California native Taylor Knox has often been spoken of as a world title contender since he joined the ASP World Tour as a rookie in 1993. Part of 1990’s “New School” crew that replaced the 80’s power surfers, Knox was known for his rail-to-rail style of surfing. Although unable to garner consistent wins on the pro circuit, Taylor won the 1995 U.S. Championship and then led the 1996 American team to victory at the ISA World Surfing Games with his first place finish in the talent-rich men’s division. In February 1998, Knox catapulted into the international spotlight by winning the inaugural K2 Big-Wave Challenge, an event that offered $50,000 to the surfer who caught the biggest wave of the winter and had photographic evidence. Knox unknowingly dropped into a 52-foot behemoth at Todos Santos that made him a mainstream media darling.
A longtime Huntington Beach surfer, Chuck rode his first wave in 1954, was a men’s finalist at the 1958 Oceanside Invitational and competed in his first U.S. Championships in 1959, held in his hometown. Linnen was among the first wave of California surfers to travel to the North Shore in the early 1960s and was a finalist at the 1961 world contest held at Makaha. He also competed at the 1964 world contest in Peru and was runner-up at the Malibu Masters event in 1973. Linnen helped shape the culture and character of Huntington Beach as a mentor and role model to local surfers—teaching future legends like Corky Carroll how to “shoot the pier.” The “surf king” as many called him was a member of the Huntington Beach Surfing Association and ‘The Boys of 55’ surf club. A retired Irvine high school teacher, Linnen most recently held the NSSA Senior Champ and WSA Grand Master titles.
“The Surfers’ Hall of Fame is proud to honor George Downing one of the great pioneers of big-wave surfing, leaders of our sport, and major force in preserving oceans, reefs, waves and beaches. George is an ambassador to our sport of Surfing, a Legend and is true Surf Royalty,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder, Aaron Pai. “We are thrilled to be able to thank George Downing for his contributions and achievements to our surfing world and stoked that he will be here for his induction into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame!”
Downing was born in 1930 and raised in Honolulu. He began surfing Waikiki at age nine and spent his teen years living with Wally Froiseth, one of the sport’s original big wave riders and co-creator of the Hot Curl surfboard. As the youngest in a group of World War II-era surfers that included Froiseth, John Kelly and Fran Heath, Downing was in on many of the earliest forays into big wave riding. Froiseth introduced Downing to the big surf at Makaha and later he was among the first to ride Laniakea on the North Shore and Maui’s Honolua Bay.
In a time before surf trips even existed, George sailed to California and spent two months in 1947 surfing up and down the coast. An unfortunate collision with the Malibu pier damaged the nose section of his board, but led him to learn about new materials called fiberglass and resin from a like-minded designer—the enigmatic Bob Simmons. Upon his return to Hawaii, Downing continued a systematic approach to gaining the knowledge that would allow him and his friends to ride ever-larger surf.
A keen student of weather and its impact on swell formation, Downing blended this knowledge with surfboard theory and construction. He not only created one of the earliest quivers with subtle variations in length, rocker and volume, but in 1950, produced the first board for truly big surf, and it soon became the template for all serious surfers. While the Hot Curl was finless, Downing’s 10-foot “Rocket” had the first removable fin. George and others like Walter Hoffman and Buzzy Trent, cracked first the 20, then 30-foot barrier at Makaha riding the innovative Rocket.
As a competitor, George won the Makaha International in 1954, 1961 and 1965, finished seventh at the 1965 World Championships and second at the 1967 Duke. He coached the Hawaiian team to victory in the 1968 World Surfing Championships and set numerous paddling records from 100 yards to one mile. As a businessman George Downing created the venerable Downing Surfboards, which his son Keone continues, and has worked to prevent the corporatization of the Waikiki beach concessions.
Mentor to dozens of Hawaiian surfers over the years, Downing also worked as one of the famed Waikiki beachboys for more than three decades. The longtime contest director of the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau event, George Downing holds an important place in surfing culture.
Raised in Sydney, Simon Anderson began his competitive career in 1971 with a juniors win at the Australian National Titles and the Bells Beach Classic contests. Known for his power and easygoing style, Anderson became a frontrunner in many local and international competitions, placing second in the Australian National Titles in 76’, fourth at the 77’ Pipeline Masters, and winning the 77’ Bells and Coke Surfabout. Those wins in 77’, on single-fin boards, put him into the top 10 on the ASP Tour and gave him a chance of taking the title, until the twin-fin intervened.
