by Corky Carroll
Coming up on Friday, August 2nd, will be the annual SURFERS HALL OF FAME induction ceremony. As part of the week long Vans U.S. Open of Surfings list of great activities, this is one of the coolest to attend and important. It will be held at 9 AM in the Surfers Hall of Fame plaza on the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, directly in front of Huntington Surf ‘n Sport, who puts it on.
This years inductees are Janice Aragon, Kai Lenny and legendary Huntington Beach local Sam Hawk. I told you about Janice and Kai over the past two weeks and have saved Sam for today. When I saw the list of who was getting the nod this year I had to smile when I saw Sam’s name. I was also a little surprised, not because he doesn’t deserve it, he truly does, but because he is not really all that well known outside of the circle of hard core and longtime surfers. Unless you are from Huntington Beach, then the guy is like total local surf lore and royalty. And I was really stoked to see it there too, having known of him since he first started getting good in the 1960’s. Sam is not quite as old as me, but close.
As far as personal history goes Sam was born in South Gate in 1950, but grew up in Huntington Beach, a pier rat, along with his brothers Tom and Chris. All three turned out to be great surfers, with Sam being the standout. Sam came to the North Shore of Oahu in 1967 and almost immediately caught all of our attention, the kid could really surf. He used to hang out with Craig “Owl” Chapman a lot and the two of them seemed to always be getting deeper and showing more guts than just about anybody. Owl became famous for his bold “hood ornament” poses, while Sam just had a purely great style and seemingly endless desire to explore the deepest, darkest and most dangerous places on the biggest days at places like Pipeline and Sunset Beach. Sam was the standout at the “Expression Session,” held at Pipeline in 1970. It was a big and perfect day with the top surfers in the world invited to “express.” Well, Sam just kinda expressed all over everybody. There was a lot of “Wow, who is this guy?,” kinda stuff goin on that day.
The best description of Sam Hawk that I ever heard was from a 2014 story in SURFER magazine by Matt Warsaw. “Give me the DNA know-how and a pair of med students in lab coats, and I would love to take a crack at building the perfect ’70s surfer. I would call him…Sam Hawk. Because that is the best surfer name ever. Now toss over a petri dish and a gene splicer, let’s get to it! Start with a nice fat wet strand of Terry Fitzgerald. Add a little John Peck. Barry Kanaiaupuni, of course. Little more BK. Little more. OK, good. Buzzy Trent’s chest and arms, scaled down 15 percent. Buzzy Trent’s cajones, full-size. Breweresque skill with the planer. Robert Redford hair, eyes, jawline, and bang! We’re done.
Sam Hawk was the missing link between the Mount Rushmore Hawaiians (Lopez, Hakman, Reno, BK), and the Bustin’ Down the Door gang (Shaun, Bugs, MR) who followed. Powerful and fearless. Stylish from here to next year. White trunks, white board, a late-takeoff-to-deep-bottom-turn line at Pipeline so clean and pure and perfect that you need a French curve to render it properly. As a backside tube rider, he was, almost to the day, four years ahead of his time. Took Shaun and Michael Tomson combined to finally better Hawk’s mark at Pipe.”
SURFERS HALL OF FAME founder Arron Pai says, “Back in the day my surfing buddies and I used to watch Sam Hawk in the dead of Winter during huge swells as he swam around the HB Pier (in just speedos) staying fit for Big Wave Surfing. Sam is a home grown Surfing Legend!”
That pretty much sums it up. The ceremony is free and open to the public, you should go.
by Corky Carroll
With the big Vans U.S. Open of Surfing set to pounce on Orange Counties most famous surfing spot, the Huntington Beach Pier, from July 27 to August 4, the eyes of the surfing world are upon us. One of the more prestigious of the events that go along with the big competition is the annual induction ceremony for the SURFERS HALL OF FAME. This years inductions will take place on Friday, August 2nd at 9 A.M and will be held at the Surfers Hall of Fame Plaza on the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, under the statue of the great Duke Kahanamoku in front of Huntington Surf ‘n Sport.
The three honorees for 2019 are. NSSA director, Janice Aragon, incredible all-around waterman Kai Lenny and local legend Sam Hawk. Last week I told you about Janice Aragon. Today I want to talk about Kai Lenny, and next week I will finish up by covering Sam Hawk.
