by Corky Carroll
OK, before we get too deep into this let me lay some groundwork here. It was suggested to me by a longtime loyal reader that I do a story on, in his words, how to pick up girls at the beach. This sort of lit up my long dormant imagination with ideas on the way I would have approached this subject a zillion years ago when I was first writing these columns for the Register. The title that sprung to my heard was “A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO SCORING HOT CHICKS AT THE BEACH.” That is the way I would have approached it way back then. But, as we all know, times have changed. RADICALLY. I am pretty sure you can’t say that kind of thing anymore. Yeah, I know I just said it, but only for the purpose of explaining what I am attempting to talk about. The fact is you can’t say much of anything about anything or somebody is gonna get upset. Gone are the days of even the thought of mentioning hot babes in floss string bikinis or even anything close to that. When I first got this suggestion to do this story I figured that the best way to proceed was to get a lot of different opinions. First off, I am old and married and haven’t even thought about this subject in centuries. Yeah, I might have had some moves back in “the day,” but all those moves have, well, moved on. So I posted the idea of this story on my FACEBOOK pages to get comments. And I got tons of them, many warning me that this was gonna be a tricky subject to weigh in on given the current state of political beyond correctness and in this delicate, some would call conservative, medium.
“You can’t use the term ‘chicks’ anymore.” See, I didn’t know that.
“You can’t say ‘pick up’ these days.” Who knew?
“You can’t limit the story to girls, what about girls wanting to meet (I changed “pick up” to meet) dudes?” Should I change dudes to guys? And then this line of thought led to pretty much any kinda person wanting to hook up with any kinda other person, it is 2019. You can’t single out anybody or you will get called a “sexist.” Hey, this is all new ground for me. A learning curve, if you will.
So, after getting schooled in what can or cannot be said in today's media, I still dare to bring you the results of my survey and what might or might not be helpful hints in the event that you might be one of those who are thinking the beach might be a good place to meet somebody new and interesting. It was pointed out that, due to that fact that mostly everybody isn’t wearing a lot of clothes on the beach, it’s a great place to “shop” (not my word) because you can see what’s goin’ on without the camouflage of a pile of clothes covering up the “goods,” (again, not my word). But, let me point out here one important thing. There are people who are just looking for a “hook up.” These are the ones who are the “shoppers.” But, there are also those who are just wanting to meet somebody else and maybe strike up a friendship that might lead to more, or not. Of course, not everybody is even in “the market,” so to speak. One lady pointed out that she has a teenage daughter who goes to the beach and doesn’t need to be a “target for boys.” I see where she is coming from, but then it is probably fair to assume that people are people and people are attracted to other people so that more often than not, and at any location including the beach, there is always gonna be some sort of “looking.” Am I wrong on this? Or are we just not supposed to talk about it anymore?
Anyway, all this what we can say and not say aside, here, at last, are a few popular suggestions on meeting somebody at the beach.
Most popular answer from girls for guys was to offer to teach them to surf. This came in at about five to one over any other suggestion. And they also said to NOT offer to rub sunscreen on them.
Most popular answer from guys to other guys looking to meet girls was to take along a puppy. No, really, this was by far the most posted advice. My immediate reaction was who takes a puppy to the beach? But then, what do I know? They said girls always melt over a puppy.
Most popular suggestion from guys to girls was “just show up.” I have no idea how to address that one.
If I had to venture my best advice on this it would be really pretty simple and cover everybody. Smile and say “hi.” See where it goes from there. I had a pal that would always say, “A few of the right words and “the look” always does the trick.“ But, if you are not sure what a few of the rights words are and have no idea how to do “the look”, just smile and say “hi.” I don’t think you can get into much trouble with that simple opening.
Good luck on this, in case you might be one of those who might find this useful. And I am sorry if I couldn’t give you a bit juicier advice, you might have to consult “Cosmo” for that kind of thing.
By Corky Carroll
It’s that time of year for my annual visit to the wonderful world of “SURFERS EAR,” the laypersons term for EXOTOSIS. This is a boney growth in the outer ear canal that is very common with surfers in our area, the beauteous Orange County. My super expert on this subject is the leading doctor on the planet, and beyond, on this subject, Dr. Carol Jackson from Newport Beach. I asked Dr. Jackson for an update on what is currently going on with this extremely not fun to have ailment and she sent me the following info:
“I’m often asked about certain notions about exostosis which is known as surfer’s ear. Some are outdated or simply wrong. Exostosis is the ear canal blockage from years of cold water pounding against the ear drum. The benign bony grows begin as small speed bumps then enlarge. Canal occlusion of more than 80% leads to ear plugging and low grade then painful acute infections. It’s preventable by wearing ear plugs in the surf.
