by Corky Carroll
Fa la la la laaaaaa kiddies. Yes, it’s that joyful time of year again when you are in a snit over what to get that surfer in your life for Christmas, Hanukah, or just because everybody is giving and getting gifts and you wanna be a part of it. Yeah, many remind us that “it’s not about getting presents.” I say don’t be a baa humbug grinch and get ready to burn some plastic. Fret no more because I am here to save the day, yet again, and give you some extremely helpful suggestions on the perfect holiday gift for a surfer. Of course many of you are surfers yourselves so you already have a good idea on this, so this is aimed more towards non surfers who trying to figure this out.
Normally I come up with a list of what I think would be the best choices, but this year I am trying something new. I posed the question to my friends on Facebook and got way more answers than I had counted on. From the hundreds of comments I picked these little tidbits for you.
A subscription to SURFLINE. Corkys new book (available soon on Amazon). Membership to SURFRIDER FOUNDATION. Subscription to SURFERS JOURNAL. Reef safe sunscreen. Wetsuit. Wax. Remote controlled Tiger Shark to patrol the lineup and bump people just before you paddle out. (I like that one.). State Park Pass. Terrycloth hoodie changing robe. “Endless Summer” book and box set. Trip to Hawaii. Surf leash. Stickers. Astrodeck. Good set of fins for bodysurfing. Surfing DVDs. Blue Mango t-shirt or anything from bluemangosurf.com. (that is a good one).
Dry bag for transporting wet stuff in your car. Flip flops. Sunglasses. Ugg slip-ons. “Surfboards and Stratocasters,” great book on the Beachboys from BALSABILL.COM. Gift certificate for 2-hour surf photo session with John Lyman Surf Photos. Gift certificate to any good surf shop. New surfboard. New Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP). New paddle for SUP, ( I like Quickblades). Travel Boardbag. Paddle Air rib protection vest. Pass to Kelly Slaters wave park in Lemore, Ca. (these go for 25k per day). Ear Plugs. Lock Box for your keys. Hang Air wetsuit dryer. Tide chart calendar. Beach chair and umbrella. Portable water shower. Beach towels. Hawaiian shirt. Ding repair kit. Quick Fin Release. Rail Grabber from Linda Benson (these are great for carrying your board). Tanker surfing adventure with Captain James Fulbright, (note: this is in Galveston, Texas. Super cool experience, Jimmy Buffet is a regular).
O.K., those were the highlights that I got from the Facebook survey. I would like to add a few ideas of my own to this list. You can never go wrong with surfing orientated t-shirts. Surfers live in t-shirts. Always get one size bigger than you think too, we like em loose. Straps to tie boards on cars, always come in handy and are easy to pack for a trip. All sun care and after sun products, I cannot stress the importance of NOT getting sunburned. Hats, some reason. For those interested in the new “foils” I just read about a new product called a “Fliteboard.” This is a motorized foil which allows you to ride one in any body of water. You can get info at us.Fliteboard.com. My recommendation is to NOT go anywhere near other surfers on one of these puppies though. Foils are getting more popular these days but still look pretty dangerous to me.
I also recommend surfing coffee table books, and there are a number of them out there to choose from. And, of course, there is always surfing lessons for beginners and private coaching for those more advanced. Got a kid getting ready to start surfing competition? Get him or her some competitive coaching to help get going on the right foot. A good water watch is a great one too. I just got a new Apple Watch and it’s set up to record and measure all my rides, how cool is that?
Of course my ultimate suggestion, and this is where I get to toss in my once a year plug, would be a one or two week surf adventure package to come stay and surf with me at my getaway casa on Mainland, Mexico. Totally all inclusive and includes personal surf coaching if desired. Just email me for info at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To wrap this up let me also suggest that you try to find out what he or she really wants, or needs, ahead of time and that you know his or her sizes. Have fun shopping and HAPPY HOLIDAYS.
By Corky Carroll
I spend way too much time on Facebook and I know it. But, in my defense, I get a ton of info there and come up with ideas that would not surface if I didn’t. As I spend way more time more or less “off the grid” than on it, tucked away at my happy and warm little tropical getaway, the internet and social media keep me at least somewhat it touch with reality, or at least the current state of what people are thinking. Lately there have been some photos posted of the late great Butch Van Artsdalen and suggestions that I write something about him. I have done this, but it was decades ago and I guess it’s time for a redo, or at least fresh look.
Butch was a very wild dude, anyway you slice it or dice it. He was an amazing surfer and just one of those all-around gifted athletes. He lettered in Baseball, Basketball and Football three years in a row at La Jolla High School, after moving to San Diego from Virginia at age 14. He took up surfing at Windansea, one of La Jollas heavier surf spots, shortly after and within a short amount of time was one of the standout locals in the line-up. He started surfing in most of the contests here in California in the early 1960’s and also was a solid paddle board racer. The dude was ultra-competitive.
