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Southern California Surfing at its Finest

1970′s

I really don’t know how to exactly describe this decade. It was a time when the hippie movement was going full bore in the early day’s and many surfers embraced that culture. They were into thing’s being natural, smoking pot and using other drugs. The idea of being free was driven home at every turn.We were in a full blown short board revolution. You had a definable separation between surfers that just surfed for recreation all the way to the “SOUL SURFER’S” and every one in between.The late 1960s and early 1970s was a turbulent period in surfing history when involvement and expression on the wave vied with competition. The 1970′s started out slow as competitions were few and surfboard manufacturing returned to surfers backyards. The history of surfing in California went into a quiet period. Twin-fins became popular and by the mid-late 1970′s regular competitions were re-forming. As in the last decade I will try my best to show through photo’s and video a little of what this era was about. This was my era and I have very fond memories of surfing in the late 60′s and into the 70′s. I hope I can do it justice!

SurfPedia™ History of Surfing

by Skip Snead

1970
*American Rolf Arness wins the ISF World Championships in Australia, accepts his trophy and is never heard from again.
*January 14. Sunny Garcia is born.
*Nat Young wins $2,000 in the Makaha Smirnoff.
*Jimi Hendrix dies a week after playing a “Rainbow Bridge” show at the Haleakala Crater on Maui. Mike Hynson and David Nuuhiwa are some of the surfers fortunate enough to catch the show. Rainbow Bridge is filmed and later released to the public.
*Bing “Maui Foil” is the hot new surfboard design.

1971
*Surfboard leash is introduced and becomes an instant hit. With the invention of the so- called “kook cord”, surfers were no longer faced with long swims to shore after wiping out. Tuberiding simultaneously becomes the new move of choice.
*July 7. Tom Morey, an engineer with saltwater taste buds, carves a float thing out of some polyethylene foam lying around in his garage on the Big Island of Hawaii and the Boogie Board is born.
*First Pipe Masters is held at the Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu.
*Lightning Bolt Surfboards releases the “Diamond Tail” by Gerry Lopez.

1972
*January 17. Huge Monday at Pipeline with Owl Chapman and Sammy Hawk taking top tube honors on one of the most perfect big days at Pipe in history.
*February 1. Kelly Robert Slater is born in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
*Surf manufacturer giant Billabong is born.
*MacGillivray and Freeman release a movie called Five Summer Stories, which quickly becomes the best surf movie in the world.
*Hawaii’s David Nuuhiwa wins the World Contest in San Diego riding a Steve Lis-inspired twin-fin fish.
*May 24. Layne Beachley is born in Australia.
*The “swallowtail” gains public notoriety.
*October 11. Shane Powell is born in Australia.
*Australian cinematographer John Witzig releases The Islands.

1973
*As surfing becomes more crowded, Bernie Baker goes on surfari through Central America and finds scores of empty perfection.
*October 16. Rob Machado is born.
*Surfboard designer George Greenough releases a film called Echos that features unique views from inside the tube.

1974
*October 3. A huge earthquake rocks La Isla, Peru and creates a tidal surge that sucks former World Champion Felipe Pomar and a freind (no one caught his name) out to sea. Pomar later claims to have rode a tidal wave back to shore.
*Thanksgiving. The Smirnoff Pro is held in huge surf at Waimea Bay and local Hawaiian Reno Abelleira beats Jeff Hakman to win it.
*Michael Peterson wins $3,000 at the Coke Surfabout.
*Scott Dittrich and Skip Smith release A Fluid Drive.

1975
*September. Triple New Zealander swell sends some of the largest Southern Hemisphere swells ever seen in California. The swell lasts for a week and snaps thousands of single-fins surfboards up and down the coast.
*Hal Jepson releases Super Sessions.
*Gerry Lopez and Lightning Bolt brand clothing, surfboards and accessories are the hottest thing going.
Gerry Lopez releases his famous 8’0″ Bolt “Pipe Board.”
*Randy Rarick, Fred Hemmings and Jack Shipley create the world’s first organized pro surfing circuit, the International Professional Surfers (IPS) tour.

1976
*Lightning Bolt Surfboards release the Bolt MR Model twin-fin.
*MacGillivray and Freeman re-release Five Summer Stories plus Four.
*South Africa joins the world tour with two events: one in Durban and the other at Cabana Beach.
*Rory Russell wins Primo Pipe Masters.
*Australia’s Peter Townend wins the inaugural IPS world championship title.

1977
*February 4. After a failed attempt that sent his feet through the deck of his surfboard, James “Booby” Jones successfully tube rides Waimea Bay for the first time in history, setting off a fad in big wave surfing that had never been seen: Performance over survival.
February 2. Kalani Robb is born in Hawaii.
*March 21. Cory Lopez is born in Florida.
*South Africa’s Shaun Tomson wins the ISP World Title over Australia’s Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew.
*Rory Russell wins Pipe Masters.
*Hawaii’s Margo Oberg wins the women’s World Title.
*Surfing prodigy Bunker Spreckels dies after taking too many drugs and not enough waves.
*Dick Hoole and Jack McCoy release their first big surfing movie, In Search of Tubular Swells.
*August 14. Tim Curran is born in California.

1978
*Australia’s Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew wins World Title.
*Hawaii’s Lynn Boyer wins the women’s World Title.
*Free Ride is released.
*July 24. Andy Irons is born on Kauai.
*Hollywood director John Milius releases Big Wednesday featuring Jan Michael Vincent and William Kat.
*Larry Blair wins the Offshore Pipeline Masters. The event is filmed also filmed for ABC’s Wide World of Sports.
*Gotcha Sportswear is born when South African Michael Tomson starts selling surf trunks out his Laguna Beach bungalow.
*Hawaiian Waterman Eddie Aikau is lost at sea and never seen again.

1979
*Pro Surfing comes to Japan for the inaugural Chiba Cup.
*Larry Blair wins second consecutive Offshore Pipeline Masters.
*Shaper Tom Parrish experiments with tail design and ends up with the “Round Pin.”
*Surfing featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Apocalypse Now.
*Lynn Boyer wins her second consecutive world title.
*November 16. Bruce Irons is born on Kauai.
*Australia’s Mark Richards wins his fourth consecutive world title.


Matt Warshaw (second from right) in the early 70s at the Hermosa pier with surf buddies Derek Levy, Mike Benevidez, Mike Purpus and Mark Levy. Photo by Kevin Cody

Doc Ackroyd preparing a barbecue for his kids (clockwise from foreground), Chris Barella, Turkey 1, Mike Purpus, Mike Benevidez and Turkey 2. Photo by Kevin Cody

Margo Godfrey-Oberg, I just have too say I had a crush on her back in the 70′s

Corky Carroll

Mark Richards

Rell Sunn (1950-1998) Heart of The Sea

Reno Abillara

Rolf Aurness

Again, I know there are lot’s of people and events I have left out but please be patient ,as I said before this is a work in progress. I will continue to work on it.