Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Waves Of Warning

Written in the style of a James Michener saga combined with the action adventure of 'The Perfect Storm', Glenn Hening's "Waves of Warning" was first published in 2004 and is still available, as is his condensed version.

Glenn released "The Orginal Manuscript - Collectors Edition of 'Waves of Warning'", divided into two volumes. Part One, "The First Winds of Winter" and Part Two, "Ancient Waves." A year later, he took the time to go back through the 780 page story and tighten it up to make a single, slightly shorter single volume.

The story begins with a lone mariner at a sacred Polynesian reef and continues through the heart of the surf industry in Orange County, the pro surf scene on the North Shore, the billion dollar deals on Wall Street, massive storms in Antarctica, the endless waves of the Roaring 40s, tow-in surfing on 80' waves, and an archipelago not found on any maps where a society of people have lived for hundred of years untouched by modern technology.

If you are interested in ordering a copy of the original or the condensed edition of "Waves of Warning," leave a "comment" here and I will pass it along to Glenn.

Alternatively, you can read "Waves of Warning" at LEGENDARY SURFERS, in serialized form beginning with:

Waves of Warning - Foreword by Drew Kampion, Introduction by Glenn, along with a Table of Contents

Each serialized chapter includes a link to the Word format version that can be read online or downloaded.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

History of Surfing

Back some time ago, Ben Marcus wrote a concise history of surfing for the "Surfing For Life" series. If you haven't seen it, please go to:

SURFING FOR LIFE -- History of Surfing

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

International Surfing Day Origins

Neal "Sponge" Miyake has kept the origins of "International Surfing Day" alive, writing in 2005:

It's pretty neat to see that the idea of a worldwide surfing day has finally taken hold...

[Let's] acknowledge the originators of the idea -- the alt.surfing newsgroup. Back in 1993, during the pioneer days of what would become the Internet, some computer-geek/surfer types communicating on Usenet (a distributed Internet discussion system) decided to have a "World Surf Day."

Since then it's been a not-quite yearly event, with varying levels of participation and stoke. I compiled the first decade at:

We've even had heated discussions over which day would be the appropriate day: equinoxes or solstices, Earth Day, other holidays (see Such arcane discussions are the hallmark of "alt.surfers."

One guy (non-alt.surfer) actually tried to legitimize it back in 2002
via his website,
That didn't last long.

But the true alt.surfers have endured, continuing the longstanding tradition.

So, the next time International Surfing Day rolls around, just remember to give a tip of your hat to the originators of the event.


Neal "sponge" Miyake

Google Groups : alt.surfing

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Monday, May 30, 2005

Wegener Surfboards

Just received this note (slightly edited) from veteran LEGENDARY SURFERS reader and Australian shaper Tom Wegener: 

Dear Malcom, I wish I bought your book a long time ago! I am going to purchase it over the internet tomorrow... I went to the Bishop Museum last year and got into the archives. I saw all the old boards and was blown away by how masterfully they were crafted. I took all the measurements off an Olo and to some photos of the Alaia. I have made replicas of both. I have had pneumonia so I haven't really ridden the Olo in proper surf yet, but I am having a blast on the Alaia. They ride great. It has turned my surfing world up-side-down. It drives across open walls, hangs tight in the pocket, can cut back on a flat shoulder. With practice I think I can hold it in a tube. I live in Noosa, Australia so I get some pretty perfect to test it in... Tom Wegener WEGENER SURFBOARDS 0401 257 479 Wegener Surfboards - The Wegeners

Friday, May 27, 2005

Dale Velzy, R.I.P.

Dale Velzy has left us. My chapter on Dale remains the best free source of info about his life as a surfer and shaper. If you have not done so already, please visit: Dale "The Hawk" Velzy 

Monday, May 23, 2005

Snake's 2 Websites

 If you've been wonering where Snake is, he's got two websites: his long-standing website: Bruce "Snake" Gabrielson's Surfing Page and also his mid-Atlantic surf products site:

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Les Williams: Nick Gabaldon

I was fortunate to recently receive more info from Les Williams about Nick Gabaldon. Les wrote:

