[During the Vans Triple Crown, we’ll be bringing you a whole stack of stories centred around Hawaii’s North Shore. You can read them all here.]
Bustin’ Down The Door, probably the most infamous surf magazine article ever published, ran in Surfer Mag in 1977.
Written by Australian pro surfer Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew, the article laments an old guard of conservatism standing in the way of a radical new breed now referred to as the Free Ride generation (including the likes of Rabbit, Shaun, MR, PT, Ian Cairns, Mark Warren) essentially relating to the fact that the Hawaiian Pro events were invitationals, and as such difficult to enter.
Read the piece now, and aside from being semi-indecipherable, the top line hardly seems inflammatory by today’s standards.
“The fact is that when you are a young emerging rookie from Australia or South Africa you not only have to come through the backdoor…but you also have to bust that door down before they hear ya knocking,” lamented Rabbit.
Hardly the kind of incendiary material you’d expect would result in a need for false teeth.
While the article gives a neat title to an infamous chapter of surf history, you suspect that it was Rabbit’s and fellow Aussies deeds in the water on the North Shore that landed them in trouble with the kind of people you don’t want to be on the wrong side of, much more than Rabbit’s prose.
Whatever it was, it was a bad move.
The recently formed Da Hui, local enforcers clubbing together to stand up for Hawaiian surfing interests against a flood of foreigners on the North Shore and founding member ‘Fast’ Eddie Rothman, in particular, took it upon themselves to teach Bugs a few lessons.
Lessons that involved numerous episodes of violence, including Rabbit getting his teeth knocked down his throat, being locked in the back of a truck with six ferocious dogs, and eventually saw the Aussie contingent spending the season holed up in their accommodation, petrified of breaking cover.
Fellow Aussie Ian ‘Kanga’ Cairns kept a loaded shotgun in his car that season to protect himself, and as the situation escalated from a surf beef to talk of death threats, contract killings and assorted underworld heaviness, the Aikau family stepped in to call a ho’oponopono – traditional Hawaiian parlay in a conference room at the Turtle Bay Hotel.
The Aikau intervention, which many believed saved Bugs’ life, resulted in him agreeing to being banned from surfing on the North Shore, save his heats in scheduled competition, for three years in order to stop the violence.
Despite eventually making amends with Hawaiian surfing community, Rabbit, who would go on to become ASP President and usher in the Dream Tour era of the 90’s/2000’s later reflected that the episode “cut me in half as a man”.