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    BIG WEDNESDAY!

    Event organizer Rich Kimball decided on a Wednesday for two reasons: One of his favorite surf movies is “Big Wednesday” and picking a day in the middle of the week meant smaller crowds at the famous surf break. The Volkswagen bus evokes emotions of nostalgia, memories of surf trips to remote lands while living for days out of the camper. For others, it brings back memories of the hippie days, hitchhiking along the coast during a time when peace signs were the slogan for the carefree counterculture.

    While the buses decades ago were the cheap version of the first minivan, these days they can cost big bucks. Buses more than half a century old and in need of plenty of repair can demand $10,000, and even more for the rare editions. A few years ago, a 1962 deluxe 23-window bus sold for $200,000 at an auction in Costa Mesa.

    Not much of a crowd in the lineup on this particular day of the year. The road is lined from the Point all the way to DogPatch with classic VWs in which proud owners put their vehicles on display.

    The Big Wednesday Surf Contest had no age divisions- first come, first serve! 

    All around great fun, classic automobiles and inviting waves make for an amazing day with positive energy.

    Duct Tape

    DUCT TAPE 19 from San Onofre Surf Co. on Vimeo.

     

    The US Open of Surfing comes up around the same time every year right in the middle of summer. Throngs of people head to Huntington Beach to marvel at pros and amateurs. It’s an exciting combination of skating, surfing and free stuff, from dawn to dusk- the scene can be quite a sensory over load.

    The initial heats had their challenges- high tide kicked off the event with pretty few waves, which became even more difficult later with afternoon onshore winds.

    Summer Richley stood out with her impeccable style and poise on the nose, making it to the next round. Avalon Gall also shredded her way into the semis.

    Kevin Skvarna also pulled out some incredible tricks to get himself through the quarters, semis and land a spot in the final!

    Every heat was so stacked it could have been a final. With the likes of Andy Nieblas, David Arganda, Troy Mothershead, Justin Quintal, Alex Knost, Tom Payne, Zach Flores, Kani Stewart… I think you get the point. Newly added to the Duct Tape event (and surfing incredibly well!) were Ian Gottron and Alek Rockrise, holding their own in the four man heats. Gottron made a semi-final finish.

    The women were truly awe-inspiring. The quarters and semis were pretty jumbled up conditions, but that didn’t stop them from posting stylish tens and displaying impressive flow. Most of the invitees were California-based (Erin Ashley, Jen Smith, Hallie Rohr, Makala Smith, Karina Rozunko and Mele Saili to name a few), but the Hawaiians prevailed with Kelis Kaleeopa, Honolua Blomfield, along with first-timers Kirra Seale and Haley Otto. These girls killed it. The waves by Finals Day were much bigger and heavier, but that didn’t stop these ladies from shooting the pier, nose riding on huge faces and doing massive floaters.

    The Men’s Final followed it up with some jaw-dropping waves, every wave was head high or overhead. The heat was super closely matched however in the end, Justin Quintal (no stranger to winning a Duct Tape) had the biggest and most impressive. Justin, Andy, Kevin and Troy definitely put on a great show for us all.

    Marge Calhoun

    First Lady of Surfing

    Honoring Marge Calhoun (20 March 1926 – 2 September 2017) this interview was taken a few years before she passed. Her surfing and courage inspired many, her legend lives on today.

    Interview and Words via Terry Eselun

    Marge Calhoun is a surfer. At ninety years old this surfing icon no longer physically rides waves, but she will always be a surfer.  The ocean swirls in her veins; “Inside,” she says, “I am still sixteen.” At three years old she remembers rolling around in the surf at her home beach in Santa Monica. Her parents couldn’t keep her out of the water and were forced to give her swimming lessons so she wouldn’t drown. It’s a love affair with the sea that exists today.

    Her career is well-documented and legendary. Blonde, statuesque, and physically strong, Marge was a competitive diver, swimmer, and part-time stuntwoman before she discovered surfing in the mid fifties. She even trained for the 1940 Olympic Games when they were cancelled due to World War II. She was the first women’s world champion at the 1958 Makaha International surfing event. She is the matriarch of the Calhoun family. Her daughters, Candy and Robin, are both athletic water women and were once champion surfers.

