Turn and Go ...the book
by Corky Carroll
I recently picked up a copy of a fantastic book that I want share with you today. It’s called “TURN AND GO!” Fifty years of surf writings by Steve Pezman. There are some fantastic stories in here and most of them brought back my own memories of the particular people and events that Steve talks about.
But, before I get into the content of the book, let me give you some history on Steve Pezman from my perspective. I first met Steve when I was a young surf gremmie growing up in Surfside Colony, just south of Seal Beach. He was one of a small crew of surfers who came down from Long Beach and hung out and surfed at the spot called “Water Tower.” This was by the big water tower at the south end of Surfside and the north end of Sunset Beach. I am guessing I would have been maybe 13 years old at the time. I got to know these guys from surfing and hanging out listening to them tell stories. They had been to Hawaii and surfed all over, plus knew stuff about chicks that I was only guessing at that point. At times they would take me and my pal Mark Martinson surfing with them at Trestles or Doheny, normally cramming us in the trunk of the car holding onto the boards and gagging on exhaust fumes.
Years later Steve was hired by John Severson to work at Surfer Magazine, and in fact took over as Publisher when John sold the mag and moved to Maui. Shortly after that I was hired and became Advertising Director and occasional comedy writer. I was there ten years and working with “Pez” was always a complete joy. He is a very sensitive and thoughtful person and that is how he lives his life and how he ran the magazine. It was obvious that he cared about every detail of how he did things and it showed. I am pretty sure my hiring kind of scared the daylights out of him. He knew me as the obnoxious motor mouth teenager who could very well be a source of embarrassment to him and the magazine.
And I certainly could not blame him for that, it was a reputation that I had earned fully and lived up to on more than one occasion. But by 1976, when I got the job there, I was in my late twenties and fairly well, maybe not totally, settled down and in the early days of mellowing out. I think I did a more than creditable job of organizing and running the Ad Dept and did my best to not splash around in the pool too much. I think he was always a little leery about me being there, but he tolerated me as best he could. I did my best to go beyond what was expected of me hoping to set his mind at ease.
Eventually he and his wife Debbie left Surfer Publishing and started their own surfing publication called “SURFERS JOURNAL.” SJ was miles beyond anything that had been done in surf related print before. Beautiful photos and amazingly written stories and only a couple of ads. Every issue was like a coffee table book.
Thru all the years that Pez was working in the surf publication business he wrote stories. Always great and written with a tremendous amount of humanity, with a lot of feeling if you will. The dude can spin a yarn, in other words. He really put a lot of thought into what he wanted to say. I could appreciate that, a trait that I have never really got a good grip on myself. I tend to just blurt out whatever is on the top of my head and run with it. Yeah, sometimes later I will look back and let out the occasional “oops,” but hey. It’s an adventure.
The book opens up with his recollection of the last part of the life of surf legend Miki Dora. “The Cat’s Ninth Life.” This sets the tone for a journey thru the years featuring some of the coolest and most colorful people and places in the surfing world. Great stuff about Pat Curren, Joe Quiqq, Phil Edwards, Mickey Munoz, Dorian Paskowitz, Paul Strauch, Greg Noll and others. There is even an interview with Timothy Leary. Great stuff.
I highly recommend this book to any of you who love surfing and love a great story. I got mine thru the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center online. You could probably order from Surfers Journal as well. Also, it would made a nice Christmas present, in case you are thinking that far ahead.
Rick Blake - Super Local Talent
by Corky Carroll
I have been wanting to write about this guy for a long time and thankfully have gotten around to it today. Rick Blake is one of those guys who is well known in Orange County, especially Huntington Beach, as an excellent surfer and artist. Also, he is the guy who has been putting on the retro surf events held at Surfside and Sunset Beach for several years. These have become extremely popular and have turned into a “thing.” I asked Rick in an email to tell me about it and here it is in his own words.