Myth: Using isopropyl alcohol ear drops whenever I’m in water will keep my ears healthy.
Wrong. Alcohol is too drying for frequent use. It removes protective skin oils, causes dryness and cracked skin leading to infection.
Myth: Wearing ear plugs when surfing will throw my balance off.
No, although some surfers feel reduced spatial awareness or even mild claustrophobia. However, membrane ear plugs or those with small vents can help and also allow better hearing when worn.
Myth: Having my exostoses removed will make them grow back like weeds.
Incorrect. The growth rate depends on individual susceptibility for which there is a bell curve for individual susceptibility plus cumulative hours of unprotected ear pounding by cold water.
Myth: Once my exostoses are removed, I’ll need them removed again every few years.
Not true. If repeat removals are needed, the exostoses were probably not completely removed. With total removal, particularly with laser, re-growth to needing removal doesn’t occur for fifteen or more years. Wearing ear plugs prevents or arrests exostosis. See an ear specialist, otologist, who uses a microscope for your ear care and can show you your exostosis, canal, and ear drum on a monitor screen. You may request photos of your ear.
Myth: My surfer’s ears didn’t develop until I took up SCUBA diving and wind surfing after 20 years of surfing which I had stopped.
Unlikely. Most patients with exostosis have a substantial surfing history. It’s forcible flushing of cold water against the ear drum that is the strongest stimulus for exostosis formation. Cold air and gentle flow of cold water in the ear are highly unlikely to stimulate large exostoses.
Myth: Ear wax is dirt I should clean with Q-tips or over the counter wax removers.
Wrong. Cerumen is nature’s water-repellent moisturizer over thin ear canal skin. It is protective; like wax on a surfboard. The ear is self-cleaning unless it’s too dry or gets trapped in ear canal irregularities, as with surfer’s ear. Over the counter agents have drying chemicals and can result in ear swelling or flushing wax deeper. I recommend baby or other prescription oils.
Myth: When water won’t come out of my ear, I should use Q-tips or alcohol.
Incorrect. Use an air blow dryer to evaporate the water while preserving the moisturizing oils.
Myth: Exostosis removal requires an incision and scar behind my ear.
No longer true. With the technique I developed and have used for many years, exostoses are completely and safely removed through ear canal incisions which, with local grafts, reduce healing time.
Myth: Surfer’s ear surgery is painful.
No, it usually is not. More than 90% of our patients are comfortable taking Tylenol, ibuprofen or nothing for postoperative discomfort.
Myth: Surfer’s ear causes permanent hearing loss.
Not usually. Plugged hearing that occurs in surfer’s ear is usually temporary and due to retained debris, infection, foreign bodies including sand, exostosis, and swelling. Of course, it can add to other causes of hearing reduction and with advanced exostosis, the column of water forced to the ear drum with falling into waves, can be traumatic, like noise, and add to hearing loss.
Surfers may also have reduced hearing due to hereditary and other factors, noise exposure and age over 60, which is not be improved with exostosis care. With today’s improved technologies, affordable hearing instruments help over 90% of wearers when amplification and improved speech clarity are needed. Many models are rechargeable and can link to TVs or cell phones.
For a baseline or an ear problem if you enjoy surfing or have ear concerns, it’s prudent to see an experienced ear doctor with an office microscope. Also, have a hearing test in a sound-treated booth by an audiologist or hearing professional. If you take care of your ears and health, you could enjoy surf sports into your 80’s and 90’s like some of our patients!”
For contact with Dr. Jackson and more info go to www.myeardoctors.com
by Corky Carroll
As the first “Freshwater Pro” surfing event was just completed at the infamous Surf Ranch in Central California, the event that the World Surfing League canceled the “Trestles” event in San Clemente for, the subject of competition, and just surfing in general, on artificial waves came up at our dinner table last night. We have a few surfers visiting this week and it was interesting to get contrasting opinions. One guy said he would really love to surf there, to try out that perfect wave. Another said, “That’s not surfing, I would never go there and I doubt many others would either.” This kind of surprised me, so I asked why.
