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Corky Carroll recalls, celebrates all things Phil Edwards

Phil Edwards © Leroy Grannis 




 

Corky Carroll 

Phil was the first surfer to successfully ride the Banzai Pipeline

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 25 June, 2012 : - - Legendary surfer Phil Edwards just celebrated his 74th birthday on June 10. Phil was the top surfer on the planet during surfing's most colorful period, the late 1950's and early 1960's. Those were the years that surfing went from a cult activity only practiced by a few surfish beatniks to full-blown national fad status. It was largely in part to the release of the movie 'Gidget' in 1959, and helped along by the revolutionary change in surfboard materials from wood to lightweight polyurethane foam at that same time.


Surfing was suddenly "the thing" and easily available to everybody. During that same period Surfer magazine was born and a string of 16mm surfing films began showing at every high school auditorium from Santa Cruz to San Diego on just about any given Friday or Saturday night. The early surf stars were extremely colorful characters whose lore was spread as much by word of mouth around the beach fires up and down the coast as by the films and magazine.

Phil Edwards was born in Long Beach and moved to Oceanside at 9 years old. It was there he learned to surf and to shape surfboards by carving down big bulky ones into smaller, quicker ones that "looked right." Phil's surfing pal at the time was Mickey Dora, a smooth stylish surfer from Malibu. By 1957 Phil and Mickey were changing the face of surfing with their ability to turn and walk the nose of the new lightweight boards.

In 1959, Phil went to work for Hobie Alter, shaping boards for him at his Dana Point surf shop. Mickey was getting tons of stunt work as a surfer and beach character in the endless stream of surf- and beach-related movies that began with Gidget and continued with Frankie and Annette Beach Blanket films. The highlight of those was his performance riding some fairly large surf in Hawaii in the never-to-be-forgotten Hollywood surf epic, "Ride the Wild Surf."

Phil went on to be the first surfer to successfully ride the dreaded "Banzai Pipeline," the first to have a signature model surfboard released with his name on it and the first surfer to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

He was also the first to be named the "Best Surfer in the World" by Surfer magazine's Reader Poll for the year 1963. This was an amazing feat due to the fact that Phil never won a surfing contest. He hated them. His reputation and respect within the surfing community was so strong that he was the only surfer ever to reach such elite status as No. 1 on the Surfer poll without the benefit of a successful competition record.

When noseriding was the big thing in surfboards, Phil, along with Hobie Alter and Mickey Munoz, invented the classic "noserider" design surfboard that is still in use today. The board was originally designed for Munoz and myself to ride in the first Tom Morey Noseriding Invitational, the first professional surfing contest ever held. Mickey won the left foot forward division and I won the right foot forward division.

In later years, Phil was a major part of the Hobie Cat craze and was known as a world-class sailor. Unfortunately, his boyhood surfing pal Mickey Dora took a different road and spent the majority of his life evading the law and hiding out in foreign countries. Nonetheless, Phil and Mickey were two of the most interesting and respected surfers ever to paddle out, and their groundbreaking approach to riding waves in the 1950's opened the way for those of us who followed.

Mickey has passed away and Phil is 74. But their legend is huge. Along with Dewey Weber, Munoz, Mike Doyle, George Downing, Hobie, Walter Hoffman and a handful of others, these guys were the first of the new breed of surfers known at the time as "hotdoggers."

These guys showed guys like myself, David Nuuhiwa, Nat Young and Jock Sutherland how to do it. We took it to the next level with the shortboard revolution and passed it along to the guys who followed us. So on and so forth until you have what we have today.

So, in the wake of Phil turning 74, I wanted to wish him a happy birthday and, in case I never said it before, to say here and now "THANKS" for everything he did that allowed me to do what I did. Surfing is now and has been my life since I was a little kid and went to see "Cat on a Hot Foam Board."

After I saw that film I tried as hard as I could to surf like him. He had an enormous influence on me. Phil Edwards is a true surf legend that never should be forgotten.


Source: Corky's Blog

Author: Corky Carroll / corkysurf@aol.com

Tags, Surf Magazines, Hawaii, California, Surfing Media

Corky's Blog - Surfersvillage


 

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