Huntington Beach

   

 
Surfers Hall of Fame at Huntington Surf and Sport, 300 Main Street, Huntington Beach, CA

 

 Andy Irons: In the full range of conditions, Irons has blown out the field on multiple occasions. In the full range of conditions, Irons has blown out the field on multiple occasions, even taking out six-time world champion Kelly Slater. Given a hint of the "C" word, Irons could be king. The lush tropical setting of Kauai has been home to the Irons clan from day one. Phil Irons transplanted from California in 1970, marrying wife Danielle in 1976. Just a year younger than Andy is brother Bruce -- his childhood sparring partner and an equally talented surfer. Kauai, with its pristine waves and isolated beauty, remains Iron's home between trips. The difficulty of leaving such an idyllic setting for some of the far-from-perfect venues around the world is a continued challenge. Trying to focus in the face of conditions worse than anything you see at home has always plagued Hawaiians, especially those from Kauai. As an amateur, the opportunities to see the world were still fun, and Irons had no problems rising to the top of his NSSA class during the early '90s. At the Nationals at Lowers, he was dominant. While still in high school, Irons got his first taste of the big leagues at the 1996 HIC Pipeline Pro. In treacherous surf, he overcame Derek Ho and Shane Beschen in the final -- as well as 16-year-old Bruce in the semis -- to win the event. Irons was an instant celebrity, swamped with contract offers and a sizable following.  In 1997, Irons qualified for the following season's WCT. While most of his maiden season was a wash, for two weeks in July, he was on top of the world. In the slop at Huntington Beach, he won back-to-back events, the six-star G-Shock US Open (a major qualifier) and the Op Pro. Credible sources were picking Irons as the next world champion as he continued the onslaught on Oahu's West Side to become the Billabong World Junior Champion. It seemed he had arrived. His major sponsor, MCD, released a video profile called Raw Irons, and brother Bruce was applying pressure from below with his own Pipe Masters finals berth. But amid all the hoopla, Irons failed to requalify for the WCT in 1999. After a couple retirements by seeded surfers, Andy found himself back in the hunt in 2000, climbing into the Top 16 by year's end thanks to an impressive win in the Billabong Pro at Trestles. In deadly conditions at Gotcha's Tahiti Pro, Irons defeated Slater to take the trials and was on a course to win the event before the surf deteriorated. At Pipe, he again waxed Slater in one of the best heats of the year, laying down the gauntlet for the former champ. With experience and confidence now on Irons' side, consistency can't be too far behind, which is bad news for the rest of the tour. -- Jason Borte, February 2001

Bud Llamas:  Bud Llamas is a true homegrown hero. Every surf town around the globe has one. Big Bud Llamas,"otherwise known as the unoffical Mayor of HB", dropped his hands, feet and thoughts into wet concrete on the corner of main street Huntinhton Beach forever sealing his place into the Surfing Hall of Fame.... Bud Llamas is a true homegrown hero. Every surf town around the globe has one. The dude who inspires everyone who follows and always represents to the fullest. Bud was the first NSSA surfing champion and also won the Body Glove Grand Prix. His highest world ranking was number 20, although anybody who ever watched him surf during his prime will attest to the fact that he had higher skills than his rating showed. Not long ago I was paddling out on the north side of the pier during a large south swell. I saw this dude get completely barreled on the south side and all the way through the pier. I figured it must be one of the top pros here for an event or something. But low and behold as the dude pulled out right in front of me it was Bud. Big ol' smile and confident as ever. Somebody needs to tell the dude that as we get older we don't shoot the pier in the barrel on large waves anymore. Or not.  By Corky Carroll

