by Corky Carroll
I don’t exactly remember when it was that Jimi Hendrix boldly degreed that “you will never hear surf music again.” I am guessing it was the late 1960’s. But, in any case, the dude was wrong. It’s alive and well and rockin’ Huntington Beach every Sunday afternoon, thanks to the International Surfing Museums “Surfin’ Sundays” concert series.
Let me regress a bit. A little history here on what exactly is “surf music” and when it all began, as heard from my very own ears. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s I was listening mostly to the AM radio stations that played “pop” songs. There was some R&B tossed in and a lot of goofy stuff like “Purple People Eater,” “Little Blue Man,” and “Charley Brown.” There were also some instrumentals that were very cool. These were often used in the soundtracks to the surf movies. “Forty Miles of Bad Road,” “Let there be Drums,” and the instrumental version of Ray Charles’ “What I’d Say.” This was the bedrock foundation of an evolving musical style.
Soon bands emerged that played this style of music and they started having dances that were called “Surfer Stomps.” Dick Dale was at the forefront of the surf music evolution, playing at the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa every Friday and Saturday night. I used to like to go see Tim Morgan, a great folk singer, at the Prison of Socrates, on Friday night and hit the Rendezvous for Dick Dale on Saturday night.
One of the cool things I remember about going to the Rendezvous was that Dick Dale surfed and liked to hang out with whatever surfers might be there during his breaks. A lot of groupie kinda chicks would also be hangin out there. Then Dick would go back on stage to play the next set, leaving the chicks to us. This occasionally led to a romantic moonlight visit to the beach out front. Very cool way that worked out.
It was really Dick Dale who developed that super loud, treble heavy electric guitar sound that became the trademark of surf music. He worked with Leo Fender, Fender guitars and amps, to come up with a guitar amp that would handle huge volume that had not been attempted before. Jimi Hendrix really should have been thanking Dick Dale and Leo Fender for making it possible for him to be achieving that monster feedback tone that put him on the musical map.
When the big surf craze hit in the early to mid 60’s the Beach Boys came along, as well as Jan and Dean, to bring us “vocal” surf music. At first I thought this was very corny and didn’t dig it. I was more into R&B, folk and blues at the time. But, that stuff was catchy and before long I found myself digging it. I mean, who couldn’t tap along with “tell the teacher we’re surfin’”? (Chuck Berry had a lot to do with that).
In the 1970’s I had my own run with a version of what I liked to think of as “alternative surf music,” with the Funk Dog Surf Band, which morphed into The Tropics, and finally The Coolwater Casuals. Patterned after Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks. He had a couple of great girl backup singers called the “lickettes.” I had three and there were the “Corkettes.” We did more than less off the wall comedy type rock with surf theme lyrics. This led to a couple of singles and albums. The most successful would have been “Tan Punks on Boards,” produced by Mike Nesmith, which was off the “Surfer for President” album.
Through all these years of there have been devout followers of the instrumental style of surf music. When they used Dick Dales “Miserlou” for the movie Pulp Fiction, it really kicked off a resurgence in both bands playing that style as well as venues where it is performed. One of these, that is now celebrating its 25th year, is the ISM Surfin Sundays. The concerts are held either in the parking lot of the museum or at the amphitheater on the north side of the Huntington Beach Pier. You can check with the museum to see who is playing and which location. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
by Corky Carroll
One of my very favorite events to cover each year is the “SURFERS HALL OF FAME” inductions. This year’s ceremony is set for Friday, August 4th at 9 A.M. The site is the Surfers Hall of Fame Plaza on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street in Huntington Beach, directly across the street from Dukes Restaurant and the infamous Huntington Beach Pier. It is part of the big week of the U.S. Open of Surfing, held at the pier from July 29th to August 6th.
This is the 26th year for the SHOF, the brainchild of lifetime Huntington Beach local surfer, and owner of Huntington Surf ‘n Sport, Aaron Pai. Aaron and his family are Orange County surfing royalty and together they put on this event each year to try and give back some of their love and dedication to the sport and lifestyle that is surfing and the surfing community as a whole. I can’t remember how many Pai’s there are now in that family, but they all surf and are all really cool and they all work together to make the SHOF one of the most prestigious events in Surfing.