“Surfing is being with nature; I want to be as far out into nature as possible and being in a wave tank is just NOT that. It has no soul.” And no matter what anybody else said he stuck with that opinion. But hey, I get it. Yes, I would choose to be sitting off a beautiful tropical beach, miles from nowhere and away from everybody else while getting all the perfect waves I wanted with just a pal or two out there with me. We all want that. But, for me, I would still like to ride that perfect wave to at least see what it is like. Plus, if I lived in a land locked area and a wave pool was the only place that I could surf then of course that would be where I would surf. The question being do I surf or not surf? I surf.
This kinda got me thinking. Wave pools are not really the only “man-made” waves on the planet. Yes, they are probably the only artificially made waves, if that is what they are really. But there is more than one way to make a “surfable” wave. This being a wave that already exists that you turn into a wave that you might want to ride. Places such as Ala Moana in Hawaii were created when they blew a channel in a reef to make an entrance to a boat harbor. This created perfectly peeling waves coming off the shallow reef as they rolled into the deeper water of the channel. Sometimes Jetties do the same thing as sandbars tend to form on one side or the other and actually create a well shaped wave where there was only closed out beach break beforehand.
There have been many attempts at actually building a surf spot. Remind me to relive the story of the ill-fated “Drumonds Reef” off Capistrano Beach to you one day. Most attempts at creating an artificial reef to form a surf spot have not met with much success, at least so far. I have often set on my deck looking at these big closed out shorebreak walls that are between my house and the point, a few hundred yards down the beach from where I live, and thinking that if I could just dump a few hundred old tires in the right spot, tied together so they wouldn’t move, that they would anchor themselves in the sand and create a shallow spot that would cause a nice peak to form. But, this is just me fantasizing.
But, lo and behold, turns out that there is a guy in Western Australia that has just come up with, what seems like anyway, a workable and environmentally friendly inflatable reef. I read about it on magicseaweed.com. He is set to test it out this coming November. IF this works it could be a real game changer. Much better concept than old tires tied together, and probably less smelly. Plus, you could move it.
So, as you can see, wave pools are not the only way to create surf spots. They are a really good way, and could bring surfing to anyplace on Earth, but not the only way. Heck, as I think more about this, you could also create a great surfable wave in a river by building the perfect underwater formation. Find a good fast-moving river, stick something underwater to make a shallow spot and you get a standing wave. Lotsa ways to make waves. Are any of these a substitute for the real thing? Probably not. But if you are not near a real one, and you wanna surf, why not?
by Corky Carroll
Yes kids, today is going to be one of my ventures back thru time and space to the beginning of what has been called “the shortboard revolution.” This joyful period began roughly late 1966 and the bulk of the “evolving” took place thru the early 1970’s before it tapered off and became more of a general consistent slow progress of “tweaking,” leading up to todays high flying speed surf machines. One of the great stories from that period was the short lived, but highly publicized Australian “V-bottom” design.
Let me lay some groundwork as to how this all came about. In my opinion the short board revolution began when Nat Young showed up and won the 1966 World Championship in San Diego riding a slightly shorter board than everybody else. It was still a long board, but smaller enough to make a big difference in the way he surfed it. In short, no pun intended, it was obviously better. This inspired a few of us to immediately throw out everything we were working on and change direction. Shorter boards were the future of surfing as I saw it. By the end of that year I released my “Mini-Model” from Hobie Surfboards. A few others were working on shorter board designs too, but for the most part the real impact was still a year or so away. I was the only one riding shorter boards through the next competition year here in California, maybe a reason I had one of my best years ever. That winter I took a quiver of minis to the North Shore. I will never forget local shaper Dick Brewer looking at them and proclaiming boldly, “They will NEVER ride short boards in Hawaii, PERIOD.”
Fast forward to the next winter. By now mostly everybody is riding shorter boards of one form or another. A group of surfers, including Mickey Munoz and Skip Frye, went to Australia making a movie called “The Fantastic Plastic Machine,” and came back raving about these amazing new “v-bottom” boards that guys like Nat Young and Bob MacTavish were riding down there. In the late fall film emerged of Nat and Bob ripping the heck out of Honolua Bay, on Maui, on them. The media was ablaze with reports of this new design that was going to take over the surfing world.
