the surf movies were from here and they featured local surfers. The surf magazines were based here and promoted local talent. It was no wonder that California surfers were the most famous. The bulk of the big competitions where here, and mostly won by surfers from here. They got the most media coverage. If you were a competitive surfer this was the place to be. If you wanted to be a pro surfer this was the place to be. If you wanted to be in the surf industry this was the place to be.
Now, if you want my personal opinion, this did not really mean that the best surfing was going on here. If you read the magazines you might think that. In my eyes the best surfing was being done in Hawaii, and probably there were better surfers over there that didn’t get the limelight or have the opportunities that being on the West Coast offered. Hawaii might have been the heart of the surfing world, but California was center stage.
Through the entire 1960’s and up until late 1972 California was a competitive powerhouse. The other two main forces were Hawaii and Australia. These were the undisputed “powers that be.” So, what happened?
In the couple of years leading up to the World Championship in San Diego in October of 1972 there was a slow growing “discontent” going on in the competitive ranks on the West Coast. The top surfers were not happy with the way the events were being run. Plus, the available money to be made was shrinking. The same discontent was flowing through not only the competitive part but also through the surf culture, as well as the overall culture as well.
Viet Nam was a huge factor in this. There was a lot of “dropping out” going on. A lot of rebelling. More boards were being made in garages than in the big surfboard factories. It was all “underground” this and “soul brother” that. The crowds were bigger than ever, but the glitter was gone. More grit than glamor.
The World Championship was the big bomb that blew up California surfing, as far as being the leading surf power. They held the last day in 6 inch to 1 foot surf at Ocean Beach while not that far away a big south swell was hitting beaches better facing the direction. All the previous days it had been run up the coast in Oceanside where the surf was much better. My own memory of that was coming out of the water after my semifinal heat, having not caught one wave, due to the fact that there weren’t any, and saying to myself, “if THIS is what it’s come to, I’m done.” This was a week after my 25th birthday.
It seemed the same thought went through a lot of minds that day as the majority of the top competitive surfers from California all “retired” from contests that day.
For the most part California competitive surfing, as well as the surf industry in general, went dark for a number of years after that. The World Tour started in 1976 and it was all Hawaii and Australia. Most from that era still refuse to admit that pro surfing did exist before that, but it did. As time went on Brazil grew into a monster force.
Today more people are surfing than ever. Everywhere. Surfing is alive and well… almost too much so. We have great surfers here, always have. But it’s Brazil, Hawaii and Australia that are at the top of world surfing. Right now anyway.
I am sure a lot of you could care less about this, but for those who do, that was my take on how it happened.
by Corky Carroll
This wordily wandering is in response to a ton of questions, mostly on social media, asking me if I still surf and how I got so deep into painting. For those of you who don’t know, I have more than less segued from full time surfer and part time artist to the opposite. I paint all the time. I still try to surf when it’s right, but not full time like throughout my entire life up to this point. Here is the story behind this life change for me.
As most of you know, I have surfed my entire life and have been lucky enough to have been able to do it on a daily basis from the time I was a young kid to just recently. I have done art, off and on since I was in high school and liked watercolors. But never all that seriously. In the 1980’s I got into doing airbrush paintings that were pretty cool. I sold them through a gallery in Dana Point Harbor and they did well. I had a little spot in the back warehouse at SURFER magazine where I could do these. I was working there at the time. When I left, I didn’t have a place to do them anymore, so I stopped.
In the early 2000’s I built a house on the beach on mainland Mexico and started a business taking in surfing guests. One of these was an artist who did acrylics. When he left, he gave me a small acrylic set and I tried out a few canvases to see how I liked it. It was fun and I started doing a few simple ones. I put them on the wall, and people started asking to buy them. It became a side hobby to go along with the surfing and music (am still doing some gigs there in the local area.).
In the fall, just before Covid hit, I got diagnosed with a-Fib. This led to a number of surgeries and a pacemaker. Also a tremendous drop in energy level. I started to get very out of breath when I surfed and my heart rate would get very high. Then Covid hit and I wound up spending about six months in the house, not surfing, and doing nothing but gaining weight. When I finally got back in the water I found I was only good for about one or two waves at a time before I started to get light headed and dizzy. So, that is where my surfing is at the moment. A wave or two when the conditions are good.