“I had always been interested in history and that goes for surf history as well. We used to ride old longboards in the late 80s and 90s and decided to start an old longboard riding event. We had old Gordie’s and Velzy’s and Ole’s that would probably be worth a fortune now and had a few surf events we lovingly called “Log contests” in the mid 90s.. We were just having fun cruising the logs and trying the old school style and turns from the early to mid 60s… I would do the art for the posters and shirts..and it was fun for awhile.. until people started getting too serious and were bringing new modern longboards to the “log” contest so it wasn’t really what we were aiming for. My buddy Benny Bigler was the manager at Bruce Jones Surfboards in Sunset Beach and people were constantly bringing in beautiful old 1970s era Bruce Jones’ to trade in for new ones. Benny started collecting a few and we were digging the old shapes. So we were like “Lets have a 70s surfboard riding event”! We called it the Surfside 70s and hold it just inside the border at Anderson St near the Water Tower house. We started that in 1998 and just had our 24th annual this year. I do all the art every year and come up with different 70s concepts..We now have a much larger collection of boards and friends like Tony Alvarado that bring down maybe 60 or more pristine 1970s sticks for people to ride. We used to joke and put names like Gerry Lopez on the heat sheet but nowadays we have actual 70s legends show up to the event. (PT, Rory Russell, Sam Hawk, Buzzy Kerbox…etc) Each year we give tribute to a 1970s legend or shaper and I get to tell stories about the history and shaping and try to focus on things that have been lost to history so we don’t forget. We hooked up with Bud Llamas in 2014 and started the HB 80s event where everybody rides 80s boards at Goldenwest St. Bud has a surf shop called 17th St Boardshop and runs it all through his shop.. I do all the art for that event and focus on Bud or other 80s legends that we all want to celebrate. Then we started the Sunset 60s event and back to the original idea we all ride 1960s era boards and I do the art for it all and then we connected the three retro events calling it the Triple Crown of Retro Surfing sponsored by Quiksilver. We have been getting some great photographers coming down capturing the surf action like Mike Moir who comes from all the different eras which lends great visual brilliance to the whole thing. I started an instagram called Retro Surf Series where I can tell some history and show old photos of surf spots and things and write about shapers and surf shops.. so much history out there.”
Rick grew up in Huntington Beach and learned to surf at the local beaches back in the 1980’s. After graduating Cal State Long Beach with a Fine Arts degree he went to work in the surf industry for Billabong and then Hurley. His love for art overcame all else and he got a teaching credential and now works as an Art Teacher at a middle school in Orange.
I love Rick’s art. As some of you know I paint too, Rick has been an inspiration and has been very helpful with some great advice on my own art. The surf art genre has some incredible talent out there, and Rick Blake is one of the very best. You should check out his stuff at the “Surf Art Corner”, a part of the International Surfing Museum in Huntington Beach.
THE BIRTH OF SURFING PUBLICATIONS
...and my surf career begins
by Corky Carroll
The other day I was sitting around with my neighbor and life long pal Timmy Dorsey. We were laughing about an incident that occurred about 1960, and had a lot to do with us becoming friends and my future as a pro surfer. I actually have the story documented in my latest book “Not Done Yet.” The following is taken from Chapter 3.
With the gaining popularity of surfing came surfing publications. One day somebody at school told me that there was a surfing newspaper that had come out and had a killer photo of three guys on a giant wave at Makaha, in Hawaii, on the cover. The word was that they had them for sale at the Ole Surfboard shop in Sunset Beach, about a half mile south of our house. When I got home I squealed, whined and begged my mom relentlessly until she coughed up a dollar. Then I jumped on my trusty schwinn three speed and flew down the road as fast as my little legs could peddle.
The Ole Surfboards shop was an old Quonset hut converted into a tiny showroom in front with the entire manufacturing process done in the back. That was back in the days of real surf shops. You got blasted by the smell of resin right when you went through the door. And normally you would step in some and ruin your shoes at the same time, or at least get a bad case of fiberglass itch from the dust in the air from sanding the boards. It was sort of becoming a part of the whole process I guess. Be one with your board, so to speak.
When I got to the shop that day local surf star, and future legendary lifeguard, Timmy Dorsey was working in the little sales area. He was one of my surfing heroes at that time and I was happy that he was there to talk to. Timmy was one of the few local surf stars who had taken the time to be nice to me in the water and always had had a smile and a “hey kid, howsit?” for me. Of course I was probably a bit hard to bear at that time for most of them due to my zealous stoke and high energy. More on that a bit later.
So, Timmy sees me come in and gets this huge grin on his face. “I bet I know what yoooooouuuuu want,” he said with music in his voice.