The real proving ground for how legitimate, or not, a surfboard design really was in those days was always the North Shore of Oahu. We were expecting the Aussies to show up with these new boards and were wondering how they would work in real power surf. Well, to make a short story even shorter, they did and they didn’t. The Aussies showed up with the boards and they DID NOT work. AT ALL. They just spun out all over the place. It was pretty horrible. Also of note is the fact that right about that time Dick Brewer made an 8’11” “mini-gun” for a kid named Gary Chapman, from Newport Beach, and to this day claims that was the first one and that he invented the whole thing. Now, no offense to Dick, who I totally respect as one of the great shapers of all time, but that claim has a lot of holes in it. I am not saying that I invented anything, but there were more than one of us who had them well before then.
So, what was the deal with the v-bottoms and why didn’t they work? The design was basically a huge deep “Vee” though the back half of the bottom of the boards. It created one turning radius, and when you hit that exact radius it gave you kind of a power steering feel. Pretty cool when it happened, but it had to be just the right turn on the right wave. The powerful and faster waves in Hawaii were not the right waves at all. After everybody saw what happened on the North Shore the design was greatly modified and actually was incorporated slightly into many bottom contours and still is used in different ways, but the glorious deep v was deemed a failure by the surfing world and totally disappeared very quickly.
by Corky Carroll
When I was a tiny kid, growing up here on the shores of our beautiful Orange County, my first wave riding vehicle was a heavy-duty canvas air matt. But then I also wasn’t against trying to ride anything that would float. We made “belly boards” and “skimboards” from old pieces of plywood laying around. But once I got big enough to get an actual surfboard there was no going back, that was the holy grail for riding waves.
There were a few people who rode better versions of “belly boards,” called “paipo boards.” But, for the most part, there were only a few people doing that and mostly at places like the Wedge and some at Brooks Street in Laguna Beach. Tom Morey changed all that when he came up with the nice soft “Boogie Board.” These foamy delights opened up riding waves for zillions of people all over the world. Go to just about any beach on any day and you will see boogie boards. They pretty much took over the world of water. And then there was a brief flurry of people riding knee boards. There are still a few around, but not many. Your standard surfboard has remained the main way to “surf” through the years and still is today. But, that said, there is new surfing equipment on the scene and more of more of it is making its way into already crowded lineups as we speak.
The roots of this kinda started when boards went short and stayed that way for a number of years. Then “longboards” made their way back onto the scene and many older surfers took back to the water on bigger boards. This created a sort of off balance in the lineup. Bigger boards catch waves easier than shorter ones. All of a sudden lots of old dudes where out there catching most of the good waves while the younger, and usually better, surfers where stuck further inside and not able to get as many. This led to a lot of “snaking,” and other forms of aggressive behavior in order for everybody who was out there to surf to actually be able to get in a wave or two edgewise. There is, of course, two sides to this. And which one is right or wrong is not my subject today, I am just pointing out that this long and short board thing is what started the imbalance in the quest of waves as far as who is riding what.
Then we add to the mix the getting more popular by the day Stand Up Paddleboard, also known as the SUP. These are larger and wider boards that are big enough for the surfer to be able to paddle standing up with the use of a paddle. Surfers call the people who ride these “sweepers,” as the paddling looks kinda like a sweeping motion. It’s not always used affectionately either. The SUPs have an even bigger advantage over the shortboards than the longboards do. A person on one of those can catch the wave earlier than both. So now the longboarders feel just like the shortboarders do and call “foul,” and “unfair.”
I won’t even mention how the occasional boogie boarder feels or fits or not fits into this situation. It’s kind of like “whales’ rule” out there. Cool if you are a whale, not cool if you aren’t.
And, low and behold, now we have a new and even more deadly predator on the wave riding vehicle scene. The “Foil.” These are boards that have a huge foil sticking out the bottom of the board. A surfer can catch a swell far offshore with one of these and ride it all the way to shore, by far a bigger wave catching advantage than even the biggest SUP. I should also point out that these things are pretty dangerous, if you get hit by the foil it can really do some serious damage to you.
OK, so let me sum it up. Here is the lineup from small to big. Boogie boards, knee boards, shortboards, midsize boards, longboards, SUPs and foils. And everybody wants a wave. So, the big question is how does this work? Or does it? Just the danger element alone would more than less tell you that it might not be the best arrangement to have all of these things in the same surfing lineup. But, in many places, they are. It’s getting kind of crazy. The ONLY way this can work is if EVERYBODY out there has respect for everybody else and are careful not to put anybody else in danger. Is this really possible? Honestly, probably not.