The ceremony itself is patterned after the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater hand and footprints of movie stars. In this case each surfer who is inducted into the Hall of Fame has a square of concrete which they put their hand and footprints, sign and write a short something. These concrete squares are laid in the ground in the Surfers Hall of Fame Plaza and looked over by the big statue of Duke Kahanamoku that marks the spot.
Some of the previous inductees into the Surfers Hall of Fame include Kelly Slater, Tom Curren, Phil Edwards, Mike Doyle, Shaun Tomson, Mark Richards, Gerry Lopez, George Downing, Paul Strauch, Joyce Hoffman, Lisa Anderson, Margo Oberg, Bob Hurley, Bruce Brown, Robert August, Bud Lamas, Mickey Munoz, Jericho Poplar, Wingnut Weaver, Rob Machado, and this list goes on and on and even includes my favorite cool dude and old surfing fat guy, me. I try to not include myself in this list each year but my ego wins out and the fact that I am very proud of actually being inducted that I just can’t help myself. It’s my party and I’ll brag if I want to. (insert me with tongue sticking out going “hahaha.”)
This years inductees are Italo Ferreira, the dynamic Brazilian World Champion, Pipeline Masters winner and surfings first Olympic Gold Medalist. Also, Fernando Aguerre, a Southern California transplant originally from Argentina. Fernando started the super successful “Reef Brazil” company and is today the President of the International Surfing Association. It was largely due to his relentless work and dedication to getting surfing recognized as an Olympic sport that at long, believe me very long, last it is now part of the summer games.
Rounding out this years inductees is our very own, and I not only mean Orange Countys very own, but Orange County Registers very own, Laylan Connelly. I am so over the top happy to be sharing this great news with you, this is a great moment for all of us to share in. Laylan has worked heart and soul for over twenty years bringing the very heartbeat of the surfing community to the world at large in ways that engage both the hard core surfers as well as informative to those who never have or will set foot on a surfboard. She is simply the best at doing what she does, reporting surfing to the world. I am super proud of her and it has been a true honor to be her fellow surfing columnist thru all these years, and many more I hope to come.
Not only does Laylan write about it, but she is a full on surfer herself who describes her best days as “hanging out down at San Onofre with husband Jon Perino and children Kai and liliani, soaking in the sun and surf and looking for the next story on the horizon.”
A huge congrats to Laylan and her family. I will tell you more about the event and both Italo and Fernando in my next offering. Stay tuned.
by Corky Carroll
I get asked a lot about what I think of the current state of professional surfing. This normally will come along with a “did you see the latest event online?” Over the years I have followed the current pro events, sort of with an on and off approach. I watch some of them, or part of some of them, but not all of them or all of any of them. It’s hard for me to stay engaged due to the fact I have a huge difference of opinion on how they score rides these days.
Let me explain, but first I wanna clear up that we are only talking about pro surfing competition. Not the current state of surfing itself, which I think is over the moon fantastic. It’s the competition I have issues with. This might seem weird as I was definitely a competing pro surfer during my time and I should be more supportive of it. And it’s not the competition aspect of it that I am really talking about either, I am all good with that. It is the way they score that I don’t agree with.
I will say that the contests have come a long way and are much better today than back when I was doing it. We had 6 people in a heat and the heats were short, sometimes only 12 mins. And they counted your best 5 rides. These days they have 30 mins and it’s only 2 of them at a time, plus they have people on jet skis to give them rides back to the lineup after each ride. And on top of that they only count your best 2 rides. How cool is that? Amazing upgrade from my time.
Now, to finally get to the point of this weeks rambling, what’s my beef? It started many years ago when I was watching one of the U.S. Open events at the Huntington Beach Pier. There were two surfers in the heat I was watching. The first one took off on a huge bomb set wave and came screaming down the line from way deep in the wave, he took a high line and got an enormous amount of speed. As he came close to the pier he got covered up and entered the pier at full speed inside the curl, he somehow made it thru the pier while totally inside the barrel of the wave and got spit out on the other side. Amazing ride.