My eyes lit up. There it was sitting on the counter. The object of my desires. The first surfing newspaper complete with the classic surf shot of Peter Cole, Wally Forsyth and George Downing screaming across this huge and beautiful wall of water at Makaha.
“Yeah, the paper the paper the PAAAAPPPPPEEEEEEEEEER. I WANT IT.” I bellowed with glee.
“How much money do ya got?”
“My mom gave me a dollar, is that enough?”
At first Tim sort of winced and frowned. He was looking at the ground and kinda shaking his head. I guess he could see the light go out in my eyes. Well I guess he kind of engineered that actually. “Gee kid, they want a buck and a half for this thing,” he said with just a touch of sympathy in his tone.
My head dropped.
“But for you I will let this one here, with only the small resin drip on the corner and a light mustard stain from my sandwich, go for only a dollar.”
“REEEEEALLLLY????” I came back to life.
“Yep. And not only that, I also want to tell you that Ole and I have been watching you surf and are impressed with what we have been seeing. You could have some potential.”
“REEEEEALLLLLY?????” My heart was soaring. (Note: the price on the cover was actually fifty cents.
“Yep. And Ole has authorized me to offer you a surf team deal if you wanna ride an Ole Surfboard.”
“Yep. Free color.”
“FREEEEE COLOR….OH WOW…. REEEEEALLY???”
“Yep. So, when do ya wanna order your new team Ole board amigo?”
Before those words had finished leaving Timmy’s lips I was on my bike, slightly soiled surfing newspaper in hand, and was racing home as fast as I could go. My dad should be getting home from work at any minute and I had some serious convincing to do.
And that’s how my surfing career got started.
by Corky Carroll
I was super stoked to get to hang out in Huntington Beach this year during the big week of the U.S. Open of Surfing and take part in some of the events going on. I have missed this event for a number of years, having chosen to avoid the crowds and spend time surfing in tropical locations with no traffic. This has had it's upside and its downside. The upside, obviously, is surfing in tropical conditions with no traffic. The downside is not seeing a whole lot of people that I like to see. So, this year it was really fun to be there and see, well, a whole lot of people that I like to see. My longtime pals David Nuuhiwa, Ilima Kalama, Peter Townend, Chuck Linnen and John Peck on that list among many others.
One of them was the great legendary surfer, L.J. Richards. The “L.J.” stands for “Little John,” as his name is John. When he was a kid growing up in Oceanside he got the nickname due to his small stature and to separate him from all the other “Johns” in the line up.
L.J. Started surfing while attending Oceanside High School in the early 1950’s. He was a year behind the great Phil Edwards, already well known as one of the best surfers in the world. Phil was making balsawood boards and L.J got one. He and Phil became pals and surfed the breaks around North San Diego County and also traveled up to San Onofre from time to time.
Known for his smooth style, L.J. was featured in many of the early surf magazines and in surf films of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. He was a top competitor in surfing events and won the United States Championship at Huntington Beach in 1963, the same year I won the Junior Mens. He was a finalist at the World Championship at Manly Beach in Australia in 1964. Always one of the top surfers in the rankings and on everybody’s “favorite” surfer list.
I first met L.J. when I was about 13. My dad had driven a couple of us down the coast on a “surf safari,” we wound up at a spot in Carlsbad called “Tamarack.” The surf was pretty good and L.J. was out that day. I spent a lot of my surf session watching him surf. He was so fluid yet did such radical turns and cutbacks. Great nose riding too. Most of the time that I wasn’t watching him I was grilling him with a zillion typical “gremmie” questions. I was a surf star’s worst nightmare in those days. I was a total “motor mouth.” Mike Doyle picked me up hitch-hiking home from Doheny one day and said that after that relentless questionaire he never picked up another hitchhiker again, unless it was a chick.
When L.J. was young he was a lifeguard. That led to a lifetime career as a fireman in North San Diego County. He has remained a full-time surfer his entire life and is well known and liked by everybody. Most will tell you that he is one of the nicest and most humble and friendly guys that you ever could meet. I agree with that. Along with Paul Strauch, he has been dubbed “the Gentleman Surfer.” The dude is the epitome of super cool and smooth.