What’s the answer? Designated surf spots probably, even though I hate to say that. Or not, just live with it and hope not too many people get hurt. I do know that the foils are really the most dangerous and people really should not ride these in crowded surf spots. SUP riders have to respect others and not take EVERY good wave, same with longboarders. This is easier said than done. It’s crowded out there and tends to be dog eat dog a lot of the time. Takes the fun out of it. And, the whole reason we are out there is to have fun. Of course, for 25k a day you can rent the Surf Ranch and have all the waves you want to yourself and your friends. I guess it you can’t afford that, learn to like the taste of dog.
by Corky Carroll
I was just doing my morning scan of my Facebook page and saw that my pal, world renown big wave charger Jeff Clark, posted this, “WSL calls off Mavericks to focus on becoming a Media Company. Looks like surfing Mavericks because you really want it, and because you love it will hopefully become the norm again.” At first I just kinda went, “oh well, good for the hard-core locals at Mavericks, bad for the guys trying to make a living on the WSL Big Wave Tour.” Two sides to every story. But then I thought about it and some legit questions sort of found their way into my waterlogged and barely functioning little mind. Here are my thoughts on this as I sit here with my coffee looking out the window at some good waves that will require my attention as soon as I finish with this.
The World Surfing League (WSL) is the governing body of pro surfing events all over the world. This includes the Championship Pro Tour, the Big Wave Tour and various Longboard events. The reasoning, as I understand it from the media reports, for dropping the Mavericks event was the logistics involved. Mavericks is located at Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco, and breaks pretty far from shore. Not an easy place to watch a surf event and not in an area that is going to get a whole lot of media attention, other than hard core surf press. So, it looks like a business decision. Let’s look deeper.
Last year the WSL took the “Trestles” pro event off the World Championship Tour schedule in favor of holding one at Kelly Slaters “Surf Ranch.” This was not received all that well, especially here in Orange County where “Trestles” is located. It turns out that the WSL actually purchased the Surf Ranch and has plans of building a second one in Florida, possibly more after that. So, what we are seeing here is that the WSL is not only the governing body of professional surfing, but is also a functioning business. And, as so, is, as all businesses are, committed to the good old bottom line. So, looking at it from that perspective, holding an event in your own arena over holding one at one of the California’s best surf spots, one that is right here in San Clemente, would appear to make more business sense.
As my thoughts wander on, what do these things mean looking down the road for the future of pro surfing competition? Does it mean more events in artificial wave pools? With the WSL itself owning this technology, and having the control, it could certainly make you think that this could be a strong possibility. And, the real burning question here is, “is this a good or bad thing?” This is a huge question with two sides to it, pros and cons each way.
Those who are against the competition in wave pools say that it takes away the skill of reading the surf, judging when and where the waves are going to come and the talent it takes to deal with the unpredictability of each and every wave as it unravels. To many this is the very essence of surfing. Surfer, board and nature. It’s spontaneous and exciting.
The argument for competition in wave pools is that everybody has a totally equal chance. Every wave is the same and so it comes down to who rides the wave the best and not who gets the best wave. There is also the fact that there is arena viewing, concessions and all that stuff. They can charge people to get in to see it, sell them food, drinks and souvenir items in the gift shops. Also, you know that the surf is gonna be there on any given day. At real surf spots you never know, there has to be a waiting period, and even then it can be hit or miss.
Oh yeah, there is one more side. And this goes back to Jeff Clarks comment that led me on this rant. The part about this leaving Mavericks to those who really want it and love it. Believe me when I say that there are a lot of surfers who would love to NOT have surfing contests held at their favorite spots for a number of reasons. I have been on both sides of that conversation.
So anyway, that is my little wandering into what may or may not come about in the world of surfing competition. Remember when all the stuff on Star Trek was total fiction?
by Corky Carroll
Just a note to those of you who read me but don’t surf, we use wax on the top our boards to keep us from slipping off. It’s not like on skis where you use it on the bottoms to go faster. Ok, just wanted to clear that up as it is a common source of confusion to non-surfers. With that said, lets today take a look at waxes, how to most efficiently apply them and how to effectively remove them in case you desire to do that.