The other guy took off on a smaller wave, which was kind of mushy, and did a whole bunch of turns on it. He was actually just turning back and forth for no reason other than to just keep turning. When the scores came in the first guy got a 4 and the second guy got an 8. I was dumbfounded. I would have called that totally the other way around.
Just recently I was watching one of the events this year and a similar thing happened. Surfer one took a great wave and rode it from beginning to end going full speed and riding right in the pocket. He did some nice turning and his style was excellent. Expert surfing. Surfer two took off on a close out wave and popped a big ariel move. But as the wave had no shape he just ended up going straight off in the white water. Same deal. Surfer one got a 4 and surfer two got an 8. In my eyes that was completely wrong, it was the other way around.
Sooo, obviously I am an old school dinosaur who just doesn’t get it when it comes to modern competitive surfing. I still think style should count.
The saving grace is that some of the events are held in big enough surf that the “one move” thing doesn’t factor in. Like the Pipeline Master or the Eddie Aikau Invitational at Waimea Bay.
I do appreciate the amazing talent of todays pro surfers though, they are doing the things we only dreamed of a half century ago. And we did dream of this stuff. I can remember talking with Mickey Munoz when boards were first going short and saying that soon people would be able to get enough speed to get air. Now it’s air and beyond. Which is great, but I still feel that it’s the total ride, beginning to end, that is what should be taken into account for the scoring. Not just one big move.
And so speaks a surfing cave dude.
By Corky Carroll
As this weekend is sort of the unofficial opening to another summer at the beach, I thought it a good time to present to you my annual “survival guide”to help you get maximum fun and minimum damage from your time at the beach this summer. This is primarily for those of you who are new to spending time at the beach and in the sun and are not aware of the many obvious and not so obvious hazards that are lurking there, just waiting to ruin your day. This is all material that I have covered before but is vitally important. Even if you are a seasoned professional beach dweller it might be a good idea to read this anyway, just in case.
First off and mega important fact: the sun is not your best bro. You need to do everything you can to protect yourself from it, starting with sunblock. Use it, and use it more after that. Put it on 20 mins BEFORE you go to the beach, reapply often. Yes, you will still get that nice tan you are so desperately seeking and No, you won’t go home looking like Larry or Linda Lobster. You can use the ten zillion SPF and still tan. Don’t worry, that golden bronzed and weathered look can still be yours, but you do not want to get sunburned, trust me. Skin cancer is no joke, I know all about it. Every time my skin doc sees me coming he gets a big grin and shouts, “WD-40 the register Vivian, here comes Corky.” Todays burn is tomorrows fight for life.
To further protect yourself wear a hat and sunglasses. The sand and water reflect sunlight and that can severely damage your eyes. Those pretty sparkles on the waves are like a ka- jillion tiny mirrors. Keep covered up as much as possible. Also take something to put on your feet. The sand gets hot as the day goes on and the trip back to the car could be a lot different than the trip down. You do not want a case of dreaded “fried feet.” The famous “burning sands,” is called that because they are actually just that, freaking BURNING sands. If you don’t have something to put on your feet you are in for a world of hurt. First you will start to hop, then run, then run as fast as you can while screaming, sometimes with a lot of swear words, as your feet blister right under you. This, once again, is no fun. And the total idea of going to the beach is to have fun. Getting burned is a bad thing.
Take along some water. Being in the sun can dehydrate you quickly. The result is very similar to feeling like you have stomach flu or food poisoning. Nausea, chills and all the other not fun activities that require a bathroom and a lot of moaning and groaning. The extra danger in this is that extreme dehydration can cause a stroke. Take water and drink it. Beer is not water and in fact works the opposite. If you are drinking beer, make sure you have one glass of water for every glass of beer. Same with coffee or soft drinks.
