This is the first in a series of articles by Ian Thompson on the Swami’s Surfing Association that is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Special to The Coast News
Encinitas in the 1960s with its uncrowded beaches, warm weather and fledgling surfboard industry provided the perfect backdrop for a group of local teenagers to cut class, meet in the dirt parking lot atop Noonan’s Point next to the Self Realization Fellowship, and head out for one of their regular surf sessions. The point was later renamed Seacliff Roadside Park and finally, after the surfers applied considerable pressure on the city, Swami’s.
At that time the surfing community up and down the coast was banding together in the form of local clubs for the principle purpose of competing in contests. Swami’s already had it’s own Swami’s Surfing Society, a group comprised mainly of older individuals who worked in the local surfboard industry dominated at the time by Hansen, Surfboards Hawaii and Sunset Surfboards.
These individuals had built a lifestyle around surfing. By being in manufacturing they were on the cutting edge of design and enjoyed the added bonus of being able to surf whenever the waves were good.
In ’64, Swami’s lifeguard Mickey Holder, a wounded Korean vet and friend to Jack Kerouac and other members of the beat generation, suggested to the younger crew that they start their own surf club. Sid Madden took him up on the idea and attempted to start the Patches Surfing Association, named after the surf break just North of Swami’s, now called Boneyards. Support for the idea was lukewarm until Mickey suggested to Sid that he change the name to the Swami’s Surfing Association and with that the club was born.
In an attempt to create an identity the group had some sweatshirts printed.
Unfortunately the final product was more of a fashion train wreck than cool surf attire so Mickey stepped in again and took a logo to Pakistan on one of his merchant marine trips.
He returned with hand-sewn patches that were soon attached to a batch of gold colored jackets purchased from a magazine ad. With this flashy new garb sported around town by the likes of hot surfers Cheer Critchlow and Randy Miller the club took off and embarked on its golden years.
Next week, how the association took down a giant of the U.S. surf scene.