Back in the dinosaur days of surfboards, when I first started, we did not have surfboard wax. We used bars of paraffin wax that was made for sealing jars of jellies and jams that our moms would make. Moms did that back then. You could buy a box with four big bars at the store, break the bars in two and have eight hunks of wax. This wax was pretty good when you first put it on, but it would get slippery fairly fast so you needed to apply it often. This was the reason that when surf trunks were first appearing on the scene there was always a “wax pocket.” Obviously for holding your wax while you surfed so that you could re-apply it when needed. It has amazed me in recent years to find out that most people not only don’t use the wax pockets to carry wax, they don’t even know that’s what that pocket is for. True. I was out one day, not long ago, and found myself out of wax and in need of it. There were like thirty people in the water and I asked if anybody had some wax I could borrow. Everybody just looked at me and went, “huh?” Nobody had any.
Anyway, getting back to the story, we now have very good surf waxes available in all kinds of formulas. From extremely cold water to extremely warm water and in various degrees of sticky. Surf wax has come a long way. My advice on first applying wax to a new board is to get two bars. One bar of “base coat,” which is very hard, and one bar of whatever the water temp is going to be where and when you surf. Apply the base coast in long vertical strokes using the flat side of the wax, you get more on that way. I like to make my wax strokes about three feet in length and always vertical, nose to tail or visa versa. Little beads form this way and are very effective as to applying more later and keeping the wax on longer. Once you have a nice even coat of base wax applied then it’s time to put a layer of “temperature based” wax over it. For example, if the water in your area is in the 60’s, like Orange County in the summer, most people would choose a “cool” water wax. Apply this wax exactly the same as the base coast, long vertical strokes. I have seen people using the edge of the bar of wax and putting it on in tiny little circles, I never got that as it takes forever to do it that way and I don’t see the nice even beads form. Long vertical strokes work better.
Taking wax off is another matter. First off, why would you want to do that? I have had boards for years without ever even thinking of taking my wax off. But there are many people who like to always have a nice clean “new wax” kinda look and feel to their boards. Old wax can get kinda dirty and ugly looking, true. So, if that is important to you then it’s fine to change your wax. Also, you can get stuff in your wax that you don’t want, like tar or other forms of dirtiness. Taking wax off is not always that easy. I find that if you put your board out in the sun for a few minutes it will make the wax soft and easier to get off. Use a plastic tool, like a spatula, to scrape it off. They actually have wax removal tools available in most surf shops. Scrape it as clean as you can and then try to get the residue off with a moist cloth. Some people use acetone for this, and that works fine. But beware of gasoline as this can get into the pours of your glass job and make it extremely difficult to re-apply the wax. And NEVER use any kind of oil, like baby oil etc. You can never get that off and you will wind up having to totally sand your board down and re-gloss it. If you have to use anything I would keep it to only acetone.
One of the nice things we have today are all the cool boutique kinda waxes. They have nice smells like coconut, mango, lime, musk, cherry, banana and many more. I hear some even taste good in case you get hungry (just kidding, don’t eat it). And surf wax is not expensive at all, well worth the price.
I hope this helps shed some light on the wonderful world of surf wax to those of you who were wondering what it was all about. Happy surfing and no slipping.
by Corky Carroll
Over the past couple of weeks I gave you a quick look back at some of the women who first pioneered what we like to call the “modern era” of surfing. This began in the 1950’s when the boards went from huge and heavy planks to shorter and lighter boards that allowed just about everybody to surf, if for no better reason than they got light enough to where the average person, including girls, could carry one to and from the water. Before that you had to be Joe Strongdude to even pick one up.
So, today I thought I would go back and take a short look at one of the dudes who had a ton of influence on this transition period. Bob Simmons.
Simmons was one of those kinda off the wall loco genius types, the kind that don’t exactly fit into the term “normal” all that perfectly. He started surfing in 1939 at Newport Beach, already 20 years old. Right off the bat he realized that what he really liked about surfing was the thrill of the speed, and he wanted more of it. The big heavy redwood “cigar” like boards could get up to exciting speeds when you got one into exact trim and on a direct line, but they were big and awkward and not all that easy to actually get into perfect trim. A lot of them did not have fins and holding a hard line was very difficult. You had to drag your back foot over the tail to make them angle very much, and spinning out was very common.
