Hey All,

“Nature Gets a Makeover” is the latest History of Surfing chapter, and I have a question. If you could wave a wand and remove all harbors, piers, jetties, breakwaters, groynes, seawalls, etc., etc., and restore the coast to its original state—would you? I would, in a heartbeat. Even though, by my rough reckoning, we’d be in for a pretty serious net loss of surf breaks. Ala Moana, Superbank, Sandspit, the Wedge, Sebastian Inlet, Bay of Plenty, the list goes on. The Army Corps of Engineers, over the past 100 or so years, along with various other agencies worldwide powerful enough to alter the coast, Forrest Gumped its way into producing many of the finest waves on the planet.

Of the spots we’d gain back, the most welcome return of all would likely be Killer Dana and that sweet little collection of breaks just to the south, all of which were eliminated in the mid-’60s to built Dana Point Harbor. San Diego writer Chris Ahrens, with great love and sadness, details whole awful transformation in “The Breaking of Killer Dana.” (My very first surfing book, and still among my favorites, was 1963’s Surfing Guide to Southern California, by Bill Cleary and David Stern. The aerial views of Dana Point and nearby Doheny are heartbreaking, as is this final plaintive sentence in the Dana Point entry: “Small-boat harbor will probably put an end to this popular surfing spot, or greatly alter its surf.” Ron Drummond aside, nobody even bothered to protest. We’re pretty fucking hopeless, surfers, when you get down to it.)

Encyclopedia of Surfing

Nev Hyman, though. Aussie shaper-designer-ginger-humanitarian Nev Hyman is very much NOT hopeless. His freckled hands have shaped tens of thousands of first-rate boards, his huge brain dragged the rest of his mostly-hidebound boardcrafting brethren into the machine age by conjuring shaping software and shaping machines, and his better angels jumped out of the surfing sphere altogether to design and build low-cost housing from recycled materials. Nev is a surf-world treasure, and his long-overdue EOS page has an ethereal if slightly-reddish glow.

Encyclopedia of Surfing

Last but not least, here is my video ode to the kickout, and let there be no argument that the three greatest pullout artists in surf history are, in order: 3) Gerry Lopez, 2) Phil Edwards, 1) Wayne Bartholomew. Rabbit brings the comic flair (see his Junkie Tie-Off kickout at 00:35), and there’s the difference.

Encyclopedia of Surfing

Thanks for reading, everyone, and see you next week!