"Duke's Big Contest," last week's History of Surfing post, gave me a moment of pause, thinking about how at the time of the first Duke Invitational (1965) there were zero surf events on the North Shore. How many are there in 2017, I wonder, all told, pro and am, rated and unrated, SUP and so forth? Ten contests? Fifteen? More, I bet. You can trace it all back to the first heat of the first Duke. I lean pro-contest, but with a long list of preconditions. Short events, good surf, quality judging, tight organization. The '65 Duke had all that, plus teen-dream Jeff Hakman absolutely schooling the old guys. Great event. A mark that today's North Shore events still aim for—and occasionally hit.
Long-time North Shore vet Fred Van Dyke was contest director for the '65 Duke, and that was more than reason enough to upload "Winterland," my 2005 Surfers Journal profile on Fred. It's a long read, but I think you'll be as swept away by the man's life and times as I was. Humor, hardship, adventure, folly, wisdom, redemption—Fred lived it all. A true surfing original.
I'm writing this from a cozy little room at the Atlantic Art Center in New Smyrna Beach, where the Florida Surf Film Festival is taking place. Here's a short EOS promo I made for the occasion. The shot at 00:32, that's me at age 10, on a Blue Cheer, the second board I owned — 6' 10" x 16", no rocker. A shop salesman actually let me walk out the door with that ridiculous needle of a surfboard. The fact that I learned to turn before the year was out is maybe the signal achievement of my surfing life.
Coming up this week: signature model boards, including—and the middle-schooler in me will always grin at this one—the Peck Penetrator.