So anyway, I was really happy to see L.J. at the event and get to visit for a while with one of my favorite surfers ever. A pal for 60 years. (How did I get this old?).
He has been inducted into both the Surfers Hall of Fame and the International Surfing hall of Fame. Currently he and his wife Kim live in Carlsbad, and on most days, he will be the best surfer in the water at local breaks.
by Corky Carroll
Ah, memories of surfing's “golden years.” Great news from MacGillivray Freeman Films is the 50 year anniversary re-release of their epic surf film, “Five Summer Stories.” If you talked to pretty much anybody who was around in 1972, and deeply involved in surfing, they would almost all agree that this was the greatest surf film ever made. And if you talked those same people, if they are still alive today, I am pretty sure that they would agree that this is still the case.
5SS is just out and out a fantastic surfing movie on all kinds of levels. The photography is incredible. The music by the great Honk band from Laguna Beach is amazing. The editing is perfect. And the underlying storyline of the massive changes taking place, not only in surfing but in the world at large, at that time is spot on. The times were “a changing.”
Greg MacGillivray and Jim Freeman were the cream of the surf movie crop at that time, both incredibly creative and expertly skilled in their craft. Jim had previously put together a 3-D surf movie in the earlier 60’s that was groundbreaking for that time. He later went on to invent a camera mount for helicopters that would enable totally smooth and bump free photography from the air. This was far pre-drone.
Greg went on to totally dominate the IMAX kingdom with such great hits as “The Living Sea,” “Everest” and many more. He is a master movie maker in every sense of the word. And, added side cool thing, he is and always has been a dedicated and full time surfer. Super cool dude too. MacGillivray Freeman Films were the first to actually pay the surfers, who took part in the movie, a percentage of the profits. This was unheard of up until that time. And, coming as one of them, GREATLY appreciated.
The film will be showing in select theaters in the United States and Canada throughout this fall. This brings back the vibe of the days of actually going to a surf film, seeing it with a live audience and the rich pageantry that went along with those wonderful nights. Going to see a new surf film was a “thing” in the late 50’s thru the 70’s. The rush of the crowd going crazy at the first deep tube ride or giant wave to hit the screen. The joyful laughter and “oh’s and ah’s” during the wipe out scenes. Everybody loves a great wipe out, as long as it’s somebody else taking it and not you. When the movies came around to your town THAT was the place to be on that night.
I still remember when 5SS had its premier at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in 1972. One of my most embarrassing moments ever. There is a scene in the film where they duct taped a microphone onto my chest and sent me out to surf at Pipeline. The deal was I had to keep talking the whole time, for me not a hard thing. But try talking while you are riding a wave, not easy. The more I talked the less I did. I yell “off the bottom,” but by the time I say that it’s too late to do it and nothing happens. A bunch of nothing happens happened. And then a guy on a boogie board dropped in on me and I did a kick out to get out of the wave. From the angle with the big telephoto lens it looked like I was trying to nail the guy, but I wasn’t. The guy thought that too and was yelling at me after the wave. Again, the camera and sound made it look like I was yelling at him. Truth was the guy was huge and was telling me if I didn’t like it he was gonna stuff me into a hole in the bottom. I was backing down big time. But it looked just the opposite. Some people were going “yeah, nail the sponger.” But most I am sure thought I was a jerk for trying to hit somebody with my board. I felt like crawling under my seat and sneaking out so I didn’t have to face anybody after the movie was over. Did I mention how not fun it was getting the duct tape off?
So, I started my day this morning by watching the new version. Amazing how it holds up after 50 years. Gerry Lopez, Billy Hamilton and Barry Kanaipuni in particular were really surfing at an extreme high level. It was at the time when the boards had gone short and were in the “mid size” transition era. Everyday was some kind of breakthrough. The movie does a great job of showing that as well as the real need for change on so many fronts. And the music is as great as we all remember it to be. Honk is just one of the great bands of all time and this stuff proves it. They still rock.
All in all, this is really an event that you will want to take in personally when it comes to a venue near you. Be ready to hoot, holler and roll. For a listing of screenings and a preview go to www.fivesummerstories.com. AWHOOOO!!!!