Corky Carroll:  The greatest competitor of California's Golden Age and surfing's first real pro... The greatest competitor of California's Golden Age and surfing's first real pro, five-time US Surfing Champion (1966-'70) Corky Carroll is also famous as a surf instructor, an author, a recording artist, a TV ad personality and a surfboard salesman. This animated, witty and talented rider was as famous for his mouth as he was for his huge surf knots. Charles Curtis Carroll was born in Alhambra, California, but his parents (dad an electrician, mom a singer) moved to the small colony at Surfside -- between Seal and Huntington beaches -- when he was a baby. He started surfing right out in front of their beach house and got his first surfboard (an 8'7" pintail balsa gun shaped by Dick Barrymore) in 1958, just before foam boards came on the scene. As a student at Huntington Beach High School, Carroll excelled at journalism and math, played baseball, basketball and water polo, and took as many surf safaris as possible up and down the coast with good friends such as Mark Martinson, Robert August, Mickey Munoz, Billy Hamilton and Mike Doyle His first competition was the 1959 West Coast Surfing Championships at Huntington Beach, where he placed third in his Junior-division heat. His first contest victory was at the 1962 San Clemente Surf Capades. The following year, he became the US Junior Champ with a win at Huntington. So promising was the young lad that Hobie Alter decided to sponsor him, paying Carroll $80 a week to use and promote Hobie Surfboards. In 1965, along with surf celebs like John Severson and Ricky Grigg, Carroll won an endorsement sponsorship with Jantzen Sportswear for $1,500 a year. Carroll's style of surfing was flashy but functional. During the mid-'60s noseriding era, he was as good as anyone. He was a champion paddler with keen wave judgment and a fiery competitive spirit that usually paid off with high-scoring performances. He was the US Men's champ in 1966, 1967 and 1969, and Overall Champion from 1966 through 1970 (he claims he was cheated out of the 1971 title). A multiple champ of the USSA and WSA in the '60s, he placed third in the 1966 World Contest in San Diego, won the International Big Wave Championship in Peru in 1967 and the World Small Wave Championships in Florida in 1968. He won the Surfer Poll Award as the best surfer in the world in 1968 and few disagreed with that popular consensus.Carroll was a formidable contest surfer, but he was also a big-wave rider. He surfed Waimea and huge Pipeline with distinction, and he was in the water at Makaha (along with his friend Rolf Aurness) on the day Greg Noll paddled into the largest wave ever ridden (pre-tow-ins) in 1969. Throughout those years, Carroll was at the forefront of developments in surfing equipment. His Hobie Mini Model, introduced in 1967, was the first production shortboard in America, and his Deadly Flying Glove model furthered the evolution. He was one of the first to convert to twin fins in 1971 and was featured in a number of surf films in the '60s and '70s, including MacGillivray-Freeman's Five Summer Stories.When competitive surfing lost some of its luster in the early '70s, Carroll reached into his grab bag of talent and diversified into an array of livelihoods. He taught himself to play the guitar and was soon in the studio producing spirited albums of original music such as Laid Back (1971), Surfer for President (1979) and Beachtown Rhapsody (1997). He wrote a couple of books, Surf Dog Days and Bitchin' Nights (1988) and Pier Pressure (1998). In the '80s, Carroll spent 10 years as advertising director of Surfer magazine, six years as a tennis pro and a couple of years as a ski instructor. Along the way he had brief stints as a bartender, waiter and/or lounge singer; he managed a car dealership, did three movies, seven videos and some television comedy.  All the while, Carroll never totally relinquished the surf scene. Now an inductee into the Surfing Hall of Fame and Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame, he lives in Huntington with his wife Pamster and daughter Kasey, and he has an older son, Clint, from his first marriage. Today, he works a record number of part-time gigs, including designing surfboards, retail surfboard sales and writing a column for The Huntington Beach Wave. He runs the Corky Carroll Surf School -- headquartered at Bolsa Chica State Park with trips to places like Puerto Vallarta and Costa Rica. He's a regular invitee to Legends events around the world. He's continually recording new CDs, has written a third book (Pier Pressure Book 2: Surf Bumps) and has done some heroic television commercials, most recently for Ocean Spray cranberry drinks. -- Drew Kampion, October 2000

Joel Tudor: In the late '80s, a slight kid knee-paddled a cumbersome plank into the lineup...In the late '80s, a slight kid knee-paddled a cumbersome plank into the lineup and woke surfing from its Day-Glo-webbed-glove-colored-zinc-bigger-brighter-better nightmare. Joel Tudor's contribution to surfing's retro revival is questionable -- it may have been in the works already, but it would have been drastically less cool. Tudor wasn't too interested in surfing as a youngster. He occasionally bodyboarded, but reluctantly. His father, Joe, who ignored the shortboard revolution himself and never abandoned his longboard, first put his Joel on a surfboard during a family trip to Puerto Vallerta. He was hooked instantly, soon surpassing his dad and nearly everyone else standing on a surfboard.  Joel was a preteen prodigy, gliding effortlessly through the muck on a giant vessel. Nicknamed "Tinkerbell" for his diminutive stature and blond locks, he routinely demolished all comers in competition. He left the established ranks positively dumbfounded. Initially appearing in the 1992 longboard video "On Safari to Stay" at age 14, he became a media darling, entering his first pro contest the same year. In the ninth grade, he was handpicked by Nat Young to accompany him on an Oxbow promotional tour, where he spent the next three years seeping up Young's legend status. In 1992, Oxbow began holding its World Longboard Championships at a different location each year. Dominant in domestic competition, something always seemed to go wrong in the big one. Whether triple-teamed by Hawaiians or simply coming up a wave short, it seemed a conspiracy was keeping Tudor -- by general consensus the best in the world -- out of the winner's circle. Everyone knew he was toes ahead of his competitors, so the world champion mantle was cheapened with each defeat. One 30-minute span at some far-flung reef can't possibly establish the world's best anything. Even Kelly Slater would be hard-pressed with one shot to deliver every year. In 1999, Tudor finally rose above the challengers in the Canary Islands to claim victory. "It was a relief, like I finally won something," he reflects. "I'm not a loser, and I have something to show for it." Tudor is reluctant to be pigeonholed as a longboarder. He possesses an extensive quiver of stubs, fishes and single-fin pintails, and chooses his vehicle according to the conditions. A masterful tuberider, he has gained recognition as an all-around world-class surfer, opening eyes to various designs. His act at Pipeline, where he routinely stands apart from the maddening crowd with Lopez flow on '70s designs, has become legendary. His "Joel Tudor Model" shaped by Donald Takayama was the best-selling signature series in history. The long-time relationship eventually soured, prompting Tudor's own board label. To watch Joel surf is to experience true style -- no wasted motion as an entire session is a seamless ride, void of any visible effort. "Style's not dead," he contends. "It's still out there. Just put some time into it and you'll find it. It's the soul of surfing." By taking us back into history, Tinkerbell has dictated an important part of our future. -- Jason Borte, February 2001