During the winter of 1962-63 Butch went to Hawaii and became the first guy to really ride the famous “Pipeline” in a dominant kind of way. It had been ridden before him, but he was the first to really do it well. He was nicknamed “Mr. Pipeline” after his performances there, which were well documented by tons of surf movies and magazines. This was later passed down to the great Gerry Lopez some years later. But it was Butch who really showed us how to ride the place in the beginning.
I met him at a few of the surfing contests but didn’t really get to know him until I started working at the Hobie shop in Dana Point when I was about 14. Butch did repairs in a little shed behind the shop and also lived right down the street from where I shared an apartment with a couple of pals. I loved the dude, he had a great personality and was easy to laugh, my favorite trait. But, I learned really fast not to stop by to say hi much after dark. Butch surfed hard, worked hard and drank hard. Mister totally cool could turn into Mister really mean really fast. Best to avoid that part of the package if possible.
Although, on the North Shore of Oahu, where his life more or less had to take him, this kinda worked in his favor. His fearless hard charging surfing in the biggest and most gnarly waves combined with his love for drinking, fighting and general all out rowdiness was endearing to the local Hawaiians, many of whom shared the same kinda approach to life. The dude just was one of those “go for it at all costs” kinda people. He was super fun to surf with, especially when the waves were really big. His total “isn’t this incredibly fun” kind of attitude could spill over onto those of us who were kinda, well lets be honest, scared. Many times I took off on waves steeper and deeper than I might have if Butch hadn’t been yelling out, “yeaaaah, GO FOR IT!!!!” And he would give me a hoot if I made it or laugh his butt off if I ate it like a rat. To him it was all fun. I think Butch would have made a great pirate if he had lived in different times.
He became a lifeguard on the North Shore, probably the most dangerous lifeguard job in the world. He was one of the few people with the nerve to charge rescues in the most challenging situations.
Butch lived hard and died just as hard, drinking himself to death in 1979 at the young age of 38. A big ceremony was held for him at Pipeline and his ashes were scattered into the lineup, the rightful place for him. One of the greatest surfers ever.
by Corky Carroll
After ten plus years of scribbling out notes I finally just finished writing my autobiography. A few months ago my pal Brad Fiedel, great keyboard dude and composer of movie soundtracks, asked me how it was coming. My response was, “not done yet.” He said that would be a good title for it. Yeah, made sense to me. The book is done, but I’m not. So, perfect title. I will let you know more about release dates and all that when I know, well, all that. In the meantime I thought I would share a tale or two from the book with you here.
Today I thought I would talk about back in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s when I used to spend a lot of time on the North Shore. One of my best friends was Billy Hamilton. Billy lived right in front of “Pipeline” with his girlfriend Joanne and her son Laird. Eventually they would get married and Laird would take Hamilton as his last name. I always stayed with Mark Martinson, who live right up the street from Billy and Joanne, and was often called for babysitting duty when they wanted an evening out. Laird was just a young kid, but already was showing the sort of competitiveness and aggression that would later make him into probably the greatest big wave surfer and innovator of all time. So, here is a little snippet from NOT DONE YET about my adventures babysitting Laird Hamilton.
“My pal Billy Hamilton had moved to the North Shore and was living in a house right in front of Pipeline during those years. He had met a great girl named Joanne and she was living with him, along with her son Laird. They called him Laird-John when he was young, the “John” part got dropped sometime later. When I was staying on the north shore during the winters I sometimes got called into babysitting duty for Laird when Billy and Joanne wanted to go out and nobody better qualified was handy. Babysitting Laird, who was really young but already ultra-high energy and super competitive, was an adventure. He liked to play Checkers. Playing a board game with Laird was sort of an art form. If you beat him he would sulk off to his room and before long checkers would be pinging off the back of your head, followed by the checkerboard itself. If you let him win he would know it and the same result would happen, only he wouldn’t bother with sulking off to his room first. So the challenge was to sort of make it as even as possible. Barely win one, then let him barely win one and sort of keep it really close with him coming out the eventual “grand champion.” I remember that Joanne liked to play “Jacks.” One day I was driving past their house when all of a sudden a whole bunch of jacks came flying out the upstairs window and hit the windshield of my car. I had to laugh. Obviously Joanne had just beaten Laird. I got outta harms way before the little rubber ball or anything else rained down on me. It wasn’t unusual for Laird to toss a chair or even a couch, the kid was pretty gnarly. When Billy and Joanne got married Laird took Hamilton as his last name. That kid grew into the greatest and most fearless big wave, no….GIANT wave, surfer of all time. I have been in constant awe at the things he has done over the years and have proudly pointed to a few checkerboard scars on my head a number of times and stated, “Laird Hamilton?, yeah I know that dude.””
Stay tuned, I will try to get you a few more of these little bits from the book before it comes out. Cowabunga.