It’s hard to describe Kai Lenny without saying that he is probably the greatest “all around surf waterman” of all time. This is a short list. The only three surfers I can think of that truly fit into the discussion would be the late great Mike Doyle and big wave king Laird Hamilton. There are people that have excelled in more than one facet of surfing, but I can’t think of anybody who has excelled in ALL of them. Other than Kai Lenny. This dude can do it all. World Class big wave and small wave surfer, longboard, shortboard or any board. World Class Stand Up Paddleboard surfer and racer. Same for Windsurfing, Kite boarding, Skim boarding, Boogie boarding, Prone paddleboard racing, Foil surfing and any other kind of surf related activity known to man. Probably a few that are not even known yet, the guy is that advanced.
O.K., when I say, “World Class,” I mean with the elite of the elite. He wins stuff. Seven time Stand Up Paddleboard World Champion. Winner of the Molokai to Oahu paddleboard race. Runner up in the Professional Kite Board World Championship. It goes on and on. And here’s the kicker, Kai is only 26 years old. His parents put him in the water near their home on the island of Maui when he was less than a week old. Both of them were water people and had moved to Maui to be a part of the Windsurfing and Surfing culture over there. Kai was doing it all before he ever had his first nap time in Kindergarten, blowing minds in all sizes of surf in his early teens and now standing almost peerless in his mid-twenties. It’s just crazy how good this kid is.
SURFERS HALL OF FAME founder, Aaron Pai, calls Lenny “one of the most progressive and amazing big and small wave surfers on the planet.” Followed up by, “We are so stoked and honored to have Kai becoming a part of the Surfers Hall of Fame, it’s a thrill of all of us here at Huntington Surf ‘n Sport.” Lenny follows both Mike Doyle and Laird Hamilton into the SHOF, along with other amazing all-around watermen such as George Downing, Mickey Munoz and Rabbit Kekai.
I have been a fan of Kai for a number of years although I really don’t know him, other than briefly meeting at one of the “Battle of the Paddle” events in Dana Point where I was an announcer and he was racing. I started seeing videos of him surfing big waves at “Jaws,” on Maui. My first thought was, “Wow, this kid can really surf. He is not just a SUPer.” And I do not mean that as a knock on SUPing at all, just that I was surprised at what a great prone board surfer he was as well as being the great SUP racer that I had seen at the BOP. As time went on I kept seeing more and more footage of him doing pretty much everything. Shredding small surf on a shortboard and equally shredding monster surf doing tow ins. One of my favorite videos of him shows him jamming off the bottom and up into the lip on a monster, like zillions of feet, wave at Jaws. He explodes through the lip and free falls a few stories down the face of the wave, lands it and races it out the end. One of those “WOW,” kinda deals. The dude is just a really great surfer, PERIOD.
Stay tuned next week for my take on Huntington Beach’s own Sammy Hawk. And plan on showing up for the induction ceremony on Aug 2nd, its free to the public and a totally cool event.
by Corky Carroll
The big Vans U.S. Open of Surfing is coming back to Huntington Beach, Orange Counties famous “Surf City,” from July 27 through August 4th. Along with the surfing competition there are numerous other activities including Skateboarding, BMX bicycling, beach festivals and the annual inductions into the SURFERS HALL OF FAME. As a more than less Surfing Historian, of sorts, I like to focus on this aspect of the week each year and leave the blow by blow coverage of the surfing competition to others.
The SURFERS HALL OF FAME will be held on Friday, August 2nd at 9 AM at the Surfers Hall of Fame Plaza on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street in Huntington Beach. This is directly in front of Huntington Surf ‘n Sport, which is owned by Huntington Beach local surfer Aaron Pai. It was Pai who came up with the idea and established the Surfers Hall of Fame back in the 1990’s. Since then many of the greatest names in surfing have had their hand and footprints embedded into the famous concrete squares laid into the hallowed ground under the shadow of the big statue of Duke Kahanamoku that watches over the plaza. Among them are the likes of Phil Edwards, Mike Doyle, Linda Benson, George Downing, Gerry Lopez, Shawn Tomson, Tom Curran, Tom Carroll, Margo Oberg, Joyce Hoffman, Mickey Munoz, Jericho Poplar, Wingnut Weaver, Frieda Zamba, Bob Hurley, David Nuuhiwa, Lisa Anderson, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons and many more. I am proud to have been inducted the first year, along with fellow Huntington Beach High School alumni Robert August.