Kelly Slater: In the '90s, Kelly Slater's impact on surfing mirrored the technology revolution.... In the '90s, Kelly Slater's impact on surfing mirrored the technology revolution of the Internet. What was initially dismissed as merely a toy became the standard. The limits were redefined. The bar was raised off the scale. Nothing would ever be the same. Slater got his feet wet on the bunny slopes of Cocoa Beach, a sleepy Central Florida town made famous by a sexy, prime-time genie in the '60s. Cocoa Beach, in Slater's estimation, is as good a place as any to inherit a solid foundation as a surfer.  As a preteen, Slater showed flashes of the right stuff. Tossing his freakishly limber frame around like a gymnast and equipped with an insatiable lust for perfection, he quickly entered the spotlight.  As a perennial amateur champion -- six Eastern Surfing Association and four national titles -- Slater surfaced in the media with his brother Sean in Sundek boardshort ads during the mid-'80s. By the time he was ready to join the pro ranks in 1990, he was a household name. After a well-publicized bidding war that included some major mainstream apparel companies, he kept true to his surfing roots and went with Quiksilver. Kelly Slater in Black and White, a 30-minute Quiksilver promo video, was the first public offering of his explosiveness and creativity.  In his first full year on the tour, at age 21, Slater solidified the hype by claiming the world title -- the youngest ever to do so. But more than that, he ignited a revolution. Exposed by videographer Taylor Steele's Momentum flicks, Slater ushered in the New School of surfing. Gone were the days of letting the wave dictate the ride. Slater drew lines never before imagined, not even from drawings on your high school notebooks.  The best surfers in the world, mesmerized and feeling inadequate, studied his every heat. To the point of boredom, he would almost play dead in the early stages before mounting an inconceivable late-heat comeback. Everyone else looked silly. But Slater could look silly as well. On land, he tested the opportunities afforded him through his hero status and Hollywood looks. A stint as Jimmy Slade on "Baywatch", the most popular show in the world, satisfied his curiosity for acting. A musical endeavor with friends Rob Machado and Peter King, where the trio adopted the hokey name "The Surfers," yielded a major record release and a U.S. tour. An off and on relationship with Pamela Anderson Lee kept his name rolling in the mainstream press. Meanwhile, Slater continued to rack up world titles. After an unprecedented six, he eased into semi-retirement at age 26 with nothing left to prove. After extremely limited competition in 1999, Slater returned to Hawaii for the season-ending event -- the Pipe Masters. In maxing conditions, he greased the field -- including new world champ Mark Occhilupo -- for his fifth Masters crown, repeating the effort in 2000 at Teahupoo. Two years removed from the tour, his surfing is better than ever. But until a serious challenger emerges from the pack, he has no reason to return to competitive life. For now, he will relax with friends and family in Cocoa Beach, tend to promotional obligations for Quiksilver and occasionally show up at world tour events to see his friends and remind us who is king. -- Jason Borte, February 2001