Bob began researching hull design and how to design surfboards to maximize planing speed. His started making his boards a lot shorter than what was popular during those years, many of them in the eight-foot range. He experimented with concaves, eager to find out what effect having air between the bottom of the board and the water would have. His shapes also had thinner rails and were, for the most part, wider in the tail area to take advantage of that aforementioned planing speed.
Simmons was also one of the leaders of bringing in balsawood as the main material to shape boards out of. To do this he found that the use of fiberglass and resin made a great covering to keep the soft wood from getting waterlogged. Due to the fact that his boards tended to be very wide from front to back he found that putting two fins on the tail, instead of one, would allow the boards to hold a high line in the fastest part of the wave without falling out. Most people consider him to have invented the first “twin fin” designs in the early 1950’s. This concept was pretty much ignored until about 1970 when boards got short enough and surfing got good enough to bring it back. The only thing was that none of us really were thinking of the original Simmons shape at that time, and for the most part thought we were coming up with something new all on our own. But, looking back at some of the early two fin designs that Simmons made you can see a direct correlation to the new designs close to twenty years later. Even today there are a number of surfers, especially in the San Diego area, that ride what they call “Mini-Simmons” designs. The guy was truly ahead of his time. For him it was all about going as fast as he could. Turning and all that was not his deal, he just wanted to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time as possible. If he could be a blur it was exactly what he was trying to accomplish.
Bob was also one of the early pioneers of surfing on Oahu’s famous “North Shore.” This was back in the days when it was a fairly long drive from Honolulu on a narrow two-lane road. Simmons rode his bike out there, steering with one hand and carrying his board over his shoulder with the other. Just think about that for a moment. It would be like riding from Long Beach to San Clemente with a board over your shoulder. How insane is that? See what I mean about the not exactly normal thing? He was a loner and did stuff his own way. To this day many of the designs he first came up with are still in play.
He died in 1954 while surfing near the spot called “Windansea,” in La Jolla. In his honor they call that area “Simmons Reef.” He was only 35. A bona fide surfing pioneer.
by Corky Carroll
Last week I embarked on a little bit of surf history featuring the women who led the way starting with what is commonly called the “Modern” era of surfing. This period started with the advent of lightweight balsawood and foam surfboards in the mid to late 1950’s. I talked about Gidget, the Calhoun girls, Linda Benson, Joyce Hoffman and Margo Godfrey (later Margo Oberg after she got married). Today I am going to add a couple more girls to the list.
The first is Rell Sunn. To fully describe Rell and her impact on the surfing world would be really hard, but I will do my best to give you the best short version that I can. Rell was wonderful, in every sense of the word. Great surfer and a beautiful Hawaiian girl who truly embraced the true “spirit of aloha.” I first met Rell when I was at Makaha, on Oahu’s west shore, for the big International Surfing Championship in 1963. Her and her sister were both very young and were competing. We were all just kids back then. Through the years we were friends and I would see her at all of the surfing events both in Hawaii and California as she rose through the ranks of Women’s surfing. But her mark on the surfing community came from much more than just her remarkable surfing skills. Rell was like an ambassador for Hawaiian surfing, known as the “Queen of Makaha,” and lovingly as “Auntie Rell” by all the surfing ohana (family) on the “west side.” In 1982, while at a pro surfing event in Huntington Beach, she found a lump that turned out to be breast cancer. She was given a year to live at that time. Not going down without a fight Rell lived 16 more years, becoming a counselor for breast cancer at her home as well as piloting a program for breast cancer awareness at the Waianae Cancer Research Center on Oahu. Everybody loved Rell. Songs were written about her such as “Mother of the Sea,” by Darren Benitez, a documentary was done on her titled “Heart of the Sea,” and she was inducted into both the Surfers Hall of Fame and the International Surfing Walk of Fame. Rell was truly a special surfer and special human being, she passed away in 1998 at age 47.
Through almost all of the years that Rell was competing in surfing events around the world her main sidekick was the firey Jerricho Poppler. This is another one that would need a whole book or mini-series to fully give you the scope of her essence. Her competition record is huge and includes United States Champion and World Professional Champion. She was also inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame and the International Surfing Walk of Fame, both in Huntington Beach. Like Rell, Jericho brought a whole lot more to the party than just her amazing surfing talents. This chick came with a personality, big bright blazing personality. She lit up the beach with it. It carried into her surfing style too. I wanna say she went at it like a modern dance. Well, actually I will say it. Her surfing was a dance, flowing and with a lot of rhythm. Along with competing, and just being a beckon of light and fun, she also co-founded WISA (the Women’s International Surfing Association). Through all these years Jericho is still out there surfing to this day and still better than pretty much anybody else out on any given day. She lives in Long Beach and you can find her at many of the surfing events in Southern California.