Malcolm: ... Reviewed your blog on Nick Gabaldon today and found some inconsistencies. I grew up surfing on the Beaches of Santa Monica in the 1945 thru 1955 era, with Pete and TZ as friends. often surfed in front of Ricky's house then, his mother then was known as Mrs. Campbell. Nick came to join us in the water in the late 40's, but learned his surfing at the (now removed) Crystal Pier. I know of no reference to the 'inkwell', and knew many of the SM lifeguards then, and never heard such a derogatory term. Nick was totally accepted by us as a surfer, and a person. Please review what Pezman put in the latest Surfers Journal, with an article by me. Understand that Nick was one of my self-described 'troika'. Surfing has never been race or color sensitive, but is sure is receptive of ability. Nick was a little slow on his feet, as a surfer, but as an accomplished (former) Navy Boxer he was powerful, and fast. As a surfer I would rate him at B+, much like Peter Lawford. By contrast I rated Dick Jaeckel at A-... Mahalo, Les Williams

After I asked Les' permission to share the above, he wrote some additional comments: 

Malcolm: Thanks for the response. Please read the TSJ article to keep the Nick Gabaldon article in context. The Nick article is right out of my (still unpublished) book. Most everything in the book are standalone chapters of my observations of 50 plus years of surfing, as that of an avocational sport -- very much opposed to a vocational sport, or past time. Feel free to use my comments in the blog. To the uninitiated my reference to TZ is Tom Zahn (TZ was one of his nicknames, as well as the 'Golden Boy'). Not that it matters, but in my book I carry Pete Peterson, Tom Zahn and Buzzy Trent as my mentors... As TZ would say -- See Yaz. Les W

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Black Surfer Nick Gabaldon

The LEGENDARY SURFERS chapter on Nick Gabaldon is located here:

Additionally, Rick Blocker, historian for the Black Surfing Association, wrote about Nick. Rick was kind enough to let me include it here:

Nicholas R. Gabaldon, California’s First Black Surfing Legend
By Rick Blocker, Black Surfing Association Historian

In the early 1940’s there existed a 200 foot roped off stretch of Santa Monica Beach. That area was sometimes affectionately referred to as “The Inkwell”. This space had been established as a stretch of beach for Negroes only. Decades before any equality legislation, this segregate beach space offered blacks a place to enjoy the sun and sand and to pursue a myriad of interesting activities. Word has it that there was a large community of Negro beach boys who regularly played volleyball, swam and body surfed. Infamous names in Santa Monica history such as Carter, Chychester and Mouton were often mentioned as some of the pioneer Black Santa Monica Surfers of the earlier1930 pre-war era. But it is unclear if any of these beach boys actually owned their own board because documentation is slim, and surfboards were expensive and hard to come by. But we do know that during the summer months, the inkwell was crowded with black children, teenagers and families from Santa Monica, Venice, Los Angeles and its surrounding areas all enjoying mother nature’s oceans treasures.

During these years is when a tall, handsome and athletic black man began showing up regularly at the inkwell. With his cool and casual demeanor, his athleticism and his love for the ocean he quickly became recognized as a “someone special”. His name was Nicolas Gabaldon and he quickly befriended the lifeguards and got opportunities to use some of their equipment. One piece was a 13’ redwood rescue surfboard that was becoming slowly popular amongst a crew of teenagers and young men who lived along the California coast. They were called surfers.

During his teenage years Nick surfed whenever he got the chance and attended Santa Monica High School. During the 1940’s the city of Santa Monica had good sized black community. Census shows some 2,000 blacks living within the city limits. There within a few blocks of his home there was a thriving black community complete with black churches and businesses. Nick was one of the 50 or so black students attending Samo High. Although he wasn’t alone, it appeared that he was the only Negro that really took to the new sport of wave riding on surfboards. He lived there on 19th Street with his father and mother, Nicolas and Cecelia and his sister (Geraldine LaCour) and her two children. In 1945 Nick graduated high school and was anxious to begin his adult life. World War II was just coming to an end and because of his love for the ocean; he thought he could best serve his country by volunteering for the Navy.

Nick’s one and a half year service in the navy from 1945-1946 helped to reinforce his love for the ocean and surfing. In 1946 he returned home from the service and enrolled in Santa Monica College. While pursuing his education Nick spent more and more time honing his surfing skill at the Inkwell, but with his improved surfing ability it was time to adventure out to more challenging surf breaks. Malibu Beach, some 12 miles north of Santa Monica was developing into a cult hangout spot and the place to be for those who had the courage to ride waves. The breakers at Malibu rolled majestically around a series of cobblestone points that met at a gentle river mouth. Having once been a sacred Chum ash Indian territory, the Malibu Beach waves were perfectly shaped. To nick the waves seemed almost spiritual. Nick, not personally owning a car had days in which he was not able to get a ride up to Malibu. First he would try to hitch hike. But a big black man hitch hiking on the coast highway just didn’t work out so well. Matt Kivlin, standout Malibu surfer remembers talking to him on the day that he first paddled his surfboard the 12 miles north to Malibu to ride the waves. Matt laughs as he speaks “and he paddled back home that night”.