Lisa Andersen:  Lisa Andersen surfs like a man. And she isn't the only female surfer to be compared to... Lisa Andersen surfs like a man. And she isn't the only female surfer to be compared to a man, but she's the first case where the likeness is not only a compliment, it's a crown. While the mainstream populace still clings to adorable visions of Gidget flirting with the fellas, the image of female surfers steadily declined from the mid '60s as grace was replaced with power as the benchmark of good surfing. Interest in women's surfing waned as girls were ridiculed for being too male, except where it counted -- on a wave.  Lisa Andersen changed all that -- and more. Combining natural sex appeal with supernatural talent, Andersen commanded attention both in and out of the water. Add four straight professional world titles, the respect of the entire surfing world and industry, plus the concentrated femininity of a single mom and you have an estrogen-powered Pied Piper. Soon, Andersen was leading young girls over the surfing precipice in lemming-like droves. But instead of plunging to their deaths, these women soared toward a complete rebirth of women's surfing. Born in Ormond Beach, Florida, Andersen first hit the water at 13 -- the only girl surfing in her entire hometown. Instead of being intimidated by the local guys, she emulated them, picking up an aggressive, polished style. Unfortunately, while Andersen's peers were supportive, her parents were strongly opposed to her newfound passion, blaming the sport for her late nights, truancy, bad grades and other teen troubles. The conflict culminated when her father stepped on her board and broke the fins out. Rather than give up surfing, the stubborn 16-year-old abandoned her home for Huntington Beach, California, in hopes of being a world champion -- at least, that's what the note to her mom said. "That was just a bullshit line I fed my mom," Andersen later recalled. "I didn't even know a world champion existed in the sport. But I wanted to make leaving home sound good -- that I was doing it for a good reason. And then there was a small part of me that wanted to be the best." Clearly that part was larger than she expected. Roaming couches while surfing every day and supporting herself by waiting tables, she made a name for herself in the amateur ranks, taking home 35 National Scholastic Surfing Association trophies in eight months and winning the US Championships at Sebastian Inlet in 1987. She then turned pro, finishing 12th her first season and earning Rookie of the Year. Andersen also was involved in a tumultuous four-year relationship with respected shaping wizard and pro surfer, Dave Parmenter, who she admits taught her plenty about both freesurfing and competing. Despite her obvious raw talent and Parmenter's direction, Andersen still lacked the concentration required to win contests. However, she moved steadily up the ranks. Though she began winning events as early as 1990, she was unable to maintain focus for a solid season and her results fluctuated wildly.  Focus would come with the birth of her daughter, Erica, who is credited by Andersen and those who know her as being "a distraction from all the distractions." Renato Hickel, the ASP's head judge, is the father, a relationship that would force him to stop judging women's events entirely. Erica was born on August 1, 1993. A month later, Andersen made a final in Japan -- a clear indicator of things to come. Driven by her responsibility as a new mother, she tackled the tour full bore, earning her first world title in 1994, despite back pains that kept her from surfing two late-season events. A healthier Andersen returned in 1995 as she won another three contests and a second championship. In the course of those years, her relationship with Hickel crumbled, but her professional life only got better. Surfer magazine celebrated her second title by placing her on the cover of the April 1996 issue -- only the second cover shot of a woman in the publication's 40-year history. She would also nab a decisive third world title that year, and in 1997, she capped her dominant position with yet another victory -- the first surfer to take four consecutive championships since Australian Mark Richards. Andersen wasn't just the best female surfer in the world; she was one of the best professional surfers ever.  But Andersen's influence and acclaim extends well beyond competitive accolades. In the early '90s, Quiksilver, the surfing industry's clothing giant, picked her up as a sponsored rider for its women's division, Roxy. It got more than a surfer in the bargain. A brainstorming session with the designing department resulted in women's boardshorts -- shorter more feminine trunks that were also functional in the water. With the most marketable female surfer ever taking point, the ingenious idea exploded instantly. Other companies quickly followed suit and suddenly surfing had a women's market that went past mere trunks into a full-speed fashion trend. By 1997, 15 percent of the surf market was generated by females, resulting in a series of other women's companies and several publications, not to mention more girls in the water. Andersen pulled out of the 1998 tour mid-season, citing her chronic back problems. The following year, she turned her attention to building a life with her daughter and mom in Ormond Beach, where she purchased a home and surfaced only for the occasional photo shoot. In late 1999, Andersen announced her return to the competitive arena, a promise she kept by winning the Billabong Pro in Anglet, France, and finishing the 2000 season ranked fourth after missing the final two events.

Mike Doyle:  Bright colors and vitality blend to create a champion's lifestyle... Bright colors and vitality blend to create a champion's lifestyle. To those familiar with the surfing world, 56 year old Mike Doyle is a living legend. In 1964 and 1965, he was voted Best Surfer by Surfer Magazine's reader poll. In 1969, he won the Duke Kahanamoku Classic, and finished first at the 1970 World Championships in Peru. Mike enjoys a lifestyle that ten year old boys dream about. A successful Robinson Crusoe, Mike is a healthy super-athlete with a clear mind and a deep appreciation for nature and the elements. Mike has surfed religiously for the last 42 years. True to his nature, he's presently building a new tree-house to sleep in. When people question, "When are you going to grow up?" he considers it verification that his perfect lifestyle is still intact.  Subjects indigenous to the Baja: fisherman, old skulls, cacti, the ocean, desert scapes, snakes and lizards fill his paintings, reflecting his appreciation of peaceful daily life in Mexico. He loves bright colors. Cabos' crystal clear skies provide inspiration for his bright, impressionistic art. For Mike, his art has provided him another outlet for his creativity. "I feel it's something you can only get better at. Everything else I do, surfing, or golfing, may go downhill as I grow older. From a physical perspective, my painting won't be affected by slowing reflexes, and as I accumulate more experiences over time, that wisdom will show through in my work."  "A well-respected art critic once called me a Primitivist. I think that's an appropriate term for my art. I use my intuition and create spontaneously. Sometimes a mistake will become my theme and the painting flows from there. It's similar to a jazz musician moving into another phrase and spontaneously creating as he improvises. Also, the very atmosphere of being at land's end keeps me energized and able to create."  His autobiography, Morning Glass , is a book about a talented young man fortunate to have been part of the dynamic early beginnings of California surfing in the 60's. It's full of outrageous adventures, soul searching moments, history and downright good clean fun. It chronicles invention, spiritual growth, and the forces that brought him to Cabo; the ocean and an unquenchable thirst for clean, healthy living. Mikes's book is a must-read for armchair adventures and fans of the era and the sport of surfing. Married August 1993 to his lovely wife, Karen, the dynamic Doyles spend their spare time exploring Baja's waters and camping in it's beauty.

Paul Strauch: Paul Strauch, Jr. was an influential surfer of the 1960s who perhaps is best noted... Paul Strauch, Jr. was an influential surfer of the 1960s who perhaps is best noted for the "Paul Strauch Five" or "Cheater 5" manouver. He was also one of four riders on the Duke Kahanamoku Surf Team -- an awesome honor in itself.