Now let’s talk about the ocean itself. Depending on the swell and surf conditions there are currents. The more surf and bigger the swell, the stronger the currents are. Even on days when the surf is tiny there are still currents. The currents will be going the same direction as the swell. If we are looking at a South swell, one coming from the South as is normal in the summer, the direction of the current will be going from the south towards the north. There are some who get all techno and want to tell you the coast goes East and West, but I am not one of those. In my mind if you are looking towards San Diego that is South. If you are looking towards Los Angeles that is North. So, on a South swell the currents go South to North. You can jump in the water and without even knowing it be a hundred yards up the beach in a few minutes. The dangerous part of this, besides losing track of where you are, is that these currents turn and go out to sea. This is called a “Rip.” Once you are stuck in one of these it’s not easy to get out. You need to swim sideways, towards the north side, to get out of the river heading out to sea. Then swim back to the beach. Do not try to swim against the current, you will wear out and then you have a serious problem. We always tell people to stay near the lifeguard towers. No matter how good of a swimmer you are, if you are not experienced in being in the ocean, you can get in trouble very quickly. If the surf is big the best idea is to have fun watching it and stay out.
That is the short version. I hope this helps you get back home happy, safe and pain free, not looking like a piece of fried bacon. Have fun.
by Corky Carroll
I am totally stoked to the max. Actually, more like stoked to the IMAX would be more to the case in point. I just received my copy of Greg MacGillivray’s magnificent new book, “500 SUMMER STORIES, a life in IMAX.” It’s incredible, amazing, excellent and all other adjectives that mean really really good.
O.K., let me give you a little low down on Greg MacGillivray, just in case some of you aren’t familiar with who he is. Here is the short version. Greg is a lifelong surfer who grew up in South Laguna Beach, learning to surf at Salt Creek and Doheny State Park in the 1960’s. He started making surf movies during the mid 60’s and was very good at it. His early “A Cool Wave of Color” established him as not only an excellent photographer but also a very creative film maker.
He teamed up with another excellent photographer named Jim Freeman. Jim had gained acclaim from having made the first surfing movie in 3D. Together they formed MacGillivray Freeman films. They, more or less, took the top spot in the surf movie business and further established their creative genius with the beautifully done “FREE AND EASY,” blending surfing with artful effects and editing.
Their biggest surf movie hit was the legendary “FIVE SUMMER STORIES,” regarded by many as the greatest surf movie ever made. Highlighted by a fantastic original soundtrack by the amazing Laguna Beach band “HONK,” this film marked the first time any of the surfers featured actually got paid for being in it.
Where I really got to know Greg was during the filming of 5SS. He had rented a house on the North Shore of Oahu near the surf spot called “Log Cabins.” He let me stay there, along with one of my best friends Mark Martinson. Mark and I had come up in surfing together and had been pals since the very early 60’s. It was hanging out with them that I became aware of what a wonderful person that Greg is. Aside from doing all this cool stuff the dude was just an out and out good guy. I really liked him. Later, when I was concerned on how a certain sequence in the film came off, he sincerely listened to me, understood my feelings, and made a slight change in the narration that made all the difference. Probably nobody else in that business would have done that. I always respected him for that.
The team went on to amazing success producing films for the Smithsonian Museum, working with Stanley Kubrick for “The Shining” and breaking ground in the production of IMAX movies. Jim Freeman was killed in a helicopter accident during the filming of one of their projects. Greg went on to be the undisputed master of IMAX, always keeping the name MacGillivray Freeman Films in honor of his friend and partner.
OK, that brings us to the new book. “500 SUMMER STORIES” is a beautiful 302-page adventure taking us from the early days of Greg becoming a surfer and thru all of the phases of his career as a film maker and his life. There are fantastic stories of the making of the early surf movies and adventures with the greatest surfers of the era including Gerry Lopez, Billy Hamilton, Mark Martinson and many others (hey, I’m even in there….awhooo.).
From the surf move days it phases into tales of working with Kubrick and also John Milius with “Big Wednesday.” Their credits started stacking up with work on not only successful but also critically acclaimed projects such as “Jonathon Living Seagull.”
The first IMAX movies, such as “TO FLY,” led them into a whole new direction. They kinda pioneered a whole new thing and made it their own. Probably one of the high points was the huge hit “EVEREST.”
The book takes us on a journey thru all of these phases, not only with gripping stories but with hundreds of fantastic photos. It is one of those “coffee table” books that you will make sure you never spill coffee on.