This is where the art kicked in. With time on my hands, I started painting more and more. I have this thing that has always driven my friends nuts, I tend to focus on one thing super intensely. At the expense of everything else going on. It is like that with the art. I am totally consumed with it and it is keeping my “stoke” alive. My thought is if I can’t ride waves then I can still paint them. And I do, lots of them. About a year ago, after weighing the pros and cons with my beautiful wife Raquel, I decided to totally dedicate myself to making art my new full-time career. I mostly do what you would call “surf” or “tropical” paintings. A lot of waves and palm trees. And, when it’s right I still am able to paddle out and catch my wave or two. This is keeping me very happy and motivated.
A lot of days, if the conditions aren’t suitable for me to go in the water, I will hang out and watch the surf and friends out there doing it. Then go back to the house and paint the rest of the day. I always check the surf, it’s a lifetime habit, and I always stay attached to what’s going on in the surfing world thru my surf company, BLUE MANGO SURF, which I own with my partner Joel Saltzman.
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram you will notice that I really do a lot of paintings. This is because I love doing them so much that I can bury myself into it for hours and hours every day. A lot of times I have more than one going at a time, a great way to not waste paint. If I can convey the “feel” of what I am painting, like how a wave looks to me in my mind or a certain scene, onto the canvas then it gives me the same “rush” as coming out of a raging barrel in surfing. I am far from a master painter, not even close. But if one of my paintings on a wall someplace puts a smile on somebodies face when they see it then I have accomplished what I set out to do. Each one is personal; they are all my children and I love them.
So, I hope that answers the questions on how I phased from surf to surf art and have kept the stoke intact. If you want to see some of the paintings go to www.bluemangosurf.com. Or check me out on Facebook. Thanks.
by Corky Carroll
I have lived a relatively long life, zeroing in on my 76th birthday on September 29th. (I put in the date just in case some of you nice readers might wanna send presents, cash or baked goods.). In terms of being a surfer I am an old dude, almost always the oldest person in the lineup when I paddle out. I feel pretty good to have made it this far, many of my good pals haven’t.
But there are dudes way older than me that are still around and a big part of the surf culture. It is with respect to them that I offer up this week’s ink and tell you about a few of them that I can call pals.
The first would be Walter “the Godfather” Hoffman. Born in 1931 and still dropping in on sizeable waves. Walter was one of the early big wave surfers in the 1950’s, part of the crew that hung out at Makaha. This included George Downing, Buzzy Trent and Peter Cole. He is also the owner of Hoffman Fabrics in Mission Viejo. They supply the surf world with almost all the fabric used for shirts, shorts and all sorts of other surfwear. One of the largest fabric companies on the planet. If you are wearing a Hawaiian shirt there is a better than average chance that is Hoffman fabric on ya.
Not only is Walter himself a surf world “biggie,” but his whole family rocks the planks. His daughter, Joyce Hoffman, is a multi-time Women’s World Champion. His late brother “Flippy” pioneered “tow-in” surfing way back in the 1960’s. His son in law is the renowned Herbie Fletcher, surf star in his own right and father of Christian and Nathan Fletcher who are both world class wave masters.
Next up I’d like to mention Bob “Ole” Olsen. This dude is 94 and not only still surfing but also still shaping great surfboards. I got my very first “team” surfboard from him back in 1960 when he had a shop in Sunset Beach and rode for him again in 1963, along with Mickey Munoz, when he opened up in Seal Beach and partnered with Hobie Alter. I have always loved to include Ole in my rant about how back in the early days everybodys name ended in either a “y” or “ie.” Think about it..... Hobie, Ole, Gordie, Wardy, Dewey, a host of Mickeys, Velzy, Corky (ok, I had to do it.) and so on.
There is more to me including Ole in this. Decades ago he moved to Maui and set up shop and home in Lahaina. He has become a huge part of the fabric of the surfing community over there, even hosting a longboard surfing event every year. As you can probably guess by now, he lost both his home and his surfboard shop in the recent fire. There is a “go fund me” set up to try and help him get back on his feet. https://www.gofundme.com/f/yx9vc8-aloha-ole-fund. I am sure he and his wife Beverly would appreciate any help you might wanna send their way.
