My friends have always been more successful than I (me?). They surfed, went to school, became doctors, lawyers, board builders, pro surfers, photographers, and, in rare cases, professional surf bums. Some, like Paul Holmes, Chris Cote, Scott Bass, Scott Hulet, Kevin Kinnear and Kevin Naughton became writers.
While not my best friends, I have known the two surfers in the adjacent photo for more than half my life. I first met the woman in the shot when I was 21 years old and she was celebrating her 18th birthday party. I arrived in her home with another great woman surfer, Margo Godfrey, who changed her name to Oberg a year or so later, after marrying my friend, Steve Oberg. But the woman in the photo is 1982 Women’s World Surfing Champion Debbie Melville Beacham.
I surfed with Debbie often in the mid ‘80s, along with numerous mutual friends including the late Chris O’Rourke and surfing hall of famer, Sandy Ordille. I was always proud to know each of them, but never more than when Debbie stroked into a big set wave at Windansea and laid into a hard bottom turn.
The man to the left of Debbie is named Steve Pezman. He is best known for starting a publication called The Surfer’s Journal. He called me into his little office some 25 years ago and explained that he would be selling a surf magazine for $12.95, and limit it to only five ads per issue. It seemed like a crazy idea, but decided to contribute anyway. A few years later, when the multi talented Scott Hulet was looking for work, I took him around to meet Nick Carroll, who was running Surfing Magazine, Guy Motil, who was starting Longboard Magazine, and finally Steve Pezman. Both Motil and Pezman were impressed with Hulet. He was hired first by Motil, then by Pezman, where he continues as editor of the Surfer’s Journal.
I could continue bragging about my friends and how they set high water marks in the surfing world, but in the long run that doesn’t mean much. Sure, I enjoy being recognized by great surfers and award-winning publishers, and I especially love when one of them walks up to me and begins a conversation. “You know them?” friends often say, in wonder. Of course I try acting casual, but inwardly I’m shouting. Yeah, that’s pretty cool. Cooler still is time spent with such quality people.
Another surfer I’m proud to call friend is Kevin Kinnear. Kevin was the editor of Breakout Magazine, a surf publication he edited years before I fell into that slot. Kevin took the shot you’re looking at.
We were all gathered to celebrate the life of our dearly beloved Kurt Ledterman, a one-time associate editor of Surfer Magazine, and one of my first writing mentors. Also on hand were longtime friends and surf photo legends Jon Foster and Jeff Divine. George Taylor, Carl Ekstrom, Henry Hester, and many others who continue to drift in and out of my life like the tide, were also in attendance. I love them, and hope I have made half the impression on them as they have on me. When it’s my time and some of them are around to speak on my behalf, none of them should ever say I was the best surfer. I am not. I would be honored, however, if they said I was a good friend.