Thru all of Greg MacGillivrays success over all these years I can attest to the fact that he never changed from the really cool and fun kid that I first met back in the 1960’s to today. Super good guy, family guy, honest man and always and foremost…. Surfer.
By Corky Carroll
It’s interesting how in surfing people get sort of “categorized” in one way or another. Some due to their personality. This would be the standard “cool guy (or chick)”, “colorful character,” “stuck up,” “jerk,” “nerd, dweeb, goon, geek,” or “kuk.” But this is just the way it is in life in general, so why would it be any different with surfers?
But I am not talking about personality stuff here. I and talking about surfing “styles.” There are surfers who are known for being smooth for instance. Like Billy Hamilton, Skip Frye, David Nuuhiwa and Don Craig. There are those who are typed as “small wave specialists,” Gary Proper comes to mind. That dude could rip a one-foot wave better than anybody. And, of course, “big wave riders.” Greg Noll, Mike Doyle, Eddie Aikau, George Downing, Pat Curran and others. There have been “all around water-men,” like Doyle, Laird Hamilton and Kai Lenny. Some surf “pretty” and others “flamboyant.”
Today I would like to toss out some love for some of the great “Power Surfers” I have known. These are surfers who might or might not fit into one or more of the other “types,” but their overall vibe is that of surfing with sheer power.
The first that comes to mind is the great Barry Kanaiaupuni. Man, this dude could out and out “shred” a wave. His bottom turns at places like Sunset Beach, on the North Shore of Oahu, were state of the art and amazing to watch. Sheer flat-out speed and style to boot.
Another stand out in the power zone was the first “Mr. Pipeline,” Butch Van Artsdalen. Butch grew up surfing the reef breaks around La Jolla and took to the big surf in Hawaii like a dog to a steak bone. His early exploits in big waves at the Pipeline, Sunset Beach and Waimea Bay are legendary. Just guts up going for it to the max all the time. That was sort of the way he was in life too.
Australian Nat Young could be tossed into the mix on this one too. He was just so ultra-aggressive in the water and was one of those “never give an inch” kinda dudes all the way around. His surfing was very powerful. He would just ride over, around and through anybody and everybody. I give him credit for starting the short board revolution.
Another Aussie that was known for his super power attack was Ian Cairns. Ian came from the more juicy waves in Western Oz and Hawaii was just what his surfing needed to really kick in.
In more recent years there have been a couple of guys who have stood out in this area too. One would have to be the amazing Laird Hamilton. He was really the first person to ride extra giant waves with aggression and “projection.” Instead of just riding for his life, which was what most everybody else was doing in the early days of the “tow in,” and extra big wave riding. Laird was popping “airs” and driving deep fade turns and going for the barrel. Power surfing to the big wave max.
Kai Lenny is now sort of taking up where Laird went. Riding any and all equipment and as big of waves as he can find. No fear, velocity beyond what was thought possible and with composure and style.
Also coming to my mind in this discussion would be Dane Reynolds from Oxnard and John John Florence in Hawaii. Both of those guys exude speed and power in their surfing far beyond the average top surfers. You could include Kelly Slater in this discussion, but that guy has just been so great at all aspects of surfing that it’s impossible to pigeonhole him into any one facet.
I like to see surfers who go fast and have some sort of grace and style doing it. Did I mention Joey Cabel? Him too. Anyway, that is my ranting for today. Cowabunga kids.
by Corky Carroll
Today I would like to continue with my “surfing’s most interesting people” series that I started a couple of months ago. These are profiles on people whom I have met over the mega-zillion years that I have been involved in surfing that are ones that I have found to be more interesting than most, for one reason or another. People that I would love to sit down and have a conversation with that didn’t center around current surfing events.
One of those, and also one of my favorite guys from the surfing world, is the late great Jack O’Neill. Let me give you some background on the dude in case you don’t already know who he is.
Jack was one of the very early surfing pioneers in the San Francisco/Santa Cruz area of Northern California. Having been born in Denver and then serving in the Navy during WW2 he wound up settling in that area. He had body surfed there during the 1940’s. He opened a surf shop on what was called “the Great Highway” in San Francisco in 1952.