Robert August:  Robert August was almost a dentist. Already an international celebrity, thanks to his role... Robert August was almost a dentist. Already an international celebrity, thanks to his role in The Endless Summer, the Seal Beach celeb was well on his way to an ordinary life outside the sport before his doctor convinced him otherwise. "I didn't know if I wanted to do it, so I made an appointment with my dentist to see if he enjoyed it and he said he hated it. It's repetitive, like fixing dings, except you're messing in people's mouths and they hate you. I really started thinking about it and decided I'm a surfer."  Robert Alan August was born into the surfing scene, the son of Blackie August, a renowned lifeguard, athlete, party host and one of the first to surf Redondo Beach. Surf stars regularly turned up at Blackie's parties, introducing young Robert to the lifestyle from as early as he can remember. By the age of six, he was learning to surf at Seal Beach, where he rapidly acquired a reputation of his own. At 14, August was already appearing in Bruce Brown's movies, traveling extensively while maintaining a good standing at Huntington High School, where, as a senior, he was elected student body president. Just after graduation came his biggest opportunity yet, being chosen along with Mike Hynson to star in Brown's The Endless Summer. In circumnavigating the globe, August and Hyson had the luxury of being the first people to surf in many areas that had never seen a surfboard. The film played throughout America, giving August the name recognition that would serve him later in business. Despite people's misconceptions, August received no royalties for his efforts. But the experience itself, coupled with a lifelong friendship with Brown, made it vastly rewarding. After one year of pursuing dentistry at Long Beach State, his eye-opening doctor visit returned him to his senses and the beach. Working in Jacobs' Surf Shop in Hermosa Beach, August began shaping in 1966, not long before the shortboard revolution rendered the boards of the day obsolete. "Overnight, longboards weren't cool anymore. Dewey Weber, Bing, Noll, Hobie all quit. I had to adjust." He opened a restaurant in 1971, an ordeal that he says almost killed him, then launched Robert August Surf Shop in Huntington Beach in 1974 (which would later merge with Huntington Surf and Sport to form HSS Longboards). He stocked the shop full of shortboards, all the while feeling that something was missing. "In the '70s, you couldn't even find a longboard blank. I knew I wanted one, but I didn't know if it would sell. Finally, I made five of 'em and everyone came in the shop going, 'A longboard, wow!'" The longboard resurgence of the '90s pleased August as much as anyone. His board sales returned, and when Brown made Endless Summer II in 1994, August returned for a cameo appearance. Still a keen shaper and surfer, he resides in Seal Beach with his wife Pat, whom he married in 1965. Their son, Sam, a former minor league pitcher with the Houston Astros, handles all the sales and marketing for the family business, freeing Robert up for a steady diet of surf time. A Huntington local when weather permits, August travels to his vacation home in Costa Rica up to five times each year, ensuring him a truly endless summer. -- Jason Borte, March 2001

Shaun Tomson: In the mid-'70s, surfing was wild -- long hair was paramount, contest conformity.. In the mid-'70s, surfing was wild -- long hair was paramount, contest conformity was bogus and feral quests for mystical waves were the road to nirvana. The last thing the sport wanted was a professional, well-spoken figure at the helm, but that's what it got in Shaun Tomson. Years ahead of his contemporaries, he stood alone with articulate grace and redefined tuberiding in the process. Tomson was born in Durban, South Africa, where he picked up his first longboard at age 10. He made the transition to shortboards as the revolution encompassed the world in years to follow. By the time the '60s were out, Tomson had won the South African Boys' title, attended his Bar Mitzvah and had his first experience in Hawaiian surf. In 1973, Tomson performed his civic duty by serving 18 months in the national army. Afterward, while attending university in Durban in pursuit of a business degree, he earned the first of six consecutive Gunston 500 victories. One year short of finishing school, he joined the IPS tour's maiden voyage expecting to return to classes soon. The landmark Hawaii winter of 1975-'76 belonged to a group of groundbreaking regularfoots and Tomson, in particular. At the Pipeline Masters, a goofyfoot stronghold, his backhand vaulted him past a quintet of established maestros to victory. Even more convincingly, he lifted tuberiding to new heights with his in-the-barrel maneuvering at Backdoor and Off the Wall. Real tuberiding was still mired in early childhood, only having been explored for a handful of seasons, but Tomson delved deeper than anyone thought imaginable. The results were captured by Bill Delaney in his seminal film Free Ride. As audiences witnessed Tomson turning and pumping through unmakable sections, his status as the world's best was solidified. As a competitor, Tomson's consistency and longevity marked one of the most prolific careers in professional surfing. A barnacle in the Top 16, from the tour's inception until 1989, he earned the 1977 world title and came inches from regaining it from Tom Carroll in 1985. His popularity was immense, garnering him top honors at the 1978 Surfer Poll and successful business ventures with Instinct apparel and Shaun Tomson Surfboards. Wherever he traveled, surfers envied his abilities, and women swooned over his model good looks. As a competitor, Tomson's consistency and longevity marked one of the most prolific careers in professional surfing. A barnacle in the Top 16, from the tour's inception until 1989, he earned the 1977 world title and came inches from regaining it from Tom Carroll in 1985. His popularity was immense, garnering him top honors at the 1978 Surfer Poll and successful business ventures with Instinct apparel and Shaun Tomson Surfboards. Wherever he traveled, surfers envied his abilities, and women swooned over his model good looks. Above all, it was Tomson's professionalism that granted surfing a much-needed boost in respect. And in the process, he's been a key figure in helping competitive surfing evolve from backyard events for pocket change to grand productions with tens of thousands of dollars in prize money. -- Jason Borte, October 2000

