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The essence of the new surf consciousness

This is the fifth in a series of articles on the Swami’s Surfing Association, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Special to The Coast News

In the late ‘60s, the surfing culture underwent a transformation.  Prompted by the youth driven social rebellion of the day, the growing presence of drugs in society, and while still in the throes of the Vietnam war, surfing stepped away from its contest scene, downplayed its surf stars, and turned its back on commercially produced surfboards paving the way for a grass roots transformation of the sport.

Armed with this new consciousness, to be cool in surfing now meant avoiding any organized competition while designing and building your own surfboards in your garage or backyard.  This quickly became the essence of the new surf consciousness.

Many a parent would suddenly realize that having an engaged member of the surfing community as offspring often meant a resin encrusted garage and the sudden encroachment of large volumes of dust, easily transported on clothing and shoes, into the confines of their living space.

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As a result of this transformation of the surf scene, the Swami’s Surfing Association, now viewed as a symbol of structure and control, withered and died and it wouldn’t be until 1984 that three of the club’s original members, John Cunnison, John Weatherwax and Steve Anear got together and decided to resurrect the organization.

The trio decided that Steve should be the new president since he had a respectable job as a Deputy District Attorney and was therefore best suited to give the club the kick-start that it needed.

With the established criteria that you still needed to be a good surfer while not exhibiting the characteristics of a ne’er do well, membership rapidly grew to 85.

This resurgence of the SSA was mirrored up and down the coast as clubs from Santa Cruz to Coronado began to reorganize prompting the creation of the Coalition of Surf Clubs, which loosely linked 19 organizations with the goal of fostering inter-club competition.

This genesis in the culture coincided with the growth of commercialization and the marketing of surfing not only to surfers, but also to any potential consumer of artifacts of this rapidly growing sport.

It wouldn’t be long before major clothing, surf hardware and accessory companies would emerge from this new era with their products sported by people eager to be associated with the carefree and adventurous lifestyle of surfing, whether they lived on the coast of California or on the plains of the Midwest.

Next week, the SSA                                           goes mainstream.

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