Shortly after that he began experimenting with trying to develop some sort of gear to help keep warm while surfing the frigid waters up there. His first attempt was made with foam and plastic, but he soon started working with neoprene rubber. Local surfers were skeptical at first. Only at first though, as soon as he had a version that actually worked they flocked to it. It is widely accepted that he was one of the first to get the whole surfing wetsuit industry on the map. I know that the Meistrell brothers from Redondo Beach had a lot to do with that too.
Jack later moved to Santa Cruz and opened a little shop right next to the pier. This is where I first met him in about 1960, on my first trip up there. He sold me some resin to repair my board, super cool and friendly guy.
During the surfing boom of the 1960’s Jack’s company grew to prominence in the surfing industry with clothing being added to the wetsuits. “O’Neill” became a solid brand. During those years Jack’s kids became involved in the business and would steer it through the decades.
O.k., now about who Jack really was. This was one of the real colorful characters in surfing. Huge personality. He had an old convertible Jaguar sportscar that he would cruise around Santa Cruz in and was about as big of a local celebrity as there was there, at that time. Well, probably of all time. Jack was one of those “bigger than life” kinda people that when you saw him go by you would go, “wow, there goes Jack O’Neill.” And everybody would look and go, “yeah!!!”
Besides surfing Jack had a love of flying hot air balloons. He had one with a huge “O’Neill” logo on it that he would fly under the Golden Gate bridge and during all sorts of events. He was kinda the local version of the Goodyear blimp.
In 1971, when the first versions of the modern “surf leash” were first being experimented with, he lost an eye in a leash related surfing accident. The early versions were attached to the nose of your board with a suction cup and to your wrist. The material was surgical tubing that would stretch to the next time zone. Jack lost his board and the leash stretched really far, sending his board back to him at Mach speed with the pointed nose first. Hit him in the eye, could have killed him.
After that he wore an eye patch, which totally added to the “look” of the character that he was. He was now “the king of the land of the one eyed jacks.” Classic Jack.
He lived in a moss green house on the cliff overlooking a surf spot called “Wild Hook,” on the southern side of Santa Cruz, near Capitola. The windows were round ports like on a ship. I had the fortune to have been invited to dinner a few times over the years and it was always a great evening with a ton of laughing going on. He would say the best thing about his house was he could look out the window and see when the surf was good and not crowded and jump in within minute or two and catch it perfectly. I had grown up in Surfside with the same advantage. We would say we were two lucky dudes.
Always known for good quotes too. Some of his most memorable ones were, “It’s always summer on the inside.” “I’m not into business, I am into surfing.” “I had a friend who used to try to surf in a sweater that he treated with water sealer. He would sit out there in an oil slick.” “The three most important things in life are surf, surf and surf.” “I just wanted to make something that would let me surf longer.” My favorite was, “Surfing is like therapy, you paddle out and everything is all right again.” I have always felt like that. If I am angry or bummed out about something I can always paddle out and sit outside for a little bit and let all the negative vibes wash away.
With Jack you didn’t usually talk about what was going on “in surfing” so to speak. But more about life as a couple of surfers who were riding through it with eyes wide open and the love of all things funny. He was one of those people that I always looked forward to seeing and who was always happy and welcoming when I came around. A true surfing pioneer.
Don't Be That Guy (Girl)
by Corky Carroll
In this day and age of mega surf crowds in the water at just about every break known to man or beast on the planet the issues of etiquette, common courtesy and safety procedures are debated over constantly. It is very prevalent here in Orange County as there are probably no unridden and not crowded surfing beaches anywhere to be found anymore.
I was thinking about this very thing a couple of weeks ago when I took a stroll out on the Huntington Beach Pier. When I was younger there were already crowds at the pier, this was in the 50’s and 60’s. But the crowd stuck right next to the pier, on both sides. If you stood on the pier and looked north or south there was nobody surfing once you got further away than about 50 yards from the pier.
