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John Emerson Davis to be inducted into Surfing Hall of Fame

John Davis © Mike Moir






Surf Culture

Huntington Beach High School surf team's first captain to be honored

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 13 July, 2015 - Huntington Beach, California - John Emerson Davis, the first captain of the Huntington Beach High School surf team in 1967, joins Gordon “Grubby” Clark and C.J. Hobgood as the 2015 inductees to the Surfers’ Hall of Fame.  The trio will be immortalized in cement on Friday, July 31st at 10 a.m. in front of Huntington Surf & Sport. 

Born in Lynwood on July 3, 1951, John learned to surf at age 12 at Doheny on a Dewey Weber board and was hooked for life.  By the mid to late sixties he was a hot teenage surfer sponsored by “The Greek” Surfboards, doing well in local amateur events.  John was elected the first Surf Club Team Captain of the Huntington Beach High School surf team in 1967 and would later graduate from HBHS in 1969. 

John took his talents to Oahu where he raised more than a few eyebrows with a 2nd place finish at the 1969 Sea Spree at Haleiwa behind Fred Hemmings and a 3rd place at Honolua Bay in 1970 finishing behind the legendary Gerry Lopez and Barry Kanaiapuna.  John surprised many in the surf world when he won the North Shore Trials of the Smirnoff Pro Am at Sunset Beach ahead of Australian Mark Warren in 1972. 

When the U.S. Surfing Championships moved to Malibu in 1973, John had to start at the bottom and work his way through the trials, which he won.  He would ultimately place third in the main event behind Hawaiians Larry Bertleman and Mike Smith.  That would be his final foray into competitive surfing as John began a lengthy battle with addiction that would change his life and ultimately lead him to his current role as the President of Akua Mind and Body, an addiction treatment facility in Orange County. 

John Davis spent many years in addiction and crime that sent him to prison twice, one of those terms in Mexico.  As a result he was unable to surf for almost 8 years.  “I’ve known many surfers whose lives ended following this lifestyle,” said Davis.  “Fortunately, 17 years ago I was blessed with sobriety following my last prison term.  I’ve received many gifts; my wife, children, my career and my own business…and 17 more years of surfing. “

Although John counts surfing legends like John Boozer (for his cutback), Phil Edwards (for his smoothness), and Gerry Lopez (showed him how to ride the barrel) among his idols, his biggest “surf” influence was Bob “The Greek” Bolen who has sponsored John for 50 years and finally made him his own signature model; a 7’0” Shorty John Davis Pro Flex.  John is a regular on the Huntington Beach Pier north side almost every day and, together with his wife, follows developments on the world tour, often texting back and forth during WCT events.

“JD” considers the three results in Hawaii as his most memorable surfing moments.  “The trophies from those contests were lost 25 years ago,” said Davis.  “Remarkably they were returned to me via Bud Llamas about two years ago.  They are now my most prized possessions.”

·         His first job was as a janitor at South Coast Repertory Theater at age 15.

·         His worst job was at AM-PM at age 35.

·         His best job has been for the last 17 years in the Drug and Alcohol Treatment field.

·         He met his wife through a mutual friend then went to the Doheny Blues Festival and they were married four years later.

·         John has three beautiful step daughters, one of whom was Miss Huntington Beach in 2011-2012.  According to John, they all did Jr. Guards and surfed a little.

·         Having to surf waves created from a coast guard in Virginia Beach during the East Coast Surfing Championships in 1968 is the funniest thing that ever happened to him.

·         Getting sober is the accomplishment that he is most proud of.

·         John is a fan of Kelly Slater and the young guys who surf for HSS because they absolutely rip.

·         He is passionate about surfing because it brings him serenity and keeps him young.

·         His favorite surf spots are Trestles and HB Pier; he surfs north side HB Pier almost every day.


“John Davis is a Local Surf Legend who has been surfing our Pier since the 60's and is still out in the lineup today shredding with style and class!!,” said Aaron Pai.  “Cool out in the water and Cool on land!!  We are So Honored to Induct John Davis into the Surfers' Hall of Fame!”

 The Surfers’ Hall of Fame induction ceremony pays tribute to those individuals who have made an indelible mark on the sport, industry and culture of surfing.  Annually, tens of thousands of visitors travel to Huntington Beach’s downtown area and literally walk in the footsteps of surfing superstars and legends from several eras including Laird Hamilton, Andy Irons, Jack O’Neill, Robert August, Bob Hurley, Sean Collins, Kelly Slater, Lisa Andersen, Pat O’Connell, Al Merrick, Shaun Tomson, Rob Machado, Skip Frye and Rabbit Kekai, who are already immortalized in cement. 

Mike Kingsbury

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