    Recently, I had the opportunity to visit with this gracious and generous woman about some of her thoughts on women’s surfing. When I reached her on the phone, she sounded glad to hear from me, but reluctant to do an interview citing health concerns. The more we talked, however, the more she opened up as we mined a few of her surfing memories.

    Marge states matter-of-factly, “I was always a fine athlete.” It’s in the voice of a woman who is comfortable in her body. She remembers walking on the beach at Topanga with her husband, Tom, in the fifties while a surfer glided along the point. Tom looked at her and said, “You can do that.” She knew she could.  After that, she was hooked. Marge says, “I didn’t plan my life as a surfer; it just happened.” She knew it was a man’s world, but she didn’t pay any attention. Once, she remembers, she was paddling out at County Line, trying to go around a boy riding in. He fell off and blamed her, “Girls don’t belong out here!” She just looked at him and kept paddling out. She says, “I didn’t fight with anyone, I just maintained my focus and honed my talents.” Eventually, the boys came around and “thought of her as a heroine.” But Marge didn’t surf for the boys; she surfed for herself. It didn’t matter what the culture dictated, or what boys thought, she was only there for the waves. Even before she started surfing, Marge remembers that as a little kid she wanted to climb the tallest tree, to experience the fun and challenge in everything. She did what she wanted to do.

    Marge has always persevered and followed her passion. In 1958, going against cultural norms of the day, she set off for Hawaii with Eve Fletcher. When I asked her how she managed that as a suburban housewife with a husband and two young daughters, she said, “At first I thought, ‘My god, I can’t leave my family, my girls!’” But, that’s exactly what she did. Her husband managed, taking care of the girls and the house. Even her mom pitched in, stopping over to help out. At thirty-two, Marge left for Oahu with Eve to live for a month in a paneled truck purchased from Fred Van Dyke. She exclaims, “I never had a bad day in Hawaii!” She and Eve surfed Makaha and the North Shore. No women had ever come over to Hawaii and lived like that. The two haole women were such a rarity that she remembers driving around the island as they listened to the “native radio” while the announcer talked about the “wahines living out of their van.”

    She says she wasn’t afraid of the Hawaiian surf because she didn’t realize what she was getting into. And, Marge thrived on a challenge. She remembers first paddling out on a five-foot day at Makaha. The whitewater hit her hard, and it was bam! The wave’s force shocked her. Undeterred, she says, “I always loved a wave that was dramatic.” Marge compares the perfectly-lined up waves of some point surf to “riding a train.” That wasn’t for her. She wanted a wave to “knock her around.” A large part of the surfing experience is being caught inside, but Marge craved it. She felt alive. Once, while surfing Sunset, she recalls breaking the nose off her board, but luckily George Downing took it to his shop in Waikiki and fixed it for her so she didn’t miss a day in the water.

    Later in life, after living in Laguna Beach for over 25 years, Marge moved to Northern California and spent three years in Moss Beach so that she could be close to Mavericks. The wave and the set up still fascinate her. She believes if she had a coach like her friend, Jeff Clark, back in her prime, she would have tackled that fabled peak. She has always prowled the coast from Santa Cruz to San Diego, looking for big waves. Marge recalls that in the fifties and sixties, the boards were so bulky and heavy you needed a big wave to make it thrilling.

    Now residing on the Central Coast, Marge can still see the surf on a big day from her window. She says, “I can’t imagine living inland. The ocean is magic. It is the basis for everything. I love the shore, the color, the smells, and all of its moods.” Marge gave up surfing in her sixties when she could no longer ride the waves with as much grace as she once did. She knew it was time to go, but she still surfs in her head. When she would stand on the shore, she’d be riding the wave mentally. When asked about life’s purpose, she says she doesn’t have any firsthand knowledge of a grand plan, but she believes there is. She says, “Man is only halfway there.”  The sea has been Marge’s elixir. In fact, her advice to anyone feeling depressed, “Just go down to the shore, walk in the water, even if only ankle deep. Breathe. You’ll be amazed at what it will do for your sanity. The ocean is a healer.”