Tom Curren:  Ever since music went bad -- as disco replaced rock -- Australia ruled competitive surfing... Ever since music went bad -- as disco replaced rock -- Australia ruled competitive surfing. Rolf Aurness, the 1970 World Champion, was America's last hero, and he vanished without a trace. Michael Peterson, PT, Rabbit, Cheyne, MR -- Aussies owned the '70s and early '80s. Enter Thomas Roland Curren. In 1982, the unassuming introvert strolled into Duranbah and single-handedly dumped Australia on its head. He quickly became the most popular surfer in the world, a title he would hold for two decades. By the time he showed the first signs of slowing, disco had come full swing, again clogging the airwaves.  Legendary big-wave rider Pat Curren didn't wait past the toddler stage to put his son Tom on a surfboard. By the time Tom was a teen, his depth of wave-mastery was almost scary. In the perfectly shaped pointbreaks in and around Santa Barbara, young Curren developed a style that would be emulated the world over.  A two-time West Coast, United States and world amateur champion, he didn't need to outsmart his  competitors; he simply outsurfed them. Still a gangly teen, he quickly filled out upon entering the pro ranks in 1983. The California surf film Off the Wall 2 was the first to show Curren in form at his native Rincon and Sandspit, ready to tackle the big leagues.  The question of a professional world title wasn't if, but when. Off the bat, Curren was winning events around the world, but his magical season came in 1985/'86. In one of the greatest heats ever, he defeated nemesis Mark Occhilupo at Bells Beach to clinch his first world crown. He repeated the following year, highlighted by more clashes with Occy, especially at California's Op Pro. With Curren at the helm, pro surfing had reached a zenith. The money had never been better, but the enhanced tour would become a victim of its success.  Curren lost interest, gradually slipping down the ratings throughout the contest-a-week late-'80s. He retreated to France with then-wife Marie and their two children, where he played music and soloed at mysto beachbreaks. His popularity remained at a fever pitch. Everyone wanted to surf like Curren.  In 1990, he surfed his way through the trials to reclaim the world title, an impossible feat under today's two-tiered system. His competitive interest waned after a win at the 1992 Wyland Galleries Pro at Haleiwa earned him long overdue respect in Hawaiian surf.  Rip Curl, his major sponsor, soon launched a video/ad campaign called "The Search," featuring Curren and crew on an endless quest for perfect surf. Without the structure of the world tour, his eccentricity rose to the fore. He began experimenting with various, often outlandish, designs that detracted from his abilities, but added to his mystique. As longtime rival Occhilupo returned to form in the late '90s and claimed the 1999 world title, Curren seemed reinvigorated for his own run on the tour. He has returned to more conventional equipment, and the results have been impressive. His surfing remains on par with the world's best. He currently resides in Santa Barbara with his wife, Maki, and their two sons. -- Jason Borte, October 2000

Wingnut: When longboard surfing exploded in popularity in the early 1990s, only two or... Robert 'Wingnut' Weaver
Robert James 'Wingnut' Weaver rose to fame for his appearance as the longboard surf star in the feature film "Endless Summer II." He continued to surf on a longboard during a time when longboarding wasn't "cool." But because of his dedication to the sport, Wingnut has since become recognized as the premier longboard surfer in the world.  Since "Endless Summer II" was released in 1994, Wingnut has stayed involved with the surf industry, consulting for companies, competing, traveling, rubbing elbows with movie stars and using his mellifluous speaking voice to promote the sport of longboard surfing. Wingnut has done voiceovers with Ira Opper on "The Surfer's Journal's 50 Years of Surfing" and the "Great Waves" television and video series. He also appeared in Opper's "Wingnut's Search for Soul," "The Art of Longboarding" and other numerous surf videos and productions. He has parlayed his big-screen success to serve as the surf instructor to the stars, showing the likes of Ted Danson and Nicholas Cage how to ride the waves.

