Classic Interview About Waveskis From 1981 Courtesy of Doug Greaves from Austrailia. Thanks Doug, Great Stuff!
I’ve just uploaded onto Youtube a video from 1981, which was broadcast in Australia on the children’s show “Simon Townsends Wonder World”. It was all filmed at Dee Why Point in Sydney, which was probably the most popular spot for waveskis back then.
The in-water filming was done by a professional film company that was hired by Peter Stuyvesant, the cigarette manufacturer. They were sponsors of the NSW State Titles and they paid for a short documentary about the competition. Fortunately, they agreed to make their film available for the TV show.
Most of the skis in the video were from Raider and were shaped by John Christensen and Roger Shackleton. The riders are Mike Petrie, John, Roger, Paul Wise, Gordon Lang and a few others whose names I can’t remember.
I believe the white Wavemaster was the first epoxy ski ever made. Unfortunately the glasser didn’t really know how to use epoxy, so it was about 15kg (and a dog), which didn’t help to market the benefits of epoxy resin! However, it would bounce off rocks without leaving a mark. Which was handy, as I used to hit a lot of rocks.
I don’t think there’s much high-quality video of waveskis from 30 years ago. So I hope you enjoy this little bit of history.
After searching through the great cavern of files we found this wonderful trove of un-edited raw photos from the 2008 US Championship shot by Vincent Shay. Probably one of the most prolific shoots ever of a Waveski comp, many sequence shots and some fantastic pictures. If you competed in 2008 it is highly likely there are some good HD photos of you here. For those looking for the best waves, look for Sundays pictures of classic beautiful surf and superb surfing in the Finals.
However, here is the catch, there are over 3500 pictures! Your goal its search and find yours. Feel free to download, as we are not sure how long this huge treasure trove of pictures will be accessible. These pictures are not to be resold or redistributed.
If you watch this as a slide show it could take a whole day and may qualify as the worlds longest paddle surfing slide show.;’)
Click the Picture of this empty Ventura Wave (with the Island in the background!) below to access the photo gallery, Enjoy!
Sorry for the delay in posting these wonderful photographs of the 2010 US Waveski Championships in Ventura California by Vincent Shay. No membership needed to view. Click the link below to view.
Slideshow takes a few minutes to load and it is worth it!
Tyler Lausten making the most out of small surf conditions ( with onlooking Warren Schultheis, left, and Caroline Augibaud, right). Â Photo: Tom McCarthy Jr.Â
Despite poor surf conditions, the United States Waveski Nationals were a great success due to the hard work of organizers (Brian Kuzmar, Roger Adams, Warren Schultheis), and the dedication and tenacity of this years competitors.
Congratulations to all for a successful event, and many thanks to those who traveled from far and wide to attend and compete.
If you have any interest at all in waveski and/or kayak surfing, you are no doubt familiar with the name Mike Johnson. Yeah, he’s the guy who came up with the Mako designs as well as being very involved with Ocean Kayak’s Rrrapido and Infinity’s waveskis. You might even say he’s one of THE most important guys ever to get involved in paddle surfing in the US.
I had a chance to chat with Mike recently and had a great time learning about the very early days of waveski and kayak surfing from his first person perspective. Mike was also kind enough to share some vintage pics of him and Merv Larson from way back in the 60’s when waveskis first started showing up in SoCal lineups. So with all that said, I would like to share some facts and pictures from Mike as well as a brief Q&A.
Mike is 68 years old as of the writing of this article and has been surfing for over 50 years. He got his start paddle surfing in 1966 when he got out of the Navy. The first waveski he rode was one that Bill Bragg built in 1964 for Olympic flatwater kayaker Terry Lentz as an alternative training craft. Here’s some pics of Mike on that ski at Huntington Pier.
Following are pics from one day in 1969 that, in Mike’s words, was the very best day of surfing he ever had. Mike described the waves as easily double overhead plus and just long, peeling and very surfable point break rights. The paddle out was easy too and they surfed for over 4 hours. In other words, HEAVEN!! They even had a surfing contest that day and Merv Larson took first and Mike took second. Here’s some amazing pics from that day.
Mike was also kind enough to share some pics of him and Merv Larson from the same time period. He pointed out that Merv (with the white helmet in these photos) had rigged up a waterproof setup with a small transistor radio and earphones that went into his helmet and he surfed to music back then! Keep in mind folks, this was the late 60’s/ early 70’s so it show that Merv was a pioneer in more than one way! The following pics are Mike with the green shoe and red helmet and Merv with the white helmet and round-nosed ski.
I hope you all enjoy the photos as much as I did. Like I said, it was a real pleasure talking with Mike and I am grateful to him not only for the conversation and pictures he shared, but also for his huge contributions to the sport we all love so much!
To wrap it all up, here’s a little Q&A I did with Mike.
1. How long have you been paddle surfing?
Almost 43 years.
2. How did you get into it/who influenced you?
When I got into white water paddling, a friend said he surfed his kayak, so I taught myself.
3. You’ve designed some of the best of each so do you prefer waveskis or surf kayak and why?
Waveskis. Less equipment, if you miss a roll, you can get back on anywhere.
4. What’s your favorite break?
Rincon, followed by Steamer Lane, Swamiis, and San Onofre.
5. Talk a little about being an Olympian.
A WW friend asked me if I wanted to train and go to the Worlds in flatwater kayaking. We made the team, went to Denmark in’70. Raced for 6 years ending in Montreal 1976.
6. How has the sport progressed in your 40+ years of participating?
It started with modified WW boats. I made the first surf kayak in 1968. 13 designs currently, all based on my waveskis. The sport now has a life of it’s own.
7. What are your thoughts on fins vs. finless/triplaning hull design? Are there conditions you would rather have a finned ski?
I’ve always been finless (my paddle and hard edges do the same as fins). Three plane acts like tail rocker along the whole side of the craft preventing catching rails.
8. Talk about your paddle designs.
I have a very successful flat blade paddle that I have been making since 1972, designed specifically for surfing. Very light and popular.
9. You’ve worked with some of the pioneers in paddle surfing like Merv Larson, Ocean Kayak and Infinity. Talk about some of the highlights and challenges of working with each.
Merv: met him in ’67 bought my skis from him, designed kayaks with him. He was the main pioneer of waveskis up into the early 90’s.
Infinity: When I couldn’t get skis from Merv, I turned to Steve Boehne of Infinity Surfboards for my design skis and shaping my kayak prototypes Mako Skis & Kayaks.
Ocean Kayaks: for a short time I worked with them to design the Rrrapido based on my 9’6″ Mako Ski.