MY US OPEN RECOVERY PARTY
by Corky Carroll
My relationship with the just completed U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach goes all the way back to the first event in 1959. It was called the West Coast Championship back then. In 1961 they changed the name to the United States Championship. Thru the years it morphed into the current title of U.S. Open.
In 1959 I was an eleven-year-old stoked gremmie surfing in my first contest. My dad drove me down to the pier and I gave it a go. First win was in the Junior division in 1963, then Men’s in ’66, ’67 and ’69 along with the Overall title in ’66, ’67, ’68, ‘69’ and ’70. I had a good run.
Thru the years I have watched as the event has grown from those early times of two-day events, always on a weekend, to what has become an enormous surfing extravaganza. Along with the surfing there are all kinds of other events going on and it’s pretty much nonstop entertainment for 9 days.
In recent years I have not been able to go as many times as I might have wanted as I have been spending a lot of time surfing far south along Mainland Mexico. As I have entered the battle with geezerdom I have found that warm water and tropical breezes suit me better than wetsuits and guys with pierced eyeballs running me over.
But this year I really wanted to go. It started with me seeing on Facebook that my favorite band, HONK, was getting inducted into the “Walk of Fame.” I said to my pretty wife Raquel, “Hey baby, Honk is getting an award at the U.S. Open, we should go. This immediately lit the “shopping” light in her head and she gladly agreed.
Our mission for the week was to attend as many of the extremely fun events as we could. Seeing the surfing is always cool, it is mind blowing these days. But it’s all the other stuff that was our quest.
We started our week with a visit to see my pal Nik at “Dirt Cheap Hawaiian Shirts,” in Costa Mesa. We loaded up some very cool gear so we could look good. My entire wardrobe consists of t-shirts and the two Hawaiian shirts I got from Nik a few years ago. Ya gotta blend in ya know. Plus, he carries triple X sizes to fit my cowish figure.
Lookin’ like we belong, our first event was the opening “after party” at Hurricanes on Main Street. As a bonus, my son Clint’s band was playing and, a proud father moment here, rocked the house. Totally blew us away.
Next event was the reception for the Walk of Fame held at Pacific City. It was our first time to go there. I kept thinking that at one time this would have been where the “Grinder” diner was and the old miniature golf course. My dad had a trailer in the old trailer park there after our house in Surfside burned down in ’65. And now, “this.” Incredible. Ran into my pal and long-time rival David Nuuhiwa. How many times did he and I duke it out in the finals at that pier? A lot. Great to see him. The next morning was the induction ceremony, and I got the honor of introducing “Honk.” I always say my favorite bands are the Rolling Stones and Honk, giving Honk the edge cause I know ‘em. In the program there was a photo of an old poster from 1971 of them headlining at the 4 Muses club in San Clemente and April Fuladosa and I were the opening act. Very proud of that.
The next day we got to go to the 25th anniversary induction ceremony for the “Surfers Hall of Fame” in front of Huntington Surf ‘n Sport. This was really sentimental for me as I had been involved with helping its founder, Aaron Pai, get it going back in 1997. This years inductions brought back a flood of great memories of all the amazing surfers who have had their hands and feet enshrined there, many of them my idols. Aaron’s entire family, which has grown into a small community, all surf and they all take part in putting this on. I was so happy to be back there, my wife Raquel said she had never seen me smile that much. Saw so many old pals. This is really one of the coolest events in surfing.
Later that night we went to the Huntington Beach Surfing Association’s annual reunion party. I was totally stoked to get inducted as an honorary member along with my pals Robert Highsmith, Jeff Holland and super surf artist Roy Gonzalez. What a fun night that was and what an extremely fun week that certainly was.
Now it’s gonna take me a weeklong “recovery party” in my Lazy Boy. Awhooo. Boy, 63 years sure went by quick. Seems like just the other day I was that skinny, kinda scared, eleven year old paddling out next to the pier with not the faintest idea of what was about to come.
by Corky Carroll
Wow, it’s hard to believe that 25 years have gone by since Aaron Pai came up with the idea to put together a Hall of Fame for the sport of surfing. I remember it well. He called me and asked me to come down to his store, Huntington Surf ‘n Sport, saying he had something to talk to me about. It was a cold day in January 1967 as we stood in the parking garage under the store and he laid out his plan. He had his concrete guys on hand and they got my hands and feet in a slab right then and there. His vision was to recreate the same sort of thing as was done at Graumans Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
A week or so after that I helped him drag guys out of the Action Sports Retailer Trade Show in Long Beach and into the parking lot to do more of the original slabs. These were laid into the floor in a new section of the store that had a coffee counter and was to be the “longboard” section.
