Process of Elimination

Surfing competition would soon have rules and protocol, but this didn't equal formality. The typical 1960s surf contest, with its Scoutmaster-like organizers and its small hive of keen but unpracticed competitors, had the neighborly feel of a soap box derby.

The earliest issues of SURFER included a short “Contests and Clubs” section, but it wasn’t until late 1962 that a surf meet earned feature-length treatment in the magazine, and another four years after that before publisher John Severson put a contest shot on the cover. Then as now, surfers recognized the gulf between the day-to-day experience of riding waves—which was often combative, yes, but al...

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