Corky Carroll lists, rants, raves about Huntington's best
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 3 April, 2009 : - - The other day I got an email regarding the current series I am doing on Huntington Beach in my Saturday column in the LOCAL section of the Register. This reader asked me who I thought was the greatest surfer at the Huntington Beach Pier over the past 50 plus years that I have been surfing that spot. This is a complicated question as there have been so many great surfers that have come and gone over the years.
After thinking about it I think the best way for me to answer that is to break it down to eras and say that these are just my opinions. The Huntington Beach Pier is a real focal point of the surfing world. With all the competitions held here almost every top surfer in the world has been here at one time or another.
When I first was surfing the pier the guys that seemed to be the most respected were Chucker Burgess and Chris Marseille. Plus there were the Haley brothers and the Buell brothers. Not to leave out Robert August. I was in awe of everybody as I was just learning and they all seemed like gods to me.
In the early sixties Illima Kalama came to town and won the U.S. Championship. Plus there was Mark Martinson who was young and really hot. It seems to me that during those years there was no one person who was like the best surfer there. There were a whole bunch. John Boozer was a standout and a little later Herbie Fletcher.
The first guy who I can actually say was hands down the best surfer in town was David Nuuhiwa. I dont think many would disagree with that either. David came over from Hawaii and at first hung out in the South Bay. But soon he moved down to Huntington Beach and by the time he won the Juniors at the United States Championship in 1966 he was already the man at the pier. I won the Mens division that year and am glad that David was still a junior.
This was at the height of the noseriding era and there was nobody better than David Nuuhiwa at noseriding. His hanging ten soul arch from that final heat goes down as an all time classic and would probably be the stamp from that era of surfing. Of all the surfers who would be considered the best or one of the best at the pier I dont think that anybody would come close to David for out and out dominating the spot. He is my pick for the best ever, taking into consideration that is in relation to his era and surfers of then cannot be compared to surfers of today.
After David there was Buddy Lamas. Buddy was an absolutely great surfer and although he did not gain a ton of International fame and glory he was certainly the king of Huntington Beach for many years.
As I mentioned earlier almost every top surfer in the world has visited this place at one time or another. Some surfed here very well and others didnt. The place has its own personality and is not everybodys cup of tea, so to speak. The guys who were able to adapt and be successful included Shawn Tomson, Sonny Garcia, Peter Townend, both Ho brothers, Mark Richards, Cheyne Horan, Sean Bechan and obviously Kelly Slater.
Kelly is in a zone of his own and has proven over and over that he is nothing less that the greatest surfer of our time, and that includes at the Huntington Beach Pier or anywhere else he might wanna surf. Only Laird Hamilton would be in his league and that is in surf over twenty feet. And we dont get surf like that here so he doesnt count.
In recent years there have been a ton of great young surfers attacking this place every day. I dont feel really qualified to say which ones of them are the best. Danny Nichols, Timmy Turner, Wyatt Simmons and a whole slew of them that I dont even know their names have all blown my mind at one time or another.
For a while I was riding longboards and during that time I lost touch with the state of the art surfing on short boards. Then I got back on midsized boards and lost touch with both state of the art long and short boarding. So I dont wanna say who is best now, I am not qualified to make that call. They all look good to me. This is the reason I decline to be a judge for the competitions. How can you judge something you cannot feel or know of yourself.
Anyway, there it is as best as I could opinionate on that subject.
What's your take on this?
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