Fellow Aussie Mark Richards had created a twin-fin design which greatly helped sharp turns on steep waves, by always having one fin deep in the wave. The twin-fin was capable of performing in the poor wave conditions and locations that the ASP events were often held at that time. Within months, surfers on this design were winning most of the competitions, but it was badly unsuited to Anderson’s size (over six feet tall) and style. He simply overpowered the twin fin and didn’t like the idea of having to ‘nurse’ the board through turns, and stated at the time that he wasn’t going to compromise his surfing to adapt to the design.
That’s when Anderson went to work on perfecting the existing three fin concept (a single fin with two smaller outer fins) for added power and stability. His prototype featured three equal-size fins so he named it “Thruster” because the water gets pushed through the fins in the turn. According to Anderson, the single fin (just) holds that speed through a turn whereas with the twin fins, obviously the speed was quickly released and you’d just zip along. The third fin was controlling that thrust throughout the turn.
Anderson’s Thruster design was met with skepticism initially, thought perhaps merely a gimmick, or only for Anderson’s particular size and style. Following design enhancements in 1981, he won the Bells Beach Classic and the Coke Surfabout in Sydney, for a second time, then later the Pipe Masters at Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii. Those victories silenced the critics and brought the thruster to everyone’s attention; from 1984 onward every world champion has used a thruster.
“What Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple) and the “iPhone and iPad” have done for the World, Simon Anderson and the “Thruster” have done for the Sport of Surfing’” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai. “Just as the iPhone and iPad revolutionized consumer technology; the Thruster revolutionized and advanced our Sport of Surfing!
“Simon has given generations of surfers the gift of progression and the ability to do what they can do today! We are honored and extremely excited that Simon Anderson will be inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame this summer!”
Lewis began surfing in 1961 and was considered a childhood phenomenon along the lines of one of his prodigies, Bud Llamas. He started competing in the boys 14 and under division of local events and went on to place third in the 1967 U.S. Championships Junior Men’s. Consistency was Randy’s hallmark when competing, performing well and usually placing among the top three. He won the West Coast Championships in 1976 and 1977 and the San Onofre Surf Club titles in 1978 and 1979.
From WSA events to the annual Huntington Beach contest, Randy competed all the way up through the Super Grand Masters (really old guys) and was often the point leader in his divisions. He finally retired from competitive surfing in 2006 when he won his last event, the City of Huntington Beach Championships.
“Randy was a pure surfer with a great nose riding style,” said John “Frog” Van Oeffelen, also a charter member of the Hole in the Wall Gang. “His balance was amazing; a goofy-footer nose-riding the south side (of the Huntington Beach Pier). He was (is) a truly nice person and mentored many a young surfers along the way, including Huntington Beach’s own Bud Llamas.”
In the mid-60’s, legendary shaper Gordie Duane took Randy under his wing and taught him his board shaping secrets. Soon thereafter, Randy was shaping and riding for the famous “Hole in the Wall Gang”, an assemblage of seasoned Huntington Beach surfers who weren’t part of the regular contest circuit, but were great competitors in their own right.
From 1977 to 1987, Randy operated his own surf shop, the Randy Lewis Surf Center, on 5th Street. Over the years he has worked for almost every HB surf store and currently shapes at Chuck Dent. Among the big name surfers who rode Lewis boards—Llamas, Michael Ho, John Bruiser and Joey Hawkins.
“Randy Lewis is one of the greatest shapers to come out of Huntington Beach,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai. “When I was a kid growing up, we all looked up to Randy as a surfer and a shaper (still do!). He surfed the Huntington Pier with style and grace and was one of the hottest surfers out in the water.
“Anyone who grew up surfing in Huntington Beach in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s knows the name ‘Randy Lewis’! This guy is right up there with all ‘the best’ surfers and shapers in town. We are honored and excited to be able to induct Randy Lewis in the Surfers’ Hall of Fame this August!”
Notable: Randy is somewhat famous in the world of skateboarding for his one cover shot on SkateBoarder magazine in 1964 (Vol. 1 #2). For a time, Randy tried his hand a motorcycle speedway racing in the early 1970’s in Costa Mesa, Irwindale and Bakersfield at the urging of friends. After racing alongside the likes of future world speedway champion Bruce Penhall, Randy quickly returned to the water where he was more comfortable. His parents, Mary Jane and Forest (a retired city police officer) still live in Huntington Beach.
