Surfer Claude Horan, credited with naming Steamer Lane, dies at 96
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 28 June, 2014 - Former surfer Claude "Duke" Horan — who is credited with naming Steamer Lane, one of the most popular breaks along the coast of California — died June 11 in Hawaii at the age of 96.
Friend Harry Mayo — a surf pioneer in Santa Cruz and one of the founding members of the Santa Cruz Surf Club in 1936 — said Horan "accidentally" named Steamer Lane, the break located northwest of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk and east of Lighthouse Point Park.
During a winter storm in the late 1930s, big sets of waves were rolling through, prompting Horan to tell a group of surfers gathered around a beach fire, "My God, look outside, they're breaking clean out in the steamer lane," referring to the route steam boats would take to the Santa Cruz Wharf. The name stuck with the surfers.
Mayo said Burlingame surfer Fred Hunt sent a letter to Horan in 1941, penning "The Steamer Lane Kid" above the receiving address. "There are a bunch of other cockamamie stories," Mayo said of how Steamer Lane came to be named, "but that's how it happened. Accidentally, as it turns out."
The story is referenced at the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum, located adjacent to Steamer Lane at the Mark Abbott Memorial Lighthouse at Lighthouse Point on West Cliff Drive.
Steamer Lane, which has hosted several big surfing events, including the long running O'Neill Coldwater Classic, is known by surfers worldwide. The Lane offers a series of reefs that can yield 15-foot waves, while there is an additional fear factor as surfers must maneuver alongside the cliffs.