Not now. Looking North and South for as far as you can see there are zillions of surfers. It looks like pepper on French fries. Packed to the max. And this is every day. Good surf, bad surf, rain or shine. Bringing me to the point of todays story. With all these people in the water there is more and more need for the aforementioned “etiquette, common courtesy and safety procedures.”
This has happened twice recently to people I know. One is the great surf legend Linda Benson. She got hit by a ditched board and spent a couple days in the hospital and was put out of surfing commission for months. The other was a neighbor of mine who had his arm broken.
The problem is that beginners are just unaware, or they just don’t care. Not long ago I saw this happen and I paddled over to the person who had let their board go and nicely told her to try as hard as she could to hold onto her board, not just let it go.
She looked at me with confusion on her face and asked me what I was talking about. I told her that it wasn’t cool to let go of her board, it almost hit the person inside of her. She glared back at me and said, “and so why is that my problem?”
I wasn’t sure what to say. That answer was so outright stupid and clueless that it sort of stopped me for a moment. THAT is the kind of attitude we are dealing with these days. Somehow, through instruction, or maybe even posted signs or something like that, these beginning surfers need to be educated about this stuff before they kill themselves or somebody else. It’s nuts out there.
This sort of brings back some classic and funny memories of growing up in the pre surf leash days, especially before boards went short. We had these big heavy logs and little or no wetsuits. If you lost your board it required a swim to the beach to get it back. In many spots there were rocks or jetties that could do serious damage to your board. Surfers would do just about anything to hold on to their boards in those days.
It was not uncommon to see some dude flying through the air holding on to the fin of his board. The boards were way too big and heavy to “duck dive,” so people would do anything to hold on when they got caught inside on a big set. There was the common “turtle” roll. Sometimes you would see somebody with their arms and legs totally wrapped around their board and glommed on for dear life.
It wasn’t so crowded then so mostly people held on to avoid swimming. But these days it is just too dangerous to let go. If you board gets ripped out of your hands by a wave then it’s what it is, you didn’t ditch it on purpose. But if you just let it go and it hits and injures somebody else, that is YOUR FAULT.
Don’t do it. Period.
by Corky Carroll
Here is part 3 of my occasional series on people that I have known in the surfing world who I have found to be more interesting than the average surf dude or dudette than you might meet. People that offer more in a conversation than just the standard surf babble and all that bla blab la. Today I want to talk about the late, extremely great, Mike Doyle.
I almost decided to not include Mike in this series due to the fact that I have written about him a lot in the past. But I just could not leave him out of this conversation due to the fact that he was really the epitome of a very interesting person. He had so many facets to his persona.
As a surfer his accomplishments have been well documented. He is legendary and generally recognized as one of the all-time greats. His overall skills sometimes tend to get overlooked, so I am going to point them out. He was as good as, or the best, big wave surfer of his era (the 1960’s). He was a top-rated competitive surfer, usually in the top 10. He was a world class paddleboard racer and also excelled in all the lifeguard water skills. He could do it all in the water at the highest levels.
He also was a first-class skier and invented the “Mono-ski.” This evolved into the modern “Snowboard.” Along with that he innovated many modern floatation devices used in lifesaving even to this day. And, of course, he was a top surfboard designer and the innovator of the worlds first soft surfboard, the “Morey-Doyle.” His surfboard designs are of the highest quality and are still marketed today right here in Lake Forest.
If that isn’t enough, then there was his art. Mike was a well-known and fantastic artist. His paintings sell in the five figure range. Before he passed away in 2019, he owned and ran his own gallery in San Jose del Cabo.
I could go on and on about all the cool stuff Mike Doyle was known for, but I don’t have a zillion words to work with here. I would rather tell you about why I liked him and what influence he had on my life.
The short version. Mike picked me up hitch hiking home for surfing at Doheny State Park in about 1961. Shortly after that we began to see each other at surfing events and became friends. For a short time he lived with us at our home in Surfside while he attended Long Beach State College, during which time he took me to many surf events and on surfing trips. He was a great person to have as a mentor, super good values, and an incredible sense of humor. It’s the sense of humor part that has always endeared me to people. I like people who laugh a lot. Mike was a very funny dude. He and Mickey Munoz were my main “older guy” influences when I was a young teen and before I could drive.