To wrap up this little historical wandering I would also like to mention the first girl to win back to back World Professional Surfing Championships, Lynn Boyer. She won in 1978 and again in 1979, along with many other titles and being in the SURFERS HALL OF FAME etc. This would pretty much wrap up what I personally would consider the “pioneering” period. There were many other great women surfers that I should also mention that were a part of it and important in their own right. Linda Merrill, Nancy Nelson, Judy Dibble, Joey Hamasaki and Sharon Webber come to my pea brain at this moment. All these girls opened the doors for today’s female superstars and deserve recognition. It has not been just all guys.
by Corky Carroll
With all of the hoopla going on during the recent U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach there was a lot of talk about different “pioneers” of surfing. Most of the time these discussions don’t mention the women who forged the way and opened the doors for the current flock of “equal pay” lady wave shredders. So, today, in the wake of the big event and dust laid back down, I thought I would reminisce a bit about the girls who lead the way in the early days of what is termed the “modern era” of surfing, starting in the 1950’s with the change to lightweight balsawood and then foam boards. I started surfing in the mid 1950’s, so this is where my first-hand knowledge would begin. I have touched on this in the past, but it seems a good time to revisit and update.
To preface this, I should add that the release of the movie “Gidget,” in 1959, had a huge impact on not only womens surfing but also surfing in general. Gidget was a girl named Kathy Kohner whose father wrote the book about her surfing experiences with the Malibu crew in the mid 1950’s. This would have been Tubesteak Tracey, Mickey Dora, Mickey Munoz and others. Just the sheer impact that the movie had on surfing would have to put Kathy up there with the most influential surf girls of the period, and beyond.
The Calhoun girls from Laguna Beach are legendary. Marge Calhoun was the Makaha International Surfing Champion in 1958 and remained involved in surfing competition as one of the leading judges well into the 1970’s. Her daughters, Candy and Robin, were both excellent surfers as well. Candy was United States Champion and won many events in the early 1960’s, also being one of the great water-people.
Linda Benson burst onto the scene winning the Makaha event and the first West Coast Championship at Huntington Beach in 1959 at the age of 15. She also stunt doubled for Sandra Dee in the Gidget movie. Over the next decade Linda went on to win just about everything there was to win as well as being named the Top Womens Surfer in the World by SURFER magazines first reader poll for the year 1963. She is still surfing today, looks pretty much the same as she did in 1959 and is one of the coolest and most fun people to share a lineup with. I love Linda. She currently makes a device called a “rail grabber,” a little handle to make it easier to carry a longboard for those with shorter arms.
The next big time womens surf star was the great Joyce Hoffman. Joyce, known as “Boo” to family and friends, totally dominated the girls competition scene for many years in the mid 1960’s. She is the daughter of famous early big wave surfer Walter Hoffman, known as “the Godfather” in surfing circles. The family company, Hoffman Fabrics, produces almost all of the fabric for the leading surfing manufacturers in the United States. Joyce learned to surf in an environment surrounded by the great surfers of that era, Phil Edwards, Hobie Alter, the Harrison family, her uncle “Flippy” Hoffman, Munoz and others.
On the heels of Joyce Hoffman came the amazing Margo Godfrey. Margo got recognition by winning the “Menehune” contest in La Jolla at the age of 11. She beat all the boys. By 15 she was World Champ. What was notable about Margo, other than her incredible competition record, was that fact that she was probably the first girl surfer to actually surf similar to the men as far as style and function of moves went. Another great girl surfer of that era that also was along those lines was Joey Hamasaki. But Margo was ahead of her time for sure. She still looked feminine, yet if you saw her from a distance and didn’t see that she was a girl it would have been easy to mistake her for one of the top men surfers as far as he style and presence on a wave. She ripped like no other girl had done before her and set the style and tone for those who followed.
That would take us pretty much through the 1960’s. I would like to continue this next week a look at a few more of the great female influences on surfing going forward, stay tuned!