Another geezerly dude who is a HUGE part of our surfing culture is the infamous Dick Metz. “Dick a doo doo” turns 94 in early September. His story is a book, but I will try to give you the cliff notes. He was born in Laguna Beach and his dad ran a restaurant. One of his childhood beach playmates was Shirley Temple. The guy has been like the total Romeo his entire life, so I would not be surprised if there wasn’t some hand holding going on there.
Dick partnered up with Hobie back in the 1950’s and has been a major part of the Hobie empire ever since. He opened the Hobie Surf Shop in Hawaii in the early 1960’s, the scene of one of my first surf shop jobs (closing time sweeper).
Of great note is his involvement in Bruce Brown’s epic surf film, the “Endless Summer.” Dick was the blueprint. In 1958 he jumped on a freighter and spent the next three years traveling around the world in search of surf. His adventures in Tahiti and Africa laid the groundwork for Bruce Brown to follow that path. The highlight of the movie being the “discovery” of the legendary “perfect wave” at Cape St Francis. The location of which was passed along to Bruce from Dick. See, there is a little-known fact I bet you didn’t know. You get that kind of stuff here folks, stick with me.
Today Dick is the main energy behind the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center in San Clemente and splits his time between Laguna Beach and Ketchum, Idaho. I think he is still a member of the San Onofre Surf Club too.
My wife, the extremely pretty Raquel, just looked this over and her smug comment was, “Look at these guys in their 90’s still rockin’. I don’t want to hear any more of your whining about aches and pains. Get off your fat behind and go surfing.” Humph!!!
by Corky Carroll
Watching surfing wipe outs has always been one of the most popular and fun aspects of viewing surfing. Back in the early days of going to the surf movies probably one of the most favorite parts were the “wipe out” sequences. People would hoot, holler and cheer footage of surfers eating it like rats. The worse the wipeout the better they loved it. I have always said that watching horrible wipe outs is really fun, as long as it’s not you that it is happening to.
This holds true with not only surfing calamites, but most all other ones too. Think of all those television shows that show clips of people getting trashed in all sorts of ways and think about how much you laugh at them. Guys getting nailed in the worst spots by stray golf balls, cats missing the table on a long jump, cars driving thru buildings, etc. etc. etc. The gnarlier it is the more we laugh.
In the past I have written about the worst and the dumbest surfing wipe outs I have seen. I have also written about the worst ones I have personally taken. Today I am gonna tell you about a few of the absolute dumbest ones I have been involved in. Embarrassing stuff, but I owe it to the people that I have used as examples of this in the past to come clean with my own not real cool mishap
One of the ones that I wish would not have happened was the always popular unsuccessful riding the board all the way to the sand thing. In my case it happened at the spot in Mexico I surf at these days, La Saladita. It was high tide and I had a nice wave going and was getting close to the beach. My plan was to ride up on the sand and step off on the beach, looking cool for the adoring crowd. There were a number of people hanging out, including a couple of my friends. All was going well and everything was leading up to a successful and glorious beaching when all of a sudden the fin on my surfboard hit a rock. This stopped my board dead, but not me…. I did a violent and very sudden face plant right onto the nose of my board and then rolled off onto the rocks in very shallow water about two feet from the sand. The wave then washed my board and me up the beach together. A couple older people ran over to see if I was ok, everybody else (including and especially my friends) broke into uncontrollable laughing. Humph!!!
The next one happened at Cloudbreak, a spot off of the island of Tavarua, in Fiji. The wave breaks a couple of miles out to sea off of the island and you get out there by boat called a “panga.” One afternoon we went out for a session and the surf was really good. I got my board ready, put on my rash guard and attached my surf leash to my foot in the boat so I would be all ready to jump out first when we pulled up to the break. In my excitement and haste to be the first into the lineup I didn’t notice that my surf leash had got wrapped around the bench in the boat. As we slowed to a stop I happily leaped out all set to land on my board and start scratching over into the surf zone. But nooooo. My leash caught and both me and my board stopped dead in midair and came crashing down into the side of the boat. This brought forth a tremendous amount of glee and giggling from the whole pack. Thankfully neither me nor my board were damaged.
