In Friday the 26th of July this year, at around 10.30 in the morning, a 72 year old man in Huntington Beach, California, will take off his shoes and socks and step into some wet cement on the sidewalk. Nobody will attempt to stop him and no-one will complain about him vandalising the street — in fact, people will travel from miles around just to see this old man set his footprints in stone, because in their eyes, he is a living legend.
Skip Frye, a Californian surfer and shaper who inspired a generation, will join Shane Dorian in immortalising their prints in the Surfers‘ Hall of Fame alongside the likes of Laird Hamilton, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons and Jack O’Neill to name a few. Having recently bought a surfboard that was templated by Skip Frye, my hero worship quickly grew to the point that I decided only a Skip Frye fin would be worthy of driving this board. In stock at a local surf shop, template, depth, sweep and base were all discussed at length before my purchase, after all, fins come in many shapes and sizes. But another option that was suggested to me was to have a fin custom-made by a talented girl who produced them in a garage nearby.
Intrigued, we set out to meet this young craftswoman and find out her story. What we discovered was that sometimes age, experience and surfing prowess are not what makes a legend; sometimes simply inspiring others to go out and surf is enough. We all have our own Surfers‘ Hall of Fame within us, with footprints of our favourite iconic surfers cemented in our consciousness alongside those of local heroes, friends or family members who have inspired us to keep riding waves. For North Devon surfer and photographer Tim Barrow, his Hall of Fame full of familiar faces from his line up over the years became an ongoing project – some of the resulting portraits of which are now an exhibition.
“Just by sharing a bit of stoke,
we might even inspire someone else
to surf for the rest of their lives”
One man who is regarded all over the world as a legend of surfing is Greg ‘Da Bull‘ Noll. With his iconic black and white shorts, a fearless approach to big waves and a healthy lack of respect for the establishment, Noll first pioneered Waimea and then at Makaha in 1969, rode what was considered the largest wave ever surfed, inspiring countless surfers for generations to come. Now, living a world away from the surf scene in a Californian fishing harbour, we tracked down surfing’s most enigmatic character for an exclusive interview this issue. Though most of us could never dream of riding the sort of waves that Greg Noll did, or surfing to the level that other legends do, there are still lessons we can learn from the greatest surfers which will take us a step closer to them.
That is what is unique about surfing; every time we paddle out we have the opportunity to surf like a legend. It might be that we catch the wave of the day, or do something even cooler like giving someone else that wave. Maybe we’ll make it out of a barrel for the first time, or maybe we’ll just stand up and stay stood up all the way in to the beach. Just by sharing a bit of stoke, we might even inspire someone else to surf for the rest of their lives. It might not get our footprints onto the Surfers‘ Hall of Fame like Skip, but if we follow the example of our legends, the next time we paddle out for a surf, we could be I heroes… just for one day.
Editor (and hero worshipper)