Three-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore is set to be inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame. Gilmore, the youngest-ever inductee at age 22, has already captured U.S. Open of Surfing and Vans Triple Crown titles in addition to three consecutive ASP women’s world titles. Earlier this year, she was awarded the prestigious Laureus World Sports award, elevating Gilmore to among the world’s elite athletes.
“At only 22 years-old, Stephanie is truly one of the greatest ambassadors our sport of surfing has ever seen,” said Kelly Gibson, Rip Curl USA President and CEO. “From winning three consecutive ASP World Titles to being the ultimate brand icon for Rip Curl, she continues to push the sport, influence surf fans globally, while remaining true to herself. Rip Curl couldn’t ask for a better face for our brand.”
With her father’s encouragement, Gilmore’s life as a surfer began on Australia’s Gold Coast at age 10. A natural at the sport, Stephanie spent much of the next few years surfing some of Australia’s best waves. By age 17 she was entering world tour events as a wildcard, which paid off with a victory at the 2005 Roxy Pro Gold Coast. Soon thereafter Gilmore’s success on the WQS (World Qualifying Series) Tour qualified her for the 2007 ASP Women’s World Tour and she did not disappoint, winning four events and claiming her maiden World Title.
Proving that first year was no fluke, the girl known as ‘Happy’ for her infectious smile, was back again in 2008, looking hungrier and stronger than ever, dominating the older and more seasoned tour veterans. She went on to secure five ASP Women’s World Tour victories en route to her second consecutive ASP Title, then capped the season off with her first Triple Crown of Surfing trophy. Consistency was the key in 2009, when Gilmore won the first and last World Tour events to claim a third consecutive ASP Women’s World Title.
Already 3-0 in World Tour campaigns, Stephanie won the opening two events of 2010 and currently leads the title race…again! Taking the reigns from seven time world champ and Surfers’ Hall of Fame inductee Layne Beachley, Gilmore is poised to rewrite the record books and may create yet another Aussie surfing dynasty. One thing is for certain, on Friday, August 6, Gilmore’s foot and handprints will be forever encased in concrete alongside the sport’s pioneers and heroes.
“Steph Gilmore is an amazing athlete, 2009 Surfer Poll winner and today is considered the most popular female surfer on earth,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai! “We are very honored that she will be inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame this coming August!
Against the backdrop of the mega surf contest that he helped shape, Ian “Kanga” Cairns will enter the 2010 Surfers’ Hall of Fame this August. Winner of the 1973 Smirnoff Pro and 1975 Duke Kahanamoku Classic, Cairns was the premier “power” surfer of his era and dominated the North Shore during the mid to late-seventies.
Known as a fierce competitor who carved trench-like turns in big surf, Cairns ultimately turned his attention to growing the sport and played an instrumental role in the development of the NSSA, ASP, Op Pro, Bud Surf Tour and the U.S. Open of Surfing; earning a reputation as an articulate and passionate supporter of competitive surfing. Cairns, along with other inductees to be announced, will place their hands, feet and signature in wet cement for the ages during a public ceremony.
Cairns was influential in the development of American surfing (and surfers), adding structure to the nascent sport and creating a “clear path to follow.” Under his direction, the venerable Op Pro Surfing Championships produced some of the most memorable clashes in surfing history and created a world-class “stadium” venue to showcase the sport. The Bud Tour received extensive media coverage and jump-started the careers of a new crop of Americans led by Kelly Slater, Taylor Knox, Rob Machado, Shane Beschen and Pat O’Connell.
Among myriad achievements ranging from co-founder of the Bronzed Aussies, appearances in two-dozen surf movies and overseeing the Bluetorch media company, perhaps the most indelible mark Cairns made in the world of surfing is the gargantuan U.S. Open. Prior to taking a brief hiatus from the sport, Cairns helped lay the foundation for the U.S. Open to become the world’s largest professional surfing competition and a consumer showcase for the sport.
“Ian Cairns is a true Surfing Legend who continually pours his heart and soul into our Sport,” said Surfers’ Hall of Fame founder Aaron Pai. “Big Wave Surfer, fierce competitor and currently the head coach of the USA Surf Team, we are very honored that he will be inducted into the Surfers’ Hall of Fame this summer!”
Who: You Are invited
What: Dick Baker Surfers’ Hall Of Fame Induction
Where: In Front of Huntington Surf & Sport – 300 Pacific Coast Hwy, Huntington Beach, CA
When: Thursday Dec. 10th 5pm
We are celebrating the life and contributions of Dick Baker. Come join the festivities.