Laird Hamilton:  There is no bigger set of balls in the universe than the pair in Laird Hamilton's shorts...There is no bigger set of balls in the universe than the pair in Laird Hamilton's shorts. He continues to amaze humanity by putting himself in the most harrowing situations imaginable and emerging unscathed. In contrast to the offspring of most famous parents who routinely fall short of expectations, he usurped his stepfather's lofty position in surfing history to become the big-wave charger by which all future entrants will be measured. It's easy to see how Hamilton came to be the smug, aggressive, death-taunting waterman he is today. Born is San Francisco but raised on the North Shore, with the Pipeline beach as his playground, he experienced the last of the original big-wave pioneers -- Greg Noll, Butch Van Artsdalen and Jose Angel -- and inherited their bravado and all-around skills. Having the legendary Billy Hamilton as his stepfather afforded him a hall pass into surfing's elite. As one of the only blonds in his school on Kauai, Hamilton experienced racism at its worst. He had to be on constant guard as he was a daily target for abuse. The ocean became even more important, providing equality with its disregard for race. Finally, the struggle for acceptance was abandoned, and Hamilton left school for California. Not only were his looks accepted, he used them to forge a living from modeling. He returned to his old playground for a stretch in the late '80s and made a statement with his aggression and tuberiding prowess. Formal competition has never interested him, but in daily duels at Backdoor and Pipe, he took on all comers. Like most things in Hamilton's life, this pursuit was discarded upon mastery, and he turned his sights to a bigger quest. Along the North Shore's outer reefs, he began using a Jet Ski to tow in to waves that were too big to catch by paddling. Soon he took his mission to a place on Maui called Peahi. Now known as Jaws, the once unsurfable reef has been the setting for the most progressive big-wave experimentation in history. Hamilton and his "Strapped" crew, including Darrick Doerner, Dave Kalama, Pete Cabrinha and Rush Randle, have caused the biggest buzz surfing can remember. They redefined big-wave boards, trounced all over the Unridden Realm and ignited a debate between surfing's purists -- those who think Jet Skis should be banned and those who think PWCs are the link to a whole new level of big-wave surfing. One thing that cannot be debated, however, is Hamilton's place among surfing's elite. He is our most accomplished living waterman, equally adept at windsurfing, paddling the English Channel, longboarding or carving laybacks on the world's biggest waves. His relentless pursuit to design and alternative methods of waveriding is unmatched. On August 17, 2000, he again raised the bar by towing in to what was indisputably the heaviest wave ridden to date -- a Teahupoo ledge that defies description. Living on Kauai with his wife, volleyball superstar Gabrielle Reece, Hamilton continues to redefine what is possible in the water. Considering the sort of waves it takes to rouse his interest, he remains active between sessions by riding motocross, mountain biking, hitting the occasional golf ball and performing any necessary tasks around his house. He has no doubts that he will ride even bigger waves in the future. "We haven't seen what we're capable of yet," he insists. "It's only a question God and Mother Nature can answer. As our equipment evolves, we're just waiting to meet the winter of '69. We're ready." -- Jason Borte, November 2000


Gerry Lopez:  Trading a surfing lifestyle for a snowboard and cold weather is what surfing’s... Trading a surfing lifestyle for a snowboard and cold weather is what surfing’s legendary Pipe Master did. The Hawaiian born Gerry Lopez, considered one of the greatest surfers of all time, was not a world champion competing on every circuit or tour. In fact, he was everything opposite of that image. Lopez, born on November 7, 1948, surfed most of his life, following legends like Paul Strauch and Dick Brewer but he continued his education. Attending University of Hawaii was part of his plan. But dropping out to pursue the ultimate surfing lifestyle wasn’t. He spent most of his time mastering the Pipeline, shaping surfboards to support his lifestyle. By 1969, Lopez mastered his playground and new opportunities opened. He created Lightning Bolt surfboards, the standard in Hawaiian surfing. But for Lopez, this was not the ultimate. He won the Pipe Masters contest two times, but that still did not satisfy him. He moved to Maui and pursued a surf adventure like no other. He moved on to surf exploration where he discovered world-renowned Indonesian surf spots, Uluwatu and Grajagan (G-Land). The soul surfer found his calling. Like other legends, he too fell into Hollywood’s grip, starring in surf films “Big Wednesday” and “North Shore” as well as major motions action films “Conan the Barbarian”, playing the sidekick to California’s current governor, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, and the 1990 film “Return of the King”. Unlike other surfers, Lopez continued down his own path, pursuing windsurfing, paddleboarding, motorcross and snowboarding. It was the frozen element that inspired his next chapter. Lopez moved his new family to the mainland, Bend, Oregon, where they spend fall, winter and spring snowboarding. But Lopez is never too far from the surf and shaping surfboards for his own brand, Gerry Lopez Surfboards, manufactured in Oregon.

Jack Haley: Hometown heroes earn more respect when they build their surf community... Hometown heroes earn more respect when they build their surf community where they live. Jack Haley was this surf hometown hero. From the first surfing crown in 1959 to his inductions in several halls of fame, Haley was a pioneer for the surfing community. He is unlike any other champion surfer. He left a legacy in the surfing world, but Haley took to entrepreneurial projects that were just as successful as his surfing. With the first surfing championship win under his belt and years of recognition, Haley opened Jack Haley Surfboards in his hometown of Seal Beach. By 1965, he opened Captain Jack’s, a seafood and steak restaurant in Sunset Beach. By the seventies, Haley was selling real estate. As years past and his new ventures pulled him in different ways, Haley stayed true to the surfing lifestyle. Haley continued to pursue other aspects in the ocean. He became a lifeguard where he was instrumental in rebuilding the Seal Beach Lifeguard Station. But he always stayed true to the longboard lifestyle even after the new-fandangle shortboards littered the all the surf hot spots.  Part of his style was his street wear. Out and about away from the surf, Haley created the image every old surf buff strives for: Hawaiian shirt, sandals and casual pants or shorts, depending on the season.  His commitment to the surfing world lives on long after his death in March 2000. Haley’s contributions led to his induction into the Seal Beach Hall of Fame, the Surfing Walk of Fame and the first Surfers’ Hall of Fame, which was located inside Huntington Surf and Sport. With the reconstruction and the newly dedicated home of the Surfers’ Hall of Fame, Haley, will be inducted in 2004 by using his first imprints.