The last one that I will mention today also happened during a boating incident. This one was getting back into the boat and was much later and down at a different spot in Mexico that you have to boat into in order to surf. I was with a group of pals at this remote spot and they all surfed longer than I did. But I could not get back into the boat until they finished due to my vertigo. I get seasick if the boat is not moving. So, I had to sit on my board for about an hour until they got done. Then there is the weird fact that I can’t pull myself into the boat, I never have been able to. I could paddle faster than anybody on the planet yet have never been able to do a pull up. I don’t know why. So, I have developed a way to get into the boat by waiting for a swell to come by, paddling like I am trying to catch it, standing up on my board and diving into the boat. But on this day I got a horrible upper leg cramp from sitting so long in the water. I couldn’t get up on my board. So, I had to loosen my surf trunks so they could put the gaff used for fish thru the leg and “hoist” me into the boat like a big whale. Did my pals laugh? Humph!!! You are laughing too, aren’t you. Ha ha haaaaaa. Humph!!!!
by Corky Carroll
This years annual SURFERS HALL OF FAME induction ceremony is set for Friday, August 4 at the SHOF plaza on the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. Directly across the street from the Pier, which is where the U.S. Open of Surfing will be going on that week. The event starts promptly at 9 A.M., is open to the public free of charge and runs until its done (normally 2 to 3 hours, depending on who they give the mic to.) If you are a devout surfer or have an interest in the history of the sport, then this is a must see event for you. All kinds of surfing heroes and celebrities show up and are right there up close and personal for you to meet and talk to.
The SHOF is in its’ 26th year and is the brainchild of lifetime hard core local surfer, and owner of Huntington Surf ‘n Sport, Aaron Pai.
(From the press release)
“The sport of Surfing has such an amazing history, spirit and culture all its own. We are super stoked to be able to preserve a part of our Surfing History in this unique and special way, for future generations to enjoy. We are here for the love of surfing. That is our main purpose, our passion and our drive behind what we do,” said Pai.
“What a totally amazing class of 2023 Surfers’ Hall of Fame Inductees, Ítalo Ferreira, Laylan Connelly and Fernado Aguerre are! Each of them have a passion and a love for our Sport of Surfing and have changed the world and made it a much better place! We are super excited to celebrate their achievements and contributions to our Sport of Surfing,” Aaron went on to say.
In my last column I talked about our own Laylan Connelly, who just happens to be a fellow surf reporter here at the Orange County Register. Next time I will feature Italo Ferreira. Today I would like to tell you about a guy who has had a huge impact on surfing and one who I respect a lot, Fernando Aguerre.
Fernando is originally from Argentina and immigrated to the U.S. in 1984. His mission at the time was to launch, right here in Huntington Beach, what would become a hugely successful sandal company called “REEF BRAZIL.” His ads became famous for featuring, how can I say this with a G rating?, the most perfect female posteriors imaginable. It worked. I admit that I used to look at those photos and think to myself, “where does he find these incredible babes?” This is how I first became aware of Fernando and my impression was “this dude is smart.” Sell sandals by showing perfect butts, who knew?
Today he is President of the International Surfing Association, as well as one of the most active and dedicated promoters of surfing, both as a sport and a culture, on a world wide basis. For almost 30 years this dude worked tirelessly and continually to get surfing included in the Olympic Games. And successfully I might add. Without the efforts Fernando put into this this I seriously doubt surfing would now be an Olympic sport. That in itself is more than reason enough for the honor of being inducted into the SURFERS HALL OF FAME.
As a result of his efforts surfing for the first time in history was included in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Next years games will feature surfing at Teahupo’o, in Tahiti. Then in 2028 the games come to Los Angeles. The site for the surfing has not been announced as of yet, but very possibly could be right here in Orange County at the Huntington Beach Pier.
As President of the ISA Fernando is one of Surfings most avid promoters. His creed is to create “A Better World Through Surfing.”
Some of the more well known past inductees into the SHOF include Laird Hamilton, Andy Irons, Jack O’Neill, Robert August, Bob Hurley, Sean Collins, Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen, Gerry Lopez, George Downing, Greg Noll, Rick Fignetti, Sumo Sato, Michele Turner, Timmy Turner, Ryan Turner, Casey Wheat, Shawn Stussy, Pat O’Connell, Bethany Hamilton, Mick Fanning, Brett Simpson, Kai Lenny, Carissa Moore and many more.
This is definitely one of the coolest surfing related events to be available to us here in the O.C. You really should plan and making it out there and be a part of surfing history in the making.