In the Spring of 1963 my Hobie big board (9 foot 6) arrived by the only means possible - rail. I went to the train station concerned about shipping damage, but there was none. The board was flawless, built exactly to my design. Some buddies and I from the Beach Patrol had been surfing since 1961, but with inferior boards. Then Hobie began shipping the quality ones to the East coast.
This is Atlantic City - August, 1963.
Here I am hot-dogging, surfing backwards on one leg, riding a gentle wave, while in the second frame I am falling off another gentle wave, for no apparent reason.
All surfers have a style, and mine was to ride on the forward third of the board (the wave had to be large enough to support the displaced weight forward) with my hands clasped behind me, maneuvering only with small shifts in body motion. Strength in the ankles - built up with years as a kid playing ice hockey - allowed me to skip the surfer's requirement of waxing my board. My board was totally clean.
Unfortunately, I could not take my own photographs and I was never captured in the arms-behind-back pose. Here is a typical mid-summer 5 foot wave in New Jersey: walking toward the front of the board, a characteristic Atlantic City afternoon in late July.
Hawaii is a different kettle of fish. I was there in August, 1968, at Waimea Bay ("why-me-ah"), considered by many the finest surfing waves in the world.
This 18 foot wave is not what Waimea is known for - 40 feet is more like it. But that would be beyond my ability. And the local conditions: submerged reefs with razor sharp crustaceans - not friendly to unsuspecting visitors from New Jersey. Fall from your board? - get cut to ribbons.
A wave this high would be scary enough for me. (Telephoto lens - the beach is far from this breaker.)
The left hand is IN the wave. See the foam trail?
How do you measure a wave's height? In Units of Fear.