A Picture and a Few Words


People prize autographs. Scribbled upon squares of paper towels or upon artist controlled photographs. Well, a few days ago I found my prized surfing magazine. A magazine that has various autographs written inside of it.

So I was a young kid with a case of idol worship. In my eyes, some of my surfing heroes basically could walk on water. So imagine my feelings when I met some of my favorites and I was able to sit in a quiet area and we were having adult conversations. After one day of a contest, I came home and thought to myself that nobody would believe my tales. Sure you were hanging out with a world champ…so I found a pretty fitting edition of Surfing Magazine and took it with me back to the contest.

Looking back, my perception has changed as an adult. As a 15 year old, I failed to pick up on some of the politics that were playing out. My magazine presents a snap shot of that period of time. You see the magazine that I picked out was far different than most surfing magazine set ups which seem to consist of stories and each story features a different group of participants. This magazine has multiple shots of a small group of people and even the profiled athletes are in other sections of the  magazine.

So, during a conversation, I would pull out the magazine and then ask the unknowing target to sign it. After they took the magazine, each surfer would sit down and thumb through the pages until they found a photo that resonated with them. A few times I even suggested another photo but the surfer would not really be into that photo and would tell me that they liked some other photo better and then they would pen something onto the relevant photo.  Looking back, I can see how the choices fit into what was going on with them at the time.

Peter Townend

Peter was a former world champ. Long before social media came into play, he seemed to be well ahead of the curve as far as creating a marketable character was concerned. He was part of the Bronzed Aussies which was a surf team that was comprised of Australia’s brightest talents.

When presented with the magazine, he quickly thumbed to the ad and signed the photo as part of the Bronzed Aussies. Shrewd!


Cheyne Horan

Cheyne was in a state of transition when his young future concubine handed him the surfing magazine. Magazines, of course, come out months after most of the events inked across the pages had occurred; so Cheyne appeared in this magazine as part of the Bronzed Aussies. The reality of that time was far different. He was on the verge of a long journey of self exploration. So when he saw himself in the same ad that Peter Townend previously signed; he opted out as he had split from the team. Instead, he chose a small photo in a collage. A photo that forced him to spill his words off to the side of the page.


Larry Bertleman

Larry had several choices as well. As a kid, it perplexed me that he chose to sign a picture of the underside of his surfboard skipping across the wave instead of a photo that clearly showed one of my favorites ripping. Now, I get it.

Shaun Tomson wrote to me about speed. But I think he was speaking of the human creating the path. Larry spoke to me about fins and board designs. Designs that could help him go where he wanted to go. Directions his former boards could never muster.

This was Larry’s homage to his partner…his board.


Shaun Tomson

Shaun liked the speed blur angle of this photo.

To Steve: Speed is the Essence.

I have always carried his words in my head when I hit the surf. Speed opens up possibilities.


Jeff Crawford

Jeff had more choices than anyone. He had a feature interview in this edition and he looked at every photo in a deliberate manner. Finally, he opened to the page and smiled. He picked this back light beauty at his beloved Pipeline.


Wayne Bartholomew

Rabbit went the perfect route. The photo was big and unlike Peter Townends choice; he ensured that there was no doubt that he held the world title.


Dick Catri

Jeff Crawford is sitting next to Dick in this photo and he passed this up for the tube photo.

So I was pretty psyched that I had all these signatures in my magazine. So psyched that I told Dick of my great fortunes.

Dick picked up the magazine and began to thumb through the pages. Finally, he came to a page and picked up a pen.

You forgot someone! He began to scribble on a page.

Little did I know that he was in an ad but he knew. Finding it years later and seeing that he signed it means a lot to me now that he has passed.



About 1stpeaksteve

Welcome to The Side Wedge! The Side Wedge is a product of the journey through life of Steve Zima. Former professional surfer, a writer, surf coach, and hospitality manager. This is a collection of travel tips, motivation, and stories from my past. Finally, I offer surf coaching through The Side Wedge. Please feel free to contact me with questions if you want to improve your performance today! Thanks for reading!
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