It was not only with the surfing that Mike had influence on me though. He was also into art and I was interested in that. He painted cool stuff. One time he had a giant totem pole on the bottom of his board. In Hawaii he would paint faces on coconuts and leave them laying around. He was very good and helped me with some of my early art attempts, a lot of which I still use today in my paintings.
Probably the biggest reason I found Mike interesting is just the fact that he was almost always smiling when you ran into him and he had such a range of stuff to talk about and share. Plus the dude was a great chick magnet, hanging out with him never hurt in the “lets go find some chicks” part of growing up. There were so many things we did together on top of the ones already mentioned. We played tennis and music, and told a lot of jokes.
Mike Doyle, a true life surf hero.
To see more of Corky's art, click on the above painting. To get further info and pricing, contact Corky.
by Corky Carroll
As some of you might know, I have wandered into the art phase of my life in this past year. I have done paintings for many years but never really approached them with anything other than a fun way to pass some time. In the mid 1980’s I got into doing some airbrush art that I sold in a small gallery in Dana Point, those did pretty well. I was able to use some office space in the back of the SURFER magazine building to do them while I was working there as Advertising Director. I stopped doing those when I left that job to do a clothing line with Sundek.
About 20 years ago a friend gave me a small acrylics set and I dabbled with some simple paintings. I hung a few of them on the wall at our surf house and guests started buying them. This was still all in the just for the fun of it stage. During this past year I haven’t been able to surf as much as I would like due to some health issues, so I got much deeper into painting. Somewhere along the line it really captured me and has kept my stoke totally alive and burning. I post them on Facebook and thankfully they have been selling.
This brings me to this weeks story. I recently did a painting of Honolua Bay on Maui, as I remember it from surfing there in 1964. Sometimes when I post I include a story behind the painting, and I did with this one. It was suggested that I elaborate on this one further, so here it is…. The fuller story behind the “Honolua Bay ‘64” painting.
In December of 1964 I was on the North Shore doing one of those annual surf trips to catch some big waves and surf in the annual Makaha International Championship. A big swell was on it’s way and everybody was getting ready for it. A guy named Curt Mastalka, who I had stayed with the previous summer across the street from Ala Moana, was starting to make a surf movie. He came buy and asked if I wanted to fly over to Maui with him and Jock Sutherland to get some footage of us surfing Honolua Bay. I had only heard stories about this beautiful and fantastic surf spot. It only broke on big swells as it was in a position on the island where the waves had to wrap around a corner. Took a huge swell to make it happen.
I jumped at the chance, in those days hardly anybody was surfing there yet. The three of us flew over to score a day at the bay. Unfortunately, the airline didn’t bring our boards. With only a tiny window to catch the swell, we didn’t have time to wait for another day or two for our boards to arrive. So, we drove out to Lahaina and went to see Ryan Dotson, who had a small surf shop there. We could rent a couple of boards from him.
While visiting the shop I met Joanne, who would later marry my pal Billy Hamilton. She had a small baby, maybe six or seven months old, in a crib. I did the standard “oh what a cute baby,” and went to do the “goochie goochie goo” thing. As I reached in the crib to tickle his tummy he hauled off and bit me. Well, I should say “gummed” me.
This was how I originally met my longtime pal Laird John Hamilton.
In later years when Laird was maybe eight or nine and Joanne had married Billy they lived on the North Shore, right in front of Pipeline. I used to babysit Laird when they would go out. We would play checkers. If I won he would throw the checkers at me and beat me over the head with the checker board. Classic Laird. I guess this fearless attitude is what gave him the courage to ride the biggest waves known to man or beast when he grew up. We are great pals to this day, love the guy.
Jock and I got to surf a beautiful day at Honolua Bay, only us in the water. It wasn’t big but it was perfect and the whole thing was pretty magical. What a beautiful spot and a beautiful wave. A friend of mine had sent me a photo of another pal, Mark Martinson, surfing there back then and asked if I could paint that. I did, and when I got done I did another one of just the wave itself with nobody around. Exactly the way I remember it from that day in December of 1964. Pristine and perfect.
And that’s the story.