Surfing in San Diego (CA) (Images of America)
John C. Elwell
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San Diego County has nearly 75 miles of picturesque coastline on the mighty Pacific Ocean, and for decades, San Diego has boasted of producing some of the world's finest surfers. But here surfing is more
than a sport--it is a Southern California lifestyle--and as such has heavily influenced the beach towns throughout the county. Much research points to surfing having come to Southern California in 1907,
and it may have taken hold in San Diego as early as 1910. Join with us in this wonderful pictorial journey through San Diego's little-known surfing past.
ON THE COVER: “This is a shot of the Coronado Surf Club when they gathered at North Beach in 1963. The tide pool in the foreground was absolutely still and glassy while I was preparing to shoot, and I knew I only had a few minutes. My first attempt turned out too dark, and this was my second photograph. Then the wind blew across and ruined any other opportunities I might have had. I think it’s one of my signature photos,” said Tom Keck, describing his photograph. Surfing in San Diego John C.
Loose Boards.” (Courtesy of Woody Ekstrom.) John Elwell stands beside his Simmons board in 1952. The boards pictured are balsa and fiberglass, the forerunners of modern hydrodynamic design. Varnished wood surfboards disappeared along with hollow paddleboards because they became obsolete. Foam surfboards began to arrive with the post–World War II improved technology. The surfers at Windansea were often at the forefront of design and innovation. (Courtesy of John Elwell.) Carl Knox (left) and
Diffenderfer, Carl Ekstrom, and Ronald Patterson, noticed that Simmons had been knocked off his board by a formidable set. Surging whitewater minimized visibility, and no one paid much attention until a local youngster retrieved Simmons’s board and pulled it up on the beach. The surfing community went numb with shock. His body washed ashore a few days later. (Photograph by John Elwell.) Windansea regulars pose with their boards at the shack in 1951. Two very early John Blankenship foam boards
with us: LeRoy Grannis, Emil Sigler, Richard Dowdy, Richard James, Jim “Mouse” Robb, Tani Church Bell, Shirley Richards, John Oakley, Bill “Hadji” Hein, Mike “Electric Duck” Richardson, Laura Kaye, Evelyn Largent, Fred Ashley, Diana Brummett, Glen McInery, Terry Curren, Dr. Kenneth Haygood, Michael Dormer, L. J. Richards, Cramer Jackson, Marsh Malcolm, Carl Knox, Jack Lounsberry, Robert “Black Mac” McClendon, Ken Woodward, Mike Burner, Bud Caldwell, Tommy Lewis, Don Craig, and the families of
Emil Sigler, and Don Pritchard; (second row) Jack Prodanovich, Dick “Storm Surf” Taylor, Tex Paskowitz, Lloyd Baker, and Bill Sayles; (third row) Dempsey Holder, Jack Palmer, Raymond “Skeeter” Malcolm, Kimball Daun, and Roy Penwarden. (Courtesy of Bill Hein.) Pulled from a 1938 spread in the San Diego Union, the caption reads: “A group of local paddleboard enthusiasts has introduced a new sport, paddleboard water polo, to the winter program at Mission Beach Plunge. Body blocking and other rough