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the point

down from the north, board members, Greg and Ward

up from Ventura, Mike Harrelson (“Barrelson”)

mike’s 1990 surgical strike

point van

two mellons

perfect pair

Rob and Jim sandwhich

smokin’ the ranch lock

a good morning

all smiles

ground truthing 1

ground truthing 2

ground truthing 3

ground truthing 4

Steve Merrill

Brute Force

Rob Puddicombe, friend of the underdog

team Puddicombe

Rob and Anna

President Caughlan

Birdlegs again

For six arduous years I was devoted to helping surfing’s first truly national environmental organization get off the ground, grow and make a difference. Initially we just needed to move our headquarters out of Tom Pratte’s bedroom. Tom was the principal force and inspiration behind the start up of The Surfrider Foundation in 1985; about a year later, Tom asked me to join Surfrider’s board and soon I found myself at my first meeting (and it seems countless others to follow).

 

That day we gathered at Tom’s parents’ house in Huntington Beach. We convened upstairs around Tom’s bed, then we hauled everything down to the living room. I remember several of us nearly falling off his mom’s couch when he announced we had over 400 members; we fledglings were blown away—that many surfers got it together, and got together, to join an environmental group!

 

In 1992, I left Surfrider disillusioned with its increasing association with the surfing lifestyle industry and those carpet bombers of the sport. By then we had doubled in size six times and represented nearly 24,000 members. I think Surfrider’s membership doubled once in the next twenty years. What a ride.

 

I was on the board, when reluctantly, and with great personal sadness, we were forced to fire Tom, our visionary, but stubborn leader who was then the Executive Director, separating him from the organization he founded and loved so dearly. That was a miserable time.

 

This photo essay is about a better one. In the early 90’s I arranged for a couple board retreats near home; one on the Gaviota Coast to introduce the mushrooming organization to a pressing Point Conception issue (the US Air Force’s plan to condemn portions of the Bixby Ranch); the other at the Channel Islands where we hammered out a tighter vision for the national and how we were going to subdivide into chapters. Both meetings were also intended to give us a chance to get to know each other.

 

These pics were shot with a 140° FOV, Widelux camera. Over time I’ll be putting up more photos from those two trips.

Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia generously supported SF at the time, contributing among other things, Mike to the organization. Wonderful Mike is a free spirit, creative thinker and writer. He now lives in Bozeman, and claims he still surfs. Mike was the first to arrive at the gate that morning and I loved opening it for him.

Fall 2012. Mike is still surfing. He sometimes refers to surf trips launched from his home in Montana to far-off, global places as “surgical strikes.” Prior to deploying, he meticulously studies information gathered from weather satellites about swells and conditions at targeted international locations. This popular strategy depends upon commercialized forecasting algorithms exploited by surf report web sites.

 

Apparently his goal is to impeccably time his missions for the best conditions and to get in and out like Seal Team Six. He prefers little collateral inconvenience.

It is hard to imagine a better place for a base camp and to park an old friend—a well-stocked VW camper.

Goofy Mike.

1960’s camper and a Gaviota Coast two-track.

Rob Puddicombe, Jim Knox and Rob “Birdlegs” Caughlan.

This is a tight crop from the preceding shot of the Robs and Jim.

Mark Massara, SF’s Legal Counsel; Tracy Richmond; Birdlegs; me and Jim Knox.

Dr. Scott Jenkins, Surfrider’s Environmental Director, and Tracy.

Tracy, Scott and Birdlegs.

Birdlegs, Scott and Tracy

Tracy, me and Birdlegs

Mark Massara, Legal Counsel; Dr. Scott Jenkins, Environmental Director; Birdlegs, Pres.

 

In early 2012, Birdlegs wrote to share the following story:

 

“Nearly twenty two years later I barely remember the star-filled Point Conception sky or the lapping of the night’s waves inside the cove. But I do recall my companion, Dr. Scott Jenkins, his good surfer body and winning smile. I remember we split a bottle of tequila and slept soundly in the sand, and that we had visitors. All around us in the morning we found the fresh tracks of wild boar. It was probably lucky we didn’t wake up.”

Rob and Anna Puddicombe, early Santa Barbara area members of Surfrider, helped launch the Santa Barbara chapter and focus its attention on Gaviota Coast issues.

As you know, I was Surfrider’s president for our first six years, but it wasn’t until this trip that I enjoyed perhaps the best perk of my status.

 

It happened while paddling for one of those classic Cojo waves. Another surfer was about to drop in and snake me, but he hesitated then pulled out and I got the wave to myself.

 

When I returned to the lineup, a fellow board member said, “When that guy saw it was you, he turned to me and shouted, ‘I wasn’t going to drop in on that dude. He’s got 25,000 surfers behind him!'”

 

Birdlegs, 2012

Rob is still a dear friend. He’s promoting green cemeteries where surfers and others can be buried to return themselves ecologically to the earth.