In 2002 the city approved plans to move the Surfers Hall of Fame into a plaza in front of the store surrounding a beautiful bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku. This was when Aaron began the yearly induction ceremonies that occur in conjunction with the big surfing championship held each year at the Huntington Beach Pier, directly across the street. That year the inductee’s were Kelly Slater, Laird Hamilton, Lisa Anderson and Joel Tudor.
One memory I have of previous induction ceremonies was when I used to be the Master of Ceremony. I always had these long and flowery induction speeches laid out, sincerely assuring Aaron Pai that I would would keep it G rated and not embarrass anybody. So, this one year we were inducting the great Tommy Curran. They had just got his hands and feet laid into the concrete and, while they were waiting for it to set up, I was doing my aforementioned long and flowery dedication to Tom. As he is one of my favorite surfers I was deep into a beautiful and sincere rap, all the while moving around and looking into the different sections of the crowd on hand. Suddenly, not watching where I was going, I stepped right into the fresh slab that Tom had just put his hands and feet into. OMG. One of those perfect “want to get away” moments. Thankfully it was still soft enough to quickly redo. My co M.C. that year was David Stanfield and he happily posed the question, “Gee Corky, do you HAVE to get your feet in here again?” After that they made plastic covers to go over the slabs while they were drying. Corky-proofed ‘em.
Aaron Pai describes this years ceremony as “a dream come true.” Having visited the famous Graumans Chinese Theater as a kid he reveled in the fact that he could put his own hands and feet into the concrete plaques that held the impressions of famous actors and celebrities. And now his vision of the Surfers Hall of Fame is firmly established, and at the 25th year mark he is able to share this with not only the world but also with three generations of the surfing Pai family. I love this part. EVERY member of the Pai family surfs. Mom, dad, all the kids and the kids wives and kids. How cool is that. And they are all part of this and will be on hand August 5th.
The ceremony is free to the public and a great event to witness. Tons of great surfers and surfing celebrities will be on hand to meet. If you are in the area and a surfer then this is a must do.
This years induction ceremony will take place on Friday, August 5th at 9 A.M. at the Surfers Hall of Fame plaza at the corner of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway, directly in front of Huntington Surf ‘n Sport. The inductees are big wave charger Peter Mel, legendary surf adventurer and boat caption Martin Daly and the surfing world’s favorite mom, Michele Turner. They will join a list of the biggest names in surfing history including Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, Mike Doyle, George Downing, Linda Benson, Margo Oberg, Joyce Hoffman, Mickey Munoz, Phil Edwards, Tom Curran, Robert August, Bud Lamas, Shawn Tomson, Mark Richards, Hap Jacobs, Leroy Grannis, Gerry Lopez and more. With Peter, Martin and Michele the list will now stand at 90 members of the Surfers Hall of Fame.
By Corky Carroll
It’s that time of year again leading up to the big mid-summer surf contest and all of the activities that go along with it, such as the “Surfers Hall of Fame” induction ceremony. This year marks the 25th anniversary celebration and will be held on August 5th at 9 A.M. in the SHOF plaza in front of Huntington Surf ‘n Sport at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Main Street in Huntington Beach.
More on the ceremony in my next column. Today I want to talk about this years inductees. Big wave charger Peter Mel, Surf Adventurer and Explorer Martin Daly and the whole surf worlds favorite Main Street Mom, Michele Turner. I told you all about Peter Mel last time, today is about Martin and Michele.
Aaron Pai, the founder of the Surfers Hall of Fame, and his selection committee did some “out of the box” thinking this year and came up with two people that are legendary in their particular spheres although not too known to the general public. Kinda of a refreshing change to the normal super famous surfers who are normally on the induction list.
