Monday, May 4, 2009

LIGHTNING BOLT | The Spirit of Surfing

The Spirit of Surfing

by Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz

It was mid morning in Honolulu. My wife, Juliette and I were strolling around Magic Island near Waikiki,
when I heard the sound of an ambulance approaching. Looking up the path I could see a surfer lying on the grass. A small group had gathered about him. Running toward them I found this young Japanese surfer unconscious and terribly wounded. I put a t-shirt over the gash in his chest and leaning close to him I kept repeating, "stay awake son, stay awake the ambulance is coming." The surfer opened his eyes and gazed around him. Then he looked at me and said, "Where's my board?" I had to laugh. "There’s the Spirit of Surfing," I thought.

When I myself was a young surfer in 1936, (I was 15) there really weren't many surfers in the country--maybe 500 to 600 at most. Three of these to me symbolized the "Spirit of Surfing": Preston "Pete Peterson, Lorin "Whitey" Harrison and George "Peanuts" Larson. Each was his own logo so to speak. The logos, the symbols, the emblems we create often define the spirit of our time. 3000 years ago the symbol of one Pharaoh was a Hawk, another a Jackal. People worshiped these images.

In ancient Greece a thousand years before Christ the symbol of a ferocious tribe called the Dorians, was a special curly cue at the top of every marble pillar. The Doric column labeled their architecture. The first king of Rome, Romulus, had a she-wolf as his insignia. Look at the best known figures today--Coca Cola, Ford, Gucci, Burger King, etc.

In 1970 Gerry Lopez and Jack Shipley started a surf shop they called “Lightning Bolt Surfboards”. A colored lightning bolt was on the deck of every board they sold. Next year Jeff Hakman won the first Pipeline Masters with a Lightning Bolt on his surfboard. Gerry Lopez won this event twice in a row in 1972 and1973 a Lightning Bolt on his 6-9 pintail. Actually Lopez had been putting lightning bolts on his surfboards since 1969.

In the mid '70s, when "Rocky" and "Star Wars" were the rage, Rory Russell, Gerry's best pal, goofy foot like Gerry, also won the Pipeline twice in a row. Of course he also had a Lightning Bolt on his 6-8 roundtail.

The short board revolution spanned the decade of the Seventies. Boards went from 9-6 to 6-9. Jeff Crawford, Shaun Tomson and Mark Richards won the Pipeline championships, sporting Lightning Bolt labels on their boards.

The Lightning Bolt was the spirit of surfing for the 70's. No other logo before or since has dominated the surfing media as has the label of The Lightning Bolt.


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