This years inductees lead off with Janice Aragon, winner of the ISA World Surfing Games, the NSSA Nationals and current executive director of the NSSA. Next up is Sam Hawk, local standout and incredible North Shore power surfer during the 1970’s. And followed by the amazing Kai Lenny, probably the versatile and boundary pushing surfer of our generation
Today I am going to focus on Janice Aragon and will follow up on Sam and Kai in the next two weeks, leading up to the inductions on August 2nd. Janice began surfing at age 16 and didn’t win her first surfing event until the age of 29, a very late start in a sport such as surfing. But, since then she has been one of the most influential people both in and out of the water that the sport has seen over the past thirty years. She first became a judge for the NSSA in 1986 and was the first female to be hired to judge a Professional World Tour event the following year, the OP Pro. She became the Executive Director for the NSSA in 1989 and was instrumental in separating that organization from the old United States Surfing Federation in 1993, bringing about a more polished and organized competition format for Scholastic surfers all over the country. She calls Huntington Beach her home and is one of the real bright spots in United States surfing, her work having influenced thousands of young surfers over the years.
In the words of organizer Aaron Pai, “Janice Aragon has dedicated 30 years of her LIFE to being the Executive Director of the NSSA, is an ISA World Women's Surfing Champion and is greatly responsible for raising the level of competitive Surfing in our amazing USA!”
The induction ceremony is open to the public and is free of charge. It’s a great way to see these, and many other surfing celebrities, up close and personal, get photos and autographs and mingle with some of the greatest surfers in the world. Bring a hat and wear sunblock, the August sun is strong in Surf City. Afterwards you can walk out on the pier and catch some of the action in the surfing event, see what the top surfers in the world are doing at this minute. Great sort of past and present kinda day.
by Corky Carroll
In the early 1960’s surf clubs became popular along the Southern California coast. Many towns had them. Some of the more well-known were Hope Ranch, from Santa Barbara, the Malibu Surfing Association, Dapper Dans, from Manhattan Beach, Bay Area, from all over the South Bay, Seal Beach Surfers, the Hole in the Wall Gang, from Huntington Beach and the Newport Beach Surfing Association. The two biggest would have been the Long Beach Surf Club and the San Diego based Windansea Surf Club. The Windansea Club being the most famous and long lasting, in fact still going today.
I was a member of the Long Beach Surf Club in 1963 and on the team that competed in the big “Malibu Invitational” that year. The top clubs were invited to a contest held at Malibu and everybody wanted to be on a team. This was the only way you were ever going to get to surf the point at Malibu with only you and five other people in the water. We were pretty sure we were going to win the event as we had, at least what we thought was, the strongest team at that time. What we didn’t know was that Chuck Hasley, a notorious San Diego surfer and party animal, had thrown together some of the greatest surfers, and party animals, in the world and had gotten an invite to the event. This was sort of a surprise to everybody. He hired a bus, which left Maynard’s Bar in Pacific Beach at closing time, to take the crew up to Malibu. They had a band in the back, plugged into a generator, and reportedly at least one keg of beer onboard. There is rumor of them hanging Pat Curren out the window naked, so he could pee. This was because the bus driver refused to stop. The team was loaded with the likes of Joey Cabell, Bobby Patterson, Mike Hynson, Skip Frye, Mickey Munoz, Butch Van Artsdalen and a total all-star lineup to fill out the 10-man team.
The bus rolled up to Malibu in the morning, just before the first heats were called. Guys were staggering out and passing out at the same time. We were all in shock. Somehow, someway, that Windansea team put 5 out of 6 guys in the finals and Joey Cabell won it. Butch Van Artsdalen lost his trunks in the paddle relay race. This did nothing to stop him and he completed his leg of the race without them. The Windansea Surf Club won going away.
I was 15 at the time. After seeing this whole thing, I started thinking “now THESE guys are having way more fun than we are.” I wanted to be on THAT team. The next week I jumped ship from the Long Beach club and joined Windansea.
A guy named Thor Svenson, who was evidently a talent agent of some sort, got involved with the Windansea club at that time and did his best to “clean up the image.” This was sort of at that time when there was a big push in surfing, as a whole, to do that kind of thing. Surfers had a bad reputation. I always kinda gravitated to that side of it. Not doing vandalism or anything like that, just the parties and chicks and the whole romantic bohemian kinda vibe. But there were those who felt that if surfing was to ever become any kind of “sport” it needed to have what they thought of as a “better” image. Thor was that guy for the Windansea Surf Club.
Probably my favorite thing about being a member was having my club jacket, t-shirt and patch on my trunks. I was young and proud to be a part of it. Also, it enabled me to surf at Windansea, the La Jolla surf spot, without any grief from the locals. I was an Orange County guy and if you weren’t from San Diego you were not all that welcome to surf there.
By the 1970’s surf clubs sort of faded away, not totally but they certainly didn’t have the charm that they did in the 1960’s. In recent years I see they are slowly making a comeback. This is very cool, I always thought they were a good idea.