In time Nick was accepted almost without question into the small and prestigious group of Malibu surf locals. To many of them he was characterized as a handsome, well liked guy with great surfing ability. Malibu regular, Bill Shea remembers Nick as a respectful, unassuming man. “At first he would kind of keep his distance and allow us some space. He was the new kid on the block so he would just surf and them sit alone on the beach when he got out of the water and just watch the other surfers. I think he was studying their surfing styles. He was really interested in getting good as a surfer”. But Nick too, was a particularly strong guy and he loved surfing so much that he would try to stay in the water all day and until late into the evening. He didn’t have to sit alone for too long for the locals almost always embrace talented surfers. And that Nick was. He was Californian’s first Black Surfing Icon and he hung out with legendary surfers such as Bob Simmons,, Joe Quigg and Matt Kivlin. This was before Gidget. This was before America’s great surf boom and contests and clothing and surf magazines. And still some say that Blacks don’t surf.
According to Doc Ball, founding father of one of California’s first surfboarding organizations, The Palos Verdes Surf Club, Nick was probably the first Black Surfer because in the thirties they counted among their white membership: one Hispanic and one Japanese American. No Blacks. Although stories existed of maybe a Black surfer at San Onofre or some guy at Windansea, most surfing pioneers knew Nick personally.

On June 5, 1951 one of the strongest south swells in memory slammed into the California coast at Malibu Beach. From point to pier the waves rattled in, cresting at a solid eight to ten feet. A call went out to the Malibu crew-California’s surfing elite-and soon they struggled from shore to line up to launch themselves on a primal dance across towering waves. Now among the elite was a black surfer Nick Gabaldon. On that fateful afternoon he rode his last wave at Malibu. It was a big one, the kind that on most days you only dream of. I’ve talked to people who witnessed his glide and his grace on that day and although there are many accounts of the accident, all agree that on the wave, he just seemed to go and go, like he was in a trance, as if being summoned by the spirits. As he neared the pier he kept gliding and gliding, like it wasn’t even there. Then he disappeared.

The signifigence of Nick Gabaldon is overwhelming. He left the sport of surfing in a better place for his efforts. And he began a dream for many of us who have followed in his footsteps, to continue through our own lives. He was a special guy granted to live a special life. As we too are blessed with this special life. And surfing makes us better people. And being better people make the planet Earth a better place to live. His message to pursue our passions is clear. Even in the light of the greatest adversity, we can achieve. And if he can do it, I can do it. Nick taught me that. I don’t want to forget it.


Lost Lives

The capricious ocean so very strong,
Robust, powerful, can I be wrong?
Pounding, beating upon its cousin shore,
Comes it clapping, rapping with a mighty roar.

The sea vindictive, with waves so high,
For me to battle and still they die.
Many has it taken to it’s bowels below,
Without regards it thus does bestow,
Its laurels to unwary men.

With riches taken from ships gone by,
Its wet song reaches to the sky,
To claim its fallen man made birds,
And plunge them into depths below,
With a nauseous surge.

Scores and scores have fallen prey,
To the salt of animosity,
And many more will victims be,
Of the capricious, vindictive sea.

O, avaricious ocean so very strong,
Robust, powerful, I’m not wrong.
Pounding, beating upon your cousin shore.
Come you clapping, rapping with a mighty roar.

Written by Nick Gabalon May 31, 1951….
six days before he lost his life.


The signifigence of Nick Gabaldon is overwhelming. He left the sport of surfing in a better place for his efforts. And he began a dream for many of us who have followed in his footsteps, to continue through our own lives. He was a special guy granted to live a special life. As we too are blessed with this special life. And surfing makes us better people. And being better people make the planet Earth a better place to live. His message to pursue our passions is clear. Even in the light of the greatest adversity, we can achieve. And if he can do it, I can do it. Nick taught me that. I don’t want to forget it.

Champion and Big Wave Legend Ricky Grigg wrote to me about his friend Nick “he was a great athlete and always a gentleman. Everyone liked him a lot. He was totally accepted in the surf community at Malibu. In fact, he was sort of an icon being the only Black surfer. I would say he was a great ambassador for his race and minorities in general. I considered Nick one of my dearest friends. His death came as a great shock and loss to me personally."

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