Martin Daley is without a doubt the most experienced and heralded boat caption in the known surfing world. Australian born surfer and diver Martin moved to South East Asia in 1981 to work marine diving jobs. Over the course of then next decade or so he bought a broken down boat, fixed it up and semi renamed it the “M.V. Indies Trader.” He and that boat are responsible for exploring and discovering more amazing surf breaks that anyone ever has or most likely ever will. He has taken thousands of surfers on dream voyages to exotic and secret waves located far off the known surf map.
Watch for our new line of Corky Carrol T-shirts coming early next month
Hired by Quicksilver, and supported by the United Nations, Martin took on the seven year mission of a surf adventure around the world finding new spots and checking on coral health. This little trek resulted in visiting 56 countries, 4 territories and the discovery of 115 new surf breaks. 160,000 nautical miles all in all. This is like going around the world 8 times. An Amazing feat.
Not only is Martin “THE Capitan,” but he is also recognized as an amazing big wave charger and expert surfer. If you aren’t a very hard-core surfer, and pretty much even if you are, I doubt you would know about Martin Daly. It is to the credit of SHOF to shed some light on a person well deserving the induction who didn’t get there thru the normal way in the limelight.
The other inductee this year is all of our favorite surf mom, the iconic Michele Turner. How do I tell you about her? For decades Michele has owned and operated the “Sugar Shack” restaurant on Main Street in Huntington Beach. She is the mother of two legendary and world class surfers, Timmy and Ryan Turner. Thru the years she has made breakfast for about every famous surfer on the planet who has come through Huntington Beach and befriended probably all of them.
Anybody and everybody who comes to town makes it a point to have breakfast with Michele. She is one of the sweetest and kindest people ever and loved by all of us. She raised her two surf boys to be not only great surfers but truly outstanding people. This is another person who is well known within the hard core surf world that would not be known to the gen pop. Well deserving of some love and limelight. Again, the SHOF crew attempting to give credit to admired and respected “core” legends. Good on ya.
Stay tuned for a rundown on the 25th annual Surfers Hall of Fame induction ceremony and the evolution of the incredible “
Surfing Pai Family” next time. Awhoooo!!!!
by Corky Carroll
I just got handed the list of inductees into this year’s SURFERS HALL OF FAME. At the top of the list is one of the greatest big wave chargers of all time, Peter “the Condor” Mel. This dude is a member of a very small group of what I like to call “monster wave riders.” (At this point cue in one of my old songs called Big Wave Rider….”monster walls of water, blockin out the sky…monster walls of water don’t you know that you can die…” sets the tone).
Monster wave riders are the very few insanely fearless souls that chase waves that are bigger than big, the ones that you can only get towed into because they are too big and fast to be able to simply paddle into. Maybe “fearless” is not the correct term, because anybody in their right mind would have to be somewhat scared in that stuff. Some maybe saying “people who know how to deal with fear” would be better. Or heck, go with “fearless,” and figure that they are NOT in their right minds after all. Hence the “insanely fearless” thing.
Big surf ends at about 25 to 30 ft. Monster surf is anything over 30 ft. Peter Mel is a monster wave rider, one of the best to ever take the drop. Laird Hamilton and Kai Lenny are a couple of others in this small fraternity.
Peter was born in Santa Cruz, California in 1969. His dad is John Mel, himself a national surfing champion, who learned to shape surfboards with the legendary Skip Frye in San Diego before moving to Santa Cruz and opening Freeline Surfboards. Peter learned to surf at Capitola, a smaller wave spot just south of Santa Cruz, before moving into the lineup at the bigger wave spots such as the infamous “Steamer Lane” and “Mitchells Cove.”
Some experience on Hawaii’s North Shore and Peter found himself to be high on the pecking order at “Mavericks,” the famed Half Moon Bay big wave spot. Having a speed defined surfing style with his arms pulled back got him the nickname “Condor.”
Although a fantastic small wave surfer, having been a finalist in the 1984 U.S. Championship in the Junior division and winning the 1997 Cold Water Classic, it was the challenge and thrill of the big stuff that drew his passion. In the late 1990’s Peter was a finalist in the K2 Big Wave Challenge, the Quicksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau and the Mavericks Invitational. He also successfully rode what was at that time the biggest wave ever ridden outside of Hawaii.