Mark Occhilupo:  Mark Occhilupo was a young fiery Australian who stormed the World Championship... Mark Occhilupo was a young fiery Australian who stormed the World Championship Tour (WCT) with power unseen from any surfer, especially at the age of 17. Occhilupo’s, also known as Occy, strength under pressure ushered him into surfing’s most memorable heats. Born June 16, 1966, in Kurnell, Queensland, Occhilupo hit the water nine years later. By 13, Occhilupo moved on to contests where just four years later, he made the move to the international circuit, riding in a top 16 slot. By years end, Occhilupo built a name for himself. At the Op Pro, North America’s prime WCT event, Occhilupo surfed against Tom Curren, America’s surfing poster boy. The heats made America take notice of Occhilupo. His surfing career in 1987 enabled him to jump into Hollywood with a role in “North Shore”. But the most popular surfer faced a fierce battle against himself. Years on the tour burned him out. He lost focus. He lost his desire to surf. The young aggressive surfer faded away from the ’80s spotlight and into a subdued existence.  As the years passed, the time away gave Occhilupo a clearer vision of his goal, dominate the world circuit by an incredible comeback. In 1995, he re-entered the surfing arena proving he could still capture a title. With some major wins under his comeback belt, Occhilupo stunned the surfing world with a world title in 1999 at the age of 33.

Jericho Poppler:  Just ten years after riding her first wave, Jericho Poppler became the 1970... Just ten years after riding her first wave, Jericho Poppler became the 1970 United States Championship in Huntington Beach, Calif. But it was more than luck for this athletic beauty. Born December 13, 1951 and raised in Long Beach, Calif., Poppler’s first passion was ballet and jazz. She danced for years prior to jumping on a surfboard developing her strength, stature and balance.  Poppler’s name and style became the standard in women’s surfing. She was a one of a few women who blurred the line between genders. Poppler dominated the surfing scene with a decade of championship titles from all over the world. Her talent did not go unnoticed. She soon got her own “Jericho Poppler” model surfboard with Robert August, a world famous surfboard shaper. But Poppler’s passion was more than surfing. She co-founder the Women’s International Surfing Association, then co-directed the first Women’s International Professional Surfing Championships and developed the Women’s Professional Surfing Coalition. As a founding member of Surfrider Foundation, Poppler took an active role in protecting the ocean as did a string of successful programs still in effect today.  The active environmentalist, wife and mother remains on top by being active in the surf community. Today she spends time managing surf events, environmental causes and mothering her children. She still takes time out of her day to surf or paddle. Poppler’s drive and enthusiasm for surfing and its lifestyle motivates female surfers throughout the world.

Peter Townend:  Peter Townend was the first World Professional Surfing Champion, crowned... Peter Townend was the first World Professional Surfing Champion, crowned in 1976, just seven years after he started to surf competitively. At 18, Townend ditched a scholarship, moved into a suitcase and tackled the world with his own brand of domination.  Townend’s surfing record included dominating surfing’s formative years with top five finishes in 1976 through 1979. But domination of the contest scene was just one of the empires Townend was after. While Townend traveled and competed, he wrote for Sydney’s Daily Mirror, covering the surf beat. He became a regular in Surfing Magazine. Knowing that surfing couldn’t give him a security, he looked outside his industry. He landed a role in “Big Wednesday”, surfing with heavies like Gerry Lopez and Ian Cairns.  Townend landed in Southern California where he became the Executive Director for the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA), organizing and promoting surf events as well as coaching the United States Surf Team. He coached the 1982 and 1984 teams at the International Surfing Association World Amateur Championships, winning the title with surfing great Tom Curren.
In the mid-1980s Townend moved back into journalism. He became the advertising director and associate publisher for Western Empire Publications Surfing Group. To get a better view of the surfing industry, he became the marketing and global branding director in the late 1990s for Rusty/Rusty Girl apparel, accessories and surfboards.  But Townend never gave up on professional surfing. He became surfing’s voice for Prime Ticket and ESPN, broadcasting from the Bud Pro Surfing Tour and the Association of Surfing Professionals World Championship Tour. In 2000, he returned to Primedia where he moved from publisher to marketing and events director for the Action Sports Group. But to completely conquer the media world, Townend created The ActivEmpire, a brand consultancy company specializing in brand management, athlete representation and special event marketing in the surf and skate markets.  Townend’s drive and passion for promoting his sport gives him a crown unlike any other. His fortitude has made him a permanent fixture in the surfing community; serving as president of Surfing America and coaching his local middle school’s surf team.