Tuesday, April 6, 2010

North Jetty Surfers Reunion

On Saturday, April 24th at the Ft. George Island Community Center we are having our 8th reunion. This year we are establishing the North Jetty Surfers Hall of Fame and we have initiated the Hall of Fame with 5 inductees selected by the nominating committee. Those individuals are Jack and Essie Mae Bolger "Mom and Pop", Jerry Newton, Bobby Newton, and Steve Horne. Jack and Essie Mae ran the store at Ft. George that was the supply station for the surfers and helped us out in so many ways. Jerry, Bobby, and Steve were among the best of the early jetty surfers and the first really good surfers many of us knew. Jimmy Rodgers, the founder and, until recently, owner of the Ft. George Island surf shop will do a presentation on Jack and Essie Mae. Cora Hudnall Cooper, a Ft. George native and one of the best early women surfers from the jetties, will do a presentation on Jerry and Bobby Newton. Dan "Stroker" Campbell, one of this years nominees for HOF, will do a presentation on Steve Horne.
This year at the reunion will be the first time we vote and elect 2 individuals to the HOF. Anyone at the reunion may vote if they so chose. This years nominees are Dan "Stroker" Campbell, William "Butch" Goodwyne, Billy "Troy" King, George Tipping, and.............
For myself, Danny Campbell and George Tipping were very good friends and we spent many a day sharing waves at the jetties, and all up and down the East Coast, for that matter.
All of these surfers started on longboards and had styles adapted to those boards. Danny was the ultimate power surfer---aggressive,deep bottom turns, hard cutbacks and had a distinctly unique personality. When shortboards arrived on the scene we, at first, imposed our longboard styles on those boards but Danny, influenced by Greenough, went in a completely different direction--he became a kneeboarder. He has been the only consistant and really good kneeboarder I've known. It's a testament to his athleticism and surfing skill that he made the day to day transition between kneeboarding and power surfing.
Like myself, George was a goofy-foot who honed his skill on the long right wall at the rocks. In the middle 60's the river was dredged and the sand was dumped out at the end of the flats (the point) and created a beautiful point break during 1965,1966,1967. But the sand slowly drifted toward the rocks and by 1968 a break had formed there that shaped a fantastic peak break with an indented bowl that had a short, quick left and a long, long right wall. On good days that was an absolutely BEA-U-TI-FUL wave and George was an artist-in-motion backsiding on that long right wall. Surfing backside is more of a point to point motion than a continuous motion and George's quick, precise,and powerful turns combined with the long lines of a backside cutback made him a surfer to watch.
Butch and Billy were a little different, Butch was a good friend but, except for surfing the jetties together, I didn't know Billy. They were a little intimidating because they were like God's Gift to surfing, they were so good, and my knowing them would like.....you know.....throw the universe out of kilter. Again, they started on longboards but, while they did the bottom turn, cutback thing as well as anyone they were masters at noseriding. And when the shortboards arrived, as I mentioned earlier, everyone used their longboard styles on the shorter boards.....except for Billy and Butch. They were the first to adapt their styles to match the capabilities of the shorter boards. Butch was Mr. Versatile, he could do everything, and during this time of transition we tried everything. Everything was tried, different lengths, different tail shapes, different rail shapes, fins of all sizes and descriptions. From Sebastian Butch picked up on finger fins, fins the size of a finger, and became a master at tail-sliding, slipping all around the wave. Butch eventually went to Hawaii, stayed there for a few years, but came home and surfs St. Augustine and the jetties. Billy could also do everything but his most enduring characteristic, to me, was that he was always in control. Everybody I knew, even the best surfers, had those deer-in-the-headlight moments when either you or the wave did something unexpected and, for at least that moment, you were discombobulated. I never saw that happen to Billy, he was always, always one step ahead of.......everything.
These are very, very brief descriptions of these surfers that many of us know so well and the intent is to motivate you to come and vote for one of them at this years reunion. There will be music in some form, good friends, good conversation, badminton, croquet, and volleyball. Please remember to bring some F&B with you and see you at the reunion.