In 2001 the Condor was part of one of the heaviest surfing adventures ever, the assault on “Cortes Bank.” A small group of monster wave riders, which also included San Clemente’s Mike Parsons, successfully surfed the mysterious “giant wave that breaks in the middle of the ocean” place that lies 150 miles out to sea off San Diego. This, probably even to this day, was one of the most radical over the edge big wave accomplishments ever.
In 2011 he won the Pico Alto Big Wave championship. He followed that by winning the Big Wave Tour in 2012 and then the Mavericks title in 2013. A super successful professional surfing career.
Today Peter is still searching out and charging monster waves around the planet while, with his wife Tara, running the family surf business, Freeline Surfboards, that he took over from his dad. Peter and Tara have a son they named John who is presently making a name for himself on the World Surfing League Qualifying Tour. And just to cap things off nicely Peter was awarded the “Ride of the Year” award for 2021.
Stay tuned for more news on the Surfers Hall of Fame Inductions which will be held on August 5th in Huntington Beach. This year marks the 25th anniversary of surfing’s prestigious institution and word has it that the induction ceremony will be incredible and surf star laden. Peter Mel is joining a lineup of the greatest surfers of all time who have previously been honored during this past quarter century. All that and more coming your way right here.
BIG WAVE GUARDIANS, The Movie
by Corky Carroll
I just received a press release about a new movie coming out about Lifeguards. Not just any lifeguards though, the ones that work at the worlds most dangerous surf spots. Pipeline, Waimea Bay, etc. etc. These are some of the most skilled water people on the planet and some of the most unheralded.
For pretty much my entire life I have been a surfer, closing in on 70 years in the water. A lot of that time I have been under the watch of lifeguards, even if I wasn’t really aware of it. A lot of the time that I wasn’t, I really wish I was. Even in small surf things can happen. In big surf the chances of something bad happening are far greater and it’s a great thing to have somebody on hand in the event that the bad thing that you never thought would happen, and didn’t see coming, actually does happen. And these things do happen all the time. There is a great line in a Jackson Browne song that goes, “don’t think it won’t happen just because it hasn’t happened yet.”
I have always had tremendous respect for the guys who put themselves on the line each time they jump in the water in life and death situations to save somebody else. Just as with a fire fighter running into a burning building this is serious stuff. And big wave lifeguards don’t have any protection. A movie about these people is long overdue.
Going beyond the fact that this is a great concept for a film is the fact that the people who made this film are the cream of the crop as far as not only being experts at what they do but also lifelong dedicated surfers themselves. Surf Star Marty Hoffman, son of legendary big wave surfer “Flippy” Hoffman, nephew of Walter Hoffman (one of the all-time greats) and cousin of World Champion Joyce Hoffman, is the Executive Producer. The film is made in conjunction with MacGillivary Freeman Films, known for epic IMAX masterpieces as well as some of the best surf films ever made. Greg MacGillivary himself being a lifetime Orange County surf regular. And the film was written by my former college from my years working at SURFER magazine, Jim Kempton. Jim was Editor when I was Ad Director. We spent many a “working” afternoon surfing at Cottons Point and Trestles. It would be hard pressed to arrange a more competent and knowledgeable team to make this tribute to some of the bravest and selfless people on Earth.
“Big Wave Guardians” will be released nationally at the end of June. I got a chance to see a rough-cut version and was thrilled beginning to end. The footage is breath taking. The interviews are fantastic, the whole thing is just amazing. When I finished watching it I sat there flashing back on times when I personally had to save somebody and how hard it was. I am not trained to do it, as with most surfers. But sometimes somebody gets in trouble and you have no choice but to help them. It’s easy to be drowned by somebody who you are trying save from drowning, trust me on that. I will never forget when I was maybe 14 or so and living on the beach at Surfside. My cousin Gracie, who was the same age as me, went out swimming and got caught in a “rip.” I swam out to get her and she was so panic stricken that she just glommed onto me like an abalone and wouldn’t let go, almost downed us both. I had no idea of what I was doing, I just knew that I had to save her. If it were me in trouble I certainly would hope my fate would rest in the hands of one of these people who know what they are doing, and in fact are inventing and developing new and better ways to do it, many times on the fly.
Great subject and great movie. EVERYBODY who sets foot in the ocean should see it. And certainly every surfer. Might want to make you want to stop by that lifeguard tower on the way in and say thanks.