    When I asked her what she would like to say to other women, she answered: “If you look out there and think, ‘Gee, I wish I could go out there.’ Just do it! If you have the desire for anything, do it!” Marge Calhoun has lived by this credo. She is a surfing pioneer, a boundary breaker who never saw any limits. She is a grand woman born with the sea in her soul and an innate knowledge of her place in the world.

    Marge recently received a handwritten letter from Australian, Bob Cooper, which touched her deeply. He told her that when Marge showed up at Malibu in the fifties and sixties, the boys were in awe. He said she added a feminine touch to the line-up. Marge expressed her genuine shock to me that she was even noticed. “I was just doing what I wanted to do.”

    HWS – This interview with Marge Calhoun was conducted via phone by Terry Eselun on June 18, 2014

    Surf Relik Recap - the Highs and Lows of a Controversial Event

     

    Surf Relik - Roisin & Kevin from San Onofre Surf Co. on Vimeo.

    ALL IMAGES - SEAN WOLFLICK  @seanstermonsterr

    We got to First Point right at the start of the holding period, which meant we would be essentially Lot Lizards for one entire week at California’s most sought-after pointbreak. Living off avocados, turkey wraps and red wine kept our expenses low- which we would end up appreciating since we racked up a total of three parking tickets during our seven day van-camping stint in the lot. 

    The sun would tease us a few times, but the weekdays leading up to the event were the quintissential June gloom- constantly overcast and indecisive about whether to be warm or chilly.

    Throughout the week, the waves were providing! Nothing huge… but fairly consistent waist to chest high peelers. It was plenty of time and opportunity to get a proper feel for the wave and experiment with fin placements. Despite it being touted a perfect wave, knowledge here is key. If you can pick out the right set wave, you could be happily cruising seamlessly through the sections and end up far down the beach a stone’s throw from the pier. If not, you could end up getting closed out on and blow your chances. 

    By the end of the week, we were undeniably crusty and in need of a hot shower. Sometimes the best you could do is a dab of shampoo and a rinse-off using a gallon jug of water. A surplus of face and baby wipes also helps. *pro tip

    With more friends and other invitees showing up, excitement grew. The long-anticapted and highly advertised Surf Relik was finally set to take place over the beautiful, sun-saturated weekend. The format of this event would be unique in that there would be start to finish man-on-man 40 minute long heats, overlapping.

    I realized I’d be up against my van mate and good friend Roisin Carolan. In a one-on-one heat, the regular-footed shredder traveling from Byron Bay would have no problem getting long noserides, stick-straight tens, and well-timed drop knee turns. Alas, my surfing did not seem to meet the particular criteria and I was truthfully dissapointed that my first & final heat of the entire event had to be against my homie!

    Kevin Skvarna, a SanO local and our talented teamrider, pulled out quite a few tricks, including stylish turns and criticial switch noserides… however he lost out to Eduardo Delperro, who would go on to place second in the Men’s Division. David Arganda also showcased an amazing display of back-breaking arched tens, power and flow. But he too couldn’t get the scores needed. Roisin was bumped out in her second round after a close match with Justine Mauvin, a talented logger from France… she actually landed a second place finish in last year’s Relik. Nathan Strom was paired up against Tyler Warren, another close match. Tyler secured the first round win… the highlight I’d say- his two flawless hang heels on at least a minute-long wave. Jen Smith was another female standout, riding the biggest sets with her signature style and crazy long noserides, combined with steezy, carving turns. Unfortunately, she also got bumped out of competition by Soleil Erricson, who would go on to win the entire Women’s Division.

    Getting knocked out early does have it’s perks. One being that all the tension and nerves dissolve. You can also dedicate the remainder of the event to rooting on other friends and are free to enjoy day-time cocktails. Fairly few traditionalists would make it past their second or third round. Arguably the world’s very best loggers were getting knocked out left and right. Day 1 was coming to a close and it became glaringly apparent that the judging criteria preferred the “modern” approach, despite earlier claims of embracing and rewarding a traditonal style. “Ride what you like”… but maybe at your own risk ;)

    Day 2 was shaping up to be pretty much identical condition-wise to the previous day, but with quite a bit more pumping and tail surfing. There were certainly a few upsets that took place that day. Including Malibu local and previous champ, Chad Marshall falling out of the competition earlier than one would have expected. Jared Mell and Tyler Warren also surfed with their usual ease and confidence, but couldn’t swing it into the final rounds. Andy Nieblas, our hometown hero, creative and unpredictable approach was without doubt one of the most entertaining to watch, but he too fell short of making it on. Of all the highly-talented taditionalists, Harrison Roach from Australia made it the furthest, landing a very impressive third place.

    By the end of this final day, it was down to two women and two men battling for the win. But when all four are guaranteed to go home with at least $7,000, everyone’s a winner. Soleil the local girl and recent WSL Taiwain champ, versus Brazilian Chloe Calmon, clearly no stranger to the podium and making it far in competition. Soleil had been surfing undeniably well throughout, and her rides got the higher scores over Chloe. I was very impressed to see Chloe ride a single fin in the final heat and could empathize with the challenge of surfing this wave backside, especially against someone with such a developed knowledge of the wave. An unusual lack of waves in the Women’s Final was also problematic.

    The mens final was down to two high performance surfers. Eduardo Delperro had a cat-like style and seemed to hit all the criteria of earning himself top scores. Yet the judges deemed Taylor Jensen the winner for this year's Men’s division. Jensen was generous on the podium, and offered his contentder half of his winnings, meaning Delperro would go home with an additional 7k.

    All in all, it was an interesting showcase of where we’ve come, whatever boards we choose to ride. And it re-instilled the importance of following your passion, developing your own approach and just surfing the way you prefer! I think the invitees can be confident that they surfed the best they possibly could and made some money while doing it. Most importantly, they should feel proud about their display of style and ever-evolving technique… whether or not it gets “the score”.

     

    Speed, Power and Flow - Honoring Surfing Great, Phil Edwards

    via San Clemente Times                            
    words by Jake Howard
    Iconic surfer Phil Edwards smiles as he walks past a statue in his honor unveiled at Waterman’s Plaza in Dana Point on Friday, June 7, 2019. (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)

    “I never charged Pipeline, I just survived it,” Edwards said when the San Clemente Times asked him about his experience at the famed Hawaiian surf spot.

    In 1961, Edwards became the first person to successfully ride Pipeline when he finally decided to break the seal and paddle out. Filmmaker and friend Bruce Brown was on hand to document the moment.

    “Once I made up my mind to do it, I didn’t wait around too much,” Phil said, laughing. “I’d been watching it enough that I knew what wave I wanted, what swell direction and all that. It’s a little touchy on which way they come at it, but I was pretty good at figuring out which one I wanted. Anyway, Bruce later tells me that he didn’t know I was going to take off that fast. He was still walking down the beach with his camera. That’s why if you look at the footage, it’s a little shaky, because he did this hand-held thing and didn’t have time to set up the tripod.

    On June 7, Edwards’ contributions to the sport, culture and lifestyle of surfing will be celebrated with the unveiling of a new bronze sculpture in Dana Point. The Edwards sculpture will sit alongside the Hobie Alter sculpture honoring one of his lifelong friends. The unveiling ceremony will be followed by the second annual Hobie Vintage Surfboard Festival at La Plaza Park on Sunday, June 9.
     

    “I really love how it turned out; it’s really an honor,” Phil said. “Every detail is so accurate and realistic. I can’t believe I’m getting a bronze sculpture for going surfing every day.”

    (Photo by Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register/SCNG)
    In 1963, he won Surfer Magazine’s inaugural Surfer Poll Awards, and Hobie released the Phil Edwards Model, the first signature surfboard model.
    In 1966, he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, making him one of the most recognizable surfers in the world at the time.
    By the end of the ’60s, the Shortboard Revolution had taken over the sport, and Edwards’ interests shifted to sailing, building boats and working with Alter on the Hobie Cat. In 1988, as longboard surfing came back into vogue, Hobie Surfboards relaunched the Phil Edwards model, a design still going strong today.
    For all his fame and influence, Edwards has been characteristically reluctant to stand in the spotlight. But after all of these years and all he’s done for surfing, it’s time to celebrate a true surfing legend.